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Hidden Pages

Washington Tornado

Posting has been slow here the last year or so... which is because I'm busy working hard.

That said, in November a tornado hit my hometown of Washington, Illinois and caused an incredible amount of damage. Many lost everything. 

My mother, a consultant for CAbi (a womens' clothing company), helped to pull together an event for the victims. CAbi donated clothing and women who had lost their homes could come and shop for free — to help them start rebuilding the wardrobes they have lost.

I was there and filmed the event, as well as some of the aftermath of the tornado.


How Does Your Garden Grow?

I haven't posted in a while, and I'm sorry... but I've been busy with cool stuff like this project.

I remember buying this album from Better Than Ezra when I was in college, and listening to it non-stop. I had never heard an album quite like it before... and when my good friend (and frequent collaborator) Rich LaBonté asked me to be involved with the release of his 5.1 surround remix of the album, I didn't really need to answer.

Together, we plotted and shot a documentary for the piece — one that inadvertently ended up telling both the story of the making of the album and the recreation of the mix for the 5.1 version. We were so struck by all the behind the scenes stories that we felt obligated to tell some of them as well as the one we initally set out to tell.

By the way, the album sounds amazing in surround audio and it's pretty clear that it was made for this. Head over to to buy the disc or watch the documentary.


The Scene Progresses

A composite of all the static layers for a cloud city background.I don't want to give everything away, but I thought I'd share some sneak peaks at my progress so far. I'm done building the background artwork in Photoshop, and starting to build the characters. Warning: the following text is pretty process-heavy, so if you don't really care, don't read it.

I'll be bringing the background art into After Effects and creating 2.5D setpieces... which essentially means I'll be working with flat objects in a 3D space. It's like a paper diorama, but I love the way things look with a little depth of field and some dynamic lighting.

Once the character artwork is done, I'll import it into Flash to add certain movement to the characters. I prefer to do certain things (mostly mouth and some limb movement, as well as certain special movements) in Flash as opposed to After Effects, but I think that's just a personal preference. Lots of people do all their animation in After Effects, but it's all about whatever works best for you.

The Fett's gotta jet...One limiting factor with Flash is that animations currently can't exceed 2880 x 2880, so sometimes I have to be really creative about closeups and etc. I don't mind though, since it kind of forces me to make some decisions as I go... which means I have to plan ahead and think about what the final product is going to look like. That really helps with something like this where I'm not doing storyboards (since they pretty much already exist in the form of a finished film).

Once I get the Flash animation finished up, I import the SWF movies straight into After Effects and turn them into a 2.5D layer in the appropriate set... and then it's just a matter of adjusting things and creating some camera moves. That's always the fun part, but it's followed by the not fun part — rendering.

Because my sets generally consist of a number of really high-resolution textures, and numerous SWF layers, as well as camera moves and lights, the rendering process can be a drag. When pushing the software to its limit, crashes while rendering are pretty common, so I often sit and watch my renders pretty closely. Of course, with a 15 second piece that won't be terribly painful, but with longer pieces I've worked on, it can take hours and hours to churn out a couple minutes of footage... in case you were wondering.

So anyway, it's back to work for now. I'll share more soon.


Star Wars!

If you haven't heard of Star Wars Uncut, you should really check it out ( assuming you like things related to Star Wars. Here's the deal — fans from around the world, or galaxy, claim a 15 second clip from the film and recreate it... then all the clips get edited back into the full movie and we have a wicked-cool version of Star Wars to enjoy.

So anyway, the first one was a success, and it's time to recut The Empire Strikes Back... and I'm jumping onboard. I plan on sharing the process as I go — all the decisions, and how I'll do what I'm going to do. Should be a rip-roarin' good time (or mildly interesting at the least). Stay tuned.


The Heartgard Plus Chew Strikes Again

I love this little guy. As a follow up to the Hooks and Rounds animation we did for the Heartgard Plus folks, this is a little piece that they asked us over at Brighton to create for heartworm awareness month. It's a simple, but effective piece... and seriously, how can you not fall in love with those little chew guys? This particular fella happens to have the exact same sunglasses as I do.