Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Little Tikes, Big Rewards . . .

This project was a creative diamond in the rough. I had been waiting years to be involved in a project that provided such a strong sense of pride & accomplishment as this one did.
I had the real pleasure of working with two very special individuals, Ed Rodriguez & Debbie Middleton. The creative chemistry between the three of us, was perfection. Each of us had the greatest respect for the others strengths. The exchange of ideas, the conceptual flow as we worked through solving problems was effortless. Even though this task of developing Entertainment was like adding another full time job on top of our Product Development responsibilities, for me specifically, the enjoyment of this type of project was more than worth the insane schedule.
One of the greatest advantages of working on an Entertainment property for a Toy company is that you get to wear so many hats. Our involvement spanned from story creation & review of its development, through storyboard & animatic into rough & final animation, all the way through to the final edit. We drove the Visual Development from Character to Layout Design & overall shape language for the brand. As well as the direction of lighting & color. Our partnership with Mike Young Productions & the very dedicated & talented crew there, brought the vision to reality.
Needless to say, the process although compressed with in a very short time frame, was one of the most rewarding I have experienced in my career. I hope the future holds other journeys just like this one & with the same cast of creative characters, that of my very good friends.

Little Tikes Entertainment Design . . .

These are few of the layout & character designs.

Shape Language . . .

Visual consistency is very important on a project such as this. We had 4 shorts, although staggered in the schedule, they were at one point all in production at the same time. Each short had some aspect of its design handle by different Artists, a necessity when dealing with the sheer volume of work. These Design style sheets communicated overall shape language & were key to making sure the entire team was looking at every design solution with the same goal in mind. The ideal outcome was to have the whole project look as though it was created by one hand. Here is an example of one of the sheets from the short "Bubble Trouble".

Filling in the Details . . .

Since the production schedule was so compressed, with a very small window for design comments & corrections, we used the storyboard phase to effect lighting, staging and the adding in of missing elements from props to full blown backgrounds. If we didn't catch it here, there was no time to go back & add it in later. Here are a few examples of how I communicated these adjustments.

Color Direction . . .

Mike Young Productions provided amazing color comps, here are a few examples that were adjusted to reflect the Palette for the brand. Along with the softening of edges and a shorter depth of field to capture the soft quality we desired for the overall look & feel on these four 11 minute shorts.

Title Card & End Credit Backer Designs . . .

Here are the Title Cards & End Credit Backer Designs for the four shorts on this first DVD. This was a great exercise in simplified design. The color was minimal and the elements were few. I pored over old movie cards for inspiration and there is a great deal of beautifully designed work to be inspired by!

DVD Final Renders . . .

Great little stories, cute characters & adorable music!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fantasy in Visual Development

Here are a few more layouts with some of them digitally painted. Along with some prop studies. This a mix of various themes & styles.
The props are always an entertaining exercise for me, because it is a perfect opportunity to make the uninteresting, interesting. A concept shared with me in a conversation I was so fortunate to have had with the incredibly talented Designer, Carter Goodrich. Taking a simple individual object or objects & designing them in such a way that captures visual interest. By asking yourself, would that prop, or design element, or architectural detail stand on it's own as something visually appealing, the scene is much greater as a whole because of this attention to aesthetic detail.
If you have an appreciate for Great! Design & Illustration, I highly recommend you hunt down a copy of E.T.A. Hoffmann, "Nutcracker". It is a beautifully Designed & Illustrated book by Carter Goodrich. Easily in my Top 10 of collected Art books.
I have never forgotten his advice & have done my best to apply this thought process in every prop & layout design I create. I look for the importance of every prop in the scene as an exercise of visual appeal without getting caught up in too many details. Keeping it simple is my biggest challenge.
That darn kitchen Sink.

More Layouts & Props

Friday, July 16, 2010

Layouts with a different flavor!

Layouts with a different flavor, literally. The MGA Entertainment brand "Yummi-Land" offered me an opportunity to work with very fluid lines, actually it was something which I found much easier to deal with. I love the rhythms that flow through these designs. The playful shapes & fluid lines are what made this brand so appealing.
I couldn't get into this body of work without thanking a very special friend, Natasha Sasic. Nat the great, as I jokingly call her, was the genius creative behind ALL the designs for this amazing line of products. Nat's talent drove the look of virtually everything from the dolls to their pets & everything they wore. To the playsets and the accessories that went with them. She designed all the components for the Website,
Style Guides and for Packaging. With her talents & experience in Animation, she also oversaw the development of the direct to DVD Entertainment release: "Betsy Bubblegum's journey through Yummi-Land". And finally with her direction & or Post-it Note thumbnails, I got all the guidance needed to compose these layouts.

Literally . . .