Sunday, March 24, 2013


With this being the last couple weeks of production, Naturally I have been searching every corner of the film to re-do, replace, or destroy altogether. The most recent would be Ivan the snowman pitcher. His design has changed quite a bit since his original conception. I was never pleased with his mouth as the cliche coal smile made his face look a little on the busy side. Putting red somewhere in his design would help establish him against Yuri, and the scarped soviet logo gives the snowman a team aesthetic while also reestablishing the country/time. And finally, oval coal eyes as opposed to circular should make him seem as though he is part of the same universe as Yuri. After all, whats to say Ivan isn't as real to Yuri as he is to Ivan?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Radio Script

Yuri's first dashed hopes of engaging with baseball comes in the opening scene that takes place within his cabin. The following is the script for the radio broadcast that takes place before the channel is jammed and replaced by the Soviet Theme Song.

[Yuri turns on the radio, which glows and puts out a static signal as he meals through the different AM stations. He finds one that comes through slightly clearer than the others. A sportscaster speaking at a mile a minute with a north-atlantic accent is dictating the events of a game being relayed]


The sparrows' hopes of staying alive in this game now remain on their final batter.

Ladies and gentleman this might be one of the finest games of Baseball this reporter has seen in years.  Roger Winston, is at bat with two strikes.

The bases are empty and all that the Copperheads need to do is get one more strike and send the Sparrows hopes of Playoff dreams down the river.

The pitcher has the ball, and he is taking signals from the umpire.

Dosen't seem to like any of the calls here.

Theres good reason to be diligent as Winston just might be the best batter the sparrows have seen in years.

With A remarkable batting average of .330 and a home run in nearly every game this season, Winston could be just the hero this city needs. 

The pitcher seems to have chosen a pitch.

The crowd is dead silent, he winds up the pitch as the fielders brace themselves and…….*Crack*


The ball is going, going, going, and falls just short of the wall in the outer right field.

The copperheads scramble to get it as Winston is now passing second base.

 The outfielder whips it the shortstop.

Winston is now passing third, and ladies and gentleman he is going for!

The short stop throws it to the pitcher who throws it to the catcher!

Winston goes for the slide into home plate and...

[Crowd cheers]

...dust flies up, I can't see anything, the umpire is lost in the cloud of smoke and the crowd is silent, did winston make it to plate and save the playoff hopes of the sparrows?

Here he is! I see him! The umpire is saying that the runner is s...

[The signal is lost in static as a soviet russian theme is heard jamming the signal.]

Saturday, February 9, 2013


My biggest distaste for reality comes from a trend shared mostly by adults, that to mean anything, an event must be literal. When we tell stories, there are times when saying something extreme to paint a richer picture, overshadows the urge to remain objective. For instance an illustrious phrase such as...

 "He hit the ball with all his might, turning it into a comet that ripped through the open night sky"

 ...would be easily ruined by then saying

 "I mean not really, but you know what I'm saying, he hit it hard." 

This, to me, is a crime that post-modernism is solely responsible for.

Most of my reading selections come from times long past expressly for this reason. One of my favorites is Edgar Alan Poe. Could you imagine the grave diservice it would be had the line...

"...And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor, Shall be lifted - Nevermore!"

...had been immediately followed by

"...You know, not really, but I was feeling pretty bummed"

No. That's not the way it should be. If we want to truly be able to enjoy the wonders of hyperbole, we must embrace it all, as a seamless patch in the quilt of reality. It must be the hot blood that runs through the veins of our cold existence. The very destruction of all things we know to be human, hinges on the needle of our intolerance and fear of all that is not tangible.

I mean not really, but you know, hyperbole is pretty cool.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Field & Fog

Here's a composition from a later scene when Yuri is playing a game against the snowmen team.

There was a concern I had that because this is a 2D animation, selling the illusion of a gigantic field would be difficult. Because of this, I've been at a standstill on compositions like these that take place on the field. I knew it needed something to make it look big, I just didn't know what. Luckily the answer came in the form of a cold front. It was hot in Wilmington the other day, but at about 5 pm, the temperature jumped off a cliff. So when I took a walk later that night, I was able to get a glimpse of some pretty ethereal fog. With the help of Chris, who is doing the additional character design for the baseball players, we were able to grab a few pictures for reference.

This was the same feeling I wanted for the audience of Yuri. A sense of both isolation, and extension that either represented a dream world, or a magical experience. With the help of Google, I was able to discover the justification for such a look.

Stadium lights. With the help of such a powerful light and a high humidity level, this effect gives the impression that only this game exists, and nothing else outside of it is tangible, or real. So now the only thing left to do was figure out the most effective way to do this effect in After Effects. I'm much happier with the composition now. 

Also, Yuri's purple scarf was a gift from his grandmother Faina who lives with him on the farm. It once belonged to Yuri's mother, and was in fact the very scarf he was wrapped in as a newborn.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

World Influences

Here are some things that Yuri's world was forged from. 


The simplicity of only seeing his eyes always fascinated me. Somehow having no mouth conveys as much emotion as having one if you use the context of the rest of his body correctly.

Little Bear
Little bear plots are always ethereally simple. He's presented with a very tangible (but small) challenge, and he uses his imagination to solve it. Its beauty comes also from its style of animation, and sound score. Stakes don't always have to be high for the story to be consuming. 

The Snowman

This short film used to do a real number on me as a child. I could never quite place if it was happening in his head, or if it actually happened. It was kind of freeing to be stuck between the two options. And much like Little Bear, what made this film magical was the style its animated. The snowman and the boy are almost made of the same molecules. You believe the story because they seem to exist in the same physical world. 


Probably the saddest internet video I've ever seen. It presents a Problem, A solution (although unknown at first), and the revelation of what this solution will do. But unlike most films, the ending is not one of happy times. Its sad, dark, depressing, but still somehow pleasant at the same time. It comes from its belief that a conclusion, and a happy ending are not always one in the same.