Came across this while compiling some support material for a funding application. Been a while since we posted but but we are still working on The Monster Team. Things have just slowed down a bit. In any case, check out this proto we made. This is the size and shape we envision for a plush toy.
This is Coach Kong chilling on The Monster Bus. Coach Kong plays a very limited roll in the “Field Trip to Petrified Park” plot but he has quickly become one of my favorite characters. I’m not sure what it is about him… His secret love for Ms. Bigfoot the english teacher… His mysterious past and striking resemblance to the lead member of the “Banana Boyz” a famous boy band in Monster Ville or the fact that he seems to wear reading glasses. And what is he reading?
In any case, Jay sent this along and I wanted to share.
Ravi and I met the other day to work on some language for a video we’re going to shoot for a kickstarter campaign. It’s going to be a lot of fun and hopefully will entice a few people to donate to the project. The basic idea is to have Ravi, Jay and I explain the project while being in some unusual situation. ie., ravi summarizes the story while riding a roller coaster, or Jay talks about the characters as he’s being attacked by zombies, or I introduce myself while I crash my bike. We’ll have about 15 locations in total so each of us will be in about five. Will upload to the blog when we’re done!
Oh yeah and Jay finished up all the storyboards today. They look awesome.
I have been toying with different recipes for bringing the characters to life. Have made a lot of mistakes but have figured it out a method that works. It has become a pretty straightforward process - but intricately so. Each limb needs to be a separate element, usually more than one. So, with two arms and legs we already have eight moving elements. Add the head the eyes the mouth and nose and you get a lot of pieces that need to work together. I started with Mumford because it was simple (he doesn’t have a lot of features showing) but even here, his head is four different elements.
Animating these little guys with simple believable movements is time consuming but man is it fun. As soon as I put this short render to play on a loop I felt like Dr. Frankenstein screaming, “Alive! It’s alive! It’s alive!”
As part of the re-tooling we have done as of late we have had to say good bye to a few friends. They are Mini-Monster friends but it hurts just the same. We have ditched both Frankie (who was modeled after Frankenstein’s Monster) and Liz (who was modelled after The Bride of Frankenstein). After calling in some legal help it became clear that Liz was completely off the table (Universal has a Bride of Frankenstien re-boot in the works and she isn’t even public domain). She was the first to go. Frankie was more grey area. He was modeled after Mary Shelly’s character but the look we had created was clearly leaning on the classic hollywood incarnation of said monster. We decided to play it safe and lose him, as well. That was not an easy decision.
To fill Frankie’s shoes we developed an Ogre named Ogie but it didn’t really jive with the theme or old-school movie monsters and we eventually decided to go with Moto a little hunchback derived from the Hunchback of Notre Dame (being careful to steer clear of the Disney version). Liz was much more of a re-work. Her re-work started off as The Zombie Twins and later became the Ziffle twins (What the hell is a Ziffle?) and eventually became the Pixie Twins- Zoe and Zara.
Jay just finished the Model Sheets for The pixie twins and I wanted to share. Hope you dig them!
Met with our newest Member of the Monster Team tonight. Her name is Rachelle and she works in TV as her Joe Job and will be moonlighting with us to help crank out the greatest interactive book imaginable. Welcome to the team Rachelle!!!
Also, enjoy some action shots of Mumford that Jay put together to help Rachelle get a handle on him.
Well, as much as we love the name MONSTER SCHOOL we can’t keep it. There are just too many damb things named Monster School out there already. In fact, trying to buy a domain name (nearly any name with the word MONSTER) is almost impossible. It seems a well known company with a propensity for selling over priced HDMI cables own nearly everything! It’s a nightmare to even try. Trust me.
However, we were able to get out paws on “The Monster Team” and it instantly felt like a god fit. So, that is what we will be using from here on out! Our little cast of mini monsters are now known as THE MONSTER TEAM.
Now, can I change the tumblr address???
We just found another great illustrator to join the Monster Team! Jay has been killing it with the illustrations but with a full time job and a family we know he could use an assistant. That brings the team up to four. Pretty great for a company that doesn’t actually have any money! But hey, that is what credit cards are for, right?
Jay has been working like mad to crank out model sheets for our first full meeting. Every time I look at one of the model sheets I freak out. I want a toy version of all of these characters! They look so amazing. Tell me you don’t want a stuffed Mumford or Swampy! You can’t. They are too damb awesome! Up above is Swampy. She is the cutest swamp monster ever. And the crazy thing is that Mumford is even better! I’ll post more characters later…
Feels a little like the doldrums. Desperately wanting a little more wind in our sails but being at the mercy of the fates. Such is indie development.
We are still trucking along and the project is looking great. We have figured out a decent workflow and have begun to animate elements which look much better than expected. But the problem is that bloody pick three triangle. You want it to be Good and Fast? Well that isn’t Cheap. You want it Cheap and Fast? Well then it isn’t going to be Good…You get the idea.
It looks like we are being forced into the “Good and Cheap” paradigm but damb, I wish it could be a little faster….it sure isn’t easy to take things slowly when you have SUCH A GREAT PROJECT on your hands.
Oh…the Pic up above is a Work-in-Progress Jay sent along for page 2 (which is actually page 3 now…). Looks awesome, huh?
Met with some programmers in guadalajara mexico a few days ago about doing the interactivity coding. I went over the first few pages of the book and they said they’d get back to me with a quote but so far nada…
Oh yeah, and took in a soccer game too!
…are great! Got the program yesterday and although there’s definitely going to be a learning curve, it’s user-friendly and in terms of interactivity, we should be able to do all we want to do.
Now we just need to plug in the pages and get to work. Speaking of which, Jay sent in the first vector page a couple of days ago. It looks crazy good. So excited…
Jay came up with what might be a real time saver for us. We have talked about converting all our art to vector files which would be the most useful for us but also a time consuming and tedious process. We had all but ruled it out when Jay cam up with the idea of creating folders with pieces of each character. As we create more pieces the folders get bigger. In no time we should have a catalogue full of all the bits pre-made to place a character into any scene with just a few quick changes- rather than having to re-draw from scratch.
Hope it works!
So here is a page 3 mock-up. The idea here is that when the character blows on the book the reader would also blow on the book and motive the next animation in order to continue the story. We love the idea but we are not sure…can we do this?
Been doing a lot of thinking and re-thinking and re-re-thinking these days. We are often back at the question…how all this will work. We have begun mapping pages with the interactivity and finding ways to fill the pages with fun “Touch Spots” but we also want the interactivity to motivate the story. I guess what we are saying is that we want actual reader interaction. It is a difficult task when you are still not sure of your limitations.
We want the world but are not sure how much of the world we can afford. Know what I mean?