Country music fans, and more than 400 country music artists and celebrities, last month gathered along the banks
of Nashville's Cumberland River for the 2006 CMA Music Festival. For the event, FlickerLab, the New York-based development and animation studio, created 16 minutes of animation in just two days using Kabuki software.
The animations feature the fictional redneck and Capitol recording artist, Roy D. Mercer, who announced the daily musical lineups on the festival's River Stages and the Main Stage. FlickerLab also created four original animations promoting Black N Blue, Mercer's 13th collection of bodacious rants, which were screened during the festival at the Capitol Records booth.
The infamous Roy D.Mercer is voiced by Brent Douglas on radio station KMOD in Tulsa, OK, where, every day, he makes rude, crude, and lewd telephone calls to individuals who have been set up by their co-workers, friends, or family members. To turn Roy D. Mercer into a live, real-time animated character, FlickerLab used its Kabuki software, an animation production system that provides the ability to produce unparalleled live programming with cartoons while maintaining the traditional look and feel of 2D animated characters or cutting-edge CGI. Kabuki, invented by digital animation pioneer Michael Ferraro, takes animation cel assets and assembles them into a performable database, a kind of digital actor. Cartoon characters are then puppeteered to perform live for broadcast, conferences, and other entertainment venues. Lip-synch is driven by a real-time, voice-activation system.
According to Harold Moss, FlickerLab creative director, "Now that the Kabuki model exists, Roy D. Mercer can show up anywhere. He can do live appearances, can host a television show, or guest DJ on a country music channel as Roy, an animated character. He is freed from the constraints that you would normally associate with animation and is able to go out into the world and perform as if he were a real person. We're in the process of further expanding the Mercer brand with a television sitcom about Roy and his family, which is currently in development."
Mercer is the first animated character FlickerLab has created with the new and improved Kabuki program and he joins the ranks of characters previously animated with Kabuki, including Bugs Bunny, Big Bird and Kim Possible.
The FlickerLab creative team included creative director Harold Moss; executive producers Sally Anne Syberg and Tammy Walters; Kabuki inventor and technical director Michael Ferraro; animation directors Tim Lagasse and Phil Lockerby; character designers Zartosht Soltani and Max Porter; 2D animators Phil Lockerby and Nikolay Nachev; Kabuki puppeteers Tim Lagasse and David Michael Friend; composite artists Harold Moss and Sean McBride; Brent Douglas, the voice of Roy D. Mercer, and Phil Stone, radio DJ's at KMOD, Tulsa, OK.
FlickerLab used Kabuki Real Time Animation Software, Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, PowerMac G5 dual processor, 2.5 gigs memory, Nvidia Graphics Card 256 mgs, audio and lip synch G4 laptop, MAX Msp, MOTU midi interface, and EMU Midi control surface in the execution of the project.