Ronald “d-pi” Wimberly is an artist who has worked in film, fashion, comics, and most recently, animation.
He is the author of the comic book Prince of Cats, which was published by Vertigo. As his foray into the animation production world, Ronald has been designing characters on Black Dynamite: The Animated Series for Titmouse.
Ronald’s artwork often features figures in action, stretching and lunging through exaggerated space. He posts a lot of new work on his blog.
5 Second Day is an annual tradition that gives Titmouse animators on both coasts the chance to bring to life whatever strange, beautiful, disturbing and funny ideas they’ve had all year as a short format cartoon. For the first time ever, the studio will be opening up the screening of these masterpieces to friends, neighbors and fans.
The screening is on Friday February 15th in Hollywood, at the Egyptian Theatre, 7:30pm. The program will also include a screening of the unaired Motorcity pilot and a selection of rarities from the studio’s vaults – with a discussion following with Titmouse founder Chris Prynoski.
Tickets are available through the Egyptian Theater.
Though they share the same name and the same owners, there is a wide starting salary gap between the two Titmouse animation studios that operate in Los Angeles and New York City. While wages for artists in the New York TV animation industry have historically been lower than their Los Angeles counterparts, the gap appears to be widening.
Cartoon Brew decided to investigate after learning that some New York Titmouse animation artists who are working on Disney’s upcoming TV series Motorcity are earning as little as $400 per week. If not the all-time lowest, it ranks as among the lowest wages ever earned by an American artist working on a Disney animation production. By contrast, an artist doing the exact same job working on the same show at Titmouse in Los Angeles would earn no less than $1,055 per week under the studio’s union agreement.
Titmouse Inc., founded in 2000 by the husband-and-wife team of Chris and Shannon Prynoski, opened a Manhattan studio in the summer of 2010 to support its growing West Coast operation. Prior to launching the studio, Mr. Prynoski, a veteran of MTV Animation in New York, created the TV series MTV Downtown. The company’s emphasis on quality has helped them to expand from a mom-and-pop operation into a major producer of animated programming, including shows like Metalocalypse, Superjail! and The Venture Brothers. In an interview published this week on Cold Hard Flash, Prynoski said that his company now employs over 250 people.
The company has recently been producing two shows for Disney’s action oriented XD channel: Motorcity and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. In order to receive its sub-contract deal from Disney, Titmouse signed a union contract to satisfy Disney’s requirements in the IATSE Basic Agreement. Titmouse didn’t want to convert its entire Los Angeles studio into a union shop, and thus created a wholly-owned subsidiary called Robin Redbreast. The new company is the signator with the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, though it shares the same ownership and managements of its parent company, Titmouse.
The decision to split Titmouse into two separate companies was not an uncommon tactic for a company in its situation, Cartoon Brew was told by union officials in Los Angeles. Under the contract, Titmouse must pay union scale wages to artists in Los Angeles who work on Motorcity, but has the option of subcontracting work to non-union companies where it can pay lower salaries. While the studio sends work on the show to multiple places, including Canada, it chose to subcontract the Motorcity cleanup to its New York studio, along with some of the show’s animation. A staff of nearly twenty clean-up artists works in New York, where they are responsible for cleaning up the drawings of the animators in Flash and coloring scenes as well as doing occasional animation edits.
Cartoon Brew has learned that some of the animation was being cleaned up in the Los Angeles studio as recently as last October, when Titmouse decided to shift the entire clean-up operation to New York. An artist in the New York studio was told by his supervisors that the reason for the shift was because the quality of work by the Los Angeles artists was considered sub-par. Chris Prynoski declined to comment on the reasons for why the clean-up work was transferred to the New York studio.
Cartoon Brew interviewed four New York artists working on the series. Though Titmouse offers group health insurance, none of the artists interviewed in the clean-up department could afford the option with their current salaries. Many of the hirees are recent graduates from animation schools
Whatever happened to limited TV animation? For those of us who remember when Jonny Quest was state-of-the-art for TV adventure animation… this leaked footage (below) from Disney’s Motorcity is pretty amazing. The animation looks really slick for a TV production, and especially good for a show that’s digitally animated in flash.
Here is an eleven minute compilation of nine sequences pulled from upcoming episodes. These clips showcase the animation and compositing techniques employed in the series. Each sequence features the final composited footage, followed by the animation in it’s rough form.
Created by Chris Prynoski, Motorcity is produced by Robin Red Breast, Inc. (a subsidiary of Titmouse, Inc.) and Disney Television Animation. It premieres this Monday, April 30th at 9pm, ET/PT on Disney XD. The first episode is now available to watch for free on iTunes (there’s a free iPhone/iPad game on iTunes as well). More information on this clip reel after the jump.
The following information was provided by the studio. It corresponds to the footage in the clip reel:
Motorcity is animated with a combination of Flash, Maya and After Effects – with backgrounds and other elements created in Photoshop.
1) Mike and Chuck explore the auto parts store: This features some really subtle character animation by supervising animator Mike Roush. It showcases how the motion of the floating screen was animated in Flash, then used as a guide by lead compositor Steve Kellener to swap out with screens generated in After Effects.
2) Deleted scene from the first episode: This is a sequence that was taken all the way to completion, only to be cut from the episode at the very end. It’s features Jacob swooping in to save Mike and Chuck in his ride, Sasquatch. Character animation by Albert Pardo.
3) Taking down the Ultra Golems : This features a heavy integration of 3D vehicle animation and 2D effects. Having grown up on a steady diet of Japanese anime, Edward Artinian is our 2D effects guru. Keith Yan handled the complex integration of all elements in the composite stage.
4) Mutant HOUND attacks Mutt: Directed by Juno Lee, the sequence from this episode combines one of the most ambitious combinations of 2D and 3D animation in the series. The impeccable design hand of Brandon Cuellar brought not only the vehicles, but the HOUND to life.
5) Tooley Fight: Animated by Jeremy Polgar, this sequence showcases just how full the “tradigital” animation is being pushed in the series.
6) Texas confronts Kane: In this dream sequence, Texas finally squares off against Kane. Animator Sean Covernton, brought both incredible comedy and action to this sequence.
7) Electroblades fight: This sequence features incredible action animation by Ben Li. This is another sequence that had to ride the line between action and comedy.
8) Mushroom Runnin’: Animated primarily by Braden Poirier, this sequence showcases not only the animation department, but the incredibly talented background artists. The BG paintings were keyed by Anthony Wu. (With crazy jumping scene animated by Jeremy Polgar!)
9) Chuck vs. The KMG : Once again, Mike Roush brings incredibly full animation to Chuck. Marina Gardner animated much of the Mike action. This is another sequence that employed extensive composite techniques by the team of Tom McDonnell and Mike Newton.
Cartoon Brew |
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