Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Adult Swim Talking Eyeball Mascot

Imagine my delight when Adult Swim approached me and asked if I could create a talking eyeball for them.

I was experimenting with animating various ways in Harmony, sometimes using keyframing and digital tricks but it was more fun drawing the animation straight ahead like this.
Once I had my rough layout poses registered in Harmony, I just went ahead and drew each animation drawing one at a time.
I just kept scrubbing the sound track and matching the drawings to the accents in the dialogue.
The brush tool is pretty easy to use and I didn't worry about making mistakes because I could play each bit of animation back instantly to see if it worked.
If something didn't work right, instead of trying to draw over it and fix a certain drawing and ending up with a scribbly mess, I just deleted it and drew another from scratch.

What's fun about animating this way is that as you start to get comfortable with a scene, you get braver too.

You can see how conservative the scene starts out as I was a chicken Willie worried that I might get caught having fun.

Once I figured out how easy it is to just delete something and redraw it I started to get a little more exaggerated as I went along. No one was looking over my shoulder except my assistant Tommy, who couldn't fire me for not tracing model sheets, though he probably wanted to.

I was surprised by no matter how much I distorted the drawings and how few inbetweens I used I still was able to get the animation to play smoothly.
It kinda made me mad that I didn't go further.

I actually animated the nose before I animated the eye and I used keys and inbetweens, and that didn't turn out as smooth.
It looks more start and stop or pose to pose like most TV cartoons.

I think the great thing about being able to animate so fast and playing it back as you go, that you naturally become more confident and daring.
If I could get enough animators to do this, it wouldn't be long before the way cartoons moved would be a lot freer and inventive.
We might stop thinking of character designs as "assets" to be artificially manipulated like puppets around the screen.

I'm hoping this eyeball will become Adult Swim's Tony the Tiger or Kim Kardasian's butt. If not, I'll have to create some animated ear convolutions next.

I did use some sneaky digital animation tricks in this spot too, like keyframing and even morphing for Cripe's sake. I can post some of that crap too if you are curious.

BTW, if you wanna use Harmony yourself, I suggest you buy Animate or Animatepro first. They do the same things as Harmony but are more affordable. Harmony is really for studios, not individuals.