September 30, 2006

Futurama Returning With New Episodes to air in 2008

Here's some old but good news for Futurama fans. In a deal with Comedy Central, new episodes of the series have already begun production and will start airing in 2008:
Comedy Central has resurrected the former Fox animated series from "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. At least 13 new episodes will be produced for the first time since the series originally ran from 1999-2003. New and old episodes will begin airing in 2008 on Comedy Central. Actors Billy West, Katey Sagal and John DiMaggio have agreed to return as voices for "Futurama."

Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me

Beware The Con Artist!

September 26, 2006

Best Walk Cycle Ever!

Top 10 lies told to Illustrators and Designers

1. "Do this one cheap (or free) and we'll make it up on the next one."

No reputable business person would first give away their work and time or merchandise on the hope of making it up later. Can you imagine what a plumber would say if you said "come in, provide and install the sink for free and next time we'll make it up when we need a sink." You would be laughed at! Also the likelyhood is that if something important came along, they wouldn't use you.

2 "We never pay a cent until we see the final product."

This is a croc, unless the person is leaving the door open to cheat you out of your pay. Virtually every profession requres a deposit or incremental payment during anything but the smallest project. Once you have a working relationship, you may work out another arrangement with a client. But a new client should not ask you to go beyond an initial meeting and, perhaps some preliminary sketches without pay on the job!

3 "Do this for us and you'll get great exposure! The jobs will just pour in!"

Baloney. Tell a plumber "Install this sink and my friend will see and you'll get lots of business!" Our plumber friend would say "You mean even if I do a good job I have to give my work away to get noticed? Then it isn't worth the notice." Also the guy would likely brag to everyone he knows about how this would normally cost (X) dollars, but brilliant businessman that he is he got if for free! If anyone calls, they'll expect the same or better deal.

4 On looking at sketches or concepts: "Well, we aren't sure if we want to use you yet, but leave your material here so I can talk to my partner/investor/wife/clergy."

You can be sure that 15 minutes after you leave he will be on the phone to other designers, now with concepts in hand, asking for price quotes. When you call back you will be informed that your prices were too high and Joe Blow Design/Illustration will be doing the job. Why shouldn't they be cheaper? You just gave them hours of free consulting work! Until you have a deal, LEAVE NOTHING CREATIVE at the clients office.

5. "Well, the job isn't CANCELLED, just delayed. Keep the account open and we'll continue in a month or two."

Ummm, probably not. If something is hot, then not, it could be dead. It would be a mistake to *not* bill for work performed at this point and then let the chips fall where they may! Call in two months and someone else may be in that job. And guess what? They don't know you at all.....

6. "Contract? We don't need no stinking contact! Aren't we friends?"

Yes, we are, until something goes wrong or is misunderstood, then you are the jerk in the suit and I am that idiot designer, then the contract is essential. That is, unless one doesn't care about being paid. Any reputable business uses paperwork to define relationships and you should too.

7. "Send me a bill after the work goes to press."

Why wait for an irrelevant deadline to send an invoice? You stand behind your work, right? You are honest, right? Why would you feel bound to this deadline? Once you deliver the work and it is accepted, BILL IT. This point may just be a delaying tactic so the job goes through the printer prior to any question of your being paid. If the guy waits for the job to be printed, and you do changes as necessary, then he can stiff you and not take a chance that he'll have to pay someone else for changes.

8. "The last guy did it for XXX dollars."

That is irrelevant. If the last guy was so good they wouldn't be talking to you, now would they? And what that guy charged means nothing to you, really. People who charge too little for their time go out of business (or self-destruct financially, or change occupations) and then someone else has to step in. Set a fair price and stick to it.

9. "Our budget is XXX dollars, firm."

Amazing, isn't it? This guy goes out to buy a car, and what, knows exactly what he is going to spend before even looking or researching? Not likely. A certain amount of work costs a certain amount of money. If they have less money (and you *can*) do less work and still take the job. But make sure they understand that you are doing less work if you take less money that you originally estimated. Give fewer comps, simplify, let them go elsewhere for services (like films) etc.

10. "We are having financial problems. Give us the work, we'll make some money and we'll pay you. Simple."

Yeah, except when the money comes, you can expect that you will be pretty low on the list to be paid. If someone reaches the point where they admit that the company is in trouble, then they are probably much worse off than they are admitting to. Even then, are you a bank? Are you qualified to check out their financials? If the company is strapped to the point where credit is a problem through credit agencies, banks etc. what business would you have extending credit to them. You have exactly ZERO pull once they have the work. Noble intentions or not, this is probably a losing bet. But if you are going to roll the dice, AT LEAST you should be getting additional money for waiting. The bank gets interest and so should you. That is probably why the person is approaching you; to get six months worth of free interest instead of paying bank rates for credit and then paying you with that money. Don't give away money.

Now, this list wasn't meant to make anyone crazy or paranoid, but is designed to inject some reality into the fantasy.

You are GOING to be dealing with people who are unlike yourself. Their motivations are their own and their attitudes are probably different than yours. There are going to be demands, problems, issues and all the hassles that go with practically ANY work/job/money situation. Too many times I see the sad example of someone walking in to a situation with noble intentions and then getting royally screwed, because what they see as an opportunity and a labor of love, the other party sees as something else entirely, not at all romantic or idealized, but raw and simple.

How can you deal with this stuff and still do good creative work? Good question. THIS is why an education is important. You learn, out of the line of fire, how to deal with the art at it's own level and also how to deal with the crap that surrounds it. You may have tough teachers and think that it can't be worse, but wait until a business person has a hundred grand riding on your art! Then you will know what "demanding" means. You will then thank all those tough teachers for building up the calluses that enable you to enjoy the job rather than just feeling like it is all a big waste of time!

In the end, working commercially, being a terrific artist is about 25% of the task. If that is the only part of the task that you are interested in, do yourself a favor; Stay freelance and don't turn "pro."

- By Mark W. Lewis

September 25, 2006

Meet Spafford & Barff

My puppets finally came in the mail the other day!
Constructed by the talented Nate Pacheco.

I've been searching for muppet-quality puppets for years,
and now I have found these two little critters and I'm
excited as hell. Of course puppeteering is far more
difficult than I had imagined. I've been practicing for the
past week and realised that transfering your performance
to your hand can be hard work, I feel like my progress
is ever so slow.

Getting the lip sync, the antics, expressions, reactions,
and the timing of hands & head takes a lot of planning and
practice to get it all to work together. With some help
from other animators we're in the process of figuring
things out and there will be some skits and acting tests
posted soon.

Look at that line of action!

September 24, 2006

Film News

Ace Ventura Spreads Seed, Sorrow

Ace_Ventura_Spreads_Seed_So.jpgMorgan Creek is very lucky that things I found funny at seventeen are still gut-busting to me today. Because the third Ace Ventura movie is currently in development. Future out-of-work screenwriters Jeff Sank and brothers Jason and Justin Heimberg are penning this gem, which will follow the story of the legendary pet detective's son taking on his father's mantle. If this turns out half as awesome as Son of the Mask and Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, all other movies on the planet will explode.

Sunshine Footage With Danny Boyle Introduction


Looking like something of a hybrid of Armageddon and Alien, a trailer of sorts for Danny Boyle's Sunshine is online, with an introduction by the director. The movie follows a team of astronauts sent to the sun in the hopes of reviving the dying star, restoring sunshine to earth. Because if we don't have sunshine, all we've got left are lollipops and rainbows to make us feel wonderful. And the long, luxurious eyelashes of Cillian Murphy.

First Shot From Neil Gaiman's Stardust


I don't know anything about this flick yet, but I read around that it looks good.

Evan Almighty Portrays Monkeys Drinking Coffee


I'm guessing this movie will be terrible, but I can't deny the intrinsic humor of two monkeys drinking coffee in this new shot from Evan Almighty, sequel to Bruce. Did they brew it, too? How do they take it? Monkeys drinking coffee = funny. Case closed.

September 19, 2006

Horton Hears a Who -- First Look at Smug Character


With the voice talents of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell , here's the first shot from Fox's CG animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who. I don't remember the book well enough to say which character this is (it's been nearly a week since reading), but I can say that with his thin build, well-groomed faux-hawk, popped collar and unnecessarily worn tie, he definitely owns the entire Cher catalog.

Most notable is how surprisingly faithful the design, even the background architecture and genital size, has remained to its source. Indeed, it's as if the entire world of Dr. Seuss has been brought from the two-dimensional page into the three-dimensional world, where we can finally realize just how crazy-looking these freaks are. What is this thing anyways, some kind of dog man? ... I can't wait to see it.

Eragon Trailer Exciting to Dragon Fans


Just in time for nerd season, Hollywood is unveiling its newest creations to bring in their most loyal (and most acne-ridden) crowd, and things are looking hot. This season, the sci-fi world of aliens and lightsabers have stepped aside to make room for swords and mythological creatures--always safe bets for this crowd--with two big entries into the field. Peter Jackson, creator* of Lord of the Rings, already announced his plans for a dragon-themed movie, and now the trailer for the hotly-anticipated Eragon has been released. Based on the book, which is based on dragon fact, the film brings viewers back to that lost time of warriors, sorcery, and fantastical dragons, when you had to be careful not to speak too loudly of these things in the cafeteria so those guys wouldn't throw your Magic deck in the trash again (I think it was the mid '90s). Yes, that magical time, just prior to the release of Dragonheart, when we still thought it might be cool to base an entire movie on a dragon (it wasn't) can be yours again at the click of a button.

September 15, 2006

Our Cat


I can't get enough of this show.

Here's some sites and blogs from the show's creators, check them out, it's so much fun, concept designs, models, sketches, and lots of texts describing the development of the series:

The Blog
The Animation Studio
The episodes and credits list

September 14, 2006

David Brent's Microsoft UK Training Video

Hoping of giving the illusion that they're not a humorless corporate entity, Bill Gates and the boys at Microsoft UK commissioned Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant to make a training video that features Gervais's The Office character David Brent. If you have forty minutes and liked the duo's comedy stylings, enjoy the wit and wonder.

part 1

part 2

September 13, 2006

Noah takes a photo of himself everyday for 6 years.

Movie Stuff

Grindhouse Posters: With Amputees!


The poster for Planet Terror is more than it first seems. If you look carefully, you'll see that it's not just a gun pictured. There's also a woman. And if you look closer, she's actually attached to that gun. That's right, it's a woman with a gun for a leg. It's bad news for her enemies, good news for a guy who might be sitting in front of her when she aims it, since he might get to see her cooter if it's a high enough target.

I can't wait for this Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez
Double Feature!

Iron Man to Fight Mandarin, Possibly While Resembling This


Hey, Iron Fans! Here's a teaser poster for Jon Favreau's Iron Man movie. He says it's not the final design for the suit, and I'm glad. I say if you call it "Iron Man" you dress him like the Iron Man guys from ESPN 2. Just a tank top, shorts, 80 pounds of excess fat, and the shameful expression of knowing you routinely train yourself to competitively lift slot machines in a wheelbarrow.
Also the villain of the film is going to be Mandarin. You know, the Chinese guy with all the magic rings.

Deadman Coming to Theatres

Hot news, fans of comic book heroes! Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro is in negotiations to act as producer in bringing the DC comic Deadman to the screen. If you don't know the character:

Deadman is the ghost of a circus acrobat named Boston Brand, who was murdered during a trapeze performance. His spirit was granted the power by a Hindu goddess to possess any living being in order to find his killer. In the ensuing search, Brand finds himself obliged to help others.
I think the only way they're making this one work is if they get a big name or an actual dead man, both of which can be found in Keith Richards. How about it, buddy?

Deliver Us From Evil Finds Distribution

If the Catholic church hated The Da Vinci Code, wait until they see this one. Lionsgate announced they will distribute Deliver Us From Evil, a documentary about a serial raping pedophile priest:
Lionsgate announced today it has acquired domestic distribution rights to Deliver Us From Evil, a documentary about a pedophile Catholic priest whose serial rapes were known to, and concealed by, the American Church for over 30 years.
I hope this one does well. Not so much because I care about exposing corruption in the Catholic church, but because I'd like to see it remade as a comedy with Will Ferrell. I think he could bring a lot of laughter to serial raping pedophilia.