Earlier this year my good friends at DigitalSteamworks asked me to help them out with a job. I have collaborated with”Steamworks” on a variety of great digital and animation projects. For this job they wanted to build a 3D Meg Whitman model for a TV commercial and came to me for some sketches. You can see a few of the sketches here… the final animation as it aired is below.
KAL and MPT
In 2009, Kal teamed up with Maryland Public Television for the hour long documentary "Citizen Schaefer ". Kal created a series of 5 second clips representing different chapters in the political career of Maryland Mayor/Governor/ Comptroller William Donald Schaefer.
The 2008 Presidential Debate
Kaltoons LLC showcased its ground-breaking interactive animation at two important venues just before the 2008 Presedential election. The final debate between Barack Obama and John McCain took place at The Edison Ballroom just off Time Square in New York City November 1. Kal moderated the debate in two shows before thrilled packed audiences.
A week earlier Kal and his animated polticians performed in an exciting performance in Washington DC at the Newseum.
Kaltoons LLC unveiled the newest of its innovative animation at Philadelphia's Kimmel Arts Center on October 7(See short tease above). A live interactive Presidential debate between an animated Barack Obama and John McCain featured questions from the audience moderated by Kal. The "Debate" was part of "The Art of Satire" a stage show sponsored by The Economist featuring topical comedy supplied by "The Second City" improv comedy troupe and Kal.
The show heads to New York City for two shows on Saturday November 1 at The Edison ballroom at 47th and Broadway. Tickets are going fast. Tickets and information are available here.
In preparation for the political theatrics of the US Presidential election Kaltoons is preparing an interactive Electoral debate animation to air in the fall. Above is a short tease of the fun to come. Stay tuned here for more clips and stills in the months ahead.
Barack Obama and John McCain will feature in innovative animations during the US election season. Some will be showcased at The Art of Satire performances in Philadelphia and New York and elsewhere. More news on this exciting project in the near future.
June 24, 2008
Kal and PhaseSpace completed a cutting edge animation project at the "Art of Satire" show at the Yerba Buena Arts Center in San Francisco. They partnered to create a full body real-time motion capture performance featuring Kal's digital Barack Obama and John McCain. Read more about it here.
May 11, 2008
A fascinatinating new animation has been added to Kal's video Channel. "Without Bias" an award winning animation created for the now defunct Today newspapere of London was a brilliant collaboration between Kal and the famed animator Richard Williams. The 1986 film was the last project for Mr Williams before he took the reins as animation director for the film classic "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". The 30 second television commercial employed conventional cell animation and took three months to complete.
May 9, 2008
New videos have been added to the KAL channel including Economist films discussing the joys and challenges of drawing Margaret Thatcher and Bill Clinton.
April 25, 2008
A new KAL channel is now available at Youtube. Here you can view all KAL Videos as they become available. Kal's most recent "The 2008 Debate we'd like to see" can be found here along side the first of a series of films created by The Economist to celebrate Kal's 30th anniversary with the magazine.
April 21 2008
KAL releases newest animation April 21 on Economist.com. and live onstage in Atlanta' Alliance Theater where KAL is performing with Second City in the Art of Satire. The movie premiering KAL's digital Hillary and Obama arrives just in time for the Pennsylvania primary.
KAL REAL-TIME PERFORMACE WITH CHICAGO'S SECOND CITY
With the help of Kal's team at Digital Steamworks, the Digital Dubya virtual puppet made a Chicago premier with the famous Second City comedy troupe. ( Read about it here). Employing motion capture, voice recognition software and puppeteering skills Kal and his team (through the character of Digital Dubya) held a live satirical Press conference with the Second City cast and audience members.
KAL LAUNCHES NEW ANIMATION
Employing the newest in Motion Capture technology, KAL’s “Dancin’Dubya” was unveiled on the web August 3, 2007. Kal teamed up with innovative software and animation company Digital Steamworks and motion Capture company PhaseSpace to create a five minute high quality 3D animated video. The film features President Bush caught in a binding predicament that involves evil-doers, the Governator and disco.
Motion capture (MoCap) technology allows an actor equiped in a special suit to act as a mobile animation rig. An actor is outfitted with a MoCap suit adorned with dozens of digital markers attached at key areas of the body. A series of special cameras are then employed to read the location of the markers on the actor as he moves through space. These same markers correspond to markers attached to a digital character (in this case Dubya). As the actor moves, the cameras capture his movement, the actor's movement is transferred to the markers on the cartoon character, then the cartoon character moves in an identical fashion to the actor. Major motion pictures like "King Kong" and "Lord of the Rings" succesfully used MoCap for digital special effects. In “Dancin’ Dubya”, KAL was outfitted in a MoCap suit and was the originator of the Presidential disco moves.
The introduction of motion capture marks an important step forward for KAL’s 3D animated satire. MoCap has two key features: speed and efficiency. Traditional animation can take weeks to produce a minute of film. In “Dancin’ Dubya” KAL and his team produced a five minute broadcast quality movie in just a few days. In order to create quality topical satire, KAL is pursuing the sharpest, fastest and most up-to-date media available for his clients in broadcast and The Web.
The 2 minute video was commissioned by The Economist to promote the launch of a gallery of KAL's editorial cartoons on The Economist's website. The "Kallery" contains an archive of KAL's weekly Economist cartoons dating back to January 2006. KAL has been the cartoonist for the prestigious international publication since March 1978.
The Digital Dubya video produced in a single day at The Imaging Research Center at UMBC. KAL continues to develop his novel digital puppet technology. In the months ahead Digital Dubya 3.0 will be unveiled featuring motion capture technology, face tracking and voice recognition software. New characters including Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwazeneggar and others will be in operation by the summer.
Harvard Magazine has published a nice article featuring KAL and his latest venture into 3D animation. Read the article here .
After a successful Spring working with the Imaging Research Center at UMBC (see article below) Kal continues to pioneer his new form of political animation. Kal has just completed a five minute pilot featuring his updated "Digital Dubya" version 2.0 . The animated short showcases his new virtual 3D puppet of George W. Bush.
The development of this new form of satire has dramatic implications for political satire and animation. With KAL's 3D caricature puppets, KAL can create broadcast quality animation in realtime. This will enable KAL to respond immediately to the news by producing minutes of animation in a matter of hours for internet clients.
In addition, the realtime nature of his virtual puppet means it can be interactive. This is of particular interest to potential broadcast and cable clients, as the Digital Dubya can be interviewed live or "In person".
Some sample screen grabs from the Pilot
From June 2006
CUTTING-EDGE DIGITAL ANIMATION MOVES EDITORIAL CARTOONING INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
New developments are a collaboration between of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County's Imaging Research Center, political cartoonist Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher and the Walters Art Museum
A dramatic new development in the art of editorial cartooning was unveiled today at The Walters Art Museum in conjunction with Mightier Than the Sword: The Satirical Pen of KAL on view June 18–Sept. 3. The debut showcased a three-dimensional virtual caricature bust of George W. Bush. The digital bust was the brain child of Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher—the international award winning editorial cartoonist for The Economist of London and former editorial cartoonist for The Baltimore Sun .
“KAL wants to ensure that editorial cartooning remains an influential form of political commentary at a time when newspaper circulation is falling, and the public is increasingly glued to television and computer screens,” said William Noel, Walters' co-curator of Mightier Than the Sword .
Beginning in January 2006, KAL's idea was to create fully formed three-dimensional caricatures in the spirit and to the standards of Thomas Nast and Honoré Daumier that would not only be able to walk and talk, but also to converse with the public in real time. Specifically, KAL conceived of a virtual puppet that could be instantly manipulated for satiric effect. He chose George W. Bush as a suitable public figure for the prototype.
To turn his dream into a reality, KAL approached a team led by Dan Bailey, director of the Imaging Research Center (IRC) of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The IRC is dedicated to investigating new technologies and their use for interpreting and presenting content.
Since IRC's inception in 1987, artists and researchers across disciplines have collaborated in the center's creative environment to develop new strategies and techniques in digital media. State-of-the-art facilities enable research in three-dimensional visualization, immersive technologies, interactivity, installation, animation, high definition video and sound. KAL was appointed artist-in-residence at the IRC in January 2006. His residency has been sponsored in part by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Using traditional materials, KAL first sculpted a life-size three-dimensional bust of George W. Bush. The model was then taken to Direct Dimensions in Owings Mills where President and Chief Engineer Michael Raphael made a three-dimensional laser scan and provided the IRC with a high resolution digital version of the bust. Since then, KAL has been working with IRC staff on creating his three-dimensional real time virtual caricature. This extraordinary creation is the result of a collaboration between the artist himself and the many talented digital artists at the IRC including Eric Smallwood, the lead modeler and animator, Shane Lynch, the real-time programmer, and Chad Eby, the hardware interface designer.
The digital bust of George W. Bush is now complete. It can be animated daily in reaction to current news, and it can conduct “live” interviews with the press. A film about the creating of this animation is a major feature of the Walters Art Museum's exhibition Mightier Than the Sword: The Satirical Pen of KAL , which is a comprehensive overview of KAL's work.