Monday, December 31, 2007

Mo Willems has a blog

I just discovered it...he had an amazing 226 posts in 2007, so he updates it very frequently. Add it to your list of artist blogs. Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2007


"A silent concrete creature follows a nervous businessman through Montreal in Terminus, an eerie and darkly funny short film directed by Trevor Cawood."

(via Boing Boing)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Once Upon a Wintertime

Just in case you didn't see it over on John K's blog already....

A wonderfully illustrated Golden Book, by Disney artist Tom Oreb. He has some great page scans if you scroll down and click on the images. Picking up on the theme of a limited palette, this book actually alternates back and forth. Though, all the colors are masterfully implemented. Check out the striking compositions of snowy scenes with trees and icy rivers.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Let it snow!

A few months ago, Bob wrote about the beauty of a limited color palette. You only need to look outside on a snowy day to see this for yourself. (This photo was just taken last week.) In fact, nature always seems to choose the right colors, no matter what time of year. Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Grow Island

I found my 5-year-old son playing this:
Grow Island

Pretty cute!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Year End Lists (2007)

Hey everyone! It's that time of year again.
The return of the year end

Top Ten lists!

What's that? You have a Top Ten list, too? Here's the place to state your opinion. No matter the category (books, movies, music, games, quotes, sports, television...whatever!). Contribute to the list craze! I do a list of my personal favorite albums. What do you got?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nate Wragg, Ratatouille Credits

Many of you who've seen Pixar's Ratatouille have mentioned how much you love the end credits of the movie. I've been checking out Nate Wragg's illustration blog for awhile, but I just made the connection that he was one of the key artists behind the credits animation. I think a lot of it came from the concept art he did for the film. He talks a little about it in this post:
Everything was animated by hand, and since we wanted such a painterly look on the finished animation, we had to paint all the animation in a futuristic old fashioned way, all in the computer, but frame by frame in photoshop with no cheats or short cuts. Unfortunately we didn't get to use any cell painting gloves, maybe next time.

eBooks for real this time?

Appleinsider has a great breakdown and analysis of Amazon's new Kindle eBook reader. A lot of comparisons have been made to Apple's iPod domination of the mp3 market. Only thing is that there really isn't an eBook market yet.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


John K. has a nice little post about some background art from a Donald Duck cartoon. He's blogged frequently about how cartoons should have better color design (he specifically love's Art Lozzi's background designs for Yogi Bear). Worth checking out when you get second. He talks about how the color scheme is limited, but not monochromatic. Browns, reds, grays, and oranges are working great together. And subtle enough so when the characters are overlayed, they still pop.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Looking for a design pick-me-up? Jay passed this great website on to me today. It's a design portal of sorts that tracks current trends in web design by showcasing a ton of cool sites. There's a lot to look at, especially if you're looking for innovative design solutions or just a lot of cutting edge Flash sites.

--> Visit Beautifully

There is a similar site I used to frequent called linkdup that has a bunch of great design as well. I don't know if they update it anymore.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cancer, Schmancer!

--> Watch "Inside Magoo" (1960)

This is kind of like what we did with the stroke animations.
Except it features Mr. Magoo! (note, you have to skip the first couple minutes to get to the cartoon)

(via Boing Boing)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good Ole Charle Brown...

I was just watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, like I do every year. ABC shows it more than a couple times between now and Christmas, so be sure to schedule it in at some point. I'm always awestruck by the heartfelt beauty and simplicity of the story and animation. The only problem is that you always have to hurry and change the channel before they show the awful NEW version afterwards (good grief!). Anyway, I got to thinking about the kind of animation we do at FableVision—usually symbol-based tweening that takes advantages of all the short cuts that Flash has to offer to get it done on time and on budget. There is something so incredibly charming about the limited animation in A Charlie Brown Christmas. The voices, the music, the backgrounds, and the way the characters are drawn is almost timeless because they are so embedded in our minds. Here's a little information I've heard before, and dug up again on Wikipedia that might be good to put into perspective when we think about animation:

"The production was done on a shoestring budget, resulting in a somewhat choppy animation style and, from a technical standpoint, poorly mixed sound. With the exception of the actors who voiced Charlie Brown and Lucy, Peter Robbins and Tracy Stratford, respectively, none of the children had any experience doing voice work. This was especially challenging for Kathy Steinberg, who voiced Sally: she was too young to read and needed to be cued line by line during the soundtrack recording. The technical issues are in evidence on the show's audio track, which to some may seem noticeably choppy and poorly enunciated. Melendez has said he remains somewhat embarrassed to see the show repeated every year with all its problems, but Schulz vetoed his idea of "fixing" the program years later."

From a technical perspective, not to impressive---even for it's time. Anecdotally I've heard they animated it at 8 frames a second!

"Another complaint was the absence of a laugh track, a common element of children's cartoons at the time. Schulz maintained that the audience should be able to enjoy the show at their own pace, without being cued when to laugh. (CBS did create a version of the show with the laugh track added, just in case Schulz changed his mind. This version remains unavailable.) A third complaint was the use of children to do the voice acting, instead of employing adult actors. Finally, the executives thought that the jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi would not work well for a children's program. When executives saw the final product, they were horrified and believed the special would be a complete flop.

The show first aired on Thursday, December 9, 1965, preempting The Munsters and following the Gilligan's Island episode entitled Don't Bug the Mosquitos. To the surprise of the executives, it was both a critical and commercial hit. None of the special's technical problems detracted from the show's appeal; to the contrary, it is thought that these so-called quirks, along with several other choices, are what lent the show such an innovative, authentic and sincere feeling."

It goes to show how charm, wit, and originality can go a long way. Everything that worked for the original is absent from the NEW version they show afterwards to fill out the hour for advertisers. From an animation standpoint, I'd like to see us do more of this kind of animation, which I'll call "limited but with a TON of charm" than the robotic stiffness that is so easy to crank out of Flash. But I guess that would be a bigger discussion on philosophies of animation that might be better saved for another posting.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

To Flash, or not to Flash

I pose this question to all of you, but I guess it's a little more geared towards the artists. Given the choice (in an ideal world, where time is not a factor), would you rather work traditionally or digitally? If that sounds too broad, do you find that you prefer working in Flash (Photoshop, etc), or creating your art by getting your hands dirty? Both Keith and Renee have thought about it on their own blogs. Renee is actively weighing the differences, especially when it comes to time. But I'm talking purely about aesthetic quality and working process.

There are the obvious pros and cons to both approaches. I tend to believe that the biggest advantages to working on a digital canvas (aside from time, again...time is not a factor in an ideal world) are precision and editability (better known as UNDO). But it can be cold and sterile to sit in front of a computer—using key commands and sliders. On a computer, you start with something clean, and then you have to go out of your way to muck it up.

When you work with paint, ink, or any other real world media (what have become known as traditional media), if you make a mistake you either have to start over again or find a way to make it work. You can smell it. It gets on your hands. It's hard to make a color or a line completely precise. What is traditional media best for? I'd say texture, variation, subtlety, and that hard to define hand-made quality. Also, your finished original product actually exists outside of the computer.

The question is a hard one for me. But I try to work in the realm that suits my methodology. And often, that means a little bit of both. I find that I'm better off drawing and inking by hand, but I crave the precision of ones and zeros when I'm coloring. If I had to decide one way or another—meaning, get rid of either the brush or the cursor—I'd still rather create my artwork by hand. The computer is an extremely convenient and powerful tool, but it still can't match the immediacy of physical media.

What does everyone else think? And if people think they truly prefer traditional media, then why do we put up with sitting in front of a computer every day?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Logo R.I.P.

I dug this up via Boing Boing:

'Logo R.I.P.' is a commemoration of logos withdrawn from their ocular landscape. Many are considered icons of their time or international design classics, whilst other cost millions only to be replaced within a year or two. These logos disappeared, yet in contrast to the ceremony an pomp that greeted their arrival, they often suffered an ignoble death. Now deemed defunct, they are consigned to the logo graveyard, no longer allowed to signify.

Funny stuff. You can even leave condolences to your favorites. It's a book, as well.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Finding Time for Creativity

I found this interesting quote on Seth Godin's Blog (via Skelliewag):

"99% of the time, in my experience, the hard part about creativity isn't coming up with something no one has ever thought of before. The hard part is actually executing the thing you've thought of."

This is true -- I have so many ideas, and spend time thinking about how I'm going to do them someday, but I don't have time to do them. Either they are huge projects that are too daunting, or they get pushed aside by the chores of daily life.

How do people find time for their creative projects? If everyone writes one idea, we'll have a list to inspire each other.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Who Will Be... the Superest?

The Superest is a continually running game of My Team, Your Team. The rules are simple:
Player 1 draws a character with a power. Player 2 then draws a character whose power cancels the power of that previous character. Repeat.

Here's numero uno:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

John K. Commercials

Howdy, folks! John K. has a bunch of old commercials posted on his blog that he and his studio Spumco created a few years back. Watch them here. They are all mini-quicktime downloads, which is fun because you can step through them to look at specific keyframes. The Old Navy ones in particular are real gems. I remember them being on TV, as well as the old Nike spot. He notes that his main goal was to make commercials you wouldn't want to fast forward through.

When you watch them, note a number of things. The timing (music, animation, sound effects, pacing) is nearly perfect. The animation is extremely fun to watch (a lot of great drawings went into these). The character design is amazing. And lastly, but probably most importantly, look at the variety of color schemes! The backgrounds aren't entirely naturalistic, and in some of them, even the sky changes color from shot to shot.

Creativity Goldmine!

This is a HUGE list of creativity motivators I found on Digg:

--> 110+ Resources for Creative Minds (by Skellie)

Sites include a couple of of my usual favorites (Drawn!, BoingBoing), and then 100 more! I'm gonna add this link to the side bar so it doesn't sink into the archives. Come here if you're in the need of any kind of inspiration, and you'll be sure to find something.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

DESIGN SQUAD at Maker Faire | Drawing Sound | PBS

Paul Rand Tribute Video

Paul Rand was a graphic designer -- according to Wikipedia, he designed many iconic corporate logos.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Poor Man's Color Theory

As the cover of the book The Art of Color, by Johannes Itten, suggests, colors can be pretty tricky to manage. Once you get beyond the basic lessons of the color wheel, you still have to juggle how colors relate to one another, and context is everything. Color theory is all about physics, psychology, and perception, so it's no wonder things get complicated fast! This is why I personally think color is easier to manage, and appreciate, when you limit yourself to a handful of hues. Even one!

Now, I recognize a limited palette isn't for everyone. But I do think it's a great way of isolating color and thinking about it. I'm also a big advocate of learning from found color schemes. Don't be afraid to appropriate a color scheme for your own art. Vintage packaging is a great source for color because of the limited printing technologies designers had to work with. This scheme is based on the two complimentary colors red and green, as it was a 2-color print job.

Background artists are also masters of color. Oftentimes, they need to work in a fairly limited palette so as not to combat with the characters' colors in the foreground. Bill Wray has some amazing background art from Samurai Jack on his blog. Below is an analogous color scheme of plums, purples, and pinks. Note that there is plenty of room for accents in a limited palette.

If your colors are limited and related, they end up being easier to sort out. And I tend to think they're more pleasant on the eyes. Once you start cluttering up your image with too much color, it can start to look like a coloring book. Colors begin to claim territory on the page, and they become isolated from one another. Color should be about harmony, unless you are purposely trying to create an unsettling image. Here are a handful of artists I like who are using a limited palette extremely well.

Nick Cross

Aaron Renier

Jordan Crane

Onsmith Jeremi

Once you get a handle on juggling one or two colors, adding a third or fourth becomes a lot easier. I should also note that when I say color, I really mean a family of hues...not a single swatch. There will be more to come on true color theory, but I thought this would be a good starter discussion. Color theory becomes essential when you want to know why one color scheme works better than another, or how to fix something when it doesn't work. If you're feeling a bit rusty (or curious!), I just happened upon a pretty good online color theory resource at

--> Color Theory Tutorial (a rich man's guide)

But it can get abstract, quickly. In a future post, I hope we can break down what we think are the most important lessons of color theory. Until then, happy coloring!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Semantic Web (or Web 3.0)

Just when you thought you had figured out Web 2.0, it appears that the folks in Silicon Valley are currently trying to dream up Web 3.0, otherwise known as the semantic Web. I was just reading this article on, and here's what they have to say:
There is no easy consensus about how to define what is meant by Web 3.0, but it is generally seen as a reference to the semantic Web. While it is not that much more precise a phrase, the semantic Web refers to technology to make using the Internet better by understanding the meaning of what people are doing, not just the way pages link to each other.

Confused yet? I think part of it has to do with merging artificial intelligence with the Internet. They reference an earlier article from 2006 (here). Good stuff to keep in mind, I guess. Anyone know anything about this?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cleveland vs. Indians

My former illustration professor, DB Dowd, has a couple thought provoking posts (1, 2) on his blog, Graphic Tales, concerning the mascot of the Cleveland Indians. In the wake of Cleveland's domination in the lead-up to the World Series, he calls into question the portrayal of Native American sterotypes in the graphic arts.

I sometimes wonder about the persistance of these images and their acceptance in popular culture. Those of us practicing in the visual arts are to some degree at the front line of the issue, when we design characters that represent ethnic groups. Here's an excerpt from one of DB's posts:
Given the degree to which American Indians have been reduced in number and marginalized in the era following their near extermination, it’s hardly a surprise that majoritarian impulses, even when astonishingly crude, go largely unchallenged except in the rarefied precincts of universities. (See Dartmouth College and more recently the University of Illinois.) Hence, the mortifying figure of Chief Wahoo remains in use on the shores of Lake Erie, which nowadays is not exactly Gitche Gumee.

This is surely not a new topic of discussion in the sports world (the Braves have gotten a lot of heat in the past for their chants), but when you're rooting for the Sox tonight, it's something else to think about.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Web 2.0 Address Book

How many ways can someone reach you these days? Forget landlines, cellphones, email, and IM. How many social-networking sites have you joined? It seems like every couple months somebody wants us to join another one...first Friendster, then MySpace, now Facebook and LinkedIn. Twitter is a fairly fledgling service where you basically leave a message saying what you're doing at that moment of the day. They just keep coming!

I was just reading a post on Wired's Compiler blog discussing the Web 2.0 Summit that gets under way next week. A topic stirring interest is about a yet to be invented product called the "Web 2.0 Address Book," which is being referred to as a location-aware contact list. The idea is to have email, IM, phone, and social-networking sites working as one. Chris Messina offers a possible scenerio:
Rather than calling somebody or sending an e-mail or a Twitter or an IM, you just open up your contact list and click on their name. Wherever they are, your communication reaches them via the most convenient and appropriate means. So, they're walking on the beach, their iPhone rings. If they're in a meeting, they get a text message. If they're at their desk, they get an e-mail. If they're in Asia, they're probably asleep, so they get a voicemail.

Wouldn't that be cool, if not a heck of a lot simpler? Compiler goes on to say:

...your "presence" doesn't just exist on Facebook or Google. Rather, it lives in that layer of information which can be assembled from the pieces stored on every service you're a part of. Obviously, microformats would play a key part in such a scenario. Standards like hCard and hCalendar can be used to track where you are and what you're up to. OpenID can verify your identity, making your location data accessible to you and your group of friends. Instantly, anyone who wanted to get in touch with you could just look you up in their contact list and see where you are, what you're doing, what you'll be doing this afternoon and the best way to get in touch with you right now.

For more on this discussion, check out the original post by Messina, spurred by Google's acquisition of Jaiku (a service similar to Twitter). Sounds like all these things will be coming together soon. So I wouldn't fret about joining all these social networks to communicate with one another. What do people think about friends and family literally knowing where you are and what you're doing?


I've been sneezing like crazy today (must be some sort of allergy season)...and I was using Puffs tissues. I've had this on my mind for a while...but now I have some place to rant about it. I absolutely love the characters they use to advertise Puffs! They remind of of those classic Christmas claymation movies. ('Twas the Night Before Christmas") Check out:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Casual Games and Education

I firmly believe that young kids definitely can have a more meaningful experience on the computer when they play with their parents. In this regard, I am failing. Every morning my son wakes up about 1/2 hour before I'm ready to open my eyes, gets on the computer, and starts surfing from game site to game site. So far, he seems to have been keeping it clean (aside from the one, really disturbing game where you have to help a robot with his love life), and he's found some great stuff.

The more I watch him explore, the more I appreciate the problem solving and critical thinking skills that are employed in playing these games. These games are challenging, fun and highly addictive. As we continue to develop new games for clients, we should try to think about what we like about casual games and try to apply those thoughts to our creations.

Here's the game that inspired this posting:
Tom and Jerry's Trap-o-matic
A fun game that actually isn't terribly challenging to build, but works well. It requires some understanding of spatial relations to play.

Additional Sites:
MSN Games
Yahoo! Games
PopCap Games

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Has anyone seen this commercial yet? It's an incredible technical feat, and simply beautiful to watch—blobs of Play-Doh that multiply into rabbits as they happily hop all over New York City. Watch the clip and then head on over to the Sony website, where they have it in hi-res and behind the scenes footage of how they pulled it off. The Sony website also has a pretty innovative interface. This should get your juices flowing! A victory for stop-motion in a world of CG animation.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Things are Heating Up in SimCity

I just read that the newest version of the city building classic SimCity will feature a global warming variable. In SimCity Societies, if you don't carefully manage your green house gases, your societies will collapse. Yet another game for change? Maybe they should have real city planners and government officials take it for a spin.

"The game does not force players to power their cities any specific way, but allows them to make choices, each of which come with advantages and disadvantages. Similar to real-life, the least expensive and most readily-available buildings in SimCity Societies are also the biggest producers of carbon dioxide, an invisible gas that contributes to global warming. Should players choose to build cities dependent on these types of sources for power to conserve their in-game money, their carbon ratings will rise and, at reaching critical levels, the game will issue alerts about the threat of the various natural disasters like droughts, heat waves and others that may strike their cities."

Wonderland (via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

All Beatles Albums in an hour

Via Boing Boing:

"Steve McLaughlin took all the UK Beatles LPs and compressed them into a single, 1-hour MP3 by increasing their tempo by 800 percent. The resulting file is a little hard to listen to, but it's an impressive accomplishment, nevertheless. I'm up to "Hard Day's Night," and it's starting to cause hallucinations."

Here's the link to WFMU's Beware of the Blog where you can download the mp3. Freaky, huh?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Creating brain space

Or a reading space. A writing space. A cooking place. A you-name-it place.
A few days ago I stepped outside of my body to make note of the way I was working at home. And quite frankly, I was shocked. Ok, that's dramatizing it. I was sitting on the futon in my living room, indian style (despite being scoulded by my doctor as a toddler that it's bad for your knees...) and to ice the cake I was hunched over a pad of paper. I'm not talking leaning over a bug to check it out 'hunched', I mean HUNCHED. If it wasn't me I was looking at I might have assumed this person had a spinal problem.
Do you do this when you're persuing the hobbies you do at home?
I leaned back, trying to correct my usually proper posture. Anyone here who's sat on my futon though probaly doesn't remember it for it's astounding doctor approved comfort. It makes due, especially since my parents lent it to me for a hardy handshake (or a huge thankyou). Though- it's no substitution for a qualified workspace.
I pulled my futon closer twoards my food network/video gaming station and the rest was pie.

There was just enough room to fit the unused desk, that had turned into a paper scrap holder from my bedroom, behind the futon.
I was surprised at how easy it was to make space. For a sheer moment I felt all of those hours I'd spent with home decoratings shows on in the background had finally paid off. I was smiling. It felt like a commercial in my head.
I'd like to share how it is we are each creating in our homes, since we already know how everyone works in the studio. My hope is that maybe we can learn from each other (if that's what you'd like) or even if you're satisfied with you current methods, perhaps folks like myself could take note from your satisfaction. I've been having a slight lack of motivation recently (hence the need to shift things into a different gear)- and just wanted to throw it out there incase some other birdies ever feel/felt/future tense of feel, the same way.
So my wonder is how does everyone else find they get their work done best at home?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Line Quality

Hey gang! This is the first post of what I hope becomes a series of discussions related to picture-making and animation. So here goes! Today, John K. has some thoughts on the importance of line quality in animation. Here's the link to his post where he asks the question "Is Good Line Important?" Definitely worth checking out, as he chronicles his opinion of how line has taken a back seat in some animation. A lot of what he talks about is clean-up, which is the animation process where the inker comes in to clean up the the rough pencil sketches of the animator. The trick here is the preserve the energy of the gestural quality of you sketch. I typically go through a similar process when I take a sketch to it's inked stage in my illustrations (see below). I'd be curious to hear about everyone else's general methodologies for getting from sketch to final...both in the digital and traditional realms.

Now, most of the FableVision crew brings a different philosophy on line to the table. I personally find line the most interesting part of making a picture—it's where I get my kicks as an artist. Our differences in how we use line define our styles as artists.

So I'm gonna single a couple people out. First, I'll start with Pete. Of all of us, he probably takes the loosest approach to line—wavy and varying as it skips around the page. Pete's line has a ton of energy to it. It breathes evidence of the brush stroke that created it. It's not continuous—broken in can see where Pete picks up his pen as he scoots along. It retains the properties of a sketch.

Allie also uses a fairly loose line, but prefers a single-width line, best created with a pen or a pencil. Her line-weight is uniform, and has the confidence of a doodle. One consequence of uniform line-weight is that it flattens the drawing. The line reads as pure line, which an artist can use to their advantage.

Keith's line, especially when he works in pencil, fades in and out. He employs both contrast and thickness. When he works in Flash, Keith uses a varied line weight to achieve the subtleties in contrast he gets from the pressure variation of a pencil line. And this variation is used for emphasis—the effect is that the drawing has realistic 3-dimensionality.

None of these samples use line in conjunction with color, which is an entirely different balancing act. But I thought it would be best to isolate line in its raw form at first. What are people's thoughts on the importance of line?

"The Kentucky Cycle," or "Marli's Second Home"

The Kentucky Cycle opens this weekend, and in addition to me getting a little more sleep, this means I get to share what I've devoted my nights and weekends to these past two months. Bostix Advance just sent out a limited deal for half priced tickets ($35 regular, $18 with the Bostix deal), so here's their e-mail if anyone wants to get in on that, for opening weekend! ( (Tickets for other weekends are available from

Part 1 - Thu at 7:30, Sat/Sun at 2pm
Part 2 - Fri/Sat/Sun at 7:30
October 6-November 17

We've had promotional articles from the Globe and from the Phoenix (in which she misquotes the director and calls my actors cannibals), but best of all is the "theatrical trailer" one of my actors made.

I'm assistant stage managing, so I've been able to see this production grow from the beginning. There is something immensely satisfying about working on a show - an instant gratification of sorts. 8 weeks ago these people didn't know one another, and now they're both my friends and a tight knit collection of relatives, neighbors, and sworn enemies.

And here's the summary the media's been using:
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Robert Schenkkan's epic series of nine plays over six hours employs 23 actors to tell the story of seven generations of intersecting Kentucky families over the course of 200 years. Presented in two parts, The Kentucky Cycle is an astonishing feat of theatrical storytelling unlike any other.

Monday, October 1, 2007

McDonald's Video Game

A game for change? Another goodie via Boing Boing:

"Paolo Pedercini is a mad bastard, and the McDonald's game is his sharp, procedural satire of how fast food is a corrupt industry by necessity. The game is set up so that you cannot win without compromising. Try it, you'll see. While you can maintain mild growth without using hormones or genetically modified crops, your bosses will not be satisfied. To really succeed, you have to employ what some might call "unnatural" means, though at Corporate, they call it "McFriendly growth measures".

--> Play McDonalds Game

Root beer Float Cupcakes

I've gotten a bunch of requests, so here's the recipe.
Loren and I found it via Boing Boing.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Schulz on American Masters

I just caught a preview of a documentary on Charles Schulz to be featured on the PBS series American Masters. It's called "Good Ol' Charles Schulz" and will air on WGBH on October 29 at 9:00. Here's the press release:

This is a quintessentially Midwestern story of an unassuming, self-doubting man who, through expressing his unique view of the world, redefined the comic art form with "Peanuts." His genius lay in depicting the daily collisions of insiders and outsiders, of mundane cruelties and transcendent hopes - seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. The "Peanuts" cast of characters is as familiar as our own siblings; their trials and tribulations speak of our families and evoke our childhood desperations. They are portrayed with whimsy and poignancy - and always with love and tolerance, each representing different facets of Schulz' personality and his perspectives on 20th-century America.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Thirteen/WNET New York

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yo Gabba Gabba!

Some of you might be familiar with this new show on Nick Jr, Yo Gabba Gabba! Just when you thought TV couldn't get any more sugary sweet! Anyone seen it? I made it through 15 minutes and had to take a break from stimulus overload. Here's a good article to read at PRINT magazine online. A lot of talented artists and musicians are contributing some amazingly creative stuff for the show.

UPDATE: Cold Hard Flash has video clips of a couple animations for the show by Nick Cross and Joel Trussel.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Suck at Math and I can't Draw to Save My Life

On more than a couple occasions, even around the studio, I've noticed how people are very quick to throw up their hands when they have to do math. Some people wear it as a badge..."I can't do Math!" Or maybe a bumper sticker—a statement that they are proud to hate math and just as quick to write off any possibility of getting good at it. Interesting enough, people are just as quick to say that they aren't good at art. Why do you think this is? In one regard, they both occupy the polar regions of the right and left hemispheres of the brain: pure creativity versus raw logic. I think it's interesting that people are so quick to freeze and give up when asked to perform an artistic or mathematical task when the brain is wired to do both. One theory is that most people have had a bad experience with a math or art teacher.

We already have a spokesman on the art side—our very own Peter H. Reynolds. He's the champion of ishful thinking and gets energized when people say they can't draw. Well, Danica McKeller (better known as Winnie Cooper of the Wonder Years) just wrote a book targeted at teenage girls that makes a similar claim, the title being Math Doesn't Suck. She has a website to go along with it, too. Who knew she was a mathematician? She's basically a proponent of teaching math using a conversational approach and is also trying to erase the stigma that girls aren't good at math. Sounds like a great cause to me!

Hi Def in the High Desert

I had an opportunity to participate in a documentary production this past August. What an incredible experience! Produced by two of my closest friends, the basic idea was to document the ride across the Oregon Back Country Discovery Trail (an all off-road route across the entire state). We shot in HD, direct to P2 cards, and downloaded the dailies to a Macbook Pro.

Needless to say, I was in absolute heaven. Around the campsite conversations ranged from motorcycle chat about the relative advantages of BMW vs KLM, to techie discourse on various forms of HD resolution and image quality. Doesn't really get any better in my world.

Check out the trailer on the website:

Oh and the picture? That's my bike, after a pretty good crash. My friend Thor (anyone seen Jackass 2? He's the mini-bike loop guy) is using epoxy to patch the hole I put in my engine. That black stuff? Oil. Cus, you know, there was a hole in my engine! Luckily I escaped relatively unscathed, and the bike made it home in one piece. Too bad the cameras missed that little piece of drama!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Aaron Renier

Above: "Giant Robot Signing" by Aaron Renier
Every so often I come across artwork that completely reinvigorates the artist inside of me. Maybe half a dozen times a year. Like a swift kick to the gut, it's a humbling experience—it reminds me that I have a lot to learn. Tonight I discovered Aaron Renier. He's a cartoonist with the greatest attention to brush stroke, line-weight, and composition—and he has a wonderful knack for character design. When you get a second, be sure to hop by his website. He also has a comic book for kids on the market called Spiral Bound which looks like a fun read.


Every once in a while you see something and have to say WTF?! Here's what is essentially a Flash-based implementation of Garageband: with a dash of Web2.0.

Keith... hopefully you will show up for work tomorrow instead of creating Labyrinth ambiance.


Business to the Googleth Degree

So, I was reading something on Slashdot, and I saw someone saying that Google encourages their employees to spend 10-20% of their time working on their own pet projects. WOW! That's one day a week! Have you ever wondered how things work over at the Googleplex? I did a little sleuthing and dug up this article. I pulled out a couple of the bullets.

  • Innovation is not about instant perfection: New products and ideas are launched early and often, rather than spending time and money perfecting ideas before they are released to the public. Popularity determines which will be the most successful.

  • Failure is good: Figuring out why a project failed offers something to apply to the next project. But fail fast to minimise the investment in shoddy ideas and damage to the brand.

  • Give employees the time to pursue their dreams: Employees are encouraged to spend 10-20% of their time working on their own pet projects. This gives employees a creative outlet and gives them ownership of their ideas.

  • Focus on users, not money: Anything that consumers find useful will inevitably make money, so focus on the user rather than something you can sell.

It's a wonder anything gets done over there. FYI, if you go to the article they mention something about not needing managers, but if you go to their corporate site, you'll see a list of 50 some odd managers. So I'd take that with a grain of salt. I'm not sure what the sources of the article are. There is also this bit on their company philosophy. Anyway, I thought some people might find this interesting. Have we parsed our company culture out anywhere? I feel like there were some cool things in the company handbook that might be worth sharing with the rest of the world.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blue Man Creativity Center

Via BuzzFeed:

Apparently the Blue Man Group just opened a creative school for 2- to 4-year-olds in New York City. They've rejiggered their live show into a preschool. Here's an excerpt from the New Yorker Article:
"Every day at the center will end with a ritual called Glow Time, during which the shades are lowered, the regular lights are turned off, and black lights are turned on, illuminating the parts of the room (including work created by the students) that have been painted with special UV paint. The collection of Blue Man-inspired educational gewgaws on hand is a far cry from flash cards and Play-Doh. There’s a hypnotic Bubble Machine, with kid-controlled colored lights; a futuristic Water Machine, with a mini-whirlpool; and a trippy installation, left over from the B.M.G.’s 2003 tour, of giant computer- animated dragonflies that can be made to light up, flap their wings, and fly."

Saturday, September 22, 2007


You may have heard me rant on this around the office, but I really believe there's a little bit of 'magic' in creating good multimedia projects. It's that magic that makes it difficult for a print designer, a C++ coder or a textbook editor to simply 'slot' into a position at FableVision.

I think one of the best ways to learn how to perform this kind of 'magic' is to better understand everyone else's jobs. If you look around the office, you'll see a number of people with crossover skills. On the Developer side, for example, Jay can design the crap out of a T-shirt, Matt studies multimedia in college, Ryan is a designer as well as a programmer, and I errrr.... I was voted most artistic in 8th grade.

I've been trying to think of ways to educate the rest of the team on what it's like to be a developer on one of our multimedia projects. Here some thoughts I've had:

  • Similar to that fileprep meeting we had a while back, I'd love to have one that focused on how a developer takes a prepped file and makes it into a multimedia application.
  • I will soon be setting up monthly developer brownbag-type meetings to discuss relevant technologies. These meetings will be open to the staff as well our freelancers.
  • I've been tossing around the idea of some sort of 'job shadow' that we could do in the office. I haven't worked out the details, but I'm thinking something like buddying up with someone else in the office. Then, one Friday afternoon you'll explain to your buddy what you're working on for an hour or so. The following Friday, your buddy will show you what he/she does.
Anyone have any thoughts on these ideas and/or other suggestions for helping foster our MULTImedia skills?


Thursday, September 20, 2007

About the Arts + Boston Children's Museum = FableVision :)

The first thing people ask you when you visit FableVision is: "How did you hear about us?" I've been an employee here for about 2 years now, but I still really like telling how I found out about the company, because it illustrates happenstance and serendipity so well. :)

When I graduated from college, I spent most of my time on the Craig's List job hunt page. I was so desperate that I applied for a workshop teaching position for a Boston-based company called About the Arts (Mind you, I had no experience at all teaching children, nor did I know how to put together a curriculum.) I met with two of the nicest people I have ever come across for an interview. James Brown (epic name!) and Yssa Santos are the co-creators/producers of About the Arts.

James and Yssa are not self proclaimed artists, but they have this undying love for all things art that I can't explain. They both have full time jobs, but devote their spare time to helping to celebrate artists of all sorts on their website, hosting gallery receptions, workshops, and, the seed of the entire operation, they produce a television show that airs on WGBH. The show is filmed documentary style and they have interviewed over 150 artists since 1995. And when I say artists, I mean painters, sculptures, actors, graphic artists, dancers, writers, and so on... I highly recommend you spend some time on their site.

They were very supportive, loved my proposal for a "Beginner's Illustration Workshop" for kids. They advertised the class....buuut...nobody signed up. Ho hum.

Months pass and I get a call from a woman working for the Boston Children's Museum. She says she got my name from Yssa Santos and wanted to know if I would headline the museum's annual fundraiser called "The Early Start Art Brunch" at the former Ritz Carlton. (wuuhhhh?) I said yes, and when I got there that morning after weeks of nervous jitters, I discover that my headlining spot had been taken over by a certain Peter H. Reynolds. (haha)

I had mixed feelings, but as soon as Peter came over to my humble little workshop area littered with colored pencils and construction paper (see photo -->), we started chatting. I was a little frazzled, but I remembered hearing - "Animation Studio" - "Watertown..." Afterwards, I watched him wow an entire ROOM full of kids, while I could barely keep 5 interested.

I went home...found my resume to Dawn....yadda yadda yadda... :)

Check out About the Arts!! Maybe they can change your life too :)

Drawing on Air

"By putting on a virtual reality mask, holding a stylus in one hand and a tracking device in the other, an artist can draw 3D objects in the air with unprecedented precision. This new system is called “Drawing on Air,” and researchers have designed the interface to be intuitive and provide the necessary control for artists to illustrate complicated artistic, scientific, and medical subjects."

Or it would be just plain cool! I've wondered if Nintendo is planning some kind of Wii Paint for their system.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kid Nation

Anyone catch Kid Nation tonight on CBS? The show has gotten a lot of buzz, both good and bad. Basically, it's 40 kids put in an abandoned ghost town out in the desert for 40 days to fend for themselves. Lord of the Flies ring a bell? They have to build the town and make it work without adults telling them what to do. Some of the negatives have been that it's cruel to put kids this age in such a stressful and emotional situation. They didn't even screen it with critics, choosing instead to show it to schools all over the country today before tonight's airing. But after a first viewing, while there was a lot of crying, I thought it was cool to see kids taking charge of their own lives. And amazed by how serious and profound kids can be, more-so than your average adults (or maybe that was just the editing?). The kids are also allowed to leave if they want to. The producers have set up a framework with class structures and breaking up the towns into four sects--plus they appointed a team of 4 leaders. I'll have to see a couple more episodes to make an official call, but it's definitely an interesting show, even in the wake of controversy.

UPDATE: There will be an encore presentation of the premiere on Saturday, September 22, 8pm in case you missed it. You can in fact view it online in full as well. Also, has a decent review of the show.


One of the best animated films of the year (or so some are saying) won't arrive until Christmas Day in the U.S. Persepolis is an animated film based on the graphic novel series of the same name by Marjane Satrapi. They are autobiographical comics that detail her life growing up in Iran after the revolution. The story is amazing, and from what I've seen so far, they've been able to adapt the black and white comic into a lush black and white film, matching and improving upon the style of the comic. Cartoon Brew (they feature a number of clips) and a number of blogs have been covering the lead-up for some time. It was just in the Toronto Film Festival, and already won at the Cannes Film Festival. I've been looking foward to seeing this all year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Brain Squeeze

Now that I have every one's attention, I thought it would be the perfect time to open the table for suggestions. Give your brain a squeeze and see what you can add to the juicer. For starters, does everyone like "Creative Juices" for the name of the blog? What sort of things would you all like to see discussed here? You'll notice I've added some links to the side bar. If I've missed any FableVisionary blogs let me know. I've also added a set of links for some of my favorite animation and illustration blogs. The sidebar is a place to stick inspiring, insightful, or just plain fun websites and blogs. If you want me to add anything, just mention it.

At this point, contributors should feel free to post away. I personally hope to use this forum to stir up discussions related to animation and picture-making, but that is just one of an infinite number of possibilities. Similar to the email thread that was going around about the value of art and music in a school curriculum. What's on people's minds these days? Do we need an icebreaker? Start squeezing!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hello World

Welcome FableVisionaries one and all! If you've got something to say, this is the forum. All friendly topics welcome. Only rule is that you can't talk about client work....PERIOD! This is a place to branch out and connect the dots. I envision people talking about art, music, film, literature, culture, education, philosophy, science, technology, and much more! A place to come for daily inspiration and discussion. Details to come!