Category Archives: fun

Madagascar fans at the Jardim Botanico

At the Jardim Botanico by otherthings

We were taking a stroll through Rio de Janeiro’s gorgeous botanical gardens, when we ran into two big groups of kids on field trips from schools in the area. My lovely wife (and now, apparently, publicist) struck up a conversation with some of the boys, and let slip what I do for a living, and that I knew how to draw Alex the Lion. Next thing I knew, everyone had their cell phones out to take pictures, and I spent about a half hour talking with the kids, and drawing Alex, Marty, Skipper and other characters. They all were apparently big fans of the Madagascar series. Everyone was super excited. I even got one of the boys to draw something in my sketchbook. He drew a lovely princess.

When you’re in the movie business it’s so easy to get swept up in crtitical reviews and statistics, and obsess over the opportunities you’ve missed where you could have made this scene or that one work just a little better. It can make you pretty grumpy. So it’s pretty nice to get a reality check once in a while, and realize that there are kids, all over the world, who simply love what we do.

Ready for the solar eclipse

Ready for the solar eclipse by otherthings

Getting ready for the solar eclipse… I bought some 0.2mm silver mylar, which is practically opaque, but lets a tiny bit of sunlight through (like, about 1/160,000th by my seat-of-the-pants estimate). One layer of it makes the sun seem about as bright as the moon. Two layers, and you can’t even see the sun at all.

THIS MAY NOT ACTUALLY BE SAFE AT ALL. I don’t honestly know, because I have no way of knowing how much UV light gets through this stuff. But I did use mylar to look at the last solar eclipse several years ago, and I haven’t gone blind yet, so there’s anecdotal evidence at least.

Here’s a good article explaining when and where you can see the eclipse. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, it should start on Sunday afternoon (May 20th) around 5:30pm, and reach maximum occlusion (about 90%) by 6:30pm.

Structured Psychedelia

“The Music Scene” from Anthony Francisco Schepperd on Vimeo.

I swear I’ve experienced things exactly like this during hypnagogic moments (those naturally occurring dreamlike hallucinations that sometimes happen as you’re falling asleep) as a teenager. But this guy actually spent five months in front of Flash with a tablet and stylus, making it real for the rest of us. This is what animation is all about. (via Cartoon Brew).

If you liked this video, you might also want to go back and watch Mathieu Labaye’s Orgesticulanismus one more time. That link takes you to a high-quality version I just found, with subtitles, which clarifies the intent of the film and makes the slow part just as enjoyable as the fast part… give it a look!

With the right teacher, school can be awesome.


Andy James works with Chautauqua students, including Shayla Malm, left, during a recent music class. Photo by Elizabeth Shepherd

My friend Andy James teaches elementary school on Vashon Island, a rural community a short ferry ride from Seattle. He’s got a real passion for teaching, and my conversations with him about it always leave me inspired. His latest project is no exception: faced with a new role as music teacher, he decided the thing to do would be to get the kids to compose, perform and record an entire album. And they did it. Not just any album, mind you: a concept album made entirely of original songs written by the kids, based on a South American folk story called “The Whistling Monster”. Now they’re selling the CD to raise funds for the school (and in the process help save Andy’s job, which like many teachers’ is on the chopping block). I haven’t heard the music yet, but if I know Andy it’ll be worth a listen!

The whole operation is pretty low-tech, so as of now you can’t buy the CD online. Update: Chautauqua Elementary School has made the CD available online! You can order it here in MP3 form or as a physical disk. Take a listen, and leave a comment below if you’ve got anything to say!

Dragon wrap party… in 3D!

Just got back from the wrap party for “How to Train Your Dragon” in Hollywood. At one point, a bunch of us animators were hanging out on the dance floor, and there was this line of people all taking photos of us at once. These two photos, by Jen Stern and Lilian Ku, must have been shot within a fraction of a second of each other. So I stitched them together into an animated gif. Check us out in 3D!

wrap_party_stereo

See us on the big screen, if you’re so disposed.

dff_logo

Good news: our short film, How to Make a Baby, is heading for the silver screen! It will be in the competitive shorts program at the wonderfully named Disposable Film Festival. The big event is Thursday, March 4th at 8pm at San Francisco’s Roxie Theater. Sure, you’ve seen it on the internet. But the Roxie’s screen is, like, a million feet wide! How big is your screen? You can buy tickets in advance if you like, and there’s a party next door after the screening. Come hang out with us and all the other disposables!

Acerola mimosas

On the last day of my trip, I made brunch for a group of wonderful friends of the family. There’s no such thing as “brunch” in Brazil, so I tried to be a good culinary ambassador and introduce the concept in the best possible light. Each item was adapted to the local scene: scrambled eggs with queijo de minas and fresh herbs from the front yard; coconut brioche French toast with a passionfruit-pear compote (and maple syrup straight from New York); and mimosas made with acerola juice. Nothing came out quite as I expected: the bread had a really strange texture, and the compote was more like a soup. But my hosts seemed to enjoy it all, and the mimosas were a definite hit!

Drop7

drop7

Eric Rodenbeck just pointed me to this gorgeous little game for the iPhone: Drop7. It combines the best elements of Tetris and Sudoku, but somehow transcends them both. While most games start out interesting and then plateau, this one actually gets better with time. It tempts you to come up with ever-more-creative ways to set up the domino-like chain reactions that yield the highest scores. The design is also solidly appealing (hey, with two nice weights of Helvetica, how can you go wrong!) And is it addictive? Ohhhh man, is it ever. The first time I played it, I was on a hard-seated chair. I don’t know how long I was sitting there, but when I tried to stand up, I couldn’t feel my toes. Both of my legs had gone to sleep. It’s that addictive.

My only critique is that every single number is the wrong color. Consult a synesthete next time, ok guys? :-)