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.