Sep 132014

Today at 9PM Pacific, tune in to Krypton Radio to hear veteran animation director Christopher Dante Romano speak with us about his new short subject, MONSTRO!.

Written and directed by Christopher Romano, MONSTRO! is a 10 minute, computer animated film starring Pili Montilla. The film was created using the advanced visual effects software called Houdini. Rigging and animation; hair, cloth, water, and smoke, lighting and rendering were all done in Houdini. In fact, every shot was rendered using Houdini Mantra in one pass, with depth of field and motion blur calculated at render time. All with a small crew that never numbered more than 3 animators at any moment.

Romano studied painting in school, but fell into the emerging world of computer animation shortly after graduation. He worked on The Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men 2, Serenity, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Tron:Legacy,  and many other films as animator, lighter and FX artist.  His first independent films appeared on MTV’s Cartoon Sushi, on retail video, and in multiple film festivals. As a commercial director at DUCK, his anime-style spot KCRW Timebomb grabbed the attention of development executives. When looking to create MONSTRO!, Romano turned to Side Effects and Houdini to help facilitate his vision.

“I wanted to create a film with an adorable, stop motion feel. Something that looked smaller in scale and felt nostalgic. Very tilt-shift. And I wanted the production to be top notch. Using Houdini was a no brainer,” says Romano. “I’m very familiar with Houdini’s tools and procedural workflow. Once the edit came together, I knew I could easily keep adding more – more cloth, more hair, more water and more smoke. I could do whatever I wanted.”

Watch the trailer.  MONSTRO! is a sort of love letter to cheesy sci-fi of the 1950’s as well as stop motion animated classics like Mad Monster Party.  It’s is a love story of monstrous proportions.


Oh yeah, Chris.  I went there.


Monstro has already one a cluster of awards in animation film festivals, and is making appearances in more festivals and at major pop culture conventions all over the country.  Digital distribution is planned.

Susan Fox and Gene Turnbow host.

Chris Romano runs an animation company called Toonlet Animation:

If you miss tonight’s broadcast, it airs again on Sunday at 4PM Pacific, and at additional times throughout the week.  See our What’s On When schedule page for details.

The Event Horizon – it’s Sci-Fi for your Wifi.

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Aug 252014


Tim Burtonby Hannah Carter, contributing writer

Tim Burton, director, producer, artist, writer, and poet, turns 56 today. The California native was born in Burbank in 1958. He attended Burbank High School and went on to California Institute of the Arts, where he studied character animation.

Burton started making stop motion films at a relatively young age. One of his oldest known films is The Island of Doctor Agor, which he made when he was only 13. He continued making short films into his college years, including Stalk of the Celery Monster and King and Octopus.

Burton has created countless original characters in his drawings, paintings, poems, stories, shorts, and full-length films. He has also re-imagined such beloved classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland.

A popular theory among Burton fans

A popular theory among Burton fans

In the 1980s, Burton decided to tackle the film adaptation of the Batman comics. He directed both Batman (released in 1989) and Batman Returns (released in 1992). The original script Burton got for Batman was more akin to the campy 1960s television series than he cared for. He wanted to add depth and gravitas to Batman’s story, giving Bruce Wayne a more psychologically complex character. This opened the door for the complexity and darkness woven into Bruce Wayne’s personality in the Batman Begins franchise, qualities that many fans have come to love even more than the silly antics in the original television series.

Tim Burton’s ability to flawlessly blend the macabre, the melancholy, and the gruesome with beauty, love, and laughter has made him world famous. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art dedicated an exhibition hall, outdoor space, and an entire gift shop to Burton’s art, stories, characters, and movies (pictures in the slideshow below). There is an endless supply of groups, websites, fan art, fan fiction, fan-made characters, and cosplay guides dedicated to Tim Burton’s characters, from the well-known to the more obscure. There are even fan theories about the characters in Burton’s stop-motion films. One in particular is that Frankenweenie (2012), Corpse Bride (2005), and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) are all one story.  This lines up with a quote from Tim Burton himself: “Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not necessarily in that order.”

We at Krypton Radio wish Tim Burton a very happy birthday and many more years of fantastic creativity to come!

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Jul 252014
Bill Plimpton discusses his current work, 'Cheatin' at a panel at Comic Con 2014. Photo by Zoe Simsay.

Bill Plimpton discusses his current work, ‘Cheatin’ at a panel at Comic Con 2014. Photo by Zoe Simsay.

by Aly Runke, contributing writer

Krypton radio DJ, Willow Leafstorm has been able to catch some amazing interviews this weekend at SDCC, including animator Bill Plympton on Thursday afternoon. Plympton is a big advocate for breaking animation out of being a exclusively a kid’s genre.

He was born in Portland Oregon on April 30, 1946. He blames the rainy weather of his hometown for helping to nourish his love of drawing. Early in his career, his cartoons were featured in magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, Vogue, Rolling Stones, Vanity Fair, and he even did his own political cartoon for a few year, published countrywide. Despite success in the illustrating field Plympton always wanted to be an animator and had such heroes as Walt Disney. He worked on the animated film Boomtown first but, he told Leafstorm, it was his film Your Face that made him “able to quit print…[and] go full time into animation.” Your Face even got an Oscar Nomination.

Plympton also spoke with Leafstorm about his new film, Cheatin, which comes out in L.A. on August 15, 2014. Plympton says it will be a dark, almost noir, romantic animated feature, a “typical Bill Plympton film,” he adds good-naturedly. Cheatin will premiere at the Downtown L.A. Independent Cinema and everyone who attends will get the chance to have Plympton draw them a quick sketch so go quickly and mark your calendars. Plympton also expects that Cheatin “will break the stereotype that animation is only for kids.”

This seems to be a campaign in which Plympton has much at stake. He is one animator fighting to show distributors that not every animated feature needs to be targeted at children, and he gets offended when distributors are offended by his films. He tells Leafstorm with a tired and exasperated tone, “I loved animation when I was a kid, why can’t I love animation as an adult and see adult ideas, adult topics, adult passion portrayed in animation? And that ‘s what I want to do with Cheatin.”

Cheatin isn’t his only project; Plympton has also started work on a film called Revengeance with Jim Lujan. He didn’t reveal much but he did say that the characterization was finished and that he would be working on storyboards and animating soon.

After hearing about Plympton’s work on Cheatin, it’s obvious that he is a very passionate man who loves his work and Leafstorm delved deeper into this love. What other films or cartoons does he love? Plympton listed off several movies, including some our younger generation will be familiar with: Tangled, How to Train your Dragon, Dumbo, and SpongeBob Squarepants, as well as some more projects geared toward adults, such as Yellow Submarine and Archer. These are pretty big compliments from a guy who has worked on 40 animated projects and three live feature films, as well as 14 episodes of America’s much-loved show, The Simpsons.

Of course after learning more about what Plympton was working on and about his favorites, Leafstorm asked about his animation process. Plympton said that he tends to be able to work on animation rather quickly, getting five to six shots done in a day. That adds up to about a minute of animation completed in a week, which seems insane to most of us. At the end of the day, animation is a time-consuming art, whether it’s done digitally or with pencil and paper. As to Plympton’s animation preferences, he says he’s done it all. He started with pencil and then dabbled a bit form there. His favorite method is more old-fashioned, right where he started with pencil and paper.

The animated feature, The Tune, was Plympton’s first full-length feature, but which is his favorite? Plympton said that working on Cheatin was fun and exciting but his favorite was I Married a Stranger, which came out in 1997. In all seriousness, he told Leafstorm that I Married a Stranger was his favorite for three reasons: “It’s very bizarre and violent and [has] lots of sex.” It would seem that I Married a Stranger goes right up there with Plympton’s other films made to break the animation is for children mold.

Plympton ended by saying he hopes to see everyone at the viewing of Cheatin, and he’s ready for a full weekend at San Diego Comic-Con.

What do you think about animated film and television built around adult themes? Sound off in comments or on our Facebook page!


Jul 162014

by Michael Brown, staff writer JUL120594_1Marvel Comics and parent company Disney have released the first full-length trailer for their first collaborative animated film, Big Hero 6. The Marvel comic-turned-film takes place in the fictional city of San Fransokyo, and centers around a young robotics prodigy named Hiro Hamada and his robot Baymax who stumble onto a criminal plot, and assemble a team of fledgling crimefighters, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, GoGo Tomago, and Fred, to help thwart the criminals. The film, which will be Disney’s 54th animated film, will be the first to feature Marvel characters since Disney’s acquisition of Marvel back in 2009. Big Hero 6 will be produced entirely under the banner of Walt Disney Animation Studios, but will employ a number of Marvel Comics staffers for creative assistance, including Joe Quesada, Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer.

“The relationship between Hiro and his robot has a very Disney flavor to it…but it’s combined with these Marvel heroic arcs.” Quesada said.

Marvel and Disney agreed to keep Big Hero 6 out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which contains The Avengers, the Iron Man trilogy, Thor, and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, and set it in their own stand-alone universe. In the original Marvel comic, written by veteran X-Men writer Chris Claremont, both Sunfire and Silver Samurai were members of the team, but will not be featured in the film due to Marvel’s contract with Fox Studios, which gives Fox the rights to those characters.

A new, serialized, manga version of Big Hero 6 will be published by Kodansha’s Magazine Special beginning August 10, 2014, with a prologue to be published in Weekly Shonen Magazine August 6. The new series will mark the first time a Disney movie’s story is previewed before its release. Kodansha also publishes the manga version of the award-winning Knights of Sidonia, which is now an anime series on Netflix.

The cast will include Damon Wayans, Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell, and Alan Tudyk. Big Hero 6 will hit theaters November 7, 2014.

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Jul 032014
You often read about how the software used by the visual effects industry has gotten so cheap and so ubiquitous that people can do it at home on their desktop computers.  What most people don’t realize is that desktop computers are precisely what the motion picture industry has been using to do these effects for more than 30 years now, starting very famously with the J. Michael Straczynksi television series Babylon 5, which did all of its visual effects using Lightwave 3D running on computers no more glamorous than a 486.  In the beginning, they weren’t even doing this on Pentium class machines, and those are so ancient now that most users don’t even know what they were.

Today’s offering has resurfaced since the first piece of it made its debut five years ago.  The producers at IGN filled out some more of it and it got posted a year ago, and now it’s making the rounds again – but we’re betting it’s the first time you’ve seen it.  This is too cool and too well done not to spend the two minutes to look at.

From a visual effects standpoint, this is nearly flawless.  Only one or two effects ring hollow, mostly having to do with transporter effects and whales in San Francisco Bay, and one particular explosion at the end fell a bit flat.  However, the quality is certainly well within the boundaries one would expect from a major theatrical motion picture, and the tracking, matchmoving, compositing and lighting on the models inserted into the scenes is as good as you’ll ever, ever see.

Unfortunately, information on exactly who did all this work is a bit on the thin side, which, given the magnitude of the achievement, we find very surprising.

We know that this is a work of fiction though.  Seriously.  The White House turned down the idea of building a real Deathstar, so there won’t be one to blast the Enterprise into smithereens.

We loved watching this.  We know you will too.


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Jun 112014

The Legend of Korra: Book 3 Official Trailer

If you’re like us you’ve been waiting a long time for this.  Nickolodeon Studios has just released the new official trailer for The Legend of Korra: Book 3.  

Book 3 is entitled Changes. From this trailer it looks like there are going to be a lot of them.

There isn’t any dialog in this trailer, but are surprises if you watch for them.  There are new characters, but familiar faces too.  There are excursions into the Spirit world, and strange new creatures in the Physical world.  There are beautiful cities of what looks like glass or metal, and in one quick shot we see Cousin Bumi doing what looks to us like air bending.  There is another shot of Korra doing what is very definitely metal bending, and we think we spotted Zuko!

It’s been agonizing, waiting for the third season to arrive, but this summer it finally will.  We expect the actual air date to be announced at San Diego Comic-Con this July.

The Nickolodeon animated series originally debuted in 2012, and became the most watched animated cable television series of all time. It was created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino as a sequel to their series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008.  The role of Korra is voiced by Janet Varney.

Watch and be amazed.

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