Tag Archives: animation

“Rilakkuma and Kaoru” Trailer Is Too Much Cuteness For Us To Handle

Adorable SanRio character Rilakkuma and his pals are coming to Netflix in a brand new series, called “Rilakkuma and Kaoru”, and it is so sweet you may get cavities from it.

It stars Lana Condor as the voice of Kaoru, whose life revolves around work and loneliness, while her roommate is a soft toy bear who only knows how to relax and nothing more. It seems Rilakkuma has much to teach Kaoru about life, and the cuteness factor here is over 9000.

Check out the trailer below:

“Rilakkuma and Kaoru” starts streaming on Netflix on April 19th.

Please follow and like us:
error

How Adult Swim cartoon “TIGTONE” gets animated

Animation is not just drawing the same thing again and again to make a flat picture look like it’s moving. What it really comes down to is problem solving. Sure, you could repetitively doodle the same person jumping up and down, but how do you do it efficiently and convincingly?

One of my favorite new Adult Swim cartoon shows is “Tigtone”, originally created by  Andrew Koehler, Benjamin Martian, and Zack Wallenfang (the latter of whom is not involved in the current series but was part of the pilot). It combines “Dungeons & Dragons” fantasy settings with the insanity of your typical inane Adult Swim humor. It’s everything I love and more.

The element that absolutely drew me in the most was the animation style. It looked like nothing I had ever seen before, and if you don’t know what I am talking about – take a look at the pilot episode in the video below:

It’s clear to see why this got picked up by Adult Swim. It looks like someone took an illustration from a fantasy book or a Magic the Gathering card and somehow enchanted it so that it would become an 11 minute cartoon. Much like how Tigtone needs a quest, I too need one, and today that quest has been discovering how the heck they animate this show! After I saw the first Adult Swim episode aired, I started digging around but was unable to find much. Eventually, I found a video not from the creative team behind it, but from RedLetter Media AKA the home of everyone’s favorite curmudgeonly review, Mr Plinkett. Check out this video below to see a little of the behind-the-scenes production process:

This video revealed that the VO actors often perform their lines with the producer present, and do a very unique motion-capture. Clearly, that is just the first step, but it’s certainly a very big clue to what they are doing.

More recently, Adult Swim released the video below, likely due to folks like myself and readers like you who have been endlessly googling “How do they animate TigTone”?

All that SEO analytical data paid off, and we got more of an official look at how the hometeam produces their mo-cap sessions, involving a piece of apparatus that resembles a medieval torture device that I honestly would not be surprised to see in an episode.

The next big question was how do they take these mo-cap sessions and add it to the artwork?

The clues we got from the video was that they seem to be using Adobe After Effects, a very powerful (and accessible) app that you can get fairly easily if you don’t mind paying a monthly subscription fee.

I started to dig deeper, and stumbled upon this Youtube tutorial by Creativid Studios who seems to be doing something very similar to what the animators behind “Tigtone” are doing.

This form of AE motion capture combines a recording of the actors face with a series of masks, combining an illustration of the cartoon characters face with some holes in it to let the actor’s eyes and mouth peek through.

Once you have those features removed, you then use a Face Tracker that is built into AE to recognize a face, and then creates key frames to track the mouth as it moves. It’s easier to watch the video then have me explain it all, so take a look and see what you think.

Of course, this begs the question – why animate this show in such a time consuming way? In an interview with Little Black Book Online, Benjamin Martian and Andrew Koehler addressed those thoughts, and had this to say:

Andrew: An enormous part of what makes the humour work is the fact that the presentation takes itself seriously. It NEEDS to look like epic, hand painted, exquisitely detailed art in order for the total farce of the writing to work. 

Benjamin: Also the style and process came out of necessity and resourcefulness. When we realised we couldn’t produce these fantasy scripts live-action, Andrew used what he had at his disposal to make something work. That something was this 2D motion capture technique. Also, damn all convention.

They went on to discuss how this process came to be, and the hardships that ultimately led them to the one of a kind aesthetic that “Tigtone” has:

Andrew: It was a lot of trial and error, research and development, hurry up and wait, and blood, sweat, and tears. But really it was all about figuring out the practicality of it all – how do I warp his face without distorting his hair, how do I keep the teeth from floating around, etc. The answer always involved a lot of math and a lot of rendering. 

Benjamin: Andrew was like MacGyver, digitally duct-taping this process together with different programs and plug-ins. When we started production at Titmouse, the animation studio that produces the series, we had to completely reinvent the production process to accommodate this bizarre technique.

The famed “Torture Chair” with a DSLR ominously hovering above it

That same article also gives us some of the most exact specifics we have seen on the internet so far about the steps taken to animate in this style:

Benjamin: After we have all the lines recorded and cut into the animatic (animated storyboards) we isolate every line for each character and categorise them by shot angle. We then glue pearl craft beads onto our faces at specific points to track the movement of the entire face. For example, we put three dots over each eyebrow to capture the way the eyebrows bend.

Then we strap ourselves into our motion-capture bench with a camera mounted overhead. We play back every single line on a loop and perform the line, trying to perform in sync with the line.

After that, the motion of each dot on our face is attached to the corresponding dot on the characters’ face to create the motion. Then the animators do a TON of work to hone in the performances – so it’s not just our faces doing all the work.

One of the most important things about doing this with their “torture chair” is making sure the people reading the lines and being filmed are perfectly still. The mo-cap data must precisely match the angles of the characters being animated in order to register with the tracker. If they don’t – back to the torture chair for them to reshoot the scene.

Either way, it seems the technology is in your grasp, and now you too can attain that unique look with your own cartoons! If you give it a try, let us know how it came out and feel free to post it in the comments!

Please follow and like us:
error

Rebecca Sugar panel at MoCCa Fest 2016 – FULL PANEL

On April 3, 2016, Rebecca Sugar held a panel during the MoCCa Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY for a lucky group of 85 fans.

Moderated by Ryan Sands, the SVA alum discussed “Steven Universe”, her older comics like “Margo in Bed” and “Pug Davis”, her new art book, diversity in animation, and much more. Most importantly, she plays her ukulele and reads some never before heard poetry!

Please follow and like us:
error

Rebecca Sugar fan Q & A at MoCCa Fest 2016

On April 3, 2016, Rebecca Sugar held a panel during the MoCCa Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY for a lucky group of 85 fans.

In the eighth and final video from this panel, Rebecca took questions from the fans, including what media the creators of “Steven Universe” reference in the show, what her plans are once the show is over and what she wants to do next, what to do creatively to grow as an artist, and the potential for cross-overs with other animated shows.

To see the full panel in one video, head to this link here

Please follow and like us:
error

Rebecca Sugar reads her poetry at MoCCa Fest 2016, ambiguity & time in animation

On April 3, 2016, Rebecca Sugar held a panel during the MoCCa Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY for a lucky group of 85 fans.

In part seven of eight videos, Rebecca discusses time in animation and comics, and the ambiguity of these art forms and how to control the viewer using these elements.

Sugar also tells us what is next for her outside of “Steven Universe” including a new book, and reads us some of her original poetry.

To see the full panel in one video, head to this link here

Please follow and like us:
error

Rebecca Sugar on early comics “Margo in Bed” and “Pug Davis”

On April 3, 2016, Rebecca Sugar held a panel during the MoCCa Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY for a lucky group of 85 fans.

In part six of eight videos, Rebecca discusses her early comics “Margo in Bed” (who acted as a prototype for Lapis lazuli in “Steven Universe”) and “Pug Davis”, and the creative process behind these comics and what she learned by doing them.

To see the full panel in one video, head to this link here

Please follow and like us:
error

Rebecca Sugar on “Steven Universe” and her relationship with her brother

On April 3, 2016, Rebecca Sugar held a panel during the MoCCa Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY for a lucky group of 85 fans.

In part three of eight videos, Rebecca discusses “The Test” and what she personally puts into every show along with the relationship with her brother, and the easter eggs and depth in the world of “Adventure Time” and “Steven Universe”.

Check out the full Rebecca Sugar panel at this link here.

Please follow and like us:
error

Rebecca Sugar on image repertoire in comics & animation

On April 3, 2016, Rebecca Sugar held a panel during the MoCCa Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY for a lucky group of 85 fans.

In part five of eight videos, Rebecca mentioned some famous musicians that may be singing on “Steven Universe” soon, and the importance of the diverse music used in the show.

Sugar also discussed one of her early comics called “Don’t cry for me, I’m already dead” which is about two friends who relate to each other using Simpsons quotes, and why the visual language of image repertoire is important for her and vital to art.

To see the full panel in one video, head to this link here

Please follow and like us:
error

Rebecca Sugar on gender & sexual diversity in “Steven Universe”

On April 3, 2016, Rebecca Sugar held a panel during the MoCCa Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY for a lucky group of 85 fans.

In part four of eight videos, Rebecca discusses gender diversity in “Steven Universe” and why it is important for young kids to understand why it is okay to feel the way they do.

“If you wait to tell kids, to tell queer youth that it matters how they feel or that they are even a person, then it is going to be too late. You have to let it be what it gets to be for everyone… You are told that you should dream about love, this fulfilling love that you are going to have… like the Prince and Snow White are not someones parents. They are something you want to be and are dreaming of a future where you will find happiness Why shouldn’t everyone have that? It’s really absurd to think that everyone shouldn’t get to have that.”

Sugar also whipped out the ukulele to play a song for us related to her thoughts on this topic, “So this is love” from Cinderella. And the fans go crazy!

To see the full panel in one video, head to this link here

Please follow and like us:
error

Rebecca Sugar on her creative journey towards “Steven Universe”

On April 3, 2016, Rebecca Sugar held a panel during the MoCCa Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY for a lucky group of 85 fans.

In part two of eight videos, Rebecca talks about how she went from “being just a cog” in animation into storyboarding “Adventure Time” and ultimately making her own show and writing “Steven Universe”. Sugar also talks about the creative process behind the episodes and how each show gets put together.

To see the full panel in one video, head to this link here

Please follow and like us:
error