Wednesday, December 5, 2012


We JUST released our latest stop motion zombie clip, called WINTER TIME ZOMBIE.

It serves as some good advice, if you are tempted to stick your tongue out during the holiday season.

Now, we're posting a "behind-the-scenes, time-lapse" clip. A few notes:

The toothpick is very important! It's used for animating eyes... and also gives the animator something to stick in his mouth when bored. Be sure to use the high quality, ROUND toothpicks, not the cheap FLAT ones.

The beautiful Bolex camera is being used to hold a set piece steady. It's not actually being used for animation.

Finally- these time-lapse, behind-the-scenes stop motion clips are a dime-a-dozen these days, you'll see them done for basically all stop motion features. And as you watch, you get the idea pretty quickly- take a frame, move the puppet... repeat.

SO- since at Mad Lab we are always trying to keep the audience engaged, we've added some EXCITEMENT at certain points.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blade Runner- I've Seen Things

Ridley Scott's masterpiece is without a doubt one of the most impressive, and important, examples of sci- fi in the history of cinema. We're sure you've seen the film dozens of times, right? So no doubt, this scene is burned into your brain. You probably even have the dialogue memorized. So all together now- click, PLAY, and repeat after Mad Lab: "I've seen thing..."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vampire Instructionals- Back To His Crypt

Some weeks ago, we introduced Mad Lab fans to our little creation, a wee vampire kid who did his best to school other vampire kids in the ways of the blood sucker.

Each episode saw the little guy choosing a "How To" topic, that ranged from "How To Turn Into A Bat" to "How To Drink You-Know-What". He even covered a subject that few non-vampires realize is very important to these creatures of the night: DANCING.

For that important topic, the little guy took his time and warmed it up, over THREE episodes.

The clips were very fun to make, and we had some great feedback. And they featured the great voice talent of young Marco Bertolo, who may very well have a long career as a cartoon voice actor ahead of him, now that he's cut his teeth in cartoon land (his vampire teeth, that is).

We hope you've enjoyed this run, and in time we hope to bring the little guy out of his crypt for more cartoon adventures. Maybe we'll team him up with other monster kids, or send him on some serious world-saving adventures (after sundown, of course). Time will tell!

In the meantime, if you haven't watched them all, here's the latest- "How To Drink You-Know-What".

See you soon, little vampire! Have a nice nap. We'll be careful when we wake you up next-  you're liable to be pretty thirsty.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

E. H. S.

Here at Mad Lab, we're always amazed at what what it means to be human.

We're born, we grow old, we pass away. And over that experience, any number of strange and bewildering afflictions can befall us.

Here's one we just stumbled up. Exploding Head Syndrome. EHS. We defy you to come up with a more dramatic name for an affliction.

Of all the ways this gives us pleasure, the best is that on the Wikipedia entry, it states at the top that this article "needs attention from an expert in Medicine."

Don't we all.

To clarify- this image is from David Cronenberg's Scanners. This does not actually happen when you have EHS.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

"Classic" is thrown around very loosely, but we sincerely mean it as our shivery fingers type today...

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark was written by Alvin Schwartz and published in 1981. It's a collection of urban legends, myths, and generally weird stories gathered largely from American folklore. The stories are direct and chilling.

But what many recall from this book are the illustrations, by Stephen Gammell. Can you imagine a collection of stories for kids being published today that are as disturbing as these? Nope. But in part, that is what made the 80s the 80s- "kids stuff" had real bite.

And these images STUCK. Show the above image to an entire generation, and they'll cover their eyes! But then- peek out to see it again... and again. Remarkable.

If you don't have a copy of this book, you can get one cheap via Amazon. It's exactly the right book for this time of year: chilling, unnerving... and wonderful.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pipes- Ghostwatch

The gloves come off now... things get truly spooky as we get closer to the 31st.

Do you know Pipes, who haunted a British family? The ghost was featured on British TV some years ago, on a Halloween program called Ghost Watch.

That program lives on, in what many call the scariest event in British television.

We leave it to YOU to find out more... but this clip will get you started...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Betty Boop's Hallowe'en Party

Closer... and closer... October creeps... towards... HALLOWEEN!

To deepen the chill, here's a fun Betty Boop cartoon from the 1930s, Betty Boop's Hallowe'en Party.

It says "banned" on the YouTube page, but there's nothing worth banning in it... it's pretty tame for a Fleischer cartoon, actually.

But it has some great moments, especially around the 5:30 mark, when the power of Halloween rises up, with a bit of help from Betty, that is!

You can always count on Fleischer to get nice and weird.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Awesome Spookiness of My Ghoul Friday

As the hallowed month of Halloween continues to slither along, we had to share with you a local talent who really puts the "ghoul" in... ghoul.

My Ghoul Friday runs an awesome Halloween-themed blog, all year long. You can check it out here.

She has dedicated sections, like the Art Ghoullery  (as you can see she isn't afraid to dip into the horror puns), How-To Projects, Tutorials, and Party Planning. And she does it all with style and great wit.

She also has an online store, where she is having a "Lucky 13" sale (till October 13th... go figure). You can find all kinds of delightfully weird little critters to populate your home, or coffin. Check our her store here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dr. Tongue's Evil House of Wax

October is upon us! It's the month of spooky spookiness, and chilling chillingness.

Here at Mad Lab, we usually try to mix a bit of humour with our horror. To a large extend we trace it back to things we loved growing up. Things like The Muppet Show (when Alice Cooper and Vincent Price appeared), and The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, a locally-produced television show that went for chills and laughs.

As kids, we loved being chilled by this stuff, but even as we found it spooky, we also knew it was for fun. That mix of fun and scary is a wonderful thing.

So check this out: the still-amazing SCTV crew, doing their own version of 3D horror.

We humbly propose that it doesn't get much better than this.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vampire Instructionals

If you are a fan of Mad Lab Productions, you probably know that just yesterday we launched a little mini-series called VAMPIRE INSTRUCTIONALS. The first episode is called HOW TO BECOME A BAT.  

The premise is a very simple and direct one: a kid vampire takes it upon himself (itself?) to create little instructional animations to school OTHER kid vampires on key aspects of vampire life (unlife?)

With the first episode only being online for 1 day (as of writing this), we have nearly 100 views. Considering we're a small company who is just promoting this via our own FB page and Twitter, and doing it in a fairly quiet way (since the series is just a cute little thing, not some big blockbuster project), that's not bad at all. The clip is getting around, and people are watching. Thank you, internets.

So things are good, but there is ONE area that's proving to be a bit of a challenge. It's a tricky situation, but there's no way around it. It's sure to be an ongoing issue, but what can we do? We made our bed (coffin?) and now we have to lie in it. The challenge is: dealing with this little vampire we have making these things.

Catching him (it?) was the first trick. Never underestimate the fangs of vampire, even a little one. And working within his hours of productivity was the next hurdle. That kid is a night-owl, to say the least.

But he's clever, and other little vampires seem to be able to relate to his (its?) take on things...and the little critter has a pretty good sense of humour.

He (it?) doesn't bite- as long as you keep his fridge stocked with the red stuff.

And we DON'T mean Kool-Aid.

So let us know what you think, and be sure to check our YouTube Channel next Monday, for Episode 2. Here is Episode 1- HOW TO BECOME A BAT:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vintage Halloween Costumes!

It's a cold and rainy day today, as the leaves start to tumble from the trees. On a day like this, how could the Mad Lab brain not turn happily to thoughts of the upcoming magic of HALLOWEEN.

We thought we'd get the party started with a blast of costumes past. So check this one out. We especially like the chubby bare-armed Spider-Man. That kid is throwing it DOWN.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cell Phone Photo Prank

We're not saying we invented this prank. But we haven't seen this one before (maybe we don't get out enough?), and we just had to share it.

We love this partly because it's so devilishly simple. Here's how it goes:

Enlarge the chimp picture above. Then using your cell phone, take a picture of it.

Then when you are with that special someone, take a close up picture of him or her. Then instead of selecting the picture you just took, select the chimp picture.

Show your victim the chimp picture, instead of the actual picture you just took.

Run from the angry outrage, while laughing at the top of your lungs. If the person catches you and threatens you with physical harm, just blame Mad Lab Productions.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Animating With CLAY!

Clay as in "the material"... not as in "a guy named Clay".

Many people are introduced to animation (and stop motion in particular) through clay, or plasticine, or even Play-Doh.  The material is readily available, and is easy to work with.

There's some real advantages to working strictly with clay. First of all you don't need an armature! The clay itself is all you need. The trick is that the clay can't stand up on its own (if you try to make too tall of a character), but if you can work within those constraints, you're in for a good time.

Another advantage is how incredibly animate-able it is. If you are up for it, you can sink whole days and weeks in carefully sculpting and re-sculpting every tiny piece of material. The results can be astounding. Growing out of this is another fun thing- if you love to sculpt and craft, it's a chance to do just that,  a LOT.

Another good thing- the material (as mentioned earlier) is cheap, and easy to find.

We like it so much at Mad Lab, we just had to create a little something out of clay!

Go ahead- let 'er rip!

Just click HERE.

Friday, August 24, 2012

EXCLUSIVE Frankenweenie Promo Pics

Lots of pictures at the bottom of this posting!

Mad Lab was strolling the aisles of Fan Expo yesterday, and one of the classiest and neatest things we found was a promo display for Tim Burton's upcoming stop motion feature, Frankenweenie.

There was around 4 sets on display, encased in glass, and on those sets were a variety of posed puppets. The displays allowed interaction. For example, in the lab set, you could turn switches to activate elements within the set.

Now having seen more of the character designs in person, and more of the set pieces and art direction, there's a true warmth and humour to the project that might see the film really succeed. It shares a visual style with The Corpse Bride, to be sure, but with a readily accessible sense of humour. The project feels FUN, and truly charming, as opposed to ultra slick, and cold. I think the pic of the
"Sea Monkeys science project" (very bottom) says a lot. That visual gag is funny, evocative, and intensely charming.

And the homage to Vincent Price in the teacher (?) puppet is wonderful.

This display was a real hit- tonnes of crowds, all peering in, taking snapshots. Very classy, with helpful Frankenweenie reps on hand to answer questions and to keep things fun. Very impressive. Surprisingly WARM and full of heart, for something that a first glance seems cold. Sort of like a resurrected family pet?!

Will Frankenweenie win hearts more effectively than Paranorman, the other "creepy but fun stop motion feature" of Summer 2012? Guess we'll see!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fan Expo Canada Is Coming!

It's that time of year again! Fan Expo Canada is coming, next week, August 23-26. We aren't even going to bother embedding the link to Fan Expo here because, well- you'll find it.

If you are a fan of "Comics, Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming" (the categories their site pushes), you'll get your fix at this event. Are you going?

Mad Lab Productions will be there, on the Thursday.

We don't have a table- we're going as FANS. But look for Chris, wearing his custom-made Mad Lab Productions t-shirt. He'll be the nerdy white guy with glasses. That narrows it down, doesn't it?

Hope to see you there!

Oh, and- watch out for real monsters. We understand they sometimes attend this kind of event, so they can move undetected through the human crowds. Perhaps it gives them some twisted monster rush?

If you are not sure if someone is a monster or just a human in monster costume, we recommend trying to pull the monster's face off.

This will clear things up for you, quickly.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How To Make A Miniature Severed Arm

1. Find a very tiny person. Rip his or her arm off. VOILA! Or- get some armature wire from an art supply store. Craft a simple arm with fingers. This will be like the skeleton for the arm, on to which you will add "flesh" and "skin". And since the wire is soft but strong, it will allow you to pose the arm when you are done.

2. Glue foam (even a kitchen sponge works) on to the arm in the shape of a long tube. This is the "flesh". Trim the foam down till it's "arm-like" in its proportion and shape.

 3. Tint liquid latex (available at art stores- get Burma brand, it's the only kind widely available that works). Tint the latex with acrylic paint till it's the colour of the skin you want (careful- it dries much darker, so do a test).

 4. Paint the latex on to the arm. This latex is the "skin" that is on top of the "flesh" (sponge). Keep applying coats to the arm and fingers, allowing it to dry between coats.

 5. Add little weird bits of latex on the end of the arm, or anywhere you want a "wound". Tint some more latex blood colour, and use that to glue to the bits on, and to give it a nice gory look.

6. Sculpt some bone bits for the end from Sculpy, and attach it with hot glue. Add some gory bits of latex around the seam, so it hides any mess from the hot glue.

 You now are the proud owner of an awesome severed arm that is capable of being posed however you want. Animate it! Scare your sister (or brother, or dog).

When the therapist asks you why you spent a week making a tiny severed arm, mutter something about "the voices told me to". The additional therapy sessions will be a great way to get out of school/work.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mad Lab Makes A Commercial!

Hope you can tolerate mindless cartoon violence. This was just released today. It's the signal film for The Burlington Animation Festival, a new animation festival that happens this September.

It was great fun to do some work outside of the realm of stop motion! Special thanks to our 2012 intern, JASON BURCH for his awesome design work and animation on this.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our old, dear friend, Saturday Morning....

So, if you were a little kid in the 70's, you know full well the euphoria of finishing up a week at school to wake up before the sun around 6AM on Saturday morning to partake in the Saturday morning cartoon schedule of your favourite network television stations.  Growing up in Southern Ontario, 6AM meant you were sneaking up, bleary-eyed, to see re-runs of the Krantz Spider-man or Rocket Robin Hood series, or watching the spooky fun Hilarious House of Frightenstein on CHCH Television!

Maybe you enjoyed your bowl of sugary sweetened cereal with the likes of Global Television with The Mighty Hercules, or maybe Tales of the Wizard of Oz, the 1961 animated television series, produced by Crawley Films for Videocrafts (later known as Videocraft and ultimately Rankin/Bass)?  

Or maybe time travelling with the wise Professor Kitzel was more your thing?  I know I didn't like that show, as it made me try and learn some history, which I was NOT interested in on my Saturday morning cartoon blitz! :D

I remember vividly, wearing my pajamas, sprawled on rust coloured carpet among many Micronaut and Star Wars toys, watching the heroic exploits of Flash Gordon, Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, Bird Man and the Galaxy Trio, The Super Friends, Thundarr the Barbarian, Spider Man and his Amazing Friends, and He-Man!  

I laughed with the likes of Tom & Jerry, The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, Droopy, Loony Tunes, Woody Woodpecker, The Pink Panther, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Heckle & Jeckle, the list goes on and on.  Its probably why I'm in animation today, with so much fun airing on TV back then.

Whatever your love of nostalgia, I tried to explain to my son how wonderful and almost exhausting Saturday morning was back then, as specialty channels with 24 hour cartoon airings weren't even a blip on the animated radar back in those days.

And then the cereal and toy commercials we had!   But that's another story.... ;)

What are your memories of Saturday mornings?


Friday, July 20, 2012

Mighty Men and Monster Maker

In keeping with last week's "what inspires us here at Mad Lab?" angle, here is another biggy.

If you had one of these as a kid, you remember how awesome it was. If you didn't (or are about 20 years too young, or too old), here's one to look up on eBay: Mighty Men and Monster Maker.

Just look at the box. Can imagine finding anything so cool on toy shelves today?

There are MONSTER HANDS on the box. That means MONSTERS like to play with this toy. And any toy that monsters like to play with must, by logical extension, be cool. Also, any toy that proudly declares it will "give you the creeps" on the box has its head on straight (from a Mad Lab pov).

And then on the inside? We have this:

Allow us to break this down a bit: on the right, are the relief plates you can choose from. You have HEADS, then you have TORSOS, and then you have LOWER BODIES. Each plate has a image on both sides, and some of the plates (instead of images on the flipside) have textures- so you can create fur, scales, etc.

You arrange your creation from a selection of very cool (to this day) designs of mummies, ghouls, aliens, werewolves... and then some superhero type guys (that are all rather generic and boring, compared to the insane energy of the monsters, but oh well).

You assemble your creation on the left, lay a piece of paper over top, lower the frame to hold it all in place, then take the crayon (that comes housed in its very own official "holder") and rub the hell out of it. VOILA!! A monster creation fit for a Kreepy King. In seconds- nearly immediate satisfaction. The best kind.

Then you're free to add your own colours and textures. Go nuts.

This toy is personally responsible for the weirdness that Mad Lab is creating today, 30 odd (very odd) years later. No other toy from our youth encouraged such intense sci-fi/fantasy/horror character creation. Wonderful.

Get yours today! Or if you ever find yourself in the Mad Lab, if you ask real nice... we might let you play with ours.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Hero, Jack Davis

Today, we thought we'd just refresh your memory about an artist that deeply inspires Mad Lab Productions. Much has been written about the man and his art, but here's a brief intro, dragged straight from Wikipedia: "Jack Davis (b. December 2, 1924) is an American cartoonist, known for his advertising art, magazine covers, film posters, record album art and numerous comic book stories. He was one of the founding cartoonists for MAD Magazine."

We love his work (especially his monster stuff) because as detailed and as highly rendered as it is, it never lose its sense of cartoon fun. His monsters are funny to look at, but are still monsters, to be sure. They have a violent, toothy, dangerous edge... but also a wonderful silliness.That balance of spooky and fun is something we really hold dear to our darkly beating hearts at Mad Lab Productions. There's a newly published book on the art of Jack Davis as well, so look for it.

Here's some of our fave pieces of art from Jack Davis:

Here's a fantastic flickr page about Jack Davis.

And finally, here's a cool piece by Chuck Dixon that features Jack's You'll Die Laughing cards.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Too hot to read a blog? Never. Too hot to WRITE a blog entry? Possibly. At least today. But Mad Lab struggles onward...

 So we'll keep this one short, and just say that if you are anywhere even near Toronto this weekend, and love animation, you need to get to TAAFI. That's the "Toronto Animation Arts Festival International", running all weekend. It's the first year for TAAFI, and they've landed on the scene with an amazing lineup of films and events. It's incredible, really. And the local animation community is responding with a huge outpouring of love (and ticket buying). Get yours, while you still can! Things are selling out...

 See you there, especially Saturday night (and again on Sunday) when Mad Lab's Springtime Zombie hits the big screen...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mad Lab on Electric Playground!

A few weeks ago Chris of Mad Lab found himself being interviewed about Springtime Zombie by the awesome folks at Electric Playground. We shot at the historic Silver Snail on Queen Street, in Toronto. The piece was within a feature piece on TAAFI (Toronto Animation Arts Festival International), that hits next week. Springtime Zombie is playing as part of that fest, so check it out.

If you don't know, Electric Playground is a highly respected (and fan-favoured) destination for video game, movie, and general pop culture news updates, interviews, and reviews.  So Mad Lab was very excited about it all.

Be sure to check out the bitchin' Mad Lab T-shirt Chris is sporting! Would you buy one? Let us know!

Thanks again to Shaun and Darcy- true fans of all the things that Mad Lab holds dear.

You can see the clip here (TAAFI and Mad Lab's segment starts around the 12 min mark)...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Alexander Gorelick- Stop Motion Maestro

 This pic is from Alex's website, and features non-Mad Lab work he has done (just to be clear).

We have a larger stop motion project that we are developing, that is full of spooky goodness. We've been working very hard on it, to say the least.

Essentially, we're getting a promo package together that we hope will WOW everyone, and give the world complete assurance that this project is going to be a wonderful thing to behold.

Part of that promo package is a piece of promo animation, that shows off a central character, the tone of the project (funny and spooky), and the overall production value we are capable of achieving.

To that end, we reached out to a remarkable stop motion animation talent, Alexander Gorelick, to tackle the actual animation of the promo piece.

Alex is, in the truest sense of the word, a maestro. The life he can bring to a puppet borders on the uncanny. We're beyond excited to have him bringing our creation to life.


If you are a stop motion fan, you MUST check out his website, and his demo reel.

You can watch check it all out, here.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Click on the pic to make it big.

No, this isn't a behind the scenes snapshot at Mad Lab Productions, it's an image from Bride of Frankenstein (1935). They're trying to get the ratio of sugar to Kool Aid just right for the annual "Monster and Mad Scientist"  picnic. STRESSFUL.

But aside from that, this image is a great example of what can be achieved by light in terms of making a scene dramatic.

There's soft light, and there's hard light. Soft light has, well, softer qualities, and you can see a nice example of it on the stone wall in the background. It sort of gently fades from bright to dark, with no hard shadows. It gives a gentle, modest quality to things, and is perfect for a background, since you don't want the viewer's eyes being drawn TOO much back there.

Now look at the faces of the characters. It's a great example of hard light. The faces have areas of real brightness, that drop off fast into darkness. It creates a real contrast (between light and dark), and that contrast creates drama and visual excitement. The viewer wants to look here, and keep looking. And that makes sense, since this is the area where the action is.

This masterful mixing of soft and hard light is a way of directing the audience to where you want them to look. Like last week's entry that talked about using motion to direct the eye, lighting can (and has to) do the same thing.

Here's hoping the picnic is a hit. It has to be better than last year's, when the Creature From The Black Lagoon's tuna salad gave everyone food poisoning.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Directing The Eye of The Audience

DIRECTING THE EYE OF THE AUDIENCE is a very important aspect of animation. In brief, if something is moving (and other things are not), the eye is going to focus on what is moving. It probably all goes back to having to watch for predators and prey when we were hunting (and hunted) creatures. In other words "if it moves, it's worth paying attention to, because I can either eat it or be eaten by it".

Animators use this constantly. So if you watch this clip a few times, you'll see what we mean. In the background, first Fitness Class Zombie moves, and growls, while looking in (and down) at Living Corpse Zombie. Next, Living Corpse Zombie moves, and reacts, and then- BOTH zombies look towards Springtime Zombie in the foreground. With this, the audience is not only having its eye directed by what is moving, it is having its eye directed by the eyes of the zombies! What are they looking at?

With that, the foreground zombie comes to life, and lifts up the Mad Lab logo, and has his acting moment.

So the end result is a movement of the audience's eye from screen left (in the background) to screen right in the foreground! Like reading a book (if you come from a country that reads from left to right, that is). And that controlled movement across the frame (and in depth) is fun and dynamic to watch.

Cause at a basic level, the pleasure of watching animation is the pleasure of simply watching things move! It's up to the animation team to cater to that pleasure, and manage (direct) the eye of the audience- within the shot, as well as across shots (through editing).


Friday, June 1, 2012

SPACE CHANNEL Visits Mad Lab Productions

SPACE Channel is Canada's national sci-fi TV channel, and last week they came out to visit with us, and record a segment for their daily news show, INNERSpace. We were extremely excited, to say the least.

They first did a series of questions with Chris on camera, then a sequence with Geri AND Chris on camera, and finally a piece with Geri on his own. Then they mixed it all around through the magical process known as "editing," and BEHOLD. You can watch the segment here.

In the sequence, they also used footage that we provided them with,  known as "B roll" (since it's not main or "A" material, but is required nonetheless when it comes to editing, in order to beef up a sequence). This was footage of Geri and Chris working at storyboards, and of us on-set working with the sets and puppets.

We also provided them with an original piece we're calling "Zombie Pile Up," and a cool time-lapse making of. We'll be posting all this to our YouTube Channel in the coming days...

To give credit where credit is due, Zombie Pile Up was animated by Chris and the wickedly talented Mad Lab intern, Jason Francis Burch. We'll post about the awesome skilz of Mr Burch in coming blog posts...

They also incorporated segments from our zombie shorts, so it was exciting to see our own work re-edited and re-packaged to make a segment. We think SPACE did a great job in all ways. It's a fantastic piece that shows what we do and who we are...  what more could we ask for?

Well, maybe a magical robot goose that shoots golden eggs out of its bottom, but those still haven't been invented. YET.

Thanks especially to Andy Feige (Senior Camera for SPACE), and  Amy Pagnotta, who pulled the whole thing together, and who conducted the actual interview. They put us at ease with their polished professionalism.

SPACE Channel is welcomed in the Mad Lab, anytime!

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's All In The Details

Click this pic to enlarge.

Today's topic is creating visual interest and richness through detail. This image is from the set of our upcoming project (news flash- this project is NOT about zombies. Shocking, I know).

The road is a sheet of white plastic (you can see at the bottom of the image where the paint runs out- don't worry that won't be on camera). The sidewalk is hardboard. The building's stone and brick elements are pink foam. The doorway is a combo of foam core and illustration board. All held together with hot glue.

In other words- the materials are very humble. It's the effort put into what is done with the materials that makes it fly. A picture is worth a thousand million words (or something like that), so by studying this image carefully, you can learn a lot about how to achieve similar effects. But I will say:

Photo reference at the start, keep that in your mind... then go your own way. Check back with photos later, or when in doubt. Take direction from that. Then carry on in your own mind's eye of what you are going for. Too much adherence to a photo will only result in, well, photo realism.

Textures and finishes are key. Always remember it's the last layer on something that the camera sees.

Build colours and textures up, by starting dark as a base.

Don't be afraid to be a bit bold with colour- check out how nice the blue door works with the brick. 

Dry brushing means DRY BRUSHING. A really dry brush, with very little paint. VERY LITTLE PAINT. And you need contrast in brightness between the undercoat and the coat you are dry brushing, to get a nice effect.

"Flicking" paint as the the last addition to a paint job is awesome. You can see it here especially on the road and sidewalk.  It looks cool (the tiny round shapes offer a great but subtle contrast to the bigger square shapes that are the bg), and for some reason it feels really satisfying to basically "splatter" something you've worked so long on! A final way to show the piece who's boss? Win-win.

We directed our intern, Jason Burch,  to go for a "cartoony but realistic" look as he crafted this. By that we meant realistic proportions, details, materials (meaning stone should look like stone), and realistic finishes... but let it be fun at the same time, maybe a little "balloony" (meaning a certain bit of puffy to the shapes), let it be fun, with nice energy, and let the colours (while staying realistic) "pop" a bit.

He nailed it. We love it, it's going to look great on camera, and it's now served as a nice little teaching tool. Win-win!

Friday, May 18, 2012

How To Make A Simple Silicone Mould

Mould Star 15 is a nice general use silicone. Follow instructions carefully. The RICE is used to for when you need to test volumes of material (silicone or plastic). For example, if you are trying to figure out how much silicone you need to make a mould, you can cover the object you want to  mould with rice, then pour the rice out and measure how much rice it took. Then use that volume to figure out how much silicone you need to mix. You can also do this when you have a mould, and want to know how much plastic to mix. **This is a great way to make sure you aren't wasting materials, which can get expensive over time. Just make sure you've shaken out all the rice before making a mould or pouring in plastic!

Work on a piece of clean, smooth, hard board. Cut dam pieces out of foamcore. Hot glue the pieces into a frame. Make sure there are no holes for the silicone to run out. Just use lots of hot glue for this. You can also always pack a bit clay on the outside of the mould, if you notice it is leaking.

The dam height is about 1 inch higher than the logo being moulded, so as to not waste silicone. By the way, the original sculpt is from Super Sculpy (use the grey stuff if you can find it, the peach stuff sucks). It was glued down with a bit of hot glue but not much, because you need to pop the sculpt off later.

With the silicone mixed, start with a detailed coat, being sure to cover all bits with silicone.

The further away you are as you pour, the better. This allows for any bubbles to pop as it makes its way down. Pour carefully and slowly, keeping the silicone in one place and letting it fill up.

You now have an above ground swimming pool. Set the mould somewhere level, and where you can leave it undisturbed while it dries. Bubbles will rise up, pop them by blowing on them with a straw. Don't inhale. No need to put this in a vacuum pot, provided you follow the instructions carefully. After it is dry (follow the instructions), break off the dam walls, use a long blade to carefully cut under sculpt to separate it all from the board. Carefully start peeling the mould off from the sculpt. There you go! Start with something simple, and small, with no undercuts. Don't expect the first one to turn out great, but learn from it, and try it again. If you have to.

You will then be able to pour liquid plastic or plaster into the mould, and make cast after cast. Use a bit of baby powder in the mould to help it release nicely from your casts. This cast is plastic, and is tinted with a green "black light" paint, that glows like crazy under the right light. So you can have lots of fun making coloured casts. As for the zombie, he's a Mad Lab employee who was happy to help us out on the photo shoot.Thanks to the incredibly talented DANIEL BAKER, master of all things monster-making,  for schooling Mad Lab (so that Mad Lab can pass it along to YOU, dear reader).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Springtime Zombie on FANGORIA

As a small company that is just starting out, we're working extremely hard to not only make great animation, but to get noticed for doing it.That's why we're so happy to have FANGORIA Magazine giving us a premiere for our latest film, Springtime Zombie.

Fangoria (in case you don't know) is the longest running horror magazine out there. These days its cover reads "The First In Fright Since 1979". To save you counting that one out on your own fingers and toes, as well as your nearest neighbour, that's 33 years of horror movie madness. That covers such epic moments in film history as Alien, Friday 13th, Halloween,  Nightmare on Elm Street (the originals, as well as the sequels), George Romero's classics...and that's just to name a few biggies.

The mag is legendary for horror fans the world over, and you'd have a hard time  finding a single sci-fi, horror, or special effects/make-up professional working today that hasn't been deeply influenced by the crazy madness that flows through Fangoria's pages. And that includes Geri and Chris of Mad Lab.

So to be not only profiled by them but to have our humble short premiered on their site is a huge honour for us. Fangoria was not only the first to show off our latest, but they also offered us great press about our company and what we are all about.

We'd like to thank Fangoria, and specifically Chris Alexander (Editor) for the support and encouragement. This kind of coverage from an institute like Fangoria is proof that the magazine cares not only about the big franchises and multi-million dollar blockbusters, but it also loves the upstart fiends, as they claw and scratch their way to reach the surface- fiends like the gore-soaked weirdos at Mad Lab Productions.

You can read the great article and watch our new film HERE.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Zombie Animation This Week!

Hey, blog updates are only supposed to be on Fridays, what gives?! All we can say is "Life is full of happy surprises." And this update couldn't wait till next Friday!

So far, we've been posting content on our YouTube channel that has been seen pretty widely in festivals, and online.

But coming this week to our channel is our newest and absolutely "world premiere status" ultra-short film. It's called SPRINGTIME ZOMBIE. No one has seen this film yet. So it's exciting to be getting ready to release it.

Our past zombie films were kept off-line, and released via traditional film festivals, for about half a year BEFORE posting online. It was a way to keep the content exclusive so festivals would like it. But it seems festivals aren't too concerned if something has already played online, as long as its good quality. And how can you deny the attraction of suddenly having the huge audience that is THE INTERNET primed and ready to see your new content? As content producers that want large audiences, it just makes sense.

The plan is to still submit our films to festivals. Having your work shown to real live audiences, to get real live reactions (and laughs!) is a rush you can't replace, no matter how many people watch something online. And festivals are a fantastic way to build community amongst genre fans. So we'll still be hitting festivals with SPRINGTIME ZOMBIE, and maybe you will to see it on a big screen somewhere over the next year. 

But the reality for this film is this: next week (follow our FB page and Twitter feed for ultra current updates), we will be premiering our next film, exclusively online, for Mad Lab fans every where.

We're hoping you like, and we're hoping you offer comments on our YouTube page. That helps us get noticed even more. And please subscribe to our channel as well. That helps us prove we have fans that want to watch us on a regular basis. And that's good for business.

Updates to follow!

Got To Love Fridays!

Thanks for checking back on our blog.

Our other pages (Facebook and Twitter) are great for short and fast updates, but there's nothing like a cozy blog to really let us relax into a detailed (and at times wildly self-indulgent) posting.

 It's a place where we'll be able to do more "behind the scenes" stuff of our productions, and climb upon the occasional soap box to rant a bit about this or that. The plan, loyal Mad Lab reader, is to update this blog no less than once a week. And in general, that will be on FRIDAYS. Not Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays... but FRIDAYS. And not on the weekend. FRIDAYS. Got it? Good!

So why this Sunday morning update?

Because this is the internet, and there ARE no rules. Get used to it.

 No seriously, most updates will be on Fridays.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Little Aluminum Pieces

Aluminum is a great material. It's basically like a really, REALLY hard wood. You can work it with basic hand tools, and basic power tools, into custom shapes that are very strong. Then you can "tap" it, which means "put screw threads into it", so that you can connect puppet parts. Now, if a puppet part breaks, you can replace just that ONE broken part.

For anyone serious about making their own armatures, aluminum is a good material to focus on. You can get very good, durable, effective armatures (the block kind), but you don't need massive equipment or super specialized training.

These are bits for our current stop motion project. They came out pretty sweet.

We'll be posting in more detail about the project as time goes on, so be sure to check back.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Production Begins

We've started work on a new stop motion project. Today was spent getting the crew together, getting storyboards up, and generally game planning. It's a small project, but with a bigger crew than we've used before, so that's exciting.

We'll reveal more as time goes on. And we'll be posting photos and update blurbs here (and on FB, Twitter, and YouTube) as time goes on.

Check back soon for more updates...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Where Puppets Begin

Here's a few pics of the raw stuff of puppets. Blocks of aluminum, that get cut down into armature blocks. A slow, agonizing process that produces blisters on my hands. Every muscle in my body aches for weeks afterwards. I suffer and suffer. Ok, there is a slight chance I am exaggerating a bit.

Without a drill press, making aluminum armatures is not only difficult, it's down right nearly impossible. I love my drill press. Nothing like drilling through metal to make you feel like a MAN. Unless you are a woman, in which case it makes you feel like a WOMAN.

Friday, April 20, 2012

We're moving (ok, reposting) our short zombie films on YouTube. Check it out, and please offer us comments on our YouTube channel, because we're really trying to build a name for ourselves on our channel. On that channel, we'll soon be posting other short films that we've done in the past, AND new content that will be regularly updated. Thanks for watching!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mad Lab Productions Demo Reel 2012

Check it out! Selections from our various animated projects. Let us know what you think.

Lordy Lordy, Peter Lordy

I was approach by TIFF to moderate a session with Aardman's founder Peter Lord. It was a lot of fun, Peter's a really neat guy, we nerded out over puppets, so life is good.

I'll never wash my shoulder again.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Riff On Mad Lab Logo!

An amazing take on what we do, by the even MORE amazing Phil Postma.

Thanks Phil! Super fantastic!

You can see Phil's blog, here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Zombie Puppet

We just finished shooting our next super short zombie animation. Here's a couple of "on set" pics... more to come!

Thursday, March 29, 2012