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.

Kameo: Making Of

I worked on this game for three years over a decade ago. Now there’s a ‘making of’ video doing the rounds. It is a good game… it’s fascinating to see how well it holds up, and how in other areas it’s dated. About half the footage they used here was from my pre-rendered cut scenes. Some good, much of it looking a bit shaky now…. largely I’d put that down to not having the budget and the team size you’d expect on a project like this today (it was also my first time doing pre-rendered HD 3D as well). But I learned a lot from this and there were many, many improvements over what I’d been able to do in the real-time cut-scenes I did for Starfox Adventures (which was somewhat limited by starting out as a cartridge game on the N64). Anyway if anyone is wondering what the fuss is about go get the Rare Replay collection, Kameo is one of the best reasons to get it.

Unreleased Rare projects

Over the course of your career you touch on lots of projects that never see the light of day. Usually no-one in the public gets to learn about them but a good decade later a bunch of projects I worked on at Rare have had mini documentaries made and released as part of a collection of games. Kameo 2 Fast and Furiest Black Widow

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 […]

Fast and Furious 7 – Trailer

The first trailer for Fast and Furious 7 is out. I worked on this for about seven months in 2013. It was a highly creative project, and I got to create entire action sequences. This trailer features clips from several of them, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the final film. After Paul Walker passed on, I became involved in another project so I never had to deal with the challenges that would have followed. But I left it in very capable hands and I’m curious to see how everything was accomplished in the final product.

DSM Mobile App: Storyboard

Alongside the art direction for this product demo commercial, I was working on the storyboards. This turned out to be the fun part. I recently bought myself a secondhand Wacom Cintiq. It’s been on my wishlist for a decade, but they’ve been prohibitively expensive until recently. It’s also hard to justify a purchase of a grand or more for something you’re not sure you’ll use regularly. I’d walk up to them every time I saw one in person and doodle to see how good they’d gotten. Usually I was disappointed with the disconnect between the tip of the pen and the actual line being drawn.. i.e. the space between the surface and the screen, and the lag in the responsiveness. That hasn’t been entirely solved but it has gotten better as computers get faster and the screens get better. Recently tablets have become popular (finally!), and Wacom has made a stand alone tablet with their pen technology in it. This is essentially the device I’ve been dreaming of for my entire career (seriously? it took that long?), but still…. it’s too expensive. It has, however, had the effect of driving more second-hand units out on to the market. So for […]

DSM Mobile App: Commercial

I spent a few weeks working on this interesting project. On paper it could have been a potentially dry product demo/commercial, but actually the script had a little spark to it and the client had an interest in keeping things engaging. So with the same spirit I took to creating the visuals. It was supposed to be two minutes or less. But when I got the script at two and a half pages long, I had to challenge the length and see if we could trim it. But ultimately this was about conveying specific information, rather than abiding by any fixed time slot. So the video ended up being 25% longer than it was originally planned for. Take note… one page of script is roughly one page of screen time. Of course it can vary wildly depending on how it’s written and what the content is. But if you start there you’ve got a good guide. I’ve been on other projects where the producers didn’t know this and it’s come back to bite them in the butt later when, for a fixed bid, they’ve found themselves producing a lot more screen time than they anticipated… for free. So be careful […]

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.

Animated Bird Movies

With the release of Free Birds I thought I’d do a little research on animated movies focused on birds. They have a patchy track record and I have some theories about that. But here’s a good list of the most memorable ones of recent years. Year – Title – Studio – Rotten Tomatoes – Worldwide Gross 2000 – Chicken Run – Aardman – 97% – $224,834,564 2005 – Valiant – Vanguard – 31% – $61,746,888 2006 – Happy Feet – Animal Logic – 75% – $384,335,608 2007 – Surf’s Up – Sony Animation – 78% – $149,044,513 2010 – Legend of the Guardians – Animal Logic – 50% – $140,073,390 2011 – Happy Feet 2 – Dr D. Studios – 46% – $150,406,466 2011 – Rio – Blue Sky – 72% – $484,635,760 2013 – Free Birds – Reel FX – 18% – $110,150,480 2014 – Rio 2 – Blue Sky – 47% – $449,566,926 Happy Feet (which I was lucky enough to work on) was a bit of a surprise hit at the time, and even went on to win an Oscar. It racked up a lot more money many than I think most people expected. I don’t remember […]

The Ocean Maker – The Insider Story – Part 1

The Ocean Maker started it’s IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign and the Director, Lucas Martell, has been posting videos, news, interviews and much more related to the project giving everyone a sneak peak at the film and the unique production that created it. I thought I’d chip in and tell a little of my story surrounding the film. Way back in 2008, I first contacted Lucas when I was researching my move to Austin, Texas. He was not far from completing his short film Pigeon Impossible while I was simultaneously getting up to speed developing Devils, Angels and Dating. We got to know each other over the years and became firm friends.Jump to 2012 and Lucas was working in the same studio as me in New York. He told me he wanted to have a chat about an independent project and we met to discuss this outlandish concept of forming a team to make a short film in a remote location. He does a great introduction to the concept in his video for the crowd-funding campaign so I won’t go into too many details. Suffice to say, it wasn’t an easy sell initially and there were plenty of problems to anticipate. But he was pretty passionate about the […]

Skylanders Giants

I had the pleasure of going to New York to work on the pre-rendered game cinematics for the new Skylanders Giants for all console platforms including some unique stereoscopic sequences for the 3DS. The games are currently being splashed all over the Disney channels ready for the Christmas season. I’ve written up a little about my experiences working on both sets of sequences here: Skylanders Giants Skylanders Giants 3DS

Guiding vs Micromanaging

This is a tough balance for any Director. You want to communicate your vision and give your team firm direction as they go along, but if you tell them how to do their job down to the finest detail there’s nothing for them to get any satisfaction from. They’ll quickly realize there’s no point in using their creativity, and problem solving skills, and they’ll lose their personal investment in the task. Then all you have is a clock punching drone, waiting to go home. But that’s in the work place. On a volunteer based film production it can mean you lose their interest entirely, and you lose a team member. Since ‘Devils, Angels and Dating’ was produced entirely online I can’t even be sure when that happened to my team mates. I’m positive it must have occurred on some level for some people, as we had plenty of turnover with team members, like any volunteer based project. But without dealing with them in person it’s hard to figure out where that line is with each team member. Usually in person you can tell. Body language, mood and tone of voice are going to tell you a lot about how someone is taking […]

Devils Angels & Dating at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

I thought I’d kick off my official blog posts here on blogger by showcasing our short film, ‘Devils Angels and Dating’. It’ll be screening at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on the 16th of August at the HollyShorts festival. It’s been amazing to have two articles in 3D World, and two in 3D Artist. http://devilsangelsanddating.ning.com/photo/albums/press Here’s our official website where you can see lots of behind the scenes content. http://www.DevilsAngelsAndDating.com/