Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Still going!

I'm working on some very slow scenes (a lot of characters and technical stuff all animating and interacting), but slowly making progress. So I'm estimating I can complete the animatic in January (fingers crossed).

Swim that mighty ocean!

Monday, November 21, 2011


We did it!

Well, half did it....!?!

The animatic is over half-way complete!
This is a big deal. A HUGE DEAL!

This represents a ton of work of which I have never attempted or completed before (it's scary!). I've made some great additions to the story in terms of clarity (for the viewer) of my themes and story.

Nerd details - this represents about 200 SHOTS and aproximately 10 MINUTES OF ANIMATION...INSANE!

Now of course, some shots will not make it to final edit/animation, and a lot will be shortened (or lengthened) as necessary. A lot of shots are being added and refined, though, at this stage, animation remains limited and mostly loose.

PS - I'm at 16 days straight without breaking the chain (more on that in another post). I'll consider it significant when I've made it to 30.

Keep on swimmin!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Thanks to Norb for the great suggestion (and article) about working every day.
I think this is a great approach for the long term, so I'm using the calendar to make sure I'm working every day.

My current days are filled with lots of other work in addition to Fathoms. So I'm making my requirements for counting a day of work as - at least one hour of animation.

I'm only two days in, so, no major hurdles yet. My first milestone is 30 days...I know there's a ton of stuff coming up that will limit my working time, so, it's going to be a fun challenge!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I had a dream about my father last night...

He was still around, and he had set up a small work shop in an old concrete building.
I came to visit his shop one day only to find the door had been boarded up.
All of his things were in boxes outside.
I knew what this meant.

He was gone.

I have these dreams, these feelings of sadness, emptiness, around this time every year.

My father died on November 19, 1999.

It's not an arresting burden, but, it is a presence that colors my life.

I am lucky to have so much love and support in my life, and it makes me all the more thankful for all the opportunities I have, and the choices I get to make.

Now back to our regularly televised submersibles, already in progress.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This used to be a face...oops!

When people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

~Neil Gaiman

'Nuff said! Meanwhile, work has been nuts, so, I've had almost no time to work on Fathoms the past two weeks...trying to move the ball forward this week though.

Friday, October 7, 2011


From many, one

"We ALL have something we're trying to accomplish that lies outside the realm of basic human survival... whether it be some personal project or accomplishment... to get it DONE we've got to fight with and DEFEAT ourselves...

What will you do? Who/what do you want to become? Are you willing to fight for it?

How long/hard are you willing to fight?"

 ~MDOTSTRANGE from Defeating the enemy within

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


"focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry. Stay foolish."

Monday, September 26, 2011


I'm animating the first rough 3D pass - or animatic . This is mostly about blocking shots and getting a better sense of timing. Character animation is limited in this pass, the second pass is where I'll breathe dramatic life into the characters! So, in this pass, they will slide instead of walk, and behave a little bit like robots dancing.

I've animated about five minutes so far, of the roughly sixteen+ minutes that comprise the film...not bad (considering this is my first time), but not brilliant either.

A lot of the slowness is down to bug fixing, and making initial camera/style choices...so, this should not be a flat/linear curve of progress, but, in theory, I hope to get faster as I go along, though every scene presents it's own unique challenge.

Once I complete this pass, I'll really zero in on the edit - It should be much more clear what really works and what doesn't, vs the boardamatic, which is like a really nice figure study, but not the final work...this is like the linework for the painting.

Onward and seaward!

Friday, August 26, 2011


I get so frustrated when people say 'You're so talented, I could never do that!'

This phrase has been repeated to me hundreds of times during my life, and you know what? It makes me mad. This is not about god-given talent, it's about showing up...EVERY DAY!

"80% of success is showing up"
~Woody Allen

You can tell how dedicated to a project someone really is based on just this factor alone. If you want to do something, or get better at something...show up. Every day. Even if it's a small amount of time. Regularity and consistency are far more important than qualitative results. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Keep showing up, you will get better.

You may eventually reach a plateau, a threshold, or a fork in the road. At that point you have to choose whether to stay on the same road, or to continue your artistic growth (challenge).

You want a good idea, as you will spend most of your time laboring over it, but, don't get stuck on this, it's just a fantasy until you complete the journey.


That 19% of fudge-space is where things are polished, modified, enhanced, edited, simplified, and distorted. This one I think comes down to you, this is human 'error'. This is where what makes you who you are takes over, this is where you own the work. This is where you bring your personality, your style, or not.

Now, that 1% is important, but I, like so many others was in love with the ideas...they are so easy, and so ambiguous and non-specific. It's easy to fall in love at this stage. It's like infatuation. But it's not love. It's not deep or fulfilling. It's a cheap thrill.

The great rewards don't come this way.

So, long ramble short....show up, every day

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I Just finished watching Zombie girl on Netflix streaming. Watch it, it's good stuff.

A great takeaway from the documentary:

"You're not a filmmaker until you finish the film"

F*** the quality. F*** the doubt. F*** the possibilities of making it better. F*** the new and better ideas you have while your doubt is screaming at you to do something else....anything else. F*** it all.

Just make it. Set some constraints, and do it!

If this is something you will continue doing, you will get better, but, if you don't complete it, it's not art. It's not anything.

Now, I'm not saying leap blindly into a busy intersection. Use your wits, your human instincts to survive. Rely on those things, and just make the best s*** you can.

In summary:
Show up, every day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Q&A #1

Thanks for bearing with me...I will try to find adjectives for the word "incredible"!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Let me nerd out for a moment here cos I like tangents:

kickstarter, fathoms, me, thornberg, kyle, gel 2011 conference, kickstarter...it's a small (cyclical) world after all!

GEL 2011

GEL 2011 DAY 2 Intro from Thornberg & Forester on Vimeo.

PS - I only did a little bit of work on this, most of the credit goes to Kyle Miller and the magicians at Thornberg & Forester.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Thank you so much everyone! Seriously! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

The Kickstarter project finished at a resounding 261% with nearly $20,000 raised! We had support from communities all over the world, from friends and family, from mysterious anonymous sources....it has been an honor and a privilege to say the least.

Tons of crazy stuff will be happening. The real (painful but joyous) work begins now, so, GAME ON!

Monday, July 18, 2011


( headphones on / speakers turned up )

It's truly inspiring. I can't begin to describe how thankful Hippo and myself are for everyone's amazing support. So we put a video together.

So, we have just over a week left to go on the Kickstarter project. And I have one more thing, one more thank you I want to offer. So let's keep it steady rolling, and then onward to the big show!


Thursday, July 14, 2011


M Dot Strange on taking the leap of faith:

'We all have this "I'm not ready yet" thing going on... "when I'm ready I'll start" Well in my experience YOU NEVER FEEL "READY" you just have to go anyway...'

Monday, July 11, 2011


I received a very kind email from my dad's brother (my uncle) that I wanted to share

"Your Dad, as you know, was very talented in many areas and I am sad he never really got to spread his wings and use his gifts as you are doing. Thanks for giving me the chance to help with your film. What a great way to honor my brother and my sister."

Monday, July 4, 2011


Click for larger Image

Week 1 of Kickstarting is over!
It's been an amazing start and I am so grateful for your generous support.

We've got 3 more weeks to go and a long way to the top. Remember, Kickstarter is all-or-nothing...so if we don't hit the goal by day 30...

I am counting on you guys to help spread the word to the greater internets!
I'm sending press releases to sites like io9, kotaku, reddit, boingboing, and cartoonbrew to try and get more coverage. If you guys also send the Kickstarter link for FATHOMS, maybe we can get some serious press...definitely worth trying, right?!


Anyway, I hope everyone has a great holiday, and let's make some magic!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Spread the word. Tell your friends, teachers, siblings, family, whomever!

If you can donate even a $1, it would mean a lot to me.

Thank you in advance for your kind support and generosity.

Holy cow! It's been a long journey...and the journey is only really beginning, but I'd like to take a moment and reflect, and smile, on this moment. I've come a long way as an artist and a human being since I had the tiny seed of an idea that will ultimately become FATHOMS.

This is a big getting-my-shit-together moment for me. I also feel very lucky to have the love and support of my friends and family.

I wish I could have found my discipline 4 years ago, but, I am human, and the best lessons learned in life are learned from living it!

Keep on swimmin'

Saturday, June 25, 2011


A moment from the FATHOMS pitch video

OMG, freaking out! Excitement/Terror!

I've been working on the Kickstarter pitch video and project since the second I finished the preproduction phase.

I think I've got some great (and unique) rewards for you guys, and I'm excited to finally finally finally get the word out.

So, shooting to launch Monday or Tuesday if I can get everything together!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011


"I could just be f*cking talking to myself. I mean that’s the thing that you don’t know. Am I just bullshitting? Am I just drinking my own urine and telling myself it’s the finest red wine available? I have no idea. You know what I mean? You don’t know. You just hope that you make stuff that matters, firstly to yourself and secondly to other people."

~Phillip Toledano

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Click for larger image
I've come down with some sort of cold and I'm feeling pretty raw...but we're still on track to launch the Kickstarter project next week, and enter full production in July. Stay tuned for more soon!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Running late

I did some math while riding the train today and realized that I put in over 400 man-hours over a 6 week period. It's interesting to look back, and realize that despite the long hours, the time flew by, and most days, it was very easy to put in the hard work necessary to get this FATHOMS ship off the ground.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Bridge to success?

Pre-production time is wrapping up!

I will be back to my freelancing day job come Monday, and time to work on FATHOMS will become limited again.

I've completed 99% of the work I set out to, which is awesome, and proof that a good production schedule is critical. There are over 13 sets in FATHOMS...you would think I'm making a feature film here (that's the next project)!

Now the work begins on Kickstarter, and then actual production!

Keep on swimmin!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011



Week 6 is over.

Week 7 is a shortened week of catchup, and then 2 mandatory days to rest before returning to working (for others) after taking time off of working (for others) to work (for myself). Phew!

So the curtains fall on the brutal (but productive) pre-production phase. If I were to do nothing more from here on on Fathoms, I would be very proud of myself. I've done a lot of things I've never done before and never thought I could do. And I've made a lot of images that even I think could be beautiful.

However! This is just the beginning. This is like base camp at Mt. Everest; The real test begins now that I have to actually climb the mountain known as animation.

To quote a favorite of mine:

Oh snail
climb Mount Fuji
but slowly, slowly!

This is why I will be looking to you for Kickstarter support...which, of course, I will spam everyone with as soon as I have made a video.

This humble one-man-band appreciates all past, present, and future support!

And there will be cool rewards!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Sam has pig feet (you'll see)
Soooooooo painful, but...JOB'S DONE!

I have now finished building and rigging all the characters. This is a huge milestone for me as it has been the worst part of Fathoms.

I don't know how people do it. Even using my lo-fidelity models and rigs, it's still a nightmare to get things to work well together. It makes me want to do character that are inanimate objects, like a cube.

My only advice is, get someone else to do it for you (if you can). If you can't, then...a lot of time + infinite patience. It took me 4 days for each of the main characters, that doesn't sound like a long time, but it feels like an eternity, hah.

I've also gotten sick in this painful process. Luckily week 7 is about much more comfortable territory. I've got to build a set for 1 sequence and an epic one-off shot.

Then I will update the boardamatic, including numbering my shots. This way I can keep track of my progress while animating...and make sure I stay on schedule (other job aside).
Then we get into actual production...scary!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Evan, nearing completion

Some moderate distraction this week colluded with some loss of motivation. So, I would say I'm behind 2-3 days now. That doesn't sound good, but, there's still time...I just have to stay motivated in the home stretch (of preproduction, hah)!

Week 6
I have to finish building Evan, then it's on to finalizing Sam. She should be a bit faster to complete, as she was much further along to start with.

Then we will be very VERY close to....


and I can put together the video for Kickstarter and get some external support!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


A quiet night on the Q train

So, I have been working on some pretty complex (for me anyway) sets, some are intimate, some are epic.

It's been both challenging (frustrating) and fun.

There is always more to do than one plans for, so I have planned about 5 extra days of catch up time.
Currently I am behind about a day, so, that's still very reasonable.

Week 5 will be about finishing the last of the main set pieces and then getting into the nitty gritty of finishing Sam & Evan. I've put this off for a few weeks because a) I'm scared b) I'm hoping I can apply some problem solving things I've dealt with in the previous 4 weeks.

More soon!

UPDATE - after a totally unplanned life indecent today, I'm behind about a day and a half...so....keep on swimmin?!

Friday, May 20, 2011


Fathoms will be on Kickstarter, hopefully by June
It's been a busy and hectic week. I took a little time to actually sleep last night, which puts me behind about a half day. I'd rather get sleep and not get sick though, so, I think it was a necessary delay.

Week 4 will consist entirely of modeling sets...so, I have to be careful not to get too caught up in the details and focus my time more on lighting and general layout. Your imagination can do the rest!

PS - Kickstarter has accepted my pitch for Fathoms...so, in the coming weeks I will be putting together a video and rewards for the big push! I'm pretty stoked to get the word out (finally).

Keep on swimmin!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Even though I'm using constraints instead of skinning, rigging is still such a bitch (for me).

The individual steps don't bother me, it's more that if you screw up any step along the way, you essentially have to start all over.

VERY FRUSTRATING...but I'm chopping my way through the brush!

Just have to keep on swimmin!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011


Working in a nearly silent environment is wonderful. I've had a few days to myself at my home office this week, and it's been a wonderfully zen-like, distraction-free environment...very good for the creative soul!

So, I'm solidly ahead on some things...

like the dive suit (as seen above)

and a tiny bit behind on others...so I'm about on schedule!

Just gotta keep on swimmin!

Monday, May 9, 2011


click to view fullsize

Somehow I've managed to stay on track this week (even with a lot of hurdles).

I assume that's because I've done little else and I've split my day into three working shifts. This helps deal with distractions (which there are many in modern life) and gives me a little breathing room, while still maintaining a 10 hour+ (minimum) work day.

My work routine:

Morning - 9:30ish - lunch time
Midday - lunchtime to dinner time, with a short snack break
Evening - (after dinner to about an hour past my bed time

If I'm ahead of schedule (hah), then I will take some personal time.

Also, with every significant milestone, I reward myself with a less complex task. Something to cleanse the mental palate.

So, the animatic is more or less ready to go, and I will probably get a few trusted eyes to check it out...make sure it all adds up, while I work away on designing and modeling things.

Not sure if it's too cheesy, or too bloated, or what, but, I'll get whip it into shape in due time!

Monday, May 2, 2011


Thusly we begin our journey

A journey of the mind and body

A journey of the soul

...also, I did a ton of storyboard frames today...not sexy, but, important (see above).

Friday, April 8, 2011


In a few short weeks I will be taking time off from my day gig. I will be militantly dedicated for 6 weeks to getting Fathoms up and running.

I will be doing all the final pre-production, and if my militant schedule is realistic and I succeed, then I should be animating shots by the end of the 6 week period.

I will then nibble away on shots, animating a few hours after work...into the fall, and then I will take another 3-6 weeks off to finish the post-production work for Fathoms.

I am equal parts excited and terrified.
Great power. Great responsibility. You know the drill.

But, good, bad, mediocre, mind-blowing...it's going to be done (done-done), and then I'll move forward from there.

Keep on swimming!

Sunday, April 3, 2011




Wednesday, January 26, 2011


When it comes to the dialogue for Fathoms I'm all business.

So I'm starting work on the storyboards and getting the dialogue locked and recorded.

I'm taking what I would consider the american approach, and recording dialogue first, making sure it works in the boardamatic, then building the animation roughly around those timings.

I'm going for what would probably be considered a hyper-realistic angle.

I imagine Fathoms as a stage play, with an emotional maturity that follows that line. I don't know that the end result will fall there, but that's something I keep deep in the recesses of my mind as a target to aim for.

I want this to feel involved, and authentic, messy and visceral - human.

Some people use the Japanese approach - fitting the voice to the animation after the fact. But I prefer to let the human expression dictate the pacing.

I'm very lucky to have two amazing actors filling the pants (or lungs) of Evan and Sam.
More soon!

Friday, January 14, 2011


This is maybe seemingly unrelated, but, it is highly related. Because I'm a very small army.

I finally completed Anatomy in Motion, for the iPhone and iPad. I submitted it last night (Sunday, Jan 9, 2011). I started this project about a year and a half ago with my girlfriend, (who is awesome, by the way).

I delivered about a week behind schedule, but, it's delivered, and now I can finally move on to Fathoms.

This next week is for planning my whole schedule for Fathoms which involves finding a really useful and flexible scheduling program to help me keep on task. I'm thinking of it as my virtual producer......so it needs to be really smart.

I'm also working with my awesome voice talent on getting the dialogue together...more on that soon!

I've got a lot going on this year, and I'm going to try to hit a September deadline for the Sundance festival if I can...it's probably unrealistic, but I'm hoping aggressive scheduling might make it possible. If it's not ready to ship by then, it's not, but, I'm going to do the best I can to hit that milestone!

Keep on swimming