Swinging Around the Country with Mary Lou

We did a boat load of graphics and animation for Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band.

It was a tremendous pleasure to work with director Carol Bash and editor Sandra Christie on this project. Amongst the sequences we created are a few based on the paintings or notebooks of Mary Lou Williams herself. Kelsey Rose Stark did her standard brilliant job with those.

Here’s the opening sequence we created. A classier -a jazzier -take on the standard PBS cold open.

ITVS was critical in sponsoring the film. Here’s a listing of broadcasts around the country. If you don’t see your town (or missed the broadcast) contact your local PBS affiliate and tell them you want to see the film. Put the “you” in “Viewers Like You”!

pril 2—Thursday at 2pm on KCSM (San Francisco)
April 4—Saturday at 9pm on KENW (Amarillo, TX)
April 4 to April 5—various times, check local listings on KLVX-JAC (Las Vegas)
April 5—Sunday at 11pm on WNIT (South Bend, IN)
April 6—various times and stations, check local listings (Lexington, KY area)
April 10—Friday at 10pm on Alaska Public Media (Anchorage)
April 10—Friday at 11pm on WEDU (Tampa, Florida)
April 10—Friday at 11pm on WPTD (Dayton, Ohio)
April 10—Friday at 11:30pm on KCTS (Seattle, WA)
April 10—Friday at 11:30pm on KYVE (Yakima, WA)
April 10—Friday at 11pm on WPTD (Dayton, Ohio)
April 12—Sunday at 2pm on TPT (Minneapolis)
April 12—Sunday at 8pm on KUEN (Salt Lake City)
April 12—Sunday at 2pm on TPT (Minneapolis)
April 12—Sunday at 8pm on KUEN, KUED (Salt Lake City)
April 13—Monday at 3am on WNET, WLIW, WNJN (New York City area)
April 15 to April 17—various times, check local listings on WCETDT3 (Cincinnati)
April 17 to April 23—various times, check local listings on WVIZ (Cleveland)
April 17—Friday at 10pm on WVIZ (Cleveland)
April 19—Sunday at 2am on on KUEN, KUED (Salt Lake City)
April 19—Sunday at 1:30pm on WNET (New York City)
April 19—Sunday at 4pm on WGVU (Grand Rapids, Mi.)
April 26—Sunday at 8pm on SCC (Greenville, SC)
April 29—Wednesday at 6am ETV World (Columbia, SC)
April 11—Saturday at 3am on WIPB (Indianapolis, IN)

Keep up with Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band on Facebook for more updates!

Texas Promise Screening Coming Up!

Vanessa Roth’s The Texas Promise makes its New York premiere this Friday, March 20th at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium. 7:30 PM.

We created several minutes of animation and graphics, designed and directed by Rose Stark who oversaw a slew of talented animators.


Everyone should attend!



We’ve been having some server issues which seem like they’re finally resolved.  So everything should be back online (the site migrated to another server leaving the blog behind, but now it’s all straight).

The intervening month has been berry busy.

We made a series of music videos for Grouplove totaling around 12 minutes of original animation.

Kelsey Stark directed a bunch of animators including Casey Drogin, Taisiya Zaretskaya, Liesje Kraai, Christine Wu and Leah Shore.  Now she’s off to Iceland to make a film, while not gracing her with her presence she is gracing us with a blog of her adventures:  http://thorgeirsboli.tumblr.com/  Don’t be surprised to find beautiful things therein.

Here’s the full video:

It’s an explanation of these little films: www.grouplovemusic.com/toonlove

I recommend taking twenty minutes or so to watch them in progression. It’s nice that Kelsey was able to inject some real emotional moments into these character studies.

Next week we’re heading to Ottawa for the animation festival. “The Honor Code” is screening in competition. Internet-willing we’ll have daily accounts.


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.