Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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

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