Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Moby 'One Time We Lived' Animated video



Here is the latest music video from Moby which I got to work on yet again. It's a great throwback to the 80's. It was directed by Robert Powers, animated by Chris Timmons, Ian Jones-Quartey and myself.

If you like the videos they can be found on a Deluxe edition of Moby's album Wait For Me. The Deluxe version is a three-disc set comprised of two audio discs and one DVD. Disc Three, the DVD, includes the animated EPK and interview with Moby, plus five videos for songs from Wait For Me, including David Lynch's animation for Shot in The Back of the Head. Also included on this DVD are 16 "blips" (30 second animations for each of the tracks on the original album).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mr Burns for Mayor II



So upon further investigation the Burns for Mayor Campaign is not a stealth attack from challenger Bill Thompson's campaign but rather an art project from artist Boris Rasin, who is running the campaign and web site designer Kenny Komer as a part of the Art in Odd Places 2009 Festival. AIOP takes place on 14th St. and is a collection of artists who display their artwork in publicly accessible areas without obtaining permits. As described on their website, “Part of the project's goal is to explore the meaning of public space and how artists can create work within it, without requesting the permission of the city.”

I love the idea of this exhibit, especially The Concerned New Yorkers for Monty Burns Coalition effort and the campaign site burnsformayor.com. The embedded video above is from their website. I think Monty has a bunch of great ideas, such as:

The construction of the state-of-the-art Williamsburg Nuclear Power Plant With a 400 MWe capacity, the medium-sized reactor will be able to provide New York City with 90% of our energy needs, saving New Yorkers up to 30% on their energy bills.

The sale of Staten Island to NJ for over $10 billion to solve our current budget deficit.

Moving the transportation of bulk goods and livestock under our streets will give the MTA the fiscal boost it needs to maintain its rail network, provide better service, and slash the subway fares down to a nickel, where they should be.

Identifying hipsterism as a quality of life crime, the New York Police Department will finally have the means to protect ordinary New Yorkers from these undesirables. Only through a surge of force can we eradicate the poison of our society. The proposed state-of-the-art Williamsburg Nuclear Power Plant is strategically planned for the epicenter of the hipster infestation and promises to eject them from this neighborhood once thought abandoned forever
.

Come Tuesday, November 3, 2009 I will be up bright and early, or at least by 2:30-3:00, to cast my ballot.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mr Burns for Mayor



I came across this great poster last week while walking around the city. You can say so much with one simple image. I don't think this poster was officially endorsed by the Bill Thompson campaign however.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Moby, Mistake music video



Here is the latest music video from Moby which I had the pleasure of working on again. This one was directed by Robert Powers and animated by Chris Timmons and myself. Look for another one coming soon. Enjoy!

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Haggis in NYC

I was given a stone haggis as a gift last spring and I thought it would be fun to take it around the city to welcome it to its new home. I spent a week photographing it all around the city which resulted in this photo book. The book was originally created as a gift to leave for my relatives in Scotland after I stayed with them, but it was so well received that I decided to make it available for sale on the web. It was a way to blend an icon of Scotland with the sights, sounds and smells of New York City. Anyone with Scottish heritage, who is living or just visiting NYC will enjoy this book. To look through the book, or purchase it click here or on the link below.

Here are a few haggis facts you may not have known:

The present World Record for Haggis Hurling has been held since 1984 by Alan Pettigrew, who threw a 1.5lb haggis an amazing 18 feet and 10 inches on the island of Inchmurrin on Loch Lomond. The sport is said to date back to early clan gatherings where wives would throw a haggis across the stream to their husbands, who would catch them in their kilts. The contemporary version is for the haggis to be hurled as far and straight as possible from an elevated platform (quite often a whisky barrel).

Americans often put haggis hunting on their must-do list when visiting Scotland.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest haggis on record weighed 303.2kg (668lb 70z) and was made using 80 ox stomachs by the Troon Round Table, Burns Country Foods and a team of chefs at the Hilton Hotel, Scotland on May 24, 1993.

A Haggis in NYC

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Harley Trip

This blog entry is a bit of a departure for me. I recently took a week long motorcycle around the Grand Canyon visiting numerous National Parks along the way. When doing research for the trip I found very little info on trips other people had taken. The AMA site had some suggestions which I used as a starting point to plan out my trip. Here is the route I took, with places to stay, where to get gas, and the daily mileage totals for anyone thinking about heading out on a motorcycle adventure of their own.

Day 01-Pheonix to Holbrook, Az (225 mi)
We started our trip in Pheonix, AZ . It was a good launching point for the adventure to begin. We rented Harley’s from Chester's Harley-Davidson in Mesa AZ. Chester’s HD was a short cab ride from the airport; about 15 miles and cost around $35. They offer a free shuttle service, but because we arrived on a Sunday, it wasn’t available. Once we got there we picked up our bikes, a Heritage Softail Classic and a Road King which were both in tip top condition. We headed east out of the city on our bikes towards Tortilla Flats, an old stagecoach stop on the Apache trail. The Superstation Saloon is a great place for lunch with saddles as barstools and dollar bills from all over the world decorating the walls. The next 22 mi we weren’t ready for though. From the Saloon to the Roosevelt Dam the Apache trail turns into a steep twisty turny dirt road. Not exactly the best road to take on a Harley. By the time we arrived at the Dam we were exhausted and extremely hot. We rested for a few minutes, then headed south on Rt. 88 south to Globe where we connected up with Rt 60. In hindsight, we should have taken Rt. 60 all the way from Phoenix and avoided the second half of the Apache Trail. The Salt River Canyon Road (Rt. 60) loops around then down where you cross the Salt River over one of the prettiest canyons in Arizona. At Show Low we headed north on 77 to our first nights rest in Holbrook, AZ. Holbrook was a frontier town in 1881 and it has been a frontier town ever since, there is nothing there. Rt. 66 runs through Holbrook and is home of the famous Wigwam Motel, which is still open for business. They were booked up for the night so we stayed at a Super 8 up the road.


Day 02-Holbrook, Az to Bluff, Ut (217 mi)
The next morning we headed 28 miles south to the entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park and drove through the colorful Painted Desert with stops along the way to see the 200 million years old petrified trees. We continued north on one of the only highways (Rt. 40) we rode for the entire trip until we reached Chambers and headed north on 191 to the historic Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Inside, you can watch a Navajo woman patiently weave authentic, intricately patterned blankets like the ones that have been used by the Navajo for thousands of years. This was a good place to have a picnic and a short rest. There aren’t many options for lunch in the area so bring a picnic with you and enjoy it under the shade of a tree to escape the heat of the day. Back on 191 north until you reach the reach the Canyon de Chelly, a short detour east for a glimpse the ancient Anasazi Indian cliff dwelling ruins thousands of feet below on the canyon floor. From here we pushed onwards to our next stop for the night, the Desert Rose Inn in Bluff, UT. We ate at a great local restaurant, the Cottonwood Steakhouse which was walking distance from our hotel.


Day 03-Bluff, Ut to Boulder, Ut (226mi)
On your way out of town gas up and then stop for breakfast at Twin Rocks Café. We headed north on 191, then East on 95, but if you are up early you can take a little detour to check out the amazing Goosenecks of the San Juan River overlook, then pull out your map and choose one of two main routes for the day. One option lets you work your way through canyon country down to the edge of the immense Lake Powell, a man-made lake created by the Glen Canyon Dam in the 1960s. A short ferry crossing will bring you to the other side, where the road will eventually lead you back onto the main route.

Ferry service runs daily between Bullfrog Marina and Hall's Crossing. The crossing takes approximately 25 minutes to cover the 3.1 mile distance. The ferry in effect is an extension of Utah State Highway 276 in that it connects northern and southern portions of the roadway across Lake Powell. This was a good place to gas up and grab a cold drink before we got on the ferry.

The other optional route takes you over a bridge that crosses the northern end of Lake Powell. Our two routes then join together for a great ride on some of the best motorcycling roads around, as they twist and turn through the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Capitol Reef National Park (Rt. 24), the northern section of Utah’s Grand Escalante, or staircase region. Capitol Reef also has some interesting, ancient petroglyphs that are very accessible from the main road. Head south on Rt. 12 through a gorgeous birch forest over a 9,200-foot pass through the high country of the Dixie National Forest, before the road drops you down into Boulder, Utah. We stayed in the bunk room at the Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch 3 miles south of Boulder on Hell's Backbone/Salt Gulch Road. The ranch had a great cowboy dinner waiting for us at the end of the trail which we arranged ahead of time.

Day 04-Boulder, UT to Springdale UT (156 mi)
Another full breakfast and we headed back to Route 12, which is commonly proclaimed one of the top 10 motorcycling roads in the United States. Next we stopped at Bryce Canyon National Park with its thousands of pink and white spires, known to the Indians as Hoodoos. After exploring Bryce Canyon we had lunch at the trading post just outside the park and continued on our route into the eastern entrance of Zion National Park. Once in the park we passed through the 1.1 mi tunnel to emerge on the other side in the middle of the towering rock formations and sheer walls which extend up vertically thousands of feet above you. Just past the western entrance of Zion is Springdale, where we stopped for the night at the Quality Inn at Zion Park. We parked the bikes for the evening and jumped in the pool to cool off before we caught the shuttle which takes you back into the park for an evening hike. We just made it back in time to grab dinner in town before getting a good night’s sleep.

Zion would have been a good place to stay for a second night if we had had an extra day. If we had stayed, we could have checked out a nearby ghost town or headed out on our bikes to fully explore the Cedar Breaks region north of Zion or even taken a day trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.


Day 05-Springdale, UT to Grand Canyon (256 mi)
After a great breakfast of waffles and bacon at the hotel, we hit the road again back through Zion National Park and the famous Zion Tunnel that carried us on our southbound route into Arizona. Along the way we passed Pipe Spring National Monument and rode through a section of the Kaibab Indian Reservation on the scenic Route 89 alt. After a climb past Jacob Lake and through large sections of Ponderosa Pine forest, we skirted the southern edges of the Vermillion Cliffs before we crossed the Colorado River at the Navajo Bridge. A great place to pick up some native jewelry sold at the foot of the bridge. Then back on 89 south to the East Rim Drive of the Grand Canyon. The East Rim Drive offers numerous opportunities to pull over and take in the views of one of the Natural Wonders of the world. By the end of the day, we reached the Grand Canyon Yavapai Lodge, our home for the next two nights. We booked a dinner at El Tovar, the canyon’s premier restaurant, which was great and I highly recommend it.

The next day we spent off of the bikes and used the canyon’s shuttle network to get around and hiked down into the canyon. But if you wanted to get back on the bike you could take a quick run down to Flagstaff or tour the famous Lowell Observatory, which was used to help plot the locations of the Apollo moon landings. You could also choose to visit the moon-like setting of the Meteor Crater, which was violently formed over 50,000 years ago by an enormous space rock traveling an estimated 40,000 miles per hour when it impacted. The more adventurous types may opt to take a short helicopter ride across the Grand Canyon, or at least get the feel of a helicopter ride from their seats at the Grand Canyon’s IMAX Theater.

Day 07-Grand Canyon to Phoenix, AZ (246 mi)
For the last day of our tour, we headed out on Route 64 south, to 180 into Flagstaff which was the last of our scenic roads. We had to have the bikes back by 4:00 so we hopped on the highway to make short work of the miles and get us there in a couple of hours. The temp was 110 deg F, so a leisurely ride in the desert sun wasn’t on the itinerary. We took the bikes back to Chester’s HD in time for a BBQ they were having. Everyone there was so nice and I would rent a bike from them again anytime.

For those who can’t seem to get enough bike-time, follow Route 89 A into the gorgeous Oak Creek Canyon, then continue to the red rock country of Sedona. Check out an art gallery or two in Sedona, then ride south for some lunch in the old mining town of Jerome. Take it slow through the zig-zagging streets of Jerome, which are mostly 10 mph narrow lanes in a town that appears to have been sculpted into the side of a mountain. Some of the best riding in Arizona is on tap from Jerome south toward the desert region surrounding Wickenburg. If you like the twisties, you won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Judging

The past two weekends I was asked to participate as a judge for the 36th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards. The judging took place here in NYC and the category I was asked to evaluate was Individual Achievement in Animation. The category consists of Art Direction, Storyboard, Character Design, Animator, Layout, Color and Background Design. I thought it was quite an honor to be asked to be part of the judging.

The judging consisted of open discussions between panelists until a winner or winners are chosen in the above categories. Unlike other awards, a winner doesn’t have to be given in each category every year. If as a group we felt none of the entries were worthy of an Emmy then none would be awarded. Before the judging began, the Academy provided us coffee and pastries as we waited for everyone to arrive. I knew a number of the panelists from studios all over the city, and those I didn’t know I got to know better by the end of the process. We were then divided up into small groups and asked to consider an individual category. The potential winners we chose would be passed on to the larger group the following week for further consideration.

One of the first obstacles to overcome as a group was that everyone has a slightly different definition of what “worthy of an Emmy” is. We were provided with guidelines by the Academy to consider for each category, which helped in that process. Another obstacle was comparing different styles of animation in the same category. Some shows were traditionally drawn, while others were done in 3D, Flash and After FX. We had to put aside our like, or dislike of each medium and look at the objectively. Ultimately it came down to the simple question of, “In the given medium, did they execute it in an outstanding way?” After all the discussions were done, and everyone voiced an opinion on how they felt about the entries it was remarkably easy to pick the winners. The ones which ended up winning were obvious to everyone; they just stood out from the crowd.

Back in 2007 I worked on a show Pinky Dinky Doo, which was nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Achievement in Main Title Design. We didn’t win that year, it went to The Upside Down Show instead, but I remember how excited I was to know that we were nominated. Until this year I didn’t know how the submission process worked. I had always assumed that the studio needed to submit work on your behalf, or a committee from the Academy chooses your work from the thousands of others out there. I never realized that as an individual you can submit your own work, as long as you meet the requirements, and pay your $175 fee. Awards are presented to daytime television programs broadcast between the hours of 2:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. The eligibility period for all awards this year was January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008. If you worked on a show which aired in this time period you were eligible. Contact the Academy of Arts and Sciences at http://www.emmyonline.org/daytime/ for all the official rules.

To find out which shows won Emmy’s this year you will have to watch the live broadcast of The 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be telecast August 30th, 2009 on The CW Television Network at 8:00 p.m. (ET) I know a lot of artists out there who in my opinion do work on a daily basis that is worthy of an Emmy, so get out there and submit your work.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Moby and Papaya King



Here are a couple of the posters I saw up around NYC. What goes better with Moby than a Papaya King hot dog, 2 for $3.?

Moby Video Blips


Link to Video

Often when you work on a project you have no idea where it ends up. Walking around the city today I saw posters plastered all over the city for Moby’s new album, Wait for Me. I had the pleasure of working with Rob Powers from SlipperyRockNYC recently on a number of the shorts for Moby’s website. All of the “blips” can be found on Vimeo or Moby.com. One of which I have embedded above for you to check out. We also animated an 11 minute short that will air on UK TV Channel 4. So anyone in the UK look for it coming to a TV near you soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gallery Placement



Over on Elliot’s blog he posted some pictures of his artwork handing next to various other peoples. Along the same vein, here is one of mine hanging in Detroit. When you enter a show you rarely have any say in how or where they will hang your piece. Mine in this case is below what I can only describe as a scene from Caligula. No wonder the couple there isn’t paying attention to my piece.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sign Painting


While walking around the city this weekend I came across men on scaffolding high above painting a sign on the side of a building. I was glad to see that the art of sign painting still exists. This one was on the corner of 23rd and Park Ave. I have always loved old, faded signs on the side of buildings advertising something long forgotten, or when they tear down a building and an old sign decades old sees the light of day again. I didn't know ASIFA-east had the budget for something like this either. Very cool… I am looking forward to the festival on May 3rd.

Record Painting 02


Here is the second in a series of record paintings I am working on. The girl was inspired by a sketch from the Michael Alan’s Draw-a-thon evening I went to last month. The record came from a Salvation Army store on 2nd Ave.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One Stuck Duck


This Friday One Stuck Duck Productions are showing their latest effort to keep busy. Test, a music video they produced/directed and animated. One Stuck Duck is a collection of freelance artists joining together to see what can be accomplished creatively when they “…just shut-up and work together.” This is their third collaborative project and you can track the progress of their video, and see just how they made it at their sister site slipperyrock.com. Also posted there are some great tutorials on how to build and animate characters in After Effects and how to integrate After Effect into your Flash animation workflow.

In the current environment here in NYC, where work seems harder and harder to come by, it is great to see a bunch of talented people taking matters into their own hands and showing just what can be accomplished by pooling their talents together and working on each others projects. I wish them the best of luck and hope their efforts lead to more work in the future. If you want to see the entire video, and hear The Subterraneans live, (the band they made the video for,) they are having a screening at Blondies, 1771 Second Ave, on Friday the 17th of April at 8pm.

You can watch the video here: http://onestuckduck.com/projects/TEST.html

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bananaz marketing



I originally posted a review of the film Bananaz on the ASIFA-east blog which is below in case you missed it. I wanted to follow up that review with the interesting way in which they were going to market this film. The preview I saw was held at the Apple store in SoHo. Apple’s interest in the project was that they were teaming up with Babelgum.com, a new online music/entertainment platform with a global approach to web-video, to release the film. By downloading the Babelgum player to your iPhone you will be able to see the film before anyone else. It is important to say that Babelgum is an internet and mobile TV platform supported by advertising. Bananaz is going to premier on April 20th and will be exclusively available there for a month. Following the online release, the film will have a theatrical run in select cities, and finally a DVD release in May/June. This is the part I found interesting, that it was going to premier online FIRST. I have not heard of a documentary film marketed in this manner before. Most films seem to start with a festival premier, in the hopes of finding a distributor to market and promote their film. This approach seems to be exactly opposite of that; build an online audience first, then the theater release followed by the DVD sale. I thought this was a very smart approach for the filmmaker. The number of people you can reach at a festival is very small in comparison to the potential number you could reach if it is a success online. The Gorillaz are a proven commodity with a huge fan base; based on that alone the film should drive a lot of views to the Babelgum site, which as mentioned above is supported by advertising. I don’t know that this approach would work for a documentary on “Flowers” for example, but I am very curious to see how it goes for Bananaz.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Subway Rhino



While waiting for the train this morning, I was going to shoot some footage of the train arriving for a project I am working on. What I ended up getting was something entirely different. I can only describe it as, a Subway Rhino... Check out the footage above to see for yourself.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Record Painting 01



This is a new piece I did based on the life drawing classes I have been going to again. This one was inspired by the Betty Page night at Dr Sketchy’s. It’s cut paper and paint on a record cover. I constantly collect images I find interesting, for what purpose I don’t usually know at the time, I just know I like something about a particular image and cut it out an put it in a scrapbook. More often than not I end up using them as a starting point for a background in one of my pieces. A few months ago I came home with a bag full of records I found while roaming thrift stores in the city. Again, not sure what I would use them for. When I started looking at my sketches the life drawing sessions, I remembered the old records and decided to put the two together. Rather than using the record image as reference for a BG, I decided to just paint on the found object itself. I have many more of these coming soon.

Bananaz review



Tuesday night I went to sneak preview of the documentary Bananaz, followed with a Q&A with the director Ceri Levy at the Apple store in SoHo. The documentary takes you behind the scenes of the Gorillaz, “the most successful animated band ever.” The Gorillaz as a band have always been surrounded in a bit of mystery. The band is composed of four animated band members: 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel. The band is actually a collaboration between various musicians, created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett back in 1998.

I love the entire idea of the band. The fact that the animated characters are the actually playing and creating the music, that they are marketed as real is fascinating to me. I was really looking forward to learning what went into creating the Gorillaz. Unfortunately the film falls short and is really nothing more than 90min of fly on the wall footage.

The film follows Damon and Jamie from the very beginnings of the band back in 2000 to the concerts in Harlem back in 2006. It starts out with some good footage of the two of them speaking about how they were watching MTV and commented “What’s all this manufactured rubbish…So we thought we could do it a little better.” Next they show a little footage of Jamie flipping through some of his early sketches and talking about how he refined the characters for a minute or two and then leaves it there. From that point on nothing else is said about the artwork. It just gets flashed up on the screen to keep the energy high to hide the fact that there is no real story. The film doesn’t go anywhere. You just go from recording session to back stage at one of their concerts watching the erratic behavior of the band members acting like big kids with out actually learning much about the band itself. The only real moment of drama in the film comes near the end when Damon is confronted by a teacher representing a Harlem children’s choir, questions him about the lyrics the children will be singing on stage. It the first and only time in the film anyone really speaks about what they are trying to accomplish.

The film does do a good job of showcasing the bands music however. You get to see some good footage of them collaborating with various artists to create their albums. The amount of effort Damon puts into his music, and just how talented he is, comes through loud and clear. If you are a big fan of the music, or always wanted to know what it would be like to hang out with the band, you’ll enjoy the film. For me though, I’m going to go back to pretending that 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel are real, put on my headphones and enjoy their music.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reel 13



I recently came across the submission details for PBS’ Saturday night program Reel 13. Reel 13 is a weekly showcase for classic, short and indie films. They have a rolling deadline for shorts and independent features. Each week they choose 3 short films to be posted on their website, where the online audience can vote for their favorite film. The film with the most votes is broadcast Reel 13 and wins a $500 prize.

Submit to Reel 13

Monday, March 23, 2009

ASIFA East Screening Recap

Over the last two weeks the selection process for the ASIFA East Festival took place. Here is my recap of it as if it were the last film of the independent evening, Don Hertzfeldt’s, I Am So Proud of you.


I woke up on Thursday morning to the sound of bagpipes playing. Don’t know why though, Tuesday was St. Patricks day.
My father played the accordion when I was a child. I would go into the basement and drag out a huge suitcase in which it lived. He would remove it from the suitcase and work the bellows in and out in order to make it sing. One summer day while playing the accordion in our back yard, my father was hit by a train.
I slipped in the shower and hit my head while singing the song my father used to play. I woke up again to the water hitting me in the face as I lay on the bottom of the tub. I got dressed and headed out to go about the rest of the day. On the way to the subway I stood on the corner waiting for the light when the woman next to me began speaking in French. I didn’t really understand anything she was saying. I had studied French in school but I didn’t really remember any of it.

She seemed to be pointing at something on the ground while asking me a question. The light changed and people crossed but I just stood there to find out what it was that she wanted. The longer I stood there the more she was saying began to make sense to me. She was saying something about a hat, and her daughter.I next noticed that she was wearing a giant Russian style fur hat which seemed to be made out of cat heads. She bent down and picked up the thing on the ground she was pointing at and picked it up. It turned out to be cat which had been hit by a car and apparently was taking it home to make a hat for her daughter and was making sure I didn’t want the cat as well. I told her “no.” She then put it in her bag and walked away.
My head began to start hurting again as I rode the train to a film screening. When I arrived the room was filled with people who seemed to know me, however I no longer recognized them.
I sat down and fell in and out of consciousness as images of cowboy chickens, animal crackers, fish croquettes, super rejects, love, a parasite's delight, knocking hipsters off bikes on a broccoli bridge, big babies, the numbers 7, 8, 9, women punching bags and jumping rope, time machines,
films on rooftops, Steven Colbert, my sisters butt, a rainforest, slapping cats, horny dogs, children being born, 85 year old children, bums running, square and round headed war, dish lovin’ spoons and cows jumping moons, puppets singing song, an owl and rabbit playing checkers, an evil Santa Claus, a mother talking with her son, dancing robots, people drinking coffee, spaghetti made out of pick-up-sticks, hands fighting, a Spanish raccoon, an invisible boy and a giant swirling mass flashed before my eyes.
After the film I went to a bar to see if a drink would help the pounding I my head. Everyone there was drinking beer, congratulating each other and saying “I am so proud of you.”

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Microsoft Spot



Here is the spot which I entered in the ASIFA festival this year. I try to enter something in the festival every year, if for no other reason than just to take part in the process. The spot was done for Microsoft to be shown as part of an internal presentation. I was contacted by Nth Degree/The Field, an agency I sometimes do work for here in the city, to design and animate the spot. It was one of those projects that they call you on a Thursday and say they need something by Wed Am to give to the client. The tight deadline demanded a simple style as well as the use of cycles through out the animation. I thought that the re-use added in tying the various concepts together in the end. Aside from the tight deadline, it was a great project and I was very happy with the outcome.

The music is by Jeremy Simonich.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ren, Stimpy and Howlin’ Wolf

video

Recently when I was working on musical tracks for a couple of Microsoft spots I created, my sound designer, (who happens to be my brother as well) came across an interesting piece of music. Whenever I start a project I begin by finding pieces of music to give to him for inspiration, much like when a client comes to me with an idea of what they are looking for. One thing I hear all the time is; “We want it to feel like the Esurance commercials.” In this case for the Microsoft spots I wanted them to have a 1950’s/early 60’s sound. Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show, meets Ren and Stimpy is what I asked him for. A week or two later he got back to me with a song from Howlin’ Wolf, titled Killing Floor, which we both immediately realized had to be the inspiration for the Ren and Stimpy theme song. I then decided to try and find out who wrote the theme song. Finding the composer proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. There seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding the Dog Pound Hop theme used in the original Ren & Stimpy show. Some sources credit just Jim Smith with the theme while others quote Scott Huml, John Kricfalusi and Chris Reccardi as well.

While searching for answers I also came across the Unofficial Ren & Stimpy Production Music Collection on Kirk Demarais’ secretfunspot.blogspot.com. He designed an ‘album cover’ for the collection (as seen above) as well as tracked down and tagged the name of each artist for all the tracks in the collection. Both albums can be downloaded for hours of enjoyment at the links below:
Ren And Stimpy Production Music
Ren And Stimpy Production Music Vol 02, You Eediot!

All artists, whether an animator, fine artist or musician, draw from various inspirational sources to bring their ideas to life. All of the artists I know have large reference libraries containing books, magazines, comics, records, CDs and DVDs; wherever they find inspiration. Taking design cues from their source materials, and re-interpreting them in a new way is fine. However, the danger is that if you stick too closely to the inspirational material, you end up ripping them off, rather than paying homage to them. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to the Ren and Stimpy theme they need to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge the fact that they based the entire theme on the opening of Killing Floor, by Howlin’ Wolf. His name should be at the top of the credits for that song.

Take a listen to the tracks above and decide for yourself.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Draw-a-thon



It had been quite some time since I had been to a life drawing class, so I figured it was time for me to go back. Figure drawing classes are traditionally three hours long with one model, holding academic poses for 30 to 60 min at a time. Being an animator, I never spend 30 min on a single drawing, never mind 60, so I decided to look at some of the more alternative drawing classes out there.

I started out at Michael Alan’s Draw-a-thon which is held twice a month at various locations around the city. $20 got you into the 5000 sq ft room at the Gershwin Hotel in Midtown. The night was a mix of drawing class, performance theater, and poetry jam all mixed together. Models were “dressed” as hotel staff, butlers, drunk maids, a dead prostitute, a robot, Siamese twins, babies, creatures, puppets, and scenes from The Shining. Live music and poetry readings were also provided for your entertainment. I have to admit, the music and poetry was a bit much for me. In between the live acts they blasted Techno music at an annoying level. Many of the live acts seemed to have no idea they would be performing alongside naked men and women. A number of the models also got too into their roles, the best example of that being an older man wearing a soiled diaper which seemed to be authentic. There were over 20 models to pay attention to though, if one wasn’t to your liking. I think for my next outing I am going to look into some of the other venues around the city.

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, in Williamsburg‘s Lucky Cat Bar on Sat afternoons is where I am headed next. I have been to their website and it seems more to my liking. This past February 14th was the first in their Art Star series with special guest Ron English. I have admired his paintings for some time and hanging out and drawing a model dressed as one of his characters (Cathy Cowgirl) sounds like a great time. For more info on that event, click on this link: http://www.drsketchy.com/blog/?p=187 . Each of their sessions also has a theme. Another one which I wish I had gone to was their tribute to Betty Page. Their next event is on March 14th, 4-7 pm at The Slipper Room, 167 Orchard St., for only $10.

ASIFA East also offers free drawing classes for its members and SVA students. For details email Art Sir at: artnos@gmail.com Below I have listed a number of the other classes around the city I came across in my search.

Adult Drawing hosted by promoter Alex Zoppa. Two glasses of wine are provided with the $20 entrance fee with models from Burning Angels.com (who happen to be XXX film stars) as well as some male models from Playgirl Magazine posing in the great salon tradition.

Drink-N-Draw is every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month hosted in the Gallery of 3rd Ward, in Bushwick. They provide the beer, snacks and multiple models- you bring your drawing tools of choice. Hosted in the Gallery of 3rd Ward- this is a fun creative environment to help one relax after a long day of work. From 8pm- 1030pm. $15 per person or $10 if you bring a friend.

Society of Illustrators; Tu-Th 6:30-9:30; $10 Regular Sessions, $15 Special Events.
Tompkins Square Branch Library; Sat 2:30-4:00; Free drawing sessions - ask the librarian.
Art Students League of New York; Daily; Monthly Basis, $55-$155.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Studio in a School


Living in NYC there are always a ton of opportunities to go to great events right on your doorstep. This past Thursday I had a chance to do just that. Studio in a School is a not-for-profit organization that brings professional artists into public schools in all five boroughs of NYC, using the visual arts to enrich the lives of children ages three to eighteen. I attended a gallery opening for a group of elementary students at The Gallery at 1 East 53rd St. Their work was fantastic and so much fun to look at. The room was filled with proud parents, grand parents, brothers and sisters all there to support the kids who took part in the program. I didn’t have my first gallery exhibit in NY until I was about 30.

I got involved in Studio in a School in a roundabout way. Each year in Central Park I play a game of softball for the Paul Beard Classic which donates the proceeds from the benefit to the Studio in a School Program.

Above are a number of my favorite pieces from the show, and I gave the respective artists credit for their work. Top Left: Sally Barrilla Grade 4, Center: Irene Deleon Grade 7, Bottom Left: Dinalee Polanco Grade 6, Bottom Center: Lizbeth Vazquez Grade 2 and Bottom Left: Justin Chan Grade 3.

If you are in the area, and want to walk away with a big smile on your face, stop in and check out the rotating works at the gallery.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Superjail event

video

This is a test for the first ever ASIFA East podcast of out Superjail event. THIS IS ONLY A TEST of the ASIFA East Broadcast Network. We will return you to the regular blog shortly.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

ASIFA East’s 40th Anniversary Film Fest



It was time again for another ASIFA postcard. The theme this time was for the upcoming ASIFA festival screening night. Believe it or not this is the 40th Anniversary of the festival.

One of the best advantages of being an ASIFA member is the ability to vote on who wins the festival. So many times when I speak to people about ASIFA, and ask if they are entering the festival this year they often answer, “Why bother, the same people win every year.” Nothing could make me angrier than that response. To them I answer, “Did you go to the screenings, did you encourage others to go and vote, and voice their opinions?” If not then you have nothing to complain about. NY is a city of independent animators; a number of whom are very prolific film makers and they win from year to year because of that tenacity, plus the fact that they are good film makers. The winners of each category are chosen by the people sitting in the audience on that night. It’s the truest form of democracy in action.

I had the pleasure of being invited to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars) screening of the short films here in NYC by Candy Kugel this year. It was an exciting day to be in a room surrounded by legendary film makers. The short animation category is the only category that the Academy allows to be screened together outside of LA County. On a weekend when the Oscars are taking place, and knowing I was in the room when the winners were selected is exciting. Maybe, just maybe, the conversation I had after the screenings had some little, itsy-bitsy, slight influence on an academy member’s choice to win an Oscar. To be part of the academy’s club, you have to have been nominated in the past for an award. To be a voting member for the ASIFA Festival all you have to be is a member. THAT”S IT! Pay your dues and you can directly influence who wins the award that year. Whether you’re Howard Beckerman, or a student in school your vote means exactly the same thing. ASIFA East has survived for 40 years as a volunteer organization of dedicated professionals with the sole interest of promoting animated films on the East Coast.

This year has been a year of change for so many reasons, not the least was the election of Barack Obama as our president. As the message for this month’s postcard was “Get out and vote!” I decided to design our post card in the style of Shepard Fairey’s iconic Image of our president. I combined the images of four of our board members into one for the postcard. Just as Shepard Fairey didn’t name the photographer who took the reference for his iconic image, I will never tell whose images I combined together to make the postcard for ASIFA.

I am glad to say I am a member of ASIFA East and I will be there each of the nights casting my vote.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Geriatric Hip and Advertising Shorts



Geriatric Hip is a short I completed about 2 years ago that I worked on during my spare time while I was working at Cartoon Pizza on Pinky Dinky Doo. I wanted to create a short which wasn’t aimed at children, and you can’t get further away from children than a film about the joy of smoking.

Around the same time I purchased a DVD collection of 1950’s-1970’s Classic Commercials which had so much great work on it. Some of my favorites were the spots for cigarettes, in particular one featuring the Flintstones. In the 60’s TV was a relatively new medium, and an early way that marketers capitalized on the success of it was to sponsor an entire show. The show would often open with stars of the show personally using or endorsing the sponsor's products. As the decade went on, major sponsors were no longer needed as advertisers lined up to buy spots in the middle of shows. TV executives preferred not having one big sponsor as it meant less interference with the content of the show and the one sponsor system fell out of favor. While I am not a smoker, and have never been, I was intrigued and inspired by the way they were once advertised.

The idea of having one major sponsor hasn’t gone away completely though. No one has quite figured out how to make money out of content on the internet yet. Just as TV was an unproven media in the early 60’s, the internet is in a similar position today. When Dan Meth and Channel Frederator teamed up for their Nite Fite series, they got Starburst to sponsor them. They worked out a distribution deal, and included the product in the shorts themselves. Dan and Frederator had to give up some creative license and get things approved by the Starburst people, but in exchange for that they got the shorts paid for. If they had any ideas that Starburst didn’t like, they simply saved those ideas for another time, when another sponsor might not object to a particular idea.

The line between advertising and entertaining are being blurred all the time with marketing companies like The Viral Factory trying to capitalize on the power of the internet by creating viral videos such as the Trojan Games for Trojan. A second example of a successful viral campaign would be the one for Carl’s Jr. featuring Paris Hilton washing a car.

Over the past few years I have entered Geriatric Hip in a number of festivals and it has not been received well. Until you screen a film you never know how it will do. It is my version of an advertising era gone by, when smoking was fun. It’s now time for it to go out into the big scary world of the internet and see how it does on its own.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Comic Con 2009



It was my first time going to a Comic Con and I didn’t quite know what to expect. In order to prepare for my first time I went to their website to try and see just what it was I was getting into. To my horror one of the first things I saw was their weapons policy. THEY HAVE A WEAPONS POLICY !!! I had no idea that comic book aficionados were so dangerous. Here is their actual policy listed below.

The following items are forbidden at New York Comic Con:
• Functional firearms (including air soft guns, BB guns, cap guns, paintball guns, and pellet guns)
• Functional projectile weapons (including blow guns, crossbows, long bows, silly string, slingshots, water balloons, and water guns)
• Metal-bladed weapons (including axes, daggers, hatchets, knives, kunai, shuriken, swords, sword canes, and switch blades)
• Explosives (including firecrackers and fireworks)
• Chemical weapons (including mace and pepper spray)
• Blunt weapons (including brass knuckles, clubs, and nunchaku)
• Hard prop weapons (including props made of metal, fiberglass, and glass)

I decided to push through the fear and attend the convention despite the obvious danger I was placing myself in. After waiting in what can only be described as an underground holding cell for nearly an hour, I made my way onto the convention floor. I was greeted by the largest collection of geeks in one place I have ever seen. The Javits Center was packed shoulder to shoulder with them. But not only Geeks, there were Nerds, Dweebs, Dorks, Goobers, Goofballs, Techies and Trekkies. What's the difference you might ask? Well, here is how I see it. A Geek is an intelligent person with an obsessive interest; in this case with comic books. A Nerd is the same, but lacks social graces, and a Dweeb is simply a mega nerd.

Star Wars seemed to be very popular with the Geeks. Storm Troopers and Jedi Knights and were all over the place swinging their light sabers and shooting off their blasters. Apparently ones fascination with Star Wars can be passed on generation to generation. There were seminars led by actual NY Jedi instructors on Light Saber practice for kids- 12 and under. I started to understand the weapons policy at this point.

The Nerds leaned towards the gaming side of things. I think this could be attributed to all the time they spend in their parent’s basements alone in the dark playing whatever the latest shoot ‘em-up game is. I have to confess I am not very ‘Up’ on the video game world and didn’t know who they were supposed to be.

The Dweebs seem to be very unaware of their body types. Just because you wish you were Poison Ivy or Harley Quinn from Batman doesn’t mean you should dress like her. Comic book characters have an impossible body type which less that 1% of the population can achieve, and the ones I saw weren’t in that 1%. Until this weekend I also never realized Superman’s package was so large. I can’t count the number of times I turned around to see just a little more than I was comfortable with. There is a reason that spandex leotards never caught on as daywear for men.

There were actors from every decade there as well. From the late 70s there was Lou Ferrigno of The Incredible Hulk fame and Anthony Forrest from Star Wars. He was the Storm Trooper who stops Luke's Landspeeder to check on the droids and said the line “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”. Melody Anderson from the 80s movie Flash Gordon was there as well as Marina Sirtis, better known as Counselor Deana Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation from the 90s.

A handful of NYC animators/artists were on the scene as well. Jared Deal and Danny Kimsnyen (kaNO), had a booth together selling their vinyl and resin toys. Rick Lacy and Philip Gelatt were at the Oni Press booth promoting their comic Labor Days. Bill Plimpton had a booth of his own which every time I walked by was swamped with admiring fans lining up to get a free drawing from him. He premiered his latest Dog film, Horn Dog, as well as a number of other new shorts, all of which I believe he intends to enter in the upcoming ASIFA East film festival. The Venture Brothers’ Jackson Public and Doc Hammer were there to talk about their upcoming season four. The creators and executive producers of Superjail, Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick were there to promote their show on Adult Swim. The last of the New Yorkers I ran into was Dan Meth at the Nerdcore booth.

After an exhausting day of looking at comics, watching short films, movie trailers and scantily clad pale people I was glad to head home and look forward to doing it all over again, a year from now. After all, where else can you walk around as a 7ft tall Chewbacca, or drive your life size R2D2 remote control robot around.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

New Year's Resolution



It’s 2009 and the start of a new year. A time in which people make New Year resolutions, reflect on the past year and look forward to the upcoming one. This past year has been a lean one, not just for me but for a large number of people in the NY animation community. We saw the production abruptly halted at ‘Word World’, the doors closing at Animation Collective and the end of Nick Digital as we knew it.

The up and down of the animation scene here in NYC is nothing new; it has been going on for decades. From the early 90’s to 2000 the NY scene was flourishing. I remember visiting Pat Smith while he was working on ‘Beavis and Butthead’ at MTV. He gave me a tour of the building in which they had floor after floor of productions going on. I was working in Mass at the time and remember first thinking I should come down to NYC. But then things quickly took a turn in the other direction in early 2001. MTV shut their doors in, Jumbo Pictures ended, and the number of projects at Nick Digital shrank significantly. Since then the number of productions going on around the city have gone up and down. At times it seemed like NY was growing once again, like during the period I was at Animagic in early 2007. Curious Pictures had ‘Little Einsteins’, Nick Digital was staffing up for ‘Umizoomi’, MTV was back again having just completed ‘Friday: The Animated Series’ with an in-house staff of animators. Finding experienced people to work on all the projects going on was becoming increasingly difficult for studios. But just as I was starting to get comfortable working on ‘Nate the Great’, it all ended just as quickly as it began. 75 of us were out on the street looking for work once again, MTV never gave ‘Friday’ a fair shot, they aired it in the middle of the night a couple of times and a second season was never made. 2008 saw the end of ‘Little Einsteins’ after just 2 seasons, as well as ‘Kids Next Door’ wrapped after 6 seasons.

Getting back to an earlier point, when the industry slows down it can create opportunities for those willing to go after it. When MTV ended, and Pat Smith found himself out of work he began his independent career. Without the down turn in the industry, I don’t know if Pat would have left the world of studio animation to go out on his own as an independent. In boom years there are jobs for everyone, in leaner ones those less committed to the lifestyle of animation will fall by the wayside; a Darwinist approach to animation, for lack of a better term.

A recent example of this for me is Dave Levy. When he found himself in a slow period of work, he decided to make another short film; a follow up to his last one Good Morning. Dave isn’t showing the new one to anyone until the ASIFA festival for the first time. I for one can’t wait to see it. A second example of not waiting for someone to come to you with a project is the collaboration of Al Pardo and Mike Carlo. They pooled their talent together and made a fantastic short Odd Job Hitler. Who knows what could come out of it in the future, maybe the next ‘Assy McGee’ on Cartoon Network?

In times of little work it is more important than ever to get together with friends and colleagues for coffee and a cookie to see how they are doing. Or have a friend in the shape of a cookie if they can’t meet up. Networking is ongoing; going out to events and getting out of your apartment is crucial to survival. I am involved with ASIFA and find it more important than ever to keep up that connection to the NY animation community. I have also started a personal project of my own which I will talk about more in the future.

As for my New Year’s resolution; it’s to post on my blog every week.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


This was the image from the December mailing for ASIFA. A number of people have asked me if it was my image, well it is. I was looking to do something that celebrated the holiday season, but was non denominational at the same time. The event for December was a discussion with Jim Arnoff about becoming a “Master of the Pitch”, so I thought of an Indian guru for some reason. From there I tried to combine as many religious images as I could into one. From the response I got I believe it was pretty successful.