Milwaukee Animation Group going to see Brave on July 7th

Taken directly from the Milwaukee Animation Group’s website:

On Saturday, July 7th the Milwaukee Animation Group will be gathering to see Pixar’s latest animation extravaganza: Brave.

We’ll meet at the Majestic Cinema between 1pm and 3pm (exact show time to be announced).

So, if you want to come with to see this movie, stop on by.

In unrelated news, I’ve updated the books section, plus added some more stuff to the portfolio.

Recap: Milwaukee Animation Group Show and Tell

Before I post my little recap, I want to point out that I’ve put up some new stuff under the portfolio section. Included with that is the cover and a sample page of a comic book I just got done making (the cover is featured above). Also, if you want to have a copy of this same book, feel free to contact me at

Last night, MAG had a Show and Tell where different animators and game developers showed off what they’ve been doing. They have these every once in a while as a way to create rapport with fellow animators in the area, and last night was no exception. Four people showed off their stuff, and while all of them were pretty good, the one who stole the show was the guy from Raven Software.

Raven Software is a game company based out of Madison as well as a subsidiary of Activision, and they are responsible for the DLC for the latest Call of Duty games, as well as creating the game Hexen and, more recently, Singularity. The stuff that the guy showed us was footage for a game that was never released, made about four years ago when he worked at EA and only recently had permission to show. I really wanted to show the little bit of animation I’ve done after he went, but it’s hard to follow an act like that. Here’s the guy’s portfolio for further reference of what I’m talking about.

After all was said and done, we went to a winery just down the street and I listened to all the interesting stories these guys have had in their fields. I also learned something that gamers and game magazines missed: next time anybody plays Medal of Honor: Airborne, pay attention to what the statues look like.

Review: “Miracle Mouse: Cranky’s Miracle” animatic

I want to put more content on the home page besides just updates on my portfolio and such, so I’m trying something else as well: brief recaps of art-related events I’ve attended.

Last Thursday, I attended a meeting of the Milwaukee Animation Group, and this last time they had a screening from a local man (Tom Hignite) who wanted to get into the animation business. The screening was an animatic to a future film called “Miracle Mouse: Cranky’s Miracle”, and the idea behind this screening was to get a critique on what has been done so far.

To begin, I’ll start with what was good about the animatic:

-The little bits of animation that were done so far were really good, but that should come as no surprise considering they were done by ex-Disney animators years ago.

-The story and message were clear and not jumbled about.

-The animatic felt more like a motion comic than any other animatic I’ve seen, which could make it marketable for the iPad market in case it needs more funding.

Now, there’s everything else: it was way too much of a ripoff of 90s Disney, for starters. Everything about it screamed Disney, and there were elements that were so close to plagiarizing Uncle Walt that I felt very uncomfortable watching it. The title cards struck me as something that would be in a Disney film like “Beauty and the Beast”, Miracle Studio’s (Hignite’s production outfit) title sequence was almost frame-for-frame like the opening Walt Disney castle sequence seen at the beginning of every Disney flick, there is a requisite song-and-dance musical number, even the title character looks like Mickey Mouse with a hard hat.

There was only one musical number so far (although Hignite said the final film will have more), but I can tell you that it was not very good. The voice actors that they got were okay for their speaking roles, but they sure can’t sing. What some animated movies do is they have someone different from the character’s VO sing the songs (case in point: Anne-Marie in “All Dogs go to Heaven”, for the one song she sings). That’s what should be done here. However, even if Hignite hires someone to sing the songs separately from the other VOs, it still doesn’t change that it was a bad song. I heard the word “miracle” so many times in it that I was expecting Insane Clown Posse to pop in and say “@&#$ing magnets, how do they work?” “Miracle” was the common word throughout the entire production (not just the song), and I was so sick of hearing it by the end of the 27 minute short.

My biggest problem with “Cranky’s Miracle”, though, was that the whole plot was extremely saccharine. It really was a film aimed toward a much younger audience, but there should have been something thrown in there to entertain the adults too. Part of what makes the greatest animated films so great is that they appeal to more than one demographic. Warner Brothers did this well with the Looney Tunes shorts, and Disney itself had the darker moments in films like “The Lion King” as well as the entirety of Pixar’s library. “Cranky’s Miracle” does not have that. The darkest moment took place during a storm sequence late in the film, and even then it seemed preachy about its message.

All in all, while the animation was nice, the film needs a lot of work before it can be shown on the big screen. If anything, it would be much smarter for Miracle Studios to develop it as a short film instead, as this film has been in production for over seven years and yet it’s still in an animatic stage. It needs to not only appeal to kids, but the parents of those same kids as well, otherwise critics will tune it out as kiddy pablum. Additionally, it really needs to gain its own style. Aping Disney’s style in animation as well as plot structure makes it too derivative, and could even get Miracle Studio’s in legal trouble, considering how protective Disney is of their copyright.

After the screening was finished, there was a brief survey as well as a Q&A. While I didn’t ask any questions, I did fill out the survey and pretty much made the exact same points that I made here (no parental bonus, too kiddy).