Free time.... It's something it seems I haven't had in about a decade or so. When I finally do get a moment or two, I have such a huge list of things I want to do, and rather than just pick one, I pace and fret indecisively until I'm weeping in a corner. A good rule of thumb when I'm heading toward that "weeping corner" is to just drink beer and watch a movie. Solid. But there's always so much to do.... huh, boredom? What's that? Lately I've been living in a wonderful world of robots and monsters... and I think I'll stay awhile. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you haven't been paying attention to Hollywood minutiae. Here's the link to the official announcement anyway: Here. Go. Read. So Bob is keeping me extra busy with both words and pictures. He even asked me to help out with boards for another of his motion capture flicks, hence the lack of real free time. And I really want to play Hellboy and God of War on my PSP..... Anyway, I spent a month in New Orleans last January, working on film called Cirque du Freak. You should be seeing trailers for it soon enough... and I'll have boards up when it hits theaters. Most of my nights consisted of video games and dvd's, but, seriously, can you really fill a month of your life with that? Ok, so I know a few folks who could handle that. More than a few. Eep. Not me, though. I wanted to try out a new style that I'd been working in since City of Ember- doing concept boards- and wanted to see how it worked with comic characters. I suppose the goal is to one day attempt a comic that looks like these... or maybe do some covers... and I am trying to work out how to get some color into these without losing the nice, graphic, storybook feel. The first is from a comic I worked on a while back- When Zombies Attack! A fun book that took just too much time for me to keep up with. I had this pinup idea back when I was working on issue 2, and decided it would make a good first attempt, and I could surprise the guys with it. The second I came up with in New Orleans. I hadn't read any of the BPRD: 1946 issues, since I missed the first and wanted to wait for the trade, but I've always loved the idea. (In fact I'm 85% sure I told Mike that the early adventures of Broom would make a great book way back when we were in Prague together) So I incorporated my love of giant robots and monsters into one of my favorite things I've ever put on paper. I'm still waiting to hear if Mike had any thoughts on it.... maybe he didn't get the email.... maybe I should have asked him about it at the Hellboy II screening.... oh well. I still love it. That's it for Robot Operator updates. No new film work until something comes out. I'm not sure what's first... City of Ember, Trick 'r Treat, or Hotel for Dogs. I'm going to go paint robots now.
listening to: 16 Horsepower watching: Kamen Rider Den-O
This is just a testament to Paul's brilliant and generous personality. Paul's been working with Ridley for years now, producing the special features for those excellent DVD special editions.... Kingdom of Heaven.... Gladiator.... the fan-fucking-tastic Alien box set.... oh and that Blade Runner briefcase boxset you know you've been salivating over for the past year. There are just so many of us working behind the scenes on these big Hollywood productions, it's easy to be forgotten, lost in the swell. I'm having a hard time putting it succinctly, but I think it was a sort of pride that I felt when I heard about this special screening. Paul has that effect on people. On Ridley Scott. Paul leaves that solid a mark on you. Just go, get your ticket, enjoy the show, help my friend out in his time of need. He'd help you. I guarantee it.
See you there.
watching: Ultraseven X listening to: The Decemberists
So it turns out that a few of my Beowulf boards made it online about a month before I could get around to it. Ok, so it's approximately two boards, from the Dragon sequence, that stay on screen for maybe three seconds. Who am I to complain about free publicity, though? It's pretty much how I continue to keep working in film project after project. So it right around the :42 mark...but don't just jump to the glory of storyboards...there's a whole mess of other great art displayed. I really need to see this movie again.
watching: The Shining listening to: The Promise Ring
So after an insanely crappy holiday party that I actually helped pay for, it's nice to come home, put the kids to bed, and snuggle up with a warm lap full of computer and update one's website. As for the party, I won't go into too much detail, but it was one of those events that, thankfully I won't be going to again. My son, Evan, has been in a play group since he was about three months old. Since he started school we've drifted from the group, but still get together for occasional holiday and birthday gatherings. I loathe these things. Not that I hate hanging out with a group of kids, or even getting left alone to try to wrangle my two little ones while my wife catches up with her friends. No. It's trying to keep my kids from getting killed by the undisciplined hellions who are magically ignored by their oblivious parents. These folks even go so far as to have second children- babies, mind you- and leave them to wander freely, explore the world around them, and find creative new ways to maim and kill themselves. Oh, but wait. I'm there. With my kids. Keeping an eye on them like a RESPONSIBLE FUCKING ADULT. Obviously these morons have decided that Emily and I are perfectly happy to watch their kids as well. Fuck that. I'm tired of clueless parents. What's a real bite in the ass is that I shelled out thirty bucks to cover the catering of this merry gathering....only find no catering....just a pile of bad food. All I'll say about that is the lasagna reminded me of when I had a dog who ate canned food. Remember that yellowish-clear gelatinous goo that would take up residence at the top of the can, only to say, "hello! Boogity boo!" when you opened it? Yeah.
We had a Holiday party. And it rocked. Em's brother, Jason, flew out and made the most unbelievably succulent spread that's ever graced our dining room table. I'm all about homemade sushi these days. Amazing.
So, onto the update. Two films that I helped provide boards for recently saw release. Now, I pass the art onto you. Hopefully those of you with the option were able to see Beowulf in 3D- which is what it was designed for. You can even see it in the boards. Those of you who were really lucky got to see it Imax 3D, and I envy you. Just click on the dragon to head on over to Robot Operator Manuals and take a look at four of the sequences I worked on. The other film missed out on a theatrical release, but should do fairly well on DVD. I picked it up here, and really kind of liked it. It's essentially a high-B horror film, that slightly suffers from some third act pacing issues and the ever-present face-scrunching plot holes. But I did get to board two small sequences on it, and I got my own credit- "LA storyboard artist". (I hope those guys in Vancouver don't think me pretentious.) Just click on the bird watching the woman run through the snow to see 'em.
So Happy Holidays from the Robot Operator. I'm working on some fun stuff for Cirque du Freak, and may even travel to New Orleans to finish it up. I'll be checking in with my directors to see if I can tease you with some Trick 'r Treat and City of Ember art. And I'm going to try to capture Santa by lacing the cookies and doping the milk. Not quite sure what I'll do with him after that....I certainly won't be dancing around in a black light with bugs in my clothes....that's oogy. I figure I'll just let him go with a stern warning...as long as he gives me a PS3.
watching: The Muppet Show Season 2 listening to: Magnolia Electric Co.
Dig that. That clip appeared on Yahoo about a week ago, and while I'm sure it's an edited clip (there are big sequential gaps in there), it's still badass! I'm particularly partial to seeing Beowulf fight Sea Monsters as it was the very first sequence I ever storyboarded for Robert Zemeckis when I started on the film. In the script it was a paragraph, about two inches of text which basically said "Beowulf fights sea monsters during a race." Bob told me to just have a run at it and have fun.....I followed those instructions to the letter. Even though years have passed since I came up with it, and hundreds of artists added their respective voices to the sequence, many of my ideas are still there. And that makes me feel like a goddamn big shot- just having had some influence.....ok, I'm actually feeling a little sheepish...a small smirk tugs at the corner of my mouth.....that was cool. So, yeah, Beowulf coming up out of the water on the teeth of the monster and jumping off onto another monster, using his sword to tear through it belly....that was me. Neato. They used it. Can't wait to see the finished film. Should be a pip. Too bad that the art of book didn't include any storyboard work, but fear not, after the film is released, I'll put my sequences up. And speaking of art books- turns out that the Trick 'r Treat artbook IS available. Not through Amazon or any of your local bookstores (you still have to wait until NEXT halloween to get yer mitts on it there), but directly through the publisher, Palace Press. Go pick yourself up a copy. Now. These guys also published the Art of Monster House and they really know how to put together an eye-poppingly beautiful collection of stills and art. Check out these pages..... What else? Well Japan is keeping me extremely happy by continuing to release both intense and nutty Kaiju television programs that I already need to see right 'effing now. But I'll just have to wait for DVD release. Oh well. First up is this: Yes sir, they brought back Ultraseven. And it's about time. The past few years have seen Tsuburaya revisiting much of their old concepts and characters. Ultraman Max- while being a great new show was still formulaic (but the japanese audience knows what they like, and I SO agree with them),and started a new trend of bringing old monsters from the earlier series back to take on Ultraman. Ultraman Mebius took this a step further by utilizing the entire history of the Ultra series- from Ultraman through Ultraman 80- as a single continuity. When old monsters showed up, the GUYS team (you know, the Science Patrol?) had an extensive database of past kaiju attacks to help the new, inexperienced Mebius take them on. Various Ultra characters returned in different story arcs which culminated in the movie, where the original Ultraman, Ultraman Jack, Ultraseven, and Ultraman Ace returned to help Mebius. Super fucking cool, that was. So revisiting the character of Ultraseven makes sense. At least to me. The cool thing is that Tsuburaya is breaking formula (something both they and Toho do every couple of years- sort of "experiments" that never really pay off, and they go right back to the old ways) to create more of an adult drama. They did this back with Ultraman Nexus- which was a very dark and complex series that many fans rallied against and I thought was just one of the most brilliant bits of television ever made- with a payoff (after forty-odd episodes) that literally made me jump off my couch in excitement. Ultraseven X looks to be another walk on the wild side for the Ultra series and I'm hoping it works. Sure the music is cheesy and I'm really getting tired of the floofy long hair that Japanese heroes are donning these days, but just look at those monster fights! If you google hard enough you can find the early episodes online already. On the flip side is Kawaii Jenny. Which is just plain insane. It's super powered dolls.....yes dolls, fighting giant robots and monsters. You can read about it over at Sci-fi Japan. For as goofy as this thing sounds, I'm ever so curious to see how they bring the little Barbie-looking heroines to life. I'm thinking these guys saw Robot Chicken and said, "Yep. That's for us....but let's add some Kaiju suitmation in for good measure." And I just love it, LOVE IT, when they decide to use old robot toys as inspiration for their giant robots. On a final note, this Robot Operator wants to extend his heartfelt support to all those hard typing writers of the WGA out there walking the picket lines. This is an important issue and I can only hope they get this thing resolved soon. Give 'em hell boys and girls, and give it to 'em quickly. Perhaps you could use red hot pokers and while you're at it heat up that funny brush and the little shovel that rests next to the pokers near the fireplace. I want so much for the Hollywood machine to get its gears in order. This working stiff still needs to keep the monkeys fed.
Here are trailers for two films that I had brief contact with. First up is Trailer Park of Terror: a low-budget troture-porn killer-zombie teens-in-peril romp that actually looks promising. I worked on the comic book that this film is based on....oh, about a zillion years ago with some friends from Pennsylvania. (I was also asked to work on the film, but I can only storyboard so many films at once, and had to pass) Scheduling problems on my part, and a lack of budget on their part resulted in my leaving the book after five issues. Here's a peek at a page from their Halloween Special #1. Check out the rest here. The comics were anthology tales of horror ala Tales from the Crypt, and introduced by the undead Queen of the Trailer Park, Norma. I drew the Norma pages. So I'm sending out eerie good luck vibes to the Imperium Comics guys, and really hope that this film retains a bit of the anthology element found in the books. Second up is Whisper: a gripping kidnapping thriller with a lesson. The lesson? Never, ever kidnap Damien. It's just bad news for all involved. It seems that said bad news has been following this film for quite a while. Universal shelved it for whatever reasons, and it stayed shelved for a good year or so. But now it's finally allowed to be seen....on DVD. OK, so it's not a big deal theatrical release with premiere parties and internet photos of the well-dressed young celebrities, but I'm still interested in seeing this. And not just because I get all giggly at seeing my name in film credits. Yes, I contributed storyboards to the film- only a few sequences at the request of the producers. Still, it was a fun script, rife with creepy possibilities. Those boards should be up at Robot Operator Manuals sometime in November to coincide with the DVD release. I'll let you know how it is once I've seen it. I'm going to pick up my copy here. And finally, here's a tease. I've gotten my hands on this....The Art of Trick 'r Treat hardcover book....and it's beautiful. Concept art, storyboards, all sorts of behind-the-scenes fun, and prose. Remeber that? Yup. To accompany the art, the folks at Insight Editions are presenting the four and a half tales of terror from the film in a prose format. See the movie- read the story. Fun. There's also a Sam mask. A SAM MASK! It's just a paper mask, but it's also a beautiful painting by Breehn Burns. You can wear some art and confuse your friends. The BAD NEWS (and the reason this is a tease) is that the book's release has been pushed back to coincide with the film's. So you have to wait a year....but you can pre-order it here. Those of you who just don't have that kind of patience can just ask me. I'm no stinge. I'll let you see my copy- provided you're willing to wear a specially designed endothermic suit inside a cramped hyperbaric watched over by a robotic security system with a bad case of the hiccups. Let me know! More from me later kiddies.
watching: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone listening to: George Harrison
Here it is if you haven't already seen it- the trailer for Zemeckis' Beowulf. Beautiful ain't it? I'm thinking that this is going to be one of those films you NEED to see in 3-D. Back when we were boarding this, the fact that this would eventually be 3-D was an extremely important consideration. Note the arrows flying toward camera.... In other Robot Operator news: In the next few months there will be "Art of" books for both Beowulf and Trick 'r Treat. I can say with some confidence that I will have work feeatured in the Trick 'r Treat book. As for the Beowulf book, we'll just have to see.