Fourth_of_July_by_Anuwolf
Fourth of July by Anuwolf

“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation and freedom in all just pursuits.” – Thomas Jefferson.

Happy Birthday, United States of America!

I love the family and food and happy faces that Independence Day brings, but I am not a fan of the loud noises that come with it. I am absolutely terrified of fireworks – even just the start of a whistle makes it hard for me to breathe because of how anxious I get. Kovtapyroergasoiphobia is the name of the phobia and while I can’t pronounce it, it doesn’t make it any less real. So while I wish America a happy birthday and hope you all have a fabulous day filled with family and friends and hot dogs, I will be with my pups hiding in the house with my music turned as loud as I can make it.

Speaking of pups, make sure yours are safe inside. Dogs and cats are not fans of this holiday. Love them and keep them indoors.

Happy Independence Day!

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What time is it? It’s ADVENTURE TIME! Or really – it’s time for Cartoon Network to get a Summer Refresh! Earlier this month, I was contacted about this particular campaign and was super excited to see Cartoon Network’s latest makeover. If you’re an avid Cartoon Network fan, you’ve most likely already seen this, but just in case you haven’t (or you’re just tuning in now), I’ll explain it to you.

The Summer Refresh Project

“Courtesy of its in-house creative agency Creative Group, Cartoon Network received a summer makeover, with a new set of brightly colored images and a video seamlessly blending the work of top animators around the globe. As part of the 2013 “Summer Refresh,” the new graphics feature popular Cartoon Network characters, such as the Annoying Orange and Finn and Jake from Adventure Time. Inspired by their cool new look, Creative Group took the daring step of stitching together a 60-second video comprising the work of six different animators and animation companies from around the world.”

The video is pretty kick-ass. Check it out here or watch below:

An Exquisite Corpse of Animators!

As mentioned, six different animation studios were approached to submit 10 second pieces for this video. The only rules they were given were to stick to the color scheme, include characters from certain Cartoon Network shows (Adventure Time, Regular Show, MAD, Ben 10, Gumball, Looney Tunes, and Annoying Orange), and not show any nudity. What you see before you is an amazing and seamless work of moving art.

The animation studios that took part in the Summer Refresh project were Impactist (Portand, OR), Awesome Incorporated (Atlanta, GA), CRCR (France), Alex Grigg (UK), Eamonn O’Neill (UK), and Rubberhouse (Australia), with music created by Impactist.

Leslie Kleine, senior producer of the Creative Group in charge of this makeover, said of the project, “We referred to this as our science experiment, mainly because we weren’t totally convinced that it would work, [Creative Group and Adult Swim Creative Director] Jacob Escobedo had this vision of several animators of varying styles creating unique pieces that could then be stitched together into one interstitial. In the end, we reached out to animation teams from Australia, France, Portland Oregon, Atlanta Georgia, and two from the UK, and they were all enthusiastic, even though they wouldn’t know what the others were doing. … This project was an incredible lesson in risk, but also one of the most rewarding that I’ve ever worked on. What we got exceeded our expectations.”

Leslie Kleine is a Senior Producer for Cartoon Network’s Creative Group with Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, GA and has been with the company for 13 years. Prior to working at Cartoon Network, she spent a year stage managing at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN. Leslie holds two degrees from the University of Alabama in Telecommunications & Film and Theatre.

I had a chance to interview Leslie a little more on Cartoon Network’s new look and the process of the whole thing. It’s a really cool inside look into how the design and branding process works for projects like these for big networks. So without further introduction, on with the interview!

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Interview with Cartoon Network’s Leslie Kleine

01. Where did the original idea for the Summer Refresh project come from? Tell us a little about it and how the idea to use other animators came about.

The idea came from our VP of Design, Jacob Escobedo. He had been admiring a number of animators and was looking for an opportunity to work with them in a way that would allow them to maintain their own animation styles. He proposed the Equisite Corpse concept & we all agreed that we had to try it.

02. Considering that there were only three simple rules for the animators, were you worried about the outcome? What were the biggest risks of the project and how did you get around them?

Worry never crept in. We had no idea if the pieces would stitch together but we thought we’d at least end up with some really great :10 bumps! Regarding challenges, we knew it was critical that we have clear communication & collaboration but we were working in multiple time zones so we utilized Basecamp to post updates and share progress. It was a wonderful resource for us. The final posts were one big love fest with everyone gushing over each other’s work.

03. What did the process look like? Being that there were so many people involved, what was the timeline like?

The first stage was music. Michael Ouweleen, SVP of the Creative Group, had been listening to Impactist so we reached out to them about making some tracks for us. Right before the call, we discovered that Impactist is a powerhouse duo, Kelly & Daniel, who also direct and animate. They’re probably whipping up a cure for the common cold in their spare time. But seriously, they delivered the first pass of music and we chose our top two tracks – no notes. We immediately invited them to take one of the :10 slots to animate.

We asked the animators to work simultaneously so the timeline was fairly straightforward with everyone hitting the same dates. The first delivery was each animator’s final frame of their allotted :10, which was the starting point for the next team.

04. I’m a big fan of the color scheme y’all chose. Where did the inspiration for that come from?

Our network design DNA is black and white checkerboard with an infusion of CMY. We wanted to update the look this year so our design team collectively made some adjustments which included brightening the CMY.

05. In my eyes, this project was a success! I love the new look and the video was really amazing (and seamless) to watch! Are there any plans to do this again in the future?

Thanks – we’re so proud of the work from every team. I don’t know if we’ll tackle another Exquisite Corpse but I can guarantee that we’ll dive into the unknown again.

06. What was your favorite part of working with all these people?

When we called to pitch the job, we hadn’t worked out the process yet so we were like, “Hey, we like you. Do you want to work with a bunch of animators from around the world? We’ll email you the details later.” The amazing thing was that everyone we spoke to jumped on board – and it wasn’t for the cash! They were all so gracious and collaborative… Now you have a taste of how our Basecamp posts read!

07. And finally… What’s your favorite color?

It’s a three-way tie between cyan, magenta and yellow. I’m subconsciously working them into every facet of my life though my two boys have drawn the line at magenta shoe laces.

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What Time Is It? It’s… The End!

Thank you to Leslie for taking time to answer my questions and for everyone from Creative Group and Cartoon Network for the awesome project. Everyone be sure to check out Cartoon Network and let me know what you think! I would love to hear your thoughts on the video!

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“Making his plush debut, it’s the cuddliest, cutest Little Moon God! He is an original character I created years ago based off an Inuit legend about the Sun and the Moon. In the Inuit legend, the moon is a male deity and chases the female deity of the sun all throughout the sky for eternity. The character has evolved over the years and I’ve now refined him into a super cute design fitting for a perfect, unique and exciting plush toy.”

Whenever I see an illustrator I follow get on the crowdfunding bandwagon and start up a Kickstarter, I have to jump on it. So when I saw that Kaitlin ‘Kit’ Reid had created a Kickstarter for her gorgeous Little Moon God Plush, I sent her an email straight away asking to showcase it and interview her. Thankfully for you all, she said yes!

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I love LOVE Kit’s artwork and I think it’s every artists’ dream to see one of their creations created into something physical enough to cuddle. I’m so happy I give Kit’s Kickstarter a little push to enable her to meet her stretch goals and create more gorgeous pieces of art. That being said, let’s get on with the interview!

Kickstarter Interview: Kaitlin Reid

01. Where did the idea of the Little Moon God come from? How has his character evolved and why did you decide to make a plush out of him?

The idea for the Little Moon God came from a college assignment, actually. We were tasked with illustrating a folktale of our choosing. I chose a very interesting legend about the origins of the sun and moon, and created two characters to embody those themes. At first the Little Moon God was “moon man” and he stood upright on two legs, and had glowing teal tattoos all over his body. He has morphed into the little fellow we know and love over 5 years or so. I decided to try to make a plush out of him, specifically, because he has always been a character people are drawn to, plush I feel a certain connection to him as well having worked with the character for so long.

02. How did you go about defining your pledge levels and rewards? Your stretch goals?

It’s a lot of math, planning, and kind of hoping it pans out. I’m not going to lie, it was very stressful and I almost quit a few times. My wonderful boyfriend helped me through it and supported my horrible math skills by supplying his own. You need to factor in your taxes and shipping fees, and be willing to gamble with potentially spending money out of your own pocket. If I just hit the basic funding level, I’d still have to put money into the project. There is no such thing as free money!

03. What’s been your favorite part of the whole Kickstarter process?

The love and support of people that I both know and do not know! It’s been an incredible first few days. I never dreamed I’d hit my funding level within the first 24 hours. It’s incredibly validating to see so many people really excited for your work.

04. What’s been the hardest part of the process? How did you deal with it?

I believe the hardest part was the one I mentioned before. I did almost quit a few times because the numbers seemed so against me and almost impossible to make. I would never have imagined bringing in over $5,000 in pledges so quickly.

05. What advice would you give fellow illustrators and creatives who are looking at starting their own Kickstarter campaigns?

Research! Spread your social media networks! And most of all really do your accounting. I’m learning as I go, and it’s certainly the least fun part about the whole thing. You really need to budget everything and come up with multiple scenarios for how it might all go down. You can’t predict pledges, so budget for the worse case scenario so you don’t actually wind up in the red from the kickstarter! Research what it will require to package and ship all of your orders out as well, it gets expensive fast.

06. LAST QUESTION! What is… your favorite color?

Ahh, I have to say pink! Though right now I am SUPER obsessed with the mint color that’s been floating around this seasons fashion…I painted my studio in mint a few months ago!

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Kaitlin Reid graduated MICA and currently works for a small animation studio in Baltimore. In her down time, she enjoys drawing fantasy critters and people, making costumes, and going to conventions.

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You can find from Kaitlin on her website Sunset Dragon, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Etsy!

Jimmy Fallon’s Video: We Are the World of Warcraft

If you hadn’t seen this yet, you’re welcome. It premiered last night on Jimmy Fallon and is probably one of the deepest songs I’ve ever heard… about gaming. Brought a little tear to the eye of my Belf Warlock.

I love that I recognize so many folks in that video from the WoW community and the Geekery community at large. Felicia Day, Chris Hardwick, Chloe Dykstra, and a few folks from the Frogpants forums as well. Y’all make my life.

FOR THE HORDE!