Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Interview with Mike Birbigilia


For the past 2 weeks I have been daydreaming of what it would be like to have someone famous tweet on your behalf. Imagine if all of Brad Bird's dedicated flock were directed to my Kickstarter page. With a single button press floods of donations and flattering comments would be showered upon me. Ah the power of celebrity twitter - so close and yet so far. The constant gnawing anxiety that has been with me ever since I launched my Kickstarter campaign would abate I would be able to return to my comfy existence of drawing, drawing and more drawing. While noodling around yesterday and trying to think of something pithy to tweet to Brad Bird I stumbled upon Mike Birbigilia's twitter account. I will preface the next statement by saying I am a fan of Mike Birbigilia but do not follow him as I didn't see how a comedian could be of any help to the promotion of my film. My interest in social media at this point is 100% financially based. BUT Mike Birbigilia has over 300,000 followers.  This puts Brad Bird's numbers into perspective. I scanned Mike Birbigilia latest tweets to see if I could come up with a witty retort but nothing came to mind and knowing that it was futile, I forged on with the usual drawing, dinner, TV and sleep. However just when I thought I had put my superficial concerns with social media status on the back burner my subconscious kicked in.

I found myself wandering around the twitterverse which was more or less New York city in the late 70's, my 'campaign' in tow. I met Cher in a open loft where she kindly agreed to tweet on my behalf and went into her control centre which was one part command deck of the USS Enterprise and one part Missy Elliot video. Cher worked her magic and returned my 'campaign' to me which was contained in an important looking briefcase-like strong box. I thanked her and continued on my aimless meandering. As I was walking down a vast empty street I noticed an office with floor to ceiling windows. What an incredible coincidence. This was Mike Birbiglia's headquarters, where all things Birbiglia go down. I stood outside. I should go in, no, bad idea nothing will come of it and it will just be embarrassing. Yes, no, yes, no finally the voice of positivity wins - arguing that I need to take risks in order to reap rewards. To my amazement my highschool friend Helen DuToit is in the main office looking very successful in a pair of hot reading glasses and she (as it turns out) is Mike Birbiglia's right hand gal. At the moment I enter Brigilia HQ, Helen is reading scripts. Because of his overwhelming fame and incredible twitter following, Mike Birbigilia gets tons of scripts each week from eager potential collaborators. I go over to Helen and we have a quick girlie reconnect and she agrees to review the campaign and pass it on to Mike. Overjoyed by my luck and seeing Helen's presence as some kind of sign, I feel pretty damn cocky walking into Mike B's expansive and expensive board room. Helen opens up the strong box and presses play - horror, instead of my promo a hundred little randomly edited You Tube clips play a garbled muck. What the hell? Cher has recut my promo video! That's what all that showy command deck crap was about. Helen looks up at me with a look of withering disdain. "Umm just fast forward it should be there," I blurt out. She scrubs the video back and forth for a few minutes while I sit by panicked looking at the screen in disbelief. "I don't know how this happened," I say with a thin layer of nervous condensation blooming on my face. Helen gives it another nano second then leaves the room with a frosty silence and returns to the pile of scripts waiting for her on the big important table next door. Just at that point the man himself enters. "Hey, Helen tells me you have a campaign for a short film," Mike Birbigilia says to me. "Yes," I say tentatively the facial condensation has now turned into a full-on drippy sweat. To make matters worse the white trash hicks from Orange is the New Black who somehow have become associated with me have started to fill out forms demanding lattes and hot drinks. "Can you believe these guys?" I mime to Mike, mortified that I should have brought this posse into his sacred domain. 

I make my excuses about a screw up at the beginning of the video as he pushes play and starts watching. Mike Birbiglia is across the table from me his eyes are on the screen. Unable to see the video myself, I focus on his expression as he watches. Then a horrible thing happens. He seems unfazed by the garbage at the front end of the video but it's his reaction once the actual promo starts playing that gets me. He is totally and utterly bored by what he is watching. I can hear the audio and now with his expression as my barometer everything I hear sounds painfully slow and and dull. I have blown it. Totally. Even with an 'in' I failed to deliver. Mike Birbigilia is so disinterested he pushes the stop button before the video has finished. He looks up at me. We are both on the same page in that moment. I am the first to speak, "You know the sad thing is is I am a big fan of yours - I mean I really like your stuff. I was sure this would work." The lights in the office have dimmed now everyone else has gone. He just looks at me quietly as we both grab our coats to leave. Outside, we are now at the Maida Vale underground station in London. He looks at me and says, "Do you want to go for a drink at the Stone Pony?" I pause for a second. Mike Birbiglia has just asked me to go for a drink. My daughter who has suddenly been transported into the scene and I both look at each other -we can barely contain our excitement. We are going to a bar with Mike Birbiglia. I look back at him acting non-chalant, "Sure that sounds great."  Its then that I notice he is wearing a big soft corduroy coat that is well worn and looks totally cozy. I touch his sleeve, it reminds me of the old school one that Louis CK wears. But this is much softer it feels like it is filled with down. No tweets but a real live sure-to-be-entertaining bar conversation on the horizon. What could be better than that?



Friday, September 13, 2013

Creamers Kickstarter Campaign 2013

Whew wee what a ride... in the last week or so it has been a non stop social media frenzy to support and promote my Kickstarter fundraising campaign for Creamers. The only real way a project like mine can swim to the top of the shark pool is with a constant steady drip of reminders. Email, tweets, facebook you name it - anything that creates an online presence. The enjoyable aspect of  all of this is the great feedback and connections I make. Re-connections and new connections - its nice to have your solo pursuit float outside of your own little domain for a while. So if you have come to this blog through some other form of media - please check out the Creamers Film facebook page for more art than is here right now and more importantly my Kickstarter campaign. 25 days to go and counting!





Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner




What a long haul animation is. It makes me feel slightly better when I hear how long other independent shorts have taken: 8 years, 13 years, 7 years. After the first long break I have had from Creamers in a couple of years I sat down in front of my 50,000 plus files and really had to dig deep to open them up. There is so much energy involved in just keeping track of it all. Despite the fact that I dish out the KISS principle to every other artist/student I know, I have definitely NOT applied it to myself. I am my own worst enemy and all that. Why make it simple when you can make it complicated. Its a tired old cliche but amazingly enduring.

Still I am chewing away and have dropped an entire sequence thanks to the sage advice of a very talented artist Michael Mueller who is helping me out when he is not art directing games. So my bunny sequence is on the floor. It never really did make much sense and was more or less an excuse for me to animate rabbits. It was supposed to represent that time in the early morning when you have been working all night and anything and I mean anything can make you cry – well make me cry and I know I am not totally alone on that one.

Keep on trucking and try not to nap too much. Ester and I are morphing into one….




Friday, June 29, 2012

Painted Textures, Ambient Light and More Time Savers from the 3D Department of One


Since my previous post on 2D and 3D there have been some new and glorious little victories in the land of Creamers. Despite the fact that Dave Delisle the Creamers 3D guy and more importantly the dedicated master behind Dave’s Geeky Ideas  not too mention Dave’s Geeky Hockey  suggested creating 2D painted textures for some of the scenes I must have dismissed it as the previous attempts were so dismal. Anyhooch, about a month ago he mentioned it again so we embarked on a bunch of tests. First one was not so hot as we used a really old painting of mine


and we got this
But the second round Dave gave me this

 
I painted it in TV Paint with the custom film brushes and gave him this


Then we got this
Yes!... I think it is going to work – this was HUGE as it meant that my epic shot of some 600 plus frames of Ester dancing around the pool could actually be feasible. I think I was dreaming before thinking I could actually paint every frame of that MF, stencil technique or no stencil technique. (see January’s post)


So then to take it a step further I did 3 slightly different versions of the texture and we created a boiling hold which again was looking pretty good.



Hand Painted Texture - Boiling Hold from Hilary Moses on Vimeo.


Now the flood gates were opened.  Yet another to do tab on the master spreadsheet. A whole long list of models to unwrap UVs to be created and painted. 

 
While I have been painting for the last 2 weeks I thought of the artist someone told me about who painted nothing but jean textures at EA for 6 years.


It is probably some kind of nerdy urban myth but this kind of stuff really puts what I am doing into perspective for me. It may be a lot of work but Creamers is rarely boring, a lot more colourful and now not only do I not have to draw a gazillon creamers I don’t have to paint them either – thanks Dave!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Drawing 195 Shots


“Do everything by hand, even when using the computer.”
Hayao Miyazaki


Whew – well I think I can say that I am half way through. And I can definitely say its been a drawing marathon.  I have just edited a cut of 14 and half minutes of rough animation.  For the first time in my life I am not drawing at my light table. The purchase of a 21 inch Cintiq made possible by my generous crowd source contributors meant that I could go completely and truly paper free. I ditched the beautiful 60D camera I had to capture drawings and my groovy line testing station is now gathering dust.


This meant a significant streamlining of my pipeline. Aaah streamlining...

 
But it doesn’t mean any less drawing, really.  I still spend hours upon hours scribbling.  But now its on a monitor and not a light table – hence the Miyazaki quote. So in the true sense of art imitating life I do look pretty much like Ester
 
To keep those hours moving faster, I am forever listening to chat - talk radio, plays, comedy and for the long haul stuff audio books. This last push I went through almost 80 hours of audio books. First up was Game of Thrones which meant I had to have this on my desktop to keep track of who was shagging who. 



Next up was The Stand by Stephen King for a little light entertainment chaser. Hibernating up on the rainy coast of BC with only the walking dude for company can make you little mental.  

 
Phase two - Clash of Kings, more drawing and maybe some filling in.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2D to 3D and Back Again

It’s no surprise that there is a huge irony to a story about a woman who doesn’t want to paint so many creamers which is drawn by a woman who doesn’t want to have draw and paint so many creamers. I was also still labouring under the illusion that I was going to roto this epic opening camera move. With this in mind I thought that maybe, somehow if I could work with a 3D guy and create texture map like this

And he modeled all the teapots and creamers and cups and what not maybe we could save time and make the 3D look like the 2D. The result were pants.

It was 2004 and if cel shaders were around then (which they probably were) I didn’t know about them. I returned to old school and started drawing (on paper scanned in) and painting in photoshop.

It took ages and the results were okay but nothing special given the effort. Over the years I have come to realize that I am willing to put in the effort but only if the results warrant it. I used to just attack things without much forethought and then after the sweat had crystallized I would sit back and look at the outcome and go meh. This was another one of those moments where I knew the route I started was a dead end. Hand painting like this was not only time consuming it would be an impossible task to ‘farm out’ as consistency would be too difficult to manage.

Years later when I returned to Creamers – software had improved, I had let go of my Touch of Evil opening shot and I hooked up with a new 3D guy Dave Delisle who was able to model Ester and Joy’s workspace plus a perfect creamer incredibly quickly and accurately. We then created a flat simple texture for the painted creamer and rendered the environment with a few lights and a toon shader…hmmm maybe….

Using the method of stencil painting I had been working with in TV Paint for the characters I was hopeful I could use the Maya line and tone export as paint stencils. I wouldn’t have to draw all those creamers- I would only have to run big brush over my stencil and it should match the ‘look’. Even more importantly it would be simple and easy to teach. I did a test drive before I got too excited and Dave created this

Using my photoshop mask technique for my line I grunged it up and got this

Then I started stenciling in areas of colour

Then finally I got this – there are a lot of layers but each one takes a blink to create and can be merged once done.


Stencil Painting for Creamers Background Art from Hilary Moses on Vimeo.

Then we started our production line of backgrounds and creamer variations. Dave was given a reference drawing that also showed light sources and how many creamers were on the shelf and what the pattern was (if any) – continuity has been a bit of a unexpected nightmare on this film. Are they dots are they circles? yaddayaddayadda

And he would give me an unpainted creamer and a painted creamer version of the layout

This meant I could go from this

to this

In a manageable amount of time…well relatively manageable in animation terms not any sane person’s terms.