Cache Cache

Our friends Cache Cache will be presenting another evening of farm to table dinner and locally grown and harvested film this Sunday. (click through the link for tickets -you won’t regret it)

We’re making the opening title film for them.

Here’s a peek at the first scene.

We still have a few more shots to go, but we should have it finished by the dinner bell on Sunday.


A few weeks backs we finished up this advocacy film with Pendragwn Productions.

The YouTube compression is pretty harsh here, but it should give you the gist.

They liked our work on “The Honor Code” and wanted have a similar emotion and style to this piece.  It seemed appropriate, so we didn’t try too hard to push in another direction.

A bit of evolution from “The Honor Code” to here, the design and animation are tighter in this piece.  That’s part process, part schedule.  Here we produced in a traditional cartoon fashion.  Layouts, extremes, inbetweens.  Clean up.  Digital paint.  Much of the earlier production was animated straight ahead in ink and all the painting was rendered by hand, on paper, creating a much looser, rough dynamic.

This film was textbook production process.  From storyboard:


To layout:


Kelsey Stark created the designs and layouts.

To animation:


Doug Compton handled the animation, Kelsey, Casey Drogin and Liesje Kraai came in on  the inbetweens and clean up.

The inbetweening was done digitally, drawing in Photoshop with the Cintiq.  It’s a bit of a cumbersome process, but Photoshop was the best option we had to get the line quality we want.  It also offered decent options for coloring.  There is probably some software that’s better suited to handling this style (I think of Paul Fierlinger’s beautiful work with TV Paint) but the Adobe suite is something we already have and everyone knows how to use.  We needed to clean up Doug’s drawings to match the line style of the inbetweens.  His pencil work was very tight and very close to the digital replication.  Not close enough,   just based on the nature of pencils and scanners.  If we inbetweened on paper, we would have painted over his originals without clean up.

To color:

c04paintMarina Dominis joined the team to help with clean up and painting.

The animation was produced in around four weeks.

Back to the Drawing Board

A film will generally work if there is a philosophy behind. If there’s a set ideas which define the approach. If the execution of those ideas corroborates the surface content.


I’m generally looking for methods of creating tactile work without generating too much landfill. That’s an aesthetic principle.

In this production about the jettisoning of the Articles of Confederation for
the U. S. Constitution, we thought it would be appropriate to put the chalkboard to use.

In part, it’s a play on Social Studies class, but fundamentally the approach suggests an important editorial content that plays with and underscores the content of the script. The Constitution was written with mutation in mind. It
was crafted to flex to the concerns of 13 distinct constituents (one of whom never even bothered to send delegates. Jefferson famously felt that every generation should craft its own governing documents.

More than its open structure and loose bounds on the social contract, the U. S. Constitution did not emerge from an Enlightenment-free vacuum. It was informed by many systems and orders and opinions that preceded it.

It’s like a chalkboard.

Olympic Images

Way back in 2008, we produced a series of web bits for Comedy Central at Asterisk with Steve Kerper.

They were fairly simple, no animation to speak of, but very nice drawings by ZEES and great voice work from Dr. Dave Kolin.

There’s a stylistic similarity to all the pieces but each has it’s own flavor.

Here’s a video:




Yomo Toro Sounds

One of my favorite projects from the Asterisk days is this short film we did for Nickelodeon.

The film is the largely the work of Matthew Stoddart who conceived it, storyboarded and designed it.

He also made the single most important decision leading to the film’s success.

“Origami” from Ace & Son MPC, LLC on Vimeo.

He called Yomo Toro and asked him to create the music track.

If this is a good little film -and I’ll contend that it is a very good one -it’s because of Yomo’s beautiful and haunting soundtrack.

He passed away over the weekend. Here’s the New York Times obituary.

The recording session was a little tricky. We consented to record at his friend’s place in Jersey City. They had a nice home set up, but it wasn’t really state of the art. Fortunately, JZ Barrell, who did the mix and the sound edit, came along. He’s pretty familiar with old school recording techniques and was able to ensure we got what we needed from technical standard.

The track was an original composition by Yomo and each instrument was laid down in separate takes to the same 1/4 inch tape master.

The session started in the evening and went late into the night. The later it got, the better the guys played. Looser, more playful.

He was a terrific musician and that was a fun recording session.

The animation on this film was done by Ed Smith. Winnie Tom did the 3D animation of the origami

Happy Returns

An Independence Day promise to send last year’s Christmas “card” prompted me to rustle up the returns.

After diligent cross checking of the mailing list there weren’t too many.

We made a film and used a piece of original production art from it as the “card”. Philosophically, the idea was to make the card a gift of “value” by personalizing it, making each unique. Each is unique, and has “value” at the same time each is completely worthless. It all depends on the recipient’s own attachment. Further, these images -as art in the film -are fleeting. They’re here and gone. Only their context within a stream of other images give them importance. These ideas mesh with some of the themes of the film.

Practically, I’m less than thrilled with the a near ton albatross of production art accumulated over the years. This is a way of getting rid of it without destroying it. And its sort of a commentary on “crowd-funding” (which gives me an idea for a future post).

Here’s the film for reference’s sake.

Sympathy For The Fish: A Holiday Story from Ace & Son MPC, LLC on Vimeo.

Monday Morning Pitch Trailer

A few years back we developed and produced a pilot for Cartoon Network.

The production was fairly compressed (after a long time waiting for lawyers). In some ways we made the mistake of not “pushing back” and insisting on a proper schedule and development period. It’s always a difficult balance.

We re-cut the pilot -which was just supposed to be “animatic” into more of a trailer.

Further Testing

Starting to get somewhere with the first of (probably) eight Ottawa Signal films.

Did an animation test based on a painted model.

This (above) is basically one part of a motion/production experiment.  It would represent one “layer” of activity.

Something like the first will probably integrate with something like the second.  With a little effort it should work.

Little Help?

As previously mentioned, we’re doing the signal films for this year’s Ottawa Animation Festival.

Like most of our projects we’re making it both simpler and far more complicated than it needs to be. 
There will be several episodes.

In one, we’re going to do that face thing, in three parts, flipping.  From the kid’s books.  I have no idea what it’s called.

Above is an example.  The top third is eyes.  The middle is nose.  The bottom is mouth.  These will flip through with other looks making funny faces.

We’re going to “crowd source” and see what we get.  We’ll use any drawings submitted to asteriskanimation AT gmail DOT com.

Here’s the template.

CLARIFICATION: We’re just looking for a single drawing of a face in which the three sections align with the above grid. 

Of course, folks are welcome to do multiple faces.  The idea is that we’ll take the face and “flip” the parts with others. 

We’ll be in your gratitude if you send something.

Commercial Break

Here’s an ad we just finished for

Turns out we’re already a client (they purchased a little while back and they’re our web registry).

Fly Communications was the agency.  They were great to work with.  Very open to our ideas and responsive with their own.  Terrific agency.

At Asterisk, Doug Compton was the animator with additional animation and assistant work by Christina Capozzi Riley and some additional inbetweening by Liesje Kraai.

Robbie Ledoux and JZ Barrell of Hudson Sound Lab did the music.