One (CG) Froggy Evening

Graphic design students from Brazil attempt to recreate Chuck Jones’ One Froggy Evening in CG as their finals project. Here is the two-minutes they created:

And for comparison, this is the Jones original:

UPDATE: Virgilio Vasconcelos, one of the students who made the film, offers some background about the reason for the project. He wrote in the comments below:

“As a regular Brew reader, I never thought our project would be shown here.

Before anyone yells that we had killed the masterpiece, I would say that everything was done only for learning purposes. We never wanted to say that CG is better or even that we could make something comparable to the original.

We never had formal education in animation (neither do we have where to study animation where we live), so our goal was to study a classic from a great master frame by frame to see if we could learn something. I believe it was quite successful on its goal: we have learned a lot.

The original, 2D one, is an all-time classic. Just incomparable. Chuck Jones is my hero, and I thank him and all fellas at Golden Age who motivated us to learn about animation.”

Read more CGI

  • Jones

    I’m glad I skipped breakfast.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    The “student” nature of the animation handicaps it as much as the audaciously pointless attempt to evoke a masterful, distinctive 2D work in 3D. There are so many technical hiccups in this experiment, it can’t be seriously compared.

    There are a few nice moments, though, such as the construction worker’s Jones-like smile when he contemplates his fortune.

  • Alex

    Its okay, but the guy in the blue clothes just moves much too quickly! Expressions aren’t bad though.

  • http://vice.parodius.com/ Dave Silva

    Wow, that was actually pretty well done! But it’s at a higher framerate than the original, so it looks kinda weird.

    See? CG CAN be used for good, not just for evil, like those Mickey and Donald videos!

  • http://www.electricminstrel.com Brett McCoy

    Amusing… but no one can top a Chuck Jones hand drawn original!

  • Paul N

    Not bad – a litty floaty in places, but not bad, and pretty accurate to the original. Not sure why you’d want to do it, but hey…

  • http://www.virgiliovasconcelos.com Virgilio

    Wow! =)

    As a regular Brew reader, I never thought our project would be shown here.

    Before anyone yells that we had killed the masterpiece, I would say that everything was done only for learning purposes. We never wanted to say that CG is better or even that we could make something comparable to the original.

    We never had formal education in animation (neither do we have where to study animation where we live), so our goal was to study a classic from a great master frame by frame to see if we could learn something. I believe it was quite successful on its goal: we have learned a lot.

    The original, 2D one, is an all-time classic. Just incomparable. Chuck Jones is my hero, and I thank him and all fellas at Golden Age who motivated us to learn about animation.

    Thanks =)

  • http://www.saturdaymorningcentral.com/blog Tommy Day

    Hmm, A for effort.

    At least they didn’t use motion capture.

  • purin

    Interesting experiment, though they may have bitten off more than they could chew taking this on (as can often be the case with students!).

  • Matt Sullivan

    Dammit. Now this is just one step further towards “erasing” all memmory of hand drawn animation. If someone mentions :One Froggy Evening” and someone else says “You mean that Brazilian Cg cartoon?” I’ll probably blow a gasket.

    God you CG people, learn something about design and make YOUR OWN CHARACTERS TO RUIN in CG. Not classic AMERICAn characters. yeesh.

  • Kevin

    An interesting take on this classic but the original still has it beat by far…one of my favorite toons as well!

  • Emily

    That cartoon was always so frustrating to watch as a kid…

    But in retrospect, very very clever.

  • http://www.dvdenlinea.com Arturo

    it look pretty good! :D

  • http://sandwichbag.blogspot.com Elliot Cowan

    I think for the most part they did a bloody good job of that.
    It’s easy to pick holes in student work but I think this was done with warmth and respect and the intention of learning something.

  • red pill junkie

    Well, I think it was a good challenge for them to try to capture the wonderful elements that compose a Chuck Jones’ short.

    And considering they’re students, they did an OK job. I would like to know how much time they invested in this project.

    The weakest point for me was the CG model of Michigan J. Frog. Aestethically it was not very pleasing, although they gave they did manage to give them fluid movements.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    That’s pretty impressive!

    Of course, the original is irreplaceable, but this was very well done.

  • Bugsmer

    Awesome! They were really able to recapture the feel of the original cartoon.

  • Mac

    It’s a good attempt but it just can’t compare, the original is too great.

  • corey

    Well obviously it’s not gonna hold a candle to the original. Hopefully you’re not trying to pick on a bunch of animation students.

    There are a few nice things about their attempt, but all in all I don’t see why they would recreate something that is on such a tall pedestool, knowing that it’s just going to be compared to the original. I would rather see original student work.

  • Gordan

    It’s better than the Popeye CG special.

  • Graham Ross

    Just goes ta show ya that good story and good timing should be used across all forms of animation. My opinion? The 2d one is better. But it’s an interesting experiment cause although the 3d one looks stilted a bit by it’s drawn counterpart, it still works pretty damn well.

  • Junior

    “Not classic AMERICANcharacters. yeesh.”

    Please, don’t go that way. That sounds awful to my foreign ears. American characters are not any more special to me just for being american. And it’s a student exercise, for chrissakes. I’m way more pissed about that upcoming 3d Tintin movie (hey, not an american character).

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    Hey! Nice job! Many of the qualities of the 2D cartoon are still in evidence in the CG version. Of course, they had the original to base this one on and all, but still- good job!

    Sure, there are weird things to quibble about, but it’s a student film, and as student work it’s a damn sight nicer to look at than Beowulf or Wilbur Robinson.

  • RR

    Wheee, CG makes everything better!!!!!

  • Zim

    It’s just a harmless foreign student film…it’s not going to go much further…and I appreciate this short than Acme Arsenal…but WB probably isn’t going to pick up this Student’s idea and try to reinvent the franchise though it….

  • Lizbeth

    I think that if you are going to learn from someone, who better to learn from then Chuck Jones? It’s ambitious, but I think that students should be ambitious and it looks like they really put some thought into the project. The whole 3d vs 2d rant is old. Animation is a tough media to get the hang of, whether it’s 3d or 2d or stopmotion or toothpicks.

    I think it’s pretty well done for their first project. The area that I think could have used some more work on would be the part where the construction worker first sees the box. Right now all the actions are running together and it’s hard to tell his thought process right there.

  • John

    Monsters Inc. already borrowed Marc Anthony’s freak-out scene from “Feed the Kitty” for CGI use, albeit with different character designs, so on the surface I don’t see any problem with this.

    Now if someone at Time-Warner suddenly says “Hey! Let’s remake all our old cartoons in CGI and just use the old voices and soundtracks,” then it’s time to take to the barricades and stage attacks on Burbank and Columbus Circle.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto González

    The construction worker looks pretty decent, also the backgrounds. But Michigan J. Frog is a lot more handsome in 2D, he looks a lot uglier in 3D.

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    Gotta love the animation snobs jumping all over this. Despite Amid noting this was by STUDENTS. And yet people still shout doom and gloom like this some omen that warner brothers is going to remake all the classic loony tunes in cgi. Calm down, people.

    I loved how they managed to match the construction worker’s facial expressions from the original. Michigan in 3d is scary though. Looks like he just leapt out of Pan’s Labyrinth.

  • Richard

    Seeing a well done CGI video is one of the reasons I enjoy the presence of Youtube.

    The original HAND-DRAWN cartoons, of course, are a better reason.

  • James Branson

    These students admitted they had no place to learn and no one to learn from. At least they had the good taste to learn from a master. CGI is a different phenomenon than the level of 2D Chuck Jones mastered at his peak.

  • amid

    Zekey and James: You guys get the idea. The reason I posted this was not a comment on redoing characters in CG. I just thought it was interesting that graphic design students in Brazil are choosing to learn CG by studying the work of a Golden Age director like Chuck Jones.

    Having seen countless student CG films, I can say that it would benefit many other students if they spent a bit more time studying the timing and posing techniques of classic directors. As it is, too many students nowadays don’t even have a clue who Chuck Jones is. So kudos to these Brazilian artists for choosing such a smart way to learn the art of animation.

  • http://thad-k.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    As it is, too many students nowadays don’t even have a clue who Chuck Jones is.

    Amid–This is too true, and really sad. How are students going to save the animation industry if they don’t even know what good is? (The answer – they won’t.)

  • http://vincemusacchia.blogspot.com Vince Musacchia

    Students dissecting a frog? Why not?

  • Daniel Mata

    Has the same problem of most 3D cartoons, objects are just there going through the motions with little to no heft too them.

    Still, you’d think they would try 2D if they learned so much from the master.

  • julian

    what a great idea for teaching your self about comedy timing and animation!

  • http://taber.blogspot.com/ Taber

    I really like the model of the man. I think they nailed that bit.

  • Keith Paynter

    As a project, they pretty much nailed the concept. It’not much different than sketches I remember seeing like Stick Figure Theater trying to animate classic cinema like It’s A Wonderful Life. A great excercise, and a nice homage. Now, if only the frog’s croak had moved across his mouth, I would have given them an A+! Of course, one can never improve on the original.

    Now, everybody do the Michigan Rag!

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    One quibble that occured to me is that I’d like to see the original 2D animators whose work this was based on also given credit along with Chuck J, but since it’s a student film I’ll give it a pass this time.

  • jonah

    >As it is, too many students nowadays don’t even have a clue who >Chuck Jones is. So kudos to these Brazilian artists for choosing >such a smart way to learn the art of animation.

    It’s one thing for students to study Chuck Jones. Sure, that’s great. It’s another thing to build a pointless scene-by-scene 3D recreation. I don’t really see where there is anything to learn in that. Why not apply what you’re studying into creating something new? Amid, I sort of look at this in the complete opposite way you do: I think it’s utterly sad that these students are so out of ideas of their own that this passes as something to praise. How I wish these kids learned a thing or two about comic timing from Jones and then made something ORIGINAL. Yawn.

  • http://www.christianziebarth.com Christian

    Cracks me up how Virgilio comes right out and says that he and the other students did it only as their own little experiment yet people still have to act like the animation students are trying to “replace” Chuck Jones. Before leaving further such comments remember that Virgilio has said, “We never wanted to say that CG is better or even that we could make something comparable to the original.”

  • http://www.voodoodog.com paul donnellon

    i did some teaching/mentoring and the student’s eyes glazed over with boredom as i tried to get them to study chuck jones, they saw anything as not 3d cg as being”old school”. So whatever the quality its great to see these guys looking at col chuck jones animation. good for them.

  • http://www.voodoodog.com paul donnellon

    i did some teaching/mentoring and the student’s eyes glazed over with boredom as i tried to get them to study chuck jones, they saw anything as not 3d cg as being”old school”. So whatever the quality its great to see these guys looking at cool chuck jones animation. good for them.

  • Danielle

    jonah: It’s a learning exercise. When I was an art student, I was encouraged to draw copies of master drawings/paintings when visiting museums, in addition to life drawing and creating original works. This CG recreation of an animation classic is sort of the same thing. It’s not so much as about ripping off a classic as it is about learning something about how the masters created their work.

  • http://www.gobrando.com Brando

    Jonah, I think it’s a matter how much you really have to analyze the work when you do a re-creation like this. You can watch a Jones cartoon and see it as a beautiful thing, but if you don’t REALLY look at the timing, the expressions his characters made, his storytelling, how will you ever figure out why his cartoons worked so well? Recreating it forces you to really look. These guys are learning on their own and they could have picked a far poorer way to do it than this.

    I suppose you’re against Jon K. advising fledging cartoonists to redraw great cartoons or young classical realist painters re-creating a master’s work for the sake of learning as well…

  • Chuck R.

    Does anyone find it interesting that Graphic Design students made this?

    I took graphics in college and we weren’t encouraged to look at animation at all, much less copy a 6-minute film. Looking critically at animation has taught me a lot about design in general —effectively using composition, colors, shape, to get attention and appeal to a viewer’s emotions. I try to apply the stuff I see in films to illustration and typography and (I hope) it really helps. I really love the cross-disciplinary approach to education, and wish more of my profs had an appreciation for how similar cartoons are to logos and type.

    I’d like to hear more from these students and professors: Why did you spend so much time on one film project rather than doing a study of many various films? And why did you translate a beautiful 2D piece into 3D when graphics are intrinsically flat?

  • Robert Igoe

    Not a bad tribute to Chuck Jones at all. I’m still trying to figure out how a frog entombed since 1892 learned how to preform songs first performed 30 years later, but this was a nice little piece.

  • http://www.virgiliovasconcelos.com Virgilio

    Hey, guys. =)

    Well… first of all, I want to thank all who have watched and commented on our project. I’m actually very happy to see that many people understood our purpose of learning, despite of all evident technical flaws.

    I’m very sorry for the ones who don’t think this is a valid exercise and/or at some point felt offended by it. As I said before, we learned a lot of “dos and don’ts”, and the next step is now creating something original based on what we have learned. I’ll try to please most people in the future – maybe even you ;) – with some good animation.

    Our project was the first animation project ever made at our school. We had, for example, to explain to everyone who Chuck Jones was, and why he is a genius. Our teachers on that project were an Illustrator and a Photographer, so we had to find out by ourselves ways to learn things like the 12 principles. It was wonderful to buy and watch all those Looney Tunes DVDs. We’ve even bought some Jerry Beck’s books (Animation Art and Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide), which were an invaluable resource.

    The software used was free/open-source (Blender running on Linux), considering the prices of 3D packages. In Brazil if we pick the price of a, say, Maya package in dollars, the conversion to our local currency at the time almost tripled the value. So, we also had this social intent of showing that even with low resources it was possible to produce animation in Brazil’s countryside.

    Well… that’s it. Thanks again. =)

  • http://katiespana.blogspot.com Katie Better

    Virgilio, you and your classmates did a fantastic job. I’m really impressed you guys did so well without any formal training. Very admirable :) I hope you all take the chance to explore animation even more, and if/when you do your efforts come under Amid’s radar again. As for me, I think I’ll run the idea by a few of my own classmates.

    And all the extremely venomous anti-CG talk is really starting to grate on my nerves… Especially when students are taking the time to go frame-by-frame to see how Chuck Jones and his team made his cartoons really tick. Don’t write off these details completely just because they choose to express it with a computer.

  • http://www.lippy.com Lippy

    Nice Work!

    I have taught this exact same exercise in many of my traditional animation classes (re-doing a favorite piece as close as absolutely possible). I’m sure the experience was invaluable in learning about timing, camera work, and even modeling.

    Congratulations, students! I give you an “A”.. and especially nice camera shake on the piledriver shot!

  • Tom Minton

    The fabled Zagreb Studio began under equally limited circumstances. With little money or knowledge, its founding artists had only one film print for their inspiration, “The Four Poster”, a Columbia black and white theatrical feature that happens to contain several lengthy, striking UPA animated bridging sequences that offered what became a complete course of study. The studio broke through internationally with “Ersatz”, winning director Dusan Vukotic an Oscar. A few years later, John Oxberry (inventor of the Oxberry camera, among other things) visited Zagreb and admitted that they had done so much with their sheer ingenuity that he couldn’t sell them any of his company’s fancy equipment. Frank Capra once said that there are two ways to make great films – with all of the money on earth or with none of it. Cut these students a break. At least they’re willing to take the first step and start where a great artist began, rather than pretend to pick up where he left off, like the many poseurs in abundance.

  • amid

    Jonah wrote, “How I wish these kids learned a thing or two about comic timing from Jones and then made something ORIGINAL.”

    If you want to run, you have to learn how to walk first.

  • tom

    Something I like about this is the fact that it’s set to the timing/score of the original. The masterful storyboarding & timing from another era really help the piece avoid some common CG pitfalls. That’s a great lesson for CG animators, I think.

  • red pill junkie

    I think we can expect a lot of great things from Virgilio & Co. in the future. That’s for sure :-)

  • Jorge Garrido

    This is pretty damn good.

    Chuck Jone’s character’s are very angular and stylized, though and don’t work as well in 3D. Perhaps for their next prject they can do something more rounded, like a Harman-Ising cartoon.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tim Drage

    Matt Sullivan, that was a spot-on parody of a really really stupid animation blog quote, well done.

  • Jay

    Dead-on comment, Tom. It’s interesting how snappy and well-timed it feels just from following the original timing/score. So much tighter than a lot of CG shorts I’ve seen that go for eye candy at the expense of momentum.

    I really like the way they nailed the guy’s classic “WTF?” expression and his gleeful greedy grin.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Maybe I was a little overly harsh…but that’s because I don’t like the fact that my industry is being taken over by technicians, and not artists. This feels to me like a fabrication. They’ve taken a simple process ( draw, clean up, color ) and turned it into a complicated mess ( Pre-vis, design, modeling, rigging, skinning, texture mapping, painting weights, IK FK, MEL, math, nodes, xyz, rotate, scale, shaders, effects…

    Point is, if you want to make a short film or work in animation these days you have to learn all this complicated crap ( i know, i did it ) and it could be so much easier by just drawing it. Yet todays “GANGSTA TWEEN” culture sees drawings as “old fashioned” Oh..that is unless they come from japan.

    And dont worry Virgilio. The American dollar will be worth less than the peso soon, so youll be able to buy maya for pennies.

  • jonah

    Amid wrote, If you want to run, you have to learn how to walk first.

    Granted, but isn’t it much more valuable for students to apply their training to exploring their own voices? Look at the student work of Don Hertzfeldt, four shorts that are now classics. John Minnis won an Oscar for his hilarious student film, Charade. Shane Acker got nominated for his student film. The list goes on, amazing early work from students who were “learning how to walk”. I just get a bad feeling from this post and others that this generation’s students are just being encouraged to ape and copy the “masters” over and over again without developing anything new of their own. It’s great training to become corporate drones who do what they’re told, not free-thinking independent artists. Develop your own style, your own voice. Listen to the great “masters”, don’t try to BE them like this.

  • Twiki

    Has it occurred to any of you that snobbish 2D animation jerks picking on kids is the reason no one wants to get into 2D animation anymore? Where’s the damned attraction in pursuing an industry where people seem to be utter dicks and primadonnas? I think I’d pick law school first. I may have to go to work witth assholes every day, but the pay is good and the work steady.

  • RR

    I think these students fail to understand that the reason a Chuck Jones cartoon works is because of the spirit of the man behind it, not because of all the miniscule technical details of how the cartoon was created. Perhaps this is what having too much technology around does to kids, it makes them think they can capture lightning in a bottle if they break it down frame by frame enough. But there is no soul.

    This is exactly like trying to understand how love works by dissecting a human heart to pieces in a biology lab.

    A totally futile exercise.

  • Marck

    “The American dollar will be worth less than the peso soon, so youll be able to buy maya for pennies.”

    Just to make it clear, the currency in Brazil is “Real” and not “Peso”.

  • bord

    Hey, no one is profiting from this, it is just a student project. A strange choice, but hardly something to be offended at.

    I think the interesting thing that happens when watching the 3d rendering is that it reveals just how perfect Jones’ directing is. Framing, camera movement, characterization… even in a different format these elements are brilliant. I’d imagine a live action version would reveal the same.

  • http://rohitiyer.blogspot.com Rohit

    Being a student myself, I have to say that I really appreciate the good work.

    I think most of the people posting in the comments are coming down to heavy on these guys. They’re not even promoting it the way some of you seem to be taking it (CG is better than 2D).

    The best one can do is see it for what it is and provide them some valuable feedback. They are, in fact, not even learning animation formally.

    You’re all really great animators probably… and I’m sure these guys want to be as well.

  • http://jedaniels-adventures.blogspot.com/ Jpox

    Awesome job! I’ve studied a little CG animation in the course I’m currently enrolled in and it takes a lot to create even a minute of animation.

    My hat goes off to the animators responsible for a great piece of animation.
    If CG films incorporated “cartoony” acting like these students attempted, maybe I could be fully entertained by these modern “animated” features. I’m all for keeping traditional animation alive being a Golden Age Animation lover myself, but since CG is currently the “flavor-of-the-week”, maybe more animators should attempt this sort of acting to make cartoons funny again.

  • http://pediatristsplayground.blogspot.com Kevin Martinez

    I’m colored impressed.

    It’s a little bit rough around the edges, a given for any student film, but the whole is very tight and competently done, capturing the Jones spirit while at the same time putting a little bit of their own stamp on the material. More power to them. Besides, it’s not like were going to see Warner Bros. promote this over the Chuck Jones original.

  • Omar Hebertt

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea stress the use of Blender for CG work. Despite the sensible approach to Chuck Jones masterpiece, which is indeed a way too clever to learn by reference, this guys used one of the most controversial pieces of software around, quite often described as not professional enough for animation. However, Virgilio and his team started from zero background in both fields.

    There are many points to respect.

  • Richard Lewis

    I teach animation and will be using these examples to compare 2D and 3D and provoke discussion.

    It is a great idea for a student project. It gave them a chance to really study a masterpiece of cartooning.

    But there is a little alarm bell going off in my head. What if there is a Ted Turner of the future who decides [a la colorization] that this is the way to update classic cartoons for the new generation?

  • Peter

    Better than the Calvin & Hobbes CGI where both characters had Cockney accents!

  • PerswAsian

    I think everyone who’s stated this was pointless (primarily Jonah) has no idea what they’re talking about here.

    Frankly, a majority of people out there who want to learn animation or art will copy it from one source to another. To call this pointless is to call a still-life pointless. Or maybe we could say something like why does John Romita draw Spider-man when no one will ever top Steve Ditko.

    Just because you, as an elitist snob who’s fond of one style of animation, don’t see the validity of this project doesn’t mean it’s not valid. It’s easy to get down on 3D animation considering how much of it’s being churned out when compared to hand-drawn. But the fact is, if we don’t see people doing things like this, it’ll never get better and we’ll forever be forced to watch lifeless CGI projects.

  • Jerry Modene

    I, for one, liked it.

  • Frank Provasek

    Using the original soundtrack, and copying Jones scene for scene, the charm of the original shines even in a different medium. Maybe what has turned me off most CGI animation in the past has not been the animation, but the dreary stories and unimaginative direction.

  • http://funideas.home.att.net Mark Arnold

    I couldn’t do anything like this, so I applaud it for that! I always say for people who don’t like remakes, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

  • Mal

    Brilliant! I teach drawn animation to students studying Maya 3D animation, (I direct and animate 2D too). Looking at 2D is definately the best way to understand the principles, as most professional 3D output lacks ‘snap’ and it’s lack of understanding of the main principles is disguised under its heavy rendering and ugly design, (the brilliant ‘Ratatoulle’ excepted). I thought they’d loused up the frog lip sync, then, (like some other minor quibbles I had), found it wasn’t great in the original either, just i’d never scrutinised so close before.
    A for initiative, execution and technical acheivement.
    Do those of you moaning actually animate for a living? Most professionals I know started out like me watching Tom and Jerry’s frame by frame on a standard 8 editor aged 14, or some such method, there is no better way to ‘get’ timing, and recreating it would certainly make sure you took it all in! Good luck!