Monday, October 31, 2011

Character Bio: JOEY BILL


Joey Bill is an obnoxious, frumpy slob of a fellow who can't quite walk a straight line (in most senses of the phrase) and who isn't particularly coordinated in any other area than his fingers.  This is not because he's an alcoholic with a chronic masturbation problem, but because he's an alcoholic whose passion is a good tickling of the ivories.  That is, he plays piano.  

He is currently employed as a performer at the WIVE and JAIL Dueling Piano Bar, located somewhere vaguely downtownish in any number of cities and in no particular state.  There's only one thing in the entirety of all the world that Joey loves more fervently than playing piano, and it's alcohol.  When his hands aren't busy at the claviature, they are most certainly busy with a bottle or two.  And even when he's at the keyboard, it's not unlikely that he'll be playing with only one hand in order to cradle his beer in the other. 

Joey grew up in an orphanage for most of his life (as all well thought-out characters do), and it wouldn't be quite accurate to say he doesn't remember much about his parents because honestly he did at some point before the alcohol.  He remembers that his mom was never there and knows that his dad was left to raise him almost entirely alone.  The most potent imagery he has left of his dad is that of him lying on the floor, passed out on his back in front of the television.  Joey would set on his dad's impressive gut and bounce up and down while watching football or Nascar or The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross or whatever was on, sneaking sips of his father's alcohol, which still didn't make Bob Ross any more enjoyable. 

On his 6th birthday his grandpa or uncle or some relative who wasn't either of his parents got him a Playskool toy keyboard that was yellow with a blue handle on it so he could carry it around with him everywhere.  And that he did.  The beast of an instrument had all of one octave of keys and a little demo button in the shape of a star which would play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  This irony was not lost on Joey, however he would prefer to sit in front of the TV watching Disney musicals teaching himself the songs and learning the melodies from them.  His Oliver and Company VHS tape was almost worn out.

In about 5th grade Joey was taken out of his parent's custody by the state as they were deemed unfit parents for letting him watch The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, and it was at this time that he was placed in the aforementioned orphanage.  He got along quite well with the other kids at the orphanage, as he did with the other kids at school, being that he was usually the center of attention.  When he wasn't putting on a show or entertaining the other kids with his songs and vocal impressions, he was most certainly acting out or acting up in some way, shape, or form because he craved the attention he so seldom got from his parents. 

In highschool he went to a lot of parties and drank a lot, as all well-rounded highschoolers do, however Joey was already accustomed to the act, having grown up unsupervised with plenty of beer in his parents' home.  This made him particularly good at drinking games or spin the bottle or whatever the hell highschoolers do when they drink. 

Currently, as I've said, he's been performing at the WIVE and JAIL Dueling Piano Bar for a number of years.  He's one of about 5 other pianists at the bar who got the job because they have an insane repertoire and could play just about any song on cue.  The 5 of them are on a rotation and Joey usually ends up working at nine o'clock on a Saturday, which is conveniently right about the time that the regular crowd shuffles in. 

Now John at the bar is a friend of his, and gets him his drinks for free, and he's quick with a joke and he'll light up your smoke but Joey doesn't smoke nor does he really care for John's jokes but he humors him so he can get booze.  Joey considers the drinks payment enough, and while he doesn't receive a paycheck, he makes a lump sum in requests every night; the premise of the dueling piano bar is that the customers throw money up there and write down a song they'd like to hear.  The customer who places the biggest bill usually gets their song played first. 

It's bar rules that if you hand them enough money, they'll actually let you go up and play a song yourself, but this pisses Joey off both because he can't stand not being in the spotlight for a few minutes and because that piano up on stage is the closest thing he's ever had to a lasting relationship with someone.  So seeing someone else sitting on his sweaty piano bench, caressing his black and white woman, and stealing his neon orange spotlight is an invasion on his turf and he takes it very personally.  Of course usually by now he's pretty trashed and he's started a number of fights with customers over the matter.  The only reason they've kept him around is because he's the best performer in town, naturally, even when drunk. 

On his breaks between sets he enjoys taking a much needed piss, however he'd prefer to stumble sloppily over to various women and hit on them.  This usually ends in a swift slap to the face and Joey crawling back up stage to the only thing he's ever wished he liked more than alcohol.



VISUAL REFERENCE AND INSPIRATION:

There was an actual guy who played at a dueling piano bar in St. Peters (called the Jive and Wail), and he looked like this 30-something-year-old man trying to dress like a teenager (wearing skinny jeans, having curly boyish locks...) and this lovely button-down shirt where the bottom button had busted open and his beer gut was poking out.  I watched him the whole night and I sketched him out because he just seemed like he should be developed into a character.  I don't have photo reference unfortunately.

Rebecca Sugar:





Aisha Thani:





Tara Billinger:




The Simpsons:



Disney (rhghgngnh MILT KAHHLLLL)


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Soph Final



As my 2nd Semester Sophomore Final I decided to take my animatic and see how far into it I could possibly get in the time I'd been given, then take a wild guess as to how long it might take me to composite the whole thing digitally, and stop animating in time to have time to do that (still following?)... so it was very much just an extensive case of 'winging it'.

I would've loved to get the whole thing done, but there just wasn't time.  I still think I got a decent start on it though.... I tend to rush through my animations at first, sketching out rough lines to make sure the movement is right... then I go back in to clean them up a little and give some sort of, you know, form to those mess of lines... and all of that works just fine for me.  But I get it in the computer and play it back and realize that ALL MY SCENES ARE RIDICULOUSLY SHORT.  So I had to kind of fake some animation and cut lots of corners.... and even then, the animation I DIDN'T fake, it's still, like... I don't know.  Just messy.  I didn't bother to clean up the lines much (which was sort of intentional.  I like the sketchy look), but some parts it's just like... GLARING MISTAKES.  Why does his hair change shape like that?  Why is he missing a...?  OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?!  Or not done?!!  xD hahaha.

 I also learned a little more about After Effects.  I'm slowly but surely going to fall head over heels for it, but it's still a rough, painful road to get to that point.  I somehow managed to get this... text... thing... going on... with moe-bot's monitor.  I don't even remember how.  It was MINUTES UPON MINUTES of dicking around with things until I made it happen.  So that was cool.
I'd wanted to use some kind of particle effects or something to give some sort of secondary movement in the backgrounds.... but that's another task for another day.
I know it should be like the easiest thing ever but whatever.  I'll pick up on it sooner or later.

So... yeah!  Pretty much I think my only outstanding regret is that I just need to man-up and put more into the actual animation.  I end up skimping out in places where this type of animation clearly shouldn't... skimp.  Hahaha.

Learning experiences all around.  Huzzah.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Animaaaaaatic


Animatic from Erica Wester on Vimeo.

The ending relies heavily on crappy doodles and cue cards denoting what I'd originally intended to do, due to poorly allotted time on my part.  Aaaaaand, there you have it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Alter Ego Character Model Sheet

  Character stuff.  It's a  bit more sketchy and unrefined than I'd like, but I think the general idea is still there.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

WHAT IS THIS PUPPETRY?!

video
This is Audrey II, from Little Shop of Horrors.  Kinda.  He's not supposed to be nearly this vicious-looking until he's bigger, but OH WELL.  This guy is (what I think is polyurethane foam... could be wrong.  It's whatever the hell they sell at Jo-Anns), covered in rubber latex.  I'm kind of at a standstill with him because I'm trying to get ahold of the right ingredients to make me some PAX paint.  When he's done though, IDEALLY, he would be one of those types where you have your hand in the puppet, and a fake hand/arm attached so that it looks like you're carrying him around in his little pot.   : D  We'll see how that goes.

video
This one isn't anything particularly impressive, I was just dickin' around with some really basic mechanisms (and I do mean basic... cardboard, tape, rubber bands, thread, and a plastic straw).  Twoey will probably have some kind of mechanism in his.. hand... leaves....


I've been watching a lot of Henson stuff lately, if it's not apparent.  My sister actually made a pretty impressive replica Cookie Monster which we puppeteer'd at a New Years party (he's a "sack" puppet so he requires two operators).  The house had a mini-bar which made for an excellent stage, and I poured a shot for some guy.  Maybe I can upload some of that poppycockery later on.  
But in the meantime, you should check this out:

It's a pre-Sesame Street, proto-Cookie Monster which was used in an IBM training video, and in a sketch on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Pretty funny stuff.  And he has TEETH.
oh!
And there's explosions.  So there's that.