George Berlin’s Art Blog

Delving into the mind of one of those weird artist people

Archive for July, 2009

“The Bee’s Knees” my next short animated film (part 14 of a bazillion)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 31, 2009

Onward, to more storyboards!

(like I showed ya here…)

bumblebee animation cartoons kids children licensing art funny George Berlin

Did I mention that the poor li’l bee gets smacked around a whole lot in this film?

This is just one of many times he flies into things.  But don’t worry- he’s just a cartoon. He doesn’t actually get hurt.

Most of this is good- although I think the windowsill is a bit low. I might have to have him fly up a bit after he leaves his flowery friends.

Oh yeah, and I think when I do the sound for this film the bee will be portrayed with a kazoo. So all that ‘happy mumbling’ will be with that.

Here’s another board:

bumblebee animation cartoons kids children licensing art funny George Berlin

This one is a bit confusing- I changed my mind a few times here and there, as you can see.

Start in the upper left, than go straight down, then across to the middle, then up to the upper right then down.

I scratched the middle frame on the top after I drew the one next to it, so things  got all messed up.

So in his dazed state we cut to him lying on his back. I’m still debating if he should have little bumblebees or little flowers orbiting around his head when he’s dazed, but that’s splitting hairs

at this point…

I may even show him on his back (lower left) THEN go to the upper right and THEN to that little one-two face in the middle on the bottom, too. I’ll play with it when I do a rough video version of this shortly.

Basically, he sees the flower on the windowsill and does a ‘huh?’ either before or after it lying on his back.

Then he pops up really quick and looks abit and blinks while he tries to figure out what he’s looking at.

Next time- flowery romance!

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“The Bee’s Knees” my next short animated film (part 13 of a bazillion)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 30, 2009

So, I unveiled the first page of storyboards here…

I know, I know… you’re all still bristling with excitement from getting to see them.

But, cruel man that I am, I’m subjecting you to EVEN MORE before you’ve gotten over the thrill of seeing the first page! Muhahaha!

Page Two:

animation art childrens kids funny cartoons bumblebee licensing George Berlin

Look! I made a huge change to the story!

See all those scribbles? Stuff I threw out!

Originally, my idea was that the flower he meets later in the story is the best-smelling flower EVER. Him being a bee, I figured that would be why he likes her so much.

So, he’d meet these first few flowers and, of course, they’d smell nice but just not good enough. He’s a picky guy, you know.

But then I thought, hmm, that might be confusing to the kiddies. And this is supposed to be a very ‘upbeat’ story so I wanted to leave that seemingly negative response out.

So I just made him a happy friendly guy who likes to go around saying hello to all the flowers and they all really like him and stuff.

Sort of setting up that he likes his women to smell nice.


So he meets a flower and gives her a good sniff and then bobs back and forth happily before zipping off,  leaving her all giggly to go say hello to some more flowers along the way.

I think it’s funny that the flowers are all so coy, sort of a funny 50’s “Leave it to Beaver” girlie-girl throwback.

I gave the guy who lives in the house a 50’s car, so maybe it’s some sort of idyllic anachronistic thing going on here. The bee is supposed to be kind of a kid, too. So maybe it’s just

shy young’uns.

These first few shots are my view of how a bee’s day goes, I guess. Fly around, go sniff your favorite flowers, etc.

What do you think so far?

Tomorrow- page 3!

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“The Bee’s Knees” my next short animated film (part 12 of a bazillion)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 29, 2009

You will very shortly see why I’ve titled these posts “…part X of a bazillion”


I just scanned the first 11 pages of  35 pages worth of storyboards for this film!!

(you don’t get to the see the ending, cuz it’s a sur-prise!)

Here’s my previous post about this film…

Now here’s the first page of storyboards!

Animation art concept production kids bumblebee childrens cartoon funny George Berlin film

So here’s where our story begins.

A little house by the road in the hills next to a tree with a little beehive hanging on it which is where the bee lives.

I wanted to focus on showing the setting here because- due to the bee’s scale- we really won’t see the house again for a few more minutes.

He’s so tiny, even the wide shots have to be really close to him! So when we’re focusing later on him and his darlin’ the flower, we don’t really see the house (even though they’re right

on the windowsill of it! Even some of the ‘wide scenes’ later on, I have to stay really close to him or he’s just a speck!

That, and this is a good spot to put on some ‘country’ sounds of birds tweeting and pleasant music, etc.

As soon as we start following the bee, however, we switch to sort of ‘bouncy’ music as he happily

bops along and says ‘Hi’ to all of his friends in the fields.

Until this, I’ve had the whole story in my brain. And my brain was getting full!!

I worked out a bit of the production pipeline a while back, so I figured it’d be a good time to lay-out the story and get a sense of what I’m in for.

Turns out there’s about 200 or so shots to this film (!) Sounds like a lot, right?

It’ll only be somewhere shy of 10 minutes in my guesstimation. But still, I can only draw maybe half a minute’s worth in a good day (maybe more- depends on how much is happening in a shot).

That’s just the actual drawing- I have to take a while to think out each  shot, set-up the background, figure out the music and sound effects and color it all, too.

So this’ll take a while. But it’ll be worth it!

On a side note, this is the most organized of the storyboard pages you’ll see. I always find that, as I go along, they get crazier and looser  with wacky notes all over and I go from 8 panels per page down to 6 as I get more excited about the story.

Next time, page 2!

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Outer Space Collection (part 1!)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 28, 2009

A shorty this time… I’ve actually got a slew of work to show you starting tomorrow- so hang on!

It’s a-coming!

I showed a couple of pieces from the Outer Space Collection back here…

Here’s my finished version of… The Space Shuttle!

Space shuttle animation art kids childrens cartoon funny licensing George Berlin

First, allow me to say- you have no idea how happy this drawing makes me!

I had moon landing photos all over my room as a kid. I even wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to drive that moon buggy, in particular.

And I was a huge fan of the Space Shuttle. It was so cool- c’mon it was an airplane AND  a space ship!

How awesome is that?

So I really like doing this drawing.

Following on the heels of the Flight Collection, I’m going back to all the fun stuff that delighted me as a kid.

Trains, dump trucks, jets, spaceships, dinosaurs– hey!- my job is almost as cool as being an astronaut!!


My only concern is that this space shuttle isn’t as cute as say, the airplane which has that stumpy look to it. I may re-design it to be more teeny.

I’ll see.

Posted in About me, Art Licensing, Finished Art | 5 Comments »

Flight Collection (part 2!)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 24, 2009

Way back here…

I showed some of the scribbly beginnings of the Flight Collection.

Well, here’s some colored versions!

Balloon airplane cartoon animation kids art childrens licensing George Berlin cute

It’s the Olde Tyme hot air balloon!

Crazy, right? Well I guess this comes from two things. First, I think reading “Around the World in 80 Days” as a kid had some effect on me.

And probably the biggest thing is that I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico- home of the world’s largest Balloon Fiesta! We used to see 500 balloons just floating around while we were riding the bus

to school in the morning each October.So we have the balloons represented.

I like this balloon- it’s simple and the colors make it look like a big floating beach ball. And the flag on top gives it that 1800’s feel to it- the whole ‘spirit of adventure’ thing.

On to some faster means of air travel- the jet!

jet airplane fighter f 16 cartoon animation kids funny flying childrens licensing George Berlin

I like this little jet plane! It feels like a real plane, yet it’s somehow very short and stumpy.

That and it can’t be a real jet without FIRE shooting out the back of it, right?

I’m hoping the red star on the side isn’t the military logo of some evil country. I’m not much of a military buff…

The little needle on the nose is one of my favorite parts- I visited an aerospace museum in Utah with my girlie and was amazed at how long some of those can be!

Apparently, they’re for measuring air speed and pressure and fancy sci-un-tifical stuff like that.

These two will be together with the chopper from the Police and Fire Rescue Force and the prop plane from this dog painting of mine.

Along with a few Air Force group type insignias and maybe some clouds and stuff.

Whaddya think?

Posted in Art in Progress, Art Licensing, Finished Art | 2 Comments »

“The Bee’s Knees” my next short animated film (part 11 of a bazillion)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 23, 2009

We had a few squiggles here…

and some actual animation here!

Now, more squiggles!

bumblebees animation cartoon art kids children funny licensing film George Berlin

I showed a little ‘road plan’ last time- here’s more of that. I want it all to be kind of Seussical if you will. All windy and twisty, but fun.

Very inspired by, of all things, a trip I took to Pittsburgh which is all hills and tunnels and stuff built on cliffs with roads going way up and in between for no

particular reason.

Here’ some chasing bee drawings:

bumblebees animation cartoon art kids children funny licensing film George Berlin

I wanted to work a bit on how he’ll look from the front, all determined but not mad necessarily. Somebody’s got his girl, you know!

That and his little ‘snoot’ on the end of his nose needs special attention so he doesn’t look like an elephant or an ant-eater. I think all three of these doodles work.

Here’s some more chase drawings:

bumblebees animation cartoon art kids children funny licensing film George Berlin

I wanted to work out a bit of how he’ll look from the side, more near the start of the chase, with that stretched-out because he’s flying as

fast as he ever has sort of look. And of course, the happy-go-lucky guy just bopping along in his car completely unaware of the fact

that he’s shattered some little bee’s love life!

Last one!

bumblebees animation cartoon art kids children funny licensing film George Berlin

Poor little bee! I put him through the emotional wringer in this film! Quick plot summary- the guy takes his little flower girlfriend off the windowsill where the bee was serenading her. He’s too busy

singing to notice she’s gone until he hears the window slam shut!

So he cries his little bee eyes out! And then suddenly snaps his head up when he hears the guy taking her to the car.

And the chase is on!

I just wanted to work out the angle on this shot.

I’ll be storyboarding the whole thing, shortly. Like I said, the method I’ll be animating this with affects how I’ll frame some of the shots so I wanted to work that out some.

Until next time…

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“The Bee’s Knees” my next short animated film (part 10 of a bazillion)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 22, 2009

Back on the animation train!


Last time… some animation!!

Today, some more squiggles:

bumblebees art childrens cartoons animation kids funny licensing George Berlin

I’m trying to work out some of the action for this one scene where the bumblebee chases the car up a hill, then down, then into a tunnel

(where a truck comes out!) You can see the little bee in the top picture.

Also, just some general sense of how the road goes from one hill to another, in the bottom of that drawing.

Here’s going down the hill:

bumblebees art childrens cartoons animation kids funny licensing George Berlin

I think that little boat to the right is inspired by this Curious George story I read as a kid where he’s supposed to deliver newspapers, but makes boats out of them and floats them down the river

instead! I really do want the boats to look pretty toy-like for this film.

I’m trying to get a feel for how all the details are going to be handled in this drawing, too. Angles of the water from the top of a hill, how much light we’ll see in the tunnel and so on.

Here’s a little ‘thumbnail’ storyboard of this action sequence. Since I’m doing this hand-drawn, I wanted to work out how I’m going to cut from this first shot (going up) to the second shot going down without a seamless camera move. Although maybe I’ll animate the move with drawings of the background, who knows?

bumblebees art childrens cartoons animation kids funny licensing George Berlin

So, the bee chases but lags a bit behind entering the tunnel. Just long enough, apparently, for the car to exit the other side and

a big ol’ truck to come out this side!

I’m thinking maybe the bee will do that little loop-de-loop  I’ve drawn (but maybe towards the left instead of the right)

and go under the bridge to come face to face with that boat going by before he loops around the hill to continue the chase.

I want the bee to be very dizzy and disoriented by the end of this whole thing. He’s supposed to be really exasperated and broken at the end so he can have

a happy ending afterwards (no spoilers, though!)

Until next time…

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“The Bee’s Knees” my next short animated film (part 9 of a bazillion)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 21, 2009

So, we fired up the ol’ short film-making machine again…

I showed you a little ‘exploratory’ drawing last time.

Today, I’ve got another drawing and some rough animation!


First, the drawing:

Bumblebee animation concept art kids childrens licensing design childrens George Berlin

I think  I’ve made a very similar drawing to this one a while back- but the purpose of it was different. Last time, I was designing some of the look and action. Here, I’m working out how I’m going to make it all work.

My two main concerns: what animation technique will work best for the action and look I’m going for and can I animate it well enough in that particular style to do it justice?

I was a  bit concerned about whether or not I could draw the car going around that corner well enough- it’s a bit of a complicated vehicle. That, and well… how much movement can I get out of

the background as we’re following the car while staying true to how I see this film looking? This might work as a static shot, but it’s a very kinetic part of the film- it should feel zippy and fun and moving here.

I was still debating whether or not to do it in 3D or not at this point. It would afford a lot more movement, but I was worried about the look. The jury is still out on whether I want to do the background flat-colored or with some sort of pastel-y kid-like texture.

Not a big deal at this point.

So, I made this little test here to figure out how well I could do the animation if I do it hand-drawn, as well as how the layers of hills and camera movement would work. Stuff like- how much can I move the hills as the camera follows the car, what goes in front of what, and so on.

What do you think? I’m leaning pretty heavily towards doing this hand-drawn now.

I think 3D would lose a lot of the charm of it, personally. That and some of the 3D tests I did lead me to discover that many of the things that are easy in 2D are a big pain in 3D.

Perfect example- the layering of the hills. In 3D, I have to make some sort of topographical sense in terms of having basically half-spherical hills lining up perfectly with the curvature of the sides of the road.

In 2D- ha! No problemo!

That and, dernit, the animation of the car going around the road is just so much more fun to watch in 2D!

I’ve been very worried that the 3D look would just distract from the animation, too.

What do you all think? Next time, more animation exploration of some other scenes in the chase…

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“The Bee’s Knees” my next short animated film (part 8 of a bazillion)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 20, 2009

Look! It’s back!!

I’ve been working on my next short film again!

What can I say- I’ve been to DC to watch a screening there, and someone from an independent theater in Boston got in touch with me the next day to see if I’d like to show it there.

So I got short films on the brain.

This was my last post…

Here’ some new doodles!

bumblebee animation kids childrens art licensing cartoons film George Berlin

I’ve been trying lately to figure out how I’m going to animate this. Hmm.

The story is actually pretty solid in my mind, so really it’s a technical/creative toss-up at this point.

Sort of a battle between what’s the easiest way to do what I want to do VS. what’s the best way to do my creative vision justice.

So some of the images you’ll see here are reference drawings for production, yes- but they’re also something I’m drawing to figure things out.

Like, is it going to work to have all these hills and the car going through tunnels during the chases scenes? Will this film work better in 3d than drawn by hand?

I’ve been worrying a bit about how doing it in 3d might sacrifice some of the look I’m going for. And, to be honest, it’s much easier for me to realize some of the funny stuff drawn traditionally. I could

do it in 3D- it would just take a lot longer as only one guy.

That, and there’s funny little details in this picture- like the fuzzy grass ‘stubble’ on top of the hills- that might be weird in 3D. I only want to see the stubble on the TOP of a hill, not on its surface. That’s something that’s easy to draw, but weird to figure out in 3D.

I did kind of work out how the rivers in the scene will flow around the hills. Traditional animation is kind of weird- you have to think in ‘layers’ but flat layers. So I have to think, okay…all the hills on this side of the river have to be ‘on top’ of the river itself…but there’s that weird part where the rivers curves around on the right where it goes ‘behind’ the hill it was just on top of earlier.

A lot of head-scratching. Some of these drawings I make and then just sit there and look at really hard for a long time and try to dissect what I’m going to do when it comes time to animate this.

I also noticed that the multi-colored patterned hills look sort of like someone stacked up a bunch of colored Easter eggs.


And I got to thinking about how the landscape fits in with the story, too.

Basically, it’s the tale of this little bee who meets the flower (girl) of his dreams and she gets taken away from him. And so he’s chasing this car which he just can’t catch, really- I’m sure bees can’t fly that fast. All the while through this crazy curvy-hilled world, with tunnels and bridges and lots of cars and trucks and he gets turned around and disoriented and lost and blown all over.

So the world he’s in is kind of a metaphor of all the things that stand in the way of something you want and how sometimes it seems like you’re just, well, a little bee chasing a car down a crazy road.

I’m sure we’ve all been there.

Next time-some animation!

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Work Stuff (Degas continues)

Posted by eyeofthehurricane99 on July 17, 2009

First off, I had me a nice little trip  over the last week to Washington where my short “Lullaby” was playing in a kid’s film program

at the National Gallery of Art.

Fancy, right? It was very cool to see all the little young’uns enjoying my work.

Okay, now back to the stuff they pay me to do so I can go traveling the world meeting little kids who like my cartoons…

Here’s the second to the last time we see Degas in the ballet, just before the ending.

Well, it’s not the scene right before it- just the one in the ballet right before it. If you’ll recall from these posts earlier…

Work Stuff (other Degas animation)

the video begins with Degas in the ballet painting away even though the production is about to start.

He talks about his life and we cut to photos of his paintings and other animated events in his life, but we always come back to him narrating in  the ballet.

Here the ballet concertmaster, Emile, comes in with intentions of telling him he has to leave. But Degas is a bit too raving mad for Emile to get up the nerve to say anything.

More later!

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