#24MAG Issue 5 – Data

Wow am I behind on sharing this! Way the hell back in May we made Issue 5 of #24MAG, the magazine made in 24 hours by and for creatives. The theme for Issue 5 was Data, and you can read Issue 5 free online right here.

As ever, I made the launch video, as you can see above. I’m all over this issue – I took part in the large piece about gender and our traditional contributor profiles, I did a piece with Ben Cordes about the scientific method, I interviewed one of the moderators for MetaFilter about moderating the Boston bombing thread (the full text of this interview is online here), and then, at 1am, because I had some time to kill, I wrote a piece about getting PTSD from having my jaw broken in a mugging.

You can also buy our gorgeous print edition here.

Stay Real (Sock It To Me, Satan)

About a year ago, I made this video for Math The Band. When I lived in Providence, Kevin and Justine lived in the same artist community that I did. We met during one of the meet & greets, and kept running into each other doing our volunteer hours. (They are, by the way, rad people.) I mentioned that I do video (among other things), and they said they were looking to make one video for every song on their new album. I was given a March deadline, and apparently I was one of the only people to stick to deadline, ‘cuz they were still waiting on videos in September.

Anyway, here’s the idea: I created a karaoke video for the song where all the lyrics were replaced with mondegreens – nonsense phrases that sound similar enough to the real one that you could mis-hear them. I had six different people listen to the song and then perform while reading these fake lyrics for the first time, then animated illustrations of the fake lyrics. It was a shit-ton of work, but also a shit-FUN of work, if you sink my lure.

I’m not entirely sure the concept comes across without explanation. Also not entirely sure I care. Kevin and Justine just officially launched this video today, so it’s up to the world to decide now. Not that I’ll ever know; Rule #1 is Never Read The Comments.


From The Archives: 1t1d

From The Archives:

This is from a project I did during my year off from school (that is, before I dropped out). A friend gave me 14 random words and I was to make a single video every night for two weeks using one of the words as a prompt. (“1t1d” stands for “a thing a day.”)

This one was “frozen.”


Sprites for a small game project I’m working on with a couple Boston-area devs. (Forgive the compression artifacts in this animated GIF, but WordPress disallows embedding SWFs. You can view a smallish version of the Flash file here.)

It seems squiggly lines are here to stay. I’ve never been crazy about tweens, so I generally create a basic body shape on a guide layer, manipulate it how I want, and then trace each frame over it. The hand-drawn quality appeals to the same part of my brain that loves seeing thumbprints in claymation. But moreso, the subtle boiling has a way of smoothing out motion. If I draw zoomed in far enough, the squiggles are barely noticeable in the finish product (in the game itself, the sprites will be half this size). I’d like to figure out how to get a bit smoother still, but I might be reaching the upper limit with frame-by-frame. This might be the best I can do.

But I can see my technique with cartooning has improved since the ESL Panda Promo. That was only a few months ago, too. This kinda makes me want to tackle a short, for myself, without a client. We’ll see.

ESL Panda Promo

A promo I did earlier this year for ESL Panda.

When animating, I’ve mostly stuck to rotoscoping, so this is by far my longest and most complex work that is predominantly cartooning. Oh, there are rotoscoped bits peppered throughout – all the buildings, the world map, the panda – but I enjoyed mashing up a lot of different techniques. Trying to make a style that matches that of my high school drawing book – and keeping it consistent – was something I’d never done before.

With my critical eye, there’s a lot to pick apart. For instance, this is really a 1-minute promo in 30 seconds. There’s simply too much information. Even 30 seconds of animation can take so much work, so much time, that it’s easy to forget just how brief the finished product will be. It became most clear near the end when I listened with the voice-over, and it was dense as a neutron star – a neutron star made of information. I re-wrote the script to cut out about 1/3 of the words and slacken the pace, but that only achieved so much.

But let me be honest: this is, flat-out, the best animation I’ve ever done. Collating all my work on one site for the first time, it’s clear to see. A lot of time went into this, and I was ecstatic to see it finished. Warts? I don’t mind a few warts.

The Unmaking of I Am a Sex Addict

Snippet! My second collab with Caveh, and my first crack at rotoscoping. After One Minute Racist, Caveh wanted to do another animated film. He had this audio from a story he’d told at Porchlight in San Francisco, so we set about dramatizing it.

This project sat on a back burner for well over a year, but I hit the skids in early 2009 when I couldn’t find work. I contacted Caveh and said, “Let’s finish that short!” It was the only conceivable way to get paid at the time. Alan had backed out of the project by now, so I had to come up with a way to animate the talking narrator portion without claymation. (Hence the rotoscoping.) In the end, this film had 4 different styles – you can see the sketchbook scene, and a bit of the silhouetted rotoscope (Caveh pantomimed in front of a camera with the audio playing off his iPod); there was also a cartoony style for most of the story, similar to my portions of One Minute Racist, and a semi-realistic style for a film shoot toward the end (I was never entirely happy with that last one).

I worked about 70 hours a week on it for a month to get it done so I could pay late rent. I’ve probably never worked that hard on anything in my life – it was weirdly glorious, but only survivable because there was a deadline in sight. The closest I’ve ever come to Joseph Gordon-Levitt is we’re both on Wholphin #9.