Head-mounted telestereoscope!

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For the past few months I’ve been corresponding with Melinda Green about a project of hers, to build a portable stereo-enhancing device: essentially, a head-mounted version of the Telestereoscope. Her goal? Aerial combat with radio-controlled gliders! She just finished her first prototype, and it looks amazingly lightweight, and I dare say almost comfortable. I can’t wait to hear her first battle stories. Also be sure to check out the cool applet she wrote to visualize all the angles and proportions. Rock on, Melinda!

Time is an illusion, and now there’s proof!

As upstanding American citizens have known for years, time is an illusion created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster to keep our minds from getting tied in starchy, noodly knots. It’s not real. And yet, our insitutions, our government, even our children’s schools insist on perpetuating this heretical fallacy that time exists!

But even the so-called “experts” can’t agree on how to measure the passing of this fictional abstraction. Is it caused by the wiggling of some speck of fairy dust called an “atom”, or the revolution of the sun around the flat, solid Earth? They just can’t make up their minds. The Week has an interesting article about this controversy, which has divided the scientific community, threatening to bring down the very edifice of science itself. And not a moment too soon!

School boards across the nation should take note. Why, in this great democracy, do we still have a clock in every classroom? When will this madness stop?

(via BoingBoing.)

Animation Mentor!

Animation Mentor


This week I start my first term mentoring students for Animation Mentor. I’ve spent a few days browsing around the site, checking out the work of the students and the critiques of the other mentors, and I am deeply impressed. It’s so well organized, and so much thought has gone into everything, and there’s such a great sense of community among the students and mentors! These guys have really put together something special and new, and I hope it’s a big success for everyone involved.

So, I’m really looking forward to this experience, and I expect to learn as much from the process as the students will. (As a friend of mine put it: a teacher who’s not always learning is not a very good teacher!)

Madagascar DVD comes out today

The Madagascar DVD comes out today. Finally, a chance to geek out and frame-by-frame your way through some of that crazy, snappy animation! They also added the Penguins Christmas Caper short that opened for the Wallace and Gromit movie last month. I’m so glad to have been part of these projects. Both the movie and the short were stupendous fun to work on.

Animated News has a sneak preview of some of the features, including a still frame of one of my shots! Check it out:

Criticizing the critics.

This is the first time I’ve worked on a movie that I felt a real emotional attachment to, for better or worse. I loved working on Madagascar, loved the people I worked with, loved the characters, the look, the animation style, and the story premise. The movie speaks to me as a New Yorker and as a warm-blooded mammal. It’s freakin’ hilarious. And the humor is deeper and more character-driven than any of the others I’ve worked on, and I love that.

So I was pretty much completely shocked to see that there are many critics out there who didn’t love this movie like I did. (My friend Melanie felt the same way.) Was I just too close to it? Does the movie have some gigantic deformity that I just couldn’t see? A face that only a mother could love?

The answer is no. After seeing the movie a few times with real audiences, and taking some time to reflect on all the reviews, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the movie’s worst critics are simply being unfair. Many of them make valid points about problems with the story’s pacing, plot, theme, and so forth. But the conclusions they jump to are completely at odds with everything I know about the experience of enjoying a movie.

Critics of Madagascar seem to fall into three categories: DreamWorks-haters, genre bigots, and the genuinely thoughtful.

The DreamWorks-haters are characterized by the intellectually weak argument that if it ain’t Pixar, it’s crap. These people tend to be more interested in the politics of company A versus company B, and often gloss over the actual films themselves in favor of cheap shots at the corporations that make them. They mistake the messenger for the message. The more sharp-tongued among them can still craft sentences that sting, but the sting wears off once you realize the depth of their ignorance.

The genre bigots are a more subtle bunch. They say things like “The classic shape of a children

Cassidy Curtis's splendid display of colorful things.