Behind the Scenes – 2012: The End is Here!

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We’re proud to present the ultimate breakdown of how we made our 2012 Year in Review animated short. Click here for photos, videos and stories of the process!

Behind the Scenes – Sled Race

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For years we’ve done all sorts of different types of Holiday cards, from dancing mariachi bands, to rocking head bangers, to singing elves. One of our older eCards, SnowBall Fight, remains a favorite, so to help bring that element back we figured what better winter-way to compete again your loved ones than with a good ole fashion sled race?!

As with many of our cards, one of the most important choices is figuring out what song to use. It not only sets the pacing but also the overall tone of the short. The Hall Of The Mountain King seemed like the PERFECT overly-epic track to depict the intensity of a high-speed race and with such a strong musical backing the animatic practically made itself!

After Jeff created the animatic, Alex, did a great job designing the color script, which sets the visual tone of the piece…

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Color Script 2

In addition to knowing that this card should be some sort of  “team vs. team type” card, we wanted to do something stop motion. We had so much fun with last year’s first attempt, ‘The Buttcracker,’ that we wanted to try it again, but this time the card would need to be modular to allow for multiple castings (1-5 people). The first step was to make sure it was even possible, so Jeff made some quick color-tests using 2D and 3D mock-ups to make sure that the specific color regions would be easy enough to manipulate in After Effects.

Once we proved that the technique would work, Jeff proceeded to sculpt and create both characters and props. The character was made using a process of foam-laytex, which involved sculpting a clay version that resulted in a mold that was injected with the foam. The sled was just a series of coffee stirrers that were twisted and glued together, snow was sheets of styrofoam and trees were bought at a local train shop.

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Once everything was built we ran some quick tests then it was time to get animatin’!

Each character was filmed on blue using just one rig, so that we could later composite and color correct to make scenes bigger/smaller as needed. In total, Jeff ended up taking 2157 photos in all that were pieced together into the final short. (That’s a LOT of photos!) You can check out some behind the scenes footage here…

And if you want to see the finished product, put your family & friends in Sled Race today!

New eCard – Birthdayicu-saurus

In our new Starring You eCard, Birthdayicu-saurus, you cast that Birthday someone in the role they were meant to play: party animal. The creator of this eCard, Nate, walked us through the creative process from idea to animation. Check out how Nate got from the word Dinosaur to the final product of Birthdayicu-saurus below:

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nate_socialcastCreating Birthdaysarus was something of a dream come true for me.  It marks a point in my life where someone finally, FINALLY paid me to play with dinosaur toys.When I was asked to create a new birthday card, the topic I was given was just a word.  A single, beautiful word.

“Dinosaur.”

I knew immediately I’d struck gold.  I went about coming up with the craziest, most absurd concept I could; I knew I had to milk this.  It was a long road of conceptualization.  I considered a card where the character was being chased by a dinosaur, one being eaten by a dinosaur, one digging up dinosaur bones.  But I felt I could do better.

Then it hit me. What if the character IS the dinosaur.

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I whipped up storyboards and an animatic pretty quickly.  Some heavy metal music pretty much sealed the deal and the party animal Birthdaysaurus was born.  Once approved I had to figure out what the ‘look’ of the card would be.  Having grown up in the heyday of Jurassic Park mania (I consider the film a religious text) I’d logged a fair amount of hours playing with plastic dinosaurs and felt it was probably time I put those skills to professional use.  So I packed up my car and went shopping.  Toy shopping.  Dinosaur toy shopping.

Once I’d found all the species I wanted to use (sadly no triceratops was available, and thus my favorite species would not make appearance), I came back and photographed the figurines, then went about editing them in Photoshop to come up with the final designs.

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After that was all finished I sprinkled on some animation magic in AfterEffects.  You know you’ve got a pretty awesome job when someone asks you what you did at work that day and you say “Oh y’know, just animated a dinosaur rave.”   Once sound effects were thrown in the card was ready to be unleashed!

I hope the birthday public enjoys this card as much as I enjoyed making it.  If nothing else, I know the 12 year old version of myself is very, very happy.

So let that birthday someone know that on their birthday they can party like a monster.

New eCard – Hap-pee Birthday

There is nothing better than receiving a present from your pet. Usually it is a mouse or bird, but in this new eCard, Hap-pee Birthday, one little pup puts his own decorations up for a birthday surprise, helping create a new ‘accent’ color. We got to talk more with the animator, Sarah Ramert, and our director of eCards, Jeff, to find out a little more about why this is one of their favorite cards.

Where did you go to school?

  • Sarah and Jeff: We both went to Savannah College of Art and Design.

How did you come up with this concept? Personal pet experience?

  • Jeff: This card is entirely based on fiction. Any similarities between the ideas expressed in this card and real life dogs is entirely coincidental and non intentional. In other words, I just thought this was funny and never had a problem with dogs peeing on things… yet…

How long did this card take to animate?

  • Sarah: The card took a little less than a week.

Do you own a dog? If yes, what kind?

  • Sarah: I don’t own a dog currently but hope to someday.  I had a Jack Russell Terrier as a kid though and I loved him dearly.
  • Jeff: I do not own my own personal dog, but my father had tons when I was growing up (try 12) and it was awesome.

Check out the animatic of the eCard below.

Watch the finished product here and wish that special birthday someone a Hap-pee Birthday today!

JibJab goes Gangnam Style!

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Gangnam Style has taken the world by storm and now it’s YOUR turn to star in this international fun dance craze. This Holiday season we wanted to bring you a fun, free music video & this viral video by Korean pop-star PSY is right up their with the likes of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. Everyone from FOX’s Bill O’Reilly to the TODAY Show’s Matt Lauer is doing it, so create and share your version today!

New eCard – No Faking

There may be nothing better than cake on your birthday and in our newest eCard, No Faking, one birthday girl knows that. We got to talk a little more with the artist, Alexandra Stepanov, about the eCard.

1.) How long did this card take to animate?

Cumulatively, this took me about a week, maybe a week and a half?

2.) What is your favorite kind of cake?

Napoleon Cake, nothing beats its layers/cream combination!

3.) Did you pull inspiration from anywhere to make this eCard?

Once I was given the animatic I immediately knew what I was going to do with a clear picture in my head. Although I gave a few options I was told to go with whatever felt good, so naturally I went with my first idea. It seemed to have worked.

So send No Faking to that special birthday someone who deserves a piece of cake & a smile on their big day.

Elf Madness!

With the smell of pumpkin pie in the air and the sound of sleigh bells in the distance, we all know the holidays are fast approaching. A great way to spread holiday cheer is with our funny eCards. This season we’ve hyped our traditional eCard by adding the ability to turn up to 20 of your friends, family & co-workers into dancing elves!

With Elf Madness you can add your own background and personalized greeting to make this eCard one of a kind. This ultra unique eCard can easily be shared via email, Facebook, Twitter or just by copying the URL.

Try this interactive card today!

Obama Won the Election!

The results are in and President Barack Obama will remain in office for another four years! At the time national news outlets were projecting his win, we captured this screen shot of our Great American Dance Off which shows Obama in the lead with over 4.9 Million dance moves. That means Obama won with 50.6% of the moves, which is nearly the same 1-2% lead over Mitt in the actual popular vote. Pretty cool, huh?

Didn’t get a chance to dance with the candidates? There’s still time to join the Great American Dance Off!

New eCard – Duck in Your Pants

What better way to celebrate your birthday than doing whatever you want, even if that means stuffing a duck down your pants. In our newest birthday eCard, Duck in Your Pants, one birthday person gets wild with a duck in their pants causing ruckus around town.We talked more about this off-beat eCard with our writer, Scott, who has written a good majority of the content on our site. This was actually his first eCard he ever wrote for us. Can you believe that?

Where did you come up with this idea of putting a duck in your pants?

I just wanted a random image that would be funny. Looking back on it, I can see how I got there. “Pants” is one of the funniest words in the language. A duck is an icon of comedy, from Daffy Duck to the Marx Brothers’ “Why a duck?” to the duck in the witch burning scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Putting anything down your pants is comical, and a duck is extra silly. But I didn’t think it out that way at the time.

Do you write your own music? If yes, what instruments do you play?

I haven’t yet written any of my own music, but I hope to in the future. I was raised as a classical violinist and taught myself to play bluegrass. This year I took up the guitar as a way to learn about chord progressions and basic song structure. Before too long I hope to be doing both words and music.

Was this idea inspired by any real events?

Well, it starts from the reality that birthdays are supposed to be a time to do whatever you want. The rest is exaggeration. I’ve never actually put waterfowl down my pants or ended up in jail for partying too hard.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done on a birthday?

Skinny dipping in the Colorado foothills, which wouldn’t have been all that crazy except that my birthday’s in late October.

So if that special birthday someone is feeling quacky on their big day, send them Duck inYour Pants today!

Happy Halloween from the JibJab Team!

We had a ton of fun dressing up in our Halloween costumes at the office yesterday! In the afternoon, we passed around candy & carmel apples, played spooky music and even held a costume contest. One of our artists, Eddie, won for his creative Wallace and Gromit getup.

Did you dress up or did you star in one of our Halloween Starring You eCards? Let us know in the comments below!

New eCard – Pinata Abuse

In our new birthday eCard, Pinata Abuse, the birthday boy takes his own stance against a pinata protester! We talked more with artist, Beto Gomez, about the making of this card.

1) Have you ever had a pinata at your birthday party?

I haven no idea why, but in Brazil we fill balloons with candy and usually the birthday clown blows it, so kids fight their life for the best candies.

2) Have you ever been part of a protest?

I have protested once when I was a kid against having soup for dinner. For obvious reasons my parents won this protest and I had to eat double the soup after all.

3) Where did you come up with the idea for this eCard?

It’s a JibJab idea. I guess someone over there still has some problems with pinatas.

4) How long did it take to animate?

It took me around 3 weeks.

5) Who did the SFX and angry yelling?

I got the animatic with the audio and SFX already, but I would like to meet the person responsible for the angry yelling (not on a protest).

Send this eCard to someone who won’t let anything stand in their way of a good time on their birthday!

Get Funky with Skeleton Dance

In Skeleton Dance, one of our new Halloween eCards, you can turn you & your friends into kooky, bone rattling, dancing skeletons! Our director of eCards, Jeff, thought this eCard would be a great puppet Starring You video and his idea was inspired by a few different sources. First this skeleton marionette street performer really got  his attention with his dance moves, and after watching the SuperGrass “Pump Up Your Stereo” music video, the light bulb went off and the making of Skeleton Dance began.

Mike, our puppet maker, used foam, felt and a lot of time to make the skeleton puppet. To film the puppet without being seen the crew put on black clothes and turned the lights off. Check out the video:

After filming the single puppet, we multiplied it by 5, color corrected, added the head animation and connected the pieces to bring you Skeleton Dance! If you haven’t already, create it today & make your friends crack up with laughter this Halloween.

New eCard – So Sad

In our newest birthday eCard, So Sad, one bunny boohoos about forgetting a birthday. Try not to be too sad if you missed someone’s birthday because you can make it up by sending this cute crying bunny eCard. We got to talk to in house artist, Jeff, more about his card.

1) How did you animate such realistic tears? Did you practice your cries?

I definitely drew upon personal experience to get the crying animation just right. I also slammed my own face into the ground a quite few times to get the realism in there.

2) Who did the crying sound effects?

The crying is a recording of our boss, Evan, reacting to really horrible eCard ideas.

3) How long did this card take to animate?

I think it took me two weeks to animate. Maybe a little more? Two and a half? Projects go by so quickly here that I don’t remember ha-ha.

4) What was your inspiration for the cute bunny?

I decided to try drawing in a style that resembled the work of John Kricfalusi, the creator of Ren and Stimpy. This style is actually completely different from the way I usually draw, but I thought it had the right mixture of cuteness and grossness to make the card more fun.

You can see more of Jeff’s work here: jeffliuart.blogspot.com or jeffliujeffliu.tumblr.com. And if you delayed in wishing that special someone a happy birthday, do not cry, let this little bunny do it for you.

O’Romneybama

While we decided not to do one of our traditional election videos this year for reasons we talked about here, that doesn’t mean the performers we have worked with on past election videos are sitting this one out.  Here is a link to a video put together by the magical man of a million voices, Jim Meskimen.  Check it out!

Behind the Scenes – The Time Warp – 3D Backgrounds

Over the years we’ve been able to improve our Starring You technology in a number of ways, including head rotation and secondary hair animation. Now we are able to add 3D environments to the list!

While Jump Jive and Wail was the first time we incorporated 3D environments into a Starring You video, Time Warp marks our first attempt at mimicking an actual life-like environment into a computer graphics world. In the past we would typically paint a 2D illustration of each shot, sometimes adding fake camera moves to give the video a hand-held feel. However since the scale of this room was to be a large open dance hall, camera moves would look 10x sexier with subtle indications of parallax, and the best/easiest way to achieve this effect is building in THE THIRD DIMENSION!

Because Rocky Horror is such a well known film (people have LITERALLY seen it hundreds of times), it was extremely important to replicate as much of the set from the original film as possible. So to help us with the creation of the room we enlisted the help of a 3D artist by the name of Lucas Milner. Using only screenshots taken from the film, Lucas was able to design textures, models, and lighting to recreate the same dance hall shown from the original movie. Everything from paintings to sculptures to wall molding had to be taken into consideration, with a lot of attention to detail!

After modeling the geometry of each object, UV maps of the textures were created and assigned. To quicken the amount of render time down the line, shadows were also baked into the textures to imply lighting and focus.

Once the hall was completed, the 3D space was brought into AfterEffects and paired up with our live-action footage of the performers dancing. Horizon lines were matched up,  and scaled according to each shot and 3D motion tracking was used to ensure that feet wouldn’t be ‘slipping.’

Once heads were animated with dynamic hair, actor shadows were cast, color correction took place, masking, converting, and all that other good stuff, this card turned out to be quite the complex process… but if we did it all right, you didn’t notice any of it at all🙂

So check out the awesome 3D backgrounds of The Time Warp today!

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