TWILLERAMA II

Nearly twenty five million (25,000,000) people have watched that “Charlie the Unicorn” cartoon on YouTube.  That’s an “I Love Lucy” headcount.    If there were a science to getting viewers, the world of Jeff Twiller and Slushing Brooks would surpass the billion mark by comparison.

TWILLERAMA II from the Molly Pitcher Rest Stop of the NJ Turnpike

A few years back MTV revived “Beavis and Butthead”.  These are brilliant characters. The show was clever, insightful and an eerily accurate account of teen life -in the late 20th Century.  Are there still thousands upon thousand of disaffected teens in AC/DC t-shirts making “boner” jokes while watching music videos on cable?   Maybe I’m out of touch, maybe babies born in the 90s have grown into replicas from a 20 year old world.  The revival failed just as a series in 1991 which starred two flower-hair kids listening to New Riders of the Purple Sage while burning their draft cards would have failed.

Jeff Twiller, Rod Holcomb, Randy J. Johnson and their retinue occupy a cobwebbed corner of cyberspace.  Movie reviews, blogs, workout videos, Facebook wars.   Within the last decade social media and “nerd culture” have dominated the contemporary discourse.  This painstakingly authored universe uses recent media developments -Youtube, Facebook, et cetera- as a poison pill means of delivery. The central player, Jeff Twiller, could easily be the guy you sat next to in school, or your cousin, your neighbor or even you.

This Saturday, June 6,  the second edition of TWILLERAMA premieres at Videology in Brooklyn.

The animated Jeff Twiller presents a hand picked selection of short films.  Joining him as co-host is his friend Rod Holcomb.  In addition to films by greats like Rose Stark, Caleb Wood, Signe Baumane and not so greats like me, the evening promises guest appearances by the animated likenesses Elliot Cowan and Joe Garden and his Ford Festiva.

This is not simply a screening of animation, this is the entry point to a brilliant and finely constructed parallel reality.  If justice prevailed in our reality, Jeff Twiller would be bigger than a rainbow covered unicorn and every cable network would be fighting to get him.

TWILLERAMA II  • Videology • 308 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211

June 6, 2015 • 8 PM

Aliens

We’ve been having some server issues which seem like they’re finally resolved.  So everything should be back online (the site migrated to another server leaving the blog behind, but now it’s all straight).

The intervening month has been berry busy.

We made a series of music videos for Grouplove totaling around 12 minutes of original animation.

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Kelsey Stark directed a bunch of animators including Casey Drogin, Taisiya Zaretskaya, Liesje Kraai, Christine Wu and Leah Shore.  Now she’s off to Iceland to make a film, while not gracing her with her presence she is gracing us with a blog of her adventures:  http://thorgeirsboli.tumblr.com/  Don’t be surprised to find beautiful things therein.

Here’s the full video:

It’s an explanation of these little films: www.grouplovemusic.com/toonlove

I recommend taking twenty minutes or so to watch them in progression. It’s nice that Kelsey was able to inject some real emotional moments into these character studies.

Next week we’re heading to Ottawa for the animation festival. “The Honor Code” is screening in competition. Internet-willing we’ll have daily accounts.

Imagine

A few weeks backs we finished up this advocacy film with Pendragwn Productions.

The YouTube compression is pretty harsh here, but it should give you the gist.

They liked our work on “The Honor Code” and wanted have a similar emotion and style to this piece.  It seemed appropriate, so we didn’t try too hard to push in another direction.

A bit of evolution from “The Honor Code” to here, the design and animation are tighter in this piece.  That’s part process, part schedule.  Here we produced in a traditional cartoon fashion.  Layouts, extremes, inbetweens.  Clean up.  Digital paint.  Much of the earlier production was animated straight ahead in ink and all the painting was rendered by hand, on paper, creating a much looser, rough dynamic.

This film was textbook production process.  From storyboard:

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To layout:

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Kelsey Stark created the designs and layouts.

To animation:

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Doug Compton handled the animation, Kelsey, Casey Drogin and Liesje Kraai came in on  the inbetweens and clean up.

The inbetweening was done digitally, drawing in Photoshop with the Cintiq.  It’s a bit of a cumbersome process, but Photoshop was the best option we had to get the line quality we want.  It also offered decent options for coloring.  There is probably some software that’s better suited to handling this style (I think of Paul Fierlinger’s beautiful work with TV Paint) but the Adobe suite is something we already have and everyone knows how to use.  We needed to clean up Doug’s drawings to match the line style of the inbetweens.  His pencil work was very tight and very close to the digital replication.  Not close enough,   just based on the nature of pencils and scanners.  If we inbetweened on paper, we would have painted over his originals without clean up.

To color:

c04paintMarina Dominis joined the team to help with clean up and painting.

The animation was produced in around four weeks.

Minus One For Clapping

Like many longish-timers in New York animation, I have an on/off relationship to ASIFA. 

Over the past two weeks they’ve been screening entries for their upcoming awards show.  It’s always a mixed bag, there’s not much anyone can do about the quality of entries.  Except, of course, to enter films of decidedly high (or low) quality to tip the balance.

The Independent shorts are typically the highlight.  For whatever reason, this year they were the weakest program.

My favorite from that evening was Morgan Miller’s Vacuum Attraction.

It’s kind of crude and more than a little lewd, but the characters are well defined and the creative vision is precise.

Two things that attract me to ASIFA are its history and its and outreach.  The student films can be exciting and innovative.  Young artists provide fresh blood for untalented creative vampires like me.

I missed a small chunk of the student films.  I see Kelsey Stark’s film was in the first few (I’ve seen it a few times, and it would probably rank in the top of all films shown).

Two other standouts were Jacob Kafka’s Giraffe-stronaut

And an unexpectedly great, somewhat unfinished film by Kevin Dossantos titled My 1st Invention. It matches up with Morgan Miller’s in some ways, but it’s much cuter. No sign of it online.

The history of ASIFA has some meaning and these screenings are reminders. I’m reminded of George Griffin saying how your job in the audience is to program a festival. A festival that is emblematic of New York’s relationship to animation.

As fun as it may be to moan and cluck from the auditorium, it’s a serious task if one takes animation seriously.

That’s why I find the clapping and hooting for personal favorites obnoxious. A member has a vote, yes. That vote has meaning, but screenings aren’t about you, hooting voter. They’re not even about the films, per se, or the film makers. The ASIFA show, the awards, represent Animation. It represents New York, community, for better or worse, and the continuum of an art form from Stars & Stripes Prods. Forever, Inc. “Sparklettes: Desert” (the first best in show) and the great Sesame Street films of the 70s (Jerry Lieberman’s Parrot capturing 1972 title) and Suzan Pitt’s Asparagus and Michael Sporn’s Marzipan Pig and John Schnall’s Grim to the groundbreaking, individual artists of the future.