Primal Screen DVD Show Reel

I designed and animated these characters for the company I used to work for, Primal Screen, in 2006. It was for Primal's DVD Show Reel. I loved working on these guys. Loads of fun. I animated them in pencil and paper and then had the drawings scanned into Photoshop, composited together in After Effects, and then exported QT movies into Flash. There, animator Joe Kubesheski traced over my rough pencil animation to create the final look of the characters and their movements. He did some tweaking here and there, as well. Both he and Jeremy Seymour worked on Flash animation. Overall design and concept by Rick Newcomb (he was also the art director). Sound design by Stephen Mank. He's the man.

I originally uploaded this on YouTube, but DANG. This looks much, much better. I'm impressed. I know that a lot of people are down on Flickr for adding videos, but hey, I'm okay with it if they can keep the quality of the videos looking like this. Very nice.

Here are some screen grabs:

The concept called for four different types of characters, with each having their own way of transitioning to a separate menu. The transisitions had to be original and take the viewer completely by surprise. I had a great time brainstorming, trying to come up with some fun ideas for these guys. For the blue guy on the far right, I thought it would be funny if when you select him, you somehow disengage his hovering ability. That's why he falls right away and reluctantly gets up.

Here's the inside menu for the blue guy, designed and animated by Rick. In fact, Rick did all the internal menus for all the characters. Wonderful work. Below is the menu for the dual-faced orange guy. He was originally designed by an intern, but I went in and re-designed him so he'd better fit with the look of the other guys.

This is my favorite transition:

Poor guy. I think we dubbed him "Cuddles." There's so much pathos going on with this green one. When you see him walk up to the main menu, he's walking very intently, like he's a man on a mission. Like someone wronged him and he's fixin' to go all Bronson on 'em. But his demeanor totally changes once he plops down and starts to caress his tail. That tail -- what a strange relationship Cuddles has with his appendage. Do you find it interesting that the same thing that provides security and comfort for him also takes his head off? So, it's a false sense of security, I guess. Go figure. Kinda demented, but cute. He's my kids' favorite, of course.

During repeat viewings, be sure to check out how each of the characters exit the scene when a particular section is selected.

Cuddles' menu:

This is the menu for the dude on the left. I love his transition, too. It was a stroke of luck for me to have his nose become some sort of alternate arm, making it easier for the guy to pry himself apart. Playing around with some visual trickery there.

For the easter egg part of the DVD, when you select the Primal Screen logo up at the top, you're taken to a whole different world (dimension?), featuring one final character. Here's the menu for that guy.

Once I posted it up on my YouTube last week, Aaron of the excellent all-Flash blog, Cold Hard Flash, immediately posted about it, scooping me on my own content! Oh well, it's nice to be noticed, anyway. Thanks for the mention, Aaron!

This project has been winning design awards left and right, including The Art Directors Club (this link features more details about the project), The Create Awards, and BDA/Promax (where it won a Gold).

It was also featured in last year's How Design Annual, voted "Outstanding Motion Design" in the April '07 issue. Designer Jeff Andrews was kind enough to scan the page from the magazine and post it on his blog. However, I'd love a copy of this magazine for myself. Anyone got an extra copy? I'll pay ya for it. The cover can be seen on the left there. Many thanks!

One last thing: If you go to Primal's website, there's a splash screen featuring other characters designed by me that were featured throughout the show reel. They just weren't on the main menu.


  1. That animation is just so cool! Wow, you creative types are impressive :-)

  2. That is fantastic! Would you ever consider doing prints (maybe not of these guys, but similar) ala Shag style?
    Love your stuff.

  3. just awesome stuff, I'm a cuddles fan, totally - and I agree the video looks fabulous.

  4. Thanks, guys, for the nice comments!

    Sharkeysday: I'd love to do prints, but just not sure where to go and what to do to do that. Any ideas?

  5. wow! Great work!
    About the print selling: there is a web site called deviantart.com where you can upload art and sell it as prints, you need to set up an account first though and then the company does the rest

  6. Holy smoke!!!

    I remember this! It's SO amazing, Ward!!! The awards are well-deserved! :D