Well today is my last day at JibJab. I'm heading back to Sheridan to kick off my last year!
So what to say? I can't believe it's been four months already - it literally felt like two weeks - that I was just here and now I have to leave.
Being in California has truly been an eye-opening experience. I would highly recommend to any of you Sheridan readers or anyone in Canadaland to visit the L.A. and Bay areas to check out the animation scene. Everything is truly happening in California and you don't really appreciate it until you see it.
As for JibJab, some of you may be wondering what they do, who they are, and what I did with my time in sunny Santa Monica.
JibJab was started on October 1st, 1999 and can only be described as a fast-moving, manic studio creating content specifically for the web. I'm definitely fresh full of links to educate you guys about JibJab. First, check JibJab's own About page to see a brief history of the studio. JibJab has also been featured on Cartoon Brew (What JibJab Could Teach TV, JibJab's Big Box Mart, as well as other great blogs like Mark Mayerson's (Get Out of the Kitchen, The Great Sketch Experiment, and Here).
But what's really all the hubbub? What makes JibJab different than any other studio? I'd recommend checking out those links, as they'd be able to express it better than I, but its quite clear that JibJab is a novel example of creative web economics.
What JibJab is doing by creating content for the web is bypassing permission or guidance from anyone but themselves, to an increasingly captive audience (over 275,000,000 jokes have been served on JibJab.com, has an active mailing list of over 750,000 viewers who are constantly updated with the latest from JibJab, and their latest hit, Starring You, has been a resounding success (If you don't believe me, check out the "public heads" tab on Starring You - there are over 600 pages of heads uploaded to be used publicly by users - with 24 heads on each page. That's a lot of heads! - And this doesn't even count the much larger sum of privately created heads, nor the amount of Starring You! movies created in total)).
JibJab's Starring You was recently featured on Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" (I can't believe I prepped a file that would have been seen by so many people!), the company's work has been repeated featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and has partnered with large media empires like MSN in the past (and continues to do so).
I think many artists can appreciate an audience like that, and especially not having to answer to any of the gatekeepers who run those businesses. A lot of people are convinced that blogs, social networks, and the new "Web 2.0" is a new frontier and that there's money to be made (Even these old fogies think so!).
JibJab never stays still. You can see from Starring You! that they are already integrating themselves into social networks and blogs, with a built-in embed feature that allows users to easily post these videos to their myspace and facebook accounts, as well as to their blogs. While JibJab.com essentially is the YouTube.com for joke videos, they differ in that they create original content as well. It's pretty clear, though, that Starring You! is a step up.
Starring You! is a flash app that allows you to cut out a picture, and paste it onto one of five premade dances, to much hilarity. Starring You! lives and relies completely on JibJab.com, even if it pops up on another site. The fact that a) the content is personalised, and b) the content is stored on JibJab's servers means that the hits and viewership is always allocated to JibJab. This is far cry from the big networks, who have seen their shows being repeatedly uploaded to video hosting sites like YouTube, where they lose their viewership and ad revenue from content that they funded. And the networks don't really seem to be getting much better at integrating into the new landscape - they are simply using the medium to advertise content on their other platforms (Such as metacafe.com's Bourne Ultimatum Mashup Channel). Users can do creative things with JibJab's content (like this, I guess), but it's definitely limited and hardly stealing content or popularity away from the brand. But that's enough about JibJab as a company. What's it like to be an animator working for them?
JibJab's forward thinking isn't only really limited to just their content, but the creation of their content. Because they don't have to answer to any other higher powers and money grabbers, the heads of the studio call all the shots. And in this case, those heads are the maniacal (in a good way) balls of enthusiasm that are Evan and Gregg Spiridellis. The brother team of animator and business person works extremely well, and having the guy you're working for is versed in the ways of animation himself is a never-ending blessing. But because an animator is calling the shots, there aren't really those unnecessary revisions from higher-ups, or producers grabbing for control - just the Spiridellis Brothers a few steps away in the office. While production is a small group of people, it's pretty closely-knit with everyone working together on just about every project, with Evan upstairs coming up with even more maniacal things to do with his studio. In the time I've been at JibJab, I've gotten the chance to work on projects (in some capacity) that featured live action, puppets, stop-motion, flash, 2D, After Effects, and the innumerable combinations of all of the above.
The other fantastic thing were the people working at Jibjab. Kevin, Nate, Will, and Dave in production were great to work with (you guys in programming were really swell too - there's just so many of you!), but just as exciting was working with a bunch of students from Calarts (Matt, Ian, Diana, Joe, Dimitri), as well as meeting so many more (Lorelay, Brigitte, Ed, Christian, Mario, Adrian, Sue, Alex, Minkyu, Matthias, and Nick). These people were all great artists and I hope to work with them sometime in the future.
I will definitely be missing SoCal! San Diego Comic-Con was absolutely incredible, I loved both San Diego and San Francisco (and to a lesser extent - Los Angeles), and possibly best of all, got to check around the studios like Sony, Dreamworks (The picture to the left is the beautiful fountain on the DW campus) and Pixar, as well as Calarts. And I will most certainly be missing living on the beach.
Anyways, this post was overly-huge because I'm about to set off on a cross-country road trip from Vancouver to Toronto before (and maybe even a little after) school starts. I doubt I'll be blogging much (if at all) in this week-or-so time that it will take to get to Ontario, so see you guys on the other side! As a parting shot, here is my awesome business card (both sides in one image):
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Well today is my last day at JibJab. I'm heading back to Sheridan to kick off my last year!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Michael Sporn has posted some amazing drawings from a Fantasia Book by Deems Taylor published back in 1940. Check it out..
Also, check out the new linetest I found of a scene in Fantasia for Tin Soldier. Embedded at left.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Check out Robota, embedded at left.
Also, check out the work of the french animation school, La Pourdrière.
Last, but not least, check out The Cold Rush, a supinfocom short.
Thanks to Deep for the heads up about La Pourdrière.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
So, I've got my schedule for this upcoming year at Sheridan, for those who want to know.
Senior Animation Project Lab with Bruno Degazio (11 - 1PM)
Senior Animation Project Lab with Michel Hannan (2 - 4 PM)
Advanced Figure Drawing and Art Direction with Gerry Zeldin (9 - 12 AM)
Social Movement and Protest with Paul Angelini (1 - 4 PM)
And that's all folks! 5 day weekend!
Let me know if you're in my class or pop me your schedule in the comments. Definitely gearing up for the year to start!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The trailer for the new Michel Gondry flick here.
My 700th post!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Unfortunately I'm not getting as much time as I'd like to draw for myself nowadays. I've been so busy!
Taking up a huge chunk of my time is the story reel for my upcoming film, Unicycle Joe, who I'm working on with Philip Rodrigues.
Here's some mad quick sketches that I threw together today. We have quite a bit a ways to go on the design and art direction front, but I'm happy to say that we have a rough reel fully thrown together and its just a matter of pulling things around and making things work better now (and cleaning up the boards, and throwing in scratch tracks, and finding music - it never ends!).
I hope I'll soon be able to dedicate more of my time to designing the short. We'll see!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
If any of you readers are in the GTA area on the 25th of August, make sure to check out the art show at the Labyrinth book store featuring the very talented lineup of Alberto Ruiz, Joe Weatherly, and David Colman.
Check here to find out more.
Monday, August 13, 2007
As it turns out, the Teletoon finalists are in.
There are four Sheridan films in the running for Continuing Education! Jeremy Canton's "Picture Day", Halya Mychaskiw's "Monster Backpack", Guillaume Chartier's "Monster Drawing", and James Higuchi's "Babushki".
Also up for Most Promising student.. 6 Sheridan films!
Trevor Jimenez's "Key Lime Pie", Nick Thornborrow's "A Foolish Bet", Johannes Uy's "Mr Elephant Goes to Work", Louis Norris' "Sandbox", Jessie Ilham's "Lemonaid Stand", and Brandon Scott's "Cruel Fauna."
Congrats to all of you!
[Update] You can see all of these films online as well - because there's a voter's choice section! Vote for your favorite!
Friday, August 10, 2007
I'm going to San Francisco for the weekend, and won't be back until Monday - that very likely means that the blog goes silent until then.
Have a good weekend all!
Posted by Alan Cook at 3:58 PM
Thursday, August 09, 2007
One of the first things I worked on here at JibJab is Starring You! A flash app where you can take a photo of anyone, cut out their head, and apply it to hilarious madness. Straight out the door JibJab has 5 dances for you to choose from to exact your revenge on unsuspecting mugs. They are: Chiquita, Disco, Charleston, Hula, and Cucaracha. Check them out here.
The JibJab Bloggedy Blog has been hinting at this for a little bit of time, now, complete with hilarious shots of workers and various dancers in the somewhat funny, sometimes disturbing getup featured in the dances.
JibJab gives you the chance to post your created video (with free registration) to a plethora of social networks it works with MySpace, Facebook, iGoogle, Blogger, Windows Live, Email, and many more (including straight-up vanilla embed code for those who prefer just that). And it's all free!
Starring You! works by first uploading an image in any common image file format (jpeg, gif, png) - it then bounces you to a window where you can cut your head out, and save it for later use (in multiple videos, for instance). You can also make your head 'public' and share it with all the other JibJab users. A quick hint for Photoshop users - if you are photoshop savvy and prefer cutting out your head in photoshop, cut it out and make sure the background is transparent, then save it off as a png-24. Move the dots in the Starring You! Head cut tool outside of the head (anywhere), and since the app supports alpha, the head will look like it has a perfect cut. The app is still in beta but works quite well already!
Here's a quick video I threw together using the app:
Check it out! If you like it (and even if you don't), let JibJab know!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Sunday, August 05, 2007
After Surf's Up, I was curious as to what Sony Pictures Animation was cooking up. According to this slideshow and WikiPedia, Sony is working on "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," based on a book by Judi and Ron Barrett. Apparently it's the most stylized 3D you've ever seen.
Also, there's "Hotel Transylvania"
Both seem to be due in around 2009.
I've been doing some small-time sleuthing to find out a little bit more about Gobelins, the cool school of animation amongst us all.
For those not familiar with the amazing work from Gobelins, check out The Animation Gallery.
First of, for those interested, it is apparently possible for professionals and/or graduates of animation programs to apply directly for the third year of animation at Gobelins (Check out this Google Cached page) after applying with a specific portfolio.
This page also gives a little bit more info about the school, claiming that "early 90% of the teaching is done by working professionals taking time out from their busy schedules in the studios and production companies."
Also notable, it says that "the third year program is devoted to classes and exercises to perfect 3D character animation skills (September through November) and to the making of a short film in teams (December through June)." Interestingly, the course seems to be set up in workshops, where they have sequential 3 to 30 day workshops working on one specific task.
For those interested, Gobelins also runs an international summer school, for two weeks in length, in July. Read more about it on this Google cached page.
Lastly I dug up this old Variety article featuring Gobelins.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Went sketching today at lunch with the fabulously talented guys and gals of Sketchclub - Noelle Triareau, Armand Serrano, and Marcelo Vignali
A few quick headshots I threw together
My version of this week's 'mark' (to be drawn from memory)
Check out the Sketchclub blog here.
Friday, August 03, 2007
The Official selections have just been announced for the OIAF 07 (Ottawa International Animation Festival)
Notably, they are playing the features Persepolis and Aachi and Ssipak.
Also, the NFB's 'Madame Tutli-Putli', Chris Walsh's 'The Magic Protector', Casper Konefal's 'Kat Fight', Trevor Jimenez's 'Key Lime Pie', Gobelin's 'Cocotte Minute', and JibJab's 'Nucking Futs' are all playing at shorts this year.
Check out the whole list here
Should be a good year.
Check out these amazing paintings by Will Wray for Samurai Jack.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
First off, I should probably reference this article for you guys again in case you haven't read up on Wall-E's plot.
Secondly, check out Buy N Large, a tie-in site about the company who makes the wall-e robots.
I got the chance to see the presentation at the SDCC today on Wall-E. It featured Ben Burtt and Andrew Stanton. No pictures were allowed (sorry guys!)
Basically, the presentation started off with a revised pixar intro, where luxo enters and does everything like normal, but Luxo's lamp breaks when stomping on the I. Wall-e comes in midway through, replaces the lightbulb, and tries to roll of screen, but knocks over the r in the logo, so he stops and tries to hide (and when he hides he turns into just a plain box) and sticks his arms out to form the r, and it fades out...
Andrew Stanton then went headlong into the story of Wall-E. He states that the main idea brought out of the lunch featured in the original teaser was just a seed, which was "what if humans left earth and forgot to turn the last robot off?"
Stanton went on to say that the idea stuck with him and caused him to procrastinate when he was still working on Nemo.
He went on to give out the same basic plot details from the first link (nothing really new here).
Ben Burtt (the legendary sound designer) then went on to talk about how there is no dialogue in the film in a normal sense,showing a great featurette using pastels and digital paintings and sound to evoke the moods that would be felt while watching Wall-E.
Then, using a piano, went on to demonstrate the range of sounds that Wall-E and his wanted companion, EVE, could make. With these same range of sounds they displayed Wall E and Eve both in their own animation scene (unrendered, but very well animated).
To contrast Wall E, who is essentially a cube with binoculars and treads (which can fold up into his body so he's then essentially a cube), EVE is based on circles and ovals - EVE's head is a floating sphere and its body is an upside-down teardrop. Wall-E is rustic and worker class, EVE is sleek, white, and smooth. Stanton said that Wall-E's design was inspired by Luxo, but he didn't feel Luxo's design could hold an audience, so he wanted to play around with eyes, and during a baseball game, saw some binoculars and made it into Wall-e.
Next up was an around-10-minute clip of Wall-E, which was fully rendered. It opened with a downshot of Wall-E on top of a vehicle, sleeping. Some lights come on and the Apple Power On chime sounds as Wall-E wakes up (a funny Mac nerd reference) and starts off towards the heaps and heaps of junk. Wall-E and his vehicle are on top of a broken up freeway near a city, and there is atmosphere and gas everywhere.
Wall-e departs off of his vehicle and we see he is followed around by a cock roach. Wall-e enters the vehicle for a moment and, upon leaving, accidently squishes the roach. It jumps up and cries in surprise, then leans down to see whether or not he killed what is clearly his friend. After a pause, it springs back up, and Wall-e scolds the bug, pointing at it to keep out of his way.
Wall-e then starts his rounds, compacting most junk into squares. But he doesn't do this for everything - he searches the garbage trying to find any trace of anything unusual or interesting. He picks up a ping pong paddle with a string and plays with it (accidently hitting himself in the head repeatedly with it), finds a wedding ring case and throws away the diamond ring, finding the case much more interesting. Everything else, he compacts into a square and piles it neatly in a pile. When lifting through one bunch, he notices a small plant, and crouches down to take a look..
He uproots the plant and places it into a jar very carefully. But as he's doing this, he notices a small red dot that appears on the ground (like a laser pointer dot). The dot dances around and Wall-e follows in pursuit. We see, though, unawares to Wall-E, that the one dot is being trailed by a huge circle of similar dots to the one he's chasing. Then, a space ship comes down right on top of him, shooting its rockets down into the ground. The world is melting around him and Wall-E frantically digs down into the ground to get away from the heat.
We then see a closeup of the molten rocks left behind. After a pause, we see Wall-E poke his hands through the surface, and his head pops up. He looks around, and we see the spaceship unfolding, as it drops down EVE, who is asleep and unmoving. Wall-E rolls up to it, pokes it, and it wakes up, causing him to jump and hide. We then see EVE turn on, and that's the end...
Sorry I couldn't get any pictures. Hope you enjoyed reading that!
[Update] Forgot a few details:
They also introduced a character named Auto who is the auto pilot of the space liner.
Eve is a probe droid that is held together by magnetic fields. She also features a few special functions and and smaller weapons for self-protection purposes.
Then there's the ship captain, a tentacle eyeball-ed character that has a very deep voice, and sounds makes lots of bell and whistles. The captain has lots of prehensile finger digits that orbit around its eye.
Lastly, there was M-O, who is an obliterator droid that rolls around on a track ball. He constantly says "unsanitary" and waves around a vacuum roller.
Also notable is that Wall-E has a laser- between his eyes- that he uses to seperate trash.
It's interesting to see how the characters are being differentiated by their sounds.
Thanks to ComingSoon.net for reminding me of this.
Check out Aint-it-cool for an alternate description of this as well.
Also updated the pixar intro to better reflect what happened.
I found some pictures of the concept art that was shown online. There's only three but here they are anyways.
[Another Update] Check out the Audio from the Q&A session at the panel.