Saturday, August 1, 2009

Coming up for air!

Wow. That was a hell of a two weeks.

I just worked 101 hours in 8 days which has to be some kind of record for me. (I even slept under my desk one night.) And it feels weird that it’s over. I’ve been dreading this new business pitch for a couple of months now and it was as brutal as promised but, now that it’s over, I realize how much fun it was. New business pitches are always different than the day-to-day drudgery of working at an ad agency. Especially in my department. During these times, you aren’t as much of a grunt as usual. There’s so much to do in so short a time that Studio Artists like myself don many hats, becoming a mutant combination of artist, project manager, art director and sometimes even copywriter. The Creative Directors (maybe out of desperation) put much more trust in our abilities and really rely on us to step out of our comfort zone. As the Art Director on one of the campaigns was out of the office for the week and the agency was incredibly shorthanded, I was thrust into the additional position of having to carry on his work for him. It was terrifying and exhilarating and gratifying all at the same time. Alas, we did not win this particular account. If you know where I work and follow the trades, you can probably do the math. It was a huge disappointment. Not so much for the money, though I’m sure there are bean counters somewhere shedding a tear, but for the work. This would have been a fun account and I had a blast working on it. It allowed me to exercise muscles I haven’t had to use at work in a long time. Ah well. We’ll get the next one.

Now I’m heading off, with a coworker, to SIGGRAPH for a week. It’s sort of a Heroes Convention for people who do computer graphics for film and video games. This year it’s in New Orleans, a city I’ve never visited, and I’m very excited for the opportunity. I’ll be attending panels and papers and so forth practically from dawn to dusk. Folks from PIXAR and other computer effects houses will be there. (Like the guys that worked on STAR TREK!) And it will all be very fascinating, I’m sure. My work schedule has taken its toll on the 3D graphics stuff but I still enjoy it very much. It’s just that the timing is unfortunate. I have some personal stuff that needs to be done and this will put it off yet another week. Still, I’m going to try not to be too whiny about it. These opportunities don’t pop up too often for folks in my department and I want to take full advantage of it. Maybe it will spark something that will get people at the agency excited about our 3D capabilities.

Which brings me to my video project. I mentioned a while back that I was working on something fun that would help me learn how to integrate all the cool new software we’re learning at work. Cinema 4D, Final Cut Pro, After Effects. Maybe some Flame if I’m lucky. I was making some good time. I’d modeled my main character and rigged him. But I got stuck on the weight mapping and then time became a factor. Work has been a real bear lately and I’ve got some other commitments outside the office. Some personal, some professional. So I’ve had to make a tough decision and I’m going to put the video on hold for a while. I’ll try to work on it as time permits but time ain’t permitting much lately. Thing is, I’ve been dying to share. I’m usually pretty good at keeping secrets but I’m the kid who was always running to Mommy with my latest drawings so she could tell me how great I was. So this is my adult version of running to you guys and yelling “Oooh, oooh! Look what I did!”

The idea was to produce a fake movie trailer for a film adaptation of one of my all-time favorite comic book characters. These things are all the rage but usually involve a live person dressed up in tights. A lot of these are really good (GRAYSON stands out) but they often try to tell the entire story and run a little long. This was going to be no longer than two-minutes and take some of the iconic moments from the series and bring them to life in a coherent trailer. It seemed like things were coming together. I had been casting in my head, even had the lead actress (though she wasn’t aware of it…I’m pretty sure she could be convinced) had some locations figured out and had about half the scenes worked out. I even had people volunteering to help including a coworker who aspires to be a stuntman and is very good friends with a group of retired Hollywood stunt and effects guys. The problem, as it always has been, is time. Just not enough of it.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s what the project WOULD (and may still) have been:




Before I cut this off, I wanted to leave you with a few sketches since I haven’t done any in a while. I’ve been reading the SWAMP THING hardcover recently that reprints the early Wein/Wrightson/Redondo issues and have been just captivated. I have to say I prefer these to the Alan Moore issues. Yes, they were brilliant, but I’m and old-school guy at heart and the artwork in these books is just astonishing. I remember being hugely disappointed when reading Dad’s copies as a kid and suddenly Wrightson’s issues end and this guy with a weird name takes over. I’m so glad DC included Redondo’s first few issues in this collection because they’re stunning. It’s funny how your tastes morph as you age. Or maybe I just have always hated change. Because Redondo is actually a better draftsman than Wrightson. Wrightson’s work is beautiful and perfect and I love it but the Redondo stuff is just a joy to look at. If you haven’t picked up this collection yet, I highly recommend you do. I just hope they do the same with the rest of the series and include the Pasko/Yeates relaunch. Yeates, too, is an under-appreciated artist.




Anyway, I drew the two inked sketches around 4:00 a.m. and they leave much to be desired. It never pays to ink when you’re delirious from lack of sleep. I saw what I’d done the next morning(s) and decided they weren’t worth finishing. But I was still on the Swamp Thing kick and gave the old muck-encrusted mockery of a man another shot. I like the headshot better but didn’t have a chance to ink it. Hope you like these more than I do.

Okay, I’ve got a ton to do before I head to Nawlins so I’d better get to it. Have a great week and…

Later!

7 comments:

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Matt,

Wow, you have been busy, but that's the arts biz.

I love the 3D ROM picture. I would love to see you do a trailer with him.

Don't be too hard on yourself with the Swamp Thing, Batman sketches, I think they are fantastic, especially Swampys head shot.

You know, I was in my mid/late teens when the Nestor Redondo Swamp Things came out and I loved them. In fact the one with the T-Rex I bought whilst on holiday with my parents and kid brother and it made my holidays when i bought it. Not quite Berni Wrightson, but what an incredible artist Nestor was.

I have some of his work up on the website Hall of Fame, if you fancy taking a look. You'll find them under the Shop section on the LHS column under my Blog link area.

I haven't seen the hard cover version, yet, but I have the whole run in the original comic form and they really are incredible books and everyone should look at the draughtsmanship, as you say. That's one hardcover I will be getting.

Have fun at SIGGRAPH.

Best Wishes,
Tim...

Warren said...

I hope you get to finish your Rom trailer, as I think it would be awesome to behold.

I love your Swamp Thing drawings. You are *always* too hard on your work. I hope you don't let your own overly-critical eye hold you back, because you are an incredible artist. You're good. Very, very good. Waaay better than you think.

I hate you didn't get the account. It sounds like an amazing effort went into it. It sounds fun and rewarding and exhausting. Better luck next time!

Warren said...

I hope you get to finish your Rom trailer, as I think it would be awesome to behold.

I love your Swamp Thing drawings. You are *always* too hard on your work. I hope you don't let your own overly-critical eye hold you back, because you are an incredible artist. You're good. Very, very good. Waaay better than you think.

I hate you didn't get the account. It sounds like an amazing effort went into it. It sounds fun and rewarding and exhausting. Better luck next time!

PJ said...

Wow! Siggraph, now there’s a name from the past for me. Would you believe I was at the first few Siggraphs (at least the one’s in New York) and I remember watching this short film named Tin Toy. :)

Brian said...

Hey Matt,

Glad to hear you survived the mad rush to the deadlines and I'm sure you guys will get the next one.

Have a great time in New Orleans. My wife has been, but I have not.

Just remember, hold on to your wallet because, as my wife found out, it is the pickpocket capital of the world.

emilio said...

Hey Matt,
Hope you have a great time in New Orleans. Sorry to hear you had to go through such a busy couple of weeks. Sleeping under your desk sounds more like camping than work :)
Anyhow, that Rom piece looks great. I would love to see the trailer, if you ever get the time to do it.
Those swamp thing sketches look awesome. I'm amazed that you still put down your drawings in spite of what everyone tells you. ( I know, your own worst critic)
Thanks for squeezing in this post in such a crazy schedule.

PJ said...

You need to start posting these to your comic art fans gallery!