Saturday, May 31, 2008

FortheBirds Masterpiece Collection - "Randy's Mother"

Another print has just arrived, courtesy of the FortheBirds Masterpiece Collection.


"Randy's Mother"
based off of James McNeill Whistler's 'Arrangement in Grey & Black: The Artist's Mother', more famously known as 'Whistler's Mother'.

The resemblance is strikingly similar, ain't it?

Friday, May 30, 2008

For the Birds Masterpiece Collection - "Son of Bird"

Ladies & Gentlemen (& bloggers), may I present another limited edition print from the FortheBirds Masterpiece Collection.

"Son of Bird"

based off of Rene' Magritte's self-potrait "Son of Man"

Stay tuned for more toon tuning of works of art.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Disney Bastardization #4 - Pinocchio's Early Demise + An Update on Ollie

I haven't done one of these in a while...

Here's another Disney Bastardization by Yours Truly. This time, the film Pinocchio gets the pie in the pants. The big question here is, what would happen if Pinocchio accidentally encountered the bad end of a wood chipper?:

video

& I know what some of you are thinking: "#4? Wasn't that perverted Dalmatian calamity the fourth Bastardization?". Well, I've had the idea brewing for this one long before the Dalmatian one. I actually was working on this one at the same time, but I could find the right sound effects, so I put it off 'til now.

Since I couldn't find the right sound of a wood chipper without too much ambient noise or distortion, I had to make the sounds myself. For the wood chipper grinding Pinocchio to toothpicks, I mashed together the sound of an electric pencil sharpener in one hand while crumpling some candy wrappers, tin foil & drawing paper in the other. The siren & scream were not me.

After tooling around with this video, I think I'm done with Windows Movie Maker. I'm sick & tired of it! I couldn't slow some bits down to the speed I wanted, I couldn't zoom in on Pinocchio during "Taps", & I can't overlay multiple sounds on top of each other without some sort of problem. I also wanted to add the effect of sawdust flying up from the bottom, to make things a bit more clear to understand, but that's way out o the question. Until I get my hands on a Mac with iMovie &/or AfterEffects, I'm through with this program!

Sadly, I still have one more project to finish with this god-awful program: The Ollie Johnston Tribute. I've been sounding like I was full of hot air these past few weeks mentioning this thing, with no physical proof to show, but I have been working my ass off on it. I've just finished going through all his films & now I have to properly order & organize all the footage into a streamline tribute. Sounds simple, right?... W-R-O-N-G!!!

I thought that this tribute would be 10, maybe 15 minutes tops. It's ending up being roughly ONE HOUR LONG!!! & to compensate for all the footage, I'm splitting the video into 5-6 parts, each 10 minutes long (there's no way anyone is gonna sit for almost an hour staring at this PowerPoint-quality tribute without getting antsy). Luckily, thanks to some help from people like Hans Perk & his drafts as well as the videos, blog posts, drafts, mosaics, essays & books by Mike Barrier, Thad K., Mark Mayerson, Michael Sporn, Howard Beckerman & John Canemaker as well as support from numerous others, I think I'll be able to make this tribute a well-done one.

So, over the next few days, I'm gonna be continuing writing on 50+ index cards & Post-it notes trying to organize this "film" into an appropriate order. My studio will be covered in yellow for days! I'll try to have Part 1 at least up by the end of next week (if all goes well).
Thanks for being so patient & understanding!

Somethin' Short & French to Somethin' Wet & Japanese

Alright, we got 2 (count 'em, 2) new pieces from the "FortheBirds Masterpiece Collection"

This first one is called 'Steve-O-leon Crossing the Alps', based off of Jacques-Louis David's "Napoleon Crossing the Alps":

& the second is called "Three Birds off a Boat off the Great Wave Off Kanagawa", based off of "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa" by Hokusai.

(Click them to enlarge them)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some Plugs Worth Pluggin'...

Here's some plugs for some of my friends at SVA whom I each envy very much. These people make my work look like they were drawn by 5-year olds:

- Chris Zito is a great artist, an amazing voice actor & he has a great sense of humor! His website Chris' Closet showcases some of his voice-over work as well as his comic, cartoon & animation work. Some of you may recognize him as Meat from the "Parody Rangers" series on Newgrounds as well as his work on "NIN10Doh!" & many other movies. Also, check out his deviantART page (Tidus-Backlash). His voice shall break the sound barrier 10 times over!

- Zach Belissimo is a very gifted artist. His work is like a twisted mash-up of John K., Tim Burton & Fleischer cartoons all rolled into one package. Check out his deviantArt page for all his awesome artwork (SeizureDemon) as well as his first year animated film from SVA posted on Youtube: Basil Cadaver!

- Mike Luckas, another talented comic artist, set up a new website too! His work is not only appealing, but it's downright unbelievable to behold! Each drawing, doodle & design he scribbles from his hand is instant gold. He's also got his own deviantART page, too (UltimateCreatureII)!

- Amanda Frena (aka AJ), has artwork that blows my mind each time I see it! Combine the complicated & patient skill of M.C. Escher with the somewhat-topsy-turvy world of Dali & you got Frena's Art & Style! Unbelievable, pure & simple! Check out her work here: (classic-syndrome)

- Ivey Ao takes anime & makes it even more charming that ever before! With a talent for simple yet elegant artwork, her watercolors'll make your eyes water themselves. Go check her stuff out here: (thestrangechange).

- Kat Shin may be a bit twisted, but it's all twisted in the right direction! With the makings of a great artist, a hilarious comedian & an incredibly talented actor, she'll knock all of us clean outta the water. While she hasn't posted much on her blog, The Showroom Dummy, since she first started it, hopefully she'll put some stuff up real soon to make your sides split wide open. While you're at it, pressure her to post her work (consider it a favor from all of us, Kat!)

- When I first saw Mirella Toncheva's artwork, I almost put down my pencil & gave up drawing for good! Her knowledge of anatomy, appeal & composition completely blows my mind (& her animation work is good, too!) Her blog, The Glass House, will permanently be in your favorites list once you take a glimpse at her stuff.

- Howard Beckerman is a great animator, artist, writer, director, author, teacher & friend. He's worked at Terrytoons, UPA, Famous Studios as well as on numerous commercials. & along with teaching 'History of Animation' at SVA, he wrote the must-have book Animation: The Whole Story (go pick up a copy, it's worth it!) & has his own website: howardbeckerman.com! Listen to what he has to say, & believe me, he's got a lot to teach!

--------------------

Now, before I end this post, I've got somethin' really cool to show you guys:

Ever since I posted the "Disney's Gettin' Lazy" videos, I've gotten a lot of traffic to my site, especially the Bambi's Mom episode. As I was looking through my traffic report, I noticed I got a lot of hits from deviantART. When I checked the link, I discovered this:

I find it awesome that people are commenting my blog & my videos, but this is REALLY awesome! Thanks to artist Vango ( aka Raniko on devianART), who drew this hilarious comic!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Animated Card for a Sweet 16...

A few weeks ago, I got a Sweet 16 invitation from my friends Sierra & Michelle, who I knew from the Cartooning classes at Hofstra since way back when I first started there. The strangest thing about the whole thing was that I was actually invited somewhere!... but that's beside the point....

At the time, the party was roughly 2-3 weeks away, & I blew the first two still trying to decide what to get them... then it hit me. Instead of actually going through the trouble of buying a present, I thought it would be nice to actually make them something instead. But what...? At first, I thought I'd make a nice watercolor card for each of them, but then I thought "Hey, why don't I animate something for them using FLASH? That'd be easy!" WRONG! Well, I decided to do just that anyway. The idea of what the story popped into my head almost immediately & I sat down & started working.

The thing I like about Flash is that you don't need an X-sheet to time your animations (kinda) & that it's easy to go back & insert/fix/remove a frame. God bless the undo key! Now if I only had a Cintiq, then I'd be set for life.

It took me about a week to animate. For the fluid motions, it was done all straight-ahead. The only thing I hate about my animation(s) is the timing, everything goes too quick. Compared to my 'Blog Anniversary' piece I did back in March, I can see that I've definitely improved with the program, & I'm looking forward to doing my scenes for the upcoming flash film that I'll tell you about in a future post.

Since I can't post the film directly on Blogger, here's a link to it on deviantArt.com. I hope you guys enjoy(ed) it!!!

By the way, the girls loved it.
HAPPY 16TH BIRTHDAY, SIERRA & MICHELLE! I HAD A WONDERFUL TIME!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My First-Year "Film"

Finally, I'm able to show my first-year (aka 'final') film to the world... well... at least the part of the world that's paying attention to this particular site. For our final project in Doug Crane's Animation class, our assignment was to complete a 30-second short film. As always, I decided to do something a lot more difficult than I thought I could handle.

For my film, I decided to animate a little flamingo character (named "Chips") being disrupted by a pesky fly, chasing after it until he gets his own neck caught in a knot & subsequently trying to untie it with failed results. & while my fellow classmates & friends decided to do much more story-oriented films complete with camera cuts, pans & such (you know, like a good film), I decided to do it all in one shot, from beginning to end with no cuts whatsoever. I thought of it almost like he was performing on a stage.

Like I originally thought, the assignment became much more difficult as I went on. I realized animating a flamingo was like animating a rubber hose on stilts. As I animated, I studied Eric Goldberg's flamingo animation from Fantasia 2000 as well as several Goofy shorts (especially Woolie Reitherman's scene of Goofy getting tangled with the chest expanders in Goofy Gymnastics). The flamingo had to be wild & crazy, moving all over the place, with it's neck flailing & stretching all over the place. I always have to do things the hard way.

It took me roughly a month to complete the film, working not only in class, but at home & in the animation studio after hours (several times completely overnight). On the night before the film were due, most of our class stayed overnight at the studio to complete our assignments together. Although it was a long, tiresome & mind-melting experience, it was a lot of fun being there with my animator friends.

At 5 am, after completing my animation drawings (all of 475 them!), it was time to shoot the film on the Lunchbox. Since I didn't have enough time to go back over each drawing & draw a fly on each individual sheet, I drew one on a small round piece of paper left over from a hole-punch, laid it on top of my drawing, shot the frame, took the fly off, took the old drawing off, put on a new drawing on, put the fly back on top, moved it slightly from the last frame, shot that & started over. In the end it took me 2 hours to shoot the film, 2 hours before class started. I discovered that the film ended up being not 30 seconds long, but 55 seconds long, nearly double the assigned length!

When I finally showed the film to Doug, he was ultimately pleased with what I showed him. Sure there were a few slips here & there & some final touches that needed to be done, but it was overall a very satisfactory film to him. "You got the makings of a great animator", he said. A great compliment to end a great first year!

I wish I was able to screen it at the SVA student film screenings this year. Oh well, at least I got this blog to show it to the world, right.


-------
Now before you watch the film, there are a few things I should warn you about. About halfway through the film, the drawings turn from clean to very rough. I didn't have enough time to go back & darken the lines up, so the last half of the clip is all a rough, ball-of-yarn-like pencil test. Also, I shot the film on VHS tape, so the quality of the footage is VERY poor. Just bear with it & enjoy what you can see!



Michael J. Ruocco's 1st-Year Animated Film
Uploaded by FantasiaMan

Being Sick Sucks...

I'm just gettin' over a cold. Luckily, I have a pretty strong immune system & most illnesses don't last very long for me, maybe two days tops. Still, getting a cold in the summer still doesn't make sense to me.

Although I haven't been feeling so hot, I still have been hard at work on the Ollie Tribute as well as some secret projects I've been workin's on. & while I've been in bed, I've drawn pages worth of doodles, so I'll put those up soon as well.

'Til then, I bid you ah... ahh...AHHH-CHOO!!! ... ahem... I mean "adieu".

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Old to Me, but New to You...

Here's a recent caricature of myself I used as an avatar over on my deviantART account. I'm thinkin' about making this my new avatar for the blog, too. What d'you think?

I'll put up a poll, just for kicks & giggles...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tribute Trouble

Like I've said a million times before, the Ollie Johnston tribute is still underway. Unfortunately, I've had my fair share of problems.

Immediately after I decided to do a tribute, I went to SVA's two libraries (regular & film) to see if they had copies of Ollie's films I didn't happen to own myself. Luckily, they had a copy Robin Hood which I got his Prince John & Sir Hiss footage from, but unfortunately that's all I could get out of the trips. Neither library had AristoCats or (shockingly) Pinocchio on DVD! Right after that wild goose chase, I jumped onto Amazon.com & ordered a copy of Pinocchio on DVD. Since the film has been LONG out of print, I had to order it from a seller. Everything seemed to work out fine, until another problem arose a couple weeks later.

The DVD never came. I had it shipped to my dorm on Lexington Ave. in the Apple & every day I'd go to the front desk, but there was no package for Room 318. After checking Amazon again, I discovered that the delivery estimate was between then (April 26th) & May 9th, which would be long after school was over & I moved back home. I ran down to the front desk & told them the story. I asked them since I'll be outta there within a week, but was only a 40 minute train ride away if they could call my cell once they received the package & I could pick it up. They didn't care one bit, saying if the package comes & I'm not there, then they'd send it straight back to the seller. Either way, I left them my number, but I haven't gotten a single call. $20 bucks plus shipping right down the drain.

If anyone has a copy of Pinocchio &/or AristoCats on DVD & can rip DVD footage onto their computer, please send me an email (using the address in my profile). Specifically, I need the scenes of Pinocchio coming to life to the end of the "Let Your Conscience be your Guide" sequence & the scenes from when Pinocchio is locked in Stromboli's cage between when Jiminy Cricket comes to help him out to when they both escape. From AristoCats, I need is the scene(s) of the two girl geese's introduction to after Uncle Waldo & them leave. The videos are going to be compiled in Windows Movie Maker, so the files should probably be AVI. Thanks!

------------
Also, I need your opinion on this last thing: I've decided since there's a LOT of Ollie footage to go through, I'm going to have the tribute be in multiple parts (at least three parts), each about 5 minutes in length. The main problem is how I should compile the scenes. Should I do them in order, from his first scenes to his last or should the scenes be completely random? Leave your opinion in the comments.

Thanks again everyone for your patience & cooperation. I'll try my hardest to get this tribute done as soon as possible. Better late than never!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Whoa-wah-WHOOAA!!!

Although it isn't as popular or as widely-known as the Goofy Holler, it's one of those sounds that becomes about 100 times more annoying when it's used throughout the entire course of a movie. That sound is what I call the "Wart Holler" from the Sword in the Stone (1963), done by either Rickie Sorensen or one of Woolie Reitherman's two sons Robert or Richard. The fact that Wart's voice changes constantly throughout the film always bothered me.

I quickly compiled this while grabbing some footage of Archimedes for the Ollie Johnston tribute I'm working on (which I am about halfway done with, by the way). Enjoy!

video

Yes, I spelled "compilation" wrong & screwed up the date. So sue me!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Back from the Tex Avery/Mike Maltese/Mel Blanc Tribute Screening

After my "last" day of movin' out of my dorm, I had the privelege of going to the Tex Avery/Michael Maltese/Mel Blanc Centennial Tribute screening hosted my John Canemaker. Boy what a show! I'm tellin' ya, the greatest feeling in the world is watching these classic cartoons on the big screen with an audience, especially when a majority of these shorts are Tex Avery's. The whole audience was rollin' in the aisles. I briefly spoke to John Canemaker & Michael Sporn, as well as some other swell guys, including a Mr. Joe Strike, who sat next to me during the show.

Anyway, I had a great time & I hope there's more animation screenings here in the Apple sometime in the near future (Fantasia, perhaps?...)

HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY TEX, MIKE & MEL!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

School's Out (Almost)!!!

Well, my first year at SVA has finally come to an end. Feels just like yesterday I got my acceptance letter in my mailbox & now I've got 4 straight months of free time 'til I start my sophmore year. Well, actually, my vacation doesn't quite start yet. I still gotta pack up & move outta Room 318 here at the GW dorm. I've got a lot of junk to pack, so it's gonna be a long weekend.

You know, they say that your college years are the greatest years of your life... I better start payin' more attention, 'cause the first year just passed right by me.