Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Simon's Cat 'Snow Business'

For the last Tuesday Animation of the year 2009, here's something that fits the season. British animator Simon Tofeld has released part one of his latest "Simon's Cat" series. This one is titled 'Snow Business' and features his signature cat in a winter wonderland.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Nuttin' For Christmas

Aw, what the heck. Tomorrow is Christmas, so here's another good Christmas-themed animation for all you bad boys and girls out there. Thanks to Karmatoons and Stan Freberg for this animated film. :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Santa's

As Christmas is this week, here's a holiday Grickle to get you in the mood. :) If you haven't watched any of Graham Annable's animations, I highly recommend them for those of you who have a slightly-disturbed sense of humor. The animation is usually limited, but the posing, staging and expressions convey a tremendous amount of information.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Destino

In memory of Roy Disney, who died today at the age of 79, here's a link to his Academy Award nominated animated short film "Destino" (which was based on the works of Salvador Dali). Whereever you are Roy, thank you for watching over the company that your Uncle and your Father built.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Animated Inspiration: We Sing the Forest Electric

This week's animation has something for the techno lovers out there (and you nature lovers as well...and you hunters). Here's a Grickle! Graham Annable is one of those multi-talented animators who raises the bar for the rest of us: not only is he an illustrator and animator, but a musician as well! There's a lot to be said for being a jack-of-all-trades when you're an independent animator, I'm sure it cuts down on production costs dramatically. ;)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Pozzle - The Aquarium

This week's animation is a rather unique one. Misseri Studios created this short animation by animating drops of water. I have to admire their patience for working with such a fluid medium! (no pun intended) :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Always nice to be noticed...

Thistle-Threads and I just received a very nice write-up on Gay Ann Rogers' blog recently. In reference to the needlework animation produced for the NY MET and Bard Graduate Center. The November 21st entry can be read on her blog at: http://gayannrogers.blogspot.com/2009/11/transitioning-out-of-e-week-and-back-to.html.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Brendan and the Secret of Kells & Fedot the Hunter

Since I missed last week due to the holiday (and travelling for work), I'll post two animations this week. The first is a trailer for "Brendan and the Secret of Kells"--the tale of Ireland's greatest national treasure, a visual feast by Cartoon Saloon. This film will be playing in the States next year and after seeing it at the Waterloo Fest, I highly recommend taking the kids to see this one.

The second film for this week is 'Fedot the Hunter'. "With a storyline based on Russian folk tales, 'Fedot' is a social and political satire on contemporary realities of life in Russia. Characters mix archaic Russian language, typical for folklore, with neologisms of modern Russian, providing additional comic effect." This feature-length film is on Google Video, with English Subtitles. Again, having seen this at WFAC, this is another good film to watch with older kids, though you might have to explain some concepts.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The 9th Annual Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema

Friday, November 20
Skipped the Thursday opening Gala and film--didn't want to take an extra day off of work (and was reasonably confident that I could see Mary and Max another time). So, drove to Waterloo, Ontario on Friday afternoon. Knew I'd have a little extra time, since the first film that I wanted to see was at 9:15 p.m. So I checked into the hotel and took a meandering (read that: 30 minute) drive to the Gig Theatre. Next time, I'll plot out that five minute drive on the map a little more clearly.

First Squad: Not the cornucopia of Zombies and Nazis that I was hoping for. The ending was a touch anti-climactic, but was the first of a trilogy. I did like the documentary feel to it with the Russian actors talking like they were being interviewed.

First Squad:

Afterwards, met an Evangelion fan named Jennifer.* Had a short chat with Joe Chen. Unfortunately, "Boogie, el aceitoso" couldn't make it here in time to be show--despite the best efforts of Mr. Chen and the Argentianian consulate to sidestep an official who was looking for a bribe/extortion fee.** So, it was back to the hotel and the very comfortable bed. Going to be a good weekend.

Saturday, November 21
Got up after a fitful night and made it to the Gig Theatre with plenty of time to catch the Serbian film "Technotise: Edit & I". This was the world premiere and I so wish that there had been more people around to see it! It was like watching an animated story from Heavy Metal magazine (or Metal Hurlant). You could really see the level of detail in this film as the creator had been working on this story for twelve years!!

Technotise: Edit & I:

A quick lunch later and I was back for the russian film "Fedot the Hunter". Imagine a feature length (90 min) film that is animated in Terry Gilliam's visual style of cut-out figures, except the colors and patterns are rich and vivid and every character moves with purpose, weight, and secondary motion. It reminds me a lot of how my friend Leah animated her entire MFA thesis film in Photoshop using characters built entirely of textures that she scanned into her computer.

Fedot the Hunter (entire film with English subtitles):

Early afternoon brought us the first of two retrospectives on Russian animation. Given that a quarter of my family hails from Russia, this held a certain place in my heart. Eugene, the gentleman who did most of the subtitle translations, selected the films and was there during the screenings. The really nice thing was that he took the time to introduce the films and explain the context of what we were going to see in addition the historical and cultural relevance of each film.

Laughter and Grief by the White Sea (entire film w/English subtitles):

The Little Tiger on the Sunflower (entire film w/English subtitles):

At 4 o'clock, it was time to visit another branch of my family tree as they screened the Irish film: Brendan and the Secret of Kells. This film was produced by Ireland's Cartoon Salon and told a fanciful tale of the history of the Book of Kells***, Ireland's greatest national treasure. If you've watched Samurai Jack or Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, then you've seen some of the visual style of this film. It looks like it was created using Flash and After Effects. This is one of those films that is so enthralling that I can't wait for it to be shown here in the States. As much as I enjoyed Coraline, Secret of Kells is the film I'm hoping will win the Academy Awards.

Brendan and the Secret of Kells:

A minor diversion to the cute, but unengaging Klasky-Csupo feature "L.A. Dolce Vita" and it was off to one of the five films that I drove to Waterloo for.

Evangelion 2.0: You Shall (Not) Advance. I was more than cautiously optimistic having seen Evangelion 1.01 the previous year. Wow. Just wow! Personally, I hated the original Evangelion tv/OVA series. Epitomized the best and worst of Japanese Anime: technical brilliance in the art and animation, characters so utterly unlikable and story execution so utterly idiotic that it rendered the final product unwatchable. No wonder the director had a nervous breakdown. Well, this was his chance at a do-over, and he succeeded on every level. Had he produced this film instead of the television series, I would be joining the ranks of the zealots who think that Evangelion was the best Japanime title of all times.

Evangelion 2.0: You Shall (Not) Advance:

Debated the merits of going back to the hotel and getting a little more rest, after all, I'm driving down to Ohio on Monday to film (and help remove) part of an engine on Tuesday morning. Decided to push the envelope a little and bank-sleep on Sunday night and catch Metropia tonight. Metropia was a decent film--visuals were pretty odd--but this was a pretty solid take on the 'corporate mind control' film. Unfortunately, while the film was built using a new technology, the projector wasn't strong enough to display the film in all it's glorious high-definition detail. Nice thing was, the story and performances were still strong enough to hold everyone's interest, even though we could barely see what was happening half the time. Would love to see this one again on equipment strong enough to handle it.


Once again, skipped the evening outing with festival goers and went back to the hotel to get some sleep. This time was a touch more successful--not much, mind you, but a little more.

Sunday, November 22
Skipped Panique au Village this morning. Saw the shorts on the net. Cute, but not my cup of tea. So I opted for the sleep instead. Was the right choice. They're showing Panique au Village at the Detroit Institute of Arts if I want to see it in January. The part two of the russian retrospective was just as engaging as the first.

The Cat Who Walked by Herself (Part 1 of the film w/English subtitles):

The Elephant and the Pug (entire film w/English subtitles):

The Lost Letter: The first animated film produced by the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any trailers or clips of this film online.

The Stolen Sun (entire film w/English subtitles can be viewed in two parts on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2

Last film of the day was the Production I.G. film Musashi: the Dream of the Last Samurai. This was Mamoru Oshi's portrayal of Musashi that was based upon Oshi's research into the man, not the legend.

Musashi: the Dream of the Last Samurai:

And that was it. Four hours later, I was home. The drive home was a blur as I had so much running through my head--films, people I spoke to, a fun weekend in Canada. Once again, Joe Chen and crew put on a phenomenal show. Yep, I'll be back next year as this film festival gets added to the list of festivals I attend every year.

* Don't often hear a girl say "I'll wait until it's out on Blu-Ray before I buy it."
** Boogie will be shown at a later date, so I see a return trip to Waterloo in my future. :)
*** The Book of Kells is a lavishly illustrated copy of the first four gospels of the Holy Bible copied by the early Celtic Christians.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Fuggy Fuggy

For this week's animation, it's the return of Fuggy Fuggy! The Brothers McLeod are bringing us five new one-minute animated shorts featuring our favorite ninja-in-training. View the first short "Thrift" right here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Germans in the Woods

Germans in the Woods from Rauch Brothers on Vimeo.

In memory of all our veterans who have served our country during peacetime and war, here's a short animation about WWII called "Germans in the Woods" by the Rauch Brothers. This film is based on the audio recordings of Joseph Robertson, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Brendan and the Secret of Kells Trailer

This week's animation is a trailer from the Irish film: "Brendan and the Secret of Kells". This gorgeously rendered film is about a 12-yr old monk as he is given the task of completing the Book of Kells--one of Ireland's national treasures. This film is in the running for an Oscar, so there's a chance we might see it here in the States. 'Till then though, it's playing next week at the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Animated Inspiration: C-Block

This week's animation is called "C-Block" by Vladimir Kooperman and was his fourth-year film at Sheridan. Mr. Kooperman hand drew this film, colored it in Photoshop and composited it in After Effects. I saw C-Block at the Toronto Animated Image Society's summer screening back in '07 and it continues to impress me today. Mr. Kooperman is now working at Pixar (and rightfully so). His film is about a dog and his squeeky toy. Enjoy. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Sita Sings the Blues

To whet everyone's appetite for this Wednesday's International Animation Day screening of Sita Sings the Blues, here's the trailer on YouTube.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Le Phare

This week's animation comes from France's premiere animation school: Gobelins, l'ecole de l'image. It's a school where students work (and study) in teams to finish a completed film during the semester. They've just released their latest student film "Le Phare", a story about the unusual relationship between a lighthouse keeper and a moth. Supurb work, as usual.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Animated Inspiration: House of Cats

I saw this short animation "the House of Cats" on Jerry Beck's 'Cartoon Brew' blog months ago. So, as I just spent a second weekend at the Royal Ontario Museum photographing crystals and gems to gather source material for a still art idea, thought I'd share this little piece of inspiration.

House of Cats from Courtland Lomax on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Animated Inspiration: the Red and the Blue - the Water Tap

To commemorate my stop-motion animation weekend in Toronto, here's the Red and the Blue episode from Misseri Studios that I mentioned last week. It's stop-motion animation done with clay. Lots of funny morphs and transformations!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Simon's Cat 'Hot Spot'

Well, for Tuesday's animation, since I'll be at a stop-motion animation workshop this weekend, I was going to show a Red & Blue clay animation from Misseri Studios. But instead, to celebrate the release of the first "Simon's Cat" book, here's the latest short from British animator Simon Tofield: Hot Spot.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Caua

As it's Tuesday, I've got two animation DVD notices: 1. the latest Wallace and Gromit film "A Matter of Loaf and Death" has been released. 2. "The Battle for Terra" is also out on DVD. If you missed this one in the theatre, you owe it to yourself to watch this independant animated feature film! Oh, and here's a cute short from Brazil for all of you environmentally-conscious swimmers who recycle. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Animated Inspiration: Mio Mao - The Kingfisher

Here's one for all of you with pre-schoolers: Italy's Misseri Studio has revived the 1970's series 'Mio Mao' for a second time and are posting these stop-motion shorts online.

Animated Inspiration...

Starting in September, I've started posting links to animations on my Facebook page for all my friends to watch. What I'd like to do here is link to the same animation, but also do a little critique as to why I find that particular film inspiring. Even though we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes, I'd like to keep this critique positive, since it's "our mistakes" that we learn more from. Not that we can't learn from other's mistakes, but there's a fine line between constructive criticism and just bashing someone else's work. There's a lot of animated film that I simply don't like. But even then, having made several animated films myself, I can appreciate all the hard work and determination that it takes to get an animation from initial idea to that final edit where you say "that's it". Even if I don't like the end product, I hope that, when all is said and done, I'm still a big enough person to say: 'you put a lot of work into this film and I respect that you finished it when you could've said "this is too hard, I'm going to go sell insurance instead".'

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Food for thought...

And then there's this Animation World Network article discussing the French Animation scene.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Going through the archives...

Needed to free up a little space on my hard drive this weekend so was moving files to my portable drive. Came upon this little sand animation that I created for an animation class I taught at the East Lansing Rec Center a couple years back. After watching it, I decided that it needed an etherial soundtrack. A little time invested in eJay Techno 5 and here's what I came up with.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Keep it short and keep it funny

I've uploaded a copy of my ChickenJam film to my YouTube account. For some reason, when TAIS uploaded all of our ChickenJam films to their YouTube account, the sound didn't come through on mine (no one else's, mind you, just mine... thus adding evidence to my SCAM theory*). Wouldn't be that big of an issue, but the dialog was what added the punchline. Given what little time I had to put this together, I decided to follow the best advice I ever received from Bill Plympton: "keep it short and keep it funny."

When producing this 10-second film, I was aiming for a Grickle or an animated Far Side comic. Not a lot of motion, but the humor would be carried out in the staging and the poses. And the tension would build from there as you waited for something to happen--then an 'out of left field' punchline like you would see in the old Coyote & Roadrunner cartoons. You can judge for yourself how funny it is. It got a big laugh from the audience at the TAIS summer screening, so something must have worked. Thanks again Mr. Plympton. :)

* Chuck's SCAM theory: all machines are part of SCAM: the Secret Conspiracy Against Me. Terminator, 9, WarGames, Tron, the Matrix...they're not movies, they're warnings sent to us from the future about 'the upcoming war between man and the brotherhood of machines!'

Monday, July 13, 2009

TAIS 2009 AniJam "ChickenJam"

The Toronto Animated Image Society has posted all of our submissions on YouTube for public consumption. Hope you enjoy watching them as much as we enjoyed making them. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Still decompressing from KAFI


Arrived at the hotel. Shuddered when I thought how much four days at the Radisson is going to cost, but figure it'll be worth it based upon the fact that I won't have to commute between the Comfort Inn and the festival (and the fact that I won't have to deal with a noisy bar across the parking lot preventing me from sleeping). Picked up our passes and had the chance to test my laptop with the equipment in the room where I'll be giving my Forensic Animation presentation. Everything works! One less thing to worry about.

Went to the museum and spent some quality time playing in the hands-on Japanese Animation exhibit.

Stopped by the vintage candy store and grabbed some chocolate. Discovered that the chinese restaurant by the State Theatre has gone out of business. Had dinner at the Blue Dolphin instead.

Trudged back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes then it was off to the opening night party. Met up with some old friends and made some new ones. Spent some quality time talking to Ellen Besen, Deanna Morse, and Gary Schwartz. Tried to corner Jim Middleton and see what he was up to, but failed miserably. Hope to catch up with him later on this weekend. Went to the Opening Ceremony screening at the Stryker Theatre -- I got chills while sitting there watching the movies. Ended up going to the pub afterwards with a bunch of our friends from Canada. We closed out the pub. Going to be a good weekend!


Had the distinct pleasure of attending the Direct-on-Film animation workshop in the morning. I really miss tinkering with these non-computer styles of animation. On the bright side, my church has a 16mm projector they're looking to unload and Margo told me where I can get clear film stock! Went to Ellen and Aubry's storytelling techniques discussion followed by Heather and Linda's creating animation for children panel. Am left with the distinct impression that I have GOT to step up my game as an animator! Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but the technical nature of forensic animation doesn't lend itself to engaging storytelling or a higher artistic nature.

Went into the installation art display. Wish I had one of those at my house. The organic shapes flowed all around me while soothing music and sounds played. Felt strangely centered afterwards--maybe I'll do some experimenting with Groboto and a projector in my guest bedroom when I get home.

Feeling tired from the night before, I skipped the animation and realism presentation to take a quick nap at the hotel. I slept through the second film competition--a fact that still bothers me. I hate feeling like I'm missing out on something cool--this weekend will be over before I know it.

Jon and I met some people who also missed the afternoon screening, so we all hung out and talked until the evening screening--which was followed by another night of mingling...I've got to get some sleep! Left early and went back to the hotel to practice my presentation.


What? Heather Kenyon is talking about pitch bibles? Yeh, I'm there. As always, Heather was the portrait of grace as she shared her knowledge on the inner workings of the animation industry. Another screening at the State Theatre--more films that leave me more than a little self-conscious about how I've been so wrapped up with client work to produce some independant art. Grab lunch and race back to the hotel to change into my dress clothes. Moment of truth is almost upon me! Went to the 'moral premise' lecture. Looking forward to reading Dr. William's book on the subject--might even help jumpstart one of those projects on the back-burner.

Then it was time for my presentation. Only six people showed up (not including the volunteer, Jonathan, and Ellen). It was okay for a first presentation--the small number of people made it a lot easier on me. I was left feeling self-conscious as I stammered and stuttered my way through the lecture. But afterwards, Ellen gave me some incredible insights into how I could improve the presentation and encouraged me to write a book on the subject. Personally, I think it's time to join ToastMasters and get that weekly practice on public speaking. Don't think I'll ever learn how to competantly talk in public without that concentrated effort. I spent two months researching and preparing for this talk and still feel let down by my public speaking skills. Oh well, at least the Detroit Metro Police officer in the audience liked the presentation.

Went to the picnic at Bells. Good food. Hard for me to hear anything though--too many head injuries scrambling my grey matter. Going to events where everyone is talking just short circuits my brain. I spent the hour sitting there trying to block out the noise that sounded like a bird house at the zoo. On the bright side, once everyone started filtering out of the picnic area and into the bar, Mike shows up and I get to have a really good conversation with a former-Disney animator.

The evening screening commences and I'm blown away once more. Can't begin to describe how much I loved Bonnie Mitchell & Elainie Lillios' abstract animation "2BTextures". Elainie hands Jonathan the last DVD they have of the film and he promptly gives it to me. I've already watched it four times since then.

We head over to Burdicks with about twenty animators to watch the impromptu Toronto animation screening. Was alternately impressed with the quality of the films and horrified by the inappropriate nature of the interstittals between the films. Would NEVER even dream of going to Canada and showing something as offensive as that. Got ready to close out my bill and discovered that Ed Desroches had picked up the tab for everyone. Make a mental note to finish at least one film this year so I can send it to him for International Animation Day.


Got up and packed my bags. Went to my Paint-on-glass workshop. Had equipment problems, but everyone took it in stride and had a good time. Think I need to do some more hands-on explanation (or have to produce a video to illustrate the technique). Another presentation to refine I suppose.

Checked out of the hotel and then raced to the ASIFA Central meeting. Realized that I really miss these people when they're not around. Made mental notes to carve out more time to visit with Jim, Deanna, Gary and the ASIFA Central crew over the coming months.

After an engaging conversation with Stephen Leeper of Huntington University (and a return visit to the Japanese Animation exhibit) it was off to the awards ceremony. Was seated at the table with Howard Ng (another friend from Canada). He handed me a copy of his film "the Inquisitive Snail". Now I REALLY have to complete a film that I can pass out to everyone.

Then, the festival was declared over. I picked up Jonathan and we drove home.

Once again, I remain in awe of the people in the animation community. Ellen Besen took me under her wing and spent a tremendous amount of time talking to me, giving me tips on my presentation, and making sure that I was prepared and charged up to give the talk. Deanna and Jim were always standing around the corner ready to hand out a wave or a 'hi' or a 'what was your favorite film so far'. And Gary was this bundle of frenetic energy passing out stories and advice to everyone around him. As I reflect on my many flaws (personally and professionally), I'm consistently encouraged towards attaining a greater level of character by the people that I meet at these festivals, who lead the charge by their own example.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The power of inspiration

Last week, I bought the CD soundtrack to the movie Tron and have been listening to it almost non-stop in my car ever since. I have two copies of Tron on DVD. The first is the standard edtion that was released in the 90's. The second is the platinum edition that was released for Tron's 20th anniversary. Down in the basement storage closet, I think I still have the betamax copy of Tron that my aunt Claire and uncle Jack recorded for me off of cable tv back in the 80's. Somewhere in storage, is my first copy of the novel 'Tron' (I haven't seen it for years, but I know it's there safe and sound packed away in a box for safekeeping*).

Last Thursday, after mowing the lawn, working on my KAFI presentation, and running a couple errands, I sat down with a pizza and a soda to watch my favorite movie of all time. To answer your question: yes, there are better movies out there--Ghost in the Shell, the Matrix trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy--but Tron remains my favorite.

I grew up watching Godzilla movies and trying to make flipbooks of him fighting monsters. I remember Saturday morning cartoons fondly when I would wake up and watch t.v. from 7 a.m. until well past noon (usually bookended by a British horror film on channel 50, sanitized for an American audience, of course). So animation has always been a part of my life, whether it was cartoons, Disney movies, or video games (and yes, I remember fondly being on the forefront of the 'Japanese Animation invasion'--though to call it an invasion does a serious injustice to the great impact Japanimation has had on the art of animation, IMNSHO).

I don't have very many fond memories of my childhood where my father is concerned, story for another time**. But one of the fondest memories was when, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, my father took me to see Tron in the movie theatre at the Meridian Mall. We missed the first five minutes of the show, coming in when Clu was in his tank with Bit and they were getting ready to 'merge with this memory'. Well, I was hooked. I wanted to be an animator. And, more than that, I wanted to be a computer animator. When my aunt Claire asked us if there were any movies that we wanted her to tape off of cable tv, the four of us each picked one movie and Tron was mine. I watched that movie over and over and the tape miraculously never wore out. With the possible exception of Mirrormask, I have watched Tron more than any other movie during my life!***

Tron continues to be my inspiration today. I am now a computer animator (with my educational background and experiences, I can also lay claim to being a traditional animator) and I work in my field as a forensic animator. But sometimes, when I am being challenged by a particularly difficult issue or am down on how my life hasn't turned out 'exactly' the way I wanted it to, it's helpful to return to the thing that inspired me down the road I have taken. Over twenty years later, I still feel refreshed and energized by watching Tron and I still find something new and exciting about the movie every time I watch it.

If you need a boost of energy for when you're losing focus, remember your own inspiration, and if you can, revisit it often and be thankful for it.

In the words of Stan Lee: 'Excelsior!'

* The copy of Tron, the novel apparently written off of the script, was obtained when a book club came to Bath Middle school and offered us a table of free books that would inspire us kids to read. For a kid with no money to buy a book, finding this treasure was truly a gift from God.

** Dad and I work together at Investigative Mechanics (my day job), so our history is currently a story with a sort-of happy ending. Dad and I will never be 'pals' per se, but we have built a casual friendship and working relationship and with the Lord's help are working to forgive and forget the past. Let's be honest, he may not have been the best father, but I wasn't the best son, either.

*** After 50 viewings, I lost count of the times I watched Mirrormask on DVD. So Tron is easily past a hundred viewings when I add in the times I've watched it since purchasing both DVDs and estimate the time spent watching it as a child.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Post from Animation Magazine...

This year, there is no movie I'm looking forward to more than Shane Acker's "9". After seeing his short film during the Animation Show (followed by the teaser trailer before Coraline), I was floored by the quality of the character animation, visuals, and story. This film looks like it does everything right! I'm trying not to get my expectations too high before seeing the completed film, but it's really hard not to. Every time they release a clip on the internet, I get that much more excited by what I'm seeing Mr. Acker and his team produce.

The good people over at LineBoil have posted a two minute clip from the upcoming film on their April 21st blog post. Check it out, you won't be disappointed! And to see the original trailer, check out the people who are producing this film: Starz Animation in Toronto.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Animation Night at Replay

This month, Animation night at Replay is on Thursday, April 16th. The show starts at 9 p.m. Directions (and parking) can be found in the Feb 18th post.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Still movin' along...

Well, I've moved again.

I'm still trying to figure out what to do about my website (and at the same time trying to redesign it from the ground up). So, for the time being, I'll be posting all my animation updates here.

Sorry for the inconvenience, but paying gigs come before full website redesign. ;) However, as I'm now on blogger, I'll try to make the updates a little bit more frequent.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Animation Night at Replay

This month, Animation night at Replay is on Thursday, March 19th. The show starts at 9 p.m. Directions (and parking) can be found in the Feb 18th post.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Take time to recharge

In other news, Jon and I drove to Toronto the weekend of February 21st. I've been dealing with cabin fever for two months now and had to get out of town. What better than to visit Toronto during the winter, eh? :)

Due to the incoming snowstorm, Jon and I left at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, instead of the original plan of 4 a.m. There was NO traffic on the road. We made the drive in 4 hours 30 minutes instead of the usual 5 hours. By 7 a.m., we were checking into the hotel.

After brunch at Movenpik, we spent the mid-morning at the Royal Ontario Art Museum where Jon was giggling and running around looking at the pre-Raphelite exihibition. Apparently, that's one of his favorite art periods. Personally, I just wandered around in a sleep-deprived daze and daydreamed. Saw a nice geometric glass sculpture that I'm trying to duplicate in my 3-d animation program.

A quick snack later, and we were on our way to the TAIS workshop at the NFB Mediatheque. This time it was Lynn Smith who was showcasing her films.

Afterwards, we got to the real reason why I drove to Toronto. Ellen Besen, the creative director for the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International, had asked me to speak at KAFI this year on the topic of Forensic Animation (as well as run a paint-on-glass hands-on workshop). So, since she lives in Toronto, it was the perfect opportunity to meet up and discuss what I could bring to the table and see if it meshed with her vision of this year's KAFI. All I can say is 'wow!' Over dinner and a two-hour discussion, I'm even more jazzed to speak at KAFI than I was before. Going to be a good year for festivals! Of course, now I've got two months to boil down ten years of Forensic Animation experience into a one-hour lecture (w/a half-hour of Q&A afterwards). Well, Ellen left early, so Jon and I finished up dinner talking to Lynn and members from TAIS that we met at last year's summer screening. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and collapsed. Being up since 2:30a.m. and only getting an hour nap finally caught up with us.

On Sunday, we got up, checked out, had breakfast, and drove back to the NFB where we spent the next eight hours studying under Lynn as she taught us her particular style of cut-out and paint-on-glass animation. I spent more time soaking up the creative atmosphere and jotting down notes on animation ideas than I did working under the camera. Jon came up with this cute little transition film about a cat sleeping. We're still editing the film at the moment, but will post it up on the site when it's done.

Around 5 p.m., we wrapped up the workshop, helped TAIS load their equipment into the van, and then said our goodbyes to Madi, Tara, Lynn and the rest of TAIS. It was dinner at Montana's, then we hightailed it back to Michigan, arriving a little after midnight.

The TAIS workshop had the desired effect. I'm jazzed about talking at KAFI, charged up to work on the animated commercials for Replay, and am burning through the client work that is standing between me and my personal film projects. With all the cultural opportunities in Toronto, moving out there is getting more and more attractive every day. ;)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Animation Night at Replay

Starting this month, I'll be screening animated films at my brother's record store in East Lansing. I'll be showing a cornucopia of films ranging from shorts, music videos, movie trailers, video game bumpers, serials, and short documentaries. I'll be covering all sorts of artistic styles--stop motion, CGI, traditional, etc. We're starting out showing shorts, but the plan is to show one night of shorts and one night with an animated feature film every month for as long as I have (and can obtain) content. We've also got DVD players hooked up to the projection system, so if you've got one of your own films that you'd like to show, feel free to e-mail me and I'll work it into the schedule.

Details are as follows:

Animation Night at Replay
Thursday, February 26th
9:00 pm to 10-ish
Admission is free

Replay Entertainment Exchange
319 E. Grand River Ave
East Lansing, MI 48823

Look for the neon signs that say "Buy Sell Trade". We're two stores East of Melting Moments cafe, so if you've reached Barnes & Noble on the corner, you've gone too far.

There's a parking ramp behind the store (approx. $1/hour) and another across the street on the south side of Grand River on MSU's campus (just past M.A.C. and Charles Street) where parking is free after 6 p.m.

Mapquest directions can be found at:


Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Replay Entertainment Exchange

Well, Replay has opened in their new location in East Lansing. To celebrate their grand reopening, Ted had me design a t-shirt that would highlight their charity work. In this case, it was the Capital Area Humane Society. I felt a little embarrased about my design when the CAHS volunteers showed up with a couple bunnies that people could adopt. Fortuately, everyone had a good laugh and bought some shirts (with the proceeds going to the CAHS). Here's a pic of the shirt design.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

UPDATE: Konstantin Bronzit

Okay, so I tracked down a copy of "Lavatory - Lovestory". I understand completely why this film was nominated. Mr. Bronzit created a really touching, very cute film with a minimalist touch. I can't wait to see who wins!

Oh, and if you want to see the nominated short films, Shorts International on iTunes will have all the films available by the end of February for your viewing pleasure (and I hope you check them out. Having seen all of these films myself, they're well worth your time).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And the nominees are...

Y'know, it's not often that I agree with the films that are nominated for Academy Awards. My tastes in film just aren't mainstream enough, or maybe just not aligned with the the people who vote for the Oscars. Neither here nor there, really. But this time, I think that they've selected some of the best films that I saw in 2008--really, some of the best produced.

For best animated feature film we have:
  • "Bolt" (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard
  • "Kung Fu Panda" (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
  • "WALL-E" (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton
Bolt was good. But I don't think that it's 'Oscar-worthy' in my not so humble opinion. John Lasseter should be proud that the first film Disney released under his watch was a solid family film that reminded us that when they remember their core audience, Disney can really do it right.

As for WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda, I don't know which one I want to win more. I loved both films--even though it really took me some time to give KFP a chance, I'm really happy I saw it on the "big screen" and have watched it too many times to count once it came out on DVD/iTunes. No matter who wins (even if it's Bolt), I'm happy. Solid choices all around.

I'll also give an honorable mention to Nina Paley's "Sita Sings the Blues." This is a film that should've been nominated, though it was not eligible for various reasons.

On to the Best Animated Short Film category. The nominees are:
  • "La Maison en Petits Cubes" A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
  • "Lavatory - Lovestory" A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
  • "Oktapodi" (Talantis Films) A Gobelins, L'ecole de l'image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
  • "Presto" (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland
  • "This Way Up", A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes
I've actually only seen four of these films, but I'll gladly give the benefit of the doubt to the fifth. Saw "La Maison en Petits Cubes" in Ottawa. It was amazing. If you think that the Japanese only produce anime, you're in for a very pleasant surprise! I was choking back tears the entire film. Just a wonderful film all around.

"Oktapodi" is one of those films that just showcases the incredible talent coming out of the Gobelins l'ecole de l'image school in France. If I had the cash, I'd definitely go back to school there just for the experience of working with some very gifted students and instructors.

"Presto" is a winner. Another tour de force from Pixar. What more can I say, it's a 3d animated 'Bugs Bunny' cartoon. They got it right.

If you get the chance to see "This Way Up", I highly recommend it. Saw this during last year's "The Animation Show" and laughed myself silly. It's a story about a father and son team of gravediggers who are trying to get a casket to the cemetary. Hilarity ensues!

Again, I admit, I haven't seen "Lavatory - Lovestory" but I did meet the director Konstantin Bronzit back in 2006 at the Ottawa festival. Knowing his previous body of work, and spending some time talking to him, I'll gladly give him the benefit of the doubt and say (sight unseen) that what he's produced deserves to be in the running.

Right now, I'd give the Oscar to "La Maison en Petits Cubes". No matter how good the others are, I think this one is the best. But again, no matter who wins, I'm still happy because the selection is still top notch.

Honorable mentions go out to "Glago's Guest" and "Skhiizein". Two films that were in the running but didn't make it. Still, two excellent films that I think also would have deserved the nomination had they received it.

I heard a rumor that all the nominated shorts are going to be available on iTunes. If so, I'm looking forward to buying the two I don't already have in my collection and also seeing Mr. Bronzit's film for myself.

Kudos to the Academy for a solid group of choices and congratulations to the nominees.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Big News Continued!

If you're in New York, the display that I worked on is at the Bard Graduate Center on 86th street and is called "English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: 'Twixt Art and Nature'" (http://www.bgc.bard.edu/exhibit/gallery.shtml#). The display is put on by the BGC and uses display items from the MET. The video that has my animation is on the second floor. If you see the display, please drop me a note and tell me what you think. :)