Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Intergalactic Kung Fu Zombies - Ep1a Animation!



It is the 23rd Century...

Earth has long since been abandoned after the inevitable zombie apocalypse, and is now not much more than a backwater post apocalyptic wasteland. However, Dead Earth is still inhabited by the unfortunate masses of peoples trying to survive after the wealthy and powerful were evacuated during the Zombie Uprising. Day by day, they attempt to make a normal life amidst the crumbled remains of what were once great cities and nations - whilst fighting off the thriving undead that roam it's surface.

Humanity has spread across the stars, and the cross cultural frontiers & explorations have begun anew, as more and more interstellar civilizations are encountered. History does indeed have a way of repeating itself, does it not? Because of this, the Interstellar Embassy was created. It's existence enables a more or less amenable co-existence between the various races and species - keeping enough order to discourage an eruption into complete chaos and war.

Enter the Intergalactic Kung Fu Zombies.

They have no memory of who they once were in their mortal lives.
They are not like other zombies, such as those from Dead Earth.

They are in fact, much more than that...

They awoke aboard their BattleCruiser - the Coffin - 1, with but a brief greeting by the G.H.O.S.T - a mysterious Artificial Intelligence whose only purpose seems to be the vigilance of the cosmos, though it's location is completely unknown. It keeps their old identities a secret, and they are not even sure if the digital persona even really knows what their days amongst the living entailed. Regardless of the situation, the G.H.O.S.T. always pays them handsomely for their efforts, which enables them to upkeep the Coffin-1 BattleCruiser and expand their arsenal. A question remains however, since their zombification is likely sourced by the same mutagen or virus that spawned the Zombie Uprising back on Dead Earth long ago...

Sheena: She is a weapons expert, and also the leader & strategist of the group.
Adventurous, no nonsense, efficient and thorough, Sheena brings a level headed perspective to the team. Once given a mission, she won't waste any time, only targets. Incredibly driven, stubborn and determined to see every mission through without losing any of her crew, she will often go the extra mile to take on the biggest threats head on - to ensure that everyone makes it through.
She may be a deceased beauty, but don't let her looks deceive you... or else!

Tork: A cybernetically enhanced and sustained powerhouse. Tork is skilled with machinery, combat, strategy and various war tactics and intelligence. Though he rarely shows a willingness to take lead of the group, he will at times commandeer the trio - as his ways with war have proven to be full of an ageless yet quiet wisdom. He has often pulled the group through some tough situations.
His grim countenance reveals very little, especially when coupled with his sheer brute force. It is believed his cybernetic & mechanical anatomy is a result of severe physical trauma perhaps experienced during his death... prior to his revival as he is known today.

Gash: He is the infiltration and demolitions expert, and his combat preferences lie in small arms and his trusty blade. Yet another enigmatic reanimated mercenary, Gash seems to always be scowling, as his not knowing who he was prior to his 'awakening' aboard the Coffin-1 has made him a bit bitter and angry. For the most part, he is mistrustful of the G.H.O.S.T. but sees that the missions the IKFZ are given by it are always for a greater benefit, not to mention the hefty sums of Kredits that come with the job.

Together they are a trio of hardened undead mercenary warriors.

They are...


Ep1a - Dr. Oculus & the Thermo Hadronic Canon

SPECIAL THANKS TO ANDREW @ www.songstowearpantsto.com for the IKFZ theme song!

This cartoon was an ENORMOUS amount of work to put together, done mainly by one person, with another lending a hand for rigging characters and taking on this insurmountable task! Had to learn After Effects 'from scratch', and only had about 3 months to do this in.

If you're interested about the process, commentary, the experience of making this thing, or the background of this project, you can read about it here -

Thanks for checking it out! I hope you enjoyed it and it made you feel like watching those old cartoons again!

Animation Project - IKFZ

They Came from Within the Coffin - Behind the Scenes of the Intergalactic Kung Fu Zombies

The Concept:

Create a spoof/ homage of 80's & 70's cartoons and TV shows. Add a dash of 'grindhouse' flavour.
Especially stuff like 'Spiderman & Friends', Batman (Adam West), Thundercats,Knight Rider, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, the A-Team, even stuff like Mission Impossible, and Charlie's Angels (with a twist, of course ;) ).

The Challenge:

After doing quite a bit of research, we decided to just go with what I already have so the first major challenge was learning Adobe After Effects from scratch. Other than that, managing, directing, keeping track of what was where and what needed doing was overwhelming, especially when trying to keep up with the INSANE deadline we just casually came up with (wtf were we thinking?!?!) and executing this whole brain addled project, storyboarding, writing, scoring, animating, etc etc, and try to complete the whole project within 3 months.

The Madness Begins:

At the beginning, I started with concepts and sketches for the characters, as well as brainstorming their iconic vehicle, supporting cast, general synopsis, and their mysterious back stories (which are yet to be revealed). Then Coming up with the character concepts, vehicles, personalities, but more importantly - mixing up all the ingredients that made all those shows so memorable, inspirational and nostalgic for me, but keeping it all wrapped up within an original package. The main thing I kept asking myself throughout this whole process was "Would I watch this? Would I be crazy about a show like this?".

A Traumatic Experience:

This thing went from being a 3 minute short, to 5 minutes, to 7 minutes, to the end result of just over 9 minutes in length. With just two people working on it, that really adds up, and we quickly realized what an insane undertaking we'd just committed to. I created the majority of all the artwork, storyboarding, character pieces, 3d modelling, texturing, creating & arranging the 'sets' in AE's 3d setup, and on and on and on. Mia rigged the majority of the characters, did loads of animating as I burned away to a crisp carcass on creating all the image and art assets.
I couldn't really tell you how many hours went into the making of this thing... but a 16 hour day from morning to dawn was not an uncommon thing on the weekends at all! (My chair is now flat and cushionless... OUCH!)

The Theme:

We decided to hire good ol' Andrew @ www.songstowearpantsto.com - and it has been a really good thing. The theme he came up with for the IKFZ really helped to keep the vision rolling along in our heads as we worked through this cartoon. We gave him a pretty basic overview of what we wanted, as well as what we didn't want it to be too obviously close to. And boy did he deliver!

It's catchy, it's funny, and it really does remind me of those days I'd spend sitting on top of the washing machine, entranced by the array of characters that inspired my imagination and kept me company on afternoon and Saturday morningsalike, armed with a hefty bowl of cereal and some cookies, of course!

Cause I love to Score:

I like making music, and I especially love movie scores and video game music... So this naturally was another opportunity for me to get to do some of that! I play bass, guitar, keyboards, and anything else I can get my claws on, just the way I do my artwork. Mix it all up and get what's crawling around in my head out there! I also have been working on music for a looooong time - again, fueled by my love of video games, movies and cartoons. In fact, those are the types of things I first learned to play (I only play by ear, I cannot for the life of me read music... wish I could though, might help me improve!)

The Whole Undead Enchilada: (delicious!)

It really was an insane and perhaps overly ambitious leap to tackle this thing. But the fact that it allowed me to do all the type of work I enjoy doing - proffessionally, artistically, passionately, creatively - really helped to fuel my being able to get up and crack away on this project, even on those nights that my body complained or that I would have rather been shooting some newbs on the Xbox, or cracking some criminal skull in Batman Arkham Asylum (which is an OMG WOW game, I can't wait to go play it again... haven't touched it in WEEKS!). We both really pushed ourselves to the extreme with this project, and I really want to thank everybody who supported us, cheered us on, and put up with our cave dwelling ways for the last few weeks.

Music, art, film, animation, comics, directing, telling stories, and breathing life into characters & worlds, universes, is what I ultimately enjoy & love doing, on every level I possibly can. And if the opportunity arose for me to somehow, some way, allow the characters and ideas to run off and take on a life of their own, sustain themselves and me creating them, enabling them, I could do this sort of thing full time... I would totally go for it.
All in all - IKFZ is but a taste of all the things I love doing... and it's both an honor and a great pleasure to be able to share this with you all. Give it a shot and a viewing, and if you like it, or know someone else who, like me, grew up with this stuff - kindly pass it along!


Was it worth it? You'll have to let me know... Would I do it again? I think that's unavoidable at this point. Doing this type of stuff is incredibly addicting, and being able to utilize all my skills and push myself into doing many things I would normally not be doing - well, let's just say it's really tough, keeps me on my toes, helps keep me sharp, right?

And you know that old saying... whatever doesn't kill me, only makes me stronger. (a little stubborness goes a long way, too) ;)

Thanks for listening, thanks for watching, and I hope you enjoy yourself and this makes you feel like watching some of those cartoons again.

Sal aka TDC

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cyber Gunslinging

Cyber Gunslinging
A dream I had, and this is it's story.

It started with a typical, semi-cloudy, sunlit gorgeous day - a day unaware of the trouble and dread that was in store for those witnessing it. This was a terribly beautiful day out and about. The chaos that followed didnt start outside, however. It all started where I was. In an old antique shop. You know the kind. The mom n' pop kind of shop. The kind that gives you strange vibes as you pass by. The one with all the yellowed walls and stained glass lamps. Trinkets abound on shelves and counters alike. Strange statues at every turn. An older gentleman behind the counter. A plump jolly fellow, with a mustache, balding head, round glasses, and bow tie with matching suspenders. There I was, observing and taking the atmosphere in wearing my charcoal gray trench coat, my black worn jeans with all the pockets n zippers, the usual somewhat faded t-shirt with some monster on it - typical TheDarkCloak, right?

Or so I thought. Anyways, so I'm browsing the many sights and wonders of the shop. Something in the back of my mind telling me that I was supposed to be looking for something in particular. Something... sinister. The shop door opened, I heard the chime behind me so I turned my head slightly to look. A tall thin man in a black trench coat & black duster hat entered, heading straight for the counter. It seemed as if he was completely unaware of and had complete disregard as to the kind of shop he was in. Only it didnt seem or feel like it was a man at all. Suddenly, this thing in black starts smashing stuff, knocking things aside, off the counter, the register crashing down onto the floor, then turning his attention briefly towards the shop keeper long enough to fling him into a wall. The black figure then glides around the counter, tears a bookcase down to the floor, sending books and figures flying as well. Very intent, this humanoid took something from a small indentation on the wall behind where the bookcase once stood. Just as quickly as he had come in, the figure proceeded straight for the door, inhuman in it's calmness, diabolical coldness towards the destruction it was waling away from. Glass crunching underneath it as it strode, carelessly stepping on priceless books and clocks.
He was gone from the store.I wasn't sure how to react just yet, but from the corner of my eye I could see that the owner was frantically getting up. He said to me plain and simple... "You need to get that back! Severe consequence would follow if we don't have it back!". I was tempted to ask who 'we' was. But I knew I had to act now, ask questions later. As I walked fast towards the door, I could hear him rambling about the key and the artifact of some strange name. I dont recall exactly, I just know that it was very important, and probably supernatural - the kind of thing you'd only expect in an Indiana Jones flick or something. As I made my way out the door, I could see the trench coated figure pulling some poor sap out of his four door car, and flooring the pedal in the still running beige coloured vehicle. Without hesitation, I took off after him. I gave chase just in time to jump on the car.Roaring past pedestrians, onlookers, and motorists all around in this moment of sheer chaos, they surely must have wondered what the hell was going on. Struggling to hang on as I lay on the back of the car, I started making my way up to the roof. The would be thief accelerating and breaking as he zipped through traffic, dodging poles, knocking over shopping carts, and freaking people out the whole way... I knew where this high-speed rampage was headed... onto the express way. I knew I had to act fast. I swore as I pulled myself up, to hold onto the driver side window frame, my body sliding around the roof of the car. I reach in and start bashing him as he's driving, he responds by swerving and barely missing cars, trucks, even lane dividers.

We must have been going at least 80 miles per hour, as best as I could judge, anyway. He jerks my arm back out the window, the wind resistance nearly knocking me off the car. I managed to spiral from the momentum around and towards the passenger door, and this was my opportunity to get myself in a better position & situation. The whole appeal of being on top of the car while speeding madly down the highway wore off very quick. I finally make it, gracefully I am hoping at this point, and manage to get in through the passenger window - just as we zipped past a van with a loud woosh! Now, being in the car - well, this only made matters worse it seemed. The wrestling and battering continued. It then struck me. I didnt notice his face until a brief moment as we were fighting. The moment seemed to lurch to a freeze frame as I got in a glance at what I thought would be his eyes... And my first & only thought was "what the fuck?".

The struggle and the winding of the car immediately snapped me back into the matter at hand. I saw that we were heading towards an exit, so I pulled on the steering wheel while pushing his face out the window. I knew this exit. I knew the area. It was close to my old neighborhood. I took all this in when we jerked violently to a halt. We had just hit a telephone pole. The cliche' is that it seems to happen in slow motion. I can't express how much that cliche' applies here. He went flying straight through the windshield, bursting out, shards of glass splashing out with him, he and the glass hitting the asphalt ahead, flipping and skittering along the way.

I recomposed myself as best and as much as I could, and then staggered out the side of what remained of the now smashed up vehicle. Looking up, I saw him a few feet up ahead, laying there after sliding & grinding on the pavement to a full stop... motionless. But then, he started moving again - uninjured? The black trench got up, casually put his hat back on as he was doing so. His coat happened to flap in such a way, that I saw he had a gun... He shot a glance my way, flashed what I could only interpret as a taunt, flat out daring me to pursue him further.

So, as we stood there looking at eachother - surely making Sergio Leoni and the tradition of those old westerns proud - I had to respond in kind, when I realised I too, was packing 'heat'.

He took off running hightailing it down the street, drawing his gun as he did so. 'Just fucking great...', I muttered as I too, withdrew my firearm and began running to hunt him down.

What began as a chase, quickly became a shootout. He was sprinting through the streets, and I was not going to allow myself to lose my target. Both pursuant and pursuee shooting and zipping to and fro, hiding behind cars along the way, dodging traffic, pushing confused and startled pedestrians aside, and yet it the chase seemed as if it were on a set & rehearsed path of destruction. As if this was exactly where we were supposed to be heading. He made a quick turn into an alley, I paused, took aim, held my breath & shot his leg.

But this couldn't and shouldn't be... his leg should have been knocked out from under him, but instead it appeared as if the impact had only made him flinch, and he kept running with minimal interruption. A roll of the eyes by my part, a frustrated grunt, and the chase resumed. Running and running, you get the idea. Cardboard boxes and paper inexplicably flying everywhere, the works.

Finally, the hot pursuit came to an anxiety and paranoia inducing halt at the mouth of the alley. Here the streets intersected in what would form a K shape on a map. I lost him. Damnit. I peer around on alert, my senses going crazy, looking for the faintest movement. After what seemed like hours, a matter of seconds sluggishly taking place, I see his head just through a car window. He seemed preoccupied with something, as if he was completely unaware of where he was,what had just taken place, and no longer actually hiding from me... almost as if he was stopping for a conversation? This was my moment, I decided to 'get his attention' again.

The bullet went right through the first and second window. exploding in a glittery mess. Oh, I had his attention all right. The intermission ended as he snapped out of whatever he had going on, and the shoot out was officially continuing. Like rabid gunslingers, we shot at eachother while moving like skilled fencers or gymnasts, it was like a dance of opposing forces. Bullets flying every which way as windows got smashed on vehicles - sending alarms blaring here and there, buildings, houses, not to mention the ones ricocheting off brick walls, fences, and the dumpsters behind me. The popping sounds, accompanied by the whizzing ricochets all seemed to be melodic & rythmic. It was quite dramatic even. I stopped briefly for we both had to reload.

Lucky for me I was behind a nice heavy pick up truck, and he was right in the middle of the street. I was all loaded up and good to go. Diving out again from behind the truck I finally landed a good shot into him. He wasnt done reloading, and the bullet landed & pierced somewhere in the throat. Though I wasn't completely surprised after seeing the results of having shot him in the leg, shockingly enough, the throat wound didn't kill him... just stunned him and immobolized him enough for me to get up close. He was making some odd noises and spazzing out as I rushed him, and I took a good hard swing at him knocking the mysterious black trenched figure down and on his back. I bent down and took his gun, but it was then that I really got a good look at him.

No not him...


My disbelief from my freeze frame moment during our battle inside the car was not imagined. This thing I had been fighting was not even human at all. As it lay there stunned, it's head jerking about intermittently - I suppose attempting to recompose itself from the hit and what I can only interpret as surprise - I saw that it's eyes were not even placed like a human's... It's eyes were arranged & mounted into it's visage more like a bug, or even more like a strange kind of video monitoring unit using several little cameras and LED's. Like a compact version of one of those machines you see at the optometrist office. I suppose it didnt expect someone like me to have gotten the best of it. I knew what had to be done. I shot it in the head, and it fried, spazzed, convulsed, and probably short circuited. It gave a shudder as bolts, wires, springs, steam, and what have you spilled out everywhere. It's trench falling aside, I saw the object I went through so much trouble to retrieve.

I picked up the relic. The item this thing was coveting oh so much. I couldnt help but wonder why. Why such an intricate machine was sent out to retrieve this? Why was this relic so important? What consequences and who's? These questions spiraled through out my mind like a tornado in Kansas.

Looking at the relic, I started walking back towards the alley. Suddenly... I heard screeching, cars puling up all over behind me on the K intersection. It couldn't be. That's probably what the trenched creature was doing behind the car just a bit before... the conversation it was wrapped up in was exactly that, a transmission, a request.

Back up.

Squads of those things came out of each vehicle. It was quite an impressive sight. Quite a creepy sight at that for they all looked the same. A brief moment came to pass. I stood there before them, putting the relic away inside my coat as robotic 'eyes' met mine. I looked across them all before me, their mechanical digits twitching in anticipation, sizing me up, judging me... A hammer the size of hell was about to be dropped right here, right now. I reacted the only way I could at this point. Guns drawn, I started shooting like there was no tomorrow.

They responded in kind.

If the shooting from before was melodic, then this... this was a grand symphony of burnt gunpowder, flying bullets, and spent casings. There was too many of them, I realized, as I started to retreat back into the alley. Walking backwards, I steadily kept shooting, and so did they. I felt something hit me. I had gotten taken a slug. But, something wasn't right here. Unexpected. It did not feel right, how you'd think it would feel. It felt like a stone was flung at me and nothing more. I was shot in the arm, and it rocked me a bit. But, it was fine, the only thing was getting jerked a bit from the impact, the pain however was next to nothing.

A bit startled at what had happened, regardless I kept shooting, reloading, and shooting some more - mindful to keep the bullets flying in their direction. If there ever was a moment for another one of those slow motion cliche's, this was it. Bullets whizzing past me, the dumpster behind me in the alley now quickly becoming swiss cheese. As much as I moved, as much as I weaved and tumbled, I got shot again, and again. In the knee, in side of my stomach. Felt those. The stomach hurt a little harder, knocked the wind out of me a bit, and the gunshot to the leg made me stagger at the point of impact, this and nothing more. Somehow I was fine. Regardless of how this was going, I kept blazing, the barrels on my guns searing hot, as I took many of them out, the fact that there were so many of them clumped together guaranteeing some easy targets and hits.

Amazing, there was at least three handfuls of them left. I take another big impact, suddenly I am looking at the sky, as I figure out I got shot right over my eye in the forehead. My head snaps forward again, the impact from that shot was major. They were intent on destroying me, this I knew of course, but I also sensed fear in them... I kept pulling the triggers, but their gunfire had started to overwhelm me, and I started slowing down. I just knew I had to be going down. Needless to say, I kept pumping rounds off. Their aim seemed to be getting better or I seemed to be moving slower. I felt more bullet impact in the face & chest. This couldn't be pretty. 'It's over...' I thought... 'ok, it's over'.

But it wasnt.

Despite all logic told me, I was not going down. I would almost be brought down to one knee, only to stand up again, resgurging, I wasnt dying. And then it happened, my field of vision started cracking, holes in my sight, reality shattering even. As if the image before me was all painted on glass over the deepest, emptiest, & blackest void. I was shocked. I felt... that perhaps I was like them? But there had to be more to this story!

What was going on with me? Yet more questions bubbled up, as more and more of them were shot down. Was I actually surviving this? The same question came up screaming at me... AM I ONE LIKE THEM? Maybe more advanced? Only a couple of them left, now. The thoughts raging through my mind instilled part horror, part anger, & in some morbid and curious way, I felt wonder. I felt power. What was I that these beings were fighting me, what was I that I could face them like this?

I did not know the answer. In fact I didn't know if I wanted to know the answer. I just kept shooting... shooting... and my vision kept getting fuzzier, crackling and distorting, as it continued to shatter, cracking, breaking apart.. the last thing I saw was the last one get taken out... and it all faded to black silence as I woke up.

Or did I?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Nightmario Bros - The Nightmarish Mushroom Kingdom

Happy New Year! 

Kicking it off with a sneak preview of the Nightmario Bros. series of re-imagined characters from of course, what else? The Classic Nintendo game; Super Mario Bros!

If you're here through my DeviantArt page, you already know what this mess is all about, as you've probably already seen the Demented Goomba, and good ol' Spiny dropping Lakitu - The Terror of the Skies.
"But, 'Cloak," you say, "where are the Shy Guys? Mouser? The Koopa Kids?!?!' Don't worry! I gotcha covered. I will be doing a series of these for EACH of the SMB games. So SMB, SMB2, SMB3, and maaaaybe Super Mario World.
I've been doing these for a while, but they haven't been getting the attention I've been wanting to give them. So, for those folks who've been waiting for all of these for a while, THANKS! for your patience!

Anyways, enjoy the sketches for now, as I have a couple of other little surprises in store with the Nightmario Bros.

Stay Tuned!