Friday, November 13, 2009

Abby's Flying Fairy School: "Sugar Plum Fairy Dancing Shoes"

Some Trivia, if you'd like... This fourth show to air, called Sugar Plum Fairy Dancing Shoes, was actually the second show in production at Speakeasy FX. This was the first show in which the animators used extensive video reference to help us convey some kickin' dance moves!

My work on this episode, which aired today:

  • (EP002SH011) Mrs. Sparklenose
    "[All right class, is everyone ready to] shake their groove things? Wait a minute, where's Gonnigan?"
    A lot of people say she looks like a mosquito. But have you ever seen a mosquito with these moves? ;)

  • (EP002SH013) Gonnigan, Abby, Mrs. Sparklenose
    "Sorry. I won't dance. Don't ask me."
    I had a really fun time getting Abby to do a little bit of Maniac / Flashdance here. If you watch the music video, I took my inspiration from the part that comes right after the famous part, where the girl pulls the chain and the water cascades down on her (around 3:24 into the full version 6:27 song, but about 3:54 in this YouTube link).

  • (EP002SH014) Mrs. Sparklenose, Dancing Shoes
    "I think I have something that may help you, Gonnigan. Sugar Plum Fairy.."

  • (EP002SH015) Mrs. Sparklenose, Abby, Gonnigan, Dancing Shoes
    "..Dancing Shoes! Made especially by the Sugar Plum Fairy, to teach dancing!"
    These last two shots appear one right after the other. Mrs. Sparklenose's line is cut right in the middle of the sentence. This was a conscious, frequent directoral decision to keep dialogue and action continuing through the cut.

  • (EP002SH017) Mrs. Sparklenose, Abby, Gonnigan, Blogg
    "[It's almost] Recital time! Your parents should be here any minute now!"
    As animators, we enjoyed a LOT of freedom with acting choices while working for Sesame Workshop. We had to use the composition and general idea behind the storyboard panels, but for example, in this shot, my only direction was to get Abby and Blogg offscreen before the next shot - so it was fun to be able to make the choice to have Blogg poke Abby before flying away with her offscreen.

  • (EP002SH035) Abby, Gonnigan, Dancing Shoes, Lunchbox
    "Tippety Tappety Prippety Prance. Make those two feet start to..." - "The shoes!" - "DANCE!"
    All I can say here is... Daaance! ;)

  • (EP002SH069) Mrs. Sparklenose, Gonnigan
    "That's because you don't need them. You already danced." - "Huh?"
    You may notice that I only claim the first four seconds of this shot. You see, because the camera angle for the next shot was so similar to this one, it was later decided that the two shots should be merged together, keeping my original camera angle and animation. When two shots merge like this into a single animation file, it can be very complicated on a technical level, since you have to match exactly all the character controls in the last frame of the first shot perfectly with the first frame of the following shot. This process became known as Frankensteining, and thankfully was only used seldomly during the creation of these episodes.

  • PS - I haven't heard yet whether our next show will air on Monday, or if they will re-run these past four, for a while. I'll try to keep you posted. Be on the lookout for a new episode when Blogg steps up to the challenge in a magical new outfit, fit for a prince, you might say...

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