Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I've fallen a bit behind on posting with the holidays approaching. I'll be heading back to Canada for a few weeks, and there is much to plan and do. I have another film post to get to, hopefully this weekend, time permitting for those interested in that.
In the meanwhile, some sketches. Done on the rare Bart trip, and the less rare Ritual sitting.
Also, I picked up the Art of Bolt today at work. The storyboards in that are really fantastic! My hat is off to those guys down in Burbank.
Check it out!


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Venice Chronicles

A good friend, co-worker, and source of inspiration Enrico Casarosa, has just released his latest sketch/narrative/travelogue tome, The Venice Chronicles.
It's a funny and poignant account of a trip to Venice with his lovely wife-to-be Marit, that details their flowering relationship and the city's role in it, told in beautiful, rich watercolours. It's appealing, fun and utterly Enrico.
More info here on how to get your hands on one.
For those of you that are in Toronto, my favorite comic store The Beguiling has copies on hand, so please, pick one up there. You won't be disappointed! I'll be visiting Toronto again in a month or so, and it's one of the first places I'll hit!

Until next time!,


Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Few Days in the City

This weekend Dani headed north on a trip with her friend, and I was left alone here in the city. I spent the last two days walking around San Francisco, drinking coffee, writing, visiting bookstores, watching movies and sketching. A relaxing few days that I sorely needed. I can't wait for next weekend!
Here are some of the sketches, humble as they are.



Thursday, October 02, 2008

No on Prop 8

My officemate, friend and hero Adrian, just finished this great little short "Dave and Lonnie talk about Gay marriage", and the great news is he's uploaded it to youtube for your viewing pleasure.
Without further ado,
Here it is!

Once you're done watching that, head over to his blog for more awesome work!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008


A cintiq self portrait-to commemorate

Another year goes by. This year full of really great friends, great projects, growth and passion.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made it possible, in large ways and small.
You know who you are.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Story Post- An Appreciation

I recently rewatched a great series of shorts collectively entitled "Paris Je T'aime", and on second viewing, things began to jump out at me, that I either hadn't noticed, appreciated, or ascribed due importance to. With that said I'd like to talk about one of my favourite shorts on the dvd here.

This post is about smart storytelling shots. Shots that by the way they're filmed - the choice of angle, colour, depth of field, movement and lighting - tell you how you are supposed to think and feel about what is happening. This is the kind of thing that REALLY excites me about filmmaking. Like in great lines of prose or in really specific design, there is a genius in filmmaking: the purposeful selection of rich storytelling shots. Since they fly by us at 24 frames per second creating the cumulative effect of an immersive story, the individual decisions, the details, can go by unnoticed. I'd like to pick some here, and examine them.

Typically when I watch something for a second or third time I tend, as I'm watching, to try and predict the next several shots, or series of shots in a scene or sequence. I'm often close, and the more I do it, the closer I get. However, there are times when the director chooses something I hadn't guessed, and sometimes it's nothing like what I had in mind. These are the things I tend to pay attention to. Why was this chosen? Why am I surprised by it? It is my limitation or their ingenuity? The answer is almost always, in the case of great films, both. As I watched the "Paris Je T'aime" shorts, specifically the segment "Loin du 16ième" by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, I was surprised and delighted by a few great storytelling choices, which I'll explore here:
Also, there are spoilers here, since I'm going into it. So if you haven't seen it, please watch it first.

Ok, so we open on a title card, and a pre-dawn view of the city. A young mother, Ana, played perfectly by Catalina Sandino Moreno, gets up early, and drops her infant child off in a large nursery, packed with cradles. This opening is great. We very quickly get who she is: a single mother working to scrape by in Paris. The conditions she leaves her baby in would be heartbreaking for her, but there it is.

As she leaves, we hear the baby cry offscreen, and after a moment's pause, she goes back to the cradle to console the child. We're given a great scene here, in that we feel her joy at interacting with her child, her maternal gifts, and we're also - though we don't know it yet - being set up for a pay off. It's just great to watch, and she plays it so well. The shots of her hand with the baby emphasize their connection. The baby smiles, giggles and then quickly falls asleep, assured by his mother's touch, and a beautiful lullaby she sings to him, which again, comes up later.

After this warm, endearing scene we face her commute. We don't know where she's going but the directors really contrast her journey with the scene we've just witnessed. We get jarring hand-held tracking shots, cramped compositions, all focused on Ana and her hustle bustle. It's paced really well here, because as soon as I thought "man this commute is taking forever", they cut to her surfacing from the subway in an affluent part of the city.

She enters the home, presumably of her employer, and though we don't know what the deal is yet, we can guess. There's a great little detail they add here: a glass door onto the laundry room, where she hangs up her coat, and puts her things away. I may be reading into this but that's such a great detail. Who has glass doors in their houses? Rich people, that's who. So we are given a little more about her situation at this point. It could have been a wooden door, but I think the impact of this shot would have been lessened considerably. This is where my ears really perked up, so to speak.

So she puts her stuff away and is given some last minute orders from her employer, who is never seen - another great touch. The employer leaves with an offscreen door slam, and we're treated to a nice wide shot of the apartment, just as the employer's baby begins to cry. At this point, we as the audience, have made 4 of 2 and 2. So we know where this is going. Ana opens a door to the nursery and enters. Before doing that however, she ties up her hair. Another great detail. She's holding back here, and we start to get it. This is all happening in seconds though, in master shots. The filmmakers aren't drawing attention to this stuff, just letting it texture the main narrative.
So now we're in the nursery, designed to contrast the nursery Ana's baby was placed in at the beginning of the film as thoroughly as possible, and it works. Compare the two shots and think colour and composition.

So of course Ana goes to the child and begins her lullaby, the one they set up in the first minute. It's heartbreaking now, as we reeaallly get the point. She's almost stoic as she sings; this is a job. The maternal warmth is gone from her face. The shot is similar to the previous one compositionally, but the light is cold, her hair is up, and she's clearly just going through the motions. Here's were it gets interesting. I was watching this, and thinking, "Ok they're going to stay on this for a moment, then just have her look up, giving us the total disconnect, and we're out".

That's when they cut to this:

THIS is the shot I hadn't anticipated, but LOVE. We get everything here. We get the pay off with the beginning shots of her baby, she is physically distanced from this child, her attention - by way of depth of field - is not on this child. The shot is an insert, which suggests to me that it was conceived in the planning, and not on set spontaneously. This was something they designed into the structure of their narrative, and is something we, as board artists, can and must do too. This is the stuff that really gets me fired up about boarding. These little gems of genius.

They aren't done yet. So we get the look up as I had thought, breaking the eyeline with the baby, completing the disconnect. She's still singing while she looks up, as another idea is made clear by a POV insert...

She's thinking about her own baby, so far away from her. It also serves to mirror the opening shot, giving us a little bit of visual symmetry. It's really great work.

Then we're back on her for the last shot. We're left to ponder her and her situation. Beautifully realized and humanized. It's such a great example of economy; each shot is packed with such specific storytelling details. There's a great texture to it all, and a leanness that could easily be mistaken for brevity or simplicity.

Ending off, I would like to make clear if it isn't already, that this is an appreciation, not a pedagogical dissertation; this is not what I do day-to-day, but what I ASPIRE to, long term. However, I do have a few more of these up my sleeve, for different films. I'd love to encourage the discussion of filmmaking, so if there is a demand for it, I'll bump it up the post queue.
Also, go rent the dvd. This is one of many great shorts on it, and having such different styles and content in close proximity is such a benefit to its intrinsic artistic value, and also its inspirational and educational value.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Recent Sketches

Last week, I had a few days to kick back, and unwind after a pretty significant push here at work. It was nice, just walking around the city reading comics, shopping, watching some films, and drawing to my heart's content. Having a few quiet days like that, I realized how lucky I am to be living in such a beautiful city with tons to do and see. It also reminds me to get out more! Here's a little sample of what I got up to.
Also, The Totoro Forest Project auction was last week, and was amazing. I'll be posting more about that in the near future.
Until then,


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Totoro Forest Project

Recently, I was asked to participate in an auction, entitled "The Totoro Forest Project", organized here at Pixar by the great Dice Tsutumi, Enrico Casarosa, and Ronnie Del Carmen. It's a really exciting event, which I 'm proud to be a part of. The description here, from Enrico's blog.
"Totoro Forest Project is an international charity effort to preserve Sayama Forest, also known as Totoro Forest. This endangered sanctuary on the outskirts of Tokyo is where director Hayao Miyazaki got the inspiration for his much loved character “Totoro.” Over 200 top international artists from animation, illustration, and comics are donating artwork especially created for this cause. On september 6th 2008 Pixar Animation Studios will be hosting an art auction event featuring all these fantastic pieces of art."
Doesn't this sound great? Well I'm proud and little shy to have my humble offerings hanging beside the amazing work I've been seeing pouring in. Congrats to all who submitted artwork for this. It all looks amazing! See for yourself, here.
Here's my piece(s).

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Both in subject and chronology.
More soon.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I do most of my mental work, thinking and planning, in a small cache of moleskine notebooks. I've recently begun carrying a variety of them, no less than 5, each one assigned a medium or cause. It's been really helpful in organizing and specializing the work. I'm a big fan of context, so having the books this way has been helpful in maintaining focus on each thing while allowing for a healthy push and pull of new ideas.
Here is a small selection of the contents, across different notebooks, and so, different times and projects and ambitions. Some which may see the light of day.