Precinct ep 00b: Eras of Ackersley

Eras of Ackersley

Eras of Ackersley

As with Farnham, in the new Precinct cartoon we’ll be seeing Ackersley at different points from 1986 thru today. I think ’93 Ackersley is my favourite.

More animatic done now:
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Do The Precinct Cop Action Survey!

Do The Precinct Cop Action Survey!

Please go to the Precinct site and try out our Cop Action Survey. We need some info about what people think of Cop Action and how they watch it! I’ll post more extensively on the idea behind the survey later.

Precinct ep. 00b: Eras of Farnham

Eras of Farnsy

Eras of Farnsy

For the upcoming Precinct animation: obviously “You’re the Voice” Farnham is familiar, but here’s sketches for some later era Farnhams. Click for a larger version.

Many of them will appear in this cartoon: basically he’ll be changing costume for every shot. Pain in the arse, as it means more character builds. But we’ll be using the eras of Farnsy to help show the passage of time, so it’s necessary.

Production begins on The Precinct, episode 00b: “Playing To Win”

Det. Ackersley, 1986

Det. Ackersley, 1986

YES! So, as I mentioned previously, I’m starting up a new Precinct short animation, the goals of which are:

  • to give viewers a bit more of the story we’re dealing with in the series
  • to reveal a bit more about Det. Ackersley’s personality
  • to show lots more ACTION and fast cutting
  • to shamelessly wallow in my John Farnham love and persuade him to get involved with the show

Since the production of Precinct episode 00a, “Good Friends”, was short and fast, and I was planning for MIPCOM and working a full time job then, I didn’t blog about the process at all. This time I want to post a lot about how it’s going, to (a) get the word out about The Precinct and (b) keep me motivated to finish.

Since I knew the point of this cartoon was mostly to show a little animated Farnham singing, the first thing I did was decide which of his songs I’d use as backing (yes, this cartoon will be packed with delicious copyrighted music, so I probably won’t be able to legally put it online).

I sat down with my Farnham collection and decided on a montage of the Precinct theme song with “Break The Ice”, which Mr. Farnham sang for the movie RAD, and the Little River Band chestnut “Playing to Win”. The three tracks are all synthtastic and in the same key, so they mix well.

Once I’d sequenced the backing music I wrote the opening scene, a short bit set in 1986 which features Ackersley getting yelled at by his angry boss. It concludes, slightly cheesily, with the words “playing to win”. At which point the song bursts forth.

After doing a few thumbnail panels on the tram, yesterday I started the storyboard/animatic properly. Here’s what I have so far!

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I haven’t “written” the whole “Playing to Win” sequence that’s coming up, because it has no dialogue. Instead I’ll just keep doing thumbnails of the montage images.

More soon!

EDIT: I worked more on this today. Now we’re almost up to the “Playing to Win” bit.

Idle drawing, and what’s up with The Precinct

George Liquor

John Kricfalusi is the gent who created Ren & Stimpy. His blog is full of excellent lessons, advice and rant on various subjects. I saw today he’s having his visitors try drawing his lovable Republican stooge, George Liquor (American), so I thought I’d take a crack at it. He’s not kidding when he says drawing the character is hard. It’s a strange and complex construction, and tough for me to guess what he might look like when he changes expression.

Above left is my first quick sketch, above right I had a proper go at drawing the character freehand. The lines are rough but I think I got the flavour.

George Liquor, again

Here I tried to get a little creative and ran into trouble. They’re OK drawings but the lower one in particular is off and requires more research. The dudes and chicks who work for John are close to 100% at capturing his style — it’s a bit scary sometimes.

Doing this I wondered if all the storyboards I’ve been doing for Flash productions are having a negative effect on my ability to visualise a three dimensional character. I should go do some life drawing…

Ackersley gots a taser

Back to business: Ackersley gots a taser.

So Woody The Producer is back from his Amero-European sojourn and seems pumped about how The Precinct went over at MIPTV. My co-writer, Adam, and I are nutting out the plotting for the second half of the series so that I can get a more finished pitch document to those who showed interest.

Special quiz question: who’s your favourite Canadian actor, and why? Specifically, I’m after ones with interesting VOICES!

Meet Many More Characters.

Police lineup!

I can’t be bothered doing individual posts for each character at the moment, so check out the new character lineup (link opens in a new window) and let’s learn about a few of your soon-to-be-favourite TV cops:

Martinez is a greenhorn who has no idea what The Precinct is, why it exists, and what its officers do all day. Having become an officer when The Sarge thrust a badge at him, this barely changes during the course of the season, but with the help of brother officers Digby and D’Arcy, he quickly learns to handle stakeouts, suspect chases, illicit sexual trysts and masculine brooding, before ultimately falling victim to the horrors of party drugs.

Outwardly a tough female officer with something to prove, Jessup is somewhat confused about her direction in life, her sexuality, and various other things we may not have time to cover.

Longtime partners Digby & D’Arcy are best described as The Precinct’s larrikins: hazing of new recruits is their department. Comparing them to such amusing, dangerous screen partners as Riggs and Murtaugh, Tango and Cash or Daryl and Ossie would be unnecessary, and embarrassing for me as a writer of supreme originality. Suffice to say that when the chips are down, these guys can put their thumbs to the floor and their backs against the wheel. HOLD TIGHT!

Fallon and Sandhurst are your standard angry secondary characters. Since they’re not “the greenhorn”, “the pretty boy” or “the brooding loner”, they have taken up massive substance abuse; alcoholism for Sandhurst, drugs for Fallon. They spend their time being loud and destructive and hoping someone will notice.

Padgett returns from a long-term undercover assignment in Episode Three and finds himself unprepared for the demands of everyday life: he’s seen and lived far too much. Another brooding loner, he naturally is happy to join Ackersley on a doomed renegade mission.

Tough but fair, The Sarge has a tendency to fly off the handle and spew cop clichés like “That’s not the way we do things at The Precinct!” and “Hand in your gun and badge — you’re done for the day!” Still, he’s blue through and through, and takes great pride in his work, which generally consists of yelling, switching partners around and keeping the Mayor off everyone’s arse.

A little old bearded Jew who runs the bagel shop next door to The Precinct. Just like everybody’s grandfather, complete with slightly disarming hugs and kisses, Mr Lowinsack always has a friendly word or an oily paper sack full of ponchke (doughnuts) for his favourite Precinct officers. But is there more to him than the beard and flour-dusted fingers?

Ackersley vs dead eyes

Ackersley, alleyway

This is the first in a series of posts describing the characters in The Precinct and their relation to the story of what I’m optimistically calling “The Precinct: Season One”.

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Ackersley is the guy you’ve been seeing in the animation tests and most of the sketches I’ve been posting. This is not because he’s the main character, but because he’s my favourite.

The Precinct is a station full of police officers with emotional problems, like in every good cop show. And there’s usually one cop with MORE or BIGGER or MORE EXCITING problems than anybody else. In Lethal Weapon, it’s RIGGS. In Law & Order: SVU, it’s STABLER. In The Precinct, it’s ACKERSLEY.

Ackersley is angry and crazy

Ben Ackersley was once a suave, debonair officer with a taste for the nightlife and a quip for every occasion. As an undercover “narc”, he spent much of the late ’80s in disturbing leisure suits and more disturbing clubs, hunting down major drug importers and other nasty types.

At some point in the past, multiple personal tragedies befell Ackersley, although details of these are unknown to most of the other officers at The Precinct, as they are mostly younger officers Ackersley considers either fucking idiots or fresh meat (“mince of a new generation”).

Today, fortysomething Ackersley has gone to seed somewhat. He is still an effective officer, but his methods are often violent and/or strange. He generally does not talk to anyone other than his informants (who seem to be fewer and fewer these days) his boss, The Sarge (a longtime colleague he tolerates, respectfully), and the talking potatoes that appear in his waking dreams.

His personal hygiene is not the best, although his mullet, not having remained in the ’80s where it belongs, is still as well kept as ever. Despite his age, he is not a senior officer at The Precinct (being virulently disrespectful of hierarchy), although he is the only officer permitted to wear tight T-shirts rather than standard uniform blues.

Naturally, he is a time bomb waiting to go off.

Ackersley goes off

As I said, he’s not the main character. At least, not at the outset. But ultimately it’s his story that provides much of the thrust of the series.
I wonder if an unconventional, “crazy” cop like the ones you see in movies and TV shows would actually be allowed to go about his business with just a bit of yelling from the angry black lieutenant, or if he’d actually get the medical care he needs?

Anyway, the other point of this post is to mention how I feel about characters’ EYES. They’re super fucking important and must be perfectly rendered if they’re to look as though they have any brain or emotion behind them (although I don’t always want that). Obviously I have personal tastes, but here are some horrible DEAD LOOKING cartoon eyes I would never want to see on my characters:

Bad animation eyes

I did a pic tonight of Ackersley in an alleyway (this one) —

Ackersley, alleyway

— which was mostly for background design purposes, but I reckon it’s also one of the best character drawings I’ve done. I think the pose and the face really tell you something about the character. Check out a large version of the image here. I’m using it as my wallpaper now.