How Do I Cartoonise Miami Vice?

I’ve been slowly working through my E4 Esting project. Well, it is summer after all, the slow part can kind of be forgiven. The concept has at least been devised and storyboarded, so now it’s time for visual research and character development. This is something that is best not rushed. The more research I’ve done into the winners of the Estings competition in previous years the more I realise just how seriously this is taken by entire studios of animators and motion graphics artists. Whole teams of people work on these 10 second stings, so I seemingly have my work really cut out for me.

First off the concept. I took the idea of “life’s too fast” and wanted put it side by side with the easy and relaxed E4 attitude. Combining this with quirky entertainment genres I decided to choose a ‘buddy cop drama’ sort of setting to portray this. Our duo are in their car in pursuit of another vehicle. One of our characters, the overly intense and serious of the pair, is driving, swerving, shooting at the suspects. The other, in the passengers seat, is casually eating a doughnut, enjoying the views bright shiny lights of the city at night. Bored, he starts pressing things in the car, maybe changing the music, turning on the air con and finally the mad window wipers, making the car swerve and crash.

Alternately he could be blissfully chomping on his doughnut when the other officer becomes irate and shoots a hole in the doughnut, thus inventing the world’s first ring doughnut. Though I’m not sure there’s enough room in a cop car to shoot a doughnut at arm’s length…

I’ve been taking my time on deciding how to execute this, looking at a whole range of artists. I’m wanting to get a kind of 80s almost Miami Vice feeling from the visuals, but it’s difficult finding an animation that suits this and looks goofy enough to be funny. It’s a really hard middle ground to find, as you can see from my character tests below.

June 6th - Retro Characters Designs

It’s boiled down to two of my favourite illustrators for inspiration, Matthew Lyons and Twisted Fork (aka Dan Matutina). These artists show much more through the first character design than the other two, but I’m still not really liking how they’re looking. I then have the devise what on earth the more chilled out of the duo is going to look like. In storyboards I had him portrayed as a fat slob but now I don’t think that really supports the message underneath the animation. Despite this he’s really the one who needs to look goofy and provide any comedic value.

So basically my aim now is to find out – how would you animate a comedy version of Miami Vice? Should it be set at night and show off some nice neon effects? Or would that not work with my illustration style? Ah questions, I’ve not missed any of you.

I’ve given a range of images below as sources of inspiration so far. The issue is this kind of thing is all I’ve been looking at. Instead it’d probably be a good idea to hit Vimeo and see motion examples of what I might be able to take as reference material. So off I go!

Listening to: Meow by Anamanaguchi

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