Hello there friend. I don’t think I ever posted this Frog Smashers pic I did, so, here, I am posting it:
In other news, I’ve been wanting to make a proper portfolio, just like a list of works in a basic HTML file thing, but haven’t yet got around to doing that (edit – I started it here). My portfolio got shanked when my site’s theme wasn’t supported anymore so I just have a couple things there. My site’s pretty stripped down at the moment, I think it could be even more stripped down tbh (edit, I did strip it down a bit). I should prob also use categories in the portfolio to help filter/sort between Goldfish music vids, Bru & Boegie, The Kiffness, commercial work, personal shorts, etc… (edit, I didn’t do this.)
Anyways, in other news, we’re making the Twende pilot! YOSSS!
Also, I’ve got some funding to develop a new Bru & Boegie thing, so I’m stoked about that.
WOW GUYS. What an eventful month! To kick things off I’mma put some Mozart on and write this post. Jks can’t concentrate with music on. So, what’s been happening? Well, obvs a lockdown but for animation, it seems like business as usual. Many of us have been working in solitude for years, ha.
FIRST THINGS FIRST – I got an *amazing* gig from an agency based in the US to do an 8bit pixel animated piece for Atlanta United soccer team. Big thanks to my colleague Joe Burrascono; founder of Nathan Love animation studio in NYC, who recommended me. Got cracking with boards, animatic and then animation and finished within a week of starting – toit deadline but all went smoothly and v. rewarding. Here’s the finished piece:
Earlier in the month I gave a 1-hour Zoom workshop about ‘How to create an animated show deck’ as part of the National Arts Festival aka Grahamstown Festival. The NAF went digital this year like so many other festivals are doing/have done due to covid restrictions. It was apparently the second-most subscribed workshop, at my (prob wrong) request we let only a handful of peeps in to keep it feeling more intimate but prob could have actually just let everyone in. I was pretty nervous leading up to it, but all went well and got some positive messages from peeps afterward who said they found it useful, so – thaznys. Here is that:
Then some outrageously kiff news – ‘Bru & Boegie: The Movie‘ was selected as one of the six feature films in competition at OIAF – Ottawa International Animation Festival, North America’s largest animation festival. HA! Can you believe it?!? 😀 I am thrilled yo! Almost every time I think about this I smile big and/or lol hehehehe. Have been getting hearty congrats from many, ya, just a really rad thing. I’ve attended Canada’s yearly OIAF a couple of times in the past thanks to South African delegations arranged by AnimationSA and funded by gov, which makes it extra special. Man, I’m beyond stoked the selection panel had a good sense of humour. Good on ya.
Did a fairly comprehensive (longboi) tutorial for animating pixel art in Toon Boom Harmony. It’s a niche thing but gonna post it here anyways:
Currently doing a cool animated music video for my bro, there might be some exciting Twende news to announce soon (oowee!) and a couple other nice things. Been blessed during this time. Folks are in Plett and doing well, my bro’s making rad content and branching out into new fields, my cat Angie continues to keep me good company and I can run on the beaches in Plett. S’GOOD.
If you wanna check out my Twitter I generally repost Moosebox fan art and bits and pieces, I also post a fair bit on my Instagram.
Dude! HELLO! How are you?!? Are you surviving the lockdown? Well, if you’re reading this, the answer obviously is ‘yes bru, hectic.’ What a great time to be alive!
So, I’ve done some stuff since the last post. And I’ll post that stuff here because you know that’s what I’ve done man!
I did a ridiculous multi-part Bru & Boegie comic series called ‘Corona Story’ that got into science skepticism, 5G, conspiracy theories and is generally just a beautiful mess:
Apart from that, work carries on with the Goldfish show, my own stuff’s a little on the backburner for now, hoping some approved funding comes through for a big Bru & Boegie project which is super rad. No more news on Moosebox, I don’t think we’re going to be making any more episodes anytime soon unfortunately – not my decision, that’s Nickelodeon’s decision. I also still don’t know when the Moosebox episodes might launch online worldwide, but I do see a lot of people landing up here from Moosebox searches, so, welcome if that’s you!
Guys, I made another Bru & Boegie short. This one was inspired – the other night I just got in the mood and recorded the voices without a script (again) for this and another episode which I haven’t yet made. Edited it down in Ableton, drew and timed out a basic animatic in Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, showed me mate James who said it dragged a bit so I got it running at 1 min, animated it in Toon Boom Harmony, drew the backgrounds in Procreate on iPad, added music & sfx in Premiere and then boom – completo. Thanks for reading these words.
So, 2019 eh? I figured I should write something to wrap up stuff I haven’t covered for the second half of last year. I did a mid-year wrap up post.
Pretty strange lo-fi year. A lot of good stuff. But also a lot of weird stuff. I dunno. Just a kind of odd year, man.
So, I did a Sonic the Hedgehog Remix Music Video for my YouTube channel. I’ve been doing a lot of writing for animation; a comprehensive first season outline for an animated Goldfish show broken down into individual episode beats. I got Nas Hoosen in to help me with that which was great, then he got busy with other stuff and I carried on with writing the first episode and Sheldon Bengtson offered to help me with that, which was great help too.
Been doing a lot of script-writing for Twende, the show about a chilled out pangolin that we pitched at Annecy in 2019 and for which we’ve put together a 50-page show deck. It’s been cool to upskill my writing stats. We now have 3 finished scripts that a lot of us from the Twende team worked on, and I’m really proud of them – both the crew and the scripts. The stories speak to the hearts of the characters and integrate our East African world really well – team member and friend Kwame Nyong’o from Kenya helped us keep it authentic. There are jokes aplenty that simultaneously helps the characters tell us who they are and demonstrate their unique outlooks on life. It took us many tries before scripts started to ‘click’.
I made an animated pixel music video for a cool German band called Session Victim right at the end of the year, sneaked it in at the finish line. Very cool band duo Matthias and Hauke, and a cool label Night Time Stories.
Session Victim – Made Me Fly
For the music video for the first track off Session Victim’s new EP ‘Needledrop’, band members Hauke and Matthias wanted to create a romantic story in the vein of an imaginary computer game that looked endemic to the Amiga Commodore 64 from the ‘80s, as though it might have actually been a game that existed for the system at the time.
The look, feel and many locations reference the classic 1988 Lucasfilm adventure game ‘Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders’, along with its limited colour palette and double-width pixels. As is usual for point-and-click adventure games, the player selects a verb with which to interact with various objects and characters on-screen and can collect, combine and use items with the world around them to progress through the game’s areas and story.
The video starts off with an Amiga 500 kickstarter and a Night Time Stories ’Warez’ trainer screen warning the user to not profit off warezed records. The protagonist (who is described as ‘Girl who makes beats in her bedroom’) stands in her small one-room apartment in a city. She looks like she might be a vinyl-head, much like band members Matthias and Hauke. She takes the bus to the record store ‘Vinyl Dreams’ which is a real record store in San Francisco Matthias and Hauke frequent. Inside, Hauke and Matthias hang around listening to music and browsing. The nameless woman buys a couple records to sample, glancing an ‘Air – Moon Safari’ album which is a nod to Beth Hirsch; the vocalist on the track who lent her voice to 2 of Air’s infamous tracks. We aren’t yet sure of the protagonist’s motives, though a kinaesthetic moment between her and the store clerk suggests there may be more than just a fiduciary exchange.
Back in her bedroom studio, our hero samples beautiful strings from the ‘weird German record’ with her LP player and Akai MPC, loops a funky drum part and adds in her own baseline and melody using her synth, all mixed together with a Moog Mintaur. As she works, night falls. She bounces the song to tape and hopes that ‘he’ will like it too. She draws a heart on the tape and walks through the quiet streets to a closed door where she drops the tape through the door’s mailbox. She leaves before whoever’s behind the door has time to discover who his secret admirer is – lo and behold it’s the boy from the record store. Who knows how many times she’s secretly delivered tapes to him?
Hauke and Matthias wrote the story, and I produced and animated it using a combination of Toon Boom Storyboard Pro to create and time the animatic, Photoshop and Pixaki to generate the video’s assets, Toon Boom Harmony to add movement and Premiere Pro to comp it together.
Personally, I feel like I’ve failed quite a bit this last year. Well, that’s not entirely true; I’ve managed to get a couple Bru & Boegie shorts out which has been great, and been on some overseas adventures, but I just got the feeling of things slowing down (even though there were many all-nighters of work). I think it was partly a conscious decision to do less traveling here there and everywhere; too much travel can mess me up. I had loads of lines in the water this last year with spec work project submissions and ‘calls for entries’, and far fewer bites than usual. It started to feel a bit like ‘Animation Tinder’, and I don’t like Tinder. However, the quiet times have nudged me to take the opportunity to invest more in myself and my YouTube channel which has been a blessing with its sometimes surprisingly great passive ad revenue. After the mad rush of the past few years including kicking off Moosebox, then Triggerfish Disney Story Lab, and then a Moosebox first season of 20 shorts, I tested the brakes a bit, flew under the radar more and brought things back into alignment, took things at a more manageable speed. So, even though 2019 has sometimes felt like a prolonged failure, it’s been a relief. If the last few years have been a big inhale, this has been a satisfyingly long exhale. Family has their health, and that’s really all that matters.
Bru & Boegie
In Bru & Boegie news, two directors of Bojack Horseman (Alex Salyer and Aaron Long, both whose work I dig a lot) really dug my Bru & Boegie short ‘Freelance Mountain‘, which is cool. Apparently it got around with the Bojack crew and they all loved it. There are loads of little pockets of Bru & Boegie appreciation around the world but I still haven’t managed to find a suitable way to produce the shorts faster. I mean, I can keep doing them solo but they take me ages to get through. I have a bunch of finished scripts ready, some of them from other writers, and an ever-growing document of new episode ideas. I also know nobody owes me anything to get Bru & Boegie working. Bru & Boegie is like a 100-year old chestnut that I’m trying to crack because I’m certain there are celestial diamonds inside. I feel like I’m joining an ever-growing pool of people who, instead of going the debatably safer route of putting together a more obviously commercial project or a reboot of an old IP and following the current trend of saying their show is ‘like x plus y’ to make it easier for an exec to digest, are rather trying somehow against all odds to find a way to get their passion project to work commercially in order to avoid the soul-destroying process of working on something you don’t absolutely love with all your heart. If that’s you – I feel ya. With Bru & Boegie more so than any other project, I need to make it on my own terms. With other projects I’m usually fundamentally obliging. Bru & Boegie and I have a long history, and I’m aware that’s what might make it difficult to find a partner for the project unless they absolutely love it too. It also doesn’t seem like there’s a ‘medium way’ to get these made, it’s either making a short on my own terms and with zero budget, or giving up all the rights and any say, and allowing studio/exec 1,2 and 3 to take everything unique about the project and replace it with whatever’s most acceptable to the lowest common denominator – and as someone else is quoted as saying – selling out isn’t easy either! You need to be really good to sell out. I keep looking for a ‘better way’, and know many others in my position are trying to do the same.
I did a couple of lo-fi self-soothing animations which are below:
Moosebox! We finished making the series a couple years ago but unfortunately the English versions still haven’t been released. I used to get pretty frustrated at the lack of communication from Nickelodeon regarding Moosebox, trying to get replies can be difficult; we’re so far away in the world and communicate is by email. I think our new contacts are slammed with so much work too. I sometimes would draw a custom cartoon to inline into the email to try and endear myself to Moosebox’s new gatekeepers to encourage a reply, and would spend time sugarcoating the wording to make questions seem like soft marshmallows, but I’ve taken Disney’s advice and ‘let it go’, letting Moosebox float through the breeze like a silk scarf in a hurricane. The process of working with a big network from so far away has been a bit like giving birth to a child, sending her away with foster parents and not hearing anything from her until you read about her in the paper. I just gotta hope for the best and trust Nickelodeon value the IP as much as those of us that worked on it do.
I’m really out of the loop with everything that it’s a fun surprise when I use Google or YouTube search to find new episodes of Moosebox on YouTube that have been dubbed by Nickelodeon into different languages on Nick channels I didn’t know existed. This morning I found a YouTube channel called ‘Moosebox‘ that uploads really low resolution and badly cropped Portuguese dubs of the episodes – great! There are also cellphone recordings of people filming Moosebox on TV – also great! I’m pleased it’s getting out there, and far prefer action to no movement at all.
I read a meme that said a) it’s not a good idea to discuss your bux or b) let others know your next moves, so I guess I’ll stick to that this year. Thanks memes, for solid life advice, always.
This ol’ Pac-Man video just keeps klapping kiff. It’s almost at 20 million views. Madness. Big up for low-hanging fruit.
Guys, I did it – I made South Africa’s first full-length 2D animated movie.
So, where to begin with this? Well, back in like 2006 or something I made a full-length Bru & Boegie film – a lot simpler than this one, it was black and white – as a kind of joke. It was just Bru & Boegie staring at a piece of cheese. They’d say stuff now and then, the cheese got up and left and came back, and the movie was something like 80 mins. The file was huge though, and I didn’t have enough space on my computer to comfortably keep it, and my Internet was much worse – it would have taken ages to upload it to YouTube. I think I didn’t even back it up, perhaps because it was bigger than the size of DVD. Anyways, the end result is I think I just deleted it.
About 13 years later, the idea came back to me – man, you know what, I should really do this. I was in the middle of production of ‘Bru & Boegie – Freelance Mountain’ and I had the idea of Bru sitting in meditation for a long time. Or at least, Bru invents a machine whereby his visions/imaginations during meditation or sleep can be recorded and converted to 2D, and he’s super excited to put it to use to make the first South African 2D animated film because it would be a really easy exercise to just record his epic dreams or imagination, but by the end of 90 minutes he asks Boegie to see the recordings and Boegie had forgotten to turn on the machine, and Bru would scream. I told my buddy James Wolfaardt the idea, and he thought it was great and kept encouraging me to make it. So, I started writing a script. The first few iterations of the script were a little snarky – stuff like, Bru & Boegie were talking about how they weren’t so focused on making the first GOOD South African 2D animated film, they just wanted to make the FIRST one because ‘being first’ in South Africa seems more important. But, after a while, Kayla Archer suggested I remove all of that, and I’m glad it did – the idea could stand on its own 2 feet (stumps) without it. So, I kept iterating on the script, had a wet humour version and a very dry and surreal version, took out all the stuff it didn’t need and was smart about economical about the project because Freelance Mountain was taking ages to complete (It took about 3 years of stops and starts to get it done) and I wanted to finish this one fairly quickly. I kept working it over and over until it sounded like it was Bru & Boegie speaking, and had a beginning and end that made sense and was easy enough to make in a short space of time. Here’s the script, it’s less than 2 pages:
Once the script was done, I was in the mood to record voice and did it all in a couple takes and made the animatic the same day. A little bit of tightening of the animatic, and then it was on to animation. I animated in Toon Boom Harmony Premium as I usually go, and drew backgrounds in Procreate on iPad with the Apple Pencil. Backgrounds get reused a lot, and I was smarter this time around about not making too much new stuff all the time. Once the animation was done, I used Ableton Live to add sfx from Splice, clean up and compress the voice and adjust level, and then added music to the Premiere Pro project, mostly from Essential Sounds. There’s like, a full 90 mins of cool chill relaxing music during the movie, so I’m hoping people stick it on in the background for while they’re studying or whatever.
I started the project about 2 months ago, and I had other work to do during this project, but I’m pleased at how quick I was able to turn it around.
Kayla helped me with the text layout for the movie’s poster that I dropped 2 days before its release:
On launch day, Kayla and I were in transit on the way back from Stellenbosch to Plett, and we pulled into a Wimpy in Calendon to view the film’s premiere at 1pm, Sat 20 Oct 2019. The Rugby World Cup was happening at the same time, South Africa playing Japan up on the TVs. We could see the online view count that about 8 people were watching, a couple people left comments on the ‘live chat’ which was cool.
My buddy James Wolfaardt watched THE WHOLE MOVIE from start to finish, and is probably the first and only person to do so – even I haven’t watched it start to finish completely. He’s offered to add his review (as the only person qualified to do so) which is rad.
So, the idea of the project is, it’s supposed to be a bit of a gaff – it’s not difficult to make the first 2D South African animated movie if most of it is a character sitting and meditating 🙂 there’s not much movement. But, to give credit to the idea, I made sure it was top-and-tailed with more animation and talking characters, as well as some kind of story to give the characters proper motivation. Bru & Boegie themselves create the movie because they themselves want to be the first to create South Africa’s first 2D animated movie. I did my research before the project, and it seems like it really *is* the first 2D animated South African film.
Apart from anything, I’m stoked to feature a project with so much meditation! I started transcendental meditation after high school, meditated *a lot* during Rhodes varsity days, and did a Vipassana 10-day meditation course in 2016 and have been getting back into it in bits and bobs. I think it’s a cool slice of life to show, instead of crash-boom-bang, here’s a pretty mellow film disguised as something else.
In some kind of 4th wall amazing event, at the end of the movie, Bru says “South Africa’s first 2D animated movie is going to be… me meditating for 90 minutes.” Boegie responds with “People won’t be happy about this.” Bru types away on his laptop and says “I’m adding it to Wikipedia.” Earlier today James mentioned that in fact the movie is now actually listed on Wikipedia. Whoever did this, you rock 🙂
So, ya – that’s it. I did this all on my Macbook Pro 2013, and by being smart about looping sections, was able to do it with the limited disk space I have, and even at 4k resolutions – perhaps not so impressive to anyone else, but I’m amazed and impressed with my machine. Rad.