Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nathan Love: PopSecret "Dark Knight"

And now, the first of the Pop Secret spots I've been working on at Nathan Love!  (click image below)

I animated most of the shots of Grandma, except the first one and the wide shot when she jumps off the chair.  I have to say I've had a ton of fun working with these characters and the ones on the next spot.  Added to that, the rigs were great (and fast!), making our job as animators that much more enjoyable!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Psyop: UPS Holiday

Check out the spot I worked on for a few weeks this fall at Psyop!  I animated the characters in the clock scene as well as the dad, mom, and daughter in the Christmas scene at the end.

For the past couple of months I've been animating some characters on a commercial at Nathan Love, hopefully I can post those before too long as well!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Speaking of Animation

My buddy and fellow SCAD alumni Ben Willis has started a new animation podcast blog with some of his DreamWorks co-workers.  Among them is Stephen Melagrano, whom I had the pleasure of working with on Horton.  Their first interview is with veteran animator Ted Ty.  Great stuff, check it out!

Speaking of Animation

And "speaking of animation"...(har har), if you haven't caught Disney's new Christmas special, "Prep and Landing", you owe it to yourself to check it out on that glorious website known as Hulu.  Great animation and story!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Charlie Brown on Antiques Roadshow

Stories like this are great! Here's this regular Joe who was a fan of Charles Schultz, convinced his employer (Hallmark) to test using Peanuts on greeting cards, and got to work directly with Charles Schultz for 12 years. Now Hallmark has a huge line of Peanuts licensed merchendise, and he's the owner of a fan's dream collection.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Back during the Ice Age crunch, Pete Paquette wrote a cool blog post on what inspired him as a kid to become an animator, and how it's important to him to revisit those things in order to keep his energy up during crunch.

I've found the same to be true during downtime. As a freelancer you kinda know that downtime comes with the territory, and I've argued that it comes with the territory for animators in general. But even if you're used to it, the days pass and can have a psychological effect. What can you do to stay motivated? Revisit your inspiration. Because even if you have personal projects to do, if you're not inspired, they're not really that much fun.

I mean your personal inspiration. There's a lot of things that are inspiring, very well done, but really don't hit the core of why you do what you do, and what it is that you do. After feeling a little "blah" last week, I spent some time at Barnes and Noble, frankly, just for something to do. At the bargain shelf, I found two of the Calvin and Hobbes books that I've noticed seem to find their way to that shelf. For some reason I was never as big of a Calvin and Hobbes fan as other animators I know, but looking through those books I saw such great drawings, and some insanely creative writing. I went back the next day to look at them again, and of course then had to check out work from my ultimate inspiration, Charles Schultz. All of this got me started thinking about my "Geeks" comic, and pretty soon I was scribbling down ideas and character stories again. Not to animate. To draw! As I've done since I was a kid. Drawing is so freeing to me! The entire thing can be my creation, if I animate something I will probably either be ripping a line from someone else's movie, and applying it to someone else's character rig. Modeling and rigging a character and sets, takes an insane amount of time, and when I finally do come up with an idea that I like, it would take me forever to do in CG, and require things that I would not be able to complete on my own.

Anyway. Revisiting childhood inspiration helps to quiet the critical voices in my head, and open myself up to new creativity. Here are some things that when I see, cause my gut to drop, my knees to shake, and my lungs to exhale in a large satisfying *sigh*.

While finding my favorite examples among 50 years of daily strips at is a feat unnecessary to this post, here's a few examples that I feel show *some* of what I admire so much about Schultz' talents. At the bookstore I saw a retrospective book that showed a single panel cartoon of the peanuts gang at an art museum, and I wish I could find it to post it. They were all looking at a masterpiece European painting, except for Rerun, who was off by himself, looking at a picture of Snoopy. It's such a simple picture that says so much, all of the older kids are looking at the "masterpiece", but the youngest one is captivated by a picture of a cartoon dog, who's back is facing the viewer in a sad way. Both are in the art museum, and while Snoopy is not drawn with the technical mastery of the European painting, the lonely image of both Snoopy and Rerun is more moving. I may buy that book just to have that image to look at anytime.

This one happens to be one of my favorites. Schultz' way of taking simple dialogue and expressing deep truths is something that I adore, and strive for in my own work. He liked funny things, but understood that entertainment did not always have to be funny. There's something to be said for work that reaches wide audiences, and relates to many people, without overtly trying to do so.


Garfield was my absolute favorite as a kid. Around high school that changed to Charles Schultz and Peanuts, but I spent so many days at home and on the school bus, drawing this cat. Until I started studying animation, Jim Davis was probably the biggest influence on how I drew, and I would still say that it influences how I draw today. I remember this strip from one of the Garfield books I continuously flipped through at home.

The other things I drew all the time as a kid (besides Ninja Turtles) were Disney characters. Aladdin was my favorite Disney movie as a kid, but of course loved all the Disney movies growing up. I imagine that the influx of young animators such as myself today, is partly due to my generation growing up with the second "golden age" of Disney animation.
Looney Tunes
My favorite cartoon next to Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtles was probably the Looney Tunes. Thank goodness ABC aired those every Saturday morning when I was growing up, and another station had Merrie Melodies in the afternoon after school. I loved these so much, and still do.

More "recent" inspirations (aka, things I didn't necessarily obsess over as a kid, but are huge inspirations to me now):

Calvin and Hobbes
While I noticed that I occasionally don't agree with Watterson's philosophies, his creativity in both ideas and drawing, even writing rhyming poetry is ridiculously inspiring. Just look at these poses. A perfect blend of attitude and shape, with no words necessary.

Okay, I know that everyone was waiting for some Pixar thing to be listed. But for me, Wall-E captures a similar profound innocence that's in Peanuts, and those Calvin and Hobbes drawings above. It's quiet, and lets the character's innocence speak for itself, without many words at all. When words are used, they are repeated with different inflections and different contexts. Every effort was made to tell the story visually. But moreso than that, is Wall-E's way of changing the world through love, while having no concious agenda to do so. I love it.

Battlestar Galactica (new series)
Wait, where the heck did that come from? All of these comics and animation, and now this? Yes. Most definitely yes. It takes a lot to make my all time favorite top-lists and nearly beat out Star Trek in my all time favorite science fiction stories, but Ron Moore's BSG did it. (Star Trek hangs onto first by a nostalgic thread.) This series showed so many areas of grey in war, romance, and faith, and did so many times in heartbreaking and shocking ways..but always truthful...and not the sort of truth that thumbs its nose at you. It's profound, musical. It has something to say. If you haven't watched it, you owe it to yourself to Netflix the dvds now. Great character storytelling at its best.

Maybe I have an underdog obsession. I think I love great stories told in mediums that often don't get the credit they deserve. Looking at this list, I see comic strips, animation, and science fiction. While it's hardly a complete list of my inspirations, it's a safe bet most of these things are at the top.

I write too much. ;)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Geeks #2

Here's the 2nd! I know this is quite the trekkie joke, so don't worry if you don't get it. It made me laugh though, and since this comic is the outlet for my purely selfish artistic desires, what the heck? Actually that might be the theme of this strip in particular. I did a lot of experimenting with the color because I wasn't happy with my choices in the last one. I also said "what the heck" to slightly redesigning the characters to be (hopefully) better, more appealing, and easier to draw. Last year I had a lot of fun drawing a Christmas card and rediscovering how to draw like a kid. Kids experiment a lot and just draw what they like to see. This is sometimes the opposite of what we're asked to do at work every day as animators, and it sure feels good to just make something for the fun of it.

Monday, June 15, 2009


As it gets closer to the release date, I'm seeing more clips and trailers online and on TV. Somehow a few of my shots managed to make it into some of them! Here's a clip of the scene that introduces Buck, and has some great animation and character gags in it. A bit of my work is in there as well, Manny, Ellie, and Diego in the first shot are mine (when they stand up and Diego has the leaf collar around his neck). Nathan Engelhardt animated the main (and awesome) Crash and Eddie stuff in that shot.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Geeks" worldwide premiere!

Not to over-hype it or anything ;) Recently on my search for a personal project I came up with an idea for a comic strip. I find it's a really nice change of pace, and a great outlet for personal creativity because I'm not constrained by the CG process...just my own drawing ability! Lately I've been sketching in Union Square again and getting back into drawing, so I think a comic is a good way to keep practicing my drawing. I also hope to apply as much of what I've learned from animation since the last time I drew a strip. More than anything, it's really fun to finally have something of my own that I'm excited to do again.

So join me for strip 1, and let's see how this goes! "Geeks" follows 3 roommates in New York, who confront the sometimes humorous divide between the 'geek' and 'non-geek' personality.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mark Behm, "Nightwork"

To start off on what might be a few more posts revolving around inspiration, here's an interview of Mark Behm on Strut Your Reel, about his new art book. Since one of my main goals is to keep drawing and keep improving on what is ultimately my first passion, this stuff just blows me away.

We all need inspiration to keep the creative juices flowing, especially during or after times of extreme hours and work. It's so easy to lose yourself at work, and not nurture your personal art in some way or another (especially when you have no time to do anything but go to work and sleep), but it's even easier to just be too lazy to do something. Hence, I plan on posting some more on inspiration, which is so critical to being motivated. Maybe these posts will not only lend some inspiration to anyone reading this, but also to myself when I need a kick in the pants!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Website updates

I've done a few minor updates on my website, updated my demo reel with a couple of new shots, updated resume, updated animation page. Go check it out! If you like what you see and are looking for an animator, feel free to shoot me an email!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Psyop: UPS Store Ad

Check out this awesome ad by Psyop! (watch it in "HD" for a much better picture)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Freelancer's Guide: "Working Remotely" by Dana Boadway

My friend Dana Boadway has written an awesome article on freelancing for Animation Mentor's newsletter. I worked with Dana at Framestore when she was in New York, she is one of the many people I've worked with in this city who I really learned a lot from. I think I'd been in New York for maybe a year at the time, so I was even greener than I am now, heh. During my first jobs, I was fortunate to work with some people who were more experienced than me, and who approached working in animation from a much more mature, life-oriented standpoint. Your perspective changes and matures after working a few jobs, but it really helps to have a few people around who've already made that transition to learn from. They are the people who know that life is more than work, and have made it through a lot of the headaches and challenges of working in this industry. I will be forever grateful that I learned some of those important lessons early on, and that I learned them before working in the very challenging realm of feature animation.

Lately Dana has found success working remote freelance jobs from home, so it's really great to hear her perspective on it in this article. I've been pretty comfortable with freelancing, but when it came to remote freelance jobs I've been a little more timid. Part of the reason I love working in animation is the people that I work with, and learn from on the job. But having already gotten past the fears of working freelance in general, if I ever need to take the next step to working remotely I think I could do it. It would be a challenge, but one I feel like I could take if the work has dried up and the opportunity arises. I think she makes a good point in the article--studios who do remote freelancing on a larger scale need to have someone in charge that is very organized about it.

Here's the reason to stay open to remote freelancing. If you're still a student or are just starting out, you may feel like working in features is what you want to do the rest of your life. Here's the thing though--you haven't done it yet, haha. It may be, you may love it and do it for years as some people do. But I think even the ones that do have found some way to draw their personal line that balances work and life, and maybe have found the right studio for themselves to be comfortable in. It's harder than it sounds. If working remote freelance helps you to find your balanced life, then I think it is well worth your time to pursue it. You won't know what works for you until you gather many more experiences at many places. Right now you may only want to work on something that's on the big screen, no matter how many hours you have to work and how many months you have to work them. For now, that might work for you, but eventually you might want sleep too.

Another person I've been fortunate to work with, Jason Taylor, has found his own success working remotely from home, and occasionally working on site somewhere. I have a lot of respect for both Dana and Jason...for knowing what they want in their life, and blazing their own career path into the unknown.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

From the creators of "Ice Age"...

...Well, maybe I can't say that... how about "From some of the people who worked on Ice Age"...? yes? Ok.

In case you've missed it thus far, Pete, Nick, Scott, and Paul have been filming episodes of "Treehouse Studios" starring Muppet "Whatnots" that they designed and ordered from FAO Schwartz. ( Hilarity ensues!

Though keep in mind, the hilarity comes with this disclaimer:
"DISCLAIMER: **Please keep in mind that these episodes are for ADULTS ONLY due to language.**"

Here is their latest episode, to catch up on earlier ones check out the previously linked blog. Keep watching for the homage to the freelancers, including some weird guy with red hair!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blue Sky Ribbon Cutting

Take a glimpse at the new studio in Greenwich, CT! Better than LL2? Yes.

They had a ribbon cutting ceremony with the governor of Connecticut today, as well as execs from Fox, and other CT political figures. Lots of news cameras were there, it was a much bigger event than I was expecting. All of the interest stems from the state's tax incentives that was a major reason for the move.