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 […]

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.

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 […]

IK vs FK

Most debates (or arguments) inside an animation studio have a correct (or at least) best case solution and eventually end. But there’s one type of debate that never ends, and it continues to come up project after project. Essentially, every time a different combination of people starts working together the battle between FK and IK will rear it’s ugly head… every time. It doesn’t usually start out as an IK vs FK debate, but once you’ve peeled away the layers that are concealing it… and it continues to keep going, it becomes obvious that’s what you’re talking about. Every time it happens it makes me smile. Because once you realize that’s what you’re talking about, you won’t be able to end the argument by selling the virtues of your preferred method. You realize you’re all wasting time repeating the same argument and you have to change tactics to find a way to end it. This is where I tend to lean on my experience, and reach back into my archive of projects to highlight the pros and cons and their end result on the final product. Only then do people realize they’re in a holding pattern and there’s not much […]

Panda Pander on Crackle: 2,572,030 Views

I made a random discovery today…. my old student film, Panda Pander, was on Crackle before they changed their business model, and it gathered a lot of views back then but I never had any evidence… until now. I found an old feed that showed a few view counts. I don’t know if the highest one was the final count before it went offline but it’s a nice little memento from the past. I was working in Scotland when this was happening, it was quite incredible and I had no idea what a high view count could do for you. These days a high count on YouTube or Vimeo can get you noticed, but (at least for now) those counts generally stay visible. This one disappeared and I wish I’d taken a screen shot. It was the second highest viewed piece of animation on their site all the way up to it’s disappearance. 2,572,030 Views  

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.

How to Cheat in Maya 2014

Kenny Roy’s book on ‘How to Cheat in Maya 2014’ features an interview with me. It’s available at all the usual book retailers.

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.

Dating for Animation and VFX Artists

It’s hard to openly talk about the topic of dating, but as the guy that developed his short film around the topic, ‘Devils, Angels and Dating‘, I felt it was my duty to expand on it for all the past, present and future lovelorn creatives it was aimed at. The Animation and Visual Effects Industry has been plagued with issues for some time, and many of those issues are only now being exposed and discussed. There are a lot of problems that have compounded over time and there are no solutions that address them all quickly. There are plenty of other better writers out there that you can read up on to find out more on the industry. But I wanted to talk about something that makes a huge difference to an individuals life, that we all can do something about. When I started my first job as an animator I had a 9 to 5 job. To many that sounds wrong. That’s because most jobs I’ve worked in recent years the core hours are either 9 to 6, 10 to 7 or even 10 to 8. This may be a big city thing, a US thing or I suspect… […]

Updated Layout / Previs Demoreel

I’ve been doing a lot of spit and polish on my portfolio recently while hunting for work. Half of the shots in my Layout / Previs reel are new thanks to the release of Skylanders Giants.

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 […]

The Layout Sandwich

I started my first full time job in animation and, along with another person starting the same day (later to become a close friend of mine), we found ourselves being taken into a large room with a cinema screen high up on one wall. We were sat down and told we’re about to see what we’re going to be making for the next six months. What we saw was (for its time) a very impressive action adventure role playing game filled with characters and cut-scenes (FMVs or cinematics as many prefer to refer to them). It was my first day at Rare, a 200 strong, growing company with a very strong pedigree working under Nintendo’s wing. My friend and I were given an outline of what we’d be expected to start working on. He was a software engineer so we weren’t going to be doing the same things but we were going to be working together a lot. I was fully prepared to be doing in-game cycles, when the Director turned to me and casually told me I’d be making the cutscenes. I forget now if it was verbal, but I know that in my mind I went “Wahoooooo!”. It was more […]

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/