Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Raketu - George Liquor - Lip Synch Can Be Fun

I guess you all know I am trying to revolutionize both entertainment and advertising at the same time with these Raketu things I've been working on, huh?

Well here's some stuff I was doing with George. I keep trying new ways to combine traditional cartooning with Flash.

I did my pencil layouts of all George's key poses on paper.

pencil layouts:

I already knew in my head how George was feeling about this new-fangled commie technology.

George is suspicious and afraid of anything new - as all decent Americans should be, but the one factor that might sway him is an opportunity to save a buck.

That always speaks to him as a good middle-American trying to live the American dream.
Since Raketu practically eliminates long distance and pesky charges for extra minutes, I knew I could convince George to give it a try.

So I knew all his basic emotions and changes and I drew them the old way with these pencil sketches.

Then I went over to the great Mike Pataki's house. By the way, Mike has been very sick and has had a horrible year. He's recovering and should be fine but still has a knee operation coming up.

He's a tough sonovabitch but he has a heart just like cowboys and you and I.

I bet he'd really appreciate some kind wishes from all you George Liquor fans out there. George wouldn't be the man he is, if not for Michael's great acting and pure unspoiled soul.

Tell him how much you love him in the comments, ok?

Here's the soundtrack of Mike reading George's lines:

After we recorded him, we brought the voice track into Flash, and I decided I would try to animate all the mouth positions on the Cyntiq with a stylus. It would save paper and scanning and importing.

pencil layouts without mouths:

Marc went into Flash and cut out the one mouth position from each pose and plopped them onto another layer where I would animate the rest of the mouths.

mouths drawn in flash:

Animating lip synch in Flash is a great improvement over the old way. I can actually scroll through the voice track on the timeline and see every frame of every phonetic sound.

This way I could draw each mouth the way it sounded it to me. This is a new and very fun experiment for me.

The sounds in my ears projected images of funny mouth shapes into my brain and then I copied them straight into the computer right on each frame that was making the sound.

Now this cartoon, being Flash and a webtoon and not a huge budget, has to be what they call "limited animation" - a somewhat derisive term to many folks-like Eddie.

But that's because so few cartoon studios ever used limited animation in a fun way.

My theory is: Just because you don't have as many drawings in limited animation as you do in full animation, doesn't mean that those few drawings can't be funny.

Almost all cartoon animation has lip synch-mouth positions, but the mouth positions are usually stock preplanned and boring drawings. Even in "full-animation".

Here's a real dandy!
(That mouth looks like it's only good for one thing)

Drawing funny (or specific) mouth shapes doesn't take any longer than drawing boring mouth shapes.

I can't stand the idea of "stock" anything! Every time you sit down to do a new drawing you oughta make it NEW! Isn't what we do called "creativity"? Create something every single time you sit down to make something in a cartoon. Or give your paycheck back!

I'd go nuts if I had to just do the same poses over and over again for years. How do comic strip artists and Disney animators do it?

Oh, and these mouth shapes weren't made up arbitrarily just to be funny. (although that'd be better than pure boring too) I wanted them to match the inflections in Mike's voice.

Like I've said many times, the creative opportunities in every cartoon should never be finished until the whole cartoon is finished. Everything you touch should have entertainment value.

Well, that's my wacky theory anyway. I like to have fun all through the process of making a cartoon, not just at the story stage like the execs and those dopes that call themselves "writers" want.

Raketu is great. Greg, Martina and Oliver encourage me to make their spots fun-as long as they sell the product!

That's a logical trade off to me. I want to do a thousand of these, so when I give you a heads-up, then go to the Raketu site and see all the cartoon ads I did for them.

I'll let you know when they go up!

I'll keep posting more behind the scenes crap like this in the next few days. Thanks for giving a hoot!


Dudley says hi too:


bgudna said...

hey john! it´s great to hear some ideas on using modern technology/software for animation. I´ve always found flash to be abit cumbersome, but i hope they´ll put out a new version soon. It´s great for doing experiments on and practicing.

ZSL said... have a Cintiq.
Man I want one of those.
Does Mike Pataki have a blog or is he not into the whole "internetz" thing.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Yay Dudley!!! I love Mike Pataki!!! Horray for Pataki! Best vocal recording of 2007!!!

Those lip sync's are hysterical!!!

Mad Taylor said...

Yeah lip sync in Flash can be made very easy and seems like you have found a nice way to do that. Oh how I dream of having a Cintiq...but I need to reach my bigger dream of having an animation job before I can afford one.

So you draw the key pose layouts...then what happens to them in Flash? Are they inked and painted and inbetweened in there?

Can't wait to see how these turn out.

Hope you n' your bitch are well Mr. Pataki!!!! I love your voice box of gold!

dieselcreek said...

Well that sure sucks. Here's to Mike (hoisting my beer), get well, stay strong, show that god-damn knee who's boss!


Alright John, being the cynic I am, in the advertising/design profession, what's with the "reinventing advertising" line?

Speaking of...I just read a letter today addressed to one of my clients from an agency out in Ann Arbor. They are trying to get her Cutter repellent account. It said he goes to Canada and brings 3 things: fishing pole, cheap beer, and cutter....oh retarded Christ!....and people wonder why I am so cynical. Besides being absolute cheese, what's with the cheap beer pitch? Silly ad execs, cheap beer is for kids.

Did ya hear that a 24 year old Canook bought the Huber brewery here in Wisconsin!? Damned invasion happening...

Ok then, eh.

Once again, best wishes Mike! Take care!


Rafi said...

that looks really cool John - maximum results from the restrictions you're working within. I've been wondering what your workflow is for getting entertaining animation done in Flash - ever since I first saw Weekend Pussy Hunt - waaay back when I was still in college!!

"Just because you don't have as many drawings in limited animation as you do in full animation, doesn't mean that those few drawings can't be funny."
- right on! Couldn't agree more.

"Here's a real dandy! (That mouth looks like it's only good for one thing)"
- BBWWAHAHAHAA!! you have a gift for explaining stuff in a no-nonsence manner that speaks clearly to artists.

Scheurbert said...

Mike has got an awesome voice. You can't really have George Liquor without Mike!

Bill said...

Awesome post, John. I'm a young freelance animator just getting into flash (I am trying to get away from 3D, mostly due to your blog!) I am working on a new webtoon and this has helped a lot. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on how to create good limited animation. I see that you cushion the main pose change with a few inbetweens as an antic, which helps it to feel less static, and the fully animated mouth poses keep it alive as well. Thanks and great sound work by Mike Pataki!!

:: smo :: said...

Hey John, when you're syncing in flash do you keep the mouth a symbol and reuse any mouth shapes [as is the flash "limited" standard], or is every one unique?

Mike said...

Tell Mike I wish him the speediest recovery, and great work on George Liquor!

And no one can say John doesn't think progressively - Flash CAN save money ( and channel excellent product ).

applepwnz said...

Feel Better soon Mike!!! I love your voicework with George!

and Great lip syncing John, It's sooo much more interesting than everything else out there right now.

Charlie J. said...

this looks wild!
Mike Pataki is the greatest living voice actor, so I hope he gets better and has a great year!

Tim said...

What's the framerate for these cartoons? I'd like to guess 24, am I off?

and I do hope Mike gets well soon!

Jeremy said...

And all this time I thought George's voice was done by John.

Paul B said...



RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Great stuff!
I am inspired by the way you combined the pencil drawings and Flash mouth shapes. I've tried to learn Flash in the past, but find the drawing tools and rigging process to be confusing and maddening.
I gave up fearing I'd put my pen through my Cintiq screen.
Perhaps I should try again using this method.
Thanks John!!!

Amblagar said...

hey John, This blog has become the best reference for artists-animators in the web, trascends the uncreative moment we are living...and it has reference in ant style...i wanted to recommend you all if you can get the book capcom design works it has a lot od artists with a cool aproach to character design...not common manga...
the best

Alex said...

Well now you've shown me this Toon Booms automati lip-synch feature doesn't seem so nifty anymore...

Raff said...

Best wishes and good fortune to Mike Pataki.


>> I'd go nuts if I had to just do the same poses over and over again for years. <<

Didn't they put you through that at Filmation?

For the fun of it I was looking for a comprehensive list of all the bad 80s cartoons you worked on, can't find it anywhere.

lastangelman said...

Hoisting a tasty beverage to Mike, sorry about the bad year, hope the doctors give you some powerful scrips and everything heals better than brand new.
Thanks for the limited animation lesson , John, fun and instructive.

PCUnfunny said...

I hope yah feel better Mike. You and Sean Connery are the last of a dying breed, manly men. Oh and I Love yer bitch.

JohnK said...

>>Hey John, when you're syncing in flash do you keep the mouth a symbol and reuse any mouth shapes [as is the flash "limited" standard], or is every one unique?<<

Hi Smo

yeah, I reuse some of the mouths wherever they fit the dialogue.

When I hear a sound that demands a new drawing, then I create a new one. They add up and give me more choices than if I just had a mouth chart of boring bland drawings.

Vincent Waller said...

Ah, its nice to see some work drawings again.
Give a yell for eats if you have time.
But my home line is screwed up.

Ahahnah said...

I'm curious what an animators take is on computer animation software like Flash 8, Toon Boom and Anime Studio, and TV Paint? Anybody use other programs besides flash? Are they any good?

Peter said...

I love the way George's head shrinks down (changes volume) for the antic! It doesn't just squash, it actually shrinks, but it works so well! And only one drawing for the accent and settle, wow!

The mouths flow in nice interesting arcs. They're not just a bunch of random popping shapes, they are inbetweened to flow in natural but exaggerated movements!

Why does no one animate lip sync like this on television anymore? I guess the studios in Korea and China can't be expected to listen to English soundtracks and animate to what they hear... would more complete mouth charts more mouth models help? Probably not.

Stephen Worth said...

Li'l Pal loves Mike Pataki better than a bologna sammich that just fell on the floor!

See ya

IrrIsponsible said...

man, i used to use "stock" mouths and heads, but i do keep the stock arms in my flash cartoons. different fingers every time i use the hands though. I also keep the "stock" body (shoulders to waiste) unless they're moving. so that's basically a standing pose. legs are different every time along with shoes/feet. i seriously got sick of what i did with those stock dealies, so it's easier to draw the new body parts than to pull them from another flash document. plus, sketching them out helps the mood of the scene too, in my opinion.

mindwrecker said...

All my best to Mike P from all of us Bay Area cartoonists and voice people (that's me!). I never paid enough attention to who did that marvelous George liquor voice. Wotta guy.
It's been an unusually tough year for a lot of us in 2006/07 and let's all just get stronger and more loving and talented from it, ok?

Cayen said...

I liked the roughs to this, so I decided to try my hand at drawing it.

let me know what you think!


tedrex said...

If that guy dont have the best voice ever! Get well soon, cause we needs good cartoon voices so bad!

Jordan said...

Mike Pataki's voice is just hysterical. Truly original. He can make anything funny.


Piotr said...

wonderful to share the flash techniques! it would be great for some more tutorials in your stlye!! awesome job john..

Soos said...

I've been working on my final in Flash - it's good to know talented people use it too!

Give Mike another 20 bucks for me!

Mad Taylor said...


I use Flash 8 but I also like to use Toon Boom. Toon Boom seems to me like it is Flash but made for animators and not web banners. It's still vectors and all. The thing I really like the most about it is you can hand draw something, then ink it, and scan it into Toon Boom and it will vector your ink lines for you. It holds up the integrity of the inks pretty well. It also ignores any white space so that way you can throw backgrounds in and stuff. It also has a camera you can move...Flash needs to hurry up and develop that part!!!! A few posts back on my blog I put up an animation that I made using Toon Boom so give it a look if you want.

Adam G said...

Hey John.
I love lipsyncing in flash too! I use to work on a show we did useing flash 4 and the lip sync was one of the funnest parts cause you could just run with what the recorded voice sounded like and get it exactly the way it sounded to the frame for every frame. It's fast, instant , fun and probably the best possible way to do lip sync.

But unfortunately flash also has the potential to make the blandest lip sinc. These days on the shows I animate for we just type in #'s for the pre-drawn mouth shapes. It's just the way productions have been pushed with quotas going up every show and us needing to get them done faster and faster.

Flash has the potential to make either the most entertaining or the blandest cartoons.

I like your idea of entertaining limited animation. I don't understand why so many people think smooth movement is more important than entertainment.

Shawn said...

The lip syncs aren't loading in for me. I'll try again later.

Get well soon, Mike Pataki! And eat more MEAT!...Red-blooded God-Fearing Americans and moo-ing cows everywhere are better men because of you.

Anonymous said...

Great! i love seeing the actual meat & potatoes of a cartoon! super nice post, John. Mike is a freakin' awesome talent! get better soon Mike!

Mike Matei said...

yeah, cartoons should be fun to make. when i watch “baby bottleneck”, i think, wow, they must of had a lot of fun making that! when i look at something like treasure planet i think, god what a dismal time it must have been working on that. and you are right about the stock lip sync. look at daffy ducks beak when he talks in a clampett cartoon. compare that to he-mans mouth or a mouth on family guy. you'd have to be blind or retarded not to see the difference.

Kate said...

if you play the lip sync backwards, it looks like George is has Alzheimer's, and is speaking jibber jabber. Its pretty funny. So try it.

stiff said...

Those drawings + Mike's voice = a riot.

All my best, Mike!

Anonymous said...

Flash would have come in handy in the golden days of animation. Can't wait to see it finished.

Some of the animated shows now use flash. But, they use the same stock drawings all the time. They don't even experiment with their drawings. I guess they have to be on model.

I agree with you. If you set down to create new cartoons, new drawings are required. And they need to have life to them.

I'm learning slowly, but I am learning. Thanks John.

Get well Mike. Your tough as George. If he can survive a crazed chihuahua attack, you can pull through this. Go get'em boy.

Ryan G. said...

Mike is Awesome! Some of the best lines from R&S came from you Mike! I Hope you get better soom!

Anonymous said...

When I was just beginning to research the whole "how to make cartoons" topic a few years ago I came across a bunch of those lip synch model sheet things from crappy Nickelodian shows (like "The Wild Thornberries") and I was quite appalled. The real way is much more exciting. I think the best mouths you've done are the psychiatrist scenes in Ren Seeks Help and the psycho scenes in Sven Hoek.

Get well soon Mr. Pataki!

Paulrus said...

John -

Can you be more specific on budgets? I'm curious to know what you consider a "limited" budget.

One of the issues I'm running up against as a 3D animator is people from China, India, Poland, etc., and college kids undercutting my bids by a significant amount. Sure the client is going to get what they pay for, but since when do clients actually know what they want? They see their product moving and are thrilled.

Ash said...

i would give mike my knee so he could kick throats with it.

his voice sends me into laughing hysterics!

i hope he get's better..
tell him to stop letting his pets beat the shit out of him with oars!

hope you guys all get a shitload of money and make more A#1 cartoons!

i'll cast my dollar vote on whatever you put out!

WIL said...

Dear Uncle Mike,

I've been a fan of your enormous left nut ever since I was an infink.

I hope yer knee is okay, too...

- Junior

Chad Jay said...

i just had a conversation the other day with a guy from work (programmer) asking me why i didn't just keep stock animations around, why i couldn't just use walk_01 for every walk i needed. It was a very interesting debate/conversation that ensued afterwards where we danced around the various approaches when you're taking time restraints and creative integrity into consideration. I'm not sure that we got anywhere with the conversation other than him being quite pleased to find out that i 'do' save poses, yet not quite satisfied hearing that i would alter the poses to make the walk different, even if they'd do just fine to get the job done.

yes, i agreed with him that its about getting the job done (right and on time) but where we disagreed was where i related how i feel that not trying to create something interesting, and hopefully creative and fresh, means that i'm not giving all that i can to my efforts.

hrmm... does any of that make sense? or relate? i was inspired to reply regardless.

all the best
(get better mike!)

Clinton said...

Are Cintiqs worth the investment? Those run about as much as a new Mac computer. Thanks for showing off your progress with Flash animation. I've been looking for some real good tutorials and books on how to produce Flash animation properly

diego said...

In my studio I have a Cintiq but I still prefer my A5 Intuos 3, because I find it quicker and I usually I draw in small spaces.

Ned said...

What I am most curious about is why you don't draw your key layouts directly into Flash, instead of scanning, importing, etc.

reane nadina said...

ahh i never though flash animation could be this fun..
usually they really too computer so much
like make everything motion tween and moved like robot-- shreek shreek-- :D