I am a playwright, director, actor, producer, graphic designer and video production artist.
My stage script, The Antic in Romantic, received a finalist award for the 2006 Kaufmann and Hart Prize for New American Comedy, presented by the Arkansas Repertory Theater.
I received the Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Northwestern University, and has studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory in NYC, and improv from Second City in Chicago.
The Playwright using CrazyTalk Animator
Q: How did you come out the ideas of creating "Revel's Rivals"?
I have a lot of history and experience in live theater. I ran a theater company here in Cincinnati, OH from 1998-2003. We produced over 23 shows, and some of the scripts were things I had written. Another script I'd written was a finalist for the 2006 Kaufman & Hart Prize for New American Comedy. I also do a great deal of design and video, both freelance and full-time.
I have always favored producing my own work, and thought with the rise of the internet and online video, that animating my own scripts would give me a better chance of delivering my work to an audience. I would not have to 1) look for someone else to produce my work, and 2) would be able to present the shows to any audience, anywhere and anytime.
Most of my recent scripts have been comedies that are primarily based on the Italian classical form, commedia dell'arte - with a bit of a modern twist. These seem to be well suited for a more cartoonish, 2-dimensional style.
I had looked at a number of other software packages, but CrazyTalk Animator had good number of functions that made it pretty easy. I also thought it lent itself to a fun, slightly over-the-top comedic style of animation.
Q: How do you feel about using CrazyTalk Animator?
I really like using CrazyTalk Animator. I considered working with some of the 3D programs that are out there, and the render times were just too long, and to be honest, the near-realism that most animators are going for doesn't really serve the comic sensibility that I was looking to deliver. The other 2D programs had their own particular advantages, but CTA has some remarkable features the others didn't, which were essential to the comedic feel I wanted to create. These are:
1. The ability to puppeteer the eyes and facial expressions. Although I still feel that I am on the learning curve with this, I know that I was able to create some great reactions for each of the characters. Eye movement is key to making the characters come to life, and this is pretty easy in CrazyTalk Animator.
2. Lip-syncing to pre-recorded dialogue clips was also very important to me - and CTA allowed me to create longer sequences with audio attached to each of the characters. I would usually start each scene by placing the characters on the stage area, and then attach the dialogue clips in order. Within about 10-15 minutes, I would have what amounted to staged reading of the scene.
3. The ability to create and import my own characters and body elements. Although CTA comes with a nice selection of hand image files, I needed something more customized to create the classical feel of the characters gestures. I used the same character design application I mentioned earlier to create a special set of hand image files for both the male and female characters, and imported them into the application.
4. The ability to set and record camera moves was more liberating and inspirational than I had expected. I really wasn't planning to do very much of that in the beginning, but setting the keyframes in the timeline was so easy, and allowed me to create a sense of movement without having to change the location of the characters much at all. I think a lot of the verve that is in Revel's Rivals comes from the camera shifting back and forth among the characters.
If I had to mention a few things on my wish list, they would be (1) the ability to export to QuickTime files (since I work on the Mac) and (2) to have side-facing walk cycles for both right and left. The costumes I designed for the characters didn't always have symmetrical patterns, so having to create and import a standard and reverse versions slowed my workflow occasionally.
Creating Revel's Rivals was great fun, and I am definitely planning to develop and produce more films like this. Once I've got the next script together, I will be firing up CrazyTalk animator again to pull it together. Although Revel's Rivals took about eight months to finish, I know the next project will come together much more quickly, now that I have moved through the initial learning curve, and have my own set of best practices to rely on. I'd like to be able to premiere it in another four or five months.