Saturday, May 19, 2012

Custom Figures for Animation Creation

If you have checked out any of the episodes of Animation Creation, you've seen the custom GI Joe figures that represent the creators of the show. These figures were made before we started putting together the episodes, and worked well for the commentary portion. The figures actually played a part in controlling the story, because one body had interchangeable heads and as we added animators to the show this feature was showcased. Making for a weird little plot point.

Along with all the stop motion animated videos my friends and I did in high school and college, we also made many live-action videos. The longest live-action project we did was a silent movie called Wanderlust in the Realm of the Dawg. This video is an hour long fantasy (sword & sorcery) kind of movie. It's hard to give it an exact genera. As we worked on this project I started making custom action figures of the characters.

The Wanderer (Derek in Animation Creation) is the main character in Wanderlust. The Wanderer is a stranger in a strange land and disrupts the balance of power as he interferes with the villainous overload, The Dawg, getting what he wants. This figure was heavily features in Animation Creation, because Derek was a main contributor to the show. He created close to half of all the animations in the series and was the editor of the show.

GI Joe part used to create this figure... (He lost head articulation due to the hair)

Head: Duke v3 with hair sculpted on
Torso & Arms: Pathfinder v1
Waist: Spirit v1
Thighs: Frostbite v1
Feet: Shipwreck v1

The Thug is the shape shifting minion of the Dawg. The shape shifting ability was actually added to the story part way into filming because Brian got Lyme disease  from a tick bite one day in the wood while shooting. Greg was picked to play the Thug for the rest of the film. Kevin and Derek also played the Thug for  short bits of the film to allow the character more forms.

So to give the figure a shape shifting ability, I created four different heads that could fit on a pin in the neck. The blonde head attempts to match me (Kevin). Even though I played the Thug the least, I had a ton of screen time in Animation Creation because Derek and myself did most of the animating and came up with the series together.

Brian, the original actor to play the Thug had long dreadlocks at the time the film was made. He pulled them back into a large ponytail for the film.

Brian was the first guest animator on Animation Creation, and the first time we showed the head swap action. I wasn't sure how we should handle the fact that we didn't have different figures of all of us, so I just embarrassed the weirdness. We even started using a Han Solo figure as a stage hand to give Kevin Brian's head. This would later add some humor to the show as we made Harrison Ford our production assistant.

 The third head to be featured in Animation Creation was Greg. I had to sculpt on some additional hair to give this figure Greg's appearance. Greg had a lot of time playing the Thug in Wanderlust, but had fewer (yet memorable) parts in Animation Creation.

The fourth head created for the Thug was meant to match Derek.  This head was not used in Animation Creation, because Derek had his own figure. In the film Derek wore his long hair braided into several long strands and tied back into a ponytail to make his look as much like Brian and possible when shot from behind. (It makes for kind of a cool reveal)

GI Joe part used to create this figure...

Kevin Head: Rip Cord v1
Brian Head: Spirit v1 with hair sculpted on
Greg Head:   Tomax v1 with hair sculpted on
Derek Head: Duke v3 with hair sculpted on
Torso & Arms: Big Brawler v1 with the gloves shaved off

Legs: Thunder v1
Weapon: Wire and the Knife that came with Duke v3

 We made Brian a mechanical spider body out of  quarter machine bubble and some wire to make him more mobile for the 10th episode of Animation Creation.

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