Works In Progress

Day 1

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Here's my man Theo!Day 1: Progress on Blood Diamonds

Blood Diamonds is a song that William Steffey wrote in 2014. I offered to work with him on a music video for the song and I’ve been working on it on-and-off (mostly off) this whole time. I created a CG robot character called Theo, animated him and integrated him with the footage. I also did some animated text for the chorus sequences.

The video still needs work. We came up with a story and filmed it, but it’s too linear and slow moving for a music video. Also, in the time since I started, Steffey formed a band (Boolean Knife), so we want to integrate the band into the video. One way we’re doing this is to add footage of the band members playing into the background of the chorus footage. To help break up the linear timing, I decided to also cut to band footage during the storytelling part of the video.

I used the music to determine where the band footage would go. Today’s task is to trim and move the narrative shots around to make sense with the breaks. I also decided to add another shot with Theo. I still have to animate that and maybe shoot some background footage. (Did I mention the locations are are all pretty nearby? It’s nice to live in a good looking neighborhood.) Moving the footage shouldn’t take much time, so I should be able to get a lot done on the Theo shot today. There’s a decent amount of work still to be done on the choruses, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

For those of you kind enough to jump in early and help me with my progress, I’m sharing an early draft of Blood Diamonds. As always, I welcome your feedback. Does it move too slow? Is anything not made clear enough? Do you find Theo convincing or not? These are the kind of things I’d like to know. I’ve looked at this so many times, that it’s hard to notice some of these things.

Your friend, Maux

8:30 p.m. update:

I moved the footage. It took a little longer than I anticipated, but the real reason I didn’t get more done (apart from this being Day 1 and I’m out of practice with deadlines) is that I had a phone interview for a job! It went well and I’ll be going in to the office on Monday for a proper, in-person interview. Very exciting. I took a long walk after the phone interview and then I had some follow-up emails to write.

The day’s not over, and I plan to put in another hour or two. Clean up a few jarring cuts in the video and then maybe spend some time on Cinema 4D. The job, if i get it, will change my 30 day plan. So will the outstanding Mochimochi Land project that I forgot to allow time for. I have a meeting on that tomorrow, but I’ll wait until after my job interview to make any changes to the schedule.

Works In Progress

30 Day Plan

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The road aheadI have been trying to do a lot of things with my life lately, one of which is finding a job. But that’s not going to happen unless I focus on one thing at a time. And, for now, that focus needs to be on putting together a great demo reel. My student reel was mediocre at best, and it hasn’t been updated in ages. I’m giving myself the next 30 days to focus entirely on improving my reel. That’s going to require focus on my part and, the more people I have holding me accountable, the better I’ll be able to do that.

Here’s my plan:

July 21: Show progress on the Blood Diamonds music video (in progress)
July 22: Show progress on the Blood Diamonds music video (in progress)
July 23: Finish what I can on video and add a 5-10 animated clip to my reel

July 24: Come up with a concept and storyboard for an Explainer Video*
July 25: Choose a 5-10 second clip to develop. Select visual style and palette*
July 26: Show progress on Explainer Video clip*
July 27: Show progress on Explainer Video clip*
July 28: Add clip to my reel*

July 29: Come up with a concept and storyboard for a combined live action/graphics video*
July 30: Choose a 5-10 second clip to develop. Select visual style and palette*
July 31: Show progress on Video clip*
August 1: Show progress on Video clip*
August 2: Add clip to my reel*

* During these ten days, I’m also getting back up to speed on Cinema 4D for next project

August 3: Come up with a concept and storyboard for a Cinema 4D video**
August 4: Choose a 5-10 second clip to develop. Select visual style and palette**
August 5: Show progress on Video clip**
August 6: Show progress on Video clip**
August 7: Add clip to my reel**

August 8: Come up with a concept and storyboard for a Typography video**
August 9: Choose a 5-10 second clip to develop. Select visual style and palette**
August 10: Show progress on Video clip**
August 11: Show progress on Video clip**
August 12: Add clip to my reel**

** During these ten days, I’m also learning what I need to know to capture data for next project

August 13: Choose a data set to explore, look for potential stories to tell
August 14: Settle on a data set
August 15: Select visual style and palette
August 16: Show progress on Video clip
August 17:Show progress on Video clip
August 18:Show progress on Video clip
August 19: Add clip to my reel*

Those of you reading this, if you could keep following either this blog or and watch for me to post some progress every day. If I don’t, leave a comment or send me tweet and let me know that somebody is watching. Thanks. If I do post, feel free to let me know what you like or don’t like. Or ask questions. All feedback is welcome.

As a start, here’s a little intro footage I made in April, but somehow never added to my reel:


Behind the Scenes

Fun with Images

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My friend Rachel recently set a new personal record for weightlifting – and her husband asked me to commemorate it by Warhol-ing up this photo of her from the competition:

File Apr 02, 10 13 47 PMI looked into some tutorials online, but I wasn’t really impressed by any of them. Mainly, the problem was that they were trying to replicate the iconic Marilyn Monroe print with the 2×2 grid of garishly colored portraits. This picture is asking to be Elvis. Beyond that, a lot of the tutorial images just didn’t look that great. They seemed to lack subtlety.

Another obstacle I had to face is that my friend is wearing a black t-shirt and leggings with a high contrast pattern. After isolating the image, and adding some contrast filters, I made masked layers to specifically lighten the t-shirt and the leggings. I did one for her hair as well. To get the rough lithograph look, I added a Vintage Halftone texture from Creative Market. I selected the colors from the Warhol original and painted them on a multiply layer. This came out darker and more muted than the original, so I added a second, low-opacity version of the colors in Normal mode. In retrospect, adjusting the levels on the existing paint layer would have made more sense, but I was sort of making things up as I went.

Because my levels adjustment had to contend with Rachel’s contrast clothes, the shadows didn’t really pop as much as I’d have liked. I added another layer of Halftone texture and masked it out, painting the shadows back in.

All in all, I’m very happy with how it turned out:


Finished Works

Graphic Design

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Boolean Knife at DebonairI keep applying for Motion Graphics jobs that expect a decent graphic design portfolio. So, it’s about time I put one together. What better place to start then with this retro-style Boolean Knife poster that I’ve been wanting to make anyway?

This is based on an old boxing style poster that I saw at at a venue in the suburbs. (And, yes, I had to do some searching to find out that this type of poster is called “boxing style.” I love to learn new things.)

Clicking on the image will show you a larger version of the poster. If you’re looking for a link to the show, here it is. (If you’re in Chicago, I’d love to see you at the show.)

If you have any feedback, or suggestions on what I should design next, let me know in the comments! Thanks!



Behind the Scenes

Pata Noir

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Have you checked out the PataNoir app yet? More importantly, have you watched the accompanying music video? My very good friend William Steffey wrote the song and he and I made the video together.  As of this posting, 1,500 people have watched it. No great shakes by internet standards, but it makes me happy to know so many people are seeing and enjoying my work.

Set dressingI’m especially proud of this piece because of the shoestring budget we made it on. We splurged on a green screen and some stock video and shot the whole thing in our apartment.

Yeah, we have a lot of vintage props lying around.

There’s not a lot of animation in the video. I made some scene transitions with bursts of letters as a nod to the text heavy nature of the PataNoir app.

My main contribution to the video was keying the green screen out of the footage. Here’s a little making-of video for one of the shots.  (That’s Tim Koelling, of Boolean Knife, on the saxophone.)


Behind the Scenes

Moving On

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At the end of this week, the great yarn dyeing experiment comes to an end. After an exhausting four and a half months, I’m leaving Lorna’s Laces. Trying to maintain a freelance career on nights and weekends became too much for me.

I learned an important lesson about myself dyeing yarn. Even though I was completely ill-suited to the work, I still did a good job. I need to remember this and not sell myself short going forward.
And as for my future plans? Building my skills and looking for more work doing the things I’m really good at!