Sunday, May 21, 2006

Over the Hedge….


I snuck in a quick late night solo viewing of OTH. Why? Well, because some slacker behind the counter at the ice-rink didn’t sign my name up for a goalie spot in pick up hockey like he was supposed to so that when I arrived they’d given my spot to somebody else. So, with a couple hours to burn (along with my ire) I decided to take in Dreamworks’ latest offering.

OK, full disclosure time: I’ve not been terribly excited about this film. The trailers just haven’t been ‘doing it’ for me. (I’m having a similar problem with Pixar’s Cars.) The production design just never grabbed me by the collar and said “Look!”. It suffered from a case of “Grass is Green/Skies Are Blue Syndrome”. It just felt kinda so-so artistically. But I’ve been hearing from folks inside DW that the story was solid and they were liking this film. So, with that in mind I went in hoping to find it a fun film.

The narrative structure was pretty solid. There were relatively decent motivations all around, nice set ups, a decent flow to the thing. It slowed down a bit early in the second act, but sheesh- which animated feature doesn’t anymore? It was certainly a stronger story than their last 2 shows (Madagascar and Sharktale). I give the production design on Mad much higher scores, though. Sharktale was a waste of my time and money all around. Lots of talented people worked on ST, but it watching it was hard. Sorry if that tweaks anybody the wrong way, but what can I say? Jeffrey K. didn’t bring his ‘A-game’ for that one. :)

The animation in OTH was quite nice, though. But then I went in expecting it to be solid. A lot of good animators work at DW, guys and gals who know their stuff. There were some very nice acting choices and I really enjoyed the different and unique styles of motion for each character. The porcupines had a nice waddle, Hammy was well done (Scrat on steroids), RJ and Verne had nice things going on as well. I think they were quite successful in giving each type of character their own motion sense that helped set them apart from the others- a good sign that somebody in animation has been asking the right questions and coming up with good answers. The water balloon head thing didn’t bug me as much as it did in earlier trailers- maybe it had been toned down in retakes? Dunno. The bear was a lot of fun. I liked Nick Nolte’s take on that character. The humans seemed to have that same problem all studios have with CG toon-humans. Outside of The Incredibles- and even many moments in that film- and some stuff in Nemo it’s been a bumpy ride. And I include my own work as well. We haven’t quite conquered that problem just yet (I think it’s a design issue, personally). But overall the animation was very nicely done with some very fun and unique character performances. It’ll be a good DVD to keep on hand for inspiration.
I enjoyed the movie. I’ll certainly take the kids to see it. The use of Ben Folds’ distinct musical vibe in the soundtrack didn’t feel tacked on and it fit the mood of the show. I’d say it was an overall solid effort, a good family flick. The opening weekend take of $37mil means it will be an OK money maker for DW, but it won’t be anything near Shrek-like in its presence. With Cars coming in just 3 weeks OTH might take a bit of a hit, so the overall domestic on OTH will probably settle somewhere between $110-150mil. Not shabby, certainly good enough to mean it’ll make money once it gets out in DVD, but nothing to make Wall Street go ga-ga over DWA stock.

Next up will be Cars. We’ll see if that one can overcome it’s weak trailers and blow my socks off. Here’s hoping the good kids at Pixar can keep the winning streak alive.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Next Chapter


Introducing kLango Animation Studio. There’s not much up on the site yet, but it will fill in quickly over the coming weeks. This is what I’ll be spending my time doing after my journey at DNA comes to an end next week. There’s a lot more than meets the eye here. So what exactly is kLango? (and later on we address where is kLango?) Well, it’s a little bit of everything. Here’s the official-ish blurb…

kLango Animation Studio, LLC is dedicated to providing excellent & affordable animation services, training and creative development. For more info visit or

After many years of working in a wide variety of production and managerial roles in larger studios I’m super excited to be taking this step out and establishing my own studio, putting into practice all the experience, skill and knowledge I’ve gained. kLango will have three primary areas of focus:

1) high end character animation

2) affordable animation training

3) high quality developed content.

The VTS service has been tremendously blessed since it’s inception, so I will continue to offer that, as well as expand upon it. I will also be announcing new training and teaching resources and services in the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled for news on that this summer. In addition I will be doing onsite conferences/seminars/workshops through out the year. On the creative side I will be focusing on developing my own properties and content, beginning with two short films. And yes, in time it is my goal to resurrect and complete the lost film “The Secret Joys of Myopia”.

But all of this is really to allow me the freedom and time to be more involved in a real passion of mine: helping those whom society has forgotten. Since last year my wife and I have been deeply involved in working with and supporting a wonderful mission of mercy and kindness to the poorest of people. We are involved with a medical mission boat named the Pantavida that travels the Pantanal region of Brazil, Bolivia & Paraguay. This is where my wife and I are focusing our efforts to bring medical help to the remote and forgotten people who live in the poor villages along the Paraguay and Cuiaba rivers. Here’s a great pic of the lovely Pantavida and some of the people she serves…



Thanks to the good Lord’s kindness and blessing of the VTS over the last year we’ve been able to help support the operations of this medical houseboat (complete with doctor’s offices and a dentist’s office).

So what do kLango Animation and the Pantavida have in common?

Location, location, location!!!

Yep. My family and I are moving to live and work in Brazil! We are set to arrive in Cuiaba, Matto Grosso, Brazil on June 14th to our new home and the next adventurous stage of our lives. Thanks to reliable high speed internet I will be able to run kLango Animation from there and be closer to the great life changing work of the Pantavida. To say I am excited is to put it very mildly.

So there ya have it. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted on our adventures as they happen right here on this blog. Meanwhile this site’s theme will be slowly but surely merging with the kLango theme until the two sites all work together seamlessly. I also want to take a moment to thank all the great folks who have given me encouragement, support and have offered up prayers for me and my family. It means a lot to know that in as many ways as possible I am being useful in helping people. Whether it’s to help them become a better animator, tell better stories or something as vital as get acces to life saving medical services in the swamps and jungles of South America, it’s fantastic to know that I am a part of bringing joy to people’s lives.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Quick Update…

Sorry for the lag between posts. Things are happening quickly around here and I’ve been scrambling, which means the blog suffers a bit.

Friday was the last day for most of the animation crew at DNA. It was a maudlin kind of day. It’s never fun or easy to say good bye to friends. Even though I’ve been through plenty of layoffs before, it’s only a little bit easier to endure each time. But such is life. Thankfully this is a small industry and folks will see each other again as the years go by. All the best to the DNA animator folks left to blow upon the winds of change- a truly talented and friendly bunch of folks. May you land in a happy place that gives you much fulfillment and joy. Which reminds me, I need to add a bunch of ex-DNA animator links to my side bar here. Add that to the “To Do” list.
As for me, I have 2 more weeks here doing fixes, retakes and long lunches and then my time comes to an end at DNA. As for what’s next, I’m almost ready to broadcast the word here. Some of my friends already know, but for the rest of the world I’ll have some announcements later this week. So keep your eyes tuned here if you care. :)

As a peace offering, I give you this random image. Enjoy!