TONIGHT: Computer-Animated “Adventure Time” by Ke Jiang

Adventure Time Computer Animation

A new episode of Adventure Time airs tonight on Cartoon Network, and the show will feature a 5-1/2 minute long computer animated segment. The segment was modeled, rigged and animated by one person–Ke Jiang–who graduated in 2009 from the CalArts Experimental Animation program.

This is a link to a preview of the CG episode and below is Taxi, a student film Jiang created a couple years back with a mesmerizing visual style:

(Thanks, Sarah Pocock)


  • Alice

    whoa… looks similar to pretty much everything by David O’Reilly.

    • Lars

      I guess it was just a matter of time till OReilly’s style was ripped off, but as a fan of adventure time this is disappointing.

      • http://www.andrewchesworth.com Andrew Chesworth

        As a fan of David O’Reilly and a fan (and personal friend) of Ke (Jacky) Jiang, I can assure you that Ke Jiang has been doing experimental 3D for all the years I’ve known him, before David O’Reilly was even on the public radar. It’s just a coincidence of tastes.

      • Max

        its cool to defend your mates, but there’s nothing on Ke’s site that points to what he seems to have churned out for this. Im sure it’ll be good as Im an adventure time/pen ward fan…

  • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

    David O’Reilly owns the idea of stacking geometric primitives together to form characters?

    I thought Dire Straits owned that.

    • Lars

      I’d say Dire straits was in the context of the 80s when it all looked like that. OReilly uses 3d pretty selectively in the now – not just low poly characters, but rendering with playblast, vertex colors, showing the interface etc. and pretty much owns it.

      • http://jkart.net Ke Jiang

        I think it’s kind of shallow, and a discredit to both David O’Reilly and me to say “oh, this is ripping off David O’Reilly” when lots of people have been experimenting with various low-geometry CG techniques over the years. I’m a fan of David O’Reilly too, and respect his work a great deal, but he did not invent the playblast. The aspects of his work I like the most are beyond the low-poly surface: it’s his clever ideas and the way he presents his one-of-a-kind characters and situations. His films aren’t JUST about the look, either; there’s a lot going on underneath the surface.

        Here’s the thing: I believe the style of the animation has to match the story and plot of the show. This episode is about Finn and Jake going into a game space computer world that references 8-bit graphics. The style I created is coherent to the show material. It’s important to use the right fabric for the right design, as Tim Gunn would say. The film I’m currently working on, for instance, is reminiscent of a 19th century illustration book, which is why I picked a completely different approach, as you can see here:

        http://jkart.net/send/MNBHDShotWeb.mov

        Pen wanted something different, and I delivered what he asked for. And since what he wanted was a specifically old-school looking approach, I suppose comparisons to David O’Reilly are inevitable (and understandable, too–O’Reilly has worked hard to push the low-poly look into the mainstream and we have to give him credit for that).

        Sorry for all the linkage, but I want to show 2 more older pieces of mine to illustrate how long I’ve been playing around with the primitive CG aesthetic, some little school experiments from 2004 (during my undergrad) and 2006 (from my first year at CalArts).

        http://www.vimeo.com/20041222

        http://www.myspace.com/video/kejiang/jacky-39-s-neighbors/11746740

        You can’t judge an artist based on how many polys and what render engine they use. :)

        A little more general technical shop talk: my characters are all UV textured with a slight hint of ambient occlusion baked into the texture, in the video game fashion, since I was going for a hardware render look reminiscent of video games. While the background may appear to be vertex color, I simply selected the wireframe in Maya before the playblast to give it the sharp alias look. Much of my post-grad work has been in video games, so used this process to inform my decisions for the Adventure Time segment.

        At any rate, I hope you give the episode a chance and enjoy it!

      • http://www.webcomicsnation.com/dholvrsn/index.php Doug Holverson

        Kudos for standing up for yourself and showing off various styles.

  • Cleo

    Did anyone see the stop motion and CGI animated segments on the Simpsons last night?

  • Timanim

    So what if it’s a similar style?

    Adventure time is making it its own. I can totally feel the same sort of energy that the characters normally have into cg, which is more than most 2D -> CG transitions can say.

    I excitedly await tonight’s episode.

  • Mara

    Looks impressive, and I totally agree that the energy that the characters have is really well translated into their 3D forms. Looks like a sweet episode. :D

    I don’t understand how someone can find this disappointing. It looks…..ALGEBRAIC.

  • http://woweh.com Kelly

    “Taxi” is cool, but reminds me of something out of Silent Hill. D:

  • http://Juxtaminute.tumblr.com Juxtaminute

    I think that we’re eventually going to see a whole movement of stylized 3d. With less emphasis on realism and complexity and more emphasis on color, design and fun. You know like animation is suppose to be!

  • http://bruandboegie.co.za Mike

    Man, I look forward to when Adventure Times reaches the shores of South Africa. I saw the pilot way back in 2006 @ Comic Con in San Diego whilst on my trip. Inspired me to quit my job and become a freelance animator. Thanks Pen Ward. You rock. And this geometric episode looks totally mathematical.

  • http://www.siliconriot.com David

    Taxi looks interesting an a still frame basis…. but Slapping some mocap on breaking rigs and not bothering to clean it up….Keyframe loops…that don’t loop cleanly… Like I said it
    looks good on a still frame basis, but Bad CG is still Bad CG…even if you call it experimental.

  • Cyle

    I just watched the episode and loved it. Great job!

  • Kirsten

    Low poly ≠ David OReilly. This looks brilliant. Great job, Jacky!

  • John Zilka

    Hardcore awesome!

  • http://www.jeffsimonetta.com Jeffrey Simonetta

    The segment was great! It was really well done and polished. The animation was wonderful and creative too! I find it sort of funny that 1 person could do so much work on this segment on a TV budget and really blow the other shows out of the water in terms of quality!

  • http://dylankingpresents.com Dylan King

    Adventure Time has never disappointed me. With the new product deals the show is getting, I’m praying it doesn’t turn into a Spongebob like money-cow (where the creator left, the episodes started to get a tad bit lazy, and a lot of the cartoons evolved around its upcoming products or deals).

  • http://exclusive-cheese.deviantart.com Taco Wiz

    What program was used to do the CGI for the episode?

    • http://jkart.net Ke Jiang

      Everything except the textures (Photoshop) was created in Maya. All the animation and effects are real-time, with hardwire playblast. No post work has been done on it to my knowledge.

      Since I’m the only person who worked on this section, it was created in a “straight ahead” sort of workflow, which was basically one gigantic Maya file with everything in it animated from beginning to end, using the animatic provided by the wonderful Cartoon Network story department as my guide. I placed most of the cameras after animating the characters.

  • http://mrscriblam.tumblr.com mrscriblam

    watched it
    really enjoyed it, the game segment was brilliantly made

  • reza

    the segment in adventure time was masterly done, loved the timing and poses of it all, the walk towards the cave had me laughing so hard, well done!

  • TheGunheart

    I absolutely LOVED that sequence where Finn is singing and his facial features animate like a game of Pong.

  • http://bruandboegie.co.za Mike

    Aah! I wanna learn 3D so badly! This looks so cool man.

  • http://www.natashahelton.blogspot.com Tasha

    Forget those haters, Jacky! You rock, and they’re probably just jealous!

  • TomNomad

    speaking of crazy kids show. Just found this one on vimeo. Getting pretty big reviews in the Chicago area. The animations pretty good too.

    http://vimeo.com/20222921

  • http://einarbaldvin.com Einar Baldvin

    Great stuff, congratulations!

  • http://rafatoro.blogspot.com Rafa

    Just watch the ep yesterday and was loads of fun! Congratulations to Ke for keeping the wacky and unpredictable style of animation of the show even in 3D!