Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bellator Commercial

Director Chris Stifel has done it again! His "Bellator" spot for MTV2 redefines the visual signature of this popular sport. His subjects transcend the ordinary and become superhuman, gutsy, powerful demigods of sports and entertainment. Each shot is galvanized in astonishing detail and fused with textures, motion and punch. Above are a few boards I designed for the spot. I worked with a General's Draughting pencil No. G314 on animation paper, in addition to ink studies which I scanned and painted digitally for the final boards. The full Bellator spot can be viewed by visiting Chris's web site at and clicking on "Director Reel 2."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Toon Boom Pipeline Fun

I have recently added Toon Boom Storyboard Pro to my production pipeline. I took advantage of the sale over the summer, and now some new projects have miraculously appeared to make the purchase worthwhile. I like that I can work in layers, and love the export options for QuickTime and PDF. It ain’t Photoshop, but then again, it isn’t designed to be a painting or compositing software - instead it is a tool for productivity, sequence creation, and scene management.
The best thing that software developers have done is to offer free tutorials to accompany their products. The Toon Boom tutorials by Sherm Cohen have been instrumental in getting me off to a running start. If you’ve seen them, Sherm’s sessions are friendly and easy to absorb. After a few chapters, I felt comfortable poking around and getting my project started, compiling questions as I go. When I am ready for the next step or if I am stuck I seek the next tutorial. Check out the link:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tree House, Thank You Disney!

New pre-vis drawing for a story I am working on.....Inpired by the vis dev and background drawings of Snow White and Bambi. While researching this project I am reminded of the reason I own so many books on the art of Walt Disney. For so many years Disney has inspired me and time and again I return to the genious artists who made so many movies so interesting upon repeated viewings. Each time I view a Disney classic, I see something new, something that incites a new curiousity and a renewed sense of study. From my first viewing of Pinnochio to my 100th, I still love Disney.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Mr. Demille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Over the weekend I chilled out to watch the TCM broadcast of the 1950 Billy Wilder Classic “Sunset Boulevard.” The film noir classic is still immersive. With lighting and photography by John F. Seitz (who also shot Double Indemnity) and co-written by Wilder and Charles Brackett, the films’ most stunning contribution for me was the performance of Gloria Swanson. Her silent era theatrics were perfect for the film star Norma Desmond, who lives a reclusive life waiting to make her big Hollywood comeback. William Holden plays struggling writer Joe Gillis, who reluctantly becomes her live-in companion to help her write her comeback script.

In real life Gloria Swanson was a famous and luxurious silent move era star. As Norma, Swanson could play to the balcony, mesmerizing the viewer with her delusional rants. Although she received many accolades for her performance, Swanson could never really make the transition into talking films, with this exception. She largely retired from movies after this perfomance.

Anyone who grew up in the 70’s like me can’t help but chuckle at the Carol Burnett Show send up of Sunset Boulevard. Before I was old enough to appreciate or even become exposed to this classic of cinema, my only association with Norma Desmond was Brunett’s over the top parody, which made Harvey Korman break character and laugh on nationwide TV.

Norma Desmond is a perfect performance for animators everywhere to study. Broad gestures, dramatic theatrics and a sneering face loaded with subtext. No doubt her influence is seen in classic Disney characters like Cruella de Vil, Madame Medusa and Yzma.

If you catch this film on TCM, stick around for the short commentary by Robert Osborne and Alec Baldwin. It’s the icing on the cake after a great experience.