March 4, 2007

new art, new look



I've just finished the new blog skin and thought I'd also post the new one sheet I've been working on. enjoy

December 15, 2006

That New Video Smell


This week we released our second video, "Prelude." It combines live action, stop-motion, and digital animation to detail the world's transition into a fantastic new state of reality. We're currently working on a detailed online resource to document the process of creating the more striking visual effects in the video. Check it out at tower8.net.

There's also a new song, "Biting Rain," which tells a slightly later apocalyptical tale. As the environment degrades and the oceans recede, humans are forced to follow into the empty seabeds in search of water, and must brave the deadly acid rains there.

The picture at the stop is a shot of the stunning logo animation that Danny made for "Prelude." Mike made another for "The Faceoff" which we'll be inserting in the video soon. These provide a great way, especially on sites like Youtube where it lets the viewer know who made the video without being intrusive or obnoxious.

That's the local news, I'll try to be back soon with updates on the documentary, and also maybe a new look and URL for this blog.

December 6, 2006

How I Got Here, And Why I Don't Plan On Leaving

Late last night, trying to remove the melody they trapped in my head by listening to the song all the way through, I popped onto Youtube to watch the video for "Fix You," from Coldplay's X&Y. My tired, lazy gaze drifted below the video to the portion of the page where any visitor can post comments. The top comment transfixed me.
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brnslyfisha2k6 (2 weeks ago)
i miss my grandma sooo much
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That simple. This music video, beyond being a marketing tool to help move copies of the album, created a direct connection with some unknown girl from the UK. A song can't bring a grandmother back to life, but you can be sure it kept some piece of her in her grandaughter's life. "Fix You" moved the commenter enough that she posted a virtually anonymous comment, one that has been read by a thousand people she'll never meet. Most comments on Youtube are either "I love it" or "It sucks," and every popular video has its share of each. This comment, however, isn't a comment on the music video at all. It's a story. Like Hemingway's famous six word story "For sale: baby shoes, never worn," we can extrapolate an entire story from one fairly short sentence. And this one, while not as polished, has that special authenticity that can't be artificially created.

To create art that can connect so directly to others in such a profound way is one of the few truly worthwhile activities in which we can engage. The blind hope that I might achieve that goal has, for me and so many other musicians and artists, become an obsession.

Incidentally, the melody still hasn't left.

- Gavin

November 2, 2006

flash game coming soon!

I'm finishing up a silly flash game for the front page of the site. It'll be triggered when ever anyone clicks on a bird swooping by. If the user is able to beat it they'll be directed to a space with the animatic, production goofs etc. Should get all this up sometime next week. Until then here are a couple concepts from the next animaton I'm working on.

September 23, 2006

open sourcing


We've always talked about open sourcing our flash and after effects files. I learn best from looking at other people's work and source files, so it'd be nice to give back. Plus since the whole site's aesthetic is one collaged from a variety of sources I like the idea of people taking my work as a source for their own collage. I think we're gonna be able to release them sometime in october...just have to clean up the files (actually get a naming system in place) so that people have some hope of understanding what's going on.... and make sure we have the right to do that. the grant we got from mtvu's been great in allowing us the time to work on this site full time...still getting used to the fact that I don't have complete control over my work. (they have the right to distribution for a year from launch)

September 15, 2006

thinking ahead

Production is starting on the next round of videos which are gonna really focus on giving context to the world and "the faceoff". We've recruited a couple new directors and a few maya people to help with the modeling and animation. Mike's working on organizing the modeling and character creation for one of the videos. I'm currently back home in California about to start fliming for a different short. I'm gonna try and actually film some stop motion on 8mm to give it a human touch. We'll composite in background and effects in aftereffects. I have little experience with actual film but my cousin who's also about to start on a short has worked with it for a long time and is gonna help me out. should be interesting at least.

September 14, 2006

out of touch

So I haven't written on this since may apparently (that's saintly me on the left). We've been scrambling for last weeks launch, and now that that's behind us, I finally have the time to talk about what I've been up to.

Initially the website was structured pretty horribly. It was all one giant flash file that didn't let you go on the a different page until all the pages before that one had completely loaded. That's thankfully been completely redone and it now loads each page individually, all of them sharing the images and video from the home page to reduce load times. We also had a bunch of people complain that their computers weren't able to handle the flash effects and even the large video so I've been working on a low version of the site and a smaller video size. eventually i want to offer "the faceoff" in a bunch of differnt versions to download.

I've been trying to design the sections thinking forward. As we get more and more videos up it'll be important to balance the exploratory and narrative aspects of the interface so that viewers are given the option of following a set viewing order, while at the same time being encouraged to work their way through the story in their own manner. to enable this the video section now has space for a brief description of each video, author credits, and possibly an episode list.

August 28, 2006

Launch!


After about 8 months of work, the website is finally ready to launch. The site is up at tower8.net, and you can see mtvu's sponsorship page at hatchyouregg.com. The video is still being glued together with krazy glue and will be rendered out by tonight. The website says at 5 PM, so hopefully that's when it will happen.

On Saturday finally got our funding from mtvu, and will be buying some new equipment, paying off the equipment we've already bought, and moving into an amazing new studio (read: the only house in the area that was left on the market).

One thing we've been struggling with is a company name. It turns out that, as with band names, all of the good names for our production company are already taken. For financial (read: so mike can't spend all our money on his banana habit) and liability reasons we need to form an official company, but the name we choose will hopefully end up following us around for a long time. Danny's little brother did come up with one name that everyone loves: "Pass the Pants Productions."

We're still brainstorming.

July 8, 2006

August Launch and Shorts

According to my artist and animator associates, the first video is very close to completion. While it looks good, I have my doubts about how soon it will actually be done. Anyway, we've agreed to premier the website, video, music, and some other goodies in early August, so it'll all be ready by then.

The second half of the video has been mixed around a bit to focus more on the roadie's little adventure, to give the story more of a personal touch. I extended the bridge by one progression so that we don't have to rush Trevor's moment. This video is serving as an introduction for the band, so we've made sure to give each character a couple moments where their personality and style is expressed.

One of the concepts that I keep coming back to in this project is the primary importance of character. We spend most of our time working on the music and visuals, but in the end the most vital component may be the characters and story, and whether the audience feels a connection to the personalities. In the end the personal may be the one thing that makes or breaks the project. Creating and effectively transmitting that content may well be our most important task. It comes through not just in the construction of the story and plot, but in the character designs and expressions, interactions, and the song lyrics. One of the things we're going to be doing to promote this part of the project are shorts, 30-second vignettes focusing on the band in lighter moments. We'll try to put one together over the next month or so, and see how it goes.

June 20, 2006

Video Marvels



This still showcases updated character design and displays some of Danny's ink work, especially on the singer Jaff (far right). The animation for the bridge has mostly been put together, and I've extended that part of the song a bit so that we can add another shot or two and give it more space to breathe in the piece.

Over the weekend we made a very slick myspace page, http://myspace.com/towereight. Not much content there, but I think we've managed to subvert the myspace design restrictions and aesthetic pretty well. It should be a place where the characters can interact with the virtual world, by blogging and mostly responding to comments by posting on fans' myspace pages.

Sadie's coming this weekend to take another shot at singing "Biting Rain," and my brother just lent me a mic to record her on that song as well as my acoustic guitar for a new one. We're trying to get the video and the first set of songs done by early july, so it should be an exciting few weeks.