“We Too Are Chicago!” My First Animated Installation

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM | 0 comments

Shining a Light on the Hopes & Dreams of Chicago’s Youth is the subtitle of the new exhibit at HumanThread Gallery Gallery in Chicago. We Too Are Chicago! is the show featuring my wife Ramona Dallum Lindsey and Trish Williams. As the focus was on our youth, they also included a very talented high school photographer Gerald Brown. Gerry is going into her junior year of high school and she’s already an extremely gifted shutterbug. Keep an eye out for her emerging career.

While these ladies of the realm of still imagery were the focus of the show, I had a contribution as well. It was my first non-academic collaboration. I created a hand drawn Flash animation to an original score, including a narration of the poem We Too Are Chicago! written by Ramona. It’s really great the way all this came together. I had been trying for some time to figure out how to network with students in the DePaul School of Music. Only a few weeks ago I created a flyer with tear-offs containing my contact information stating that I wanted to collaborate with music students on future animation projects. I posted it on the bulletin board at the music school and a couple of weeks later a student named Matt Martin contacted me and said he’d like to talk. Take a look at the vid and I’ll give you all the background on the other side.

 


 

Matt and I met in one of the animation labs in my academic building and talked for a while, getting to know each others’ musical tastes. I showed him a few of my old animations along with the music I had selected for each. After talking about how we might work together Matt asked me when I thought I’d like to do our first joint project. I said I was thinking about the fall when I begin my final project for graduation but he might also be interested in putting something together for this project I’m doing with my wife in less than a week in case he had something on the shelf he wanted to try or an idea in his head that he could compose really fast.

I told him the gist of We Too Are Chicago and themes of perceived “hopeless”ness and striving for “hopeful”ness and achievement. He put his band of musical classmates together and they came up with a nice piece. And as it turns out I wound up gauging my work method to complete the animation. My first approach had been to create my imagery based on the lyrics from the poem but after hearing Matt’s song I decided to change tack and take visual inspiration from musical inspiration. This proved to be extremely helpful proving how music and visuals naturally compliment each other. The end result seemed to fit the spirit of the the poem. I added your Miss Whitney Jackson’s narrated track on top of it all which helped me tweak a few edits of the animated tracks and it all came together.

I’m looking forward to future collaborations with Matt. Special thanks to him and his band of merry musicians, Brett Tolcher, Kyle Licolci,Tucker Glidwell, Brandon Allen and Joe Sanchez. My animation will only be on display through Friday, July 13th, the evening of the Pilsen Art Walk but the work of the featured artists will be on display through August 3rd at HumanThread Gallery at 645 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL 60616.


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Strictly Underground Comics Owner Joe Currie at Chicago Comic-Con 2011

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in Comic Art and Comic Artists, Comics | 2 comments

I had to laugh at myself after I finally got around to editing this video because I realized I had made the same mistake twice when I interviewed Joe Curry, the creator of the Punx of Rage universe of characters. Joe is the owner of Strictly Underground Comics but I mistakenly ask him about The Street Team which is a totally different team combination that his characters are a part of. So you’ll have to credit my error to the fact that I was still trying to figure out the various affiliations and collaborations he’s involved with :). But hey it makes for good organic film making so check out the vid and get to know Joe.
 

 
Joe and I had met before at the DuSable Museum of African American History’s Annual Arts and Crafts Festival in the summer of 2011 and that’s where I hung out with him and a number of other Black Age of Comics creatives who were sharing a vendor tent. That meeting was the result of having friended him and a few other local indie comics owners on Facebook and finally catching up face to face so, thanks Joe for bringing this rising animator into your world. It’s a great professional match in my book and I’m looking forward to some collaborations of my own with this crowd.

Keep you eyes peeled for more great issues from The Punx of Rage, The Almighty Street Team, including their first video game which you can purchase here.
 

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Meet IFBB Pro and Super Hero Model La’Drissa Bonivel

Posted by on Jun 27, 2012 in Comic Art and Comic Artists, Comics | 0 comments

If you’ve ever seen a body building competition on T.V. and thought to yourself, “Hummm, they would look like natural super heroes if they had costumes.”, then your intuition is spot on. La’Drissa Bonivel is an IFBB Pro (sculpted women of La’Drissa’s ilk aren’t called body builders they are called women’s physique pros) and she travels nationally for competitions. She also has gigs as a super hero model for a couple of characters, Diva Gold and Prodigy created respectively by Chicago indie comic book creators Joe McFee’s Xigency Studios and Joe Currie’s Strictly Underground Comics. I had the opportunity to meet her in person at Chicago Comic-Con 2011. Take a look at the video and learn more about her ventures in the world of comics and professional fitness.
 

 
La’Drissa is a multitalented lady as is evidenced by her other business endeavors. She calls herself a tri-factor as a skin care pro, yoga instructor & personal trainer. She’s also a motivational speaker. Check out her company Loyal Body and see if she can’t be of service to you in some way.

Her star is on the rise so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her competing on T.V. or beating bad guys on film some day soon.
 

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Kim Moseberry of Xigency Studios at Chicago Comic-Con 2011

Posted by on Jun 25, 2012 in Comic Art and Comic Artists, Comics | 4 comments

Kim Moseberry is one of the comic artists who works with Joe McFee, the founder and owner of Xigency Studios in Chicago. You’ll learn more about Joe in a future post but this one is about a very talented young lady who Marcie and I got a chance to talk to at the Xigency booth at Chicago Comic-Con 2011.
 

 
We had a good time talking to Kim and I even got a copy of the mermaid pirate print. She is a really talented artist. Check out website that she mentions in the interview and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a nice portfolio of work. Kim and the Xigency team are building up their name on the comic circuit. I look forward to great work from them.

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Who Are All These Grown People Playing Dress Up Super Hero?

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Comic Art and Comic Artists, Comics | 2 comments

It’s the cosplayers. Fellow blogger Marcie Hill hung out with me at Comic-Con 2011 last summer in Rosemont, Illinois, one of the suburbs of Chicago. I think we were both equally fascinated with the costume players, affectionately known as cosplayers. At first I thought they were kinda weird. Why would adults dress up as super heroes or villains and not be thoroughly embarrassed? Well I guess when you’re in a building full of others doing the same there’s nothing to be embarrassed about right?

After taking in the scene for a while my artistic brain kicked in and I begin to appreciate the makeup and costume creating talents of some of the participants. I started thinking some of these people might be hirable for poses or short film projects. I couldn’t walk out in public like that myself but I began to enjoy the artistry and humor of it all. Fun bunch of people.

There’s no effort on my part to edit or compose this footage. I’m just sharing it with you as taken to give you the spontaneous feel of mine and Marcie’s presence in the crowd. Thus, the loose flow of it is simply as-it-was.

 

 

As you see people enjoy posing with the cosplayers and the players love obliging them. You can hear me egging them on in their antics as well. I’m seriously considering making this crowd an annual post unto themselves so look out for the  2012 rendition later this year.

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The Wrap Up For My ANI466 Cinema, Animation & Art Course

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in DePaul University CDM | 2 comments

I could try to explain the first class of ANI466 in the new Master of Arts in Animation graduate cohort but I wouldn’t come close to doing it justice do here’s the official description from the DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media web site:

This seminar course focuses on animation and cinema from the standpoint of Modern and Contemporary art. Students study the major styles and themes of historical experimental film and video, and relate these topics to contemporary animation and independent cinema practices. Emphasis is placed on theory and criticism, and how it informs experimental work. Students are expected to discuss work and theory in a seminar setting, and to engage the class material in several research papers.

The course involved a lot of dense reading from our text, Art in Theory, 1900 – 2000. We read what theorists from around the world have written, analyzed and critiqued about the arts over the last century or so. It’s written by academics for academics so it’s not a light read you’d check out from the library for fun. It definitely elevated my vocabulary though.

Our professor Alexander Stewart took a virtual approach to our assignments this past quarter. In addition to the text, we had other readings that he had uploaded to our library’s e-reserves site. He also started a class blog in which a couple of students teamed up each week to write a post on the weekly reading assignment. The rest of us left comments on the post and we discussed the reading and the group comments during the following week’s class.

Each blogging team also had to write individual research papers on those subjects. The other virtual piece was the nature in which we submitted our term papers. Alexander had us submit our first and final drafts on a site named turnitin instead of our internal school assignment portal. My blog partner Lynda Rollins and I had the subject of Semiotics and this is my paper. (You’ll have to read it first or you won’t understand the purpose of the clip below.) This paper expands on the topic of our blog post presentation by researching three artists or filmmakers who relate to the original topic, semiotics. Fair warning, it’s written in egg-head-ese so you can’t be tired while reading it. Be sure you’re fresh and ready to think before diving in 🙂

Our final assignment on the last night of class was to show a short clip, 5 minutes or less, of a concept that we found fascinating during the term. I decided to stick with semiotics using the first subject from my paper. This is the video I put together to illustrate what interested me most. The first part is from the first subject I discuss in my paper and the second part is an animated short that I created in another class about a year ago. (You have to read the paper first or you won’t get the point of the clip)

I got a lot from this course including a number of ideas for future projects based on the subjects we covered and the topics the writers elaborated on. The book expanded my thinking on the arts in general and film in particular. I’d appreciate any comments you have on my paper especially if you’re a film fan or semiotics aficionado so fire away!

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Our Final Film for ANI440 Collaborative Short Animated Film

Posted by on Jun 14, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 2 comments

“Masterpiece” is the final short film produced by my team of classmates for the first course of ANI440 Collaborative Short Animated Film. ANI440 is one of the courses for the first cohort of the Master of Arts in Animation program in DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media. Our professor Meghann Artes grouped the class into teams based on our animation and creative interests. My team mates were Christal Charlery, Deborah Mathis and Petra Sobers and this is our final production.

My roles included drawing some of the first storyboards and creating the first draft of the animatic with those storyboard drawings, animating a couple of scenes (scrolling wall near the beginning and the reveal at the end), creating some of the character’s scene props (chisel, hammer, table, cardboard boxes, box of nails, picture frames, ruler) some of the foley (tools dropped on table, horse sculture tossed onto the floor, the box dropping on the floor, the sound of the wood touching against clothing, the sound of his hand stuck to the wood and popping off the wood) and some voice over in (the form of various vocal expressions including my French impersonation, “Bee-yue-tiful!”).

There was plenty for the four of us to pack into ten weeks and it was hectic. Our 3D software crashing on a regularly random basis didn’t serve to help us keep pace as we wanted to but we juggled the pieces amongst ourselves and brought it home. We got an A (and it gave a nice little boost to the GPA) and we’re down to the last two courses over the next two quarters in the Master of Arts cohort.

So what do think of our short film? Leave a few comments. I’d like to tell you more about it.

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S. Whitmore and the Crew of LOGOS at Chicago Comic Con 2011

Posted by on Apr 3, 2012 in Comic Art and Comic Artists | 0 comments

I had the pleasure last summer of meeting local film maker S. Whitmore at Chicago ComicCon. He was a vendor and had his team publicising his first feature, LOGOS, which was just past the post production phase. This was the first time I’d had the opportunity to talk to a film maker about taking a feature length film through complete production so take a listen as he tells us about it.

Although Whitmore had originally projected the premier to be at IKON Theater, at this point, they actually wound up having a successful coming out party at the Portage Theater Chicago in December 2011. Keep track of events like future screenings of the film on the LOGOS Facebook Like Page or on the film’s Twitter Page and assorted clips on the LOGOS YouTube channel.

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My Final Storyboard for Visual Storytelling

Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 0 comments

I had heard the phrase storyboard before but I really didn’t know what one was before taking ANI425 Visual Storytelling from professor Devin Bell last winter quarter. Storyboards are the foundational story building tool before beginning a new film. Sometimes they are used to help pitch an idea and other times they are used to flesh out a film after it has been green lighted. In this course we made our storyboards into animatics, short films made storyboard style to give the gist of a film.

For my final in this class I expanded upon previous iterations of the project that I named “Famborted” (Family Aborted). It required a few more drawings to improve story clarity and continuity. The video shows how it all turned out.

The final was a good opportunity to include movement as well. After Effects has a 3D Layers feature that allows for key framed movement of images on multiple layers to help create the illusion of those images seemingly interacting with one another on one layer. In this animatic I use that technique in the sequence where my character slides next to each picture portrait. Those are a series of PNG files on 3D layers. PNG files are used because they have background transparency built in. This makes it easy to mimic 2D objects sliding in front of or behind each other in the way that 3D objects would do.

This is one of those classes I’m putting into immediate use in all my remaining courses as well as my personal projects. Who knows, I might even give it serious consideration as a career specialty. Give me a shout and tell me what you think of my burgeoning storyboarding skills.

 

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ANI 422 Animation Styles and Techniques Dino Final

Posted by on Mar 17, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 0 comments

For my first final project of the winter 2012 quarter we had the option of doing something new or enhancing a previous project. I wanted to jazz up my dinosaur so I revised that assignment and retooled it as a loose homage to Windsor McCay (Gertie the Dinosaur) and the John and Faith Hubley UPA (my attempt at minimal animation) style.

The white outline with a gray fill pretty much set the stylization I was going for. Modifications included reshaping the head and adding in-betweens for bent leg motion at the beginning. I also added a few dozen extra Photoshop layer neck motion tweens at the end which were imported into After Effects and sequenced for the animation.

The background was stylized with scanned textile pieces. The mountains were a textile scrap with color adjustments to give it a reddish hue in Photoshop. I shaped the rectangular scrap into mountainous contour by creating a mask with the pen tool in After Effects. The ground was a different layer of scanned fabric. I scaled it down to fit under the mountain range. The lake was four alternating scans of a piece of sheer turquoise fabric that I twisted and reshaped on the scanner table. I masked it into the composition with the pen tool and added a wavy effect filter to each layer for stylized wave motion. Here’s how it turned out.

My professor didn’t want us to use Flash for the final and gave the challenge to use other tools so I had to revert to Photoshop. I love Photoshop for textures and images but it is horrible for animation. It took forever to make edits to layer by layer without the benefit of onion skinning which saves massive amounts of time when tweaking. Nevertheless I chugged through it.

Now that I’ve experimented with textiles as environmental accents I really like the feel it gives. I’m definitely going to use them more often in the future. One final down and one to go before spring break.

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I’m Gettin’ FunGky With My Animation

Posted by on Feb 21, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 0 comments

Yes, I spelled it with a “g” as in Stellar Fungk, an old 1978 funk jam by a group called Slave. As we learned more about the early animation pioneers as well as a few from more modern times I wanted to continue investingating my experimental chops. This time I went completely abstract with no literal imagery. Just wanted to have the imagery moving rhythmically with the music with some tones sliding in between the movements.

Viking Eggeling, Walter Ruttmann, Oskar Fischinger and others as inspiration for this one. I made this one 30 seconds in length. Take a look.

Can’t you tell I had a lot of fun with this one? If I had more time I would definitely have stretched it out. I had a blast with this one and looking forward to more fun with 2D. Stay tuned and see what I come up with next.

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Emile Cohl Has Me Hooked On Abstract Animation

Posted by on Feb 15, 2012 in Animation, DePaul University CDM, General | 0 comments

Well he’s one one many that have me developing a taste for abstract animation this quarter. One of the cool classes I’m taking this Winter of 2012 is ANI422 Animation Styles and Techniques. I guess since my eye has begun to get attuned to abstract painting over the last few months, appreciating the abstract in digital media should be perfectly natural I guess.

The quarter began with us learning about some of the European pioneers of animation. They came along in the 19th century during the advent of film technology when people were first being mesmerized by moving images of people on a screen. Cohl is credited as being the first to amaze with illustrations that came to life on this new medium. His film Fantasmogorie is the standard reference in animation circles when it comes to how it was done more than a century ago.

His morphing figures make me go “ooh and ahh” now, even with his rudimentary motions, decades before the fundamentals of animation were established. During the quarter our projects are to be inspired by the variety of short films that we reveiw in class each week and our professor Lisa Barcy typically likes us make our shorts 10-30 seconds long. The abstract inspired my so here is my homage to the original master.

What do you think of my first effort? I plan to do more abstract (oftern referred to as “experimental” in modern animation parlance) inspired animation over time, as I continue to learn and research the topic so stay tuned to the blog for more.

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