Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Backgrounds!

Hey there Ricketeers! Haven't made a post on the animation in awhile. Frankly, I haven't really been working on it, but I just started rewriting the script and I've started to dabble in background design! I tried five different approaches and put Stumbles in to see how it would look with the flash characters.

I started with pen. I like these shading effects and it has a stark black and white look, but it just makes the characters look out of place.

Then I went with charcoal, which I love as a medium. It's easy and messy and has that nice dirty effect.

Ten I tried some grayscale markers, which have a nice look, but either I need bigger markers or I should fill it in areas in photoshop, which I think kind of defeats the purpose.

I just found a watercolor kit, so I figured I would try it out. Granted this is my first real watercolor piece since probably High school and I only have one brush, and I need to do it on better paper, but I really like the strokes it creates. Stumbles seems to fit in nicely.

Finally, this is a version I did in photoshop. It's easiest to do lighting effects in this medium when you have layers and apple Z, and Stumbles definitely fits in the best hear, but I don't feel like the background has enough life as it could have. I'll have to do more experimenting.

What do you all think? Which version is your favorite? What works and what doesn't? Thoughts? Opinions?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

pictures of boardgame gameplay

I just realized I have not done a Rickety Rat update in awhile! I've actually been busy what with ComicCon and all. But I did get a chance to playtest the boardgame, and I even got to have the animatic critiqued! Here are some pictures of us playing the boardgame:

So what needs to happen now is that I need to tweek the boardgame(I'm leaning towards making it less boardy and more tabletop roleplayingy) and I need to rewrite, redraw and rerecord parts of the animatic until I'm sure it's amazing.

See you next time Ricketeers!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Boardgame Beta is go!

Greetings Ricketeers! I've finished a beta version of my new boardgame, A Rickety Road to the Top! And now you can play it by downloading and printing it out!

I set up a nifty link to the right of the blog right below the followers. Just click it and it'll bring you to a rapidshare download(7 megs) that will download a zip file of the instructions, the printables, and the card backs(optional for cards). It's a little rough and I'm definitely going to get more detailed and fancy later, but for now I'm glad to just have the bones all set out.

I haven't tried it out yet as I have no friends out here cool enough to play boardgames, but I'll be trying it out for the first time this weekend!

I didn't include a picture or drawing on how to put the player pieces together, but I'm sure you guys are smart enough to figure it out. Also, I feel I should note that even though this is a boardgame, there's a pg-13 rating on it, as it does contain drugs, alcohol, murder and the occasional hooker(I'm appealing to that huge 18-24 yr old who enjoys playing boardgames demographic).

If you do decide to try it out(and please do) please message me or email me( about what you liked, what you didn't like, what you felt worked, what you thought should be added or taken out, any input would be greatly appreciated.

Happy Gaming Ricketeers!

Friday, September 10, 2010

boardgame cutouts!

Hey there Ricketeers! I was really hoping to have a complete albeit beta version of my game done already, but I still need to finish a number of pieces. But I do have some stuff done already that you can even print out!

Here's a sheet containing the Rickety Rat, Rascals Rabbit, Digby Duck, and Dolly Duck game pieces. You can print out the sheet, cut them out and you'll have your own little Rickety game characters! You can even make them stand on their own if you:
1. Cut on all the dotted lines
2. Fold in the creases on the bottom front
3. Fold the front bottom segment and stick it through the slit in the back bottom segment
4. unfold the front bottom creases
It works, but it may be a bit confusing. I should probably take a picture or draw a diagram.

Also here are some sample game cards:
Skeleton cards are what makes the game interesting. If you get a skeleton card, and then get an action card or land on an action space in which you get outed, then you have to go all the way back to the start. I really want to beta-test this out.

Also, here are some board pieces of the interchangable board:

I'm hoping in a couple of weeks I can have all the assets completed and I can make it available for beta-testing. Until next time Ricketeers!

Friday, September 3, 2010

cards and pieces

Hey there faithful Ricketeers! Still making assets for the boardgame and working on Character sheets. Here are some card backs I'm playing with:
Also, I made my first cut-out game piece!

I even figured out a way to make him stand pretty nicely on his own without the use of glue, tape, or a plastic stand, but it's a bit confusing to explain without instructions. Perhaps next week I'll have the whole sheet of characters done!

Next week I should have a mock game board, cards, and pieces all ready to play. Then, Beta-testing!

Friday, August 27, 2010

boardgame and charactersheets

Good news Ricketeers! I'm in the process of making my new Boardgame! I give you:
It's about the perilous road to stardom and the objective is to take your character all the way from the Rock Bottom Bar to the Tippity Top Theatre before anyone else does! Some things will help you on your way like getting sponsorship and or having a "private meeting" with a director, while other things will impede your path, such as acquiring skeletons in the closet. And if your skeletons get found out, it's back to Rock Bottom, or worse!

The game features the main characters of the Animation as playable pieces: Rickety, Roofie, Dolly, Digby, Rascals, and Stumbles, plus the inclusion of Blusto the Bull and Donna Daisy the waitress making it up to 8 players. The game board comes in multiple pieces that can be switched around to make any number of customizable board combinations. Here are a couple of sample pieces I sketched up:
One possibly Combination:
The game idea has gotten fairly good reception since I've pitched it to multiple people, so I'm pretty excited. I'm going to make the entire game a free downloadable PDF that people can print out and play, similar to tabletop roleplaying games. I also plan on making a deluxe version which has more game pieces, more board pieces, different versions of the playable characters, and even new game mechanics that aren't necesarily needed for the game, but make it slightly more interesting to play. I'll probably sell it for like five bucksish.

And if you think I'm not working on the animation anymore, you sir are wrong! I'm in the middle of doing character sheets. I did naked versions of the characters first(which was slightly odd) so I could place multiple clothing pieces over them easily. Check out a few:
I'm having an interesting time providing textures for al of the characters' clothing. I should have more character sheets next week along with some player pieces and card examples.

Keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the floor Ricketeers!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rickety Rat Boardgame

Hmmm, not for you this week Ricketeers, I had my priorities wrestled elsewhere. Although I did recently think about creating a Rickety Rat papercraft print-out board game in the vein those fancy tabletop games that's all the craze with kids these days. I think it would be significantly easier to design and simpler to make a PDF game doc than creating one of the computer game ideas I wanted(not that you'll never see one of those). Also it would give me a chance to stretch my game design muscles which have been getting pretty soft these days let me tell you. And if I was really crafty, I'd make a simple version that's free and then a super fancier version with more stuff for a small price. How does that all sound?

Friday, August 13, 2010

scenes from the animatic

Hey there Ricketeers! I've finished the animatic! Now I just have to watch it several times and see what needs to be cut or changed. I can't upload the whole thing because a) It's way too big, and b) I really don't want to spoil anything. BUT I can give you a taste of it! Here's a scene at the Rodential Bar and Jazz Club:

And also, here's an alternate version:

I'm still experimenting with camera angles and such. I like the shot of the messenger running up, but I feel it may be unneeded. Thoughts? Thoughts on the story/characters/pace/voices so far?

Also, the music and lounge singer voice was Richard Cheese, who is awesome, and who you can check out here.

Rickety/Announcer: Lucas Ciarlante
Rascals/Stumbles: Sean Faye
Digby: Joshua Daniel
Donna: Alanna Dukes

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

rodential concept art

Wow, I have not done a post in awhile. Well, I have been working on it, but I don't always have stuff to post. Been working on the animatic, but I can't show too much, don't want to spoil any of the story. Also, I've started character sheets for each of the characters and concept art for the settings. Here's a quick sketch of The Rodential: Bar and Jazz Club:

A little jazz bar where Rickety works and drinks. Mostly drinks.

I'm always on the look out for sites and books that have references to interiors and exteriors of 1920's buildings (especially bars and night clubs) so if you find anything or know of any, drop me a line.

I recently saw Assassination of a High School President and while I wouldn't outright call it a noir, it does have noir elements. I can't help feeling it's trying to be Brick but it's just not that stylish.

It's almost Brick's opposite or counterpoint; instead of a noir wrapped in a high-school drama, it's really a high-school coming of age story wrapped in a noir. But, it's still really funny and even though it's obviously a coming of age story, it's still enjoyable to see the main character go from downtrodden miserable nervous teen to confident badass man. And Bruce Willis is exceedingly funny as the War veteran principal. I'd highly recommend picking it up for a viewing.

Until next time ricketeers!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A killer opening!

Hey there Ricketeers! It's been awhile since I've had a post, but I return bearing progress! I finally finished the animatic of the opening title sequence. Check it out!

This is only a preliminary animatic. I like where it's going, but I already feel it's going too fast. It should probably be at least another minute longer, but for that I'm having my sound guy do it. There's only so many different punches and "ahs" I can take. Although, I do like adding different cartoony sound effects to it and making the audience go, "Pop? What the hell went pop? What are they doing to this poor guy? Was that a frying pan I heard?"

Also, the music is Big Shell West Bristol from the amazing BenCousins at It's just a placeholder for now until my sound guy comes up with a killer theme, but this is one of my all time favorite Trip Hop songs. Actually, it's the song that turned me on to Trip Hop and bands like Portishead, Massive Attack, and Hooverphonic. Ahhh memories.

I think I'll ace the posters. Not that I won't do them, but maybe one a week. There's too many to catch up on.

So finally I'm bringing back Noir Review! This week, a double helping of Ernest Hemingway's The Killers!

I got a chance to look at both the 1946 and 1964 versions of The Killers and I'm REALLY leading towards the 1946 version. Two hired killers come to town and off some guy, but the guy doesn't run, almost like he's expecting it. The whole movie is the mystery behind why this man was killed and why he was so accepting of it.

In the 1946 version, it opens with a great dramatic score and introduces us to the actual killers as they talk about who they're going to kill in a quaint little diner. These are my two favorite characters in the entire movie, and I was really hoping the entire movie was going to revolve around them planning and murdering the guy. They're menacing and psychotic, the kind of unique characters you don't see in normal life. "What're we gonna do? I'll tell ya. We're gonna kill the Sweed." Sadly, they kill the guy and go off screen after twenty minutes, only to return an hour later for a short (though easily the most dramatic)scene near the end.

The rest of the movie involves an insurance agent tracking down people connected with "The Sweed" and piecing together a tale of a robbery gone wrong. Each character he meets has a little flashback of what happened. They handle this in a great way, not making the flashbacks too long and are careful to make sure the audience only sees what the person flashbacking(is that a word?) sees. It's a nice little noir story with a couple of great characters, a good twisting story, and some nice camera work. I would wholly recommend checking it out. I think I'd give it a solid 32 out of 39.

Then I started to watch the 1964 version. I say started because I honestly couldn't get through the first hour. And no, not because it's in color. Similar to the first movie, the killers off their target, but almost as reluctant heroes they go, "Hmmm, he didn't run. How odd. Perhaps we should investigate this mystery." which seems rather strange to me. What kind of hired killers are these? They do the job, it's an easy job, and they want to find out more? If they were so curious, why didn't they do this before?

So they find a mechanic that's connected to the guy they just offed and ask him what happened. And so begins the real movie, a love story involving race cars. What? Didn't I sign up for a noir? Why is everyone so bright and lovy dovy? The flashback goes on for way too long and the mechanic suffers from "And this part I wasn't there for but I remember it perfectly" syndrome, which I can't stand.

It seems like the noir mystery was just a framing device for the movie they really wanted to make(or the movie they though audiences would really want to see). I just stopped caring. I can't really recommend it for hardcore noir fans.

Hmm. Would anyone want to become an actual Ricketeer if I made an official fan page? I think it would be an interesting promotional idea. Now, how could I make it viral?

See you next time folks!

Friday, July 2, 2010

animatic on the way!

Hey Ricketeers! Sorry for the late post, but I'm considering moving Rickety Rat Update day to Fridays. Also, I don't really have anything this week. I haven't had much time to work on any more posters or concept art, but I have scanned in all my storyboards and am in the process of making an animatic. Actually, several animatics. Since it's such a big one, I figure I'll break it into scenes (also some scenes have alternates), then splice it together in one huge monstrous animatic.

And then I have to remember how After effects works. Yay.

See you next week folks!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

more posters

Good news Ricketeers! I've finally finished the storyboards! Woo hoo! Now on to Wondrous Animatic land! I have some more mock Noir posters that are almost done. Take a look:

Sure it's just an arm, but what an arm! Compared to the Original.

There has been a serious rascals absence in these posters, so I thought I'd remedy that. I actually really like the original design for this poster.

Still working on the minor characters for this one. Dolly was stealing the femme-fatale show so I thought I'd put Roofie as the main character in this one.

I'm gonna take some time off this week because I'm just so darn happy with finishing the storyboards. See you next week folks!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Posters Galore!

Hi there Ricketeers!

This week I'm finishing up the storyboards. Hopefully finally. If I finish them all I'm throwing my self a "Yay me" Party with cake and everything. Then I can finally start on the animatic!

Also, if you've been following me on twitter or the facebook fan page, (which I'm sure you all do) You'll already know that I'm making mock movie posters of all the noir movies I've reviewed. This might take some time, but hopefully I'll get to a point where I'm caught up and with each new movie review comes a new poster! Wouldn't that be something? Anyways, here's what I've got so far:

I really like this one, even better than the original. It just works so well in high contrast. And the best thing about it is since everyone where's gloves, it could be anyone's hand! And in this version, does M stand for mouse?

This one I'm still working on. I think the problem I have with it is that I tried using solid blacks with no value. You can see the original here and a crazy colored version here.

I REALLY like how this one is coming out. I decided to go old-school shading with it, and I think it works out well. I changed the composition from the original a bit to make it work with the characters. I could have put Rickety in the main character seat but I wanted to see Stumbles as a boxer(Didn't Goofy do a boxing cartoon?) and I wanted to bring Blusto back.

The more I do these posters, the more I wish I could make little mock-movies, but alas, I feel that would be WAY too much to put on my plate. Maybe somewhere down the line I'll do it as a promotional tool when most of the animation is complete and I have time again.

No Noir review this week; I'm going to hold off until next week when I'll have most of the posters done. Plus, I haven't seen any new noirs lately.

See you next week folks!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Those crazy voice actors

Hey there Ricketeers! I'm sorry to say, I don't have much for you this week. I haven't had much time to work on any of the promotional materials, animation, concept art, or barely even the storyboards! I've been wrapped up in my other endeavors, the barber comics and other projects with Rocket Powered Dragon. But, Lucas was able to finish sorting through the Rickety Rat audio, so I'm at least hoping to get the opening sequence mock up done by next week!

I do have a little something for you, some outtakes from the recording sessions! I should warn you though, as we're all professionals here, there is some coarse language used when we trip over our lines. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Poster

Hey there Ricketeers©! Have I got a surprise for you! Well, it's not really a surprise if you've been keeping track, but still! I'm working on a new promotional poster (I finally picked one to start) and here's what I've got so far:
I't's pretty good, but I'm gonna work on it some more, add some shading, maybe a bit of texture, we'll see what I can do with it.

I've also been doing some costume design for our heroines, look at this smart but cute attire for Dolly and Roofie:

That might be fur on her coat, not because she's an extravagant duck, but it's something Rascals would buy for her.

Don't have much else for you this week, Ricketeers. I've been working on the storyboards, and I might be at the half way point. I should really be doing set and environmental design, and I've scoured art deco books for reference, but it's probably going to be put off until I absolutely have to. I much prefer drawing characters than buildings. Who doesn't? YOU'RE HIRED!

For this week on Noir Review, I want to talk about something you're probably all familiar with and it may even be one of your old favorites as it is mine, Batman The Animated Series!

I think this old 90's cartoon is one of the best examples about how to do great noir (especially the first three seasons before the style changed). It's got a perfect 1930's-1940's feel from the buildings to the attire, it's filled with dark shadows and alleyways, and the music is some of the best scoring I've ever heard (when are they going to release a soundtrack?!) And the voices they got to play such iconic characters, Mark Hamil will always be the best Joker

What gave the show it's biggest noir feel is he stories. Many times they'd focus an episode around a normal person who spirals psychotically into the criminal trenches, or an already down and out criminal who's just trying to get back on his feet but society or his own urges won't let him. Many an episode ended on a sad note, or at the least a feeling of, "sure, the batman stopped him this time, but it doesn't matter much because he'll be back", that continuous downward spiral.

I could talk all day about my favorite episodes, but 'll only name a few:

Feat of Clay parts 1 & 2: voiced by the amazing Ron Pealman, a failed actor with a horrible facial disfigurement gets turned into the horrible monster Clayface and tries to get his revenge on the man who changed him.

The Gray Ghost: Voiced by Adam West, A washed-up TV star helps Batman stop a mad-bomber somehow connected to his old TV show.

A Bullet for Bullock: A whole episode revolving around Harvey Bullock, played out like a jazzy detective drama, as he figures out who's trying to kill him.

Almost Got 'im: I think this is one of everybody's favorite episodes. Siting around a poker table, the Joker, Two-Face, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and the Penguin share stories about how they all almost killed the Batman.

Two of my favorite scores:

Trial: Batman and Prosecutor get trapped at Arkham where all the villains put Batman on Trial for turning them into monsters. Let's face it, this should be the next Batman-Phoenix Wright crossover videogame. Objection!

But what's your favorite episode? See you next time Ricketeers!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

poster concepts

Hey there Ricketeers! I don't have much for you this week. Been workin' on storyboards and Concept art a lot(man there's a lot of fancy art deco building references). I wanted to do a Rickety Rat promotional poster similar to the classic noir posters of the 40's, but I haven't decided on composition yet. Here are a few of the ones I'm deciding between:

I like this one in which the characters are interacting with the title. Rickety is off to the side looking lost and small while Rascals is dropping cigar ash on his head.

This is a simple one in which you can see the contrast between him now and his former self in his faded poster.

This one Rickety is far off, maybe in a movie theatre with the side characters having their own individual posters.

This is the only horizontal one I have. Rickety is standing next to three posters, Comedy(with Stumbles), Action(with Racals), and Romance(with Dolly), while he stands under an empty frame reading "Drama".

This is a nice little concept Dolly blowing a kiss and Rickety looking tired and almost badass.

This is a cool poster idea in which Rickety is alone on stage and the audience are all the secondary characters.

This is my new "everyone has a gun" poster. I kinda like this one(even though Blusto isn't going to be in the animation) because it's very similar to the overly dramatic noir posters I'm trying to emulate. It's got gangsters, femme fatales, downtrodden heroes, and guns!

I also had an idea with Rickety sitting at a bar with a drink and about to put out a cigar with Dolly in the ashtray about to be stubbed out and Stumbles drowning in the bottle, but I haven't figiured that one out just yet. I'm still deciding. Which one do you like the best or think captures the heart of noir?

This week on Noir Review, I'm going to drive you Gun Crazy! From 1950, Gun Crazy is the story about Bart Tare who's obsessed with guns and his crazy gun toting wife Annie Starr as they go on a downward spiral robbing banks and running from the law. Storywise, it's a strange ride, and you know it's not going to end well for anyone, but Peggy Cummings and John Dall carry the film with some wonderful acting.

What you really want to take notice from this are some great cinematography tricks. You can see how they started to experiments with new ways of telling the story. One of the best sequences in the whole film is one long take in which the two drive up and rob a bank. The entire time, the camera is stashed in the back seat of the car as if the viewer were a passenger. You get to see them talk about preparation as they drive up, the tension as Annie is waiting for her hubbie to rob the bank, then the suspense of them getting away. It's a great take.

It's not one of my favorites, but it's still a classic worth checking out. Overall, I'd give it a 45 out of a 63. See you next time, detectives!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pigsy and the pyramid

Hey there Ricketeers! It's all about concept art this week! I've got my third tutorial out explaining how to have moving characters with static textures! Take a look!

You can check out the finished product as an animated Gif here.

Also, I managed to do a RIcketyFolk© Class pyramid, so you can see who's on top:

EDIT: I forgot to mention the rules I go by so you don't think it's all random. Generally, the cleaner and more domesticated the animal, the higher on the scale. So domesticated cats are high class, but wild cats are low-middle class. Most wild animals are considered low class, unless they're somehow exotic. Also, the further you get form mammals, the lower on the pyramid. Insects and reptiles are pretty low class. A wild animal can get higher if he's a smooth talker or just persistent. I didn't base it on the animal kingdom, more like animals + social politics.

It's just a preliminary, and I'm sure I've left out some very important species (if fish wanna be in my town they can learn to breath air like proper Americans!) so there's a chance I'll make a nicer version in flash or illustrator. Perhaps someone would like it as a poster to put on their wall?

I really enjoyed coming up with all the different species and giving them different personalities. If you can't make out the faces you can see them more clearly here:

I've been doing a lot of research on 1920's and 30's clothing(still haven't found a lot of resources for old 1920's buildings. Any thoughts?). It's somewhat complex because I have to convert clothes made for tall slim figures into clothes for short, round figures. I was thinking of just having all the ladies tall and thin, but it's strange, the closer I make them to real humans the more out of place and odd they look.

Also, I found all these cool 1920's cartoon advertisements for women's clothing, so I'll be doing a couple of those sometime. And perhaps a few mock smoking ads. Smoking's the next being thing dontcha know! (Also dying)

And hey, did I tell you about the new Rickety Rat incentive? Well gimme and ear and I will! I started a facebook fan group for Rickety Rat, and I'm doing characters for anyone who gets a bunch of people to join! You can have your own lil' animalian noir avatar! Maybe a bear in a tux? Or a snake in a porkpie? Up to you! Get 10 friends of yours to join the facebook group and I'll ink you your own character! Get 20 friends to join the facebook group OR 10 friends to join the blog, and I'll give him the full on flash treatment! Textures and all! Just send me a message saying who you brought and an email address and I'll send you your cute cartoon character. Wouldn't that be cool to show off to your friends? I'm only going to do 10 of them, so you'd better hurry and get people liking!

This week on Noir Review, I'm talking about Touch of Evil! Directed by Orson Welles and staring Orson Welles, Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh! It's about a small town just bordering Mexico. A car blows up, and Charlton Heston, the good cop, and Orson Welles, the dirty cop, take it upon themselves to figure out who did it. Things escalate when Heston starts accusing Welles of messing with his cases and Welles starts setting Heston up.

Made in 1958, this is one of the last noirs of the classic noir period. And when Noir goes out, it goes out with a bang! Who wouldn't want to see a movie directed by the great Orson Welles and staring Charlton Heston as a hardened cop, Janet Leigh as the blond bombshell wife and Orson Welles as a tired old dirty cop? Being directed by Orson Welles, it has some interesting techniques including the use of big expansive open areas with a camera that pans and tilts to follow a character down the street, minimal use of cutting, use of steady cam, and more realistic dialogue in which characters speak over one another. Because of this and because it's so late in the fifties, it has a different feel than your usual noir.

It has some amazing acting(who doesn't love Heston and Welles? And Leigh is easy on the eyes if you get my drift) and some great film techniques(one I like is keeping the camera set in the room on a couple of characters while another character goes off screen, but they're still talking. You'd think the camera would follow them or cut, but this has a more natural feel) but, I don't know, it still doesn't have that classic noir feel. But still, it's a great film and a nice way to end the noir era. I would recommend picking it up. 42 out of 53. See you next week!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A pig and a cow walk into a bar...

Hey there Ricketeers! This week I have what you've been waiting for (all three of you), the tutorial on how to make those fancy textures! Aaaaaaand it's less than ten minutes! Go me.

I hope this helps guys! Next week I'll show you how to animate characters while the textures stand still. Won't that be nifty? There's still a lot of animation to be figured out, so maybe as I get further along with it, I can do more tutorials. We can learn together! It's like we'll be best pals! And then you can spot me $5.

Unfortunately I don't have any new sketches or pieces of concept art. Although, I did pretty thoroughly figure out the class system, which I'll diagram out next week. And my sound guy is finished on his other projects he was working on and is back on track for dealing with Rickety Rat audio, so hopefully we'll get to see a mock up of the animated opening.

Oh wait! I lied! I do have a sketch to show you:

This is the waitress from the Rodential, a low-class nighclub Rickety works in. She's of bovine descent(because you never call a lady a cow, even if she is one).Her name is Donna Daisy. Donna Daisy, the girl with two names. The waitress with double D's. Man, I really have to stop designing characters or I'll end up falling in love with all of them.

This week on Noir Review, I watched the Fritz Lang's M. It's a German film from 1931, the noir film before there were noir films. It's important to note that Fritz Lang is the director of the great silent sci-fi epic Metropolis, not because M is very science-fictiony, but you can tell it's from just after the silent movie era.

It's about a child murderer loose in a small German town, creating mass suspicion and paranoia. People start suspecting each other of being the heinous criminal. Cops start cracking down hard on everyone, especially the criminal fraternity, which makes them band together and go after the murderer themselves. The criminals are actually more organized, and more effective and can do things and go places the police can't.

It's a great movie for cinematography wise, creating some very unnerving shadowy shots, and the acting is all top notch. The stand out performance is Peter Lorre as the crazed child murderer. It's worth a viewing for the acting alone.

But the problem of this being too close to the silent era is two fold. First it does a great job of setting up this sinister mood, but then it destroys it with a slapstick joke. It's hard to tel sometimes when it's a comedy and when it's serious. Second, there's little to no sound design. There's no music whatsoever and in some parts it's just silent. And I'm not talking about tiptoeing-through-a-library silent, just blank no sound at all silent. There will be cars screeching and people scurrying but no sounds. You can tell where they either couldn't afford to record, or simply thought it was unnecessary. Though, looking back, I was watching the super special awesome redone with extra scenes version, so who's to say those scenes weren't added after the fact. But still, it's weird.

Anyways, I'd give it a 32 out of a 43. It's a great sinister movie with some incredible acting, but it's probably only for the most avid noir buffs.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to use a line and boxing

This week, I have part 1 of my video tutorial on creating those nifty textures! This one shows how I use the line tool because some people barely know how to use it, and I find that a travesty! I regret that it's so long, and that I had to split it up into 3 parts, but this is usually the longest part of the process anyways. I hope you find it interesting and helpful and not too boring.

Although I was uploading it and I realised I didn't say anything about the pencil tool, of course I don't really use it all that often. It's like the brush tool, but using a line, so it's helpful in setting up the framework, but if you're not master of it, you need to go back and connect all the lines anyways. Perhaps I'll do another tutorial in the future on that.

I've been doing more storyboards, but not as many as I'd like and not nearly s fast as I need. The main problem is that I I've just gotten done designing the main characters, but I'm still in the process of designing the general populous, the environment, and the general feel. I still need to do ALOOOOOT of research and ALOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT of concept art, which I'm kind of doing at the same time as the storyboards/animatic. Man I wish I had someone who could do awesome backgrounds.

Anyways...this week on Noir Review, I have to tell you about the amazing gunless, Scoreless Noir: The Set-Up! Honestly, I was putting off watching this one because it's about boxing. No detectives, no guns, that can't possibly be something I'm into. But it had Robert Ryan (who should be in every noir movie cause he is the quintessential tough guy) so I finally picked it up. And boy, am I ever glad I did!

The Set-Up is about a down and out boxer named Stoker(Robert Ryan) who's trying to get back into the big leagues by winning his next match after losing countless others. Except what he doesn't know is that his manager made a deal with a local gangster that Stoker would throw the match. Stoker's lost so many other times, he couldn't possibly win this night, could he?

It does a great job of building tension by having Stoker see all the other boxers get ready, all of them hopefully optimistic that this will be their big chance to win. But the outcomes of their fights have a huge impact on his courage. There's never any narration, but every time Stoker is off to the side watching the Doc trying to revive someone, you can see it in his eyes, "Is that what I am? Washed up?" And then another fighter comes up saying how he's going to win it big and Stoker's smile says, "Nah, it's my lucky night." And that's what makes it a true noir movie, that glimmer of diminishing hope in a dark world, about to get snuffed out.

This is one of the best Noir films I've seen because it has so little of the noir cliches that you're used to seeing almost to the point of defining the genre. As I said before, there're no guns, no detectives, no voice over, no score! (Sure there's background music, but still, for a music person, that's big!) One of the best punching-a-cliche-in-the-face-scenes is when Stoker is talking about his old days, and it's honestly the perfect place for a dreamy-eyed flashback, but he just sort of looks off into the distance and then everyone goes about their business.

The cinematography is amazing. Most Noir films (and films in general) have a substantial amount of cutting, but in The Set-up director Robert Wise took a very minimalist approach and instead used more panning, tilting and dolly shots. There's a great scene in the opening where the camera tilts down and pans around at the various characters as they converse. It's a great shot that must have taken a good amount of planning and set-up to pull off so beautifully. I feel like this is one of those movies that was a huge influence on Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson.

I couldn't recommend this more. Personally, I think this is better than Raging Bull, but that's a different kind of film. So many noir films are filled with overdone cliches that they lose their inner spirit (and you always hope that's not your film), but this is a film that's stripped away all it's porkpie bells and trnech coat whistles and all its got left is spirit. I don't give this score to many films, but it deserves it! A 43 out of 43!

Oh and here's a fun little symbolism exercise when you do watch it; count the number of clocks and consider what the director is saying about time.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This pigsy wigsy taught you how to use flash

This week I've been busy with some freelance so I haven't had much time to work on the animation. Though I'm really glad I've forced myself to update each week as it gives me something to shoot for and I don't inadvertently put the animation on hold. I do have an update on my flash tutorial! I was concocting different characters, trying to decide one that has all the details I wanted to talk about.

And I didn't want to do one of the main characters secret damnit!

So I came up with him:

Pigsy Malone! Or Porky McRind. Or Orvell Dashing. I don't know, some quirky pig name. Anyways, Hopefully next week I'll have the first part of my video tutorial: how to use the line tool quickly in Flash.

Check out some of the other guys I was considering:

Aren't they cool lookin' and cartoony? They also represent the lower-class folk in my RicketyWorld ©. The mole guy is a gangster type, the turtle is a some sort of strongman joe, the doe-eyed kid is a lil' rapscallion, and the fourth one is uh...yeah he's just dumb. ALso check out the uppercrust:

Ducks and Rabbits and Cats and fancy birds oh my! Of course cats are upperclass. Jerks.

Sooo , since I reviewed a bleah Robert Downy Jr movie last week, for this week on Noir Review I'll talk about Kiss Kiss Bang Bang! Honestly, this is more mystery/whodunit than Noir, but I think there are enough noir elements to call it noir, so I'm making a call. Sooo Noir-suspense-comedy? Yeah that sounds right.

It's funny and witty. Robert Downy Jr. does a great job as the deadpan and silly narrator and Val Kilmer is hilarious as a gay private eye. It makes pokes fun at the genre cliches and has one of those tight narratives that wraps up everything nicely in a bow. I love the dialogue in here. This is one of those movies you'll be quoting when no one knows what you're talking about. I completely recommend it! A solid 64 out of 67. How can you NOT see it with a score like that?!

Oh, and by the way, I learned how to embed video. Go me. Does anyone else love stylish graphic openings?