Friday, June 30, 2006

Slow going… but with pictures!


Whew! Moving to a new country has its challenges. One of the biggest ones is finding time and energy to do everything tht needs to get done while still doing what you want to do. Isn’t that life, though? We have lots of social engagements with friends (good). Lots of meeting with lawyers and accountants about business stuff (good and necessary, but at times tedious). Language lessons every day (very good). Going to friend’s houses to watch World Cup games (very fun). Standing in long qeues in government buildings to pay various fees, obtain documents, etc. (not so good). Scuttling about town with my laptop borrowing high speed connections while I slog my way with the phone company to get DSL at the house (not fun at all). Borowing cars (ok) renting a car for a few more days (ok) buying a car from someone moving back to the US (good! It’s a nice car. Not flashy, but solid, dependable with good shocks- an absolute must on these streets!) Oh and we took a day to drive up into the chapada (a kind of low mountain plateau north of town) with some friends in from the States. (sweet!) Add to that the general sense of overall exhaustion from the past year of working on the film, keeping the VTS running, preparing for and then moving… all to say it’s been a challenge to get much “work” done.

Thanks to some great help from a good friend who is fluent in both English and Portuguese we have high speed at the house now, so that will help a bunch. So we plod forward, slowly. No animating at all, though. I’m kinda taking a break after feeling a bit burnt out from the last few years. My mind is tired. My body is tired. I can’t seem to stay up past 11pm. I can’t seem to get up before 9:30am. And it seems that I like naps. I’m hoping the love for animation comes back in another week or two. I can tell that while I’m enjoying not having any pressure to make anything, I’m starting to get a bit of an itch for it again. I fired open Maya the other day for like 10 minutes and actually enjoyed myself for a bit. This weekend has a lot of business stuff being done - working on the site and the kLango online store. So animating will need to wait a litle bit. Which is OK, it just gives me more time to come back to it with some enthusiasm. In the meantime, here are those pictures I promised.

Here’s a pic of the house we’re borrowing til we get our own quasi-permanent place. It’s in a nice quiet neighborhood, walking distance to a small supermercado and some other needed shops and such.

Here’s a street not far from our house. Obviously not all the streets are paved. 90% are, but on the outskirts of town sometimes not so much.

Some pretty waterfalls up in the mountains.


Me and my daughter Laura. She’s so proud of her dad. Heh. Oh, and the water was nice and warm, too!

This framing was just asking to be photo’d.

Even bigger waterfalls…
Here’s a nice balcony restaurant that overlooks the plain below. On a clear day you can see a hundred miles easily.


More views of natural beauty. I love how wonderful an artist God is.


Just in front of that distant hill are the cities of Varzea Grande and Cuiaba, our new home. That’s about 70km away.

And there’s beauty in even the small things.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

VTS still alive…


I’ve recently had some folks write and ask

“Hey, is your VTS still alive and active?”

Wow, if that isn’t an indictment of my communication skills I don’t know what is. Heh. Yes, the VTS is still going. June saw the release of VTS16, the fifth installment in our acting and scene blocking discussion. If you want to join now is as good a time as any. And don’t worry if you missed any previous videos. Subscribers are given access to pick up any of the previous video they wish, in any order they want at any time they want. Back issue VTS videos aren’t available to the general public just yet, though. I’m working on a shopping cart solution that will make back issue videos that are more than 10 months old available to the non-subscriber public (added bonus- it will work with plain old credit cards as well as PayPal accounts. For those of you in non-PauPal nations this will be good news). That should be working soon- probably a couple weeks. So if you haven’t been able to subscribe for some reason in the past, soon you’ll be able to get back issue videos and start following the VTS on your own.

And while I’m talking about the VTS, thanks to Victor Escardo you can see an index of all previous videos in the VTS. This handy little document details how long each video is, what topics are covered and provides a few screen grabbed thumbnails of the video as well. So if you have ever wondered “Gee, I wonder what Keith has talked about in his VTS videos?” , well, wonder no more!
I realize I haven’t been able to keep the general public well informed on the VTS, but the coming weeks and months that will change. One of the primary benefits of working for myself now will be having the time to better promote and communicate about the VTS, as well as some other things developing. So expect to see more about the VTS as the days go by. And also exect to see the look of this site change a bit. I’m going to be merging the identities of my personal site ( as well as my studio site ( The redesign promises to make it much easier to find what you’re looking for-whether it’s about my personal adventures in Brazil, the VTS or tutorials, my short films or other developing services and products. I hope to have the site redesign working by mid July at the latest.

So yeah… it’s good to have time to do things that I want to do around here. Not having to work 6 days a week on a film crunch sure helps.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Brazil.. and other ramblings

Would you look at this? A fellow goes underground for a couple weeks to visit friends, family and move to another continent and all kinds of stuff breaks looose in the animation biz. So here’s a little catching up on my part. Let’s start with Cars

Saw Cars with the kids on opening night. Sorry guys, but this one didn’t do it for me at all. I’m not a racing fan, I just don’t see much drama in racing. least not oval track racing. Road racing maybe, but left-turn-only-whoever-pits-last-loses-chewin’-tobacco-racing? No thanks. The Lightning McQueen character was so uncharming, so unappealing, so unlikeable as a person for the first half of the movie that I found myself not caring one bit that he’d straightened himself out. Audiences can put up with a jerk- if he’s astoundingly funny. Or if at the very least the situations and other things going on are funny and entertaining. (Groundhog Day, Scrooged- hey, why is Bill Murray so good at this kind of character? Huh). But this car character wasn’t funny. At all. He annoyed me. I have a hard time tuning in to an annoying personality. And the situations weren’t doing any backflips, either. I’m serious, I considered a nap during the film. Looked pretty, animation was OK (how deep can you go emotionally with a car anyhow? There was too much space between the mouth and the eyes, the golden emotional triangle was lost on most of the car designs). When you first find yourself enjoying the movie during the end credit gags, there’s a problem. Technically superb as usual. Entertainingly plodding and dull- definitely not at usual. You could tell there was oodles of skill and talent going on here, but it just didn’t click. All I could think of as I watched it was “I bet the licensing department loved this film.” But there’s hope….

The trailer for Ratatoullie looked fun and fresh and fantastic. The designs were right up my alley- wonderful flow to the lines. Very appealling, great shapes, fun acting, fabulous animation, pretty (if somewhat stock Pixar) visual style. Still, I’m already looking forward to it. So hopefully the good kids at Emeryville will bounce back from Cars and smash another home run with Ratatoullie. One fly in the ointment, though. We’re in for a flood of rat movies. Way to go Hollywood. *sigh*

As for Pixar’s short One Man Band? Ehh. It was OK. Some nice stuff, but it again felt kinda meh. Good to see Boo from Monsters Inc got some more work. Heh. Maybe I’m just uber-tired from the move and nothing tasted good. Who knows?

WB seems to be following their manual for marketing an animated film by basically not marketing it. Heh. But there’s a new trailer up for The Ant Bully. Regular readers here know I collected a paycheck for a year working on this film. Very good crew. Lots of talent. However as has been noted from the beginning by just about everybody who has ever written about it: it is another bug movie. Will audiences be up for another one of those? Aren’t ants so very… 1998? Anyhow I’ll reserve expressing my full unadulterated opinion until after it’s released. But I’ll puzzle you with this: WB has two animated films coming out this year. Happy Feet and The Ant Bully. Which one have you seen more ads for? And what does that tell you about WB’s opinions of each project?

My friends at the surviving remnant of Big Idea are busy working on pre-production on their next feature length project. Titled the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie. Here’s hoping it goes well for them. Don’t expect it to be a blockbuster, but if production and marketing costs are controlled better than the last time they made a movie (Jonah) then it should make some money for its masters. It’d be nice to see those guys set free from the shackles of singing veggies, though. Hopefully someday they’ll be allowed to branch out into some other end of the biosphere. Say something with limbs? Heck, I’m sure they’d settle for something in the animal kingdom, regardless of class or phyllum.
Garfield 2? Only one question need be asked: Why? And how much longer do you supose Billy Connolly will be happy taking roles that John Cleese turns down? I give him 3 more films before he snaps and goes postal on an unsuspecting Michael Palin.

Let’s see, what else is coming out in a little bit? Monster House. Hrmm. Interesting story idea, not so interesting designs. That mo-cap-imation thing still isn’t doing it for me. You’d think the human motion would be smoother with it, but it looks as stiff as anything put out yet. Open Season? Looks promising. Love the designs of the bear. Background and production syle are pretty and a nice deviation from the norm. Barnyard? You know that old saying that you mom used to tell you? If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all? Well, this is me not saying anything at all. Flushed Away. Based on the latest burp.. um… I mean trailer- it looks like Katzenberg is wearing an Aardman suit. (remember that from Men In Black? The first one that was good, not the impossibly bad sequel. Remember the “Edgar Suit”? That’s what I mean.)
As for me, after an adventurous runabout and 2+ days of solid travel and another day of sleep we’re safe and sound here in Brazil. We move into our temporary housing this weekend. The hammock will be installed immediately upon arrival and will enjoy it’s inaugural swing post-haste. In the meantime while I struggle to buttress my flagging Portuguese skills (Eo nao intendo mueto de Portuguese) we’re steadily preparing ourselves for the national frenzy which will take place Sunday afternoon as Brazil plays Australia in World Cup action. Every single person in every single line of retail business imaginable is wearing some sort of replica or knock off of the Brasilian national team soccer jersey. From car salesman to busboys to parking attendants to telephone repairmen to women selling shoes- they’re all sporting that insanely bright yellow and green. It’s really quite a fantastic site.

Next post- pictures!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Funniest. Thing. Ever.

Behold the genius of Shatner.


I first saw this as a grainy dub on VHS shown by Pete Docter (director of Monsters Inc.) when he came to Big Idea back in 2001 to visit some old CalArts chums. I only wished I could have had a copy of his tape, but alas, ’twas not for sharing apparently. Back then I knew it to be the best comedic moment ever caught on tape. It remains such to this day. Enjoy!

Pictures for Patrik: Pixar!!!


OK, this picture doesn’t have anything to do with Pixar, but Patrik and his lovely and talented wife Amila do. They both got gigs as animators over at the house that Luxo built. So as a celebration here’s a sketch. Congrats, guys! It couldn’t happen to any nicer or more talented couple. My little Puhala’s are all grown up *sniff* I’m so proud. *sob*

Kick butt and have a blast, kids! I’ve got a ton of doodles to scan once I get to Brazil, so we’ll keep the Pictures for Patrick train rolling.

Half Way to Brazil!

Well, not quite. We don’t arrive in country until June 14th. In the meantime we’re travelling the eastern and southern US to visit friends and family. To all the kind folks we have come to know and meet in Dallas over the last two years, if we didn’t get a chance to say good bye, well, good bye. It has been a real pleasure working with you, knowing you and being a part of your life.

We had a great visit with some old friends from my Big Idea days in Nashville. Good buddy Tim Hodge (and his kind wife Sandy and their whole family) graciously housed our family for a couple of days. We got to see some of the nice folks I’ve missed for the last few years since Big Idea went bankrupt and was reborn in ownership of Classic Media, Inc. Tom Bancroft was so kind as to give me a copy of his excellent book Creating Characters With Personality. Great book on character design. You should go get a copy. Really. Like now. Tom knows his stuff and he has the resume’ to prove it. He and his biz partner Rob Corely are doing a brisk business at their Funnypages Productions in Nashville. It was good to see other folks like Mike Nawrocki, Kurt Heineke, Chuck Vollmer, John Trauscht, Andy Youssi, Joe Spadaford, Paul Conrad, Greg Hardin, Steve Fuller and others. I hadn’t seen them since the dark days of layoffs and it was great to have new memories to add to the mix.

I also got a chance to isit an old friend from elementary school that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. Turns out my old school chum John Hamm is working as an animator in Nashville at a fun little studio called Magnetic Dreams. I got a chance to catch up with John and meet some of the really nice people over at MD. They’re doing some really fun work for Sesame Street. There’s good animation all over the place in Nashville. Who knew??
Then it was time to see my mom and brother for a bit, but that time has passed as well. So we’re back on the road to our next stop. We’re homeless, possessionless (save for 9 suitcases and some carry on baggage- we gave the rest away) and car-less. We’ve rented a minivan to lug all our baggage with us as we make our way from Dallas to Nashville to Knoxville to Rochester NY to Buffalo and then on to Cuiaba, Brazil. For those of you who are VTS subscribers, I will most likely have June’s video done sometime before we leave for Brazil next Tuesday. The challenge has been finding the time to edit the thing and upload it. I grossly underestimaneted the amount of work it would take to get all our stuff taken care of to get ready to leave. Oh well. Lesson learned. Thanks for the patience.

Reporting from the road somewhere outside of Roanoke, Virginia, til next time….