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Sunday, December 30, 2007

links: a pixar trio

The Pixar blog
The upcoming at Pixar blog

and a piece in Variety about Brad Bird

"The whole question of writing for animation is skewed" says Bird, whose next project will be his live-action debut. "There isn't a giant difference between animation and live action. You need characters, stories, themes. It's called good storytelling."

Which is why this man will always continue to be a great inspiration.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

personal update

The New Year is fast approaching and I'm continuing to work on new promotional material.
The business cards have been slightly modified and are now printed, sitting in a teetering blue stack next to me.
I'm really liking how the new print book is shaping up. When I get the finalized version of one of the prints I'll start assembling a final version for print.

Starting to assemble ideas for a few new pieces... I'll give a heads up
when they start coming together.

Until then, Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

link: for the holidays, a documentary

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch

pencil tests, interviews, chuck jones pushing the graphite

a little fluff around the edges, but a good piece overall

Friday, December 14, 2007

link: 'Duelity' (Vancouver film school)

According to the records of the General Organization of Development labs (GOD) it took a mere six days to manufacture a fully-operational universe, complete with day, night, flora and fauna, and installing Adam as its manager to oversee daily functions on Earth.

That's one story.

If thou shalt believe the Book of Darwin, t'is five billion years after The Big Bang that we behold what the cosmos hath begat: the magma, the terra firm, the creeping beasts, and mankind, whose dolorous and chaotic evolution begat the gift of consciousness.

Duelity is a split-screen animation that tells both sides of Earth's origins in a dizzying and provocative journey through the history and language that marks human thought.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

link: starship modeler 'wrecks' competition

You see, every once in a while there comes along a piece that reminds me of the beauty in the (nearly) lost art of model building. Not digital models, but kit bashed, scratch-built beauties that have all the richness and depth of old Disney hand-painted backgrounds.

There was a transitional period in the 80's and 90's where the advent of cheap computer graphics pushed out the guild of model builders and replaced it with smooth florescent-colored cg stand ins that had all the beauty of a gum ball machine toy.

I appreciate economy of form, and the retro-modern look is definitely sleek and elegant, but these spoke of disinterest and half-filled shapes.

These models definitely hark back to a better time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

link: Jim Hill Media (industry discussions/news)

Again, another site I've only begun to peruse, but looks to be interesting.

The main link is here.

And the initial article, discussing some visual in-jokes in Pixar films,
can be found here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

personal update

I've had some down time recently and I've taken the opportunity to do some spring cleaning. Yes, some might argue that it's nearly winter, but it's never a bad time to get things organized.

I've bumped up my work system and added a 500 gb backup to keep track of the myriads of versions I'm so fond of creating. I'm also looking forward to the breathing room of 3 times as much memory ... ah epic vistas.

I'm also re-working my small print portfolio to include the freelance work I've done since graduation. Once the post work on the Rube Goldberg comp is completed I should be able to print them out fairly quickly.

Also, keep on the look out for V2.0 coming early in 2008 (hopefully).

Beyond that, catching my breathing and definitely some sleep.

link: 'Cartoon Modern' (blog), 'Cartoon Brew' (blog)

While it may be a promotional blog for the coffee table book of the same name, it really has some deep history into the art of animation.

I've only scratched the surface, but you can check out the Cartoon Modern site here.

Another interesting site: 'Cartoon Brew' maintained by Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

WIP : spa - sun test

Another old favorite tested with the new Maya physical sun/portal light combination.
It really does amp up the brightness without the addition of more photons (and lights) in the scene.
One thing I need to start tweaking is the camera node and color temperature of the sunlight; everything is still too washed out.

WIP : le phare (2) - sun test

I'm in the process of revisiting some old scenes and applying the new portal light/physical sun feature available in Maya 2008.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

link: some stop motion sites

I've always been fascinated with the process of translating thought to image. And ever since I was a small boy I loved starting with an idea and laying it out as a story. Writing was wonderful, I always loved the sound and texture of words; guiding the reader - as well as myself - through the landscapes of the story. But as the many ruined toys reduced to rubble can attest, I was definitely a hands-on sort of kid. And nothing was better at enabling that than art or animation.
When I was in Mrs. Kubrick's class in junior high we got to play with an old 8mm camera and pieces of construction paper. My first animated piece! Who knows what became of it, but I remember it involved aliens attacking the earth.

And I grew up breathing in the styles of Ray Harryhausen and George Pal and Rankin-Bass. There was an immense richness to their world. An insane attention to detail that swam against the current of mass-produced animation of the 70s and 80s.

So, when I saw a collection of links on MetaFilter I thought I'd put up a post.

Stop motion (or frame-by-frame) animation is a general term for an animation technique which makes a physically manipulated object appear to move. The object is moved by very small amounts between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence. ( ref: wiki )

A few general types of stop motion:

Puppetoon ::
Puppetoon animation is a type of replacement animation, which is itself a type of stop-motion animation. In traditional stop-motion, the puppets are made with movable parts which are repositioned between frames to create the illusion of motion when the frames are played in rapid sequence. In puppetoon animation the puppets are rigid; each is typically used in a single , frame and then "replaced" with a separate, near-duplicate puppet for the next frame. Thus puppetoon animation requires many separate figures. It is thus more analogous in a certain sense to cel animation than is traditional stop-motion: the characters are created from scratch for each frame (though in cel animation the creation process is simpler since the characters are drawn and painted, not sculpted). ( ref : wiki )

Animagic ::
A figurine-style stop-motion technique similar to puppetoons and primarily used by
Rankin-Bass ( wiki , Rudolph)

Claymation ::
While often employing some measure of replacement modeling techniques, this style is mainly characterizes by objects which are themselves deformable. ( wiki , Aardman Animation site, Aardman Animation wiki )

General links:
Brothers Quay ( wiki )
Nick Hilligoss
Mike Bent, aka DarkStrider
Stop Motion Works
Stop Motion/puppetry swicki
Metafilter stop-motion link page

Friday, November 30, 2007

WIP : rube goldberg (pre-post)

Nearly there.
This is the final iteration before the post-production work.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

link: retro-future art

A small, but great vintage collection of the future, past.

The minimalist aesthetic always appealed to me, but beyond that it's just a wave of pure nostalgia; these were some of the viral images that infected my brain as a very young boy.

I'd love to make a retro-future/steam punk short.

Any one up for it?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

link: The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello

Set in a world of iron dirigibles and steam powered computers, this gothic horror mystery tells the story of Jasper Morello, a disgraced aerial navigator who flees his Plague-ridden home on a desperate voyage to redeem himself. The chance discovery of an abandoned dirigible leads Jasper through unchartered waters to an island on which lives a terrifying creature that may be the cure for the Plague. The journey back to civilization is filled with horrors but in a shocking climax, Jasper discovers that the greatest horror of all lies within man himself.

The official site, including how to purchase the DVD

( IMDB entry )

part the first

part the second

part the third

part the fourth

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WIP : le phare (2)

Another image from the same environment of Le Phare.

WIP : le phare

I still consider this as a work in progress. I think once I upgrade my computer I'll start at this again.

'Le Phare' (the lighthouse) was inspired by the story The Little Prince.
A fuller exposition is explored in my demo reel.

link: films of Ivan Maximov, 2d animator

I've always had a fascination with animation from areas outside of the US.
Visual media is always tied to a vocabulary of iconography that draws
deeply from the culture that creates it. I love aesthetics that present
an alternate dialogue with reality and present stories that tap into
a wealth of imagination for which i'm unfamiliar.

I recently came across the works of Ivan Maximov, a longtime Russian animator with a great sense of the surreal.

I've collected some of my favorites, but a search of youTube will turn up others.

wind along the coast
nitti - strings
rain down from above

Thursday, November 15, 2007

WIP : rube goldberg (5)

Getting closer to the final comp.

link : NYT article on 'Beowulf'

The NYT recently ran an article discussing the merits of the cg animation in Beowulf.

After reviewing the trailers again, I remain firmly convinced that the film - and the industry itself - is still mired in the depths of the uncanny valley.
The art direction and cinematography in Beowulf are amazing.
But I'm still left with the sense that mo-cap cleanup animators - and 3d animators in general - are so intent on distinguishing themselves from 2d animators that they've left 100 years of collective wisdom behind.

Granted, 3d actors need not require the same level of exaggerated action as their 2d counterparts, but after watching Beowulf I see none of the fluidity of motion of a living/breathing entity; the neck and shoulders are stiff, there is no leading, anticipatory motion. And the eyes...the eyes. Once again the animators have forgotten that our significant emotional connection is read through the eyes. Watch the trailers again. And pay attention to the commentary. It's a great side-by-side comparison of normal vs artificial behavior. None of the characters blink. Ever. None have their eyelids droop. Or dart about.
And as much as Final Fantasy: Spirits Within was derided, I don't think we've learned much since then.

link: 'Persepolis' (trailer, animated)

Persepolis Trailer

Persepolis web site

Marjarie Satrapi's graphic novels Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return won widespread acclaim in France, now her home, and around the world. Now, she had co-directed, with Vincent Pronnaud, the animated film version of her memoir.

The title PERSEPOLIS comes from the Persian capital founded in the 6th century
BC by Darius I, later destroyed by Alexander the Great. It's a reminder that there's
an old and grand civilization, besieged by waves of invaders but carrying on through millenia, that is much deeper and more complex than the current-day view of Iran as a monoculture of fundamentalism, fanaticism and terrorism.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

WIP : rube goldberg (4)

A little more retro flavor for the comp.

Trix Comp (2b) : evolution

Second of two images.
This collection shows the texturing and lighting portion of the cycle.
Additionally, several of the iterations that produced the final submission
are included as well.

Trix Comp (2a) : evolution

First of a two-part sequence of images that open up the developmental process that produced the final Trix comp.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Trix Comp (1)

A freelance piece I put together for Calabash Animation in Chicago.
The scene was assembled based on conceptual work provided by the company.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

link: Adobe debuts 3D camera tech

Dave Story, vice president of digital imaging product development at Adobe, showed off aspects of how the technology worked. First comes a lens which, like an insect's compound eye, transmits several smaller images to the camera. The result is a photograph with multiple sub-views, each taken from a slightly different vantage point at exactly the same time.

From this information, the computer reconstructs a model of the scene in three dimensions.

[The rest of the article can be found here.]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

link: fffound

FFFFOUND! is a web service that not only allows the users to post and share their favorite images found on the web, but also dynamically recommends each user's tastes and interests for an inspirational image-bookmarking experience!! for images

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sunday, September 02, 2007

animation : 'transit'

Beautiful piece telling the story of a suitcase thrown into the sea
and the sordid tales of the people interconnected with it.
Great Art Deco style.

Also, winner of the BAFTA film award in 1997.

IMDB entry.

TRANSIT website.

Friday, August 31, 2007

analog artistry : Brian Dettmer

I've always been fascinated with the familiar made unfamiliar. Contextualization shredded and reformed.

Perhaps why I've always been interested in the works of Magritte.

And why Dettmer's works
really caught my attention.

Brian Dettmer is an artist whose work consists of altering existing media, such as books, audio tapes etc.

notebookism : a little bit of analog

As much as I love the digital medium I still hark back to the pen, pencil
and paper.
The summation pretty much says it all:

We all share a pleasant affliction - the urge to create on paper.

The smell of smooth creamy paper sends our hearts aflutter. The delicate tinkling of nib against inkwell accelerates our pulse rate. We stare endlessly at the first blank page.

You can find a link to the blog here.

Cartoon Art Museum

The Cartoon Art Museum is committed to fostering and promoting a greater appreciation of cartoon art.
This it achieves through collecting, cataloging, preserving and displaying the finest representations of original cartoon art as well as providing innovative educational programs designed to enrich the cultural life of our community.

Check out the site here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Internship :: Wrigley comp (cu)

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A close-up view of the Wrigley comp.

Internship :: some early work

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The top piece is still a work in progress at the present time.
The intent here was to put together a clean, simple print-ready ad to showcase
certain technical capabilities of the studio.
My responsibilities : modeling and texturing the Vox bottle

The lower piece is a completed comp made for Wrigley. The illustration-like
style lends to its surreal, candy-like atmosphere.
My responsibilities : modeling and texturing the Wrigley brand candies

Sunday, April 22, 2007

upload : more 2d material

I've finished editing and uploading the balance of my old 2d material.
These were all created as part a series of classes taken at the Illinois
Institute of Art - Chicago.

There are 6 entries:

firefly :: lunchbox animation, pencil studies of a firefly

storyboards ::
animatic created on lunchbox system, a series of 3 projects
for a storyboarding and animatics class (a scene from 'ghostworld,'
a scene from a documentary on unusual homes and a commercial for
an 'unsellable' product)

mechanical cycle ::
lunchbox animation, pencil, mechanical cycle of a fictitious
piece of equipment

dhara pencil tests - motion study ::
lunchbox animation; studies of an amphibious character,
'dhara' - motion study

dhara pencil tests - lip synch ::
lunchbox animation; studies of an amphibious character,
'dhara' - lip synch

'bad day' pencil test ::
lunchbox animation; my riff on a class assignment : given a
common character, situation and environment, develop a story.
here it was a rodent comes home, crosses a room, sets a bottle
on a table and goes to sit in a chair

Friday, April 20, 2007

upload : 'bad day' pencil test

I'm in the process of digitizing and cleaning up some old 2d hand animation projects I've had stored on VHS.

The first is, 'bad day'

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

lighthouse exterior - early morning

First quick test render to rough out the lighting scheme. Equivalently, this would be somewhere around pre-dawn hours.
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texture reference

Since I've collected a good number of texture references I'm going to spread the wealth and make them available online.

The gallery can be accessed here.

And will also be a link off this site.
Once it gets warmer I'm going to make every effort to expand the series.

Monday, April 09, 2007

interior lighthouse - early morning (2)

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lighthouse interior - early morning

First round of experimentation with interior night time lighting of the lighthouse.
This particular time would be sometime just before dawn. Or late twilight.
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Sunday, April 08, 2007

new look

test-driving a new format

added links to external galleries including my demo reel and my portfolio site (

Friday, April 06, 2007

new image galleries

I've opened up a couple of new temporary image galleries until I get them integrated into fuguMedia

freelance work

rendered image gallery

Thursday, April 05, 2007

lighthouse interior closeup

The detail is greatly enhanced with the higher ambient light levels. The lighting scheme matches those of the recent few posts. I want to add some additional character to the window sill and steps next.
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lighthouse interior

Couldn't help but tweak the interior archway slightly. Reality is always a good touchstone; I made it look like the door frames in my apartment.

As for the overall lighting scheme, this shot matches the light during the previous post.
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photobucket :: animation gallery

Here's a link to a number of short animation pieces.

The resolution isn't perfect, but photobucket's conversion process is significantly better than youTube's.
It's definitely the way to go.

lighthouse interior

Here is the first (of hopefully several) exploration(s) into changing up the times of day for the scene.
The light here is a bit fuller, more directional. A feeling of early morning/late afternoon.
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lighthouse interior

[I'm still feeling out the idiosyncrasies of blogger, so please bear with me as I work towards a consistent presentation method.]

Now that I have the first floor of the Lighthouse set I've been exploring a few different textures and times of day.
As mentioned previously, I'd still like to weather a few more surfaces (introduce some cracks to the plaster, rough the
counter tops,etc.) but I've settled into the final look and feel for the piece.

I like the new wood texture on the door over the old, it's more vibrant and consistent with the coloration of the wood in that
section of the foyer. It also draws the eye through the scene in that particular shot. An advantage over the previous version
where that corner was somewhat murky because of the darker tones of the wood.

On a more technical side, I've introduced a number of additional photon sources to give me more flexibility with the
lighting scheme so that I can move forward with exploring different times of day.

I'm not entirely certain how day vs. night works in this partiuclar universe, but I'd really love to do a night scene.
And with that build out the atmospherics. Clouds and fog would be an interesting addition.
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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

lighthouse render

tweaked the texture in the foyer area of the lighthouse
the warmth of the light is greatly enhanced in this particular shot

one of the photos on the wall is a shot from 'intrepid penguin'
for those following along at home
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Sunday, April 01, 2007

all fugu all the time

It's been a long road, but I'm now a graduate.
With school and portfolio show behind me I can turn my full attention
to my site and a whole list of side projects that have been on the back burner for

The web site is now live, complete with links to my demo reel.

Check it out at