Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tony's Ten # 3: Freedom



This is the third in my series of Tony's Ten reels. Music is by Sly and the Family Stone: Stand.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tony's Ten: Reel #2 - Ten Seconds of Witchcraft



This is the second in a series of promo reels called Tony's Ten. I chose this selection from the pitch art I designed for Lifetime's "The Witches of East End" television series. A captivating assignment I completed a few years ago, it's one of my favorites to share and is perfect for Halloween week.

Music is Dilauded, from The Mountain Goats great album The Sunset Tree.

Thanks for joining me.

Tony's Ten - Ten Reels, Ten Weeks, Ten Seconds.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Have 10 seconds? That's all it takes to watch my latest 10 second reel!

In this new series of videos, I've taken my latest storyboards and fit them into ten seconds. 
At about 1 second for each storyboard, that's 10 boards in 10 seconds. I call the series Tony's Ten. 

Ten seconds reels, ten reels, once a week, delivered in this update. 



Take a break for ten seconds. See this week's Tony's Ten. Each reel contains a different audio track from my favorite musicians - most likely used without their permission, but always with reverence. 


This week's reel is accompanied by The Chieftains - Ireland Moving: Ireland Moving-Train Sequence.

Tony's Ten: Ten Reels, Ten Seconds Each, Once a Week.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Swiffer Pushes Their Duster Across Social Media

Screen shots taken from Swiffer's Facebook page

When you have a brand, push it. 

That's what Swiffer did after it released it's Swiffer Wet Jet Mop in 2001. Swiffer has been successful in providing an alternative to the old mop and bucket approach to cleaning floors. You can press the trigger to release soap for your floor, mop over it until it's clean then move on. The mop heads are disposable. When they are dirty, peel off and replace a new one.  The cleaning solutions fit snugly in place to give a constant supply of soap. 


With this innovation, Swiffer built upon their brand. They began offering Swiffer Sweepers (a dry mop that attracts dust and hair) and Swiffer Dusters for furniture, along with an extension arm for hard to reach places. 

 I've been mopping my floors with Swiffer since they first hit the marketplace. It's only natural that Swiffer has extended it's product line to all things cleaning. I'm sure some of the product varieties will be around longer than others. What doesn't work, goes away to replaced by something more useful.

My version of the Swiffer pitch frames, mocked-up with UI elements

In this playful Social Media spot for Swiffer Dusters, the Swiffer is cheerfully dusting along in those hard to reach places, while undaunted by the perpetual mantelpiece it is eager to clean. The surf-type guitar music evokes a hip, emerging culture where cleaning your house can be effortless. The superimposed titles keep the viewer  immersed in this playful spot. 


It was a fairly straightforward job to storyboard. A key goal was showing the Swiffer extension handle allowing the dust pad to reach hard-to-clean places.  Once we figured out the sequence and arranged each item to provide visual variety, it was basically a product demonstration.

Building a brand takes intention and constant evaluation of results. Be persistent. Without that effort to expand and improve, your brand might get left in the dust. 

View the broadcast Swiffer ad here:


The House of Dark Shadows with a View


The second watercolor study at Lyndhurst
I recently seized the last days of summer by taking my watercolor set to Lyndhurst mansion in Tarrytown, NY. The gothic mansion and it's property was last owned by railroad tycoon Jay Gould, and passed to his family until it was entrusted to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961.

Historic trees flank the pathway
to the Lyndhurst mansion
Railroad tycoon Jay Gould was the
third owner of this Gothic skyline.

Older folks might recognize the mansions gables from two Dark Shadows movies from the early 1970's. I skipped the inside tour, avoiding the ghost of Barnabus Collins. Instead I hiked the property looking for good spots to paint.

I started small to warm up,
but for me working big is
more rewarding with watercolor.

I discovered a breathtaking landscape replete with beautiful apple orchards, a rose garden, a conservatory, a carriage house and a 2-lane bowling alley (it's a little known fact that railroad tycoons AND vampires like to hit the tenpins).

Serene and beautiful settings in every direction

The grounds are accessible and free to the public, but there is a $5.00 parking fee. For me, it was worthwhile for a few hours of painting. Working on location on palatial properties like this is stimulating, where the beautiful surroundings influence me to higher aspirations and promising results.

Bowling alley gets its own building near the Hudson

Please don't pick the apples

Lyndhurst has a web site which you can review here: http://lyndhurst.org/. If you get a chance to visit, you might spot me in front of a tree or near the river with my brushes. I will definitely return to see the Halloween and Christmas themed events.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Beatles' Timeless Legacy Revisited on Sirius XM


In July 1964 Capitol records released a collection of previously British releases titled "Something New." The collection contained songs from the British release of "A Hard Day's Night" as well songs from the British "Long Tall Sally" EP such as "Slow Down" and "Matchbox," along with a German language version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."



The release of Something New would become a suggestive comment on the Beatles legacy. Something New delivered previously uncollected Beatles a year after The Beatles became an international musical and pop culture. 

Over  the following decades, there have been countless Beatles compilations, rarities, remixes, biographies, documentaries, films, and tributes, each boasting a different evaluation of the multifaceted group. 

Harry Truman in his biography "Plain Speaking" was quoted saying "There's nothing new except the history you don't know." With the launch of Sirius XM's The Beatles Channel this past May, it seems there are always new things to discover about the band. Just when you think you knew everything about The Beatles, The Beatles Channel provides a plethora of facts that are as fascinating today as they were years ago. Their process, their habits, their struggles and their opinions continually captivate, and listening to their songs and stories reiterate just how everlasting their charisma remains.


Hosts like Peter Asher, Dennis Elsas, Chris Carter, Bill Flanagan and celebrity guests including Ron Howard, Don Henley and Billy Joel share stories and analysis that make The Beatles Channel an engrossing addition to The Beatles chronicles. 


In celebration of Sirius XM's The Beatles Channel I am giving away an original Beatles tee-shirt design to one lucky winner. Write me and include the words "The Beatles Tee-Shirt" and your email address and you will join a random drawing for this colorful design. Enter now and celebrate The Beatles once again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Artists of the Apes - The Best Bananas of the Bunch

Splash page highlighting some of Mike Ploog's best work.
This month's release of War for the Planet of the Apes is bringing in "box office bananas" and providing what many audiences think is the best of the newer Ape's trilogy.  It's a perfect time for me to pay homage to one of my favorite life-long franchises by sharing some of the great comic book illustrators who breathed exuberant life into the Marvel premium format comics magazines that broke ground in 1974.

Following the success of the original 5 POTA films and the advent of the POTA TV Series, Marvel published a great BW magazine (bigger dimensions than your average comic book) which could be scooped up for a handsome dollar at your local newsstand (if they hadn't sold out yet!).

In a former post where I mentioned POTA and gave away two self-designed POTA tee shirts to lucky readers, I highlighted the brilliant pencil art of Tom Sutton and the writing of Doug Moench in the most amazing and visually inventive Ape Art a kid could witness. In this post, I am sharing the contributions of two additional art greats - Mike Ploog and Rico Rival along with the striking cover by artist Bob Larkin.

Bob Larkin's POTA cover illustration
promised new and unusual
interpretations of the POTA universe.

In 1974, I was mere young pup, and somehow managed to finance a few issues of this rare mag. To say that I was incredibly pleased is an understatement. The cover of issue # 13 by illustrator Bob Larkin had me transfixed for years. Since then I've researched a lot of Larkin's work, and this cover may be one of his best published pieces. The reflected light and additions of red contours on the primary Ape's left side are outstanding and contribute to raising this art above the norm. The background showing the ape and the girl tied at the stakes while more apes dance a "dum-dum" around their fire are direct as they can be. This is going to be one Ape tale that General Urko himself would cherish.

Mike Ploog's narration is lush in black and white.
Inside, the two aforementioned artists split the mag. The first story illustrated by Mike Ploog is part of the "Terror on the Planet of the Apes" story arc. Jason, a blonde surfer look-a-like who dresses like Tarzan seeks revenge on the Gorilla soldier who killed his parents. Lost in the wilds of some arboreal jungle, his friends get kidnapped by primitive apes and Jason rescues them with the help of Lightsmith, an old hippie dude who travels in his "Wonder Wagon."


Ploog's use of high contrast black inking is complemented by his deft placement of grey tones throughout. Like an old black and white movie, the lack of color can work wonders in the right hands, and Ploog captures a mood of despair and mystery with his handiwork. Ploog had a distinguished career in movies as a story and concept guy for many years following. Doug Moench's writing is more memorable here than in many of his Marvel and DC super-hero titles.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes
lovingly illustrated by Rico Rival
The second story is the comics adaptation of Escape from the planet of the Apes. As most of you ape-o-philes know the motion picture had a total of three apes appear on screen (I'm not including baby Ceasar or the guy in the gorilla costume who kills Professor Milo in the films opening.) This film turned out to be quite well put together and captivating even though it's a long way off from the future Ape timeline. Philippine artist Rico Rival hits it out of the park with his art.


If Rico was missing all the fantasy subjects he and other Philippine artists were doing at DC back in the seventies, it's not evident. The splash page alone makes me wonder just how the heck this guy was so good? He clearly relishes the drawing of drapery, people, poses, action, pantomime, mood and emotion, embellished with his bold line work and immersive staging. 



Many of today's comic artists would probably copy movie snapshots for an illustrated movie adaptation. Rico Rival instead draws the daylights out of the story and makes this interpretation feel like a brand new totally original ape animal .

If you have a day to kill, kill it with these two genius artists. You will be mesmerized and astounded over how beautiful comic books can be in the right hands.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Madden 2018 - EA Sports Banks on a "Longshot"


Last year I had a great opportunity to revisit EA Sport's Madden Franchise where I was once-upon-a-time an Art Director.

A strong factor in being hired by EA many moons ago was to integrate cinematic storytelling into sports video games. In this, I faced many technical and leadership obstacles across the team and the studio. EA Sports had been a heavy Producer-dominated culture back then, and giving the Art Director ownership over visual game features was viewed with much skepticism by the old guard. In time, the Art Director community grew into a united front, gaining influence and resulting in dramatic cameras, improved visuals, and better storytelling. Until now, however, Madden never truly reached a complete cinematic narrative combining film, gameplay and programming.

With the unveiling of Madden 2018's "Longshot" story mode, users can control the story path and progress of Devin Wade as he navigates the challenging prospect of the NFL Draft. Unlike earlier story modes, the "Longshot" feature doesn't rely on stat screens and user interface controls to display results. Unfolding like a film, users play mini games and compete in drills to influence Devin's performance, his career prospects, and ultimately his failure or success.


I am proud to have been reunited with two former Disney colleagues in designing storyboards for this new feature.  Before he achieved recognition for his story contributions on worldwide animation projects, my pal Woody Woodman and I were budding storyboard artists toiling for promotions under the Disney roof. "Longshot's" Head of Story, Tom Labaff, was my former animation mentor during my training period on Mulan, and has since crafted boards for Blue Sky and Digital Domain, while somehow managing to squeeze in a hefty bunch of published illustration gigs! If you want something done, give it to a busy person.


The ultimate bonus for me was reuniting with Writer/Director of "Longshot," EA Art Director Mike Young. Mike helped elevate AD efforts across NCAA Football and Madden year after year. I learned a great deal about Art Direction from him, and enjoyed his effortless style of leadership. I should also mention, he put up with and often encouraged my goof-ball sense of humor. "That's right, Sizzlechest!"

I look forward to the release of Madden 2018's "Longshot" on August 25th.  I promise to keep my "showboating" to a minimum.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Gang Sheets - Handy Self Promotion

I usually put a few gang sheet samples together each year. They are typically a mixed variety of storyboards and illustration. This is one such example, mixing Black and White frames with Color Frames to showcase versatility and quality. In addition to digital media, this sample contains a few watercolor and ink frames that were used as part of an ad campaign for History Channel.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"The New Day" WWE Concept and Wardrobe Designs


I've gained permission to show some of the "The New Day" WWE designs from the recent Wrestlemania 33.



It's interesting to see the direction evolve from costumes true to the art direction of the new "Final Fantasy: Storm Front" video game, to the upbeat and festive demeanor that is so crucial to "The New Day's" identity. You can see the progressions in the costume designs, the entrances, and the ice cream cart that the WWE Superstars ride down the ramp and into the ring.










Monday, April 17, 2017

Color Sketches - Down and Dirty

I was in the mood to do some quick Tarzan studies tonight. Once again I lost track of time, so I can't say exactly how long each took. It's safe to say I did them in about 90 minutes total. What a realization that occurs each time....either I am pleased with the quick results, or horrified. I would say a mix of both tonight. The monkey in the last frame (Nkima) is particularly bad. From one of my favorites - "Tarzan and the Lost Empire."



   

Thursday, April 6, 2017

It's a "New Day" at Wrestlemania 33

 

WrestleMania 33 exploded in Orlando Florida this past April 2nd. As expected, the performances were bigger and better than ever, viewed by 1.95 million to become the most watched event in WWE Network history.

                           



With A-List Superstar matches, captivating story-lines and a few surprises, the City of Orlando, Florida exploded in spectacular entertainment.



I had the privilege to work with the talented WWE Creative team to design the wardrobes and entrances for the WWE Superstar Hosts of Wrestlemania 33, "The New Day." In a viral-style cross promotion with Square Enix's "Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood," Superstars Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E made their debut in Final Fantasy inspired costumes while riding a Final Fantasy-themed Ice Cream Tricycle. Assignments like this are a blast for an Artist like me!


Every detail of the wardrobe was meticulously planned. In an iterative process of design, ideas evolved from conventional to more daring and dazzling. The results were successful, and full of paintings, model sheets, concept art and storyboards.  Final Fantasy fans will notice the decor of Chocobos and Moogles on the Ice Cream cart and the cartoon caricatures branded on the Jumbotron. As WWE Superstars, "The New Day" can showcase anything with their outrageous presentation and lively charisma.


I helped design Triple H's entrance, one where H drove his custom bike down the show ramp with wife Stephanie MacMahon on board. Orlando Motorcycle Police provided them a regal escort into the ring.
                             

I'd like to express my thanks to WWE for giving me the opportunity to work with such talented colleagues - artists, writers, and creative directors - on the spectacular pre-production of this titanic extravaganza.