Monday, December 17, 2012

Ruby's Studio: Friendship

All aboard the Friend Ship! Here's another project I animated on recently. This one is really fun and charming. It's part of Ruby's Studio, a series of videos produced by The Mother Company that's about the emotional education of kids.
The animation is downshooter animation with dimensional puppets shot on flat glass. I really like the look of it. Melissa Bloom and Maria Sequeira did an excellent job with puppet fabrication. My buddy Musa Brooker directed. The talented Jay Kim also animated.

While the animation I worked on is just a small part of the video, I'm happy to have been part of a project with such a positive message.

Cut ahead to the 1:03 mark in the video to see a quick glimpse of the stuff I worked on!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Discovery Communications: Holiday Card 2012

Following up on my Holiday Card from last year, Discovery Creative hired me to do a new one for 2012. This year, I pitched them the idea of a cuckoo clock, each door opening to reveal a different icon that represents one of the channels that Discovery owns. Some of the channels represented are Discovery Channel, TLC, OWN, Science Channel, Animal Planet, Velocity, and Investigation Discovery. There's a lot to look at in this, so it may take multiple viewings!

Including the pendulum, the clock ended up being five feet tall! The small crew who worked on this did an incredible job. The clock was built in eight days and the animation was lit and shot in five.

Director/Animator: Pete Levin
Production Designer/Builder: Emily Franz
Director of Photography: Helder K. Sun
Builder: Meaghan Ross
Painter: Alicia Ellsworth
2nd Unit DP: Noah Dille
Assistant Animator: Jeremy Fisher
Lighting Assistant: Warren Sheetz
Lighting Assistant: Jenn Harrington
Visual Effects Artist: Nick Willard
Shot on Location in Burbank, CA at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios

December Catch-Up: Spy vs. Spy on Mad - Season 3

A big chunk of this year was spent animating Spy vs. Spy for Cartoon Network's Mad. Last year, I got to animate 10 of the Spy vs. Spy shorts for the 26-episode second season of Mad. For season three, I would be venturing into a world in which I was completely submerged in Spy vs. Spy, animating all 26 shorts for the 26 episodes of season three. In this season, the spies would go to space, have a movie premiere, fight with giant robots and monster apes, travel back in time, and become superheroes, among many, many other adventures.

It was a real honor to get a chance to help shape a part of the history of these iconic characters. I feel like I contributed a lot to the visual vocabulary that we're establishing for the stop motion spies. It's poppy, cartoony animation and by necessity, animation needs to be economic and easy-to-read to communicate everything in 30 seconds or less.

On top of animating 26 episodes, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios asked me to direct three of the episodes as well. It was a lot of fun to get out from my animation stage and work with the storyboard artist, set builders, puppet fabricators, costume designers, and visual effects artists to bring these to life.

Looks like someone on YouTube has edited together all the season three episodes. Hard to believe I animated almost all 12 minutes of this: Looking forward to animating and directing more Spy vs. Spy shorts with Stoopid Buddy in the new year!
In the United States, Mad currently airs on Cartoon Network on Mondays at 8:30pm, Thursdays at 8pm, and older episodes on Saturday at 1:30pm.

December Catch-Up: Dinosaur Office - Season 2

Continuing from my work on the first season of College Humor's Dinosaur office, I was happy to be back with Stoopid Buddy Stoodios to help animate the second season this year!
In the second season, the dinosaurs' world got bigger and the characters were fleshed out even more. I'm really digging the direction this series is going in and I love animating these characters. The voice performances are big and exaggerated, meaning as animators, we get to really take the dinosaurs to fun extremes with loose, crazy movements.

Here are the episodes that I got to be an animator on:
In order, they were directed by John Sumner, Trisha Gum, Alex Kamer, and Tennessee Reid Norton. Ashley Arechiga also animated on Team Building and Alfonso Estrada animated on Team Building and Halloween Spooktaka-rawr. Director of photography was Jeff Gardner.

Here's a photo of me animating the 27-second long shot from Guys' Night Out:
Photo on loan from the collection of John Sumner

December Catch-Up: The Story of Pines, a short film featuring the music of A Fine Frenzy

In April, I had the pleasure of working with director Musa Brooker on a short film, The Story of Pines. Musa and I have a long history of collaborating on projects; he acted as animation director on my Foo Fighters video.

The Story of Pines is written by Alison Sudol, featuring music from the album Pines by her alias, A Fine Frenzy. The film has a nice, gentle tone to it that's very different from a lot of the projects I tend to work on.

We shot the film with cut-out paper puppets on a downshooter rig. With the clever use of fabric, foil, and multi-plane shooting, there's a sense of depth that really gives it a unique look. I think it turned out beautifully.

Here's the finished film: And here's some behind-the-scenes footage: Note that even though the chyron in the first video says "Pete Levin," that's actually an appearance by the talented Matt Manning. Eh, I'll take the credit. :)

Here's a poster, featuring a shot from the film animated by me!

December Catch-Up: Triptank

Oh man, have I really not posted anything since August? Time for some catch-up.

Early this year, I got to be one of a handful of stop motion animators hired by Shadow Animation to work on the Comedy Central pilot, Triptank.
In October, the news came out that Comedy Central has greenlit this series for a season, starting in 2013. It's an animation anthology show, much in the same vein as MTV's Liquid Television. I haven't seen any of the other sketches, but the stop motion one I worked on ended up looking great. With talent like Larry David, Zach Galafianakis, and Bob Odenkirk attached to the pilot, I'm looking forward to seeing the whole thing.

Oh, and as a bonus, I got to animate to Billy West's voice! 13-year-old Pete would be freaking out.
Picture grabbed from this amazing blog.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Silence! The Musical

Sometimes old projects pop up again in fun ways. Somewhere near when I first moved to LA (2002?), my friend Paul lent me a CD for a bizarre parody musical of Silence of the Lambs, entitled "Silence!" I listened to it and it was a lot of fun. And that was the last I heard of it for a while.

But Los Angeles is a small town and projects will reappear in strange places. In 2008, six years later, I responded to an ad looking for a stop motion animator. It was the guys who had created Silence!, looking to move their project forward. They'd re-recorded the songs and wanted to get some cool visuals to go with it. Their idea was to make a Lego stop motion video recreation of a scene in Silence of the Lambs to accompany their original song, "Put the F---ing Lotion in the Basket".

Here it is: Despite being flagged for containing curse words (something that would keep it from reaching an even larger potential audience), people really seemed to go for this musical parody of an Academy Award winning thriller remade as Lego animation. Lots of websites linked to it, and the video even got some airtime on G4's Attack of the Show.

Four years later, I'm driving and I see a billboard. Silence! The Musical will have its Los Angeles premiere September 8th at the Hayworth Theatre. A few days later, I'm on my commute to work, listening to NPR and the creators, Jon and Al Kaplan are talking about the musical on Off Ramp.

Congrats to Jon and Al Kaplan on their success with the musical! They've put in a lot of hard work over the years, and it really shows.
BONUS VIDEO: Here's a John Williams Lego stop motion piece that I produced for them:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Orioles Productions honored for "Best Overall Video Display in Baseball" -- including my animation!!

Every time I'm able to head back to Baltimore and there's a baseball game in town, I try and catch it. (Recently, I was back for a four-day weekend, and hit games on both Saturday & Sunday, July 14th & 15th.) Every home game I've been too since 2010, they've shown some of my animation on the DiamondVision and every time I get that same giddy feeling that I've contributed something to O's history.

Overall, it seems like the Orioles have a really creative video production team, relying far less on advertisements and movie clips than most baseball stadiums. Glad to see Orioles Productions recognized for it!
Here's the press release from the Orioles:

Orioles Productions Department honored for "Best Overall Video Display in Baseball"

The Baltimore Orioles Productions department has been recognized by their peers in Major League Baseball as the “Best Overall Video Display In Baseball” at the annual Information Display Entertainment Association (IDEA) Conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota earlier this week. This marks the second time since the award was created in 2001 that the Orioles Productions staff has received the honor (2002).

Video content of all aspects of the in-game show were submitted and five finalists were voted on by the 20 other MLB teams in attendance. The Orioles’ five-minute submission included the Oriole Park welcome, music videos, moving headshots, crowd prompts, the Fact or Fiction, Andino at the Movies, Adam Jones Gives a Fan a Haircut and This or That segments and other graphic elements. The Andino at the Movies segment was also a finalist for “Best In-Game Feature,” competing against all professional and college sports teams in attendance.

“In addition to success on the field, the Orioles are committed to providing a first-class experience for fans from the moment they enter the gates of Oriole Park,” said Orioles Executive Vice President of Business Operations DOUG DUENNES. “We are proud that the talent and creativity of our productions team has been recognized as the industry leader for the quality of the entertainment they provide for fans of all ages.”

The IDEA Conference is a yearly event attended by all professional sports leagues, colleges and minor league teams to recognize excellence in video board presentation.

The Orioles productions team includes Director of Productions MIKE STASHIK; Manager of In-Game Entertainment BRYAN KRANDLE; Producer BEN EPSTEIN; Video Graphics Coordinator JOE KANE; Production Specialist JOHN TILLMANN; Coordinator of Game Entertainment HEATHER BRESSLER and Assistant Coordinator of Game Entertainment KAREN RIDDLE. A game staff of 30 is also instrumental in the gameday entertainment production.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

La Muff: Gold Lamé

It's not lame, it's lamé!

Amongst the fun animated projects I've gotten to be a part of lately, I directed this live action music video for my friend Monica Howe, a.k.a. LaMuff. It was a lot of fun to get back into directing live action again and stretch those muscles!

The all-star crew of this video helped create an ornate world for LaMuff through golden art direction/wardrobe/makeup, rad choreography, fun performances, not to mention her catchy tune that inspired it all.
Check out LaMuff's other songs, too. They're all really clever and will make you want to rock out in front of your computer.

Here's the video:
Director: Pete Levin
Producer: Andrew Ahn
Director of Photography: Aaron Meister
Art Director: Julianna "JP" Parr
Choreographer: Gregory Barnett
Editor: Ishai Setton

Cast: Monica Howe, Alex Barbatsis, Les Borsay, Sheila Carrasco, Alex Kenefick, Michael Loomis, Daniel Safarik, Jean Spinosa, Roger K. Stewart, J. Ryan Stradal

Flygirls: Natalya Oliver & Allison Karman
Dancers: Cricket Amy Russell, Rosalind Helfand, Erin Parks
B-boys: HiB, K-SK, Kyle, Miggz

Wardrobe: Charon Nogues
Face Painter: Justine Serebrin
Art Department: Shannon Dedman, Veronica LeBron, and Alex Kenefick
Hair Stylist: Hazel Hartman
Make-Up/Hair Stylist: Kourtney Kuroki

1st AD: Andrew Ahn
2nd AD: Marta da Costa
Key Grip: Armin Balg
GlideCam: Mac Fisken
Swing Grip: Alex Ojeda
Swing Grip: John J. Miller

Lead Post Production FX: Robbie Harrison
Additional Post Production FX: Nick Woythaler
Additional Post Production FX: Pete Levin
Titles: Patrick McGinley

Production Assistants: Kelly Martin, Kerri Fernsworth, Alex Kenefick, Meredith Curek

Music Produced by: Joshua Fielstra

Caterers: Fiesta Catering
Filmed on location at the 1642 Wine Bar and The Akbar in Los Angeles, CA.