Siggraph 2017 Panel – Online Studios

I’ll be speaking on a panel at Siggraph to showcase our work on The Wrong Rock and talk about working in an online studio environment. http://s2016.siggraph.org/birds-feather Remote Studio Productions: Online Collaboration Tuesday, 1 August, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center A discussion of issues related to online collaboration in production.

The Wrong Rock – New Short Film

2017 approaches and I’m back at it, making another short film. After Devils I was adamant I’d not be taking on such a huge (unpaid) pet project again for another decade. Well, life evolved in ways I couldn’t have predicted and I ended up helping out on two other short films for friends, both of which worked out great (The OceanMaker and Napoleon). I also had a lot of wonderful adventures in my professional working life. But once again I find myself with that craving to make something outside of work, and there’s only so many small projects you can do before the big ones come calling. There’s another project I actually could have started that’s been in development for some time but it needs more time to be the best version of itself. In the mean time ‘The Wrong Rock‘ came to me in a moment of soul searching where I brushed aside everything I’d learned about building IP and focused on the issues I felt the most connected to. Then I worked out how could I explore those issues and send a strong message out into the world worthy of the time it takes to make one of […]

Tips for Making Films with a Remote Team

I contributed some tips to the Artella Blog. Advanced Tips Recruiting – Depending on your own strongest skills it might not be worth recruiting for some skill sets. Recruitment is a commitment in itself and it can be very time consuming reaching out, filtering, vetting and introducing new team members. That might be time better spent working on the project yourself. While some areas are easy to recruit for and benefit the project greatly. Choose wisely. Communication – This is key to every team member, especially when you’re operating a remote project. If a team member lacks the language skills, can’t write responses or even read your notes…. it’s going to be a struggle. Partnership – Find out what your team members want to get out of their involvement in the project, then make sure they are getting it. If people realize they aren’t getting what they want and they’re paid they won’t last long. But if they realize they’re not getting what they want and they’re volunteers, they’ll drop the project so fast, you often won’t even hear about it until you’ve wasted a lot of time chasing them. So make sure both sides are meeting their goals, or […]

The OceanMaker Insider Part 5 – Pixar

Continued from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. It’s the Summer of 2014… a Friday and I was working on the Fox lot in Los Angeles for Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb when I got a call from my friend, Lucas Martell. We were invited to screen The OceanMaker at Pixar, and while we’re at it could we do a Q&A for them too. Pop! …. that was my brain exploding. Oh, and can we do it on Monday? Argh! So after begging my supervisor, Eric, for a day off, I drove up to San Francisco on Sunday and stayed with some friends ready for Monday morning (thank you Paul and Maria… big hug). I was lucky I was close enough to drive. Not all of the team could make it. Luckily Lucas and Christina Martell were in the area at the time. However Henning Koczy, had to go above and beyond to get there from New York. But there we were at Pixar, with thanks to Colin for setting it all up and giving us the tour (on his day off, I might add. How much does he love that place?). The OceanMaker crew arrives at […]

Devils Angels & Dating: Storyboards

Here are the storyboard panels for Devils, Angels & Dating. In the heat of production there was never the time to prepare them for presentation and I didn’t have access to the right tools to do it. Since the animatic was always the most up to date version of the film and it communicated what we needed I didn’t worry too much about a storyboard presentation like this. But I did want to do one, so it’s been on my to-do list for sometime. Although the majority of the storyboard panels were drawn by me, I have to give credit to Natalie Massone who lent a hand for a little while. You’ll notice the style change fairly easily. My work tends to have the blue rough lines, and I also did the thumbnail versions. Her panels were an older character design style and a much rougher, darker pencil style.

Showing my portfolio at Disney Florida

I was visiting Disney World Florida, with my family when I was a kid. It was my first time in America and the first time being that close to an animation studio. They had a fully operational animation studio in Florida back then and you could take the tour from Disney World as if it was part of the park. It was a major draw for me, and I was pretty excited. My parents were being very supportive in taking the family in the first place. I’d long ago stopped taking family holidays with them in order to focus on making my own films instead. But I wasn’t going to miss this one (they were very cunning). During the tour you end up in a room with one of the experienced 2D animators at his drawing desk talking to the crowd and showing them what he does. We watched his demonstration. My parents, not knowing anything about the process of getting work in the industry, encouraged me to walk up to him and ask him if I could show him my portfolio and ask about a job. I (kind of) knew that it wasn’t the way to do it, but […]

Finish your Film

Kenny Roy’s book ‘Finish Your Film! Tips and Tricks for Making an Animated Short in Maya‘ features ‘Devils Angels & Dating‘ several times. It discusses the making of an animated short film. It’s available at all the usual book retailers.

Free on Amazon – Guardian of the Highlands

You can now watch Guardian of the Highlands, or at least the first ten minutes of it free on Amazon streaming. This is a film is worked on way back in 2006 and 2007. Don’t expect too much, lower your expectations… no… lower, lower… that’s about right. Limited means, and a crew filled with fresh graduates. Neither was really a problem. In fact I’d say we pulled of mini miracles, but nothing could save the material. At least we’ve all gone on to do much better things. Today there’s a strong comradery amongst the ex-team members for this film.

Annie Awards 2014

I went along to the Annie Awards with Julie and my buddy Dan. It’s the biggest awards ceremony for the animation industry. Still very US-centric but there is some international representation there. It’s still quite an under-appreciated event. Just as glitzy as many other awards ceremonies but you can still buy reasonably priced tickets to get in and watch from the balcony. We met quite a few interesting people in the party afterwards.

Love in the Time of Advertising

Love in the Time of Advertising is online. The fascinating thing is how many people I have come across over the years that had a hand in making this film. It’s been a long time coming, and I was lucky enough to see several early versions. But even then it was really strong… and really knew what it was. It just had to go through production. I guess the earliest versions I saw were in the last few years of production, but I’d have loved to have seen some of the versions way back when it was still in story development. That would have been fascinating, as it’s such a wild idea and getting the tone, the world and the rules of the world working would have been quite challenging. Anyway, it’s well worth checking out. An inspiration to short filmmakers.

The Ocean Maker – The Insider Story – Part 4

Continued from Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. The first screening went very well and over the coarse of our production we had a lot of similar screenings. My memory of all the screenings on the island blend into each other. But ultimately there was a lot of cheering, respectful compliments and constructive feedback. Note giving is an art into itself, and so is taking notes. The results can be very different in different settings and mediums. We sent out versions of the film through Dropbox links to key filmmaking friends of ours to get feedback. You get very different responses that way. The remote feedback ranged from solid filmmaking notes to complete mis-understandings of certain concepts, and this was the best feedback of all as we could make sure to address big oversights. If something important was missed by even one of our friends you can bet that a much larger number of people with no knowledge of the animation process will fail to understand the same things, so it was crucial to find those oversights and make sure they were clear.The team feedback was really good as we could see exactly what they did and didn’t understand. Standing in […]

The Ocean Maker – The Insider Story – Part 3

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2. So the team set to work on the film. As the point man put in charge of documenting the production I was encouraging everyone else to take pictures and videos… to get coverage while I sunned myself in the corner and watched them work their socks off! … Ok, not quite… I actually set myself the task of interviewing each team member so that we got everyone’s initial impressions. Not an easy thing for everyone to do as we’re not all comfortable with the camera and it was something that we all had to get used to. But we got through it and captured a few great conversations as we got to know the team. While I was doing that, everyone else was setting up. Tray went to task setting up a way for us all to share files. Essentially his laptop acted as the server, and we each pressed a sync button on our laptops that sent all our changes to the server then downloaded any chances to our machines. It was a lot more data than we all really needed but on a local network it worked fine. A dirty but […]