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.


Steven M. said...

Great animation. I bet the eyeball could become as famous a Kim Kardashian's butt.

Isaak said...


Noel said...

That's nice to read, i like the unexpected digital pluses i run across as well.

Paul B said...


Damiano D said...

Great stuff! I'd love to see the keyframing and morphing!

K-T said...

Aw man this is so great, John. I love it when you post stuff like this, it's like Christmas every time. :D

Hopefully these bumpers will lead to something BIG.

David Germain said...

Back in animation school, I remember the teacher telling me that effects animation (water splashing, glass breaking, etc) is best done straight ahead rather than with keys. He showed me how to apply that technique to that scene in my film about Hansel and Gretel when the witch has just been skewered on that tree branch and all those gross innards are dripping off.

Of course, as you just discovered, straight ahead animation works in other areas as well. That is a great looking lip sync.

Sandra Rivas said...

That's amazing! Glad you're getting better results from Harmony than from Flash.

Scrawnycartoons said...

Crazy lip sync! And that voice is funny too.

I've been interested in getting Harmony, so Animate/Animate pro sounds good

Austrian Velvet Fire Guide said...

Hey John, I couldn't find an email or anything, so I thought I'd drop by in here.

I was wondering if you'd seen this yet?


Harmke said...

i really like the way it moves, i wish i had the courage to draw those extremes! that's what i miss in my own (almost finished) cartoon, i think it's still some kind of stiff. but i think that's experience, the more experience, the braver you become.

I tried to use tricks like morphing/symbols/ect. , but I really can't stand it haha. I prefer straight ahead too, it feels more natural to me :)

Alicia American said...

LOL u made the paper http://paper.li/ThoseUSAGirls/1308939544

Elana Pritchard said...

Gotta learn these programs! With relaxed access will come learning...

thomas said...

Looking foward to seeing this and the next JK full length cartoon... 5min. or so.

One can dream about you getting a feature length, Maybe "Transistors" about old cruddy transistor batteries laid to rust in a landfill that magically spring to life after being exposed to extra strength methane fumes?

Gordeaux said...

I love a talking eyeball! Robin Hoek was the first place I ever saw one and every time I watch that episode that part still makes me laugh out loud! So too did this. If Adult Swim don't commission you to produce a cartoon series featuring this eye ball (with Kardashian Butt as his side kick?) Then they are knuckleheads!

michaelamos said...

Hey John! Wow, its so damn nice to see expressions and mouth shapes custom designed to the dialogue. That talking nose is so appealing! I want to see the rest... Pleeeeease :)

da99et said...

Hey John,

Thought I'd mention that for those wanting to learn Animate Pro without having to spend the cash can download Animate Pro PLE for free from their site! I'm currently using it to learn the ins and outs of the program with the free video tutorials the offer. I wish all software companies were this awesome!

Linkage: http://www.toonboom.com/products/animatepro/trial.php

Carmine said...

COOL :) :) . I hope you post the whole thing because I don't have cable.

Scocasso! said...

An interesting note of a Disney cartoon using ToonBoom Harmony and Maya software to produce a more hand-drawn animation look.


aLoNsO said...

Hola que tal me gusta mucho su arte me gustaria poder saber mas de usted y como puedo aprender a poder a dibujar asi . Lima,PerĂº

Arun Veera said...

really superb blog :)