Fresno Bee covers Making of a Law

Hey the Fresno Bee wrote a story about our Making of a Law film! They even mentioned my poor little bill character! (No relation to Bill of “I’m Just a Bill” fame — but I have to admit, it’s amazingly hard to talk about the legislative process without personifying the bill somehow.)

The film is part of what’s called The Constitution Project, funded by the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands. The nonprofit group says it wants to improve civics education and public understanding of democratic institutions. In a related film, for instance, Imbriano examines a crucial Supreme Court case from the 1960s.

The films target a high school audience, or younger. A cartoon embodiment of the Wawona school bill walks through Capitol Hill corridors, slumping in despair when doors shut in its face. A scene from a cheesy old horror movie illustrates the dire fate of most of the 9,000-plus bills introduced in Congress each year: Most die.

“The documentary really shows how hard the process is,” Stauffer said.

You can read the rest here:

http://radanovich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=89920

Jurors: Set 3

Bite-Size Jurors

I’m working on a series of films about juries at the moment. They should be pretty fun to do (I get to animate trial by ordeal, for one), but there’s a lot of character work and not a lot of time. Thus, digital puppetry.

I was hoping to work with After Effects’ extremely fun Puppet Tool, but the results I got while experimenting were just a little too squishy for this project. (Anyone know some tricks for getting convincing, not-too-exaggerated motion out of it? Even liberal use of the starch tool seemed unhelpful, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a way to make elbows and knees bend properly.) So for the moment it’s back to IK rigging — and a lot of carefully placed anchor points.

I’m much more satisfied with the results, particularly now that I have a keyframable checkbox parameter that switches the bend direction of the joints. In plain English, I can make someone’s elbows bend both ways — e.g. a character can go from having their hands on their hips to picking something up off the table next to them with very little trouble.

Creating the jurors themselves was a lot of fun — the characters need to function more as archetypes than individuals. The result: a wide range of ages and races and a complete lack of faces.

I now present… my little jury guys (and girls!):

Warning: Do Not Eat.

On The Mend: Part II

I don’t really intend to turn this site into a personal blog. I have other places for that. This is for work stuff, as well as useful things like tutorials and downloads like shiny fractal wallpaper (more of that is on the way, as the original batch has proved to be surprisingly popular).

But I think the lack of updates in recent weeks merits explanation: I’ve been sick for a month and a half. It sucks.

My doctor thought it could be mold allergies, but that’s looking increasingly unlikely. It seems it may instead be one of those mysterious flulike things that just takes a long time to get over. I’m definitely making progress now, though, and hope to resume proper updates soon.

ABC News to Launch Online Film Competition

Found out about an interesting upcoming online game/film competition today at work. (It’s through ABC News, though, not DocGroup.)

In short: you create 1-3 minute films for the web about world conditions in the future, and the best ones become part of the broadcast series and affect the narrative direction.

In an unprecedented ABC News two-hour special airing this September, the world’s top scientists, historians, and economists will predict what the world could look like by the year 2100. Experts say that unless we act now, the “perfect storm” of population growth, resource depletion and climate change could destabilize the world with catastrophic results.

In order to tell this story we need YOU to report back from the future!

ABC News is launching a massive online game that asks filmmakers and creative minds from across the globe to imagine the unimaginable. What will our world look like in one hundred years if we don’t save our troubled planet? We want you to create compelling videos that tell the story of how the next century unfolds. Your responses will be woven into an evolving web-based story, and the best ones will be used as the spine of the network primetime show.

We will feed you a detailed scenario of the global threats faced in your specific location and each future date, beginning in the year 2015. Your task is to create a gripping video (1-3 minutes long) about your future world as if you are experiencing it now, firsthand.

By the end of the game, the year will be 2100 and you will have created a unique four-episode narrative of the next century. Users from around the world will be able to view and comment on your imagined forecast and predictions.

The website’s launching May 9th. If you’re interested in participating, let me know. I’ll send you the first scenario details and entry specs. I think this has the potential to produce some fascinating films — and it’s nice to see a video contest with a little more at stake than trying to sell a product to win a prize. You can actually be creative, and there’s a lot of opportunity to bring attention to very vital issues in the process.

Documentary Animation | Motion Graphics | Design