Category Archives: animation

Crash

This is a fun little short that I made with Erin Kilkenny in 2002.  In Providence at the time, there was an open screening called “Movies With Live Soundtracks” that was held semi-regularly. Participants were given a canister of 16mm film and produced a silent movie that was accompanied by a live musical/sound performance during the screening. Erin and I made this one in an improvised 5 hour shoot on a Baby Oxberry. All artwork was made on the fly.

For Fun

Here’s a little short that I made with Erin Kilkenny back in 2002. In Providence at the time, there was an open screening called “Movies with Live Soundtracks” that was held semi-regularly. Participants were given a canister of 16mm film to create a silent film that would be accompanied by a live musical/sound performance. Erin and I made this one in a 5 hour improvised shoot on a baby Oxberry camera. All artwork was made on the fly.
Even though this is super rough around the edges, it’s a good reminder that animation doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process.

Why we released our film online


As I renewed our Vimeo Plus account this morning, I was reminded that it has been exactly a year since we released “Something Left, Something Taken” online. Traditionally, filmmakers have waited for a two-year festival cycle to end before putting their work online. Over the past year, we have received many questions about our decision not to wait.

Here are some of our thoughts.

-Time and Place
We made our movie for a specific time in the world and in our own life. It felt natural to put it in front of a broader audience while it was still fresh for us. We knew the movie itself wouldn’t make much money, so we decided to quantify its value by how many people were able to see it.

-Money
I read a comment on a popular film blog a while back that asked how filmmakers could afford to give their work away for free. Ru and I always felt the exact opposite. How could we afford not to put our work online? For us it was simple. We reasoned that the sale of our animation could not possibly generate enough money to sustain our life in New York. By putting our work in a place that people could see it, we actually ended up making far more money from opportunities created from the online presence than we had in previous years.
This approach did not completely undermine distribution of the short. We are currently working with a short distributor who has sold the rights to the short in several countries despite the fact that it can be viewed for free online.
Texas-based artist Austin Kleon wrote about what he called “the secret” on his blog— Do good work, then put it where people can see it.

-Instant feedback
There is something terrifying and wonderful about being able to monitor the response to your work as quickly as we can these days. The truth is, people want to watch good work regardless of the technique,form or content. Work that resonates with an audience circulates quickly. Posting your work on the internet is the simplest way to find if what you are doing is connecting with an audience.

-Surprises
Some of the most exciting things that have happened in the past year were complete surprises. We’ve tried to be as open to new opportunities and, as a loose rule, we decided to say “yes” to most requests that have come our way.
-As a result, we have been invited to hold workshops at seven different schools in the country.
-Our film has been completely remixed and re-dubbed by some incredibly talented Argentinian students.
-A lovely French woman helped create subtitles so that she could share the film with her friends
-Our sound designer randomly saw our short playing on Virgin America airlines during a cross-continental flight.
-A Brazilian teacher is using our movie to help teach English to his students
-A Swedish school asked us to help rework their motiongraphics curriculum  (unfortunately we were unable to fit this one in our schedule)
The unexpected avenues are part of what has made this whole process so much fun!

-Art and the artist
One of the unique things about releasing work online is the relationship between the artist and the art. Identity and context has never been so important to an audience when evaluating work as it is when viewed online. Posting our work online and documenting our process has given us an opportunity to engage directly with the people who watched our film. We are delighted that other artists have sent emails asking us questions or sent links to works that were inspired by one of the techniques that we documented.

-Festivals
After putting our short film on Vimeo, we were automatically ineligible for a Academy nomination (even though we have won an Academy qualifying award). We have also been disqualified from several big festivals that wanted to show our work . We didn’t think about this much because we honestly didn’t know how our work would do in the festival world. As disappointing as that may seem, we still have had the opportunity to show our work at a lot of incredible festivals including Sundance, Annecy, Ottawa, Clermont-Ferrand. We are also incredibly proud to have been nominated as finalist at the first Vimeo Awards Festival. I have to believe that in the upcoming years, more and more festivals will adopt flexible policies for the online presence of short films.

Final thoughts. After reading that, it might come as a surprise that we will not be releasing our next short online. The project that we are currently working on will be co-produced by the Netherlands Institute of Animated Film and we are contractually obligated to keep the film offline. There is no doubt that putting your work online can lead to some wonderful opportunities, but after all, this really is one big experiment. We are interested to see how our next work is affected by having a more traditional festival run and we’ll let you know in a couple of years!

EDIT- For those who want to read more on the subject, Andrew Allen wrote a terrific case study here.

Red Giant TV episode 47

We made a video about our workflow for Red Giant Software.
Check it out…!

Red Giant TV
In this episode, the team at Tiny Inventions shares their unique workflow for mixing real-world models with computer animation. They’ve used these techniques for music videos, advertising, and their new short film: ‘Something Left, Something Taken.’

RGTV Episode 47: Tiny Inventions from Red Giant Software on Vimeo.

Here is the Trailer they put together

RGTV Tiny Inventions Trailer from Red Giant Software on Vimeo.

Big THANK YOU to Sean McBride for his genius rigging.

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Cinematographer: Jason Guerrero

Jason and his assistant Eric filmed the “making of” without any AC on due to the sound recording.
Thank you for working so hard in the hottest studio, and also the beautiful footage!

Pixar tour by Mr.Don Crum


While we were in San Francisco, we contacted a friend of ours who is a wonderful animator at Pixar.
He was super generous enough to give us a 3 hour tour!!!
Storyboards, concept illustrations and clay maquettes were displayed nicely on the 2nd floor. Some of this pre-production work is never displayed in front of the public eye, so it’s exciting to see the development art getting the attention it deserves.

The most amazing part of the studio was “the ghetto” also known as the animation department.
It felt like… disney land / junkyard / backyard all put together in the most creative way possible. Mixed with rooms, there were little playhouses used as cubicles. Each animator decorated her/his house or room in a very unique way that was inspiring. One animator built a roof deck on top of his playhouse, and our friend Don built a treadmill in the floor so he can exercise while he animates. How cool is that!?
That place is magical, and all the talented animators are wizards.

Thank you so much Don for a very intensive, inspiring, educational tour.

“Accumulonimbus” by Andy Kennedy

Watch this film right now!!!

Andy is a great friend of ours who is extremely talented. (I bet everybody can agree after watching this movie)

I have a very personal connection to this animation because we all started working on our independent films around the same time and also finished around the same time. It was nice to have a great friend who lives near by who could share work-in-progress and motivate each other. I am so proud of Andy and this movie is going to bring lots of success and happiness to his life!

Check out behind the scene, too. It’s very inspiring!

Mr. Fox and his friends are TOO fantastic!


“You must watch Fantastic Mr. Fox, you’ll LOVE it”
This is the line I heard from many people and for some stupid reasons, it took me a long time to actually go check see the movie.
Well, I finally did last weekend and I LOVE IT!
My friends were right! It is the best film in the past 10 years for sure!
I can’t stop thinking about how fun and inspiring that film is.
The pan of Mr. & Mrs. Fox taking a short cut blew my mind. What a blend of dialogue, music, action and fun. My favorite is Kyle the Possum and how charming he is. (How can you not love him?)
I love how his eyes swirl but he will still give a sign to Mr. Fox.
My favorite moment was at the very end, when the gang is dancing in the super market, Kyle is just sliding left to right. You can only do this in stop motion, if this was done in CG, the audience will take it as a mistake.
I had not seen any animated film that really took advantage of animation so much.
It cheated a lot by not showing their feet in walk cycles! I had not seen that in feature films for so long that it was almost refreshing. The techique was so retro that everything seemed unique and different.
What a genius film…..the writing was extremely funny, animation was beautiful and the sets are AMAZING! Amount of details that went into those sets is hard to imagine but every little effort was worth it.

Early Christmas gift from Japan


There are many situations that remind me of how much I love to be part of the animation industry world-wide. Film festivals are awesome because you can make animation friends from other countries and share the passion for animation. Of course it’s sad to know that you won’t get to see them for awhile, but at the same time, as long as we all keep making animations, we’ll encounter each other in a few years.
It’s also encouraging to know that there are people who are going through the same emotions as you on the other side of the world.

I had a wonderful early Christmas gift last year. Dai Sato, a famous Japanime script writer, whom I worked with over the summer came to NYC again to do a research for his new film that he is writing for.
Along came Producer Emi Matsumoto from Robot (Academy-Award winning director Kato belongs to this production company)andMasaaki Yuasa (Director of Mind Game and Kaiba)! They wanted to come to my apt/ studio to check out the lives of New Yorkers.
I don’t think I have a normal living situation, being surrounded by miniature sets and absolutely no decoration. But Max and I spent an entire day to make it look somewhat “normal” and welcomed them.

It was so encouraging and inspiring to have such established people from Japanese animation industry to give us advise. What a wonderful Christmas gift that was…

P.S We also received a wonderful Christmas gift from Estonia. Lots of Estonian animations from our dear friend Janno Poldma!