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 […]

Interviewing the Devils Team

It’s been a little over two and a half years since ‘Devils Angels and Dating’ was released on YouTube. It’s recently enjoyed a spike in popularity and passed two million views. To thank the team I wanted to touch base with them, give them a chance to showcase their work and let us know where they’ve been with their careers since then. Many have gone onto do great things and built up quite strong credits. That’s probably more an indication of their tenacity and talent than the success of our film, but it’s still very encouraging. In particular it says good things about collaborating on other short film projects in the future. If nothing else I’m grateful for getting to know these talented people, because without the film I wouldn’t have known. Read the interviews here: http://devilsangelsanddating.ning.com/profiles/blog/list See the film here:

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 […]

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 […]