Saturday, October 12, 2013

Free Birds AKA Time Turkeys

I did some early development for my good friends at Reel FX on "Free Birds", their first movie. It's coming out in November so go check it out. The animation is more Looney Tunes than Pixar so it should be fun.

I don't think anything I did was actually used; it was mostly exploratory stuff but here are some of the  drawings:


 First I wanted to know what turkeys actually looked like, so I did some studies from photos I nabbed off the net.
Turns out that Turkeys aren't the most beautiful creatures in the world. 

Their heads are pretty rude looking, actually and the director, Ash Brannon asked me to see if I could cuten them up somewhat.
 So next step was to draw more cartoony versions. My tendency of course is to make characters as cartoony as possible, so I tried retaining some actual turkey traits, like their snoods (the erotic appendage that droops over their beaks), their warts and their long thin necks and bald heads.
 I tried many variations.

 I don't think I was getting cute enough though as long as I kept trying to make them look like turkeys.

Here was a basic generic turkey that wasn't too complicated to animate that I figured we could do some animation experiments with. The movie is CG and I was asked to help the animators get a more cartoony, Warner Bros. movement as opposed to the typical Pixar-Dreamworks style of motion.
 We actually did some animation with this design (I wish I could remember the animator's name who did some really funny walks!) We created a Busby Berkeley style sequence of a hundred turkeys doing a crazy retarded march to doom.


 The script called for Reggie to be kinda nerdy so I messed around with that.


Then I found out that Reggie would be played by Owen Wilson so I was asked to try making thew character look kinda like him.

I did some straight caricatures first:

 I tried applying some of his characteristics to the turkey:


The movie is a buddy film, so there are 2 leads. Owen's Reggie, has a partner named Brock, a big manly turkey played by Woody Harrelson.

I don't think I actually tried making his character look like him, but here are some initial studies of Brock:

It was pretty hard to make a manly character also look like a turkey, so I finally settled on this:

I really wondered if they could translate a 2d cartoon drawing into a 3d model. Here's where it started:

I worked with the modelers and did some draw overs
It eventually looked pretty good. I asked for some asymmetry and cartoon concepts like line of action and negative shapes. We also studied clips from classic cartoons and the Reel FX crew quickly picked it up.

I drew some storyboards too but this is a long post so if you're interested I'll show them in another post:

FREE BIRDS comes out on November 1 to celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a wacky family film, so bring the kids.

Here's the website and