In addition to the animated ‘Craig Emcee’ segments that I created for the Wheatland Kids Hill video (see previous post), I also created this partially animated children’s song featuring my band mate Nate and his song “Hippopotamus”. I had a lot of fun with this, especially the challenges that it presented (building a four legged character and figuring out the walk sequences), not to mention the fact that it involved a deadline, which has not been an issue with my previous animation projects.
Meanwhile, I’m still working on my self promo piece from yesterday. Did a little more work into Maggie’s dress, and blocking in some more color. Need to work on the hands, the ‘noodle bucket’ and the background a bit more. I’m also thinking I’m going to set this in a rainstorm, so will need to work that and some Hong Kong back alley scenery into the left side.
Since Wheatland Music Festival was cancelled for this year due to the pandemic, the board of directors decided they needed a ‘performance video’ to offer to their many fans and supporters. Kids Hill, of which we’ve been involved with building musical instrument projects for several years, was allotted an hour of video for this compilation. I provided several short animated ‘links’ featuring a cartoon version of my friend Craig to help spice up the presentation. Here’s the entire collection of ‘intros’. (I’m also working on a partially animated children’s song video about a hippopotamus which I’ll be sharing very soon)
I’m currently waiting the go-ahead on a couple of book projects, and so I’m filling my time with some more animation projects, as well as sending out some email marketing and promotional postcards.
Usually the week after labor day I attend a music festival up north called ‘Wheatland’, and like a lot of events this year, they had to cancel for the first time in their forty year history. I’m part of a team that provides a musical craft project for children at a part of the event called ‘Kids Hill’, and this year, the committee decided to produce a ‘virtual video festival’ to release around the time of the usual festival date, and they allotted an hour of the video to ‘Kids Hill’. I’m going to be building a series of short video ‘introductions’ starring a character based on my friend and bandmate Craig, who will be introducing each of the segments (screen shot pictured below), and I’m also working on some short bits for a music video for a song that my other bandmate wrote about a hippopotamus (test animation pictured above). The Hippopotamus video will be a half and half animation/live performance, so mostly I have been working on trying to perfect a ‘jaunty little walk’ for our main character. The Emcee videos will involve a bit of lip-syncing once I’ve gotten the audio tracks from Craig.
It’s been five years since I’ve completed an animated film. The reasons why have a convoluted history. Going back around 15 or 20 years, I first discovered a hidden feature on the illustration program I was using at the time for my work. Corel Painter, along with its many fine realistic brush features, had, in an earlier version, a primitive ‘animation feature’. The feature wasn’t much more than the ability to use multiple onion skin overlays to see the progress of your animated drawing over several frames, and then to play back the animation instantly to check your progress. I did several test projects, and, from 2010-2015 was able to complete 3 animated music videos for my band, the “Jukejoint Handmedowns”, also using Apples ‘iMovie’ for combining animated clips.
A computer upgrade (and subsequent upgrading of my system software), meant that I had to also upgrade Corel Painter, who had, in the meantime, dropped their ‘animation feature’ from the latest version of the software. I have been playing around with various alternative animation software platforms in the past five years, but nothing had really clicked with me, the way that the original Painter tools had.
During the recent pandemic slowdown, I spent some time learning how to use Adobe After Effects and Adobe Character Animator, and put together the above film for our upcoming album release. I had a lot of fun learning new techniques, and stretching my horizons. Each scene was a new challenge, and led to new skills, and have learned even more since its completion. So stay tuned for more.
Or to paraphrase a line from a Terry Pratchett novel I just read: “Is that a light at the end of the tunnel, or is the end of the tunnel just on fire?”
In the last few days of this week, after a much too quiet month, business-wise, a few jobs trickled in, which did wonders to buoy my spirits. Above are a few rough sketches for an illustration I’ll be finishing up this weekend for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Oddly enough, this is the first assignment I’ve had pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic. They wound up choosing the first one, but told me to hang on to the other one for possible future articles. And then on Friday, I was contacted by the publisher of the ‘Who Was’ series of books, to take on an upcoming book on Walt Whitman. I’m currently working on one on the Civil Rights Movement, and expect to begin work on a book about Climate Change very soon, so I anticipate having a very busy May, which has put me in a much more hopeful mood than I’ve been in several months.
Earlier in the week, I had a few spot illustrations for GreenPrints (pictured above), and I’ve been spending a lot of time this past month working on a new album for my band, the Jukejoint Handmedowns. This will be our 5th album, which we began recording in February, and then, when the ‘stay at home’ order came down in March, we decided we would attempt to finish the album in isolation, each of us recording our parts separately and sharing them with me for final mixing and mastering. We are very near completion, and below are a few of the ‘in progress’ versions of the lyric sheet insert (front and back) and the rough layout for the album cover. The album was already very dark and apocalyptic in tone before we even began, so the pandemic and shut-down seemed to fit the theme even more urgently. We are hoping to release this sometime this summer, when, hopefully, some of the restrictions loosen up.