Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Pilz

Well I don't know what to say about this short except that I pretty much animated the whole thing (except for the last couple of shots) and I only had two weeks to do it. Not sure if any of it should go on my reel since I wouldn't consider it finished or polished animation, but there are a couple moments I'm happy with. It was fun and a good exercise in scheduling and time-budgeting. Obviously the amount of expression achievable in these characters was limited, but if I had it to do over I would definitely try to push everything a lot farther. (Also I wish I could have done the sound mixing.) Supposedly the client may want a sequel, so maybe I'll get another shot at the Pilz family.

There is a larger version available on the client's site, but it has big obtrusive subtitles just in case you miss any of the medical technobabble.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Today I dressed up as my hero - Danny, better known as the Tourette's Guy.

I promised to post more stuff I've been working on so in the spirit of Halloween I thought it'd be appropriate to show a little work I did for Cobra Creative's new site. In fact I think they launched the site just today. I animated the menu side pieces on the Works and Studio pages of the site (skull, shield, tentacles, all the little bits). This job popped up just as I was in the middle of a crunch week on another project. There were a couple days I was already working overtime and then I'd have to put nearly a full day's work into this after hours. I don't think I'll ever do that again if I can avoid it. Still, it was a fun little side project and it's neat to see it go live.

Well my Disney Afternoon toon poll ended today, looks like DuckTales came out on top. For me it was between that and TailSpin... to this day those themes will get stuck in my head.

Right now at work I'm on a big push to finish some massive feature vfx work. Supposedly I'll finish this coming week and start on another TV spot that should be really fun. Check back in a couple months and I'll probably have more to say/show about it. In the mean time, there's still one or two more recent pieces I'll be putting up soon. Mmmm... Reese's pieces.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Wow, it's been 2 months since I've written anything here. The O has kept me pretty busy, which I'm especially thankful for considering these uncertain times we're living in. But if you've been watching TV at all recently you may have caught one announcement that offers a pin-prick of light through the dark days ahead. Disney has decided that next year you can go to any of their big theme parks free on your birthday. And what better way to illustrate this landmark of self-celebration than...

Lots... and lots... of balloons. That needed to be animated. And so that's what we did. If you don't watch TV (like me) or you haven't seen these spots yet, you can watch the premiere 60-second version here on Disney's site for the campaign or a higher-quality version here via the Orphanage's commercial portfolio. It's also all over YouTube - here's one with the alternate ending I worked on.

These images are some of the shots I worked on. I'll try to post more work I've done recently again soon.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I'm happy to say I'm back at the Orphanage for a few weeks. They even saved my old spot for me. I'll be working on some commercial spots. I just finished a fun stint at my (P)alma mater from last summer - Palma VFX. Actually I'm still finishing up a few things... it was a beast of a project, but really fun stuff. Always enjoy going back there. Was up until 5:30am trying to finish up and consequently got 2 hours of sleep before starting at the O this morning. Supposed to see Dark Knight in IMAX tonight... my exhausted mind and body aren't going to be happy about that.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Internets

So yes... I read Slashdot. It gets fed into my Google homepage so I usually scan the headlines for interesting articles. Well today "Wall-E Supervising Animator Tells His Story" caught my eye. It led to an interesting interview with Pixar veteran, former Spline Doctor, LEGO aficionado, and directing animator on WALL-E - Angus MacLane. Back when I began going through the "Pixar classes" at the Academy of Art, Angus was co-teaching the Level 3 (and final) course in the series and struck me as an intimidating figure. Sometimes he'd barge into the lower level classes and throw in a blitzkritique (hey, I just coined that term!) or just hassle the other teachers. Anyway, there's some great stuff toward the middle part of the interview.

Angus MacLane's LEGO WALL-E
In other boredom, the latest JibJab video is surprisingly well-animated. It just shows to go ya that the principles of animation transcend any preference for medium.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Desti? No.

This sucks. I've been wanting to see the full Destino short for so long. Come on, Disney. If you won't release it on DVD, at least put it on iTunes for us.

More info on the short here and some clips here and here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wall-E is to Pixar as ________ is to The Beatles

That was always my favorite and highest-scoring section on standardized tests. It's how I think; in comparisons and analogies. Combine that with the fact that I'm a massive Beatles nut and you'll understand why the following article really caught my attention when I ran across it at Upcoming Pixar...

Pixar, Wall-E and Rubber Soul

(bad photoshop by me)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Who was Justin Wright?

Sitting through the credits after Wall-E, I caught a line scrolling by something to the effect of, "In Loving Memory of Justin Wright, 1981-2008." I wondered who this person was, what was his affiliation with Pixar, what were the circumstances, etc. I guess I must have made a mental note of his name.

Well tonight, by what seemed like a complete fluke, I ran across his name and learned a little about Justin. I was scouring Michael Sporn's amazing blog, which at some point deep in the archives linked to Ronnie Del Carmen's blog, whereupon I scrolled down and was met with his post about Justin's passing. I would encourage you to read it (includes links to others' memories of Justin and some info on his memorial at Pixar) as well as Justin's Pacific Union College Alumni profile page.

That's right - PUC. I did a double-take when I saw that. Learning this and reading what people who knew him said about him kind of changed my view on the whole story. Of course it's always a tragedy when someone so young and full of potential is gone before it seems like they really had a chance to fulfill what they were capable of. But in the context of Justin's story and his own words it's actually quite inspiring and beautiful that he was able to achieve what he did in the time he had, and it's great to know he was really happy. I presume he grew up SDA as there was a comment from his youth pastor that mentioned his mom being a church school teacher. From what I gather he was a person of faith and most definitely made an impact on the lives of the people who knew him. I don't doubt that God placed Justin at Pixar - not only to fulfill his dreams and to see him happy, but as a witness to others by the example of his character. And I don't think it's any coincidence I stumbled upon the answer to the question that had sat in the back of my mind since yesterday.

Who was Justin Wright? Definitely someone I wish I'd known in this lifetime, but look forward to meeting one day. I'm really grateful to everyone who posted their memories of him for the benefit of those of us who weren't lucky enough to know him. Wandering the halls of Pixar strumming a guitar... that truly is the dream, and Justin lived it.

Friday, June 27, 2008


To quote from the movie Contact, "No words... they should have sent.. a poet. So beautiful... I had no idea..."

More to come as I recover.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

THE fat panda

Just got back from Kung Fu Panda. I was blown away. You know how a bad audience experience can ruin a good movie? Well I got in early and got the best seats, so of course everyone else plopped down all around me. And it wasn't because of my magnetic personality. So with the masses cackling about, kicking seats, spilling junk food in a surround-sound symphony of movie-spoiling mayhem, I was pleasantly surprised that once the film began it transcended all these unpleasantries and drew me in where it was warm and fuzzy (we're talking about a panda after all) and where no distractions could touch me. Zen... appropriately enough.

Kung Fu Panda is Dreamworks firing on all cylinders, perhaps for the first time. Everything was top-notch. There was a maturity to this film that I hope marks the beginning of a new era for all animated features. I kept wincing in expectation of a sudden break into song and dance or mindless frolicking around that usually crops up to fill time when the story is rice-paper thin. No, this thing is well-crafted from the get-go and the story is rich enough to sustain the entire timeslot.

Kudos to you, Dreamworks. Give me a call sometime why don'tcha?

Gamma rays

Can I just say one thing I'm excited about?

No more Emo Donnie Hulko Jake GyllenHulk*!

Mad props to Kevin Jackson, Emil Bidiuc, and Sean Amlaner for what I'm sure will be some awesome work on the new Hulk!

*That reference might seem unwaranted, but bonus points to anyone who sees the link. And of course no offense to anyone who worked on the 2003 Hulk!

Portrait of an Animator, Animated

Almost exactly 5 years ago, I was sent an unexpected birthday gift from my good buddy and soon-to-be-roommate-for-a-year Tim Sormin. Little did I realize how important an asset this gift would be and the critical timing in which I received it. What was this precious tome? Why none other than Richard Williams' Animator's Survival Kit. Tim and I had been "studying" animation in college for 3 years at that point, but the program was in its infancy and somewhat lacking in focus and depth. I had decided to spend the summer off-campus near the college while working a couple part-time web-related jobs affiliated with the school. I had also just got a new dual-processor workstation (sadly the very same I'm typing on right now), a Wacom tablet, and had come across a free version of Plastic Animation Paper - software that emulates traditional animation - so with some extra time on my hands, I was ready to crack open the A.S.K. and start mining the gold. It didn't take long to realize what an amazing find Richard Williams' book was and I yelled at Tim to get his own copy too. When the fall semester began, veteran Disney animation director Hendel Butoy graciously descended upon our humble school to help show us the way... and he brought with him none other than - you guessed it - the Survival Kit. That summer layer of exploration turned out to be the foundation of preparation for my animation reeducation.

Fast-forward to the present and I've come across something that gives me that same feeling of giddyness like standing on the edge of a vast chasm filled with treasure, though now the feeling is gift-wrapped in a warm blanket of nostalgia.

Behold - The Animator's Survival Kit - Animated!

A 16 DVD box set combining Williams' famous animation master class recorded at Blue Sky Studios with over 350 "specially animated examples" of the books' lessons that you can frame-by-frame. Of course the price is pretty steep for your average individual (nearly $1000 US thanks to our crappy economy), but I definitely would want to work at a studio that adds this set to its library. You can pre-order now and get 20% off, but it's not out until Nov 17th. Check out the promotional trailer. Props to Saul Ruiz for posting about this yesterday.