Saturday, November 16, 2013

LOL Reindeer

Hats off to those who manage to chronicle the production of their own animated short, cuz that's what I intended to do on this blog and, well, I didn't.  But here it is the end result anyway, just in time for Christmas.

So the story is that several years ago my daughters Rachel and Alana asked me to video them singing Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer together.  I had a feeling the recording would have a future use, so I had them sing it a second time.  Since then I had been trying to come up with a side animation project that would mix animation mediums and techniques, and the Rudolph recording came to mind.  The idea was to try my hand at different forms of animation, including hand-drawn, cutouts, and AfterEffects, while still ending up with a video others might actually want to watch.  The end result is something of an animated Christmas card.

A goal of the project was to get through production without spending much money.  This resulted in the creative use of existing props and materials as well as hardware and software that may not have been the ideal choice.  For example, I colored the hand-drawn frames in Photoshop even though something like ToonBoom would probably have been better.  And certainly a DSLR would be the best camera for stop motion, but the best I could do was an HD camcorder.  I patched in a standard-def signal into the computer in order to use Dragonframe while shooting, but captured the frames to an SD card to edit later in AfterEffects.

This took fourteen months to make, but there were stretches of time I didn't have the opportunity to work on it so it's hard to say how long it actually took.  It mainly involved being creative with available time.  I did most of the CG animation while commuting to work on Bart and buses.  Unemployment provided chunks of time, though I could still get in some work in the evenings while working full-time.  I can see spending months more polishing and redoing parts, but it's almost Christmas, and it's time to move on.

And since I don't have a lot of experience in modeling and rigging CG characters, I want to give a special thank you to the 11-Second Club team that created the rig used for the main singer, as well as the creators of "Andy," the rig I used for the elves.