Monday, June 30, 2008

Meet the Children Kids Team! (Part One)

photo by Leo Patrone

The Writers

Joseph LeBaron
Joseph has wanted to be a writer ever since his kidnappers told him that his letters to his parents showed promise. Brought up a child of the eighties, his inspirations seed from his deep hatred for the USSR and his love for cutting objects in half Voltron style. At the age of ten he experienced both extremes when confronted with a Russian robot who asked him for directions. Joseph made short work of the commubot cleverly ignoring it's pre-programmed “human sounding” voice. Though it tried to tug at his heart by claiming to be a “homeless vet”, he saw right through the disguise, sundering the commubot in twain. This led to Joseph's first fully realized short story “I Once Cut a Robot in Two While It Begged Me to Stop”

He spent his college years sharpening his writing skills, pushing lesser things aside such as proper education and happiness, as he was suspicious of both. Nearing thirty years of age, single and socially retarded, the next logical step in life was to become a writer for a cartoon. The opportunity presented itself when his best friend of fourteen years jotted down what would be the beginning of Children Kids. An invitation soon followed and he has been with the small band of story-tellers ever since. There have been many voices whom have acted as muses for Joseph, none of which he cares for too much. He is driven by the saga of the Children Kids, and enjoys the omnipotence that comes with deciding who finds joy and weightlessness, and who feels the dirty stone in their chest.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Class is in session

a rough sketch of a classroom at Middleton’s School for Miniatures.

Even though summer is in full swing, Squatter Studios has been hard at work on this little gem of a cartoon. So hard that it's turning in to more of an entire world rather than a 3-5 minute cartoon episode. And we've neglected the blog :(

We solemnly recommit ourselves to keeping you in on the Children Kids world. To seal the deal and make it official, we're inviting you to come play with us.

We've had lots of inquiries about how people can get involved. We're overwhelmed by your interest and pleased as punch by your generosity and we are ready and willing to accept.

The only catch is that we are asking you to be creative in your contributions. It's easy for us to say we need as much illustration and animation help as possible (which is 100% true and definitely an open invitation to anyone able and interested), but the possibilities are endless!

So think about who you are, what you can do and what you'd like to share with Children Kids and then let us know!

We are having our first Children Kids Team meeting on Monday at 6 PM at the Amanda Knight Hall on the south end of BYU's campus. We are getting our existing volunteer team organized and eating food together. RSVP by comment.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Fetty Prish"

Today was loads of fun. We had special guests from Zak's school come and visit. Rae, Nevil Longbottom, Katherine, and Nigel were especially entertaining. They sang us a song they are learning in their music class.

If you listen closely, you'll hear that grown ups can't sing the phrase "pretty fish". It always comes out "fetty prish" and kids think that is hilarious.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

so cool

Zak Plushie, by Camille Anderson

Yesterday Camille surprised us with the first Children Kids Plushie that she made the night before. I spent the rest of the day riding bikes, playing ukulele and eating lunch with him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the voice talent.

here is some footage of our voice talent in action. isn't he adorable!?


Birds start singing really early in the summer.
and ps: if it’s not really summer yet does that mean that it’s going to get really more hotter? It’s the middle of the night and I’m sitting in a pool of sweat. gross.

meet Jack.

Jack brings destruction and good ol‘ fashioned Evil with him wherever he goes. Jack is Zak’s arch-nemesis.

While this still is definitely rough at best, there is a lot of fun stuff going on with Matt Shurtleff’s paintings and their interaction with the colors, textures, and the decorative patterns. Also, apparently I found the “nuclear glow” filter in Photoshop. That’s hottt.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

girls playing marbles

These are some children kids.

well, have you?

it’s been a little slow-going for me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Zak Rig Test

So here is a short clip of what the characters will look like moving. Zak was animated with Maya and brought into After Effects to added into the scene. In our finished product we will be animating the scene assets as well.

MacGyver Recording Studio

the Amanda Knight Hall.

Our shady back-door entrance.

As executive squatters at the Amanda Knight Hall, the Children Kids creative team is all about economy and resourcefulness. Nearly everything we are using for the production of this show was found, borrowed, stolen (with integrity), built, or jury rigged.
Take our recording studio for example. With the blessing of the ghost of Amanda Knight we ran microphone cables through the rafters of the building and down a vent into an old, stale, inoperative meatlocker.

Micah slapped some professional looking foam on the walls, set up a professional looking microphone with professional looking headphones to match and voila!

The one thing we soon realized, however, was that no amount of professional equipment could quite neutralize the creepiness of locking an already nervous voice actor into a meat locker alone for 20 minutes. Yet they came in droves and willingly trusted us enough to step inside. Have none of these people ever heard of the movie ‘Saw?’

Voice Over Auditions

A few weeks back we put the word out on the street that we were preparing to hold open auditions for the part of the narrator and the Zak and Jack characters. We had a suprisingly positive turnout! In retrospect, it was clearly obvious that we had no clue what we were doing as we provided our auditioning performers with all the refreshing fruit, bagels with cream cheese and peanut butter spread and ice cold milk they desired. Any phlegm inducing substance was at their disposal. But we had several dozen people audition, each bringing their own strengths and flavor to the story. A handful of them have done some industry work in the past that you may recognize, so I thought it might be interesting to share in our blog. It was fun to watch them all vying for the opportunity to be involved with such a groundbreaking project. As charming as they were, however, none of them quite had that IT factor we were looking for...

James Earl Jones. What a diva. We loved his energy and thought he did a great read, but holy cow! Check your ego at the door, man! Complain, complain, complain. If I hear, “May I please have a glass of water...I can barely breath in this meat locker...I've been locked inside for two hours without a must be 115 degrees in here” one more time, I swear I’ll lose it. Be professional Jimmy! It's a miracle he gets hired anywhere with all his bellyaching.

Too Aslan-y. And UK-y. And Liam-y.

This one was a shame. Extremely impressive resume and great just turns out he’s dead. This could have been quite useful information before his agent booked the audition. Very awkward. We didn't get much of a performance out of him. Furthermore-hot, stuffy old meat locker plus hot, stuffy old meat usually equals a malodorous repugnance not to be believed. This case was no exception.

Now here was a true class act. We liked everything about Morgan and would have liked to hire him, but he contracted the hanta virus from the mice inhabiting Vincent's body and had to be taken to the ER for treatment. He's expected to make a full recovery...just not within our time frame.

When all was said and done we found a genial sounding avuncular, talented, hanta virusless gent by the name of Rudy Anderson that I think we all like for the narrator. Unfortunately, he lives on the east coast, so we won't get him back in the studio until July.

As far as the voice for Zak was concerned, we easily had a dozen kids come in and read for his part. None of them sounded right. Some were too much, others not enough, and some just plain should have stayed home. When it appeared all was lost and we were never going to find the right kid, this little boy walked in and we knew at first sight he would be the one. And then he started to speak! Needless to say, he got the job. Casting perfection.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


sorry for the repetitive use of this character pose—it’s all mock-up stuff. I should probably do some more drawings just so these stills can be more varied. The main point of this shot, though, is the lockers: the coloring, the numbers, the plaques made of little typographic dingbats and so on, the wall texture, etc.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

the progress of design: “A Bad Day”

R1. This is one of the very first visual mockups we did last summer when we first started playing around with what would become the Children Kids style. Here we’re using some amazing Ben Shahn illustrations. His style along with a few other artists really helped set the tone that we would strive to emulate throughout—a sort of purposeful naïveté.

R2. Still using Ben Shahn’s tree (which I still love), but have started incorporating found patterns from the Spécimen Général book. Also in there are some windows Micah drew and clouds and doodles from an old sketchbook of mine—sloppily cut out in Photoshop. The texture that forms the side of the schoolhouse is printed woodblock type reversed out and zoomed in like 5000%. So awesome…

R3. Everything here is legit except the watercolor wash background (borrowed from this book). After this, all the concept art has really nice watercolor paintings from Matt Shurtleff (I’ll try to get a link soon)—an amazing painter here in Provo, UT. At this point we started getting a pretty good feel for what our Children Kids world was going to look like, how things were going to be illustrated and colored, what’s in pencil, what’s in pen and so on.

R4. A pretty natural progression from the last illustration. More print texture, more patterns, more pencil illustrations. Zak gets his true coloring and we decide to go widescreen in our formatting. It’s all downhill from here. Right? I wish………

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

meet Zak.

early sketches and color combinations for Zak—the green pants win out in the end; as does the sandy blonde hair and tan skin… earlier drafts of Zak had more yellow-y hair and paler skin, as you'll see in the “A Bad Day” post.