Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a couplah things, pt. 42

1. I take back what I said about Tron Legacy. Not the part where I said I liked it, but the part where I said I didn't know what I'd do differently (I'm working on a new crappy plot synopsis/breakdown). I'm still not completely sure what would be different, BUT I can say for sure that it involves the internet. Also, unattainable goals.

2. Doing "research" oh various coaster car restraints, I can say with 100% certainty that lap bars are definitely the way to go for my roller coaster project based on the 1954 sci fi thriller "THEM!"

(this phase of research has been phenomenally fun)

3. Hats off to the team that designed this ride:


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tron Legacy mini review

I'm currently wired on caffine and can't sleep right now (it's a long story.) so why not be productive AND BLOG? B]

Tonight I saw Tron Legacy

First and foremost, I can't stress how gorgeous Tron Legacy is (see above pic for case and point). If you're going to see it, don't let me build up your expectations too much, but WOW. It's all eye candy. Delicious, delicious eye candy. The visuals are really what carried me through the movie, if anything else, and I can't say that for Avatar, at least for me.

Describing the soundtrack is impossible in family friendly terms, in the good way. Just listen:

Now, I've been reading a lot about the how the plot is boring and the movie is lengthy- these are partially true. At its core, Tron Legacy is an action movie with some father/son action built in. The pacing left something to be desired as well; The beginning of the movie is very action heavy, so when it gets to the middle part, it starts to slow down. Don't get me wrong, the slower stuff is absolutely essential to understanding the plot and the characters (and I loved it.), but the contrast between the balls-to-the-wall action sequences (Did I mention that this movie is gorgeous?) and then the slower middle bit makes it feel lethargic. This, unfortuantely, stretches out to the end as well, which isn't to say that the end is boring, but compared to the beginning, it's slower.

The problem, in my recent-college-grad opinion, is that it hits too hard too fast at the beginning. As a bad analogy, think of it like this:

You're going scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef. The moment you jump in, a huge school of manta rays, great whites, and the legendary Kracken form a school around you and shortly depart, leaving you with the reef. It's not that the reef itself isn't also beautiful, but compared to the sheer excitement of what you just saw, it kind of dampers it a bit.

That's how I felt about Tron Legacy; it's not that the middle and end are boring; they're paced like any other action movie would be. It's just that the opening is so exciting that, in comparison, the middle and end FEEL like they drag.

HOWEVER, having said that, I don't know how I would have done it any differently to make a more solid plot or a more solid pacing. The slower bits are, again, absolutely essential to understanding the world of the grid. The end wraps up everything and our heroes finally confront the villains. Besides maybe extending the conflict/fight at the end to make it more satisfying and add more tension, for all of its problems, I wouldn't change a thing about Tron Legacy. It's not the greatest script/plot in the world (the first Tron had a pretty cheesetastic script/plot as well), but it's still a very good movie.

I am going to see Tron Legacy again, perhaps twice. I rarely want to see movies in theaters more than once, but that's how good I think this movie is.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


So I bought minecraft.

And then the first thing I did (besides get blown to bits by an exploding zombie thingy) was to make myself fashionable. Like the Rocketeer.

(I am such a nerd)

Coming up with this was actually pretty hard, especially that helmet. For those of you that don't know, minecraft's player meshes are pretty much limited to just blocks- you can't actually add on anything on top of it for more detail. Also, textures are limited to a 64 by 32 pixel image, so any notion of details is pretty much out of the window.

texturing for something that small is almost like doing a really low poly model- each pixel counts and needs to display a hundred times more information than a pixel in a higher res image.

But, of course, limitations leads to creativity. Star Wars (the only 3 star wars movies ever made!) came up with some pretty damn ingenious methods to do effects (starfighter animation especially; moving a camera around a stationary object? BRILLIANT!) because they didn't have computers. The most distinct feature of the Rocketeer helmet was the fin; I actually ended up hacking a hair overlay to display the top part of the fin, which makes a huge difference in its sillouette from the front to 3/4 angles

Friday, December 10, 2010

Them! first layout

I can pretty much tell you off the bat that this layout isn't going to work/isn't final, but hey it's a start. I can't quite poinpoint WHY it won't work yet but once I start building the set in 3D I'll have to made changes to the track/path

Oh yeah I also need to calculate how fast this thing is going to go. And how many Gs this thing is going to pull. And if the human body can take those Gs (this is the part where I say "GEE I AM GLAD I PAID ATTENTION DURING MY PHYSICS CLASS!")

Updates are slowing down now because I'm busy juggling work, freelance stuff, lack of life, hopes, dreams, and this adorable baby image

Seriously look at that baby

Thursday, December 2, 2010

take a break and paint something

So I've been animating/illustrating for about 10 hours today. I decided to take a break and paint something

seriously what is wrong with my brain

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

pink elephant?!

minor break from the roller coaster thing (I'm still working on it but I felt like drawing something else)

I've had an idea for a father/son story set in a crime noir that stars a pink elephant as a private eye (ear?) for a while now and I'm writing the script out for that (feature length film? One can dream). Here's a really quick/crappy sketch (mostly because I can't sleep)

Monday, November 22, 2010

THEM! (script)

Do you write scripts for roller coasters? Here's a list of the design elements I hope to hit. It's pretty much like how I make shot lists for cartoon projects:

[act 1: This is bad]
1. Pull out of station
2. Ride by viewing area (photo op for families)
3. Tunnel/onramp (lift hill), false end
---3a. Ant lights up (pictures taken on ride)
---3b. Launch (small boost over the top of the hill)
---3c. Fall through hole in the tunnel
4. Dark tunnel

5. Emerge outside
6. Descend into the ground, pass by 2nd guest viewing area
7. Dark tunnel (still falling)

8. Emerge in underground hive
---scenery: worker ants, glowing grubs, queen (last thing the riders
9. Escape through sewer hole

[act 2: This is worse]

10. Emerge outside in city (via concrete canals) ß Terminator 2 reference goes here, MAC truck with top half cut off
11. Ride through scenes of ants attacking the city

[act 3: the US Army saves the day!]
12. As riders go on, they see more and more of the army
13. Ride past scenes of the army destroying the ants (start with seeing the fronts of tanks behind the ants, end up behind the tanks)s
14. Scenes of the army victorious (dead ants)

15. Return to station (animatronic flying queen on side of the building right before riders enter station for unloading)

Naturally I'm going with a 3 act structure because they're easy to follow and 3's a satisfying number.

Of course, now comes the design phase. I started sketching a route of the track and I'm wondering if it's actually possible to pull off everything in that script, especially the part where I want to have the trains pass by a viewing area where riders can wave goodbye to loved ones before heading off on an adventure. Working in a first drop that's visible to people riding by the ride is also proving to be a bit tricky

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

THEM! Jeep cart

This is pretty close to the feel that I want it to have

For a more intimate experience, each train will only hold 12 people, with 3 carts of 2 by 2 seats. Each cart is separated by a jeep nose, which opens up more space for passengers to see stuff (as opposed to the back of other people's heads). Hopefully it'll also help push the idea that they're in a convoy of people getting evacuated from the city of LA.

Naturally, I hit another design decision: How long should the nose of each jeep be? Should they all be the same size? Full sized jeep noses between the carts would make the cart too long, so I shortened it a bit for the ones behind.

But now the noses aren't the same size, which kind of looks funny from the side (see the above 2 pics). I want the space in front of the riders to be more open so that they can see more, but it can't be too long or it'll just be a waste of space. For now I'm going with snub noses in the middle, and a full nose in the front (I think it just looks better that way)

Another design consideration I need to look into is if the wheels for the coaster (not modeled) that glide along the track are spaced out far enough or if they're too close. How do you figure that out anyways? :P

And an action shot!

As far as the feel that I want this coaster to have, this is what I'm hoping to avoid:

The ride's called "Terminator Salvation" and the ride itself has little to nothing to do with the namesake. I think they play music there, but for the most part, if I were to mute it, it'd be generic coaster #402 (Not saying it's bad, but how else can you describe this besides "wooden coaster"?)

These are kind of close to what I'm hoping for (though THEM! will be longer)

So it'll be more about zipping through enclosed spaces than speed and height. The thrill will be from flying through an environment rather than "Oh crap I am 300 feet up"


The first dream job I ever had was to be a roller coaster designer. I'm not that great at math and I have no idea how I would ever get a job as a roller coaster designer (really, how many coaster firms are there beside Intamin and Bolliger & Mabillard and Disney Imagineering?).

Of course, that hasn't diminished my love of roller coasters. The end flying sequence of my thesis film D was pretty much just me designing a roller coaster (putting the hours I poured into Roller Coaster Tychoon to good use!)

I've been particularly tickled with the idea of using rides as narrative devices (see: just about every ride at Disney World), and I've been itching to make my own roller coaster the past couple of weeks, so I'm going to design a roller coaster based off of my favorite 1950s sci fi thriller, THEM!

I'm not completely done with the cart design yet, but the first big design consideration I hit was what kind of harness I would use.

At first I modeled some shoulder harnesses, which allow for riders to safely experience some insane acrobatic tricks (pretzel rolls, corkscrews, and my favorite, the snake roll)

(coolest coaster ever: get launched out at 40+mph, immediately descend into a snake roll)

And inversions are always fun, so the first obvious choice was to use shoulder harnesses.


As I started modelling the shoulder harness, I quickly realized that riders would have a hard time seeing left and right. Being that I'm trying to work a sort of narrative aspect into this ride, being able to see your environment is going to be essential to the storytelling, so the shoulder harnesses went out and lap bars went in. Of course, this means that I won't be able to pull off my more favorite coaster acrobatics, but that makes designing this coaster more of a challenge: How do you make a roller coaster thrilling without the use of inversions?

Friday, October 22, 2010

started up again

Dee got put on the backburner, partially because looking for jobs is a top priority, partialy because my life got weird and crazy.

Also because the layout I was working on wasn't working and I kept on trying to force it and last night I said "screw it I'm doing page 2 over again"


Thursday, August 26, 2010


I started up a webcomic.

You should check it out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nature comes up with cooler stuff than I can, pt. 800

of course, I sent my scanner home yesterday, so here's a crappy under-lit picture.

Really stoked that I can draw again.


I still have a lot to learn. But I digress! My brain and my arms are talking again

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

slightly new reel!

demo reel summer 2010 from Jerry Chan on Vimeo.

the only things I can't claim in here are the music and some bits from Caldera (namely the turtle animation + models + rigs of the fish scene and the scene with the model/layout of the girl staring at the camera at the end). I did, however, animate 70+ fish for the turtle shot and I did animate the girl in the next shot.

Friday, July 16, 2010

oh dear god

so I'm doing a test animatic for the Tell Tale Games job application and I draw this

what is wrong with me

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

blue test anim

Here's a pose test for another math tutoring project I'm working on called "4mality"- as far as I know it's geared towards elementary/middle schoolers

I don't know why, but black is a sacred color to my brain/drawing arm so I usually end up roughing stuff out in blue.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

fish fish fish

You ever try to animate 50 little fish on screen at once?

I think I'm going blind and crazy (though the Bit Films crew is probably the best thing about this internship)

Also, hire me please!

Demo Reel Spring 2010 from Jerry Chan on Vimeo.

Monday, May 31, 2010

gallery pics

Man. All-weekers are NOT fun

(me on thursday morning, trying to catch a nap on the lab tables. They're not comfortable at all)

4:00 AM, Friday: My arm + carpal tunnel is killing me, I'm falling alseep standing up, and I need to get this gallery space set up before I can finally pass out

7:00ish AM: It is finished!

I saw the sun set and rise at least 6 times that past week. Probably the most intense I've ever worked on a project and the furthest I've pushed myself so far in my life.

A little info on the gallery space: I HATE the way most art galleries are set up. Setting up things next to each other neatly on a white wall with black matting really removes that human element from the art and makes it cold and clinical, so my lovely girlfriend Sarah helped me tear off the face of a big piece of cardboard and I used the corrugations as a backdrop for my original concept art

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Graduation, BEST IN SHOW!

I got Best in Show!

For my thesis film, silly. Every year, the UMass Art Department holds their "Junior/Senior Show" where d was selected for third place (studio arts) and tied for first place in best in show.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

d online!

d from Jerry Chan on Vimeo.

(one week only. Then it comes down again while I do a film festival run.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

d animation process

So I entered d into the Cartoon Brew Student Film Festival. Unfortunately that means I can't post it online/premiere it online here :[


Thanks for asking! :DDDDD

Ever seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I followed their production model... mostly. That is, Shoot an invisible man film first, then draw the characters on top later

Phase 1: 3D production

The first step was to build and all the 3D assets seen in the film, from mountain tops to airships to robots. Think of it like building a set for a film or for a stage. Next, all the 3D actors (i.e. spiderbots) were placed on the sets and animated. A camera was placed on the set and the action was shot as if there were an invisible man as the focus of the action. After lighting the scene, I rendered the file and wound up with something that looked like this:

The next phase was to draw in the character. I imported the 3D renders into Macromedia Flash 8 and roughed out the action (if you're wondering why I used blue, it's because black somehow became a sacred color in my mind and I can't ever be messy with it. Blue allows for me to make really loose drawings, mistakes be darned)

With the action roughed out, I cleaned up the blue lines and used the final colors for Dee's o

I duplicated that layer and used that to add in color

I sandwiched another layer below the outlines layer and above the color layer for the shadows (good ol' fashioned painting/drawing techniques used here, if you're wondering how I figured out where to place the shadows)

After this was done, I exported each pass by itself and compiled everything using After Effects.

And the final product!

d is about 5:30, putting it at over 7000 frames. I didn't keep count of exactly how many frames I drew, but I think I was getting carpal tunnel towards the end of production (horray hand stretches!)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

d stills

I've also entered d into the Cartoon Brew Student Film Festival, so here's hoping it gets put up there.

However, if you'd like to see it (and me) again, there will be another screening of my film at the CKC Computer Science Showcase, this Tuesday at around 6:00 at the Computer Science building (very north-west corner on the UMass campus). Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

d premiere!

If you're in the Amherst area, you should totally drop by the A+ Senior Showcase this Friday at 5:00 (Mahar Auditorium)

I'll have original concept/production art up at the Studio Arts Building too!


Also, the event is FREE!

Bring your friends!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Animation progress, pt. 20: The Electric Boogaloo

I have less than 5 weeks to finish up my thesis cartoon and I'm at around 35 of 50 shots animated in 3D.

To put that in perspective:

Shots 1-6 are hand drawn; no 3D required
Shots 7-43 involve lots of 3D elements
Shots 44-50 are hand drawn

The most 3D intensive shots are shots 22 to 43; 3/4 of these are animated
The most intensive hand drawn shots are shots 13 to 24, which I have not started yet

The cartoon's length is about 3:30, excluding credits. I have about 2 minutes of that animated so far in 3D (2D has about a minute's worth of animation that is getting compiled on top

I should be able to finish this cartoon on time, though whether or not it's up to the quality that I want it to be is a completely different question

Monday, March 8, 2010

animation progress

I'm at around 10/50 shots right now and about 2 weeks behind schedule. I might be a bit behind schedule (2 weeks), but all of the shots I've worked on so far are the trickiest of the 3D stuff and I expect to fly through the other 30ish easy 3D shots once I get these ones finished

animation progress 3-7 from Jerry Chan on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Alice in Wonderland review-ish

Before I start off this review, I should add that I am a college senior in animation/film. I have zero experience in the field and I don't know what it's like out there, so take these words with a grain of salt (or the whole mine).

I really wanted to love this movie, honest! But there's something terribly unsettling about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

No, it's not that it's not the traditional happy-go-lucky Disney film that everyone seems used to. I love the fact that it's an original look at Alice, ADDING to the story rather than retelling it. And no, it's not a terrible movie (with the exceptions of some funky fresh dancing). It's just an okay movie. Not great, not bad, just okay. I'm honestly not going to remember this movie in a year.

To understand why I can't call Alice in Wonderland a great movie, let's look at a really, really crappy cam rip of the opening of Serenity (sorry, it's all I can find)

Within the few minutes of being introduced to each of the characters, I at least get such a strong sense of their relationships to each other that I understood each of their characters even without having any prior exposure to the Firefly series. Mal and Jayne's first interaction with each other in the movie clearly establishes Jayne as a trigger happy/ shoot-first-then-shoot-some-more kind of guy. Mal's the leader that's seen better days (but he's used to it), and so forth.

Serenity has a bunch of things going for it- an excellent script, good directing and cinematography, and most importantly, ACTORS THAT UNDERSTAND THEIR CHARACTERS. Rather than merely reading out each line at the correct time, the actors did their homework and created backgrounds and motives for their characters. Everyone has different values and motivations beyond "stand here, point gun this way, say this line"-- good ol' fashioned acting.

The reason why I can't call Alice in Wonderland a good movie is that the characters aren't NEARLY as developed. In fact, they're all pretty flat; no one has much motivation for any of their actions beyond the fact that they're supposed to say it. Does this mean that the actors didn't do their homework? Maybe they did, but it certainly doesn't come through at any point in the film.

(Ah the dangers of green screen acting)

Character interactions never seem to go beyond just saying the lines they were told. Just listen to the voice of the White Rabbit-- absolutely no hint of subterfuge of subtlety in his voice. No frustration as he says "no no! stop!" Alice doesn't look like she's thinking at all- her reaction is more "Oh I'm growing. again. woooo." The Red Queen doesn't seem surprised at all to see a giant naked girl appearing out of nowhere in her garden, yadda yadda, NO ONE HAS ANY EXPRESSIONS IN THIS FILM. A majority of the characters have no life in them at all, just forced expressions, unclear motivations. Even the motion in each character is limited

Compare this acting (and all its wonderous 3D) to Who Framed Roger Rabbit (skip to 8:30)

There's absolutely no aversion at all in the White Rabbit. His cover is about to be blown and he's standing RIGHT NEXT TO THE QUEEN THAT CUTS EVERYONE'S HEAD OFF. Show some fear man! Or some life!

Look, I can understand being frozen in fear, but this is acting 101- getting your body to tell the story. I suspect the rather limited acting on everyone's part is because they're all acting in front of green screens without any hint as to the environment they're situated in (or the live actors at least. I don't know what was up with the animation-- perhaps it was really rushed? I'm going to give the animators the benefit of a doubt and assume that they were put up to a nearly impossible production schedule and had to cut corners)

Besides the limited acting, my biggest beef with Alice in Wonderland is that it has too many characters. No so much "X number of characters is too much!" because Serenity had what, 9 main characters (counting the villian) and that still had a really tight script and solid character relationships. "Too many characters" as in "Burton spent so much time juggling Alice around with the supporting cast that none of the characters could develop, or even express the existence of a believable/real relationship." I wasn't so much as experiencing the movie as waiting for her to get passed off to another member of the cast. At no point in the movie did I fear for her safety (I know I should have) nor did I cheer at her accomplishments; the lack of solid, believable characters in this movie made the movie flat and anticlimactic. Really anticlimactic. It doesn't help that they spoil the ending to their own movie many, many times ahead of the actual ending.

Alice in Wonderland is a pretty straight forward film. See it for the often times spectacular visuals and the novel concept, just don't expect much else.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Regulus touch up

Reactive armor always looks cool

Friday, February 19, 2010

Regulus vs. Aethon

Keep in mind that the Regulus has a wingspan of about 1.5 km and is 700 meters long

Tonight I rigged the Regulus, the giant airship that attacks Dee. I should be ready to start animating act 3 by tomorrow

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Regulus progress

I still need to work more on that landing bay, but now this thing looks scary

Maya crashing

Just to be clear, even though Maya crashes on me every once in a while it doesn't mean that it's a terrible piece of software.

On the contrary, it's probably the most stable 3D packages I've ever used.

Animation Master... now that's a crappy piece of software!

Crashing every 15 seconds to make this (I did the mouse cursor in Flash afterward)

Compared to this, in which I had no crashes at all

So is it a pain in the butt when maya crashes? Sure is! But there are far worse options out there. In fact, I dare say that Maya is actually pretty fun once you get used to it, especially for animation

Spiderbot test rendered from Jerry Chan on Vimeo.

Aethon rigging

Rigging the Aethon right now.

Also I'm using a pitch counter now to count how many times Maya crashes on me now

Also I haven't had a crash in the past couple of hours since I turned off the toon outlines

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I need to go to sleep earlier!

My, how the hours between midnight and 3 AM fly

d hand drawn comp test from Jerry Chan on Vimeo.

Here's a test on how I plan on attacking the hand drawn aspect of d. Basically I'm copying the workflow of Who Framed Roger Rabbit

1. Film/Shoot the movie like an "invisible man" movie
2. Find keyframes. Draw Dee in
3. Inbetween
4. Color
5. Shade (+ post production)
6. Composite

The biggest difference between me and the WFRR crew is that I don't have access to a giant optical camera and that I'm doing this all out digitally. Honestly, I'd rather do this on paper but I simply don't have the time to do that

Friday, February 12, 2010

problem half solved

Looks like the problem was that the normals were flipped (thanks dudes @

But now there's a thick black outline at the end of the wing now. Not quite sure how to figure that out


Problem solved! Apparently you can't ever have a negative scale in Maya, which was causing this thing to get all messed up.

And also there's no documentation on this ever so yeah, thank god for 3D teachers


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

toon shader's acting up

Got a slight problem with the toon outline

It looks like half of the wing (not affected by lights at all) turns really dark. Not quite sure why either- I know it's not the lighting because I shifted the light over and it's still just as dark (like my soul)

Actually it happens in the mountain flyby too

update: The tail's been shaded/textured. The last remaining thing to be mapped/textured is the engine