Thursday, August 01, 2013

Triceratops Pancakes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

happy birthday, sean.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rivers Cuomo is cool.






















Back in 2008, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo created a project on Youtube called "Let's Write a Sawng" which was a collaborative song-writing process with fans.  Back then I posted about my involvement
here.

Not long after that post, the entire project went into "chill" mode and we never really got an update.  We were told it might be put on an upcoming Weezer album, but that was it.

A few months ago I received a message through Facebook from someone named Sarah C. Kim with this email:

Hi Ryan,


I'm trying to get in touch with Ryan Wiesbrock regarding his contribution to Rivers Cuomo's "Let's Write a Sawng" project.  If this is the correct Ryan Wiesbrock.

Please reply as soon as possible with your full name, address, phone # and email address, and let me know how you would like to be credited for your contribution (Ryan Wiesbrock or Ryan "punchmyface" Wiesbrock or punchmyface or something else).


Thanks!
Sarah

I couldn't believe it, so I Googled her name and sure enough, she's Rivers' personal assistant.  She's super sleuthy because I found out she'd tried to contact me through my Youtube account (which I don't check much) and a message from her had been sitting there for a couple months.  She somehow figured out who I was and found me on Facebook.  Awesomeness!

I didn't want to overly pump her for information but she did tell me that the song was going to be on an upcoming album to be released on November 2nd, 2010.  A few weeks later I found this press release saying it is to be called Death to False Metal.

It shows that "Turning Up the Radio" is going to be the first track and that 15 total people had contributed to the song.  I completely freaked out!  It had been 2 years since anything happened on the song and the bridge (which is what most of my contributions were for) was never clearly resolved.  No one has heard an updated version of the song yet so I have no idea what they used from my submissions.  All I can do is wait in anticipation as far as that goes.

Two weeks ago I received an agreement from Rivers' lawyers assigning me co-writer's credit to the song and a small percentage of the royalties...and that is just the coolest thing ever.  Don't know if most people know this but all song royalties are split into 50% publisher share and 50% writer share. The song writers pull from the same 50%...so for Rivers to give co-credit means giving up money.  Sure it seems like the right thing to do, but he didn't HAVE to do that at all.  I think it's extremely generous and cool that he not only did this project but also went through the legal hassle of tracking all of the contributors down to assign credit and royalties to those involved.  I can't wait to hear the song and would love to have it released as a single, but who knows.  Either way, thanks Rivers, Weezer and Sarah for making this the best November 2nd ever!

Who knows, maybe this will inspire me to dust off the recording equipment and record some more Disintegrated Einstein tracks (more info on that here.)

If other contributors to Let's Write a Sawng out there would like to share their stories please drop me a line.  It'd be great to connect.  I'll post updates here when I have anything.

UPDATE 10/26/10 - 
Today I found a station streaming the song. You can listen to it here. It's the second song in the playlist.

Looks like what Rivers ended up using was my initial idea that he actually called out on his Step 14 posting around the 1 minute mark where I suggested to have him belt out short phrases during the bridge and into the solo.

The final version of the song shows the return of the solo and has a couple of those belted-out phrases thrown in. He says "Just turn it all the waaaay" before the solo and then "Turnin, turnin, turning up the radio" coming out of the chorus. This is the really the only section I could see Rivers attributing to me even though it was an open-ended note on my part. It's a pretty minor thing so I'm really grateful Rivers would even think to give me credit for it.  Thanks man!

The finished track sounds awesome with crunchier guitars and a heavier sound overall. There's also a Moog style synth in there and even layered into the chorus. Hearing it mirror the guitar solo reminds me of the blue album. Love how it turned out!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Looks kinda familiar...but maybe it's just me.

While browsing Netflix, I saw a movie poster that looked awfully familiar to me.  It's from a newer Matthew Broderick film, Wonderful World.  I couldn't help but think it looks similar to a piece I did way back in college.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to put a hand drawn smiley in front of a non-smiley face, but the similarities are definitely there.  I'd write myself off as crazy if my piece hadn't been published way back in the day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

thank you card for the b-day gifts from my nice team.

Friday, February 19, 2010

carlos birthday card.

Monday, January 25, 2010

grumbly guy.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

random sketchbook page.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

cabin in woods.




Here's another image from the Twisted Whiskers show I'm working on. The show is all CG, but there's a Halloween episode where Tiny Head tells the story of how his cabin was built over the top of a hole where a monster lives. This sequence will be animated in Flash and will look like this painting I did.

Monday, October 27, 2008

boingo.



This is an image I created for an animated show I'm working on called Twisted Whiskers. It's an episode where we imply something bad has happened to poor Boingo the space monkey and we cut to this photo. I cobbled together a couple astronaut photos, took an existing Twisted Whiskers monkey head, and exaggerated the mouth and then weathered the whole thing to look like an old photo. Bill Kopp, our director, sometimes signs personal letters with "Stay funny!" and I thought it'd be funny if Boingo did the same.

Monday, October 06, 2008

let's write a sawng.

Rivers Cuomo, the front man for Weezer, started a videoblog on Youtube called "Let's Write a Sawng" where people all over the world can contribute video responses and literally write a song together. He acts as the ringleader and the director and it seems like he watches all the uploads. I'm sure it's some promotional thing for Youtube and not like this is something he decided to do out of boredom but that doesn't take away from the fun. I think he approaches it in a pretty genuine way and the song isn't turning out half bad. It isn't officially finished yet and it's been a few months since he's posted. I guess he's busy out touring and all that.

If you start watching from the 1:00 mark you'll see him referring to a video I actually uploaded. (The sound is weird because Rivers often pitches his videos up or down for comedic effect.)



Below is the actual video I uploaded to him.



Which was in response to this one.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

woooooooooooo!



Even though I work at American Greetings, I have nothing to do with making greeting cards. We're a completely separate division that creates and develops properties for kids that leads to animation and consumer products (toys, backpacks, undapants.)

As an exercise, we had the opportunity to create a property for a different demo -- our card buyer. I just happened to have this idea laying around that I was calling "Woo Girls" and we went with that.



It's based on my wife (the brunette), her friend Becky (the one with the short hair) and Kelly, a woman who sits next to me (the blonde.) The idea is -- that any woman, when around her bestest friends, is able to let her guard down and "woo" at anything from a Bon Jovi song coming on the jukebox to hanging out of the sunroof of a taxi after a girl's night out.

I ended up drawing and writing all 8 cards. Most are birthday cards and they all say something like "It's your birthday, WOOO! Hope you have so much fun you don't notice the creepy guy staring at you like a freak all night." or "You're hotter now than you've ever been. Seriously."



Originally the above image was all I had in mind. I was just going to have floating heads, it was all going to be pink and black, and I'd thought that each girl would have a "normal mode" and a "woo mode." Also I thought there'd be endless Woo Girls and it'd be more of a "look." And last, the whole concept revolved on this being a sound card where you'd open it and it'd go "Oh my god it's your birthday WOOOO!!!" But because of the expense of sound chips I wasn't able to get my wish.

In the beginning, I didn't think I'd have the time to complete all this art because I still had my "real" job that took up a lot of my time. I thought I'd have to freelance this out, so I had some Woo development sketches done by Joel Trussel at joeltrussel.com as well as some by Vera at Verabee.com. Here's what they came up with. Note: These aren't my drawings and they didn't see the above drawing. I wanted to see what they'd come up with based on concept alone.


Joel's sketches.


Vera's sketches.

When I saw both of these I thought "Oh yeah, I should give them bodies." Both did hilarious stuff that really helped me figure this out. I wanted to land somewhere between these as far as the girls being cartoony or anatomically correct.



This is the very first card concept I came up with. I drew it really fast with sharpies and highlighters, folded it in half and went to a meeting where I was supposed to show my progress. The card team liked it but thought the girls were a little too skinny. So, when I went to final I just made sure to thicken them up a little.



Here are all 8 cards together.



Here they are on the shelf at Walmart. Despite being out of college for 10 years, this is the first time I'd ever seen something I had total control of on the shelf. It was fun to see and I actually saw a woman buying two (no it wasn't my mom.)







At American Greetings we have a greeting card store in the building where employees can purchase our products. After returning from vacation I was surprised to find a giant Woo display in the window.




Wooo!

Friday, April 11, 2008

my favorite tinpo.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

yacht rock.



I have a new favorite thing. It's called Yacht Rock. What's great about discovering something like this a year after everyone else, is I get the joy of watching all 11 episodes in a row.


McDonald on the left. Loggins, right.

The thing I'm talking about is Yacht Rock, a low budget internet series based in the world of Yacht Rock music -- The smooth sounds of performers like Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Hall and Oates and more. Each episode tells an origin story behind a particular Yacht Rock song that's part BS, part reality. It's hilarious.



I love the down and dirty, low budget nature of it. Don't let this fool you though. It's sharp, witty and moves at a breezy pace. Characters break into song, and it cuts just before it gets old. Each episode leaves you wanting more.



The writers don't just shoot from the hip. The stories are actually really clever. They take facts, rumors, invented relationships and mix it all together to tell a story chock full of hidden references. There's lots of connections based on reality, like Toto playing on Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" or the Doobie Brothers' producer producing a Van Halen album.



Another thing great about Yacht Rock is that they poke fun at this music genre and performers with love. One could easily just make a mockery out of the whole thing, but they don't. There's a level of appreciation they seem to have for these musicians that seeps into the execution of the show.



They depict guys like Loggins and McDonald as buddies that just hang out all the time and have this crazy passion for their music, yet they cuss each other out. It's great.



I've got all the episodes below, so click away and enjoy. I didn't include Episode 6 because really, that's the only one I didn't enjoy. It's a period piece about the real Jethro Tull. It breaks the format of the show quite a bit. Even though I can appreciate the guys trying something new, it just left me scratching my head.

Here are the episodes.

Episode 1: What a Fool Believes


Episode 2: Keep the Fire


Episode 3: I'm Alright


Episode 4: Rosanna


Episode 5: I Believe In It


Episode 7: I Keep Forgetting


Episode 8: Gino (The Manager)


Episode 9: Runnin with the Devil


Episode 10: FM


Episode 11: Footloose


The original SCTV sketch that made McDonald an "irrelevant joke."

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

disintegrated einstein.



When I first graduated college and moved to Connecticut I spent (wasted) a year of my life recording an "album" under the band name "Disintegrated Einstein." It first started out as a joke and I had this crazy idea about selling original songs on Ebay, which never happened. What did happen is that I had fun making these songs up all on my own.


This is where it all went down. Collinsville, Connecticut circa 2001.

Back in 1999, mp3.com allowed you to sell CD's and post music anyone could listen to for free. Since there weren't as many music sites, it actually got a lot of traffic. I felt weird listing my music under my name because I felt like people would be more open and objective about a band's music rather than one guy.


Jesus Christ, Doc. You...

So I created this fake band and made up the names of all the people in the band. Our bass player was Ren McCormick - Kevin Bacon's character in Footloose. The guitar player was Paul Proteus - from a Kurt Vonnegut novel. And the drummer was Holly Star - this came from the movie the Big Lebowski which was filmed at the now defunct Hollywood Star bowling alley in LA. In some of the shots you can see "Holly Star" written on the bowling balls. It was kinda fun having this alter ego. I had a mailing list and would even send out "band updates" sometimes as if written from different members of the band.


I didn't paint the album cover, Chris Ryniak did.

If you're curious about what any of this stuff sounds like, you can find the album at I-Tunes. If you click the following link I-Tunes should automatically open.

Disintegrated Einstein -- Tell Your Friends




It's got all the tracks from the original 2001 album as well as 9 new tracks -- demos, unfinished songs and just plain ol' bad early stuff. The song "My Street Corner" is the first song I ever recorded and it's a mess because I played the drums live and I'm all out of time throughout the whole song.

A few years back I did a cover of "Czar" by Frank Black as part of a Frank Black tribute album as well as designing the album cover. I always liked how "Czar" flowed right into "Old Black Dawning" on the original album, so I actually included the opening bars of OBD at the end. You can download the mp3 from the link below for free.

Disintegrated Einstein -- Czar.mp3

Labels:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

cinematic titanic.



For the last few weeks I've been waiting in anticipation. Anticipation I haven't felt since seeing the words "to be continued" at the end of Back to the Future back in 1985 or the first time I heard the familiar "DA DA DA DA DUM" music and saw all that fire in the Terminator 2 teaser trailer. I'm talking about that anticipation you feel when you find out that the thing you love, that you thought was over and done with...is about to live again.

That's how I felt in early December when I read that Joel Hodgson and the original gang from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were getting back together again. Those voices we first heard in the age of New Coke, B.U.M. Equipment and Forenza sweaters were once again going to be making comments during old-school sci-fi flicks under the moniker -- Cinematic Titanic.



As soon as I saw the following trailer, I knew I must have it.



I couldn't wait. I immediately ordered my copy of "The Oozing Skull" and waited...and waited...and waited. This afternoon a little white envelope FINALLY came to my door containing a little ol' disc that looks like this:



I literally went to my mailbox, ripped open the envelope and put it right into the DVD player. I feel like I'm a kid again. I love it. It has so much of what I loved about MST3K. It has this "live" feel, everyone is overlapping each other, having fun and most importantly -- it's FUNNY.

I'll admit I'm biased. I first found MST3K back when I was in 8th grade. It was on "The Comedy Channel" that later became "Comedy Central." I loved everything about it, especially the low production value which helped me connect to the show. It made me feel like I was the only person in the world who knew about it and was watching it. I loved that. Something about the DVD arriving in a plain white envelope complete with low rent DVD menu (a still image of the disc label itself) had a familiar "homemade" charm that was apparent in MST3K all the way down to their planet logo that looked like a ball of silly string painted primer gray.



During this first season (which I guess will never be on DVD) I wrote a letter to MST3K and drew a very crappy picture of Joel and the bots. It actually got read on the air and I still have the VHS of it. It followed the movie Moon Zero Two. Here it is:



I suppose I'm pre-destined to automatically love Cinematic Titanic. So there, I admit it. It also makes me pre-destined to resist the new things like "A female voice in the mix?!! Whassup with that?" (No offense Mary Jo.) Still, 20 minutes in and I warmed up to her the way I warmed up to that other guy who does Servo probably because lo and behold...they're both funny people. (I'll admit I never couldn't get on board with Mike hosting the show. I know, I know he was head writer for years...it just wasn't the same for me without Joel. I completely blame my biases and not the talented man, myth and legend who is Michael J. Nelson.



One thing different about Cinematic Titanic is seeing a movie in its entirety. They do freeze frame it a couple times for a gag or two, but without the commercial breaks, skits, intros, outros and the 'this has movie modified for television' edits that MST3K had...it runs out of steam around the one hour mark. It's the fault of the original movie itself, not the CT gang. I do look forward to seeing what they come up with to help this as the series develops (I call it a series because I don't know what else to call it.)

Another thing I was looking forward to was some sort of premise explaining where or why they're watching this movie together. Are they in Stephen Hawking's private screening room? Atop makeshift scaffolding during an outdoor screening at Hollywood Forever? Or are they just supposed to be themselves, getting together in front of a green screen to entertain us? I don't really have a preference... I'd just hoped for some sort of intro or explanation of "it" whatever "it" is. Maybe we'll see that in DVD's to come. Related to this, it'd be great to have some sort of recap with them chatting about the movie at the end. It could be as simple as seeing their silhouettes having a cup of coffee and piece of pie, recapping their thoughts or making fun of it. Maybe that's just me not wanting it to end.

All in all, it's Cinematic Titanic is a great thing and I'm so excited to get each new movie every month. I hope these guys will keep making these forever and all the MST3K fans out there will buy their DVDs so they can.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

tinpo.



If you've flipped past CBS recently on a Saturday morning you might have seen some animated shorts starring a few of the friendly faces in the photo above. I love these little guys and am proud to have been part of the team that helped bring them to life.



Tinpo was created by Derek Welch and Jason Bacon, the creative..dare I say, geniuses...behind UNKL and Big Giant.



A few years ago, our studio chief Jeffrey Conrad came across their booth at Comicon, bought all their toys and decided to option the property. Since then we've developed 10 animated shorts, each 30 seconds long, and added Tinpo to the AG Properties library permanently.

You can see the shorts online at AG Kidzone.com as well as on CBS Saturday mornings.

When we planned to do the shorts, we had to figure out what the Tinpo world would look like. We threw around the idea of these Tinpo working inside a factory and thought it would be cool if the characters looked dimensional, yet the backgrounds were more graphic. I created a little animated test where I used an illustration of what I thought a machine would look like in the factories from our AG Properties logo.





The idea behind the test was not only to test a "look" but also try and sell everyone on the idea of using 8 Bit music for the shorts (which I used as background music.)

I'd already had a slew of 8 Bit music from the site 8 Bit Peoples that freely shares music created by artists using Nintendos, Gameboys and all kinds of crazy stuff to make music. I became a fan of Anamanaguchi aka Peter Berkman. His music is fun and quirky and doesn't sound straight out of a video game. It's more organic and he layers in other 'real' instruments as well.



Everyone here was on board with having Anamanaguchi do the music as well as Anamanaguchi himself, so we went for it. Listen for it in the shorts. Oh, and I should point out a cool thing he did. In each of the shorts there is what we call the "aha moment." No it's not the moment where everything switches into a black and white comic book and they begin singing "Take On Me." It's the moment where the Tinpo figures out the solution to a problem. You'll notice that in each short, the music is only 8 bit before the "aha moment" and then turns into full instrumentation after he figures it out.



Let's not forget the animation! It was done in sunny Dallas, Texas at Reel FX Entertainment. These guys are awesome to work with and did an awesome job. Check out their reel and prepare to have your minds blown. They treated Tinpo like it was their own baby and really went the extra mile for us. Anthony Davila set the visual direction for the shorts and worked closely with Reel FX to get everything look nice and pretty. Anthony has a talented team of illustrators here in Cleveland who designed most of the props, vehicles and things. Once they set the style, Reel FX also helped conceptualize and design things too.

We talked with Reel FX early on about how the Tinpo should move. We all thought it would be cool if the Tinpo moved as if invisible hands were playing with them and moving them along, versus just always moving under their own power. Reel FX also approached the sound design as if things were more "digital" in a way in order to make things feel like they're part of a unique world. Lots of bleeps and bloops.



Look for future posts where I hope to share more of the stuff we're creating.

Labels: , , , , ,