Amoebas- Stop Motion Animation with Water Droplets

Here is a stop motion animation that I did for my animation class. Kenny Mcaffee helped me out on a lot of it. It was sort of experimental and I had no plans for it to turn out the way it did, but I'm glad that I was able to create "characters" (sort of) from drops of water. It was super well received in my class. The students were generally impressed that so much could be done with just water droplets.

My next project is Puppetry. If anyone has an idea for a cool 30 second film using puppets of some sort, I'm all ears.

Rikki Tikki Tavi - Concept Animation

I've been wanting to adapt Rudyard Kiplings amazing short story from the Jungle Book, Rikki Tikki Tavi. I quickly realized it would be really difficult to do it live action. So as I started looking into options for animation I kept having this vision of a completely monochromatic visual component that makes the foreground and the background blend.

At about this same time, I signed up for an animation practicum course here at BYU, taught by Ryan Woodward and Kelly Loosli. The class focuses on experimenting with animation (the medium and the content). So this is the result of my first dabblings in Flash animation.

2 experimental components that I was after: First, in making the process simpler and more unique, I was interested in seeing how many lines I "didn't" have to include. Thus my characters body parts are not connected but individual shapes moving together and our mind almost automatically fills in the blanks.

The second experimental component, is that I animated the whole thing with a mouse. For those not too familiar with Flash, animators use a tablet and a stylus that lets them "draw" by hand, on the computer. Its pretty cool stuff. But I chose to not go that route and instead designed my shapes like a graphic designer would, using Adobe Illustrator and bringing the shapes into Flash to animate them. I think the result was a sharp edged, sort of "toy-like" result with the movements and shapes.

Villains - Halloween Movie

Here it is. Villains -The Rexburg Idaho Halloween Movie from 2010.
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

For the past few years, since all of us guys got home from our missions, we've had a lot of fun spending an exorbitant amount of time sewing, gluing, and mounting a costume. Comic book heroes and villains have been our main focus. We;re a bunch of comic-book nerds, what can I say.
This years specialties were Nightcrawler and Hobgoblin, both made by Troy Parson. (Jordan Parson wore the Hobgoblin). Troy is the master at making these costumes. He spends more time and cash than most of us, because he sees it as more than a hobby. And seeing how we spend so much time making our costumes, we wanted a way to make an enduring memory of it. So, we make movies in our costumes--Thus it is called a "Halloween Movie"

This was definitely our most ambitious movie, as compared to previous years. It was all shot in 2 days. 1 scene here in Utah, and the other 13 in Rexburg. It was intense and a run-and-gun sort of production. Everyone who is in the film also doubled as crew, which is awesome. A lot went wrong the day of as well, cast members dropped out, costumes lost at the dry-cleaner... but somehow it came together. Hope you enjoy it.

If you have yet to watch a video on my blog -- MAKE THIS YOUR FIRST!!!

This is an amazing animation, by Ryan Woodward. He is one of the professors here at BYU in the animation program. He has worked as a storyboard artist on many big movies in Hollywood. Check out Ryan's website.

This animation is beautiful and emotional and somewhat tragic. For anyone who has woken up the morning after breaking up with the girl (or boy) of your dreams, you know how this feels and the animation captures it amazingly. There's a particular moment, when the boy wakes up a second time and his limbs turn into heavy clay that he can't get off the ground--its just astounding what animation is capable of conveying visually.

The words from a Pearl Jam song (Nothing Man) come to mind while watching this video. "He caught a bolt of lightning, curse the day he let go..."

For further information on the making of this video here is the documentary that accompanies it.

Thought of You - Making Of from Ryan J Woodward on Vimeo.

M Night Shyamalan--Gateway Drug to Formalistic Film

Recently I've been itching to write something in hopes that it would somehow come to Shyamalan's own ears. And although that is 100% unlikely, I would like to say it anyway! Where are you M NIGHT?!!!
In one of my intro classes here at BYU, we were talking about auteur theory and Shyamalan's name was put into the list (begrudgingly by my professor--but nevertheless) Surprisingly a large group of students, including myself, joined the Shyamalan group to discuss his creative approach to film, and its uniqueness in comparison to his contemporaries. I was surprised that so many students, who were eager to study film, were also eager to talk about Shyamalan. I believe it is because Shyamalan is a gateway to formalistic style in film.
Even the layman knows there is a vast gap between a commercial blockbuster that blows the boxofficer into pieces and what the Academy picks as "Best" whatever... (Avatar vs. Hurt Locker for example) the truth is, something happens when a person decides to devote more than a few hours a week to film. When a person wants to figure out how and why film works, and how they can be so moving and powerful, and how a film can be an art form as well as a product. What happens is that certain films start dropping off the radar. Certain, run-of-the-mill genre films don't seem to hold their own water, much less give deep enough soil for study.

M Night bridges this gap. Not that his films are super-blockbuster hits but they are commercial at the same time as fatalistically styled.
Modernism is defined as art that seeks to reveal the apparatus. A movie that encourages the viewer to be aware that its a movie, rather than be sucked in as though it were real life. Your average Hollywood director (not big shot) steers clear of this. They want viewers to be sucked in and manipulated. (this is known as escapism. It isn't always bad but the average American audience only responds to this type of film.)
There is a modernism in his editing style and cinematography that is immediately appealing to the novice-film critic. There is immediately more substance because Shyamalan will hold the shot when another director would cut. The novice-film critic will start to ask why he does this and this question is the gateway. Why does a filmmaker ever cut? Why does dollying in create a foreboding or cathartic experience... thus we are introduced to film theory.

I wish to raise my voice, with many others, and say thank you M Night, for making religious films, for being bold in a cookie cutter industry, and for introducing me to how deep film can truly be. I love your films and will always look at them as a huge boost into becoming a film student and hopefully someday a practitioner.

ps. Many accues Shyamalan of only having one trick: a twist at the end of the film. And although, 6th sense, Unbreakable, and The Village do fall into this category. That is only 3 of his films with a twist. Shyamalan has directed 7 commercial features.
Some would claim that Signs and Lady in the Water have "twists" but its not true. In several screenwriting books they say an ending (or climax of a story) should be both surprising and yet inevitable. This is a difficult thing and almost a contradiction. Just because a movie has a surprise ending, it does not make it a twist. A twist is when the ending reveals information which changes EVERYTHING we've seen up to this point. It is usually built on a secret that isn't revealed until the end.
Signs and Lady in the Water do NOT have a twist. Just a surprise ending.

pss. The Last Airbender. There are 2 things I feel necessary to say. 1st- Everyone was urging Shyamalan to try something new. This is the type of film you get when a director goes outside his element. So all you "urgers" that's what you get.
2- Why is everyone treating this kids movie, as though it was supposed to be as good as Lord of the Rings or something? It's a kids movie. Its on the same plain as Monsters Versus Aliens or Madagascar 2, but no ones mad at Dreamworks for such lame movies... nuff said.

Bend and Not Break

It was awesome working with Tim Hall, Timm McCreary and Christopher Hall. There are 3 elements of the short that I found the most successful. Casting is the first. It made the film. I would like to put in a special plug to Tim Hall. The day we sat down to do a practice reading of the script he already jumped into character and was yelling at Chris at the precise moments. I was impressed with his willingness to jump into the role he was playing so quickly. Of course, I can't claim the genius of casting, for it was acutally Shellena, my wife's idea to cast her older brothers (and brother in law Timm.) (oh and Larry, "Mr. Dorison" was all Tim's idea. I believe he may have been eager for the opportunity to yell at his father-in-law without consequences.

With the casting came a location. Chris & Tim work at Resource MFG, a staffing company out of Salt Lake. Because of their positions there we were able to use the office as the main location for the film. So, the 2nd success of this project was once again, Shellena and Tim's idea.

The final component which I feel credible enought brag about, is the shot composition. I was rather pleased with how it turned out. In the editing process I had all the variety of shots I needed. There was never that painful moment of saying to onself "why did I not get a cutaway of..." or "We should have done this take one more time...". The editing process was smooth and I have received compliments for the variety of shots (Mediums, closeups, wides) as well as camera movement and static shots. Specifically, on a number of occasions, the shot of Chris demanding Tim's badge, with his hand close to the lense; for some reason people really thought that shot was cool/professional/whatever.

My intention is not to brag, and I cannot say this film was wildly successful by any means. The story doesn't exactly function and because of time restraints it leaves a lot of questions in the viewers mind.I only had 3 minutes and I chose an ambitious story. So sew me. But the purpose of a project was as an exercise in using the tools and medium of film. I feel that it fulfilled its purpose of creation.

ps. A special plug to Sammi. She did the sound recording on set and was willing to wake up early and spend a saturday helping out on the film. The sound quality was superb; better than any other project done I've before. That means I spent less time stressing about it in post, than on other projects. So, thanks Sammi!

So in the end I guess I have to say I'm a believer in the collaborative nature of film. Any great director is dependent on a great crew. When we surround ourselves with hard workers we usually develope the same attributes.

The Boy, the Boots, and the Devil

This was film Written/Directed by Brenton Williamson, and Produced by Skyler Brunner. It's a comedy inspired from Brenton's youth in Bear Lake Idaho where cowboy boots mean social status and everyone carries a shotgun...
Although that may be a little exaggerated, the film definitely reflects a hickish, country-like style.

I was the script supervisor on the shoot and I had a great experience. The crew was small and most of us doubled for other positions, and a lot of us were new to being on set.

The film is set to premier on April 20, 2011

Check out the BBD website: