Jesse Griffith delivers just-in-time animation for late-night laughs
During our trip to Comic-Con San Diego we met Jesse Griffith, a member of the Jimmy Kimmel Live graphics crew and a fan of CrazyTalk. Jesse shared his CrazyTalk experience with us and talked about animating on a deadline with JKL. We enjoyed it so much we asked him to answer a few questions for the community. Watch Jimmy Kimmel Live! weeknights on ABC (www.jimmykimmellive.com) Also, don’t miss Jesse’s award-winning sci-fi short, Cockpit:The Rule of Engagement, which premiered during Comic-Con and is currently invading the world.
Here’s a bit of Jesse’s handywork with a Twilight spoof:
You’re an artist for Jimmy Kimmel Live, tell us about your work on the show.
JG: I work in the graphics dept, which means I do something different every day. Some days I create title graphics for fake news bits or fictional movies, other days we are putting members of our staff in current blockbusters as a gag through the magic of green screen, and on other days we are requested to create three minute animated bits that need to air that night. The latter is the doozy, so we are always looking for a way to animate faces faster. I consider myself a “Fast Food Graphics artist.” It may not be the finest cuisine, but it is darn funny and we reach millions of people a day.
How has CrazyTalk worked for you in the studio, with the writers and with deadlines of a daily TV show?
JG: I use a lot of different software packages in my line of work, and CrazyTalk is one of those blades in my graphic “pocket knife” that gets me through the day. Quite simply, CrazyTalk has made bits possible that would have otherwise missed deadline. Jimmy Kimmel is big on topical jokes, so often the bits he selects to produce need to be completed that day for air that night; otherwise someone else might tell the joke or it gets stale. We get our scripts between eleven am and noon, sometimes later. So that gives us 3 to 5 hours to do several animated shots. That could take forever if key-framing mouth movement by hand. On top of that, scripts change and performances are swapped. CrazyTalk allows me to easily swap voice files at the last minute and to meet an otherwise impossible deadline.
Beyond JKL, you are also a filmmaker and recently released, “Cockpit,” with a great cast and CG. How has new tools like those from Reallusion helped independent filmmakers?
JG: I don’t know how it’s affecting the indy community, but I know that it should be making waves. And if it isn’t, then I need to be making the waves. Your software is amazing and a literal dream come true. Since I was a seven year old boy, I have always tried to do effects way out of my league. I used to shoot super 8mm (J.J. Abrams wasn’t the only one) and to scratch laser beams onto film with a razor blade, and make spaceships out of Legos and Milano cookies. Endearing… but lacking. The tools were just not there. And now I see iClone, and I wish I had something like that back then…. and my mind starts percolating. What can I use it for now? Ooohh do I do a story about someone trapped in a video game as a video game character? Do I shoot another all greenscreen piece with iClone’s library of customizable sets? I’ll let you know.
The dynamics, the environments, and the fact you can isolate any one element and composite it in another package gives the power of an entire effects studio at the hands of one artist. When I look back on the “The Last Starfighter” which was the first space movie to do entire CG exteriors, the computer that was used cost 8 million dollars. I bet you could do every fx shot with a $1500 computer and a copy of iClone.
When I first saw CrazyTalk, I admit, I was skeptical of another consumer or pro-sumer animation package. But when the writers of Jimmy Kimmel Live had more and more last minute ideas, CrazyTalk’s ability to non-destructively swap audio files for an animation made it an indispensable tool that saves me hours. I am now a Realillusion fan: They create inexpensive tools that are great to let amateurs dive in and create professional looking work, and those same tools belong in every professional’s bag of tricks when they need to create something overly ambitious in a short amount of time.