MIKE ROUSH / The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl / 5:16
I have always been fascinated by wildlife documentaries. As a kid I would take my mom’s camera and try and get as close to the neighborhood animals as I could. Most of the time this would mean long hours sitting motionless on the back deck with bird seed sprinkled on my lap and shoulders. I never got the shot I wanted, so when Chris and Shannon asked me if I wanted to make an animated film for Titmouse, I said yes before they finished asking.
Chris and Shannon Prynoski, Dik Pose, and I Line up a shot in the middle of nowhere. photo by Steve Kellener.
Early thumbnails of the burrowing owl.
“Owl” was animated in Flash. I used a technique where I would animate traditionally very rough, then I would take a second pass cleaning up symbols that I would be able to reuse later. Most of the final animation you see in “Owl” is puppeted symbol animation with hundreds of symbols and a different puppet for each shot. This way I could get the detail and animation quality I wanted.
The Flash break-down on one of the owl puppets. Lots of feathers!
One of my favorite parts of making this film was having to get out of the studio and go on location. I found an amazing place in central California called The Carrizo Plain using google maps. I spent the weekends driving all around taking pictures and exploring. Fun fact: The burrow used in the short was an actual owl burrow. On one of the days I was taking photos of the burrow one hissed at me from inside the burrow with it’s rattlesnake like call. It scared me nearly to death.
This is how I made all the “live action” backgrounds. I drew a storyboard of what I wanted and photo collaged lots of pictures together to make it look like what I drew. Unfortunately these places don’t exist in real life.
Whenever the owl had to touch the flower or fork, I took hundreds of photos, cut them out in photoshop and animated them. Fun.
On location I used a couple stand-in models to get the lighting right and a maquette when animating for inspiration.
I had a great time making this film and when I was done we were lucky enough to show it at festivals around the world. After 4 years the “Owl” showed at more than 40 festivals, in over 25 countries.
- Pen Ward (creator of Adventure Time) - Jim Mahfood (Tank Girl) - Peter Chung (Aeon Flux) - Jhonen Vasquez (creator of Invader Zim) - Chris Prynoski (Nerdland) - Antonio Canobbio (Metalocalypse, Motorcity…) - Dave Johnson (Marvel, DC Comics …) - David Nicolas (Lascars)
Nerdland is playing in a lot of theaters tonight as a fathom event thing. If you are planning on seeing it or for after you see it. Check out my review from back in March of Titmouse’s first feature film.
Why Anyone in the Voltron Fandom Should Watch Motorcity
This is a longshot on my part but consider it the attempt from a very sad and very salty individual. Motorcity is an action animated series that was created and directed by Chris Prynoski and produced by Titmouse Inc. It premiered
April 30, 2012 and ended on January 7th, 2013 due to Disney’s poor handling of the material and not seeming to care for the product.
Despite the mistakes on Disney’s part, the show itself is a glory of a piece and well worth any sort of watch even if it had only one season. It is a true crime that this show did not get the views and treatment it deserved due to Disney not seeming to understand what they had.
The show and VLD share some similarities that make it almost a guaranteed like by anyone in this fandom.
This show occurs in a fictitious futuristic Detroit, which is an elevated metropolis built over the old Detroit, classified as Detroit Deluxe. It is owned by evil billionaire Abraham Kane (Mark Hamill). Ruling the citizens under strict laws, and banning personal freedoms including automobile transportation, Kane now faces one last obstacle: a group of hot-rod wielding rebels who call themselves the Burners. Led by Mike Chilton (Reid Scott), the Burners rise to stop Kane from conquering Detroit’s last oasis of freedom—an underground refuge dubbed Motorcity.”
This show is basically Hot Wheels but with weapons in the cars and better characters. The story itself doesn’t seem like a new concept, a bunch of teens fighting an evil dictator. However, it’s done in such an interesting way that the trope itself does not matter. The story offers twists and turns and plenty of potential danger that could lead to the Burners losing their city or even their lives.
This story may have been done before in different ways but it’s done very well here.
Every character in this show is uniquely designed and given distinct personality and importance. The Burners themselves are a group that you grow to enjoy very easily and very quickly. Their camaraderie is obvious in everything they do and, even when there’s internal conflict and tension, it feels all the more genuine and you want to see them get through it.
At least two share similarities with a few of our Paladins.
Let’s start with the lead: Mike Chilton
Mike is a mixed race young man and the leader of the Burners. In an interesting turn of things, Mike used to be one of the Cadets in Deluxe. In fact, he was the best Cadet period and was favored by Kane, to the point that the man considered Mike to be like a son to him. The best way to describe Mike is to basically tell you that he’s a combination of these two:
Mike is reckless and tends to make light hearted humor about the situation but he knows when he needs to focus and when things need to be taken seriously. He cares immensely for his team and tries his best to make sure they feel validated and are essential to the group while also having fun with them. His past haunts and guilts him and is a strong point to his backstory. His relationship with Kane is a conflicting, betrayal filled one with both men despising someone they used to admire.
So today I got a package from Rice Lily that made me incredibly happy! I was (and am!) very excited about it because it contained AMAZING Motorcity/Titmouse merchandise!!
A year ago, me and Melly (Rice Lily) sent this package to Titmouse to show our support and appreciation for the amazing work these guys make, we filled it with fanart (from me, Hinokit and Rice Lily), candy, plushies and mainly lot’s of love.
What I didn’t know was that we would get some love back (I mean we already have awesome cartoons we don’t need anything else lol), and oh man is it great! Papa Chris was even nice enough to send me a framed autograph. <3
I love everything, I knew you guys were pretty cool because my partner in crime told me the amazing adventures she had while visiting the studio in San Diego, but I never expected you’d be this amazing. I am incredibly humbled that you’d even remember us after all this time.
Thank you Chris P., Mac, Ben, Dadward and everyone at Titmouse for the amazing gifts. I will cherish them forever!
Special thanks to Melly because she was awesome enough to mail everything to me, you rock girl! Words cannot describe how happy I am that you did this for me. <3333
PS: I will turn that amazing T-Shirt into a dress (I am way too short because nature is unfair) and frame the Motorcity poster! I also apologise that I cannot visit the studio personally, geography sucks… I wish I could though, I’d love to hand you my portfolio!! :D
Check it out guys, script coordinator Andrew Grissom found this cool UV Moonbeam City advert out in NYC! Supervising producer Shannon Prynoski brought me back a couple months after production on the series wrapped to gather these assets for the Comedy Central marketing department.
My monthly Penthouse page is out in print! Every month’s issue will feature a page of my important Titmouse meeting doodles. I had to submit this one 3 times. The first time was “not dirty enough” the second was “too offensive” and this one was “just right.”
One aspect of the “too offensive” part was calling out the gentleman featured in the comic as a convict and a truck driver (two of the largest demographics of the magazine.) Once the characters were not labelled as such, they come off kinda like hipsters. Neck tattoos and trucker caps are no longer the exclusive domain of prisoners and truckers!
By the way, the empty area in the upper left is where I thought they’d put the “graphic displays” header. Instead it was jammed in awkwardly on the right. I’ll try to fix that in upcoming issues…