Saturday, November 29, 2008

Staring contest

Here's the baddie of the story: DeSeve. Staring.

Now here's the big change for those of you that have been following the progress of Road Rage: I've decided that DeSeve will *not* be a contortionist. As originally planned, I thought it would be a visually fun element to the story but the more I think about it, the less it's needed, it's extraneous. It's shoe leather. So now, he's just a crazed prison escapee in sheep's clothing (or, Armani). The handcuffs will still be on him (not pictured in the video). The prison escapee subplot was always a background "off-screen" story that the audience would have to kind of assume or put together on their own anyway, and the contortion ability , while it would have been kickass to animate, would have, uh, twisted things to the point of confusion. As I currently rewrite the story over and over in Starbucks on Astor (a ritual I have every early early Saturday morning), it felt like I was writing a sequel within a sequel as I tried to incorporate that element into the story. You could have a lot of things going on in a 4 minute film, but a prison escapee who also happens to be a circus freak ain;t one of em.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Scare tactics

More rough animation from shot 005. Enjoy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rough Keys

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The villain of the story. He's an escaped convict who just carjacked a Ferrari when he's introduced. Originally he was going to have a nice, sleek Brooks Brothers/Armani/super-rich suit on and then slowly it's revealed that he's an escaped criminal (via his orange jumpsuit underneath the clothing). But that was another one of my bad ideas (i.e., I think I'm being smart but I'm really not). So right up front, it's very clear that he's an escapee: the oversized cuffs on his wrists. A bit of trivia is that this character was originally going to be used for a short film I was trying to write back in 2006, titled "Jail Bait," about a prisoner-cop chase on a prison bus, set in the 1920s (go back and look at my early 2007 posts). But it couldn't work out because it was (a) another confined-area story--i'd just worked on Road Test, where everything takes place in a car (b) ironically, the more I scaled back the story, the more difficult it got (c) the logistics were a nightmare---Ok, so does the windows of the prisoner transportation bus have iron bars on them? Why can't he escape out the driver's window of the car? How many prisoners are on the bus? What's stopping them from killing the warden that's driving the bus? and so on.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mr. Dot v2.0

Check out the NEW Mr. Dot (the road test instructor from the first short film). The pencil drawing and character design is by Matt Jenkins.

Monday, October 13, 2008

ToonBoom vs Flash drawing

I decided to put up a side-by-side comparison, ToonBoom Digital vs. Flash. The reason I made the switch is because the drawing engine in TB is worlds better than Flash's (and if this ends up as a quote on ToonBoom's site, I'm suing). Usually in Flash, when I draw an object, I get a wonky sorta line with the brush tool. I have to resort to smoothing and kerning the lines. It's lots of nips and tucks and it slows me down. In TB you just draw an image and it appears as you drew it, no extra chunks on your lines.

That's the main reason I bought it; I still intend on compositing in After Effects. The learning curve for ToonBoom (or what I needed to know) was a little steep, to be honest and I'm not really a fan of the program's cute little interface/buttons that requires you to do three steps for what would have taken 1 in Flash. But it's the drawing engine that really matters.

ABOVE: A quick Brush drawing of Gabe with the Brush tool in ToonBoom. No smoothing or kerning or any of that involved..

BELOW: The same drawing traced over in Adobe Flash with the program's Brush, no smoothing or kerning involved, just a first rough pass.

Sunday, October 12, 2008 it begins.

Just got ToonBoom Digital on Friday, educated myself over the weekend and now I'm starting to animate. Here's a shot of Gabe (miffed school bus driver) and DeSeve (angry contortionist).

Thursday, October 9, 2008


So here's the Universal car (probably the majority of the cars during the DrawBridge sequence, just with different colors). Obviously the hero vehicles are the Segway, School bus and Ferarrari.

I've been having fun smashing up the car.

Gone in 60 seconds...

At the orders of Sir Michael Carlo I, here's the first minute of the first draft of Road Rage. I completed the entire animatic back in August and I'm still fine-tuning it. In fact...there's an extra 20 seconds of footage that belong in here, a little more build-up involving the villain of the story that the main character, Gabe, accidently gets into a fender-bender with. But anyway, I thought I'd share this with you. There's no sound, and the Quicktime export frame rate is a little messed up so there might be one or two cuts that go by too fast.

Road Rage Animatic, Minute One. from matthew on Vimeo.

Monday, October 6, 2008


...I always wanted to write that.

The making of...a drawbridge. Probably one of the easiest things in MAYA because it's just Polygonal cubes that I'm combining. The drawbridge is the climax of "Road Rage," where all story elements come together and ironically, break apart. Imagine a bunch of cars tumbling and sliding off the bridge, along with a gasoline truck and you'll get a sense of how chaotic things will get!

Below: A little Joel Silver-esque imagery of showing the same take from multiple angles...yes, that's a school bus attempting to make a jump

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Flock Off tidbit..

FLOCK OFF, the one minute gross out short film I made in May 2007, will be part of Spike & Mike's Twisted Animation Festival schedule 2008-2009. Which is cool, considering that I've always wanted to get a film into Spike & Mike. It recently screened at Comic-Con in July along with other funny shorts...

Let's go for a spin

I'm still getting used to drawing these two characters (which, if you are just joining this blog, were designed by Matt Jenkins ). Also I am not positive if this sequence will be in the final film. I thought it would be fun if the crook and the cop get into a fistfight on a segway, utterly straight-faced :) Then again if I even have a prayer of gettin this baby out by summer of 2009....


I'm still debating on whether or not Officer Dot (right) should have the beard he sported in Road Test.

Monday, September 29, 2008

one of those days

Heads II

Left to Right: GABE, DeSEVE and DOT.

Above are the three main characters. DeSEVE and DOT were designed by Matt Jenkins. I'm digging the redesign of Mr. Dot especially. (See the original film below) In Road Test, Dot was sort of like a big bear in design; in the new story, I wanted him to be more muscular and ripped because he has a lot more to do. Gabe (Left) is more pudgy than the skinny kid he was in the first story (Road Rage takes place almost a decade later). Most sequels I've noticed have elements that are the reverse, flip-side of the original...i.e., Woody suffers from Buzz's disillusions he had in Toy Story 1; instead of 1 Alien there's dozens in Aliens; McClane in claustrophobic environment in Die Hard 1...McClane in an open environment in Die Hard With A Vengeance get the point...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Road Test.

For those who missed the first movie, here is "Road Test."

Awards & Other Notable Nonsensical Puffery: #1 Region for November 2007; #1 in Animation for February 2008; 6th Place ILaughShortFest; Honorable Mention at the Tribeca Underground Film Festival for May 2007. Official Selection for the DC Shorts Film Festival for September 2008. And 1st Place for ASIFA EAST May 2007 (Just KIDDING. HOWEVER, three people who attended *that* judging screening told me that it received very, very high scores). Go figure. Road Test has its fans. :)

"Road Test" was my first post-college short film. It definitely meant a lot to me for a few reasons: (1) I wanted to get into a groove of making films consistently. (2) It was somewhat cathartic for me because I based it off my experience at one of my first jobs, where I felt like I had a gun to my head (or sometimes, in my mouth)...or, more directly, it felt like I was taking a road test...the pressure of being scrutinized under a microscope. Wa-la! Inspiration! (3) I felt like I had to do a penance for my thesis film (which hopefully will never see the light of day again, lol. (4) I started off making comedy with animation when I was a kid, and then somewhere along the line, my short films in college got darker (culminating in my thesis film which was the stereotypical dark student film) I wanted to see if I could tell a joke again.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Get on the Magic School Bus

Above are very crude designs for the school bus. I made it with polygonal cubes and NURBS.

Monday, September 22, 2008

DeSeve color test: HEAD.

Another challenge of "Road Rage" is drawing a character on-model (something, admittedly, I have never done, not even at the studios, with the advent of so many Flash puppeted projects in NYC). Matt Jenkins (of "Venture Bros." fame :) has been designing the villain of my story, "DeSeve" over this past summer. I'm pretty happy with the designs. It'll definitely give the film a different visual style than "Road Test," as I want this story to be a stand-alone (but of course, it'll be slightly more amusing if you've seen the previous film, due to where the original characters end up). So I've been drawing DeSeve over and over again. The image above was drawn in Flash. I just installed Windows XP on a small portion of my Mac drive because Maya 8's Vector Renderer is NOT available on Mac, only 32-bit Windows (which sucks, considering that I bought a Mac to run away from Windows). I also got a chance to install Toon Boom 4 on Windows so I'm going to try to play with it a bit to see if I can animate Road Rage entirely in ToonBoom as opposed to Flash, even though people have told me that Road Test didn't look like it was animated in Flash.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Road Rage" Research

During prep for this film I've been reading "TRAFFIC: Why We Drive The Way We Do" by Tom Vanderbildt and it's quite the eye-opener. Vanderbildt notes that driving is all about's back to caveman language on the road: hand signals, obscene gestures and the almighty honkin' horn. With anonymity comes a sense of self-entitlement (which usually leads to...surprise, aggression). He likens the road and its hundreds of drivers to an internet chatroom: faceless, behind new usernames (i.e....the annoying bumper stickers and/or license plates). Which gives us the freedom to act like children. It's interesting how the author writes that a little road rage can be a good thing, considering that's part of the main character's arc in Road Rage.

In addition I've been watching Motor Mania", the 1950s short starring a very, very different Goofy. Ironically he is driving a yellow car :) I love this short, it tackles the many angles of anger on the road.

It NAILS the multiple personality disorder most of us have behind the wheel (and if you haven't experienced it yet, well, what are you waiting for? Get your driver's license!) Obviously I'm not going to be chasing "Motor Mania" with my story because frankly, it's a hopeless endeavor!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Rough 3D model of the Segway that Officer Dot uses. Obviously, 2D cel shading will be applied in the final version :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Color Testing

I'm starting to do some quick color tests for "Road Rage." The animatic is completed (but of course, will always be evolving!) I've gotten some great feedback on it and generally people seem to like it...for a rough draft. Animation has been pushed back to October as I need to start building the School Bus, Segway, Ferrari and universal cars in Maya this month.

(ABOVE) Size reference

(BELOW) GABE. Anger type: Passive-Aggressive. One of the goals of "Road Rage" is to make a fat school bus driver an action hero!

(ABOVE) OFFICER DOT. Anger type: Passive. The muscle of the will BELIEVE a STOP SIGN can be used as a lethal weapon!

(BELOW) DeSEVE. Anger type: AGGRESSIVE. When a fat school bus driver gets into a fender bender with your brand new Ferrari, it's time to break out the deadly contortionist chops.