View Full Version : Secret Agent Entry: Mike McCain

07 July 2009, 07:40 PM
Mike McCain is entered in the "Secret Agent" update: View Challenge Page (

Latest Update: Finished Video: FINAL: Trailer + Making Of + Finished Film (

07 July 2009, 08:28 PM (

Hi everyone! We're entering into this challenge a bit late... but better late than never right?

We think we've got a pretty cool idea for a short involving a spy, some dancing, and LASERS. Our plan is to film stop-motion for the character and greenscreen him into an environment influenced by the Erin Esurance commercials.

Here are some concepts of our spy character that Joon did, for starters. We'll be posting more progress soon.

-- Mike

07 July 2009, 10:15 PM
love the style!

good luck!!

08 August 2009, 06:07 AM (

Thanks pierechod, hope we can finish in time : )

Our animator Ryan just finished sculpting our stopmo character's body - here he is so far!

08 August 2009, 09:12 PM (

This is a test scene we put together to figure out how our pipeline is gonna work. The ball character is just Ryan's leftover model from his animation mentor days, so just a simple chroma key test with him.

Video link: (

Our story is about a 60's era spy who's really full of himself. He's sneaking into the villain's underground lair to retrieve the MacGuffin. Between him and the MacGuffin is a nasty network of deadly laser beams. However, this is child's play for him - he switches on his trusty cassette player and proceeds to dance smugly through the lasers, to the tune of a classical waltz. Before long he's even pulling tricks with the cassette player, like passing it behind his back and rolling it between his arms.

But oops - he fumbles the player, catapulting it into the air and changing the song to a disco beat. For the next few seconds, he frantically tries to recapture the player but it keeps flying out of his hands (and causes the song to change a couple more times.) Will he make it?

Anyway, hopefully this gives you a better idea of the style and story we're aiming for with this short! Crits & comments appreciated.

08 August 2009, 09:49 AM

This is looking pritty cool. Loving the style and that scuplture is awesome. Best of luck finishing on time. Should be an interesting month ahead. Looking foward to seeing this entry progress

08 August 2009, 02:18 PM
Interesting idea. You guys are starting pretty late... You'll probably have to go full force all the way in order to get it finished. Good luck. Hope you get it done.

08 August 2009, 06:49 PM
Glad you guys are interested.

Yeah, we definitely have our work cut out for us. At least with After Effects environments we don't have much render time to worry about : )

08 August 2009, 08:39 PM (

(It's a spy, not a cake! :))

Ryan is busy making a mould of our character now... this is all voodoo magic to me but it looks pretty crazy huh? Excited to see him in action.

08 August 2009, 08:49 PM
WOW, cool! Hope you can get some great shots out!

08 August 2009, 09:17 PM
Really cool ! I hope you will finish in time. It will be very cool to see a stop motion entry.
So, good luck. I can't wait to see more.

08 August 2009, 04:10 PM (

Here are some boards Joon did for the intro sequence, to a groovy spy theme Danny put together.

Video link: (

Anyway this is still really rough as far as timing goes, and only covers the first third or so of our short. All subject to change still...

08 August 2009, 05:22 PM
The music definitely fits the theme perfectly. Are you guys going to be making multiple heads and exchanging them for expressions? Thats really hard to get consistant appearance between models in detail unless you spend a lot of time on it or partially mold the back of the head and just sculpt the faces on. Anyway, looks good so far.

08 August 2009, 03:00 AM
We'll be using one head with replacement mouths, eyelids, and eyebrows that will slide around on the brow.

08 August 2009, 02:22 AM (

Ryan finished our character mould last night, turned out well!

08 August 2009, 09:03 AM
Cool. I always wanted to do one of my own.. Nice one. I look forward to the final one. How do you know how to make characters like that?

08 August 2009, 03:24 PM (

Our guy is ready! Well almost. Just needs paint and a head now.

He's made of foam - Ryan builds the armature first like shown, then adds the foam and bakes the guy 'till it sets right.

Thanks pierzak - only Ryan knows the secret & mysterious ways of stop motion puppet building... it's a pretty crazy process though huh?

08 August 2009, 05:11 PM
Thanks Pierzak! If you, or anyone else is interested in making a foam latex puppet I highly recommend Kathi Zung's DVD "Do It Yourself! Foam Latex Puppetmaking 101". (

I'm doing this all for the first time so it's a lot of trial and error and getting a feel for it as I go, but Kathi lays it out very clearly with everything you need to know. I really don't think I could do this without her DVD. ( is also a good resource. There's a ton of good information there, but it can sometimes be tough to find what you're looking for.

08 August 2009, 04:04 PM (

A new (much better) animatic of our intro shots.

Video link: (

We are going to be (fingers crossed) starting these shots this weekend!

08 August 2009, 09:09 PM
By the way. "Laser Waltz" is definitely the WORST TITLE EVER - that's not the title of our short it's just placeholder till we come up with something that doesn't suck.

(Open to ideas)

08 August 2009, 09:18 PM
Well I must say this is one of my favorites. Very original guys! First class stuff.

08 August 2009, 06:07 PM (

He's ready to go, with 24 days to complete his mission. Wish him luck!

08 August 2009, 06:29 PM
Good luck :)

08 August 2009, 06:31 PM
This is one crazy ambitious project! Seriously, what you have right now is amazing. I really hope you'll finish on time!

Good luck!

08 August 2009, 04:21 PM
Hehe thanks guys! (Definitely feeling the pressure now.)

08 August 2009, 02:39 PM (

Ryan is done setting up! Apartment stop motion studios are ALL the rage these days...

He's ready to start shooting, and I think we can have a finished shot to show by the end of the week.

08 August 2009, 05:45 PM
Sweet setup there! Looking forward to the initial shots! ;)

08 August 2009, 06:10 PM
Very original approach guys. I hope you get to the finish line on time. I'd love to see a stop mo clip here.

Juan Carlos

08 August 2009, 12:37 AM
Hey Mike, good to see you in another contest here. Your setup and approach to this is beyond incredible. Really creative mix of old and new school techniques.

Best of luck with your entry.

08 August 2009, 05:41 PM
Hey, thanks Richard! Hope all is well with you.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement. We've started shooting - Ryan has animated 2 shots now and I'm really excited to show them to you tonight.


08 August 2009, 01:12 AM (

Ryan officially started animating a couple nights ago, and here are our first shots!

Video link: (

I know it's only a little bit, but it's really exciting to have something. Would love to hear what you guys think!

Oh yeah, once again - Laser Waltz: NOT the title. The real title will be much, much better.. hopefully...


08 August 2009, 09:33 AM
The 2 shots that are done so far look great!! Is the music finalized? Blends well with the visuals. Good Luck. ;)

08 August 2009, 10:17 AM
:) That is great. I enjoy your work. It is quite unusual.

08 August 2009, 08:44 PM
Thanks guys : )

red: That's probably not the final cut of the music, but it's the beat we want there yeah. Danny put it together a while ago and it's really grown on us!

More to come soon... a few more shots and hopefully I'll feel like we've honed in on a good visual style.

08 August 2009, 09:52 PM (

This is a WIP of the background plate for our spy's grand entrance shot. It's both the environment and character reveal, so really trying to get this one right! I think I'm getting close... crits welcome.


08 August 2009, 03:09 AM
your are right mike. i think instead of moving rocket we thought of to move the bg little away (left)from the rocket and thanks for your command .we saw your challenge your its great and more over your concept sketch in your sit mike .its awesome.

08 August 2009, 07:10 AM (

We're getting close to done with this shot I think.

Video link: (

Some details still need to be addressed... For example matching the yellow lights between these 3 shots, and a bit of roto for his hands in the new shot.

08 August 2009, 07:55 AM
Hehehe awesome :D

08 August 2009, 12:02 PM
Haha thats awesome Mike!! :D

08 August 2009, 07:43 PM
Hey, thanks guys : )

Small update: (

Ryan animated a better version of his exit
bit darker, some more roto fixes,
Better color matching.

Any crits?

Our goal is to be pretty close to done with this whole intro sequence by the end of the week.

08 August 2009, 06:41 AM (

Here is Danny's first pass on audio for the intro.

Video link:

Obviously some of this will change as we finish these shots. Hope you guys like it!

Once again, title: NOT laser waltz. Laser waltz is a godawful title.


08 August 2009, 07:15 PM
Haha, that's funny, It makes me want to do those moves myself. Audio sounds good too. Nice work

08 August 2009, 07:22 PM
Very clever! I like the combination of 2 and 3D.

Juan Carlos

08 August 2009, 08:11 PM
Thanks guys! We're still at it... we're at the point of having to make some story cuts, but we are still going to finish this entry.

08 August 2009, 08:27 PM
Cool, looking forward to it. I'm liking your style. And the music is really helping with the mood.

09 September 2009, 03:19 AM (

This is the latest cut of our short. The intro shots are fairly close to done, and we're starting the next set (which you can see the storyboards for here.)

Note, obviously the first shot is very WIP. And compression is clipping our blacks a little bit, we'll fix that.

10 days... we're gonna do it!


Play Video >> (

09 September 2009, 08:17 PM (

We have a title now. : )

Intro is almost done, will post soon.


09 September 2009, 02:21 AM
I really love this entry Mike. Still a few days left :D

I want to see some laser skipping! :)

Hows it all going?

09 September 2009, 04:12 AM (

Software: After Effects

This is the intro... it's pretty much done now and we're moving on. 7 days, 7 shots, easy : )

Crits welcome!

Play Video >> (

09 September 2009, 04:14 AM
Thanks Syndicate - it's going well still, we've been taking a bit of a breather for the last few days, in preparation for the final push. We had to make a few cuts but I think we're still on track to finish with something we'll be proud of.. how're you guys? Haven't seen any updates!


09 September 2009, 05:31 AM
Looking great so far. I personally love stop motion stuff so I'm rooting for you guys. I had to make a couple cuts too, but should be able to get mine in early in case of uploader problems. Hope you do to! Don't want to lose because of an error or down server. :eek:

09 September 2009, 08:56 AM
This is awesome. Realy Im stuned. I love stop motion. One of my friends says that sometimes it can realy trip your mind. I think its one of the trickiest technics.

09 September 2009, 04:51 PM
Thanks guys!!

We're really excited about the stop motion too - Ryan has been doing an amazing job with it, and on top of his 60 hour weeks crunch schedule. I wish I could see all that stuff in person... (he's in LA and the rest of us are in Seattle.)

Yeah, I'm hoping we'll be done at not-the-last-minute on the 10th, but.... hehe. We'll see. I guess we'll probably try to submit that morning, and then keep on tweaking for another upload.

Speaking of uploads... what kind of bitrates & flash settings have you guys been using? I don't know much about that stuff, any suggestions would be sweet.


09 September 2009, 10:26 PM
Looks like everything is comming along nicely. Well done. I like your approach. Takes a lot of effort but I bet it comes with great satisfaction.

09 September 2009, 12:58 AM
This is one of the ones I keep chacking back on to see updates. It's coming along nicely!. I really love the little visual effect when the fly hits the laser - lol! Good luck finishing the rest! :thumbsup:

09 September 2009, 07:52 AM (

Thanks! Loved your image entry walrus.

Ryan just finished animating our first dancing shot - check it out! Make sure you crank the music : )


Play Video >> (

09 September 2009, 09:51 AM
Masterfully done!!!

09 September 2009, 09:39 PM
I second that.... this is a masterpiece.

09 September 2009, 08:46 AM (

Software: After Effects

The same shot, now with 100% more lasery goodness.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Entering panic crunch mode officially, now.

Play Video >> (

09 September 2009, 10:01 AM
Mike you are my hero...

09 September 2009, 10:33 AM
:) I like it. It's funny. I hope you guys had as much fun creating it as we have watching it.

09 September 2009, 06:27 PM
Daaamn you are cranking it out! Matt Titus told me you were a bit of a procrastinator but when you put your mind to it... you'd finish! I doubted him but he's right you're killin it! Keep it up!

09 September 2009, 06:50 PM
Hahaha, that's funny coming from Matt.

Thanks, hopefully I don't run out of steam here... almost there

09 September 2009, 07:56 PM
Wow tahts really great. love the style! Keep it up!

09 September 2009, 06:27 PM
hey now.. i maybe procrastinate a bit here and there....

but not nearly as much as you mike!

oh and your stuff is looking awesome. you better finish =p

09 September 2009, 06:50 PM
Pfffft we're practically done already.


Well we are pretty close though, and extension be damned we're still posting tonight!

We may hold off on the trailer till tomorrow now, though, rather than make something really lame like we were planning. : )

09 September 2009, 06:56 AM
The night is over. Where is your post mike!? ;-p

09 September 2009, 10:28 AM
Edit: fixing a couple things... reposting it soon : )

09 September 2009, 11:24 AM (

Software: After Effects,Photoshop

Play Video >> (

Alright... the last few days have been a little grueling, but, here is our finished film!!

We had to make a few cuts but overall, we're extremely happy with how our first stop motion film turned out. Hope you enjoy watching, and let us know what you think.

It's been a really fun couple of months. Thanks everyone for all your feedback during that time. And if you aren't finished yet, good luck!

Edit: HD Vimeo link:

We'll be posting a trailer sometime this weekend.

09 September 2009, 12:14 PM
I had finally chance to watch it and it was brilliant!
I love your story and the way how music tunes with motion.
Congratulations and good luck!

09 September 2009, 12:31 PM
Well done :) I really enjoy this one.

I'm also done, but decided on some compositing polish...

09 September 2009, 02:09 PM
Excellent work Mike. Funny and unexpected ending. I can't imagine how much work the stop mo must have been.

Really well done.

Juan Carlos

09 September 2009, 02:10 PM
very very impressing.

09 September 2009, 04:32 PM
Looks awesome guys! It turned out really well. I like the new way you chose to end it with out blood.
Great stop motion animation Ryan.

09 September 2009, 05:11 PM
Fantastic work!!! Best of luck.

09 September 2009, 08:38 PM
Congratulations of the finished video. It is well funny and nice to watch.
Well done. I am giving it two thumbs up. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

09 September 2009, 08:43 PM
Really fantastic short. Well done. It's really funny.

09 September 2009, 10:07 PM
You say "Thanks for watching it" ...

I say "Thank you for creating this".



09 September 2009, 10:22 PM
Congrats on finishing. Short and sweet.

09 September 2009, 10:54 PM
Wow, thanks guys! There are so many great entries this time around... lots of really pro looking stuff. Seems like "secret agent" really gets artists fired up around here. : )

jcgnba: I can't imagine how much work the stop mo must have been.

Ryan can say exactly how much, but, yeah, it looked like.. a lot.

By the way, we put an HD version of this up on vimeo, if anyone else is picture-quality-obsessed like us:


09 September 2009, 02:00 PM
This entry is excellent ...... so much wok put into it and the final work looks awesome to me..... well done .... very well done...


09 September 2009, 08:46 PM (

Here is our final submission, including an exclusive, never-before-seen theatrical trailer for Neil Sterling's classic adventure, The Bronson Maneuver.

Play Video >> (

As you can see we were highly influenced by old Bond trailers. We also took inspiration from Kevin Dart and Stephane Coedel's amazing 'A Kiss from Tokyo' trailer. Hope you like it!

HD Film:
HD Trailer:

Thanks again for all the support everyone. It feels GREAT to be done eh?

09 September 2009, 10:51 PM
Amazing work guys! Really unique style! :D

Good luck in the contest!

09 September 2009, 03:31 AM
Great work, I'm so glad you finished. Really cool to challenge yourself with stop motion. Matt and I were taking, you have a great artistic eye, nice talent to have since this project came into it's own in a relatively short amount of time. Great work, you're in the running again!

09 September 2009, 02:55 PM
Thanks JS!

Thanks Dave, yeah, we hope so! This was Ryan's first time tackling stop motion too.. can't wait to see him do more with it.

You should work on Titus, get him to enter next time!

09 September 2009, 04:18 PM
very impressive work and fun style.
I liked the gag at the end. I just can't help but think he needed to dance through the beams for a few more beats to really nail it. other than that.. I loved it!

09 September 2009, 05:33 PM
Stop Motion, that's amazing!!! 5 stars man, with the time we had, do something in stop motion is something for to give an award, sense of humor, good music, good animation, good job and good luck.


09 September 2009, 05:52 PM
If I was italian I would say "Impresionante", but I am not.
I will just say that it is very impressive and fun. I was following your enty form the very beginning and I like final animation a lot. Great Job.

09 September 2009, 06:38 PM
Thanks guys!!

Yeah, we've gotten that comment about him dancing more a few other times too. We thought about doing a little more with this piece but ultimately it's done and time to start new stuff.

This challenge was really fun, and I think everyone's work turned out really great. It was cool how many people finished. Well, not as cool from a competitive standpoint, but really cool to see so many good entries. : )


10 October 2009, 03:24 PM
Congratulation to you and to everyone who finished :) :)

See you on the next challenge ;)

10 October 2009, 11:53 PM
Hey Mike and team! This win should probably prove to be a distinct benchmark for the upcoming challenges. People might be exploring different mediums soon here. Congrats for that and this win :)

10 October 2009, 12:50 AM
R U Kidding me? LOL... wasnt expecting that ending!

Awesome job :)

10 October 2009, 07:28 PM
Thanks guys! : ) We aren't quite sure what prompted the "visual effects" award in particular, but happy for the win. Definitely saw a lot more variety in this competition than in the past ones I remember.. lots of good entries!


10 October 2009, 04:49 PM
I must say you deserve it man, and a very good award, very happy your job was internationally rewarded. And you have to continue with the stop motion stuff. GREAT JOB!!!


12 December 2009, 09:24 PM
hahaha fantastic ending - hahahaha

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