Thursday, December 20, 2007

Animation Test - Truth

I have had nothing to do at work before the holidays... so I decided to start a new personal animation test. Take a gander and feel free to comment.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Back In The Soccer Saddle

I have played soccer since I was 5 years old. All the way through high school, and with mens leagues during and after college. However, it has been several years since I have played with a team.

Recently, I decided that soccer needed to be a part of my life again. I not only crave the competition, but I am also miserably out of shape. Some will point to my laziness, but I find it makes me feel better to blame my animation desk job. I convinced my wife that soccer would be a fun way to stay healthy. Mrs Tonymation tried warn me about my increasing age and injuries, but I quickly dismissed her with logical arguements such as, "Who cares!".

Enter Sunday, November 4th. I played in a real game for the first time in years. I was nervous about my phsysical status, but confident in my ability to play. I started the game on the bench and relieved a player in about the 10th minute of the game. All was going well... that is until the hole of death claimed my foot. I kicked the ball clear of danger back near our goal and planted my foot to track upfield. Only, my foot didn't plant. It was sucked into the ankle killing vortex of hell. A hole, just large enough to swallow half of my foot, twisted it so that my ankle now served as the base of my leg. Let me just tell you that the ankle is not designed for the role of the foot. Immediately my ankle protested, and my leg sympathized with it. One joint by one, they all revolted and sent me plummeting to the ground in pain.

I got up and limped off of the field a broken man. In the past ankle injuries lasted, at most, a day. I stretched and massaged my ankle on the sideline, and eventually entered the game again. For those of you who don't know, it is scientifically proven that athletes lose all intellingence while playing a competitive sport. I played on my injured ankle thinking it would be fine in the morning... of course, I'm not 18 anymore, but who's keeping track of silly details when a game is on the line.

So I got home and took off my socks to reveal an ankle that I believe belonged on an elephant. I have never had a swollen ankle and was shocked to see a part of my body so out of sorts. With my natural oils and ice pack, I was able to shrink my poor ankle back to a less disgusting size. Now I hobble around work and home in an ankle brace.

... But I can't wait for the next game!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Dead Men Trick Or Treat Pt 3

Halloween has come and gone. I posted pics of my Jack Sparrow costume, but now I thought I would post all of the peices that made it come together.

To start the costume off on the right foot, I got all of the Jack Sparrow Master Replica rings.

Here is Jack Sparrow's ring

Jack's Button Ring

Jack's Dragon Ring

and Jack's Stolen Ring

Here is a pic I took of them together.

I bought the glove, compass, and tattoo in a cheap set, but they worked out well, in my opinion. You can see I wore Jack's ring on my ring finger rather than my index. It was just too small to wear it on the correct finger.

The plastic compass looks much better when just hanging on my belt, but it was definitely priced better than the Master Replica compass at $200.

I purchased a Flintock Pistol reproduction. It isn't an official Jack Sparrow Replica, but it is a very nice gun that fits the time period. Besides, the Master Replica pistol is mounted and was out of my price range at $250. I spent about $45 for this one.

I scoured eBay for other Jack Sparrow imitation peices. That's where I found these belts.

Here you can see the gun, belts, compass and sword as a whole. I posted individual pics of the sword here.

I still await the arrival of my Jack Sparrow Baldric, also bought on eBay. It will be a nice addition for next year.

I have lots of additions I plan to purchase for next Halloween. Check back for a sneak peek at the Jack Sparrow items that will make my costume better, and my bank account smaller.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dead Men Trick Or Treat Pt 2

Not everything I ordered arrived in time to start Halloween on the right foot. I was missing my baldric sword holder, my belts, my gun, my button ring, and dragon ring. This is me pretending I'm happy being half Jack Sparrow.

At around 11:30 am, Midway (where I work) conducted their costume contest. This is when my gun, belts, and rings arrived at my door. My wife signed for them knowing I was sadly displaying my incomplete costume for the contest. Unfortunatley, my baldric has yet to arrive, which forced me to wear my belts un-Jack Sparrow-like, outside my jacket, to hold my sword. After the contest, I went home and gathered the rest of my goods.

I was very pleased with my new flintock replica gun.

I applied a fake Jack Sparrow tattoo on my arm, and branded a "P" under it, as revealed by Captain Norrington in The Curse of the Black Pearl.

My sword was a big hit at work.

I did the eyeliner myself, and the most of the facial hair is mine. I glued the braided beard section on the bottom of my chin behind my own chin hairs to have it all blend together.

What was the outcome of the costume contest you ask?

I won Best Looking Costume.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dead Men Trick Or Treat Pt 1

This Halloween I be searchin' for booty as Captain Jack Sparrow.

I bought the base of my costume at the Disney Store on a whim since it was on sale for 50% off. I also got the wig with bandana and tricorn hat there. I hadn't planned to do much more, but what is a pirate without his sword? Below are pics of the cutlass I'll be sporting on Halloween.

After getting the sword, I couldn't stop. I will post pics of each item that will join my Jack Sparrow costume as they arrive in the mail. And in the end, I'll post pics of me fully transformed into Jack Sparrow himself.

Until then, pray I don't cross yer path mate.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Best Animated Feature Of 2007

The year of 2007 produced a slightly smaller animated feature vortex than the preceding year. The normal players were edging for a piece of the box office pie this year. Pixar, the reigning king of animated films, released Ratatouille. Disney gave us Meet the Robinsons. Dreamworks released Shrek the Third. Vangaurd opened Happily Never After. Warner Brothers revived the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And Sony decided to make another penguin movie called Surf's Up, and will also release Beowulf next month. Of these films, I have yet to see Meet the Robinsons, Happily Never After, and of course Beowulf. With that in mind, I still will venture out to pick the best animated film of the year.

I argue that Pixar, although edging out many a film in the box office, did not produce the best animated film this year. My pick goes to Sony's very own Surf's Up. This film is entertaining, funny, edgy, smart, relevant, and exciting. It is very obvious that the actors were recording their dialogue together. This is a huge advantage for believable interaction. It may sound strange, but this is not the norm when capturing voices for animated characters, although it very well should be.

Surf's Up also impressed me with its exceptional animation and fantastic water simulations. While watching the movie, I actually feel like I am surfing, and it makes me want to catch a real wave of my own. Surfers around globe cringe at the thought that a movie may have inspired regular joes to surf. I have been told by a surfer friend of mine that surfers have a saying, "If you surf, never quit. If you don't surf, never start." This stems from a selfish desire to have the beaches all to themselves rather than a warning of danger.

Expect surfers to flock to Sony in riot-like protest to remove this fun film from the shelves. Get your copy on DVD before they succeed!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ten Best Attractions of DisneyWorld

If you have'nt read my Ten Worst Attractions of DisneyWorld post, be sure you check it out before you leave today. I welcome any comments of criticism or agreement, as discussing Walt DisneyWorld is one of my favorite pass times.

I figured if I were to rip ten attractions apart, I better praise ten attractions... after all, DisneyWorld is my favorite vacation destination!

I found it stragely more difficult to come up with the Ten Best list than the Ten Worst list. Not that there aren't enough good rides, it's just hard to rank them. But here I go anyway.

The Ten Best Attractions of DisneyWorld

10. Jungle Cruise
From the fake hippos to the corny jokes, this ride is good family fun. Where esle can you take a boat through the jungle and see a teenager weild a gun without being completely terrified.

9. Monster's Inc Laugh Floor
Here's a contreversial pick that may get scrutinized. However it makes my top ten list, mainly because I worked on this attraction. So, I bribed myself to put it on the list. This is a new addition to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kindgom. It turned out far better than I had anticipated, and for that I applaud the only Disney attraction that Tonymation worked on.

8. Buzz Lightyear's SpaceRanger Spin
This is a fun ride that is interactive, in that you get to shoot stuff. Any ride I get to shoot stuff is alright in my book. The Disneyland counterpart, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, is a far better attraction, because the guns are not mounted to the car, and you don't have to spin the car to face targets. Also there is an audio-animatronic Zurg that is sadly missing from the DisneyWorld version.

7. Expedition Everest
This new coaster addition to the Animal Kingdom was sorely needed for this park. As far as coasters go, this is a short but fun ride. The fact that the ride is such a quick trip is what pushes it so low on the list. Other than the length, the coaster is a smooth and thrilling adventure.

6. Haunted Mansion
Here is a classic that lands on my top ten list for showmanship alone. I am not a big fan of all things scary, but Disney did this ride with class and style. Again, the Disneyland counterpart is far more entertaining, but I prefer the Mansion design at DisneyWorld. I think the Imagineers agreed with me, becuase they recently changed the attraction to have more of a resemblance to the Disneyland version.

5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
This coaster beats out the shiny new Expedition Everest for its ability to deliver an experience worth waiting in line for. The ride lasts long enough to satisfy, and the complete immersion in the theming is undeniably top notch. It is obvious why this classic coaster still deserves praise.

4. Splash Mountain
This is one of the few rides that is superior to its Disneyland counterpart. I thoroughly enjoy this ride, even though I detest getting wet on attractions. I always enjoy the amount of detail that was put into this attraction. From beginning to end you are immersed in the theme. Way to go Disney!

3. Pirates of the Caribbean
Here is yet another attraction that is so much more fun at Disneyland. The ride makes more sense and had much more money put into it upon its most recent update, over at Disneyland. However, the queue at DisneyWorld is so freaking great. If they could take the DisneyWorld queue and the Disneyland ride and marry them somewhere... why that would be enough to bump this ride up to number 2 on my list.

2. Rock 'n' Rollercoaster
This coaster stars Aerosmith, a familiar band that I grew up with. I'm not a big fan of timestamping a Disney attraction with something like a popular band that will be outgrown and need replacing. But, I still think this coaster is the most exciting in any disney park I have visited. The magnetic propulsion is crazy cool, combine that with gravity defying corkscrews, and loops, and you have a great Disney coaster.

And my number one attraction of DisneyWorld is...

1. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
This attraction has it all... great theming, attention to detail, fantastic story, relaxing dark ride, and thrilling drop sequences. The imagineers must have been drinking genuis juice the day they created this ride. My hats off to you gentlemen! But I leave you with this question... why not buy another case of genius juice and get crackin'?!!

Thanks for reading my list. Be sure to continue down to my Ten Worst Attractions list.

Ten Worst Attractions of DisneyWorld

The Tonymation family just returned from a long vacation. We spent 11 days at our favorite theme park, Walt DisneyWolrd.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend who works at the parks regarding his list of the ten worst attractions there. So, I thought it would be fun to do a ten worst list myself. So here goes...

Top Ten Worst Attractions of DisneyWorld

10. O' Canada
This is one of those 360 degree "circle vision" movies, and it was recently revamped to be hip and edgy. The older film had no celebrities in it, and made Canada look like a nice retirement home for the elderly. Now they spiced it up by adding Martin Short as host, and some new clips of extreme sports, to make it look like a dream vacation for a teenager. My main problem with it is that you have to stand up through the entire show. When I go into an attraction, I like to enjoy air conditioning and take a load off of my feet. The imagineer that thought it would be a great idea to cram a bunch of sweaty, smelly, hot, exhausted people into a standing room only theater to watch a film about a country, must have been either insane, or just loves to torture tourists.

9. Sounds Dangerous
Summary: you listen to a not so interesting story unfold in a pitch black room. Any questions?

8. Disney-MGM Studios Backlot Tour
This attraction has been gutted thanks to the Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show. It has been reduced to the pre-show, and ride through an alley they call a "boneyard", their props and wardrobe building, and the catastrophe canyon. For those that rode it in its original state, it is a sad skeleton of what it once was.

7. Dinoland in Animal Kingdom
Yes, this entire section of Animal Kingdom makes my list of worst attractions. You have an entire section of this not so interesting park devoted to a carnival theme. Who was in on this meeting?!!! The poster child attraction, Primeval Whirl, is a jerky ride that, by centrifugal force, slides you back and forth into your neighbor so you can get up close and personal with perfect strangers in the hot sticky Florida sun.... yay.

6. Ellen's Energy Adventure
If the goal of an attraction is to be long and boring, this one has hit the mark. Hey everyone, come in, sit on the floor and watch Ellen dream about being a stupid contestant on Jeopardy. Bill Nye the Science Guy shows up, and after you ride the endless and tiresome attraction filled with propaganda, she's a genius. The end.

5. Voyage of the Little Mermaid
I love this film, and I used to love this attraction back in the day when it was what it was intended to be. Now, it has been shortened down to fit more showtimes per day. An entire song was removed, and the entertaining spotlight on Sebastian featuring a puppet of his likeness, has been reduced to a mere cameo. In fact, the show is just a hodge podge of cameos of the characters in the film. Half of the attraction is footage from the actual film. It's a shame.

4. Stitch's Great Escape
What used to be a pretty intense attraction called Alien Encounter, is now the tame and eventless attraction starring Stitch. I wasn't a big fan of the original attraction, but at least it was entertaining. I could recreate this attraction at home by merely turning the lights off, blowing on your face, and spritzing you with a water bottle.

3. Journey Into Narnia
Didn't this movie come out 2 years ago? Why are they showing us the movie trailer and calling it an attraction?

2. Pooh's Playful Spot
I have a great idea. Let's close a really cool attraction, and replace it with a playground that has virtually nothing to do in it. This is what had to be the pitch for this pathetic attraction. This area used to be the home of the beloved Submarine ride. Now it has been reduced to a character meet and greet spot for Pooh characters. I can't believe they even list it as an attraction. It falls in the category of wasted space.

And my number one worst attraction of Walt DisneyWorld is...

1. Journey Into Imagination with Figment
Let's be honest here... this ride is supposed to be about imagination. Tap into that brain of yours and create people. This is the inspiration for the attraction. Yet, we see bland walls that are supposedly an imagination lab for the first half of the ride. The premise gives this ride the potential to be one of the coolest attractions at DisneyWorld. Unfortunately, it is one of the dullest. The imagineers that created this ride should be ashamed of themselves. Where is the creativitiy!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my top ten best attractions list coming soon.

Back From Disney

I completed my work on Blacksite in September and was given a generous 10 days of comp time to reward me for all of the overtime I worked. I had already scheduled my Disney vacation at the end of September, so I t0ok my comp time and vacation back to back. I ended up being away from work for a month!
It was nice to be able to spend so much time with the Tonymation family. But the most exciting part was our return to DisneyWorld. Our last trip was in 2005, and we were excited to see Mickey again.
But alas, the trip did have to come to an end, and I am now back at work again. I am sure Mickey misses the Tonymation family as much as we miss him.
Stay tuned for my top ten attractions list as well as my worst ten attractions at DisneyWorld.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cap'n Crunch

At the end of every production comes crunch time. It seems I have been moving from crunch to crunch since I landed my first animation gig. First it was animation boot camp on Jimmy Neutron. Then I moved on to help finish the film, The Ant Bully. After that I headed West to work on a cool theme park attraction for DisneyWorld. Now I find myself in Austin fighting to finish Area 51-Blacksite to get it to eager gamers by September. Sprinkle in there some freelance gigs for Reel FX and my church, and you a recipe for The Shining. Well... except for the isolated haunted hotel... and I'm not a writer... and I'm not really going insane... and I don't have access to a hatchet... and my son isn't weird... and my wife is way prettier... and we're not in the an arctic tundra... but everything else is spot on for sure.

So what does one do to stay sane while working 12 hour days, six days a week, you might ask? The answer, my friend, is theme parks. In California we had Disneyland. Now, we have Sea World less than 2 hours away. And in between we have 11 day vacations to the mother of all theme parks, DisneyWorld.

Yes... all work and no play makes Tonymation a dull animator. But with theme parks, I can snuggle up with my inner child and forget that the real world exists. It's a pretty healthy relationship... I give the theme parks cash, and they give me the juice that will nourish me until the next visit.

God Bless Walt Disney and his genius invention the theme park. And God Bless America!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Blacksite News

Things are moving along pretty well on Area 51-Blacksite. We are in our final stretch before the game ships. That being the case, Midway is trying to get awareness for the game to peak. They did a press tour in the US and in the UK. The game was received very well at every venue.

I personally worked on a helicopter railshooter section that seems to be getting the most positive reviews of what has been seen so far. The entire railshooter is fun, but I specifically worked on the last part of it where you meet up with the boss creature. The animation was split among 4 animators. I animated a section and directed the rest. It took a great many talented artists to make this railshooter as cool as it is, and I am glad I played a small part.

Here are some of the comments we received and the link to the respective article.

“The octopus-like creature was a sight to behold and ranks as one of the most impressive moments I've seen in video games to date.”

”This scene is easily the coolest that we saw today, capped off by the creature's death. As it breaths its last breath, or whatever it does to survive, it slowly slinks off one side of the bridge as it grabs a hold of the road. As it eventually falls, it rips the bridge apart and carries tons of concrete down with it. It's one of the coolest deaths we've seen in a long time.”

Monday, May 14, 2007

Area 51-Blacksite Demo on Xbox Live

This past Friday the Xbox Live demo was released for Area 51-Blacksite. This is the game I am currently working on at Midway studios. The game seems to be really shaping up at this point. I am excited to finish it up and ship the final product.

As you can see in the image to the left, taken from, Blacksite is rated the 2nd most popular Xbox game for the weekend. That is very encouraging to all of us here at the studio. It is good to see your hard work being received well.

I remember a project I worked on not too long ago.. ahem Ant Bully ahem... that was not marketed well, and had a less than stellar box office performance. Some of my own family still ask me, "What was the name of that ant movie you worked on.? When is it going to be in the theater?"

Anyhow... if you have a Xbox live subscription, mosey over to the demo section and download the teaser for a short but sweet intro to the game. Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Monster's Inc - Laugh Floor Comedy Club

So, this is the cool attraction I worked on back when I was in California. It's The Laugh Floor Comedy Club, starring Mike Wazowski and company. Mike is always coming up with the next big idea at Monster's Inc, and this is no exception. He figures it makes more sense to harvest laughter from crowds rather than get it from one person at a time. I think he's on to something. You can find out how his concept tests in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, while Roz grades the results.

I was able to work closely with Mike along with some of his close friends that perform as comedians, who will attempt to tickle your funny bone. If you happen to pay them a visit, tell them Tonymation sent ya!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Moving Right Along

Kermit and Fozzie sang about it in The Muppet Movie, and Tonymation is living it. It's been quite some time since I paid a visit to my lonely blog. There is a reason... because nobody reads it. Actually, it's because I have been busy doing freelance work for Reel FX, Janimation, and getting a full time job with Midway Studios back in Austin, Texas. That's right, I am traversing the same roads that brought me to L.A. to get back to Texas. This time a little further south than our once home in Big D.
Mrs Tonymation and I were initially going to buy a house, but found that property taxes in the Austin area border on extortion, so we decided to rent. After searching the high and low, at apartments, we did a search for rental houses. They were a tricky bunch to track down. I think they are a bit on the shy side, and like to fly under the radar... kind of like how you wouldn't admit you were a freshman in high school. But, eventually we were able to find a great 4 Bedroom home. So, that means all of you are welcome to come visit any time you like.

Disclaimer: Visits are limited to weekdays between Saturday and Sunday. All travel dates must be approved by the Pope, Jesus, and Elvis, and must have proper signatures from Walt Disney on the required WD-40 form. Standard fees apply. Side Effects may include: loss of wallet, nausea, gas siphoning, sudden urges to scream, missing organs, and loss of memory.

We are still waiting on our stuff from California to arrive. Until it does, our furniture consists of a love seat, and a couple of air mattresses. There's nothing like camping in your home. Soon our precious valueables will arrive in thousands of unrecognizable pieces. Ah… moving is so grand.
Until next time...