Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blown Away...almost

Sweet mother of all that's holy. So far Seattle has shown us it can hang with the big boys when it comes to weather. Since we got here we've seen Seattle's "record heat" (kinda unimpressive, but hey), "record rain" (ok, if Seattle calls it record rain, you better freakin' believe it), "unusually early snow" (almost had a white turkey day) and last but not least, the "record wind storm" best believe that one. It hit Thursday night with sustained winds in some areas close to 130 mph...crap!!! We were lucky, we only lost power for two days (even though I didn't get my internet back up till today...but who's complaining?) I did get to utilize my primitive hunter/gatherer skills and found coffee...mighty hunter next found donuts, mmmmm mmmm. Anyway, things are back to "normal"...which kinda sucks, I was gonna bring back karaboo next (or whatever I could take down with my Honda.)

Friday, December 01, 2006

"Ant" Misbehavin'

So the AntBully DVD came out on Tuesday. I wish I could say I was more excited about it but I look at AntBully like a strange bookend along side the Jimmy Neutron feature. Jimmy was fun and exciting and signified all the potential that would be this little upstart animation studio in Dallas. AntBully felt like the complete opposite of that. It's like this story I heard about a guy who has appendicitis while he's eating at a McDonald's. From that point on he can't stand the smell of McDonalds food, not because the food caused the appendicitis but the association of the smell of the food with the tramatic event. There were some great things that happend during the production of AntBully but ultimately I will look at it as the time when my cynicism towards the industry first reared it's ugly head.

Now that we've gotten past my public therapy session we can talk about the DVD itself. AntBully is a solid movie that you can enjoy watching with your kids. The transfer is great, it sounds good...hell, it even has a really cool lenticular cover on the DVD packaging and there are some fun extras, like the interstitial shorts we did for Cartoon Network. It does has the obligitory "ooh, ahh...this is how we make cg animated movies" featurette. And to my surprise it did have some of the animated sequences that were cut from the film due to rewrites and test audience reaction....this is where I put on my cranky hat. The deleted scenes showed some of the potential of what I thought the film could have been.Don't get me wrong, there's definetly some crap in there that you watch and go "damn, I can see why they cut that." On the flip side there are a couple sequences that were just pulled for all the worng reasons. A prime example being one that involved Zoc's back story. It shows him as a young pupa watching his entire colony being wiped out by the exterminator. There is more emotion in that one sequence then I feel ended up in the entire finished movie. And it was cut for a really poor reason...tempo. Warner Bros wanted the film to keep hop, hop, hopping along like a kid on too many pixie stix. I understand that movies, like music have a rythem...but to affect the story so that the film has a "beat you can dance to" feels like the wrong reason to slice and dice if the story suffers for it. all the great backstory and character development that was originally in the film was all stripped away so that "we could get to the good stuff quicker and ride that roller coaster all the way to the credits." Too bad it wasn't enough to motivate more people to come along for that ride.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


So the Wii came out today. I haven't been all that excited about it but it's been a blast listening to Andrew get all "school girl" excited as this magical day arrived. Since I'm not strong enough to admit my own addiction (remember, knowing is half the battle...GO JOE!!!) I decided to live vicariously through Andrew and document the momentus occasion for all to enjoy.

Tha adventure starts at an undisclosed GameStop midnight, damn.

Here we see Andrew striking the classic "pose". See how excited he is...sad, isn't it?


Mmmmm, tastes like awesome

So close.....

My Kung-Fu is strong!!!!

I haven't decided yet who the bigger nerd is, Andrew for braving the geek horde or me for documenting it. Anyway, to say the Wii is kickass cool and fun to play would be an understatement. It rocked! Wii sports was da bomb yo, Call of Duty 3 looked like it would require a serious effort to master the controller but had potential. Once again I hate Andrew for adding one more thing to my "must have" list...Darn you Burke, darn you to heck!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Put on your poker face....

I, like a lot of folks, like to play poker. I, like a lot of folks, am not very good at playing poker. But there's something about sitting around a table with a group of friends, drinking beer (or Arbor Mist, for you Mr Halifax), smoking cigars and looking at eachother all "steely eyed"...seeing who can win that high dollar pot of $15.25 and somebody's last "Chuck-E-Cheese" token. My bestest bud Keith Craker, on the other hand, is very good at playing poker...Texas Hold'em to be exact. So good that he's using his wonderful talents to produce his own line of poker related apparell. Feel free to cruise on over and take a look least you can look like you know what the hell you're doin' when you sit down at the table.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It must have been the fact that I'm one of, if not the only person at Valve who hasn't played Portal yet...which made me perfect for playtesting one of Valve's next big "thangs". Wow, I have never felt so smart and so dumb all at the same time. It was like watching "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" at the same time. This game is definetly going to turn some heads and gaming thumbs it's way. I won't say how long I played (God I love my job) but the time flew...FLEW by. I'm not a monster gamer but I can honestly say that this will introduce some gaming experiences that just haven't been avaiable before...ways to figure out puzzles that will just blow your mind. And how this is all going to tie in to the HL2 universe...nice (that's for you Burke.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pot of Gold....

Youtube is like a grandparents attic. Lots of stuff packed in there, most of it isn't worth much monetarily...really fun to look at but not worth anything other than sentimentality. Then you find that chest in the corner that contains a treasure...Action Comics #1, a letter from George Washington, the head of Jimmy Hoffa. Well, over at youtube there is that chest over in the corner and in it is a lecture done by Glen Keane several years ago. The quality is "iffy" but the content is great. I'll post them in GRAB-BAG for your viewing pleasure. For those of us who make our living animating, finding something like this is awesome....and it's a hell of a lot better than finding Hoffa's head, that would be seriously nasty.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Big Shout Out?!?!?.....

Holy crap! So a couple of weeks ago Burke showed me statcounter for my website. I had been keeping up with how many people were hitng the site but not really paying attention to anything past numbers (first time visits, returning, blah, blah). The cool thing about statcounter I quickly found out is it's handy little map feature to show you where these wonderful (and obviously bored) people are located. I damn near made a poopy in my pants when I saw some of the locations. So, I wanted to give a quick "shout out" to some of those "peeps" in Singapore, Johannesburg, Madrid, Nice, Zurich, Charlotte, D.C., Sierra Vista, San Fran and L.A.

Wow...there are some bored people all over the world in desperate need of entertainment. Now granted, most of these kind folks found me through other, way more interesting people than myself. But I appreciate it none the less. Hopefully, knowing that there are more then just my mom and a couple guys I owe money to looking at my website, I can use this as motivation to keep my posting more up to date. Some things are still on the "to do" "You got the job, what the hell do you do now?" series is finally being written as well as the next couple of folks for the "Introducing" series (Next on the chopping block... Andrew Burke himself, I haven't told him yet so keep to yourself for now...this one will be filled with 33% more fun because we'll be taking a photo tour of Seattle and seeing what Andrew will do for 20$ and a Guinness.)

On a different note, some of you folks might have seen the Blue Sky Scrat short that got "leaked" on Google video (and then was quickly removed.) I had the pleaser of watching this fine bit of work and wow, what a fun piece. Aaron Halifax, of Blue Sky fame, started at Valve a couple weeks ago and worked on this before he sold his soul to the devil and joined us in Washington. I have to say, I enjoyed this more then most of the CG work I've seen this year and the slightly different approach to Scrat's animation was perfect. Not quite so snappy all the time...adds a whole new level of texture, very nice. So more shout outs to Tom, Jerrod, JC and the rest of the Blue Sky crew for making more things that make my eyeballs smile.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Keith Lango is my hero...

Well, besides the fact that Keith is too cool for school in is lovable grump sorta way...he always manages to find some of the coolest stuff and folks in the industry. In this case he's found both with Bernhard Haux. Take a minute to look through his site and breathe in the freshbaked smell of cool stuff and also read the nice little write up over at Lango's Utopia of Animation Fun...I miss my Lango.

More of this kind of stuff...

I love the look of this. The site is really bare bones which is so appropriate. The designer is Art Jensen, I found out a little more info here. This has the start of everything I want in a teaser...mood, style and very, very little of the story...let me find that out for myself. Great way to peek interest., if only Hollywood could follow suite and give me something more then talking animals and fart jokes. I was more excited watching this trailer then I have been with any film trailer this year with the exception of 300 and, yes, Jackass 2. The mood reminds me a bit of "The Spider and the Fly".

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Content, content, content...

There's an article posted on cg-char concerning the state of cg. Once again the author just boils it down to "too damn many cute, fuzzy, talking animal movies"...maybe not in those exact words, but that's the idea. It's an interesting time in the industry. All around box office is down for the year, not just animated films. It all boils down to content. But take a few minutes and read it and feel free to leave your thoughts.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

YouTube find of the day...

I know nothing about the band or who made this video but it was an interesting little diversion in animation...

...if you know which studio did this let a brother in on the scoop.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Reach into the grabbag....

Don't forget to check out the grabbag stuff I tell ya, FUN STUFF!!!...anyway, I was looking for an appropriate image but instead found this fine piece of clip art. The sample stamp makes it look like his crotch just had a brilliant idea.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Check your brain at the door...

So, Mike Judge is making a movie called Idiocracy about a future world suffering from the conciquences of the "dumbing down" of the viewing public. I'm sure the history books for that future world will have chapters titled "JackAss-It's Affect on the Bush Administration", "JackAss #2-Ha, ha falling down is funny" and "JackAss III-trees are made of wood"...but you know what?...I don't care. I love watching these guys torture and abuse themselves for my enjoyment. Honestly it keeps me from doing it. I grew up in the 80's on the cusp of the takeover of the video game, pre-internet, pre-myspace, pre-most of the crap that keeps kids in front of monitors. So, we would sit around outside and come up with the most outlandish thing we could think of to keep us entertained...fear of injury was the last thing on our mind. Such great games that we "invented" were "DodgeDarts" (think dodgeball but with darts...duh), "Hold the firecracker too long" (that one was more a discovery then an intentional creation), "GI Joe's burn good" (no explination needed.) and "Who can swallow their tongue and not die?" (this is something I'd rather not get into and still follows me to this day.) The stunts on JackAss weren't invented with the show...Johnny Knoxville is 35...this is the crap we all did when we were kids. I know this is going to make me sound like a callous, well, uh...jackass but I laugh at this stuff, the crotch hits on "AFV" are garaunteed to garner a chuckle or two. When warning my daughters of the dangers of climbing on top of the stack of boxes or walking on a precarious ledge I tell them "If you fall I'll help you but I will laugh at you first." So it's understandable that I would enjoy this bit of lowbrow effort in cinema. And on top of that, I will refuse to be feel guilty about it. I will laugh, I will hopefully laugh so hard that Mr Pibb and Popcorn fly from my nose...heck I may even trip Andrew on the steps of the theater on the way out just to prolong the joy. I can't help it...I like shiney things and things that fall down or blow up or a 35 year old dumbass that would take a bat to the groin for a paycheck and "fame". As I sit there basking in the warm glow of the silver screen, popcorn and Mr Pibb running down the front of my t-shirt, I will think to myself "there but for the grace of God go I." Stay in school don't do drugs.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


First off, I wanted to thank Sarah for being so incredibly interesting to bring so many to my site to read her interview. Now on to the news of the day!...This is the last week of the first graduating class from Animation Mentor and the end of my first year as a mentor. It's been a blast so far and I'm looking forward to my second year.
The student showcase reel is a great collection of animation from some of the shining stars of the program. I mentored 5th and 6th quarter helping students get there short films together. The crew I got to work with was a blast. Great energy and enthusiasm and a s**tload of talent I'm sure I will be working with some of these folks in the future. Anyway, take a look at the reel and be in awe of the talent of some of the next stars of the animation world. And to the graduates...congratulations, you all kicked ass.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Introducing: Sarah Mensinga!!!!

t's taken me long enough but finally we have the glory that is "Sarah Mensinga"!!!!...I had the good fortune of meeting Sarah when she started at DNA on the Jimmy Neutron TV series. With 200% of the recommended daily allowance of talent, Sarah is just good at everything she puts her mind to. She likes comic books, video games, animation, cool movies and is a kick ass artist (and yes guys, she's taken)...anyway, she was gracious enough to humor me and answer my list of questions. So without further babbling on my part I give you Sarah Mensinga...

*Ok Sarah, Is it true you were actually created in a top secret lab to have abilities far beyond those of mortal, women...uh, folks?

Yes, but unfortunately they only gave me extreme tooth brushing and pogo ball skills.

*Ok, for those folks that don't know how to connect the dots between graduating from Sheridan College and the wonder that is the "Sarah Mensinga Sketch Blog" give the readers a quick rundown of your animation/art career.

I graduated from Sheridan's Classical Animation Program in 2000. Two rather depressing years of working occasionally on 2D projects
followed, during that time I attempted to teach myself how to animate on the computer, lived briefly in Halifax and tried my hand at improv acting. After sending out a third round of animation reels and not having the money to return to school to properly learn how to animate on the computer, I decided to give up on a career in animation. Just as I was starting to attempt to write some children's books in 2002, I got a job offer from DNA. So I found myself in Texas animating on The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron. It was half awesome job and half computer animation boot camp; not only did we have to animate anything and everything... we had to do it extremely fast. I worked late nights and nearly every weekend, but I had fun. Eventually I left Jimmy to be a character designer on another DNA project "The Ant Bully" and then eventually returned to work alongside my animation buddies on the film until the big DNA layoff. Fortunately for me I had already been planning to take a studio break. While working on The Ant Bully, I met my future husband Stephen. We were married just as my job ended and he encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing stories and drawing. So I'm taking a year off and have begun serious work on a graphic novel. I do miss animating, but being able to focus on drawing again and to finally have time to tell my own stories is a huge awesome dream come true.

*A lot of the older traditional animators have been very vocal about their dislike of computer animation. Being somewhat fresher on the animation scene but still having done both, what's your take on the two mediums?

I fought tooth and nail against computer animation initially and I remember calling it a trend when first seeing the Toy Story trailer, but the truth is I love animating on the computer. While I was in school animating traditionally was great, yet when I did it professionally it was frustrating and strange not to do all the breakdowns and in-betweens myself. My drawings got handed to someone else and then to someone else. At the end of the day, it never really felt like my work. However with computer animation, all the tiny nuances of acting are up to me. I'm also free to change and adjust movements endlessly, so it's much easier to focus on the acting. On the down side though... I imagine that if I'd been animating traditionally all these years I'd probably be a super kick ass drafts-person. I mean, I know I can draw, but I certainly have a long way to go and a lot of weaknesses to work on. It's kind of horrible to think that for half my career I haven't been drawing full time.... and that's the reason I got into animation in the first place. Hopefully I can remedy that now.

*I heard a rumor that you're wanted in Mexico for bank robbing under the name "La Bandita Juanita"...any truth to this...and if so, is there a reward?

Nope, I've been forming a crime syndicate that takes candy from babies. Lower risk and tastier profit....

*Female animators are sorta rare. What do you think is the biggest reason for the lack of women in the field?

Because the boys all want to date you. Ha ha.... no no kidding. I really don't know. It's not like pencils are heavy to lift. I have a shaky theory that some girls would rather not learn perspective, but yeah, a shaky theory. I do think the male/female ratio in the arts industry is happily changing, more and more I see great female artists and animators out there.

*There's a saying that I've heard thrown around this industry quite a bit..."Jack of all trades, master of none" kinda blow that myth out of the water. With all the things that you do (animation, art, writing....I really hate you sometimes...more art) Which one skill would you keep if God were having a bad day and told you you could only keep one?

Writing. I know it's an odd answer, because no one's ever paid me to do it and quite possibly I suck at it. Nothing makes me happier though than creating stories and characters. I don't think of drawing when I'm stuck waiting in a line somewhere, I think of stories.

*What would you do for a Klondike Bar?

Fight a bear... a bear with laser guns for eyes.

*I know a lot of folks on Ant Bully walked away with a wide range of feelings both towards the production and the film itself. You had the opportunity two work both in concept/character design as well as animation. How did you feel coming off production and is it any different now that you've had some time to separate yourself from the work?

Hmmm... initially I was delighted to have the opportunity to work on a feature film again, but as things
progressed I missed the creative freedom, clever wit and fast pace of Jimmy Neutron. Now that time has passed I don't think I feel all that differently, although I definitely miss hanging out with all my DNA friends.

*If you were a wrestler and you had to pick a partner other than your husband, who would it be and why?

To fight at my side? Supergirl. Then I wouldn't have to do anything during fights except cheer her on. It would be awesome!

*...would you wear masks?

Of course. And they would sparkle. (Mine a little bit more than hers.)

*Cut to the chase...when's the graphic novel coming out?

At least the first part will be out by next summer..... hopefully I'll have even more done. I had hoped to complete the whole thing, but right now I'm desperately trying to finish up a story for a comic anthology. So work on the graphic novel's on hold till that's done.

*Is the "Dindle" story ever going to make it into print form? I would really love to add it to my daughter's bedtime story collection.

Maybe :) I'd have to redraw it though, the dindle's character design alone changes a bunch of times throughout the story. Stephen thinks I should at least do a little version for the comic-con next summer regardless. We'll see.... there will definitely be more blog stories though. I have a couple already planned. The next is going to be a fairytale.

*Now that you've had a taste of so many parts of production on top of your own work, where do you see yourself going after you've completed your book?

Hopefully the graphic novel will be well received and I'll be able to write/draw more. I have about four or five other stories in various genres that I would love to develop into graphic novels.

*Why does Andrew smell like old people and whiskey?

It's a long story. It's my understanding it has something to do with Santa Claus and rogue lumberjacks.

*If you had 7 apples and Alex took 2 of many times would you hit Alex with a hammer for taking them?

Nope, just with a steak. I think that would be more upsetting to Alex. (Sorry Alex, but apparently you took my apples.)

*Who/what was your biggest influence starting out as a traditional artist then moving into animation?

My family and friends were very supportive, but one specific thing? I guess I always wanted to be an artist/animator as a kid but it seemed like an unrealistic goal. Even though I loved to draw, took drawing classes through childhood and went to an arts focused high school, I thought I'd probably try to become a dentist or speech therapist. Not until I took a tour of Sheridan College's animation program at 15 (ha ha, mostly just to miss a day of classes), did I realize it was not only possible for me to become an animator, but a person could even make money at it. So I'd say taking that tour was the big pivotal moment... and good thing too because I'd pass out if I had to drill a cavity :)

...many thanks to Sarah. I hope you all enjoyed it. Make sure and drop by Sarah's site or pop over to her sketch blog. I've already got a couple more victims...I mean folks lined up for the next couple of "Introducing" posts so keep an eye out.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Coming up...

Ok, believe it or not I finally have everything pretty much ready to post for my "Introducing" spot. For those who don't remember (since it's been so long since I said I would have this up)..the wonderful artist in question is Sarah Mensinga. Take a look at her site (especially her sketch blog). The post should be up by tomorrow.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Grabbag is open....

So I've had the little grabbag link on my toolbar for, well since the sight went up. It's gone to a blackhole of "coming soon". Rejoice brothers and sisters because hell has froze over and there is now a live "grabbag" section. "What will grabbag be?" you might ask. Grabbag is going to be all the crap I think strays a little to far off what I would normally put on the news page. It will have no rhyme or will be the "chock full-o-nuts" section. I make no claims of good taste when it comes to the grabbag...that's kinda the pont. I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Look Inside Valve...

This informative little vid comes from . The video shows a bit of Valve's studio, in game and trailer animation from HL2 Ep2, Portal and TF2. Also, there's some great interview stuff from people involved in all three projects. These are the kick ass people I get to work with/see on a daily basis. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Itsy Bitsy Spider....

Saw this over on "You Tube"...and found info on the production house over at Cartoon Brew...

Turns out that MINUSCULE is a TV pilot co-created by Hélène Giraud (production design) and Thomas Szabo (direction). The show has been picked up and they’re currently creating 78 dialogue-less 6-minute shorts chronicling the adventures of the entire insect kingdom. The production company is France’s Futurikon and the series is slated to air in the US on Disney Channel.

This is F...U...N!!! This is "Microcosmos" done by Chuck Jones....enjoy!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Team Fortress 2 in da' house!!!

So this is the trailer for TF2 that was debuted at Leipzig. For those unfamiliar (such as myself until I came to Valve) Leipzig is a German version of E3. I really love the style and the characters have been a blast to work with. It's funny, some of the violence was toned down for the German censors...seems the German's love their sex and hate their violence. I love the fact that part of job is to playtest this game. I'm not a huge gamer, like Burke, but I love playing this damn game. I will finally break down and get an Xbox 360 just to play Team Fortress2, Dead Rising, Portal and HL2 Ep2...yeah, I know...I'm Burking out. Pray for me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Missing Links...

I finally updated my links page. Please take a few minutes to look through them...there's some really talented folks in there. Almost all are former DNA friends and co-workers. They're all over the place now filling other people's lives with happy thoughts and chocolate unicorns of love. I love chocolate unicorns...until you bite their heads off. Then they stop moving and aren't really that much fun anymore.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Even more wholesome goodness!!!

You's the return of...

"Nanna & Lil' Puss Puss!!!!"

...working on this project was probably some of the funnest time I've ever spent animating. Keith Alcorn (the "A" in DNA) came up with this lovely duo many moons ago. I actually say an early short on MTV almost 15 years ago and nearly messed my undies laughing so hard. Little did I know I would get to spend seven years there.

This short is probably some of the most offensive CG ever put to pixel. It's rude, crude, violent...socially unexeptable in almost every way. This crowning achievment took the fine animation efforts of such greats as Andrew Burke, Sarah Mensinga, Tom Grevera...oh yeah, I did a few shots myself.

Warning!!! Nanna & Lil' Puss Puss is intended for MATURE viewers. If you watch it and are offended in any way...tough! I told you, you have no one to blame but yourself...and maybe Jesus.

Ok, enough with the chit the video!!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ok, My two cents...

First off, sorry for the delay in getting stuff posted. With the move, the new job and half a million other things...honestly, the websites been kinda low on the priority list. Now, onto other things...

Over the course of the last couple of weeks lots of people have posted their feedback on why AntBully has burst into a fiery ball and taken a nose dive at the box office. Most of it I pretty much agree with. Mr Lango has a great post on his site. Keith has always been one to say exactly how he feels about something. Sometimes I think he's being a little to cynical about the industry, but this time he's pretty much on the nose. If you haven't read it I would advise taking a little trip over, as with most of Keith's'll learn somethin'.

I've had some time to think about this. I've intentionally held off on saying a lot about the subject. Mostly to keep myself from having a kneejerk reaction and maybe saying something that might hurt a feeling or two but also to seperate myself a bit from the end product and try to get a clearer idea of what really bothered me as a whole with the experience and why I think it didn't do as well as some people thought it should have, including myself.

First off I want to say that AntBully didn't "fail" for lack of effort of those involved. Every department busted their ass to put something great on the screen. Even when we were feeling beat down and knew the layoffs were coming when the movie was done...people still came in and put their backs into it and were true proffesionals...yeah, we bitched about it but we're human.

Unfortunately the problems started early on when the project moved from Universal to Warners. I'm not saying that Universal is this god send for animated projects but, come on, Warner's?!?!?!?! I can almost understand why "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" was a mess story wise. So many people want to make sure that these icons of animation (Bugs, Daffy...) are handled with kid gloves...gotta sell those lunch everything is watered down till it's as bland and unoffensive as possible and you end up with..."Looney Tunes, Back in Action"...I can almost understand the short sighted executive MBA thinking behind that. Agree with it?, understand how it came about?...yeah. But, and everyone knows what I'm going to say, what the hell was up with "The Iron Giant"?!?!?!?! Arguably one of the best animated films ever...EVER! I can't even begin to understand the (insert expletive here) inaction on Warner's part for dropping the ball on that one. And with AntBully we all saw it coming like the light at the end of the tunnel that you know is really a train. I'm not saying that Warner Brothers intentionally dropped the ball. They are in this business to make money after all. It was more like they left the ball laying there, thinking maybe somebody else would take it and do something with the damn thing. Yeah, there were commercials but if you're going to go to all the trouble of having some of the "biggest stars" in the industry do your little movie then you should at least plaster their faces all over the place. I thought that was the point of all this "star power" Peter Parker said, "With great power comes the great responsibilty of using them to promote your damn film."...ok, maybe he didn't use those exact words. They didn't even have Bruce Campbell doing the damn talk show route...good lord. And what the hell were they thinking with that release date? "Hey, every other CG film is going to be released this summer, we better get ours in there too and get some of that money before it's all gone."...huh? I'm actually gonna come back to this thought in a second.

Now, on to other things. In an earlier post I asked if other folks in the industry have seen a project that they've worked on go from something promising with heart to a pile of the "same old, same old ". I didn't get too much feedback but by asking the question you can tell I had an opinion. In my heart, I don't think AntBully is a bad film. It's a fun, good looking roller coaster ride but, ultimately, not anything unique. This is hard to talk about because it really had the potential to be something really, Being fortunate to start early in production I saw so many iterations of the story as the film developed. From character designs (Sarah Mensinga, you rock the block) to voice talent (Tress MacNeille is still the best Mommo) to back stories that gave purpose and meaning to characters...all for the sake of pacing. What good is snappy pacing if you've cut out the heart of the film? And that's where Lango hit's it on the nose. It got "committeed" till it was, what it was...candy. And as much as I hate to say it, it's not even the kind of candy you want to go back for a couple times.

And this is where I go back to the whole "release date" thing. Why? Why do you have to put it in the middle of all that? If you're not going to use any of that star power to promote your film how do you expect it to stand out of the crowd and give parents a reason to go see it? At least you could concider the idea of waiting till the crowd is a little less full. I know this may sound a little "too simple" but I honestly think if they had pulled an Ice Age and released in a less "typical" time of the year they could have easily increased their box office. Look at the numbers..except for Pixar who owns the holiday season, most of the CG films that have done any business have been early summer (usually mid to late May.) And that time frame has just gotten more and more congested. The ones who have dared to release outside that window fall into two and crap. Blue Sky has been incredibly smart in release dates. So far all of their films have released in March and , so far, all have done pretty damn good (even Robots.) Not because they're great films, animation wise they're freaking brilliant...but story wise, well...uh, yeah. But because they were, for the most part, entertaining and they picked a time with little to no competition they set themselves up very nicely. A couple other films have tried this ("The Wild", "Doogal") but the difference is those movies had no clear direction...even less that set them apart and made them unique...put simply, they sucked. See, I'm not saying AntBully is a great film...but it is a good film, a really good film. And if some thought had been put into actual competition and not trying to get in with the rest of the crowd I believe it would have had a better chance...I hope it would have anyway.

And finally...DAMNIT!!! Some of the best damn people in the world to work with blown to the four corners. I know that doesn't have anything to do with the post but, hell...that part really sucks the most. DNA had a vibe that most of us doubt we'll find again at a studio. I really want to see DNA rise from rubble of all of this and go on to do great things.

Well, at least I've got my Burke and friends in Portland and Vancouver. All I can say is I hope that the DVD for AntBully has some of the heart put back into it so that folks can get a glimpse of what could have been.

...oh, and if you worked on one of the two films that I said sucked..yeah, not a lot I can say about that. It's not a reflection of the folks on the floor who actually made the film. In this industry you will more than likely find yourself working on a project that, well, just isn't that good. Your efforts will be affected, your moral will sink and your love for what you do will be tested. On top of that not everyone will like your least they didn't say your film was a communist manifesto, man that's a kick in the crotch.


(If you read this post over the weekend you will notice some editing on my part. I was told I was being a little Burke of all people. If Burke says you're being too harsh then somethings up.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Dead Have Risen...

Sweet Mother of all that's holy!!!...Mike Gasaway has a blog! For those of you that don't have the good fortune of knowing the "Gasman", he was one of the two directors on the Jimmy Neutron t.v. series. Mike is a great guy, an awesome director and has some of the worst taste in music...but he loves good horror films and makes some damn fine beer. If you get a chance, pop on over to and look around. There's not too much there right now but knowing Gas it will be crammed chock full of wholesome goodness soon...Oh, I couldn't find a pic of Gas, so instead I found the gayest picture of Kip Winger on the internet...same difference.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

Our next contestant is....

Sarah Mensinga!!!! Yup, Sarah has generously agreed to be my next victim for "Introducing". I'll be sebding her my lsit of stupid questions and hope to have the post up before too long. If you're not familiar with Sarah's work...well, shame on you....and once you feel appropriately ashamed then go here.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Oooof, that smarts....

Ant Bully got it in the the crotch this weekend. With an $8.1 million , 5th place opening weekend Ant Bully isn't looking to set any records. We really weren't expeting to though, we just wanted to make an enjoyable film. I think we did that just fine.

There are so many things you could point to...
CGI glut, "been there done that" ant movie, poor marketing on Warners favorite, "Overt Communist Overtones".... It really doesn't matter...even if hind site is 20/20 whatever mistakes were made will be repeated by somebody, we all know that.

My biggest concerns are for the industry and for
DNA. Everytime a CG film doesn't bring in major bank, studios immediately start shredding documents and cutting jobs. And as for DNA...I love those guys. I owe them so much and I want to continue to see "Paul the Monkey" pop up at them end of something I'm watching.

And remember...give some love and send a comment if you were one of the six or seven people that saw the movie this weekend. I'll be posting some of my shots...ones that were in the movie and some that were cut due to the next week or so.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Team Fortress 2...

This is what I'll get to be working on at Valve...Hellz Yeah!!! I love the style and I've already seen some of the gameplay and it's going to be awesome. I'm not a Burke about gaming but Valve definetly knows how to make the games that draw me in so I'm super excited about working on this title.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Today's the big day...

Yup, "The AntBully" opens today. All in all everything has added up to make this a prety interesting event for me...the change in employment, the change in location. Rotten Tomatoes has us slowly climbing. We started with a 39%, now we're up to a 53% (as of this posting).

The reviews have ranged from very good to calling it a communist'd they know? Seriously though...they tell you to be an individual but chastize you for standing out. They tell you to try your best but that everyone is special...make up your mind. In sports, is it a win for the individual player or the team they play on?...let em tell a story about being a part of something bigger then yourself. Good lord, with so many kids being locked up in their rooms with the internet and instant messenger and online games and cell phones and my space...jeez, you'd think people would appreciate some kind of message that talks about being a part of some kind of social, didn't mean to go off on that rant.

Anyway, I'll be seeing the movie twice tomorrow. The first time with my family, it will be my youngest daughters first movie. She was born at the begining of production...I'm still ticked at Warners for not putting production babies in the credits. The second with some of the kick ass students of Animation Mentor. I expect to get two totally different reactions. I've seen the movie already but am still a little too close to have a relatively unbiased opinion.

I hope the film does well. It's always good for the industry when one of the films makes money, helps the job security anyway. But also, I want to see the people who were at DNA get recognized for their hard work. A good crew put this thing together.

Ok, here's the deal...I leave the comments option about as open as you can get so please feel free to give me some feedback on the film. I know at least a couple people besides my mo look at this thing, it would be grea to hear what you think of how we spent the last 2+ years. Hope it entertains you.


Monday, July 24, 2006

2,200 miles later...

And we're here. Wow, what a week this has been. I mean, I just got my internet working about five minutes ago...and what do I do? It was a trip in more ways than one. I'll post more tomorrow but but I am soooo glad to be here. I'm hoping Seattle is as cool as I think/hope it will be. So here's to the next chapter.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Well I guess this is it...

Yup...after 13 1/2 years in Texas, 7 of which were at DNA, we're loading up the wagon and headin' west...well, northwest. Tomorrow starts the week of fun and excitement driving to Seattle and the one thing I can say about our time in Dallas is we'll miss the people. Dallas is flat, brown, hot, humid and generally unattractive to look at...and did I mention it's hot, but the friends and family here have always made it a pretty damn good place to be., to all you folks who made this flat little speck of dirt a beautiful place to live, we'll miss you...and I will be ticked if you don't come visit (you all know who you are!)

Now it's on to another adventure, to another wonderful company with incredibly talented and cool folks...a new piece of the country so beautiful you can't help but fall in love with it and hopefully people at least half as great as the ones we're leaving here. I'll try to post some pics along the way, unless we run into some "The Hills Have Eyes" radioactive, inbred, cannnibalistic, hillbillies...well then it might take a little longer.

I should haves me some internet action by this time next week so we can get this new ball rollin'. Gotta lot of stuff to do and I've made some promises I've gotta make good, my, my...time flies. If you read my site, all three of you (hi mom), you know I've got some things coming up with articles and interviews-n-stuff but if there's anything industry related (or not) you would like to chat about or just see me ramble aimlessly on about feel free to e-mail me.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Moving Sucks....

Ok, moving doesn't suck...I am super freaking excited about this whole thing. But packing on the other hand sucks the big one. Wow, you never realize how much useless crap you have till you have to haul it 2,200 miles.

Needless to say my posts will be a little sporadic till then. Things coming up after the move though:

An interview with the talented Sarah Mensinga...
The reposting of the Nanna and Lil Puss puss short...
A nice long discussion on The Ant Bully... well as some other things that are in the works. I'll als0 try to post some images of the trip as we go...two girls, two dogs and a cat, dear lord help me.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Before and After...

I've been looking at all the wonderful art Sarah has on her site when I came across the above image. It was an early concept piece for Ant Bully. I loved how "Lord of the Flies" this felt. A little dark, a little mysterious and tons of potential for adventure.

I'm very happy with how our film has turned out and I hope that "John Q Public" and his 2.2 kids finds it just as entertaining. I was just reflecting on what the first pass of the script I read was like compared to what we actually produced for the big screen. I'll wait till after July 28th to really get into the before and afters, I just wanted to see what kind of stories you other industry type folks had. Some I know are major, entire script rewrites, characters removed, characters added...and some are not so drastic. I love hearing about those changes the same way I like reading the original draft of scripts to see the "evolution" of a project.

As fun as our movie is now, I wonder what it would have been like had it kept the feel of this original artwork...hmmmmmm.


Sunday, June 25, 2006


...Ok, I'll admit it, I liked Poseiden. There, I said it. I liked it a lot. Maybe I just have to admit to myself that that my taste in movies sucks...I mean, I did like X-Men 3...yeah, I know, I have to turn in my comic book nerd badge and decoder ring.

I just don't understand what all the bad buzz was about. I paid my 8 bucks to watch a big ass boat get hit by a big ass, to see all kinds of CG mayhem ensue and to try to guess who will make it out and who won't. And I got my money's worth.

I barely remember the original. As a kid I remember Gene Hackmen being cool as hell and Shelly Winter's scaring me from swimming the same way Jaws did. Besides that, I had no real attachment to it. This version is what I wanted it to be, escapism pure and simple. A roller coaster ride, loud and sue me.

Oh, and I know that this is wayyyyyy late in the game to be talking about Poseiden but hey, I needed something to see and it was either this or The Fast and The Furious, Tokyo Drift...I'll be writing about that one later.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sarah Mensinga in da' house!!!

This isn't an official "Introducing" post since I haven't asked Sarah to answer my list of stupid questions. BUT!!!! she does have her site up! Take a look around at her incredible work. Sarah did both character design and animation work on "The Ant Bully". Personally I always prefered her take on the characters, but then again, I don't get to make those to be me.

This was actually a design Sarah was nice enough to do for a short film idea I have brewing in the back of my dark, twisted, sick, little mind...thanks for contributing to my "condition" Sarah.

...oh, for those playing the home version of our game...if you look hard enough you'll find Blue Sky super star and former DNA spline monkey, Tom Saville!!! Happy hunting.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I know, I know...a couple weeks ago I said in a couple days I would have the first of these to be me. But I promise it's worth the wait. Not becasue of any creative journalism on my part but because you will get to meet one of the nicest, most down to earth people I'va had the pleasure of working with...not to mention he's a damn solid animator and a technical genius.

Let me give you a bit of back story on how I came to know fine Mr McKenzie (insert flashback special effect here.....) Near the beggining of production of AntBully pretty much all of the programmers were being used to get out new pipeline up and running...can't make a movie without a pipeline. Anyway, the creation and upkeep of any tools the animation department needed fell off of their plate onto ours. Mark Behm did a damn fine job keeping us up and running (Mark's another one of those guys that's way smarter then the average bear.) The problem lay in the fact that Mark was brought in to be an animator...and a damn fine one at that, and keeping up with our tools needs quickly became a full time job. Turn your attention ladies and gentleman stage right for the enterance of the one and only Hamish McKenzie into our little play. Hamish quickly became everyone in animation's hero. With the mindset of an animator's needs he made our life livable again. It's one thing for someone to make you a tool, it's something else entirely for someone to make a tool with the needs of animation in mind from the beginning.

...and on top of all that, he's just too damn nice forwords. Over the course of production I feel very blessed to be able to call Hamish friend. So, without further mumbling on my part, here's some of the sotry of Hamish straight from the kangaroo's mouth...

Besides wrestling babies from the jaws of crocidiles, give us a quick rundown studios you've pulled from edge of ruin in your illustrious career.

Well lets see, it depends how far u wanna go back... I'll start with the first interesting place i worked coz, well... the others are boring. it was a games studio called krome. i was there for almost 3 years working as both an animator and a character modeller. kinda weird, coz I had very little experience with both. but that was cool, very few people working there at the time were any different. it was a pretty small studio back then. anyway that was a heap of fun because we had a heap of creative freedom, and we were a small team, teaching ourselves. the animation tools krome had were crap - mainly because they didn't know how to make better tools work with their game engine, but that was in hindsight a good thing because it really taught us to just concentrate on the animation. if a character had to hold another characters shoulder or whatever - there were no constraints, it was just hand animated to stick. kinda tedious, but thats cool because we were never distracted by anything. anyway, you said short right? bugger... anyhoo, from there I did a short stint on effects for a dodgy feature - george of the jungle2, and after that got a job at a startup games studio, inspirationally called "thq studio australia". don't let the name fool ya though, it was a really fun place to work. this was a great experience coz they were a startup, so we got to get ourselves in all sorts of trouble building an entire department from scratch. so after that, you crazy texans decided to fly me across the pacific to work at dna. dna was an awesome opportunity for me. it was a chance to get out and see a bit of the world, meet some awesome new people and generally just do something different. dna was its own challenge because i was coming in half way through a project. in my previous gigs i've been used to being part of creating the foundations, while at dna I found myself supporting a department that already had its own processes, and its own toolset already. so for me the challenge was more about adapting existing tools and workflows. anyway, it was awesome fun. and finally, i took a job back with thq studio australia again. i had always hoped to work back here after i left to go to dna, but i didn't think it would be so soon. so the challenges that lie ahead for this studio are the obvious next-gen issues which i'm looking forward to tackling with the rest of the animation team here.

What was your initial insperation for getting into animation?

I was just blown away when i realised i could get paid to do this sort of work. i mean who the hell gets paid to do what they love in this world? well ok lots of people do, but its good to be one of them. i dunno what my initial inspiration was... animation has always been something i've enjoyed watching, and when i started tinkering with really early animation software (mainly 2d stuff actually) i just found myself enjoying it so much, and then once i got my first gig as a character animator - i was hooked.

Did you ever consider a career as a pirate instead or maybe a cowboy?


For the readers that don't know that your smarter than Einstein, what got you
in rigging and scripting and tool creation?

Well, anyone who knows me well knows i'm phenomenally lazy. not long after starting animation, i kinda got sick of doing certain things over and over again. y'know like selecting all of a characters controls for example. so once i started using maya, mel offered an obvious solution. so i kinda found some tools that came close to what i wanted and tinkered around with them a bit till they did exactly what i wanted. anyway, i guess i'm just always looking for ways to do the least amount of work possible, and writing easy to use tools helps me do that - and luckily others seem to agree.

Who would win in a fight Nicole Kidman or Yahoo Serious?...What if Nicole
had one leg tied behind her back?

tough call... don't get me wrong, nicole is a good lookin girl, but i'm not sure shes got a lotta fight in her. and yahoo does have that serious hair.

How has being an animator (and a damn fine one I might add) helped you in the
creation of your tools?

thats kinda a question for my users... ;) but i like to think that doing the work gives me a pretty good feel for exactly what is tedious and takes away from the creativity. i know that sometimes when I'm animating, I'll avoid certain performance choices simply because i know the technical battles required to pull off that performance will make my life less fun. so by thinking about these things from an animators point of view, i usually get led down a certain path pretty natually.

Just cuz I gotta know...where the hell did Macaronikazoo come from?

i was trying to think of a reasonably unique name that was hard to forget. there was some local company at the time that had started up down the road from me - no idea what they did - but they had this cool but highly weird name that was just two normal words crammed together. so i tried to think of a bunch of words that worked well together. i kinda liked macaronikazoo. weird huh.

The animation community tries to be pretty open about sharing information with
each other on how we do you find the technical community in 3D is
pretty similar?

yeah sort of. i think there are a lot of really open people out there. but there also seems to be a pretty large contingent of secret tech guys. y'know pixar, disney, pdi etc all have this huge mass of technology that is totally proprietary, and its rare to hear from the technical people at those studios. so on some levels its really open, but on others, its really closed. it kinda depends. certainly if you're starting out in this industry, there is so much freely available information out there.

Who would win in a fight...Michael Comet or a Baboon with a claw for a foot?...
What if Comet had a nail gun?

comet on both counts. he might seem mild mannered, but i have a feeling that guy could be a scrappy fighter if he needed to be. i dont think that guy writes code - i think he secretly beats it into submission at night when no one is around. y'know lord of the flies style, shirt off, blood all over him type thing.

Seeing things from both the gaming side and the feature film side and with the promises of the next gen games and consoles do you see crossing over of talent between the two becoming pretty common place or do you think there will still be some seperation?

i dont see the two industries merging anytime soon. although its becoming easier for artists and technicians to be able to transition between games and film. but games are an interactive medium, film a passive one. i think that fundamental difference between them will keep tham separate. they just need to be managed differently because of their different focusses. but yeah as i said, as a production artist, its certainly becoming easier and easier to flit between them, and thats a good thing.

Has Vegemite been ruled as a device of torture under the Geneva Convention?


Favorite animated film? Favorite film staring Pauly Shore? Favorite movie featuring a talking animal?

tough call... probably a toss up between iron giant and nemo.

As an animator/rigger/tool master/scripting god...what do you look for in the tools
that you use?

useability and scriptability. first and foremost the tool needs to be easy to use. some tools are inherently complex, which is where the challenge comes in. its all about figuring out the best way to present the information while still maintaining flexibility. from a users point of view useability is king, but from my side flexibility is a huge bonus too which is where the scriptability comes in. i try to make most of my stuff really scriptable and its paid off in spades in most cases. I constantly find new ways to integrate my tools into other tools of either my own, or a mashup of someone elses work. so yeah. the useability thing probably comes more from me being a lazy bastard too. once i write something, I really don't want to have to remember how to use it. i have the memory of a goldfish. except funnily enough when it comes to remembering mel commands... anyone screaming geek yet?

Now that you're a proud dad, will you give up your life as a secret vigilante
crime fighter and just settle down?


Since we all know that Australia was founded by criminals and n'er do wells...would I actually have to become a convict if I wanted to become a citizen?

not at all... we've gotta have some innocents around to use our vegemite on.

And finally...who would win in a fight, me or Rosie O'Donnell...what if I had a hammer and Rosie was already unconcious...and I had a running start?

dude i've seen you wield a hammer... it'd be a close fight but man - just pretend she's a comfy lounge chair and theres no way you'd lose.

..............I hope you've enjoyed this...let me know if you did and I'll keep them coming. Please take a moment and visit Hamish's site. He has tons of useful tools and scripts for you non tech peoples like me.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Miss Bliss...

This is, really that's her name, Bliss. That's what it was when she was adopted from the Humane Society and that's what she seemed to answer to best. I tried "Hey You" and "Don't eat that" but neither one seemed to she's still just Bliss.

Bliss likes to get into things, one of her favorite treats being poop...either hers or her sister Chloe's, she's an equal opportunity poop eater. A few weeks ago, I can only assume with her face to the ground in search of something "fresh from the oven", Bliss managed to get something in her eye that quickly led to an infection. That's where the fun begins. See, our vet put her in one of those lovely Elizabethten Collars so that she couldn't wipe at her eyes while we were putting in her eye drops...this also hindered her ability to save herself from the above indignity. Of all things I find funny in the world...and there are many:

*People falling down while carrying groceries...
*Skate boarders biting pavement (cause it's not me)...
*Other people getting hit in the crotch (see above)...
*Fart jokes (I'm an animator for god's sake)...
*Burp jokes (see above)...
*Mentos and Diet Coke (try it)...
*Japanese Tighty Whitey dancing (you know you like it too)...

...the above picture is definetly in my top 20 and now I share it with you. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cars Image Gallery

There's a great collection of Images from "Cars" over at Nice viewing if you have a few minutes to kill and want to look at somethin' purdy.


I love Godzilla. I have since I was a kid and saw the "original" when I was a snot nose punk watching it with my face so close to the TV you'd think I was trying to speed the growth that tumor my mom said I would get...from sitting too close to the TV....anyway. As an adult I saw the true original without the crappy Raymond Burr footage that had been thrown in for "us". It's a much darker film and way better. But since then I've loved Godzilla and so I love Toho Studios. And now I have another reason. It's their take on the classic disaster film...


(The Sinking of Japan)

...and it looks to be freaking fabulous. The trailer has everything I look for in simple summer movie fun. Our heros in a mad dash to save the day...or as many people as possible...our heros also has to try to convince "the man" that "your evil ways have destroyed this planet and now she's out to kick some ass!"...but we all know "the man" never listens. But we're all happy when "the man" gets it in the end by some fiery lava ball or tidal wave or tornado or slips on a bar of soap in the hotel shower. One of the reasons why I know I will love this film is that over the years I have learned what to expect from a Toho film experience...and they always deliver. I always have a good time. I am never me that's money in the bank. I can't say that for about 80%(or more) of the films coming out of the major studios these days. So, enjoy the trailer while I take a second to climb down off my movie soap box. Cheers!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Random Inspiration of the day...

I know I don't need to explain...everyone keeps telling ya to get it, so why don't ya get

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A reason to love YouTube

A great friend sent me this. It completely made my day and reaffirmed why we will always be 10 years behind the Japanese when it comes to videos of men dancing to childrens music while wearing tighty whities.

And for tons of other videos...some fun some, well, not so much. Take a trip over to YouTube.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Random pic of the day...

I present to you...Beethoven!!! Why? Because it's my blog and I can. ;)

So Long Seward Street...

If you haven't had a chance to check out James Hulls site Seward're almost out of luck. He's going to be closing down his incredibly useful and inspiring site at the end of this month. Seward Street is chock-ful-on animation goodness from insightful animation notes to mp3s of Milt do yourself a favor and cruise on over before it's gone, GONE, GONE!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Gianluca Ciufoli...

I found this image on the Drawn site. The artist is Gianluca Ciufoli. All his work is worth a look but "Presagio di Primavera" (the image above) is my favorite.

Open Season in Japanese...

Ethan over at Persistance of Vision posted this a while back...but me being late on all things cool just came across it...

The woman looks a little "Monster House" in her design but everything else I dig ok. We'll see when it hits theaters. I am so ready for something other than talking animals.

Friday, May 26, 2006

And Introducing...

For the last seven years I've been blessed with the good fortune of working at DNA. That long at one studio is definitely the exception and not the rule. I've kinda thought of my career as a very, very lucky train station, meaning I've gotten to stay in one spot while a number of incredible artists have passed through or made their homes here. I've learned so much from all of them and that's the reason for this post.

I want to start introducing you to some of the folks that have influenced me either artistically or personally...or both. Some of these folks you will know and some you might not. But one thing is for sure, they are all amazingly talented and just damn good people to know.

These aren't necessarily going to be interviews, but just some info folks I admire for one reason or another. Keep an eye out, I hope to have the first one out in the next day or two.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wonderfully Bizarre...

I found this sight over at Cartoon Brew. Make sure you pay them a visit, there's always good stuff there...Anyway, head over to and spend some time clicking through the interactive etchings. The combination of images and music make for a wonderfully odd experience.