Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The making of LIGHTNING SQUARED, part 1

In the coming days, get ready to learn everything you could ever want to know (and more!) about how I made the cartoon music video for the Abby Travis song Lightning Squared. First off, let's pay a visit to the Frankenstein place...

The castle looks like a drawing, but it's actually more of a photo collage pasted together from the parts of various miniature golf castles I found online. There are little spires and turrets from mini-golf courses all over the world, all twisted, tweaked and painted a spooky blue. (Click all photos to embiggen.)

I went through a lot of castle designs before I settled on one I liked. For a while I was planning to just use images of the Robert Burns Memorial in Scotland. I think it's a fascinatingly funky little building, and I liked the idea of the castle seeming much larger on the inside than the outside... But in the end, this building just didn't fit the frame right! Since the video was widescreen and this building is tall and thin, I had to make the building really tiny or it wouldn't fit the frame at all. Also, this building was a little too realistic... It's the first thing you see in the video, and I thought it was better to start with something more cartoony to establish the style of the rest of the clip.

Another photo collage, heavily worked over. The walls and pillars are actually from a photo of some ancient temple in the Middle East, and the door is from the front of a fancy crypt in South America, if I recall correctly. (And isn't that door awesome?) I actually designed a lot more of the castle antechamber than I ended up using. I thought I was going to show the Angry Mob running down this corridor for a long time, but I ended up having to cut the scene down to like a fraction of a second.

The antechamber once had a very different look, and I was planning to use this old art print (I've forgotten the name of the artist.) The original has a bunch of people in it, and I'm kind of proud of the job I did removing everybody and putting in that checkered floor! I ended up junking this scene because I thought it was looking a little too Monty Python. (I kept having a feeling that Terry Gilliam actually used this print in an old cartoon. Does anybody recognize it?)

Another unused image of the castle interior, assembled from various photos. This was another instance where I decided it looked too "real."

A preliminary drawing of the castle entrance. It just wasn't working, but there was something I kinda liked about it.

A better look at the lightning raygun thing in the lab. It's put together from all sorts of weird elements: an old plastic toy raygun, a brass bell for the base, the folding arm of an old desk lamp, the tip of a bullet for the "bowl" on the firing end. I designed a lot of other lab equipment that I never ended up having room for in the final cut.

An image from a finished but deleted scene. As something of a novice animator, I jumped into this video without timing everything right... So I ended up with a couple of scenes I had to cut, including this shot where the Angry Mob storms the castle. If I ever make another music video, you better believe I'll time that sucker to the nanosecond before I animate a single frame!


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