Latest News: March 10, 2009
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.
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. ;)
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: http://www.mapquest.com/maps?addressInput=319+E.+Grand+River+Ave%0D%0AEast+Lansing%2C+MI+48823
Hope to see you there!
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.
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).
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.
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. :)
November 10, 2008 The Big News Revealed!
Well, I can finally talk about it. For the past year, I've been working on an animated museum display for Bard Graduate College and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The display will be opening in December and the accompanying book will be available around the same time. More details will be on the way as we get closer to the launch date!
October 28, 2008 Happy International Animation Day!!
October 10, 2008 Orphan Works Bill Defeated!!
Sometimes Congress gets it right: click here. I have to say, as an independant animator, this is a serious weight off of my mind. Got to stay vigilant.
October 5, 2008 Notes from the Ottawa International Animation Festival
Last month saw the return of my brother and I to the Ottawa International Animation Festival. This fest was without a doubt, the best one I have attended since the first time back in 1994. Here are some of the highlights:
Tuesday: Stayed up late to buy/download Speed Racer onto my iPod. Mary and Ted pick me up around 6:30 a.m. I drive to Toronto while they sleep. Spent part of the day in Toronto. Had a great meal at Movenpik & walked through the St. Lawrence Market. Drove to Ottawa. Made the mad dash to the bathroom at a service station on a lonely stretch of 416N--all the while cursing the lack of development along the highway! Had a nice dinner at the Marketplace. Felt like Christmas eve when I went to bed that night.
Wednesday: Was woken up by Mary's snoring. Discovered that she's got a deviated septum. Balanced the pros and cons of foam earplugs against the possibility of sleeping through the alarm and missing a festival session. Decided against it. Got up, got showered, dressed, and ready to go pick up my festival pass. Wanted to tell Ted that I was taking off and would be back in an hour or two. Really freaked him out to have me standing there when he woke up. Ah, fond memories of when we were children. Picked up my festival pass. Bought some really cool DVDs and books. Picked up Ted and Mary then bummed around Ottawa. We took Mary to Mostafa's restaurant for shawarmas. She grudgingly agreed that, after listening to me and Ted talk about Mostafa's restaurant for four years straight, it was the best shawarma she'd ever had. Bought a really nice fountain pen and learned how to fix my other two. Saw my professor, Skip, after the evening screening. Met his wife Ginny in person. Went to the Wednesday night party and chatted with Skip on the way. The party was too loud so we skipped out after having the free drink and proceeded to go drinking at Darcy McGee's pub.
Thursday: Was woken up by Ted praying to the porcelain god. He claims food poisoning. Not sure what to think about that. Have seen him drink way more than what we had last night and not even get buzzed. Am a little worried that I may have to surrender half of my liver a couple years sooner than I had originally planned. Decided to shelve those thoughts by getting up and getting moving. Lots to do. Watched screenings during the day. Had lunch with Jim & Deanna (President and Treasurer of ASIFA Central) and Jim's wife Rose. They loved my ideas for next year's Kalamazoo Animation Festival. Hopefully they'll use the two of them for the panel discussions. Will be nice to share the hard earned lessons from my time at the 'school of hard knocks.' After the evening screening, went to the Thursday night party and chatted with Heather Kenyon from Cartoon Network. Hung out with with Gary Schwartz from Detroit's Center for Creative Studies. Two more people I met at last year's Kalamazoo Festival. Maybe there's something to this networking thing after all. ;) Made several return trips to Mostafa's restaurant for shawarmas.
Friday: Spent the morning talking to Skip Battaglia (my former professor) and Chris Robinson (artistic director of the festival). Rest of the fest, Chris recognizes me and says 'hi'. Sat through Skip's Experimental Animation seminar and had pleasant flashbacks to my three years at R.I.T. Went to the picnic and met more people from the Center for Creative Studies. Nice people. Very energetic. Ted got a headache from the diesel fumes on the bus, so we left early. We got him some advil and walked around Ottawa while waiting for the evening screening. While standing outside a record store, waiting for Ted and Mary to finish up, had some high school Eminem-esque punk try to pick a fight with me to impress his girl. The thought of learning about the Canadian judicial system first hand didn't thrill me so I blew him off as his girlfriend dragged him away. Guess some people just aren't happy if they're not sharing their misery. Did a mental 'skills assessment' of my black belts in TaeKwonDo and Karate. It just made me feel more resentful. Hate being in those 'if I defended myself, I'd be the bad guy' situations. Did some journaling about the experience. I think God likes it when I'm honest about my feelings and don't let them fester, because right afterwards (we're talking seconds), I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. That night, while standing in line and waiting for the evening competition screening, I met J.J. Sedelmaier. Yes, THAT J.J. Sedelmaier. Mary got a photo of me, Ted, and J.J. I'm continually impressed at how nice, humble, and down-to-earth the famous people in animation turn out to be when you meet them. Looking at the lines (and considering Ted's lagging headache), we skipped the Friday night party and went to the Avant-garde bar instead. Felt strangely at home at a place with Eastern European hip-hop videos playing in a bar filled with old Soviet propaganda posters and memorabilia. Continued to make several more return trips to Mostafa's restaurant for shawarmas. We've got Mary fully converted now.
Saturday: Saw J.J. at the morning's education panel. Got some great advice on the business side of animation. J.J. and the panel left me thinking about better ways to run my business. Talked to Carol Beacher during the 'how to write for animation' seminar. Made a mental note to see her 'Mr. Death' animation. Caught Rainmaker's Reboot Rebooted seminar. Now I'm thinking about how to use new technology to market animations. Saw Disney's new shorts "Presto" and "Glago's Guest". Incredibly funny stuff. They gave the 'how we made these' talks. Spent more time walking around Ottawa. Went back to Moustafa's before the evening films. Gonna be a late night! Saw Bill Plympton's "Idiots and Angels". Liked the premise, but didn't think it was his best work. I would've gone with more slapstick than the deeper, more thought-provoking film that Bill made. Made another mental note to buy it when he puts it out on DVD so I can go back and study how Bill made this film. While waiting for the evening competition screening, I started to get angry about the punk from the other day. Did some more journaling. Started to feel better and another one of my profs walks by. Spent the next half-hour talking to Stephanie Maxwell. Man, I really miss these people! Need to do a better job of keeping in touch with them. Went to the Saturday night party. Talked to Chris Brown from Digital Alchemy on the way to the party. Those guys are doing some really cool work! Almost makes me want to pack up and move to Canada. Got there and saw that the line to get in was monstrous. Screw that! Went to a pub across the street instead. Had a soda and burger with Ted and Mary. Went back to the hotel and packed my suitcase. Ted and Mary go back to Darcy McGee's.
Sunday: Got up and went to the morning session. Animation crash course with Eric Goldberg (the guy who animated the genie from Aladdin). Really funny guy in person. Lots of good information. Will need to buy his book in the not too distant future. Picked up Ted and Mary at the hotel. We load up the car and drive back home--but not before having lunch at Moustafa's and saying good bye. As usual, we got waylaid on the way back. This time it was on the highway just East of Nappanee (home of Avril Lavigne) due to a car wreck. 45 minutes later, we?re routed around it and on our way home. Stopped at the duty free shop for candies and jams for my roommates. Got home around 1-ish. Nice to sleep in my own bed (and sleep soundly). Can't believe I'm going to have to wait two years to go back. Hopefully, I'll have something in the festival (or something rejected that I can show at the rejected film party).
Again, it was, the best Ottawa festival I've been to since my first in 1994. For someone with my level of social anxiety, it was fantastic to be able to attend a festival and actually have lots of people there to talk to. Looking forward to the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International next summer!
August 3, 2008 TAIS Monster Jam, Part 2
The Toronto Animated Image Society has posted the second part of the MonsterJam on YouTube. My film is the fourth one (the one with the little monk and the big green monster). Enjoy! ;)
July 21, 2008 TAIS Monster Jam, Part 1
The Toronto Animated Image Society has posted the first part of the MonsterJam on YouTube. My film is in part two, which will be released shortly, so until then, here's the first half of the entries.
June 25, 2008 TAIS Monster Jam, the Screening
If you're in Toronto this weekend, I have a 10-second short film (called "Monk and the Monster") that will be screening as part of the Monsterjam Open-Call that was put out by the Toronto Animated Image Society. TAIS requested that people send them 10-second short animations which would be edited together and shown in front of their Spring Screening of animated short films. The only restrictions was that it had to be 10 seconds long and had to have the subject be something related to "Monsters!"
Showtime, directions and details can be found on TAIS's website: www.tais.ca.
Hope to see you there.
May 1, 2008 Sometimes you can't say anything no matter how exciting it is!
There have been a dearth of updates due to the fact that I'm working on an NDA'd project. But, as we near completion, I'll be able to post some exciting news!
Thanks for your patience. :)
March 6, 2008 TAIS Masterclass: Martine Chartrand
Well, this past weekend I drove to Toronto for the Martine Chartrand Paint-On-Glass Workshop, presented by the Toronto Animated Image Society and held at the NFB Mediatheque Center on John Street. To put it simply: the workshop was incredible! Martine is this little bundle of positive energy who spent the entire time sharing her love of animation.
There were 13 of us who signed up for the workshop at the NFB. Saturday night, Martine talked about her career, background and experiences studying in Russia in between showing us her and Petrov's films. Then we took a break and she demonstrated her paint-on-glass technique in addition to how she plans out her films (storyboard, script, timing, etc). We also learned the equipment, paint to grease mixtures, ways to protect our hands while painting, etc.
Sunday morning had us pairing up with a partner and spending the next nine hours working on our films. Martine would walk from station to station, reviewing what we've done, answering questions, making suggestions, and telling us funny stories about her filmmaking experiences. Around 4-ish, we took a break and watched a couple more of Petrov's & Martine's films followed by some short films by TAIS President Madi Piller from her time in South America where she taught an animation workshop (sand on glass, stop-motion, among other techniques). Afterwards, we walked to each station and presented the films we produced.
Around five-ish, Madi and Martine packed up the workshop so she could get Martine to the train on time.
Personally, I made a ten hour round trip drive from Michigan to attend this workshop and it was well worth the time and money spent.
The Canadians made me feel very welcome and Martine shared a wealth of knowledge. I drove back to Michigan charged up and ready to get back to work on my personal projects. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend the TAIS workshops and any workshop that Martine offers. The TAIS website is: www.tais.ca and lists their upcoming workshops.