Post #32: Mikey - Retrospective

Allow me to preface this post by saying I had wrote my original thoughts on our last official meeting of BCS along with the others but mine disappeared without a trace. Not saying that my original post was a literary work of art or anything but the words written in the moment will not be the same as I write them now.

If I can sum up my experience at BCS, it would be scattered moments of learning, laughter, and love, followed by long periods of isolation and frustration. I am a professional CG animator and thus it was really my only role on most projects. Not that I have any problem with that given it is the most logical division of labor for maximum efficiency but CG animation was starting to become 90-100% of my life. If I was not at work animating, I was at home animating. If I wasn’t animating, I was watching films, TV shows, or playing video games that relate back to animating, storytelling, film making, etc. All the while separated by about 3 hours the people I can call my closest friends as they met up once every week to eat, catch up in each others lives, joke, snipe, and maybe even get a little work done. I can’t say I enjoyed my time on BCS mainly because the BCS experience was whenever everyone gets together and enjoy each others company.

As to the projects. Finding out early that a CG pipeline is doomed to fail since we were missing vital personnel for that pipeline, I was pleased to see other types of projects being tackled. Xing’s Egg Toast was a welcome break from all things CG and forced me to sit down and actually give traditional animation a try. I cheated. But I still came out of that project with my first piece of traditional animation. It gave everyone a nice little creative break by allowing us to focus on our singular task before tackling more group oriented ones. Similarly, Zori’s Detective Corgi allowed me to try a hand at writing. Although ultimately my part was borderline non-existent on that project, it still forced me to write something which is always the hardest part when trying to learn a new skill.

WAFA holds a special place in my heart because I love video games and I especially love learning about game development. Film making I have a much better handle on while game development is still pure magic to me outside of asset creation. To see everyone come up with a working demo makes them all witches and wizards and I am a little sad I missed out on how they did it.

Ye Xu was when I came out of my hiatus and rejoined as an animator. This was particularly tough as I was still very busy at work and had little bodily and creative energy left to animate. But I can not be more proud of Brian Park for making his music video a reality. He had been working on it for quite some time and like most of the projects thrown around our little family, completion doesn’t happen very often. But Brian did it. He had a little help from us but in the end, his persistence paid off and I hope he’s proud of what he’s accomplished. I know I am.

Lastly, we have Feathers and Teeth. A strangely fitting final boss for this little experiment we all got roped into. Not only were we facing our demons of a CG pipeline again, but we were tackling a new medium with our clients being a stage play. Real people with real stakes. Yet, it somehow felt like it was the smoothest project. At least that I was part of and my part is just CG animation so I can’t speak for everyone. Apologies to anyone if this was the one that aged you ten years. There are still problems with a CG pipeline at home and I have realized a lot of them I will need to address on a personal note if I were to ever create something by myself, but that is a problem for another day.

I have yet to see the fruits of our labor for Feathers and Teeth and I do not think I will be able to make any of the show times. But that’s okay because like I said earlier in this post, BCS was about enjoying each other’s company and giving us an excuse to meet up and eat food and catch up. We went from seeing each other for 40+ hours a week to occasionally poking each other on Facebook. But that’s life, people grow and aspire for new goals and experiences and they naturally drift apart. What I look back on the most during this year are the chances I get to make the trip down and visit and things pick up right where they left off. As I was writing my first draft of this post (yes I’m still bitter about that), I was writing it in the atmosphere I was most comfortable. In a rather dirty work area filled with items to help with the creative process, empty La Croix cans, and everyone yelling at each other. We’ll always find a reason to get together, but BCS was that reason for the past year and I’ll always be grateful for it.

Post #31: www.erinthoughts.gov.www\erinthoughts

Erin here. Throwin’ it back with Broom Cupboard thoughts.


First of all, the year has gone by so fast I feel like I have amnesia. This experience has been and probably will always be one of the coolest things I’ve ever done with my free time. Who’d have thought making projects with your friends would be more fun than sitting on the couch and re-watching The Office for the trillionth time? Me. I would’ve thought that. And I still currently do.

It’s hard to quantify everything that’s come out of this year, but I’d say the most important thing I’ve taken away from it is that when talented creative people come together to make projects in a healthy and respectful collaborative environment, cool shit happens. People learn new skills and develop new interests and are constantly building off of one another’s talents, and that’s one of the most valuable things that can happen for an artist and I feel super grateful for that.

Thinking back on our projects, I think WAFA was the most impactful for me because I can honestly say that I may not have gotten my job at Minecraft without my work from the game in my portfolio. Like, how fucking cool is that. THANKS XING FOR LEADING THAT PROJECT. And that’s the last time you’ll ever hear me thank Xing for something. I also had an awesome time being a Producer on our Feathers and Teeth project and learned a lot from it, and seeing our work displayed on a stage with live performers and an audience was amazing.

I’d like to thank the team for being just generally awesome people who bring their creative minds 100% into everything they do. But I’d also like to thank them each individually.

Ben: Thanks for creating this whole damn thing. And for the endless La Croix.

Xing: Nope.

Zori: Thanks for the corgi gifs and the late night music work sessions.

Nelson: Thanks for being a sister in sass and a character design master.

Theo: Thanks for the #theothoughts and the dope 2D animation skillz.

Mickey: Thanks for all the yelling and for not killing me after working with my rig.

PS: Thanks Xing you’re great.

There are a kabillion other things I could say about these people but it’s been a complete privilege to spend 10 hours a week working with them and I’m going to miss it a lot. LOVE YOU GUYS.

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Erin out.


Post #30: Xing — A Retrospective

Ben popped this last assignment on us like it’s highschool again. We’re being timed to all write a blog post about our thoughts after a year of Broom Cupboard. I’m really feeling the pressure right now, I thought I’d never have to do this after graduating. God damnit Ben. But, he did give us these sweet EggToast throw blankets with the pixel rug pattern from WAFA the game.

Who Am I: I’m Xing, I led projects WAFA and E G G T O A S T while at Broom Cupboard. I’m an interaction design student currently at the UW, about to graduate and my thing is doing storyboards or visual art stuff. Also design shit.

What I thought of Broom Cupboard Overall: It was a great excuse to see my friends and goof off every week and eat free food. And make stuff I guess. I’m going to be sad that we don’t have this cool excuse to hang out again.

Favorite Project: Probably E G G T O A S T because it was a chill project and we all owned our parts of the film, independent of what other people were doing. There was little pressure for us to get our things done out of fear we weren’t giving the next person down the pipeline enough time. Also it was a cute project and we got to get hotpot.

What I learned: Leading projects for longer than 2 months is hard. I do not have the attention span for this. It was a challenge balancing school and freelance and Broom Cupboard for a year. But the flexibility and the core tenet of Broom Cupboard; to run a studio healthily, made it an experience overall worth enjoying. I did not feel as stressed as I could’ve felt, knowing my friends had my back if I needed to take time off.

What I’m Doing Next: I’m on my last quarter at the UW and doing our senior capstones. At the moment I’m working on a design intervention for overwork and burnout culture as my primary capstone, tentatively called ^Cake. This project’s roots were similar to why Broom Cupboard was started up and the pitch on our studio: creative production without the stresses of a toxic work environment. My other potential capstone that I’m thinking of doing in tandem with ^Cake is The Lattice Chamber, some sort of narrative interactive game centered around women’s roles and marriage culture in Asia. Fun stuff.

Also since I’m continuing to share a house with Ben an1d Zori for a time, i’ll be doing a bunch of odd job projects to you know, pay my rent for the rest of my time at the studio.

It’s been fun,

Xing

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Post #28: Nelson: A Retrospective

Now comes the time for me, Nelson, to retrospectively consider my revolution around the sun with Broom Cupboard Studios.

What an untamed encounter this has been. Many a moon I have spent with these individuals and all I can say is that their talent, wit, creativity, and punderific liveliness is unmatched. They are a source of constant inspiration and although this magnificent expedition is coming to an end, I will continue to watch them, inspired and creepy, from afar (or from the shadows-it’s hard to say).

Through many a caffeine induced night spent on our projects, I have learned the importance of collaboration, teamwork, communication, and organization from my time here - as well as how to profusely discuss the significance of Marvel movie classics and the importance of “death of the author” in relation to relevant pop culture stories.

In all seriousness, I have known these people for over 5 years and all I can say is that I can’t imagine my life without them. They challenge me to be better, to think outside the box, and to shoot for those unattainable goals. In truth, I have always felt like the least talented person in the room here. Not because they make me feel that way - in fact, you will be hard pressed to find a more supportive and nurturing group of people - but because the studio is comprised of such talent. And being around such talented people will occasionally make you fall into an existential artistic crisis… but, you know, in a good way? We’ll just say that they are artistic goals (or something more eloquent).

In my time here, I had the honor to work on six projects with Broom Cupboard Studios, all of them challenging me for different reasons. And although I had the opportunity to wear a lot of hats, I would have to say that my favorite projects over the last year were E G G T O A S T and Feathers and Teeth. Both of these gave me a lot of creative freedom and the ability to really develop my assignments. Both being traditional animation, I had the chance to explore this style where otherwise I may have avoided it in fear of it being too difficult.

I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to do going forward. I plan to spend some time taking online classes and playing around with ideas I’ve had over the past year - but so far, nothing concrete. You can follow me and my randomness on Instagram - @amnelart.

In closing, I’d just like to say, thank you to the everyone in Broom Cupboard. You are some of the very best people I have ever known and I can’t thank you enough for being a part of my life. A special shout out to Ben, without whom we never would’ve embarked on this journey.

On that note, as Xing would say, “I’m not crying, I’m just congested.”

- Nelson

Post #27: Theo Reflects on Broom Cupboard, the Universe, and the Meaning of Life

Retrospective

Our time with Broom Cupboard comes to an end and now it’s time for me to reflect on our journey.

It was cool.

When we started Broom Cupboard, we wanted to create cool portfolio pieces centered around stories. Naturally we did a 3D animated short because that’s what we all did when we first met. From then on, we tackled all sorts of artistic mediums such as games, 2D animation, interactive web comics, and even theatrical projection animations. I’m extremely proud of us and the amount of work we’ve done in the past year. It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by where we met weekly. Not only to talk about our projects, but to eat, laugh, love, and sacrifice an elbow or knee to Xing.

I think we were extremely fortunate to work together because we welcomed the idea of work life balance. We all respected each other’s time and wanted us all to succeed and enjoy life. So if one of us were to go on a vacation for a week or two, we could count on each other to carry out their tasks or shuffle around responsibilities. When we were under crunch time stress, it helped a lot knowing that we were all suffering together :D. Kidding. Our crunch times were relatively tamed compared to the industry, and I think we kept each other sane by simply being there.

From the breadth of projects we worked on, I think one of the biggest take away for me is the importance of a producer/director. It’s very helpful to have someone be the point of contact for the vision of the project. We had several different producers/directors throughout our adventures, and I can appreciate the different styles of each of them (although they’re generally the same). I also appreciated the fact that the “producer/directors” were ultimately our friends, and we can always share our minds freely with each other. Overall, the collaboration with everyone was very relax because we were so comfortable with each other.

One of my favorite projects to work on was Egg Toast. It was fun and relaxing to animate whatever we wanted (related to hot pot) and to come together in the end for a short piece that showcased all of our talent. Although it was less collaboration between each person, it was nice to see everyone’s animation side by side at the very end.

Another project I really enjoyed was Feathers and Teeth simply because it was brand new territory for me. Animating set projections in After Effects (in 2D) and translating it into a 3D physical space was a learning process. But once we got the pipeline down, we made some kick ass special effects. One of the most satisfying part of this was to see the audience’s reaction to our animation during the play. I remember seeing someone in front of me burying her eyes into the arms of the person next to her because she was genuinely frightened. I have to give a lot of props to the sound and light designers of the production who enhanced the moments.

One project I wish I had more time to work on was our game, We Are Fantastic Architects: The Were Glitch Project. We had such an amazing story written out with a heartfelt message. I wanted to have everything done but it turns out we were a bit too ambitious with our scope. Hopefully one day we can remaster the game with additional gameplay and a battle royale mode.

What’s next for Theo?

As much fun as it was to work together as a team, it’s going to nice to have my personal time back so I can work on personal projects. I think I want to get back into 3D animation and one thing I want to work on is a game I’ve been planning for the past few years (pending title: Tales of Aura. Hopefully this doesn’t conflict with the Tales series that already exists…). I might start a blog documenting my progress later, but for now you can just find me streaming random stuff at https://www.twitch.tv/theoryfa

Feel free to ask me any questions and chat there. I’ll probably be playing a lot of Tetris or something. My other goal is to be MLG in Tetris. Yeet.

Post #24 - Ye Xu Debut!

Hey guys, Nelson here.

A few weeks ago, Broom Cupboard had the honor of attending the premiere of our collaborative video Ye Xu at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival’s Opening Night Party!

Ye Xu is a 3D animated video written and directed by Brian Park for multi-instrumentalist musician, producer and DJ Jyun Jyun. Broom Cupboard, in close collaboration with Mr. Park, spent 3 months producing the video. Our highly talented team worked tirelessly on all aspects of the film including visual design, layout, animation, 3D models, background art, and editing. Combined with Jyun Jyun’s excellent live performance, the premier was absolutely amazing!

To see a video of the performance, check it out below!

Post #23 - Feathers and Teeth Updates!

Hi, folks! It’s Ben here. Getting right into it: Feathers and Teeth is VERY UNDERWAY, so lets look at some of the spectacular work!!!

Amanda Nelson has been busy polishing up all of our character designs, and we’ve locked our full cast down! You can see the final images of them here:

Meanwhile, we’ve been taking the Mom into the land of 3D, for the final sequence. Here’s some sweet photos of Erin’s final model, which was then rigged and passed along for animation.

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Then, these 3D models were taken by Mikey, to do our first 3D animation for Feathers and Teeth! Here’s a preview of some of the sequences that’ve been animated so far.

Simultaneously, Amanda Zorianna Cook (Zori, to us kids) has been spinning up beautiful test frames for our 2D animated sequences, all of which look drop dead gorgeous. Click on them to see them in their full visual glory.

Once done, those painted boards need to be animated, and we’re using 2D puppeting tools in After Effects to achieve this. Here’s a couple of our initial puppet-building and scene-setting drawings, done by Nelson and Erin.

I myself have been working on the storyboards for the final outdoor sequence - what’s turning into the 3D animated sequence above - and laying out the drawings for what out backdrop looks like, outside the back window.

We picked going in the direction of B), and wanted to add a bit of a fisheye element, for maximum spooks. So, Xing worked her painting magic, and came up with this version, which we’re currently tweaking to find the final.

We like the looming, factory town nature, but right now the backyard is a little too cramped (and it’s missing a tree).

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While all of this is going on, our fearless Theo has been championing our work on the House projections. Here’s a couple of tests we did an early projection demo with. We learned a couple useful things here: Chop down the video so it doesn’t have the black space to the sides so we can tile them was a big one!

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Then came working with the actual set! We need to UV Unwrap the set in order to do some wacky projection work on top of it, so we started once we got a good model by doing some interesting unwrapping so we could project across it well.

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And… that’s a roundup of what we’ve all been up to, for Feathers & Teeth! It’s been super busy, but the work is turning out spectacularly and we can’t wait for the show. If you haven’t bought tickets yet… what are you doing??? Go get them here!! http://washingtonensemble.org/season-15-feathers-and-teeth/

Til next time, space cowgirls!

-Ben~

Post #22 - Projection Mapping and UVs

Hey guys!!! Guess who. Me.

I thought it would be cool this week to break down the process of UV mapping. We’re going to be projecting images onto a set with protruding set pieces and angles, so trying to get clean shapes mapped onto it will be a challenge. Theo, one of our amazing artists and 2d animation expert and general life guru breaks down the process below.

This is a simple breakdown of how we flatten out a 3D shape (in this case a cube) to draw a line on it. You can see how the straight red line on the left is wrapped around the cube when it’s mapped back onto it in 3D space.

This is a simple breakdown of how we flatten out a 3D shape (in this case a cube) to draw a line on it. You can see how the straight red line on the left is wrapped around the cube when it’s mapped back onto it in 3D space.

When you want to “unwrap” something, you’re essentially flattening it into an image that you can paint on. Think of flattening a cardboard box, painting on it, and then building it back into a 3D box. The flat image you create in this process is called a “UV map”. The UV map can be laid out in multiple ways, and the way it’s laid out or flattened has a huge impact on the ease of painting on it without getting “seams” or visible distortion.

In this example, in order to get the red line to flow across the cube sideways, it has to be split up in odd ways on the map, making it a bit more challenging to paint while keeping the line continuous.

In this example, in order to get the red line to flow across the cube sideways, it has to be split up in odd ways on the map, making it a bit more challenging to paint while keeping the line continuous.

Ya with me so far? Good because it’s about to get more complicated!

Since we’re projecting onto a stage, we’re going to have to consider the perspective of the audience as well. Where they’re sitting in the theater will affect how they’re going to view the projection. The above examples are simple and straightforward; map a straight line directly onto a cube, in line with the cube faces. But what if we’re looking at the cube sitting far back and off to the side in a theater? And what if we want to map a straight line across the cube diagonally, cutting across its faces?

To create a straight line cutting across the cube diagonally from a perspective view, we have to get gnarly.

To create a straight line cutting across the cube diagonally from a perspective view, we have to get gnarly.

Now, what if we want to project something more complicated than just a line? Because lines are great, but we’re gonna need a bit more complexity than that. Below are a couple examples of how we might project circles onto a cube. As you can see, we’re inevitably going to have to fight distortion by accounting for it in the UV map (in the first image). If we use a perfect circle on the UV map (the second image), it will get distorted in the projection.

So cubes are great, but unfortunately the set isn’t a cube. Bummer, right? It has props and angles and protruding shapes and all that fun stuff. Below is a super simple mockup of the set we’ll be working with. The UV map is on the left, and mapping a straight line across it isn’t too complicated! But straight lines are for squares. Ha.

Remember that we’re also dealing with the audience’s point of view, so even a straight line will appear a bit distorted if you’re not seeing it at the optimal angle (sitting off to the side or above it).

Remember that we’re also dealing with the audience’s point of view, so even a straight line will appear a bit distorted if you’re not seeing it at the optimal angle (sitting off to the side or above it).

Here’s another mockup of the set projection, this time with the aim of projecting a circle. Oof.

In order to get a smooth circle onto the walls and closet, the UV map gets pretty choppy and weird looking.

In order to get a smooth circle onto the walls and closet, the UV map gets pretty choppy and weird looking.

Looks like so much fun right?! Well if you think that’s fun, also remember that we’re trying to map ANIMATION onto the set. Meaning if we want to map a circle onto the set in MOTION, each frame of motion will have to be cut up and mapped onto the UV map so it corresponds to the correct location on the set once it’s projected.

It would be humanly impossible to do that in the amount of time we have, and might drive everyone insane. Luckily there are some After Effects tools that can help the process along, and Theo has been doing some research into what will work best for us!

We’ve got a rough 3D model of the set built, and unwrapped it so we have a rough starting UV map. Hooray!

Now all that’s left is for us to see what we can do with this! Wish us luck and see ya next week, ya squares. Stay cubular.

Post #21 - F & T Progress

Hey agaaaaaain internet people it’s Erin, checkin in with progress for Feathers and Teeth!

The team visited the stage where the show will be performed for the first time last week, and it was so cool to see the space! The set you see in the photos is not for Feathers and Teeth, but we were able to do some initial projection testing and get some feedback on our look dev and storyboards.

Cheesin’.

Cheesin’.

The WET production team is awesome and was able to quickly put together a window for us, which is what our animations will be projected on. We learned some important things from it, like how the colors and contrast are effected once they’re projected, and how we could improve on the clarity of our boards.

Testing the projections!

Testing the projections!

We brought the lights down to get a better idea of what the audience will see during the show.

We brought the lights down to get a better idea of what the audience will see during the show.

Here’s some of the amazing art we tested last week. We’re starting to hone in on our artistic style, and it’s looking so good! In my unbiased opinion.

We’ve also been working on storyboards for our animated sequences, and we got some great feedback this week! Here are some stills:

You’ll notice we have a window template overlaid on the boards and in some cases we’re using the panes as sort of comic book panels! The WET team really liked that, so we’ll be honing that style more this week as well as applying other design feedback.

We’re having a great time working with WET, be sure to follow them on socials here: @theemsemble

That’s all for this week! See ya next time!

Post #20 - Feathers and Teeth!

Heyoooooo! Erin here. The Broom Kids are all super excited about our newest project and we wanted to share it with you all. It’s a huge departure for us in terms of scope and content and just about everything and we can’t wait!

For the next few months, we are going to be working on a production of Feathers and Teeth, put on by the Washington Ensemble Theater wooooooo!


Feathers and Teeth is a dark comedy/horror written by Charise Castro Smith and was first produced in 2015. This will be its Seattle premiere! The whole team has read the script, and all of us were very excited at the potential for animation to really drive home the story. We were also all deeply creeped out. Hang on to your hats, people. It’s about to be Halloween in springtime.


We’ve had several meetings with the WET production team and are diving right in this week, getting started on storyboards for our contributions to the show. Without giving away too much, we will be using projected animation and effects to help tell this story, which is an exciting new medium for us! It’s not something that’s done very often with stage productions so we’re hoping that it will really make the show stand out.


The WET team is very inspired by the look and feel of films by Tim Burton (who isn’t?) so that’s going to be a huge artistic influence for how the animated scenes and effects will look. At our first meeting for the project, the team watched Coraline to get us into that sorta creepy mindset. That movie is so pretty and creepy and just generally awesome. Brb watching it again.

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Below are a couple of other main references we’re going to be working with.

This sequence in Harry Potter is so beautiful, but also very simple with powerful silhouettes. Also Harry Potter rules. I’m in Gryffindor. That’s unrelated.

This short film has a very cool paper cut out style that we’re going to be referencing. This film is real flippin disturbing y’all, you’ve been warned.

These are some other reference images the art team has found. We’ve all got the spooks.

Because our work is going to be projected, we have to think a little bit differently about how we can best visually communicate the story. High contrast and strong shapes are going to be our friend, so that the animation stands out nicely when it’s projected onto the set. Oh yeah PS, our animation is going to be directly projected onto the set! How cool is that! We’re still early in production, but it looks like we’re going to have 6 or 7 projectors at our disposal, which is awesome and gives us a lot of flexibility. Maybe we want to project creepy shadows moving on the floor, or even project right onto the actors faces! So many possibilities. Also, in theater, visual clarity can be severely impacted by the audience’s location in the theater, which is not something we normally have to think about in a traditional pipeline. We want to make sure everyone in the audience gets a clear view of what we’re trying to convey.

Along with references, we’re also looking at how best to actually animate all this stuff! After some consideration, we think that a mainly 2D pipeline will work best in terms of efficiency, and will also support the aesthetic we’re going for better. So, this will be an After Effects-heavy production! Luckily there are tons of great plugins and tools out there for 2D animation in After Effects, so we’re doing our homework and finding what’s going to work best for us.

The team is pumped to get started on this project and to learn more about theater production, projection mapping, 2D animation and effects, and all things creepy! Tickets and more info can be found here. We hope you’ll follow along with our progress, and see a show in spring!

WAFA Demo Wrap-up

Heya, Xing here.

With the holiday season approaching and the year coming to a close, we wrapped up our three month extended game project: We Are Fantastic Architects: The Were Glitch Project. You can play the demo [here].

It was an awesome project to lead and I’m stoked our friends and family were able to play it at our Demo Party and BBQ. We got some amazing feedback on the demo and were able to apply that to the rest of the game, finishing it up in December alongside Ye Xu, a project by our friend Brian Park.

[WAFA the game is based on a cartoon series pitch Ben and I made for the Nick Shorts Program initially. While it was rejected, the idea was something we deeply resonated with; a bunch of creatives working and living together, trying to make it out in the world. I pitched it as a game for our fourth project and the rest is history.]

Some retrospective on the game itself; WAFA was the first game that we attempted that had the makings of a traditional, story driven rpg. From our previous projects and learning about how to best utilize our skills and talents, I tried my best to manage the team so that everyone had something to do at all times. It worked out for the most part with the art team (Zori, Nelson, Erin, and I) having enough backgrounds to work on and the design and story team (Ben, Theo, and I) working together to make sure we knew what we needed from Art. 

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However with game development being game development, the process took much longer than anticipated. As the project took place over the course of the summer, scheduling everyone was a nightmare. Even trying to find a date that worked with everyone on the team for the BBQ was a hassle, as our studio director Ben can attest to. We made it work and in a mad scramble in the last two weeks, we (mostly Theo) managed to put together a playable demo and showed it off at our BBQ.

When Fall came, we decided to continue working on WAFA alongside a second project, Ye Xu, an animated music video. It was a challenge to balance two projects at once, especially when our development team is quite small. The work fell on mostly Theo and Ben’s plates and as for me, as an artist, my time was divided between the two projects.

Working with a musician was an interesting challenge. While it was not Broom Cupboard’s first time hiring a composer, t was my first time communicating extensively with one for the sake of a project. The guy who arranged the pieces you hear in WAFA was Michael Vallejo. He is a chip tune artist from Seattle and his work can be found [here]. 

In my feedback and direction notes to Michael on the pieces he arranged, I frankensteined together my foggy recollection of music terminology and did the textual approximation of gesturing wildly to indicate something I wanted. Michael still picked up what I meant and delivered exactly what I was asking. Overall, a great guy to work with!

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While the game is only 2/7 of the way done, it is in a place I am pretty happy with. Big ups to Ben and Theo for taking the project to completion. Now that it’s January 2019, we as a studio are collectively moving on to our next project, Feathers and Teeth, doing animation work for a stageplay!

Post #19 - Two Simultaneous Projects Wrap-Up!

Heyoooooo it’s Erin here, checking in with our progress on WAFA and Ye Xu! Both projects are starting to wrap up in the next couple weeks, so the team is in that last grind before a hard deadline. Real fun stuff!



WAFA

Since we adjusted scope on WAFA down from 7 days of playable game to 3, Ben and Theo have really been carrying the team on WAFA, getting the dialogue and story written, and put into Unity.

We’ve also been working with our awesome sound artist. Michael Vallejo, on some super cool music for the game! We’re loving how it’s coming along.

Xing, our project lead for WAFA, summed up our experiences over the last few months!


Ye Xu

While Ben and Theo are busting their butts in architect land, the rest of the team has been working on Ye Xu, the music video project directed by our friend Brian Park!

There’s been a lot of great look dev work going on, developing assets and backgrounds for the film. Check out some of this awesome stuff coming out of the art team:

Colorscripts.

Colorscripts.

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Nelson, our project lead for Ye Xu, summed up our experiences over the last few months!

We’re all super duper excited to see how these projects wrap up! Sweepy Holidays from Broom Cupboard Studios!

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Post #18 - Get to Know the Team - Zixing Guo!

Hey again y’all! It’s Erin. Again. Guess what we’re doing this week! Getting to know another member of the teeeaaaam yay! Last but most definitely least, is Xing Guo! Just kidding she’s not least but don’t tell her I said that. Xing does tons of amazing art and vis dev for our projects at Broom Cupboard, and is also head creep of the studio. Let’s learn more about her! In a.. succinct fashion.


You do mostly visual development work for Broom Cupboard. Where does your interest in that area come from?

I like drawing. Plus I can’t animate or code so yeah.

What do you think is the most valuable thing you’ve learned in your artistic career?

That the fine arts wasn’t for me actually. I learned that I prefer being artistic in interdisciplinary settings where I can collaborate with others who have different skill sets.

Asphodel - Webcomic series.

Asphodel - Webcomic series.

How would you describe your art style?

Inconsistent lol. But angular and graphical is how I draw nowadays.

You’ve designed all sorts of things for Broom Cupboard. Do you have a preference between environment design and character design? Why?

No preference, it depends on my mood. I think I prefer environmental design because it’s relaxing to paint.

Asphodel - Webcomic series.

Asphodel - Webcomic series.

What’s your favorite medium to work in?

I might’ve said digital a while back but lately I enjoy using ballpoint or felt ink in a notebook.


What’s been your favorite Broom Cupboard project so far and why?

Eggtoast. That was chill. Plus we got to eat hot pot and everything.


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You’ve led multiple projects for Broom Cupboard in the past. How is leading a project different from being a team member?

More stressful. More involved. I have to deal with people’s schedules which is a nightmare.


Are there any people (artists or otherwise) that particularly inspire you in your work?

Hmmm I have a longgg list of people. But right now my art style is especially inspired by artists my age who live on twitter/tumblr. Millionfish, harkbus, k_col.



What’s your favorite vegetable?

Potato. Very versatile vegetable.

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What animated movie should literally everyone in the universe watch? If you had to pick only one.

This is hard. Let’s go with Mulan.

Asphodel - Webcomic series.

Asphodel - Webcomic series.

Where can readers find your socials and see more of your awesome work?

My insta is my least offensive so @z_xingguo.

Post #17 - Get to Know the Team - Ben Schiffler!

Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy guys it’s Erin! This week we’re getting to know the founder/creator/overlord of Broom Cupboard Studios, Beeeeeenjaminathan Schiffler! He’s a real cool guy. The team loves having him lead the studio, and he’s created an amazing space for all of us to be creative and work together. There’s nothin’ better! In this exclusive tell-all interview, he reveals the secret to happiness, and how to get him to do literally anything for you. Pretty intense stuff. Check it out!


Out of all the Broom Kids, you’re the most story-focused. What made you decide to specialize in that? Are there any other areas of the pipeline that especially interest you? Why?

Story is the bomb! To me, stories are the best way that people can teach and learn about stuff that really matters. I’ve always loved stories in any medium, and I think it’s a truly noble goal to make real, honest stories that are delightful and important.

Also… it’s one of those rare things that anyone in the world, of any age, can recognize as good. People may have different tastes, but a good story?

Anyone in the world can spot a bad story from a good one.

What inspired you to create Broom Cupboard Studios?

A lot of things! Part of it was a desire to work with all my friends on projects again, before they all flew off to different parts of the country/continent to get full time jobs elsewhere.

Part of it was to build a lot of learnings about how to run a creative studio, and part of it was to have some projects I could publicly talk about working on since my job at Amazon is under crazy-strict NDAs.

Pretzel 2 Meet U - Webcomic series. Illustrations by Emma Schulte.

Pretzel 2 Meet U - Webcomic series. Illustrations by Emma Schulte.


What do you hope to accomplish with Broom Cupboard?

To me, Broom Cupboard has always been a learning experience. Even if we didn’t complete any of our projects (which, surprisingly, we’ve completed them all so far!) we still would learn about what it takes to run a creative, independent digital art production studio. And learn how to make new projects which we’d never seen before.

Someday in the future, I for sure plan to start a business doing this for real. So anything I can learn about in the meantime is just sweet preparation!

Also, I just want to hang out with rad inspiring artists, make cool projects, and eat good food with them. That’s been my secret goal all along (・ω・´)

What has been one of the most important things you’ve learned so far from Broom Cupboard?

Too many to count! But here’s a simple one: Food Is Important. It’s crazy how much bonding and work can come from having everyone in a room, eating together around a table. I’d advise anyone on any project to always buy food for your team meetings! It’s an incredibly smart investment. And you get to eat good food! Win/win!

Asphodel - Webcomic series. Illustrations by Zixing Guo.

Asphodel - Webcomic series. Illustrations by Zixing Guo.

What’s been your favorite project so far and why?

Honestly, impossible to answer. Each one has been really fun, really interesting, and really difficult in their own way.

If I had to pick one though, I’d probably say Detective Corgi! I think it played well to our whole team having different strengths and trying new things, was really charming, and did a good job of pushing our production pipeline.


Where do you think your passion for animation and storytelling comes from?

Deffo my dad. He always read books to me as a kid - The Hobbit was a super formative work for me - and as I grew up, he pushed me to follow creative endeavors and go the extra mile to make projects I worked on great. I for sure wouldn’t be doing Broom Cupboard if it weren’t for the many nights of of Redwall and Harry Potter and other fantastical tales <3 <3 <3

KaijuKart VR is a solo-built asymmetrical multiplayer VR game project built for the University of Washington's 2016 Design Show. Built in Unity for the HTC Vive, it pits four players racing hoverkarts against a single player in VR who acts as a giant trying to squash them with giant boulders.

Are there any people (artists or otherwise) that particularly inspire you in your work?

Aaaabsolutely. Rebecca Sugar is a huge inspiration to everything I do forever and always. I’ve always looked up to Alan Turing (I did get a degree in Computer Science) and Tolkien, except for those real problematic bits of Middle Earth...

Neil Gaiman, Yuko Ota, Hiromi Arakawa, Gurihiru, Ryan North… I have a lot of inspiration from comics and graphic novels too, since I do love how universal visual storytelling is. I think every storyteller in the world can learn a whole lot by looking at some pictures!


What’s your favorite vegetable?

Mmm… Butter lettuce! Give me a salad with butter lettuce, avocado, tomato, a little red onion, any vinaigrette dressing, fresh ground pepper and some chopped walnuts…

That is the surefire way to make me do literally anything.

Downskilling is a fast, skill-based multiplayer game, made by Ben Schiffler and Theo Chin. You play as one of a pair of battling acorns on a stage speeding down an avalanche, trying to knock the other acorns off the screen using time-slowing grenades shot from your trusty grenade launcher. Check out the current demo at laserswords.net/downskilling or follow us at @laserswordz and @Mraznbuddy on twitter for more updates!

What animated show should literally everyone in the universe watch? If you had to pick only one.

Yipe! Well, I’d usually say Steven Universe, or whatever I’ve most recently watched (Avatar: The Last Airbender reruns are the new hotness at the Broom Cupboard, and She-Ra, Yuru Camp and Hilda aren’t far behind). But if you only get one? Hmm…

I’d say throw on the full series of Over the Garden Wall on halloween night, with a hot cup of jasmine tea and a bag of reese's peanut butter cups. You will literally never be happier.

Ghost Girl and Kitten - An interactive platforming web browser game.

Ghost Girl and Kitten - An interactive platforming web browser game.

Where can readers find your socials and see more of your awesome work?

Follow me on twitter @benschiffler, or go see all the latest projects I’m a-working on at www.benschiffler.com. Thanks for the Q’s, Erin! :) <3

Post #16 - Two Simultaneous Projects!

Hello, friends! Ben here. Just doing a quick checkin on our current two projects we’re working on: Yexu and WAFA! Quick recap of what those projects are:

Ye Xu

A short animated music video, directed by our good friend and collaborator Brian Park.

It’s roughly 4.5 min long, will be 3D animated, and is set to an absolutely incredible song by the stellar Jyun Jyun (called Ye Xu) you can listen to on their soundcloud.

We Are Fantastic Architects

Abbreviated to WAFA, this project is based on a TV story that Xing and I created, this game is a 2D Story-based RPG in pixel style.

We created a demo of one day of the game, and envisioned the entire game as taking place over 7 days. More on that later!


So the big challenge Broom Cupboard wanted to take on over these three months was: Can we successfully work on two projects, simultaneously, with team overlap, over the course of 3 Months? In so doing, we found this to be SUPER DUPER HARD! Which should seem obvious, but hey, that’s never stopped us from being super ambitious before.

Above is some gorgeous concept art for Ye Xu by Xing. Xing is simultaneously leading WAFA and working on concept art. Time management, scope, communication, clear deadlines, and frequent collaborative checkins have been key to making sure these projects go smooth.

Recently, we just had a good tough talk about production, making sure to keep our scope focused. As part of this, we centered our goals around one focus: Make sure that by December 31st, we have a rendered version of every single shot in the film, looking as good as we can muster!

Above are a bunch of art assets, outlining the various rooms of Dubs, the architects trusty turtle in WAFA. As we worked on prioritizing WAFA, we reset our goal to have at least THREE DAYS by the end of December, as opposed to all 7 we have outlined in our story.

We also re-prioritized how we were going about building the game: instead of going day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and then 7, we instead ordered it as 1, 2, 7, and then if we have time, add in 3, then 4, 5, and 6 as development time permits.

Above, you can see an absolutely gorgeous test rendered out by Zori for our take on the Look and Feel for the film. Building on our first short film, we’re going for a 2D/3D mishmosh for a stylized, ink-wash esque aesthetic, with super stylized colors. We can’t wait for you to see it!!


That about wraps it up for me this week! Erin also made some rad as heck business cards for Broom Cupboard that we threw around all over the place at CTN and have adorbs little pixel art versions of all the Broom Kids on the back. <3

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While doing two projects at once is super tough… it’s also really educational! It very much pushes us to work hard to communicate, stay focused, manage our scope, and do our work.

Speaking of… I should go get some more dialogue in for Day Two of WAFA, so I better head out.

Til next time!! -Ben

Post #15 - Get to Know the Team - Amanda Cook!

Hey y’all - Erin here! Most of the team is coming back from CTN this week and we’re real tired. But we get to learn about how awesome one of our Amandas is! The other Amanda is cool too but this isn’t about her right now. We call this current Amanda Zori sometimes because her middle name is Zorianna and that’s badass. She is one of our amazing look development and concept artists. She also does a lot of super awesome shading/texturing and lighting, aaaaand she loves Pusheen. Let’s learn more Zori Facts!


Like the rest of the Broom Kids, you started your 3D journey at the University of Washington. How do you think that experience has affected you and your goals as an artist?

When I started taking classes that involved 3D computer animation, it completely changed my career path. I never realized how much I loved the field and that it could be a career for me. I wouldn’t be where I’m at now without that experience and probably still be seeking out art careers I feel like I fit in most. I’m very happy as a look development artist creating shaders and textures for characters and assets.  

“Short Changed” color studies from the UW.

“Short Changed” color studies from the UW.

“Short Changed” textures.

“Short Changed” textures.

You’ve completed some online 3D pipeline related courses. What has been your experience with those, and what is the most valuable thing you got from them?

Thanks to those classes I have a better understanding how my work in the pipeline will affect other parts of the pipeline. You work as team and you understand how each team in the pipeline is important. I also have a better understanding what parts of the pipeline I enjoy most. I know now that rigging may not be my thing, but I enjoy lighting and shading.

“Mother and Child”

“Mother and Child”

Where do you think your passion for art and animation comes from?

Art is a part of me and who I’ve always been. If I didn’t draw, paint or create, I would feel meaningless. I’m just fortunate to be raised by family who supports me and my art. Both my parents would support my efforts in art and enjoyed every piece I’d make, whether it was good or bad. My dad always hoped that I would make a series of paintings he could sell at festivals.

When I was 4 years old, I remember watching Toy Story for the first time and being blown away by it. I wondered how they made the film and studied the lighting and textures. Pocahontas came out around the same time and I fell in love with the film based on the colors and lighting. It was beautiful. I just never thought of it as a career, until I took 3D animation classes at the University of Washington.

“Studio Room”

“Studio Room”

Are there any people (artists or otherwise) that particularly inspire you in your work?

Loish has been a great inspiration for me since I was 13 yrs old. That when I got my first DeviantArt account and found her work. It’s kind of cheesy, but her drawings and illustrations touches my soul. The colors and line art are beautiful and I always feel something different in each piece she creates. I’m constantly studying her work and it would be a lie not say that my work is influenced by her.

Claude Monet is another artist that inspires me. I love expressionism and his use of colors and lines and shapes are genius. I loved his series of painting that are the same scene but with different colors and light depending on the time of day.

My freshman year of high school I had to select a famous artist and do a master study of a piece they made. I chose Monet to study his use of color, line and shape and painted Lady with a Parasol.

“Reflection”

“Reflection”

You were our Project Lead for our awesome kick ass game Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion. How was being a Project Lead? What drove you to propose that project?

Whenever we start a new project, everyone has to propose a project idea. I’ve always wanted to make an interactive story game with Twine and thought it would be cool if we did that as a month long project. I LOVE CORGIS! So I pitched the idea of making a Twine game and that it would be about a corgi. I didn’t have a story in mind at the time. Ben Schiffler came up with a list of awesome stories for the corgi and one of them was about a detective corgi and I loved the idea.

Being a Project Lead was alright. It definitely had its challenges. We had a month to create the game and a lot of people were out of town for summer shenanigans. So coordinating the project where we can get all the content done, schedule meetings and meet our deadlines to a lot thought and effort from not only me but the entire team. I’m proud of what the team made in such a short amount of time.

Poster for Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion.

Poster for Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion.


What do you enjoy most about being a Broom Kid?

Since the projects are a wide range of animations and games, I’m always trying new artist things that I normally wouldn’t do. I’ve enjoyed getting to make 2D animations, pixel art, 2D game assets, and make unique shaders and textures for films.

I also love how everyone has a voice in what projects we work on. We also can pitch thoughts and opinions during production on what we want to work on, what would be cool to have in the project, as well as voice concerns we may have. It’s pretty open where you can speak up if you need to.

Lastly, everyone in studio is fun to work with. It’s a great environment when you work with people who are talented and are are like family to you.

Background for Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion.

Background for Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion.

What are your goals for your career as an artist?

I hope to move further in my career as a shading/texture artist and make it into full feature films. Afterwards I would also love to work for a company called Polyarc that makes VR games. I fell in love with their game called Moss, and would love to be a part of their team to make great VR games.

What’s your favorite vegetable?

That’s easy! The potato! Potatoes are delicious in any cooked form. They’re a great comfort food that I’ll eat any day. :)

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Where can readers find your socials and see more of your awesome work?

I’m on a lot of social pages. My instagram is the most active page and all my work can be seen on tumblr.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zoriannaarts/

Tumblr: http://zoriannaarts.tumblr.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZoriannaArts/

ArtStation:https://www.artstation.com/skyzer04

Also my website:
Amandazoriannacook.com