Tuesday, December 21, 2010

STATUS UPDATE, STILL ALIVE, STILL COOKIN




So, I'm working my ass off to finish up my iphone app: Anatomy In Motion by the year's end.

But Fathoms is still cooking in the background; 2011 is full steam ahead! So I'm trying to clear the plate now of all of 2010's messy dishes.

I have cast both voice actors and will hopefully have all of the dialogue recorded (again) by mid January.

I have also been working on the character models with the little free time I have had, check up top for some current WIP of Sam!

Happy holidays, see you in 2011, the year of FATHOOOOOOOOMS!

and expect more frequent/regular posts as I pick up steam!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MYTH & REALITY



There exists a myth.

The idea that you can do everything you want,
That you can have perfection.


The reality is simple

Make some compromises or risk nothing.
If everything is the most important thing, nothing will truly matter,
Nothing will get done.


In the past I would start many projects in a given year. Most of these projects have never been (or ever will be) completed. This is because of scope creep, laziness, aiming too high, and lack of dedication.

Ideas are cheap...arguably free, but that only gets 1% to the finish line. Execution, dedication, planning, compromise, these things comprise the remaining 99%. These are the means by which you deliver on the promise of your idea(s).


As I grow as an artist, my biggest realization is that I have to do one less thing, one less project, one less tangent in order to become the artist I desire. This is a realization that it's far more important for me actually finish and deliver what I start, even if I hate it, even if it's only a few projects. It's the realization  that I have to mindfully shutdown tangential ideas and projects, creative distraction, if you will. Something small is never actually small, it always bursts and blooms into a jungle...it's like the tip of the iceburg....there's a mountain just below the surface.

So, you must ask yourself
Do you want to grow a few fertile gardens,
or do you want to leave behind many barren wastelands?


So I'm compromising,
I'm keeping the true goals in mind for Fathoms. I want to win the heart of Fathoms. Rather, I want Fathoms to be a nice girl, with a beautiful soul. She might end up being ugly, she might end up being Venus, but regardless, she will have a beautiful, shining heart.

Fathoms is about emotional authenticity and telling a genuine story, one that connects with the audience. The sci-fi setting is merely the backdrop for this play. The aesthetic is not to be overlooked (I am a visual artist after all), but it is very secondary to my goal, so, I have to let some things go here in order to accomplish this and still ship on time.

I'm doing Fathoms from start to finish, almost entirely by myself. So, If I want to get from (final) pre-production to completion in a year, while working full-time in motion graphics, I'm going to have to make some sacrifices...but that doesn't mean Fathoms has to be crappy, or unworthy of doing.


If I succeed in connecting with my audience, in a genuine, moving way, then it's a big win. I have to remember that perfect aesthetics are SECONDARY here.

I'm not making a demo reel
My audience doesn't care if I hand drew the frames, or did them in three-dee, or if I shot them on a 8mm camera. They only care if those things get in the way of, or detract from the story.

Happy Turkey Day

Monday, November 8, 2010

IT'S A DATE - DECEMBER 31ST, 2011!!!!



So, I am using Seth Godin's ShipIt Journal (let me know if you want one, I have 3 extras) to help document Fathoms. And I have set a do or die delivery date (well, two actually). The first is secret, but the final delivery date for the whole project is the last day of 2011.

I'm planning on finishing the film 2-3 months before that, and then working on bonus features like an art book to all be available by this magical 2011 new years's eve.

So, that's it! ...seriously!

I know it sounds like a long time from now, but I'm always amazed at how quickly time slips through the fingers.

Hold me to this date, this project has stretched over 5 years now (I know), so, wherever I am at December 31, 2011, it gets delivered (or it gets killed)!

2011 is gonna be a bumpy ride....but magic WILL happen!

Monday, September 27, 2010

ART IS WAR



From the gold-tongued (fingered?) Seth Godin:


No risk, no art.
No art, no reward.




Art is a leaders game.
Art is leaping, not stepping, into the void.
Look before you leap, but leap, jump...
FLY

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

INSPIRATION & INFLUENCE



I just took a trip to Bermuda. There was so so much inspiration and research through osmosis.

You will see influences in Fathoms, from my home - Brooklyn (and New York City), as well as Bermuda. Being on the open seas of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the mind-blowingly beautiful water, land, and weather of Bermuda....something that pictures on the internet can't replace.

We (as people, and as artists) need time to reflect, absorb, and redirect. Bermuda was much needed time to gather my thoughts.

I often overthink projects, and I'm working on streamlining my processes. I'm developing methods to limit myself, cut myself off before I get carried away. I have to keep in mind simple goals, and always align to those. I understand there has to be room for experimentation and exploration, but there also has to be some kind of deadline at which, good or bad, things must be completed. Otherwise I'll be long dead before I complete any of my great works, hah. Sometimes a vacation is reaffirming research.

I'm still finishing two other major projects before I go back into full-on production of Fathoms. To keep Fathoms fresh in my mind, I'm trying to work at least 15 mins a day on some aspect of design or pre-production.

Friday, August 27, 2010

EXECUTIVE DECISION



So I've made an executive decision - no more work in progress will be shown until Fathoms is nearing completion. [secrets]

Instead I will continue to focus on more conceptual entries related to progress, storytelling, life and art.

The big deal is that I have two major projects to complete by the end of 2010. Both are unrelated to Fathoms. After that I can fully focus on pre-production, and I have scheduled summer of 2011 for production time. I am still working on Fathoms in the mean time, but it has to go on the back burner until I finish more pressing obligations.

So, in summary:

2008 was the first attempt at production for Fathoms v1.0.

2011 will be the second attempt to be made for Fathoms v3.7.

I will get the software out of beta and onto store shelves!

Also, if anyone (someone) has any technical questions, I'm happy to answer. I'm not a fan of tutorials, but I'll probably make a few when the film is complete.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?




Fear is paralyzing.

Fear is demotivating.

Fear is isolating.


Or...

Fear is your greatest motivator.

Fear is a cheerleader, pushing you, shaking and sweaty, back onto the stage.

Fear is an epic equalizer.

Fear is something we all experience. It's not about being fearless, it's about facing the fear, embracing it, and pushing through. It's like waves on the beach. They are intimidating, but they are not impossible to wade, swim, and dive through...they can even be fun.

Part of this is about safety, familiarity, comfort zones. Doing new things means escaping predictability, which leaves uncertainty and fear...room for failure. But it's really the oppurtunity to find new invention, and even genuine success...of course failure is possible, but, failure is still a win if we learn something and apply it to future challenges.

We have access to the tools now, we have the time. It's all about who does the thing, who finishes (first), and then who does it better, fresher, with more humanity.

Fear raises the stakes.

Fear intrigues us. What are we really afraid of? Ourselves? Success?

I'm working hard to let go of the things in Fathoms that are not critical, and only embellish what's important.

I have to remember that "If everything is special, then nothing is special."

I'm making some compromises, but, if I don't finish, how will anyone know that it's a (hopefully) great film?!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

WHO AM I DOING THIS FOR?



I'm making Fathoms for two people:

My father, and myself.

I am very much my father's son, for better, and for worse.

He died when I was 17.

So I have a very personal story to tell, and it relates to my father. Fathoms is part of my growing and healing process, to share my story. This is not the only influence, so, it colors the story, but it's not literally a story about a father and son.

In regards to anyone else, it's nice to have their approval, but, sorry, this story is not (expressly made) for you. This is a story I hope you can, and want you to enjoy, and relate to, but it's not for you. This is my art therapy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

LEVELING-UP IN THE REAL WORLD IS HARD



From the ever brilliant Seth Godin:

Are you a bullfrog in a china shop?

They make a lot of noise but don't break anything.

They're annoying but not dangerous.

They create a swirl but no impact.

They don't ship.

I hate to say it, but, unfortunately, I have been, and still am a bullfrog. I have shipped on some things, but my greatest works, I have not yet to ship. BUTTTTT, in my defense, I'm working on the shipping part.

I don't know if I care about being dangerous...though I do understand it as a tool to turn heads/get attention/etc.

I would say I'm in the middle of the ocean, I've made a lot of progress, but, it won't matter if I don't reach the other shore.

Where are you?

PS - I think it's important to talk about failure and doubt AT LEAST as much as success and positive motivation and victory. I would say I fail 80-90% of the time....it's so strange to me that our society doesn't acknowledge that most wins are built on the experience gained from tons and tons of failure....at least the meaningful ones.

Monday, August 2, 2010

DIALOGUE AND SUBTEXT - KEYWORD: BETRAYAL



Subtext is amazing, it's a very naturalistic/realistic thing that is very easy to recognize, but for me, difficult to consciously (and tastefully) create.

Subtext is our tell, the true face behind our mask. Subtext is like beams of light from our id flickering out through the cracks in the boarded up windows of our Super Ego. Our true feelings, our darkest desires, etc.

It's like when you ask a good friend if he is over his ex and he replies
"I was never really that into her"
or he volunteers before you even ask "I'm so over my girlfriend!"

Subtext. His words betray him. Betray his truth.

The first response shows that he is really trying to sooth his pain by downplaying the importance of her to him...which would might infer means he was very much into her. The second response shows that she's already on his mind and he has to fight his own feelings of regret or melancholy with a public rebuttal (against his inner monologue) of anger and denial.

There are much more subtle and playful ways to create subtext, not just in dialogue, but with imagery, and action, but, this is a good example of everyday subtext.

Sometimes a light is just a light, and this is not here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

FAILING UPWARDS


"The way to solve the perfect problem is to make it imperfect.
Don't just bend one of the constraints, eliminate it.
Shut down the factory.
Walk away from the job.
Change your product completely.
Ignore the board.

If the only alternative is slow and painful failure, the way to get unstuck is to blow up a constraint, deal with the pain and then run forward. Fast."


~Seth Godin


Getting over the hump is difficult. The speed bump grows to an impregnable mountain as our fears feed the beast.

Sometimes it's writers block, sometimes it's technical limitations, sometimes it's plain fear of completion.

My biggest fear is not of the inability to complete something, but rather, completing something and hating it, or worse, feeling nothing at all (meaninglessness).

Friday, July 23, 2010

NATURAL EVOLUTION



Limbo is probably the best game I've played in years. It's beautiful, and it lets you wade into it's world, without hitting you over the head, or doing lots of hand-holding.

The story is very minimal, but the world is so fantastic that it's just as fun to watch as it is to play. We need more unique voices singing different and interesting songs like this.

Ranting on, if every story is a heavy metal opus or poppy dance drone, we will go deaf, or at least be really really bored. It's the Michael Bay problem, if everything is exploding, then it's like nothing is exploding (think about it).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

WHERE I HAVE BEEN, WHERE ARE WE GOING


The final *quadruple crosses finger* script is done. There are a few lines of dialogue to be tweaked/worked out, but, it's pretty much done-done! Fathoms is finally starting to shine, and I feel really confident about it. I feel very competent about the actual production side, so, feeling good about the story means there's a great chance at Fathoms coming out tops!

So what now?

I'm working on re-finalizing the character design for Sam. I may still put up a vote for which face people like/sympathize with more.

I'm also writing the shot list and starting storyboarding again.

Also, some design elements will need to change to fit the story now...including the Scavenger Arken, which I will be turning to master mechanical designer Mike Doscher to help with, seriously, I can't say enough good things about his work.

More sooner than later!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SERVICING THE THEME



Now that I know what I want, thematically, I can cut the fat.

It's much easier to see what's important, and that everything else exists solely to enhance and support the theme.

The core of this story-planet is super hard and solid, unwavering, and pure. Everything around it is a swirling, morphing vertex of supportive energy. Like harmonies in a really catchy tune, they pull you further into the melody.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why we do the things we do



Art is therapy (for me).
I love creating things with my hands.
Things real, and things unseen.
If my hands are static, I feel hollow.

Fathoms is a dream about a story from a time when I lost my father and about the ghosts of the past that follow us through empty warehouses of the future.

This is not about monetizing my name into gold silicon wafers in the interwebs, or in the side door of a trendy vinyl toy store in SoHo.


This is about

Finally delivering on my promise (to myself) that I am a real storyteller, proving to myself that I can do it, and be satisfied (happy) with the story I tell.

Dealing with the past, expressing it on my terms, remembering it how I want, as skewed as that perspective may be.

Telling my story, for better or worse, I do have something to say (we all do, some of us have one story, some of us have many).


It's about rising above my humanity while simultaneously embracing it. This isn't the first or the last story I will tell...but so far, it's the most involved. So keep on swimming.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tiny Inventions - Something Left, Something Taken & Making of


Tiny Inventions made this over the course of two and a half years, in between paid gigs. It's very inspirational, and technically will be similar to how my animation works.

Check out more detailed making of stuff here, it's definitely worth the jump.

Nice work guys!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Concept Art - Dive Suit


This is pretty close to what the dive suit will look like...You'll just have to wait and see what it's used for...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This is not easy (for me)!!!


If anyone has any good rigging tutorials for Cinema 4D, please send them my way. I am very close to scrapping 3d for the characters (except the heads), as I can not seem to get a proper rig going. Anyway, there will be an animation test, I just don't know if it will be with my original 2.9D technique...maybe more 2.6D, hah.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fathoms For Change


I have decided that I want my personal projects to be a vehicle for change. Not just for me, or for you, but for the world. Therefore, any present or future short film I make will be in connection with at least one non-profit that I think is changing the world for the better.

For Fathoms I want you (I know there's at least two of you out there!) to pick the charity that Fathoms' proceeds will support. I've narrowed it down to these four relevant groups, but feel free to suggest something else in the comments.

Vote in the sidebar, and click on the following images to find out more about each group





THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

However big or small the donations, they are important. It's better to try and fail then to give up before you even start. I want to see what I can do to give something back, it's not all about me (or you) you know!!! So, I thank you, in advance, wherever you are, for choosing who to give to and for giving back.

PS - You have just over two weeks to choose your charity!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sink or Swim, keep on kickin


I am currently working on an animation test. Life has been full of business, so it is going to take me a little longer than expected to produce my proof of concept. Within two weeks I should have a short test to post.

This is requiring me to first (re)finalize the character designs. For me this is not a small thing. But I am trying to push through as I have had months of back and forth about the characters looks.

I have trouble deciding on the exact face of the female lead, Sam. I don't want her to be too beautiful and I don't want her to be too beat up.

I may place 2 or 3 final designs of her face up for a vote on here in a few days. So, let me know if anyone's interested, and keep your eyeballs peeled!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Grants or no grants? How does one afford this stuff?


I want to make my art. It might further my career, it might not. But my goal is to make the art I want to make. To tell a story I need to tell. To apply everything I've learned and everything I love. To have full ownership and authorship of my work, for better or worse.

So, I make more money than I need. So that I can work 9 months of the year, and take 3 months, unpaid, and continue to pay the rent and the bills and just work on whatever I want.

I work in a creative industry. But, the clients have the money, and ultimately the say. This can be very frustrating, as even they stand in the way of their best interest at times. They are tied to a system of meetings, and notes, and blindly distributed accountability.

Grants are their own issue...I've looked into them in the past. It seemed to me that the leg work involved (making a trailer for a short film that's not already made?) did not equate with the pay off ($2500???). This is money I could save simply by working, and not living beyond my means.

In the end it's about how you spend your money. I don't spend my money on fancy suits, or cars. Sure, I invest in technology, but most of that is related to my creations. I use my money to buy time. Time to make some stuff I like.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to deal with distractions?

distraction
How do I deal with distractions?

Not well. hah, I have ADHD, and I am sooo easily distracted. For this reason I can NEVER work at a coffee shop. I mostly will just end up people watching, because people are interesting, and there is so much distraction. I don't know how people focus better in those environments. Maybe it's just the stimulants?

I think it ends up being that when I get to crunch time, and I need to get stuff done, I quit Firefox and iChat. These are my main distractions during the day.

I've seen apps that will disable the internet on your computer for a preset period of time, but this seems like overkill to me. It's just about not running those apps. That internet is damn addicting, especially for procrastination.

The only legitimate excuse I have for internet while I'm working on Fathoms is for tutorials or forums for when I can't find the right nob to turn in Cinema4D.

There's also real world stuff to distract, but, in my home office, with some good music cranked up, nothing phases me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Preparing the 2.8D rig, or what should I call this thing?!


I have settled on my character animation technique. It will be built mostly in Cinema 4D. I still want to create something that feels like a comic book, but have fairly fluid motion. I am calling my technique 2.75D, or 2.8D, or even 2.9D? ...or something close to that. It's not 2.5D (2d planes in 3d space), and its not 3d (fully volumetric), it's a Frankenstein hybrid.

It's meant to look pretty flat, but retain the dynamics of 3d, as well as the humanity/illustration qualities of 2D hand drawn works. I think everything will have a slightly sketchy look as well. I'll post my animation test soon, or some kind of crude diagram of how it works...once I've proven that it totally works, hah.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My philosophy


I have many thick-headed beliefs, but the way I generally operate is:

Aim for the stars, land on the moon.

I always bite off something bigger than I can chew. But if I learn from it, and make some small accomplishment, even if the greater mission is a failure, then, success (to me, anyway)!

How do you roll?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Spirit, Broken


This xkcd comic summarizes the spirit (pun?) of Fathoms. It's about hope, and it's about sadness. It's about isolation, and it's about the human condition. I think it's one of the best single-panel comics I've ever read.

Speaking of broken things, my laptop is on the verge of breaking, and it's time to replace it. I'm thinking about getting a faster processor so it can help with renders down the line. But, for now I'm going to save my money and ponder character animation techniques.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Families are tough



I have been called away from my attempt to post daily by a family medical emergency. I will come up with something interesting, and relative to post soon. Healing happens too....

Monday, May 10, 2010

3 little questions


These are three very important questions:

"
What was the artist trying to achieve?

Did they succeed?

Was it worth doing?
"

Roughly quoted from Henry James/Art & Fear.

If you watch Fathoms, and you don't know what I am trying to achieve, then I will have failed. If I succeed, it will have been worth doing (rather, completing) for me. And that's all I can really hope for with this project.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The weight of water


A simple test render of what the surface water could look like in Fathoms. It's even nicer in motion, trust me!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Art & Fear


"The artists are different. They took a leap.
They weren't pushed. They jumped."

~Seth Godin

Friday, May 7, 2010

Story & Plot - Star-crossed lovers in a delicate balancing act


It took reading some very blunt advice to realize that I'm good at creating plot (what happens), but not at story (what it means).

Plot is the action, the thing that happens to the characters.
Story is characters, and their reactions to the plot.

Both are critical, and interwoven. They inform and drive each other. They are inseperable, and if either has too much weight, the film falls apart. The plot drives things forward, but the story gives the plot meaning, purpose, value.

So, I continue pushing, pulling, revising, and rethinking Fathoms until the river flows freely with emotional gold. I'm not quite there, YET!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Things that are old, but not dead

These are some thumbnail sketches for deep sea dive suits for one of the characters in Fathoms. Courtesy of master mechanical designer Mike Doscher. I can not say enough wonderful things about him and his work. These are old, but the new story still includes scenes with the dive suit. So this is still relevant stuff.

I will be posting more artwork, including things that will never be used in the final film in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Keep on swimming...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On Storytelling


I have been drawing since I was a wee child. I have been working on my visual language for all of my (short) life. Finding the right imagery and stylistic choices for the art and animation of Fathoms is not an easy choice, but, it is a choice I am much more comfortable with than the story. But, the story is the critical thing, it's the backbone, and the heart and soul of Fathoms.

It's the reason I stopped production half-way through completion of the original Fathoms, and it's the reason I am still revising my script. It may take me 5 or 6 years to complete this, but this is my baby, and I will finish it, but I also want to be happy with it. I'm not going to pump something out just to say I finished it. That works when I'm making things for paying clients, but not when it's for me. If I'm the client, and I'm not satisfied, what's the point?

The art style (for me), is just the skin, the hair, the nails. Sure, we will all judge these things first, because they take the least work to address, but, these things do not make a success (unless I'm making a demo reel).

Anyway!

I admit, I am not a good storyteller, not in the midst of conversation anyway.
I find that I stumble in live performance situations, including telling stories.

But, I am good at planning. If I have time to sit with my thoughts, and write something out, and let it sit, and stir, for a week or two, then I have a chance at addressing my lack of innate storytelling abilities.

I believe I have stories in me, unique, universal stories...maybe even interesting stories. And no, these stories don't include the main character finding out that they had a split personality and they were really the villain (as well as the hero) the whole time.

I have lived a little, through good and through bad. I don't always know how to connect with others, but, I think that adds to my unique perspective as a story teller/writer/auteur/director/artist/whatever.

Basically, I'm saying this: I'm very comfortable with my visual vocabulary, but I'm very uncomfortable (and unpracticed) with storytelling (and writing).

The focus of Fathoms is, at its core, a story about people and their internal struggles. So, I am still focusing on refining my story until I am absolutely satisfied that it has an air of emotional authenticity...before I start doing the 'easy' part, the visuals...again.

Also, when this is all over, I will be making an art book that includes all the original art work and storyboards for the version that sits dead on my work table. And, hopefully I will be making tiny real life models of the Scavenger Arken to give away to a few kind souls.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Proof that FATHOMS is still alive



so, I am rewriting the script for the billionth time. I know what I want now, it's just a matter of getting it in the writing (the hard part for me). My goal is to project emotional authenticity within my scifi setting..........anyway, that's a style frame from the recent past

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Still Alive, Seriously...

Happy 2010! We are living the future!

There will be more in the second half of the year on this project, but it's on hiatus right now, as there are more profitable ventures in the immediate future.

However, Fathoms will be finished. It is on my very short to-do list for this life.