Category Archives: animation

Arts Budget Cut in the Netherlands

The Netherlands arts budget will be reduced from €800m to €600m in 2013. It may not sound much but there are hundreds of organizations shutting down due to this decision. Music group, theaters, film festivals, the list goes on… and NIAF, the animation residency organization we belong to is one of them as well. If you are interested in this topic, you can read an article from the wired here.

There was a march / demonstration in early July that we participated in Da Haag. Artists, supporters of arts, many concern citizens joined for the demonstration.
This summer has been quite cold and rainy but this day, it was the sunniest ( and hottest for sure) day ever. The heat was rising and the tension was high.

In the first week of our stay, Paul Driessen and Maya Yonesho were in the office. We are having Igor Kovalyov giving workshop in August. In the past, Andreas Hykade, Konstantin Bronzit, Piet Kroon (Blue Sky) , Michael Dudok De Wit, Wendy Tilby / Amanda Forbis and so many other famous animators have given workshops at NIAF.
For animators, these are all HUGE names. There is a library filled with animation books & DVDs. There is equipment, resources, support and everything I could have ever imagined in this organization.
It’s sad that such a wonderful, unique, and encouraging organization like NIAF to discontinue its support for the animated films.
On a personal note, we are not sure if we will be able to finish our term of 2 years. Hopefully we can but even if our stay is shortened, I still consider ourselves lucky.

Some of us had to hide in the shade for a few minutes of rest… Despite of the reasons to be there, I quite enjoyed being surrounded by passionate artists & art lovers.

Our Favorites from Annecy

Our first Annecy trip was overwhelming, inspiring, frustrating and wonderful. As a follow up to our blog post “Why We Released Our Film Online”, it is worth noting that the short films that won the Annecy Cristal and the Special Jury Award, “Pixels”, and “Big Bang Big Boom”, have been online for quite some time and enjoyed considerable internet ubiquity.

We didn’t go to all of the student screenings and missed the TV screening, but here are some of our favorites from the festival:

Studio AKA’s Grant Orchard plays an absurd New York moment over the course of 100 years. Three distinct graphic stylings and a peppy score.

I was charmed by Patrick Doyan’s funny and poignant day-in-the-life of a bored little boy. The beautiful, illustrative animation sets a warm tone for the piece. Very nice use of scale and graphic representation to conceal and reveal story elements.

Juan Pablo Zaramella’s pixilation masterpiece was clearly the crowd favorite. The photography is controlled and the animation feels lively and expressive. Not easy to pull off with pixilation. What I enjoyed most was the fact that Zaramella used a natural byproduct of the pixilation process, light moving across the frame, as a storytelling device. He really breathed new life into an old technique.

In Tor Fruegaard’s “Venus”, a couple with sex problems visit a swingers club in an attempt to salvage their relationship. While the premise begs for loads of juvenile jokes, “Venus” never veers too far in that direction. Instead, Fruegaard uses the experiences to show a very real relationship. Terrific dialog performances and understated animation.
Warning: The trailer below is NSFW and may be inappropriate for younger audiences.

Directed by Polynoid from Filmakademie Baden-Wurttenberg, “Loom” depicts a dramatic moment when a moth is trapped in a spider’s web. While the photorealistic realistic rendering is a remarkable achievement, what I responded to most was the abstraction of insect inner-space and the brilliant sound design.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.