32C = Peterborough Zoo


I had to do something outside that involved a lot of time but not a lot of effort. It was my first real day off (ie not fretting about work) in several weeks, so off to nearby Peterborough Zoo with the kids and a sketchbook.

Those Awesome Meerkats

It was tricky: the zoo was packed and the animals were trying to find shade and not moving a lot, but I found a few.


It’s been years since I’ve gone on a power-sketch trip and although I am definitely rusty, I enjoyed the workout.


PS: the new river otter exhibit is the bomb!


I’ve been following these guys for a few years now and can’t help but be really impressed with what they are doing with their online school, and most notably the work their graduates have done.

They held a sort of free town hall for prospective AM students (me!) to get used to the idea of web conferencing and collaborative working. I have to say I was hooked. The connection I had was really fast, webcam and demo videos loaded up just fine.

Of course now I’m thinking about just how much of a pay cut I’m going to absorb taking a jr. position at an animation company, but then is it more or less than taking a course like this one for $17,000 for 18 months?

In Toronto I could sign up for a local school with a similar curriculum, but I really like the ability to do it all distance-learning, in my spare time, from my desk in Oshawa. However, I did notice they’re holding an open house this week. Hmmm…

So lots to think about, I’m starting up production on The Bottomfeeders again, but the big picture is how do I get to work in animation with other people?!? This animating from home can get pretty tiring very quickly.

Uncredited: Graphic Design & Opening Titles in Movies

It arrived!

Finally after a fairly long pre-order delay my book showed up the other day. This one is the definitive collection of memorable opening title sequences. Films range from the 1890’s to the classic modern standouts like “Se7en”, “Austin Powers”, “Star Wars”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, a few Bond films, “Alien” … you know what, if you can remember it, it’s in here.

A total bonus and surprise was the inclusion of a computer CD with Quicktimes of several dozen of the author’s favourites. Sadly, it’s not a proper DVD or BluRay for the big screen, but it offers an excellent variety of title sequences over the ages.

There are a number of stills and commentary notes on Godard, Pablo Ferro and Susan Bradley of Pixar fame.

The most incredible thing is the price: it’s an oversized hardcover and I got it for $36CAD at amazon.ca. Don’t forget to order via your favourite affiliate, but definitely order it.

menupalace dot spam

Man, I’ve been trying to get off the spam list on Toronto based menupalace.com for several months now without luck. I bartered a job for an out-of-town client and he offered to “buy me and my wife dinner” and thought it would be a good idea to provide them with my email address.

I think they make their business selling online gift certificates to really expensive restaurants. I took a look at a few, but they were all places my wife and I had never heard of, and with the cheezy $50 coupon they emailed me, I was still going to drop close to a benjamin.

Hey, I’m as 905 Swiss Chalet as they come. Fancy means not driving to Tim Hortons for dessert.

I’ve spoken with IT, left countless messages through their handy web-form, and spoken to the only people who seem to be answering their phone: sales. But have to admit my latest approach seems to be the one that will work based on some positive reactions from restaurant owners, who probably aren’t aware of the shifty company that they’ve aligned themselves with. I’m calling all of the restaurants and telling them under no uncertain terms will I visit “restaurant A” as long as they advertise with menupalace.com.

I could have blacklisted them from my mailserver ages ago but now I’m just in a masochistic timeline seeing how long this can possibly last.

If you can tell me what this company is about and what exactly they do (other than spam people like myself) please let me know. Comments are open.

PS: to the guy I did the small job for, you owe me $100. Not in menupalace money, really canadian dineros.

April Fools Animation Rundown

The general concensus among friends and colleagues is WTF were people spending money on before 2008, because some of these events are stunning in their complexity. Or said another way, visual artists and animators now have the tools to do anything they want. As quickly as you can fire up an HDV video camera and edit suite, you’re in business.

I think that’s pretty cool.

Two events struck me as outstanding, although a third sneaks in yet again as it does every year: Google really did pwn the internet this year again. Whether it was the Google future search tool G’day MATE, the Google Wake Up Kit “nag” feature for heavy sleepers, or the completely off the rail hijack of youtube forcing all “now watching” videos to serendipitously link to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up (try explaining that meme to someone outside of the geek world – I guess it beats goatse); Google was having a laugh at the world’s expense. Brilliant.

But on to the best of the best.

The Legend of Zelda: The Movie

At number two is a stunningly detailed trailer for a non-existant Zelda movie. If you’re a fan of the Zelda series as I am, you immediately recognize all of the scenes. The music was really well done, and the boss scenes are outstanding. Too bad Link has a serial-killer look about him. Not sure about the casting there. But take a look at the production values all around and you will be impressed.

After doing a little digging, it seems this project was released a little while ago with no fanfare, and IGN secured exclusive rights to show it on April 1. So not quite an IGN pet project, but impressive nontheless.

Image courtesy Rainfall Films. You can view the trailer on the IGN website.

BBC: Flying Penguins

I have a friend that works at Framestore UK and he swears they didn’t do it, but the compositing and character animation in this 90 second video for BBC iPlayer is really incredible. Too bad the colonies are stuck with a low-quality youtube version. The iPlayer itself featuring an as-yet unseen by me making-of featurette, is only available in the UK.

Still, with animation this good, I’ll settle for that.

Muppet Bloopers

OK not really animation but I’m a big muppet show fan. Check out this very unique performance not seen before today.

Sway Studios

You must check out the latest work from Sway in LA.

Looking at the current front page, Pontiac Spy Hunter was laugh out loud excellent, watch-that-again awesome. I can’t get enough of it.

And, along the Movie Titles thread, they are the creators of the opening montage for 21.

I recall when Director Mark Glaser lived in Toronto around 1990 we met a few times while he was pushing the envelope of Lightwave waaay past what it was designed to do. In particular, I recall his foray into bones resulted in the most incredible lips and tongue animation I had ever seen created by a computer. Mark’s stuff continues to be Top Drawer. Thanks, Mark, for keeping at it and producing some of the brightest and most creative CGI out there.

Sit around the campfire kiddies, I have a story to tell about the olden days of 3D

Here is the “I walked through six feet of snow three miles to get to school” equivalent of 3D modeling. There is no way anyone would believe me if I told the story or working with Videoscape and Modeler from Allen Hastings (published by Aegis, later became Lightwave).

Actually, you can see I made this illustration before Modeler was released! Good old graph paper and clockwise poly patching here! It wasn’t until Modeler came out in 1990 when I ditched the graph paper and started working on my first real cartoon.

And the Taxes Continue

At the bottom of a pile of taxes …. a receipt from 1988 that I just didn’t know what to do with until I startup up an animation blog. Here is the receipt from my first Amiga 2000, with a 1080 monitor, and a copy of Photon Paint for good measure. If the scan isn’t clear, that cost this third-year Photo Arts student $2600.

It’s safe to say this combination of hardware, display device, and software is eclipsed by my Palm Tungsten sitting in a drawer somewhere.

Blast from 1992

Duckman Eric Darnell
Duckman signature from Gábor Csupó and Eric Darnell for Gas Planet.

Total geek out moment here. I was cleaning out my office, uh, doing my taxes, when I came across this program from the 1992 Ottawa Animation Festival. Those that were there remember it as the big jump the shark show, or the end of the innocence show, or simply the show EVERYONE came. PIXAR, Sony, ILM, Disney, all of ’em. I was offered a job on the spot to fly to LA and interview for a roto/wire-removal gig at Sony Imageworks, unless I had a film to show (I did the year before) then I could sign up in the animation department. Everyone was dot-com’ing and the dot boom hadn’t happened yet.

As I recall this was the year wildbrain.com or was it atom had a boat on the Rideau running basically a four day party.


Anyway, a few films were standouts for me, I got a first glipse at Duckman and spit my proverbial drink at the screen with the crude lewdness of it all. It starred among others Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame and was animated by the very talented crew at Klasky Csupo.

Gas Planet

But the standout above all was the clever 3D animation from one of the biggies in the CGI world at PDI (now part of Sony). Animator  Eric Darnell produced the easy to watch and very funny short “Gas Planet“. I’ll always remember the crazy eye animation, in particular the twitching near the end when one character eats all the fart-fruit.

Anyway, back to the reason for the post and the scan at the top, look who I got signatures from. I believe Duckman was Gábor Csupó himself. And the signature for Gas Planet – Mr. Darnell himself, signing what I imagine was only his first autograph of many during his successful career. He was co-director of Antz, and one of my favourite movies of all time Madagascar. He is currently directing Madagascar II The Crate Escape.