Thursday, September 11, 2008

Singing Ding-a-lings

"Singing Ding-a-lings" was the follow up short that I did the summer before I graduated from San Diego State. Mike and Spike were largely responsible for getting this one finished. They both liked the "Denny" short and people's response to it that they asked if I had any others in the works. I did- but it was not another Denny short. They both still wanted to see the storyboard for it when it was finished.

I storyboarded an idea I had about an English bloodhound and a singing ground squirrel that won't shut-up. (no- Alfonse is NOT a gopher, -I'm from ND and there's a difference- prairie dog is acceptable- I'm okay with that) Anyway, Mike and Spike liked the idea and agreed to pay to have it shot and colored! I almost fell over. I warned them that this one was a bit more ambitious. This was my first "talkie", it was longer, and I was graduating the following summer. They told me to get started.

There was alot to do. I knew I could put together all the artwork, but this short had talking characters and effects and was bigger! But I had help. My friend and fellow film major Kevin Hyde was at that time a DJ for San Diego's 91X radio station (great voice!). We recorded all the voices there one night. It was a blast! I was the voice of the rabbit, the dog, and the gopher (WHAT!?), Kevin did the dog's singing voice, and my good friend/room mate/film major/secret agent/rock star/wannabe musician Adam Georgieff did the crows voices, along with their burps. Sound effects were recorded in our kitchen.

After the sound was track read, I started drawing the thing. It went alot quicker than I thought. Drawing to a specific soundtrack (character voices) was a challenge but I pulled it off. Since I did the voices of the characters I was animating, I could see what I wanted them to look like in my head and just put everything down on the paper.

After all the artwork was done, I timed everything on a big pad of accounting ledger paper, then shot a pencil test on the ACME at SDSU. The test came back really good, with no major hassles or anything. I showed it to Mike and Spike and they thought it was great! I did some color models of all the characters and backgrounds and we shipped everything off to get it painted and shot on- get this- 35MM film baby! At the time, that was a big deal. All of us were still too poor and had to shoot on 16MM.

My friends and I mixed and finalized the soundtrack, along with the opening and closing themes Adam had been working on while filming our grad-film "In The Beginning", a Python-esqe comedy about a kid's take on Bible stories. When the negs came back, we had to sync the final tacks in our rival's facility at UC San Diego. There were rumours and stories flying around about the guy who does the mixing at UCSD, and how mad he gets when wannabe Spielbergs book time and don't have a clue about what they're doing! Luckily, all my tra-la-la's were in order.

I was really worried when it came back all finished. Since Mike and Spike paid for most of the production costs, I felt I had to deliver. Me and my room mates watched it for the first time on the fridge in our kitchen. We thought it was pretty funny. So did Mike and Spike. It ran in the Festival and in the "Sick & Twisted" show for 3 seasons. That summer, "Singing Ding-a-Lings" won a couple intercollegiate animation awards, one of which was the Television Academy's internship award where i worked as an intern at Film Roman. After graduation, I started my job there, and later Phil Roman got the Simpsons contract, and I've been drawing Homer and his family ever since! D'oh!!

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