christykaracas-microsoft christykaracas-microsoft

Microsoft Recruits “Superjail!” Creator Christy Karacas To Sell Surface Tablets [UPDATED]

[UPDATE]: Ready Christy’s review of the Surface Pro tablet.

Animation artists as spokespeople doesn’t happen often, but Microsoft is giving it a shot in anticipation of their launch of Surface Pro 2 tablets next week. To reach visual artists, they produced this online video with Superjail! co-creator Christy Karacas as its star:

  • Rick Dolishny

    Well played Microsoft. A very soft pitch. Maybe too soft but I totally dug the inside story. Very cool. But man he was struggling at times with the miserable Flash interface. I can’t imagine anything other than sketching with that!

  • younglad

    It was good to see them acknowledge animation with this pitch, but I wonder what Christy really thought of the device.
    For example when he’s sketching on it outside in the sun (with sunglasses on), it can’t be that easy to see the screen or prop it up in your hand for long, can it?
    Whilst I wouldn’t expect anything resembling criticism to be included in a promo, hearing a bit about what he did like about it would be nice.

    • christy

      we did talk quite a bit about tech and what i loved about this tablet but it didn’t seem to make it into the video. for people who want to know, i think it’s a great tablet and i have been using it very often during season 4 production.

      i use it for sketching/thumbing/boarding on the go. the most important thing i’m looking for in a tablet is a natural drawing experience/interface. i use a wacom cintiq to make superjail, which is great in my opinion but obviously that’s a big and powerful non mobile workstation i can’t take with me.

      if you download the wacom driver for the surface tablet, the pen pressure/sensitivity is great and i’ve had no latency issues-meaning you can draw very quick and fast-which i like to do- and the line doesn’t lag behind the actual pen in your hand-a problem i had with previous tablets/laptops-i previously owned a toshiba portege tablet PC-i used it often to thumb/board during season one-the pressure sensitivity on it kind of sucked and so did the speed but i would still use it as an option when not in the office or out of town but after season one i stopped using it. (it was also very heavy and huge by todays standards haha) i would only work at the office or home and if i thumbed outside of work i would do it on paper and then re-draw it in flash which was kind of a pain in the ass. but when boarding i like to get away from the office sometimes-i love storyboarding in cafes or bars so i can let my mind wander, people watch, get ideas etc. i work so often i find a change of workspace inspiring and necessary.

      as far as ‘negatives’ i honestly don’t have any. my biggest hurdle was getting use to windows 8 as i have a mac at work and still run windows vista at home-i wasn’t use to the ’tiles’ system that is the interface of surface but it was just a matter of getting use to it. there is an automatic brightness sensor so when i was drawing sometimes my hand would cover the tablet and the screen brightness would change but i just disabled that setting so not an issue. i haven’t and don’t think i would use the surface for full animation because of its screen size (being a tablet ) but i wouldn’t really want to animate in a public space anyways-i would want to work in the quiet of my room or studio-but i do really like storyboarding/thumbnailing in active cafes/bars/even the subway-i don’t know why but i get really good ideas in the subway…so for that its great. i boarded a huge chunk of the premiere of season 4 on the airplane to comicon-i was able to email the .FLA file to my storyboard team right on the plane directly from the tablet in san diego to NY-super convenient and allows me to get work done, send it to the storyboard artists and keep production flowing going while i was away. the battery life also impressed me- better than my iphone which i seem to have to charge twice a day.

      i think ipads look really nice but they don’t have the pen driver support- only those blunt ‘stylus’ type pen interfaces that i can’t stand and also they can only run apps, not true software like flash which i need to make superjail. i know there are more and more tablets on the market these days so there are probably going to be lots of new options. these guys approached me and let me play with it and i loved it and agreed to do the video. also i gotta say-i am really sick of mac constantly updating their OS. its really annoying. and for some reason i find flash runs better on PC. my PC at home has NEVER crashed making this show- not once! but the macs at work do sometimes when we have a really heavy file. flash really wan’t designed to do this kind of animation but that’s a whole other discussion…

      so yea-for directors/SB artists or anyone who wants to sketch digitally away from their workstation with a really sensitive natural pen interface, the surface has worked out really great for me and i love using it.

      • Excellent review! I’ve also found that doing Flash on a Mac is quite a buggy experience.

      • Sil

        Hey Chris it’s been a month, there is less pressure and I wanted to know if you still use the surface pro 2 on a regular basis? I must say I’m very interested in the pen support, I can’t find any other product that seems better in the tablet / notebook range.

  • JWLane

    So the drawing responsiveness is good? I wonder if the tablet could have through-put to a more powerful laptop or desktop, to serve as an in-house drawing tablet. That would give a $700 machine attractive multi-use. I’ve used Wacam products for decades, but I’m not the fan I use to be. The goes for Macs, too.

  • Pierre Fontaine

    I own a Samsung ATIV tablet, which has lower specs than the Surface. That being said, I found a number of pluses and minuses when using this platform for art and animation.

    In short, Windows tablets are nearly impossible to use without a keyboard. The “app” side works like an iPad. “App” interfaces are really touch friendly. The problem is using a full-blown program like Photoshop or Flash. Accessing menus with a pen isn’t difficult but it is fiddly. If you are used to using keyboard shortcuts then the onscreen keyboard is nearly useless. In fact, I use a Bluetooth mouse with my tablet as well when working with some 3d programs, especially when you need to right click to access certain functions (though you can certainly right click with the supplied Wacom pens).

    If you don’t use lots of keyboard shortcuts, then the pen interface is great. Drawing on a pressure sensitive, Wacom enabled screen is really fun. Keep in mind that not all Windows tablets have the Wacom screens. The Surface Pro tablets do, as does my Samsung tablet but just because the tablet runs Windows 8 (as opposed to Windows RT) doesn’t guarantee that it is Wacom-enabled.

    If anyone is interested, I did a review of the Samsung tablet, which is available on YouTube. The link is:
    FYI, the slow response in Photoshop has been remedied somewhat by the latest Wacom drivers. The Samsung has lower specs than the Surface Pro, which I’m certain will provide a better Photoshop experience than I show in my review.

    • Honest_Miss

      Major programs like these are what make me laugh when people say “Desktops and laptops are dead!” Yeah, there might be a few perks, but I just can’t imagine that big, clunky fingers are going to give you the precision you need.

      If people want to give programs as complicated and detailed as Adobe products or CAD a shot on a tablet then I wish them luck. I just can’t see it working out until the programs learn to work with a touch interface.

  • Markc

    What software is he using?