Tuesday, November 22, 2011

See "Small Fry" in front of The Muppets this week!

In case you haven't heard, our second short, "Small Fry", will be debuting this week in front of The Muppets!  We're all really proud of this short, it's really funny, and was our first venture into the Toy Story world!  You'll enjoy it, and from the looks of Rotten Tomatoes The Muppets is getting very positive early reviews.  Go check it out!  There's a bunch of press on it out there, check out this interview from IGN, with director Angus McClane, as well as a 30 second clip...that is, if you don't mind spoiling some of the gags ;)

Also, in case you missed it, you can check out Pixar Canada's first short, "Air Mater", already available on the Cars 2 DVD and Blu-Ray!

Side note, you may notice some significant changes around this blog...more to come!  With patience ;)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Announcements, Announcements, Announcements!

  I like this guy

Good news everybody!  They've FINALLY announced what we've been workin on over the past year!  "Air Mater" is a new Cars Toon that will be on the Cars 2 dvd/blu-ray release this fall, and "Small Fry", a Toy Story toon that will be released in front of "The Muppets" in November!  That's a ways off still, but so great to finally have these projects publicly announced!  There's a short clip from "Air Mater" online, just a teaser really, but it's something! 

Air Mater teaser:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Hey all, just thought I'd post a few interesting things and combine new post ideas into ONE ULTIMATE NEW POST.  Ok that may be overstating it, but here we go:

David B. Levy's blog "Animondays" is a great source of advice for animation students, industry newcomers, and I assume, anyone else too.  He's a well known New York animator in the 2D-preschool tv-indie animation circles, and is (I think) currently president of ASIFA-East.  He recently posted a couple great articles (for lack of a better term) about tips to finding work and networking in animation, in the genuine, natural, non-brown nosing way.  They're directly related to being freelance, but obviously in the state of the industry today, good advice for anyone who finds themselves looking for the next job.  When I get asked about how to live the freelance life, these are generally the types of things I usually say, and guided by a similar philosophy.  Check out these two posts:

Checkin' In: One of the Secrets to Getting Work in Animation 

Make mine MoCCA 

 Check out his book "Your Career in Animation:  How to Survive and Thrive" for more great advice.

Next up, check out who's on the install screen of Maya 2012! (Not my image)

 Nathan Love is all over Maya 2012 promotional materials and apparently the installation screen as well!  So far I've seen images from one of the Pop Secret ads from last year, as well as Polly the Porcupine and Barry the Sheep from the Baskin Robbins spots.  Of course I now work somewhere that doesn't use Maya for animation, but perhaps I should download the free trial, haha.

As far as me and my life now, I'm still settling into Vancouver and slowly seeing the rainy winter season turn to spring!  Pixar Canada is off to a great start, and for anyone who's curious, I can say with confidence that they have the same expectations for us and follow the same philosophies as they do in Emeryville.  While I don't have personal experience at the main studio, I can tell it is extremely important to them to maintain the same values up here.  It's been quite a life-change for me moving here, adjusting to this new position, company, and phase of life, and I'm thankful that I get the opportunity to do it in a close personal environment.  I can't really say exactly what we've been working on, other than the announcement video for Pixar Canada basically tells what we are doing up here.  The team is super talented, the studio is beautiful and being renovated to be even more so, and I'm excited to see how we grow and what sort of identity we develop up here in the Great White North...(wait...I'm not sure those words fit Vancouver!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Frank Naranjo's Rigging Reels

Check out my buddy Frank Naranjo's new reels and rig demos he uploaded to Vimeo!  I had the good fortune of working with Frank on various projects at Nathan Love over the course of 8 or 9 months, where his awesomely fast and animator friendly rigs made animating exciting and freeing.  Check out the cool rig demos of a couple of the characters from the Baskins campaign, as well as his full showreel!  Metal Approved, Frank, Metal Approved.  :)

Baskin Robbins - Harry - Rig Demo from Francisco Naranjo on Vimeo.

Baskin Robbins - Polly - Rig Demo from Francisco Naranjo on Vimeo.

Francisco Naranjo - 2011 Rigging Reel from Francisco Naranjo on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cedar Rapids

So obviously I don't post often anymore.  Honestly right now I'm not sure what to blog about, as my life has changed from the freelance world of New York, the original intent of this blog, to full time staff in Vancouver.  But when I do post, I'll have a reason.  I don't want to turn this blog into an opinion shouting place,  or one of those bloggers who just loves to hear the sound of their own booming voice while they hide safely behind their computer screens.  If you know me, (which if you read this blog you probably do), I'm not one who usually stands on a soap box.  But forgive me for this one time, where I really feel like there's something important to be said.

"Cedar Rapids" is awesome.  Go see it.

(If you're unfamiliar with the movie, watch the trailer here.)  Now at first glance it just seems like a quirky comedy, with a bunch of raunchy humor, and to be fair it has a lot of it (not, ahem, a "family" movie).  You've been warned.  But if you get passed that (and realize that it all supports the story) you'll see a gem of a movie, you'll see what I see...a rare film that tells the story of a small town midwestern guy, in midwestern culture.  It's personal to me because it's also my story, growing up in rural Iowa, living in New York and now Vancouver, I've come to realize it's one that a lot of people who aren't from there just don't understand.  Despite our internet connected world, very few people on the coasts understand midwest culture, and more specifically small town culture, unless they originated from it.  The reverse can also be said, though I'd argue that mass media and entertainment provide a wider and more frequent view of city life on the coasts.  Of course even that is usually from the perspective of a small demographic.  And even for people who've relocated from other states to the coasts, many of them may have negative views of their home, as they've found a new place to call home in which for whatever reason they may feel more comfortable.  Movies, television shows, and political pundits all play a role in creating modern stereotypes that while may contain truth, also hide it.  This movie is different. 

This is a movie that neither condemns nor glorifies small town life, small town "folk".  It doesn't make fun of those "backwards rednecks", it doesn't succumb to modern stereotypes (mostly) because it was made by people who know, and more importantly have affection for, their roots.  This kind of truth comes partly from the fact that many of the actors are from the midwest, the writer is, the director isn't, but he obviously still related to the story.  They did this on purpose.  (See interview with the director.)  

If that was all the movie did I might still like it.  But it does even more than that.  It's a counterpoint to our jaded, Great Recession (as I've heard it called), cynical selves.  The message we get today, I feel, is more often one of bitterness, cynicism.  The idea is that in our modern world, there is no room for childish things as hope, faith, and kindness.  Who can believe in good, when there is so much bad surrounding us?  When monetary greed on wall street leads to people without jobs, when dictators oppress their people, when politicians seek power, when wars are waged on the world and personal level, when the planet is in need of caretaking.  To think of any hope, one must be naiive, and naiivety is something to be hammered out in favor of a more "realistic" (read: jaded) view.  These things wear on us, they've worn on me, and feed into a greater, emotional, depression.  Is it any wonder that the largest previous economic downfall was called The Great Depression?  "Cedar Rapids" is a counterpoint to this negativity, because it is a modern story, a believable story, of a guy finding out the world isn't so great or perfect as he thought, not even his own small town, yet finds out that decency and hope isn't lost.
"Hollywood doesn't make movies about these kinds of people. It doesn't tell their stories. Usually, it tells stories about other people, the ones who tried to get away from these people, because movies are most often written by people who transplant themselves to either coast. So "Cedar Rapids" is especially welcome. It's fair and refreshing and almost makes you want to visit Iowa."--SF Gate review

I don't know what you will bring to this movie if you see it, I don't know if you will react to it the same way I did, (and oddly enough we all seem to think that art is objective when it isn't).  But at the very least, I felt a deep need to post for anyone who genuinely thinks that if they show up anywhere in the country, a guy in a pickup WILL hold a gun to them and say "We don't like your kind here", for anyone who sees people only by their color...red and blue..., and for any of you who just want a reason to hope again.  As well as for those of you who feel alone in your hope.  Maybe you can return the favor for me one day.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  From Wikipedia article on the town.  Only exterior shots in the movie were filmed there, but the setting is still present.  This isn't my hometown, but I spent a lot of time there.