Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why I die inside

And I block out the worst stuff. Only hypnosis could bring me to dredge up the real gems that people have said over the years. That argument about the exploding cars went on for about four days. It really did.

I guess it could be worse - when they aren't arguing about shite, they're spoiling movies I haven't seen yet. And I haven't seen most movies yet.

I'm currently playing Siren Blood Curse. It scares the absolute bejesus out of me. Anyone playing it?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Divide and conquer

Around here, as soon as the director turns his back, the producer is looking for stuff. Incomplete cuts mostly, so he can upload them to an ftp site or whatever and show them to people who should never get to see incomplete cuts because they have difficulty in understanding the concept of 'incomplete'.

It's like the old line tester days. You'd show a client a pencil test and you'd get a look of horror followed by, "it will be in colour, right?"

So the producer 'steals' incomplete cuts from the animators or compositors and then forms a series of rather stupid questions. But that's just one aspect. I have noticed that the producer will often ask a director how long something will take. Unhappy with the answer, he'll ask individual animators who only ever know how long their own particular part will take. As that answer is shorter, the producer happily takes it and makes up new schedules.

Divide and conquer.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Because the bush might have nice berries. Juicy ones. Or it might poisonous ones. And it could be prickly. But it doesn't matter either way, because you're just standing there. By a bush.

Okay, I have no idea what that meant either. I just drew me standing by a bush for some reason. Thought I might get some inspiration as I went on. Truth is, it's just very early on a Monday morning and I'm sleepy. My brain hasn't quite woken up yet.

Start of yet another week. I'm feeling a little lost at the moment. And the bin by my desk is full. What does it take to get a bin emptied around here?

An Amendment to this post:

I figured that perhaps the image would have more meaning if I added one more element. Still not sure what the meaning is though.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The hard part

I have so many projects I want to progress. I'm not saying they're all good. Actually, I'm not saying any of them are good. In fact they're likely all complete cack. But I have a lot of them.

The problems are, firstly, progressing them to a stage where I'm happy with them. While the ultimate goal is to see a show sold or made, or a book published or whatever, what I consider to be 'finished' is to have a damn good proposal with every element representing the project as best it can. Actually getting the time, keeping up the motivation and just getting it right make this a very daunting process. And it's so easy to wander on to the next idea.

The next set of problems come if that stage is ever reached - how to sell it. That's a whole different set of challenges and one I've been through many times.

But that first proposal stage is a tough place to get to. So many ideas. So many stories. So many characters. Too many. Far too many. It makes it very difficult to focus. My mind is shooting off in so many different directions. I just can't finish anything.

I guess that's one major reason all those rejections a while back really stung. I had managed to get a project to that proposal stage. It took a serious amount of hard work. Like, it totally made my brain tired. But I did it and was very happy with the result. And all I ended up with was a pile of stock rejections, a lot of wasted months, wasted paper. Just wasted.

And, since those rejections, it has been all the harder to get the motivation to bring the next project on.

Thing is, I've been here before. I pushed several shows early in my career. Made many mistakes. Faced many rejections. But eventually, I had a success. That's great, right? Well, yeah, okay maybe. But it seems to mean little in terms of selling something else.

Anyway, enough of that. I just want to progress some new projects. Finish them. Get proposals. Have someone like them. And make some shows. Or publish some books. Or manufacture a time machine. Any one of those will do.

But focus is a real problem.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What happens next...

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. And so on.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How it all will end

Yeah, it's going to go something like this. Every molecule in my body will just give up through sheer boredom.

It's not that I'm not busy. I'm very busy. Just not on anything interesting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Early morning scenes of carnage

Sleep has never really been my thing. It takes me a long time to fall asleep and then, well, this is what the morning looks like. I wake usually a few times a night and it's clear I did not have a calm, relaxing night.

It is like a battle took place around, and in, my bed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Like that guy from Scanners

I think it was Scanners at least. No, not the head exploding bit (though that's very cool). No, I'm just talking about the bits early on where he can hear everyones thoughts and it's too much for him. Bombarded by thoughts, feelings, fears, insecurities - sensory overload. It's too much for a person to handle.

And that's the world we live in today. We are bombarded with information, news, advertisments, opinions and fears, much of it misinformation. Too many choices. Too many decisions. Our heads are full, like the guy who hears everyones thoughts at once.

Much of it is a diversionary tactic. It suits certain groups of people for this to be the way the world is. Governments love it - a simple diversion and people move on and forget what the problem was to begin with. The trick to hiding the shit they get up to is not to hide information - it's to give too much information, each piece contradicting the last, and end up with nothing but confusion and doubt. It works a treat. Governments love conspiracy theorists. The more the merrier because each new theory muddies the water further. Most of us just try to block it out.

And it works with our consumer society too. Preying and building on self-doubt, companies tell us that we deserve to have everything we want and need. Then they show us just how broken our lives are, how incomplete we are, how utterly inadequate we are without the shit they are selling us. Then nicely bombard us with 'choice'. So many choices every day that we simply don't have time to stop and think about any of them. Then when they get caught doing shit they shouldn't, the consumer accountability card comes out - you make the choice and vaildate them by buying their stuff. People call it 'voting with your wallet'. Can you really make any kind of informed decision when there are thousands to make each and every day? And when, instead of clear information, we're fed propaganda, half-truths and often straight-out lies?

That's bullshit. So we have to try to block it out.

On top of that, we have atrocities going on each and every day. British soldiers forcing 14 year-old Iraqi boys into sex, soldiers beating civilians to death and much more. Much worse. Children walking over landmines in countries we have long forgotten about. Too much for people to think about. If we thought about each daily atrocity as we go about our lives, we would be metally crippled. We have to block it out.

We're bombarded with sound bites about 'weapons of mass destruction', 'freedom', 'threats' and all kinds of other bullshit and many find comfort in latching on to one of these as a justification so that they don't have to think about it any deeper. Because the rest? We have to block it out.

And yet, even with the hideous things going on in the world, the media loves to hype up this local culture of fear. Every young person will stab you. Every guy out with his kids is a pedophile. Everyone is your enemy. We're led to a 'pre-emptive strike' culture. Why the hell wouldn't kids have knives when they are told all the time that all the other kids have knives and are about to stab them? We are coiled springs, feeding on paranoia. But we couldn't go about our lives like that. We have to block it out.

Then, on just a basic day to day life level, we have bills, rent or mortgages, a fragile economy, fears of job losses, just trying to survive. And companies have been very good at making people dependent. Careers become our lives because they have to. And some companies are great - full of perks, great working conditions and so on - but they are traps, locking us into that dependency. So much of our energy goes to just paying those bills and feeding those traps. So of course we have to block out all that other crap. We don't have time or energy for it.

We are too busy.

Luckily we provide for that - we can fill our brains with action films, reality tv, sport (that's just reality tv too), games and so on. We end up like those aliens with big brain-heads. Full of information. Only, it's mostly misinformation and useless crap. It weighs us down. All the while, we try to block it out. Just to get on with our lives. We're just trying to live.

An older person asked me recently where the hell all the young people were protesting about the illegal invasion of Iraq. He said that their generation ended the Vietnam war. Asked what had this generation done? Well, people did protest. I was at one - a really big one. Didn't matter because the government knew all it would take was a little distraction and people would move on. Their lives would get busy. They'd have to worry about the next bill, their careers, what they would buy next, what the next media paranoia frenzy is, what's the next popular troubled area in the world. Simple basic distraction.

To survive we just have to block so much stuff out.

Where this post came from was a post over at Uncle Eddie's Theory Corner on animation acting. I was thinking, how can we know acting when we are withdrawing from the world? Because that's what I see happening. We're getting so much more comfortable in our own heads. On text messaging. Email. Yes, you can contact millions of people online - hard to think of that as anything other than social. But it's not real contact. The world is just too difficult now. We are withdrawing.

But every now and again, someone snaps. Shoots up a school or something. I think we're going to see much more of that sort of thing. I think people are going to feel more and more isolated, separate from society. And I think that, given time, there will be more people ready to snap than actually able to function in society. The solution isn't to get a gun to shoot those crazies first. It's to look at society. We're people. It should be our society. We should be taking it back.

But, right now, we're living in the Age of Distraction. And we're blocking it all out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

They aren't there

Telling me they should be there does not magically make them appear. I know they should be there. That's why I checked first before getting in your face about them not being there.

Was this easier or harder back in the paper days? I'm not really sure. I do know when I got layout packs, they were always there but that could have been because I was in a studio with a good system and people who know what they are doing. But not now. Not with computer files. Flash files. And servers.

About a hundred folders to search through, none of which contain what they are supposed to. Is there no system here? It seems putting hopes on things being the way they should be is the norm here, which is odd because nothing is ever as it should be.

What a mess. I just want to find an old scene for reference... is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Enjoying the 'Me' Time

The down sides, however, are few and far between. There's nothing like a bit of alone time. I get to catch up on those little projects I've been working on. I can listen to music everyone else hates. I can eat a chocolate bar for lunch.

What's not to like?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Apple's dark secret

Anyone update their iTunes to 7.7 or perhaps an iPod Touch to 2.0? I did.

Had I tied dynamite to my iPod, lit the fuse and took several steps back, looking away from the blast, I would be more likely to have a functioning iPod at this time. It certainly would have been more fun.

iTunes 7.7 breaks Windows Vista. Or Windows Vista breaks iTunes 7.7. I don't really care which breaks which. I couldn't give a shit. But they're broken. Some Apple Media Support Device is buried in there with one goal - to destroy your life and break your spirit. Don't trust its lies. It cannot be changed, moved, uninstalled or installed over. No, even going in and trying to delete the files manually, it says I need permission to delete them.

Permission. To delete shit off my computer. Really?! Permission?! Whose bloody permission to I need? Because I called my mother and she says it's fine by her so let me get rid of these goddam files off my computer. She's cool with it. No problem. Who else do I need to check with? My doctor? A respected member of the community?

So that knocked one computer out of my iPodding equation. But, hey, all is not lost. I use the 'Manually manage music and videos' option that allows me to bring my iPod between my two home computers and my computer at work. And my work machine is XP so no problem, eh?

Well not quite. You see, now, after the 2.0 update (which completely wipes your iPod by the way and does so with a smile on its face) seems to render that 'manually manage' button completely worthless. Oh, sure, you can still check that box if it makes you feel better but it means jack shit now. If I try using your iPod Touch on another compuuter, it will wipe it. Each and every time.

What a complete and utter piece of crap.

The dynamite would have been much more fun. Apple, Mr. iTunes and that small child on his Etch-A-Sketch can all go and shite. I hate you all. Not just mild dislike. Full-on hate. Like, I would spit in your soup and laugh while you ate it. Or drank it. Do you eat or drink soup? Because it's really food but it's liquid. I don't know. Doesn't really matter - I'd spit in it and watch you ingest it, you pack of gobshites.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A weekend of woe

It wasn't a good weekend for computers. My laptop is giving me drive failure messages and is generally being a pain in the ass. My other computer is telling me that the system drive battery voltage is low, whatever that means. And my iPod is just being a dick at the moment. The new iTunes update seems to have broken the fabric of reality.

Computers have a way of just eating time and giving nothing back. And I don't believe there is one computer on the face of the earth that doesn't have some sort of problem. There's no such thing as a fully working computer. Everyone is using some kind of workaround or ignoring the random error boxes.

So, yeah, my laptop is dying. But there are no restore discs. You see, you were supposed to make your own restore discs when you get the computer but here's the thing - it tells you that in the Recovery Manual, the booklet you reach for when it's too late. There's some guy laughing his ass off at that decision. He's pulling the piss out of everyone who buys his computers.

He's a bad, bad man.

Friday, July 11, 2008

And like a sign from above...

Above where? I don't know. But, yesterday, I posted about leaving on time, being expected to work overtime and basically a serious lack of balance in the work/life thing. Not that I have much of a life. Any life really.

And then I read this news story - Guy in Toyota works himself to death.

Now that's a 'it could happen to you' tale of warning if ever I saw one. And if anyone asks you to work overtime, feel free to educate them on the dangers of karoshi, working yourself to death. Generally it's not good for company morale to have people dying at their desks. It can be off-putting to their co-workers and could lead to a downturn in productivity and a hell of a lot of paperwork.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just tell it like it is

This didn't happen. Nah, honesty and professional life don't really mix. Honesty is considered the height of unprofessionalism actually. But this is what we were both thinking, I'm pretty sure of that.

I can't be bothered making up excuses to go home, you know, on time.

Does this mean I don't care about the project? Not entirely. But work is work. That's all it is. It's just work. It's not life. It can be for some people but I'm not one of those people. If this project was my own creation, from my own creative drive, it would be different. Though, even then, I'd expect that it would be run well enough so that everyone can go home on time. It's basic scheduling and budgeting. If people need to work late, you haven't enough crew. It's that simple.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I had to stop watching or reading the news a few years ago. The atrocities that happen on a daily basis, commited by one human against another, just got too much for me. And then to have people come on and argue that one set of those atrocities was actually a good thing and done in our name, which happens all the time, just disgusted me. The acts, the lies. Made me ashamed to be human. Made me think that this naive justification of good versus evil is utterly ridiculous because there is nothing but evil.




What made it all worse is that I truly believe in human potential. I believe we are meant to be so much more than this. But then we do... shit... to each other that goes to prove we, as a race, are so much worse than scum. We are a disease, inflicting a slow painful death on ourselves.

So I had to stop reading the news. Started watching a lot of sitcoms. Funny things. I had to let myself off the hook in a way - I am not responsible for all the world's ills. Allow myself to take that weight off my shoulders. Selfish, I guess. Maybe if we all carried that weight, we wouldn't actually live in a world full of such atrocities. Anyway, things got a bit better. My life is smaller now in ways. Me, my family, work and not a huge amount else.

But, every now and again, I just come across something that puts me right back there. Yesterday, it was a little set of dvd reviews on a website. One mention of a film based on Japan's Unit 731 - in my mind, the worst atrocity of the WW2 period, even though it can't compare in numbers with the deaths of the Russians or Jews - brought back everything I had read about it so many years ago. If you don't know much about it, you can do without it and you're best avoiding it.

And that memory of reading about something that didn't happen to me, that happened generations ago, brought me right back to seeing humanity for the filth it is. For me, with that, the atrocities commited are only part of it. The fact that most involved got off free, given a nice handshake and a smile by the US post-war, bugs the hell out of me.

And most of it comes down to war.

The need for war, the desire to inflict suffering on others, the study of delivering death, the huge industry of that death (I remember reading figures showing that, in the early 90s, if peace broke out across the world, the UK economy would collapse - I don't know if that's true today).

Well, I'm feeling a bit better this morning and am a little more chilled after that one tiny dvd review set me off so all I can offer this morning is a big 'fuck you' to anyone involved in any industry that supports war, no matter how small a role you play.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

So... Tuesdays, eh?

It's a sort of empty day today. My mind is pretty blank. Doesn't make for much of an interesting blog post unfortunately. So all you get today is small talk.

I've been listening to Journey's new album. Anyone heard it? It's really good - like no time has passed. They have a new singer, a Phillipino guy they found on YouTube and he's bloody good too.

My desk is too small. Not enough room for toys.

Yeah, slow news day. Anyone watch Paddington Bear recently? It's really excellent and the amount of work that must have gone into it is really impressive. There's a whole wealth of UK work most of the US folk never know about and that 70s period was a golden age for UK animation. I really hope the stop motion doesn't die out in favour of CG. It looks like that's happening but real genuine-article stop motion is much nicer.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Directors are people too

I remember years ago, when I first started out, I was animating on a really crappy feature film. I had nothing but contempt for the animation director (the actual director of the movie was nowhere to be seen ever). I figured the animation director was an idiot. For a start, his drawings were shit. He drew me a rough pose for a dog that looked like some sort of crappy rodent. With five legs. And, when people asked him questions, nine times out of ten he basically said just figure it out. It was like he didn't care.

I saw nothing that showed he earned that job. I didn't respect him.

Years later, I was in one particular place for quite some time. I saw an animator work his way up, animating for other people and then moving on to directing short films and so on. He was pretty good. Not fantastic but well capable of doing what he was doing.

And then a new guy joined the studio. A young animator. He seemed to take instruction from this director reluctantly and I couldn't really figure it out. Then, when things were tight on a project, the director jumped on to animation, something he hadn't done in a while. He sketched out a scene and, of course, it worked really well. When he saw it, the young animator said he now could respect the director. He saw his animation, saw he had some talent.

And I was left thinking - what an asshole. He didn't give him credit for being able to do his job. Didn't think that perhaps he had worked for that. That he had earned the position. Like that director had to prove himself to every student animator who walked in the door.

I knew how much work that director had to do. I knew the pressure he was under from the producers. I knew that he had about a thousand decisions to make each day. I also knew he trusted most of his team to do their parts. Direction, being an animation director or similar, is a seriously tough job. It's far easier to just sit there and animate the scenes handed to us, like most of us do. And yet, as a young animator, I completely assumed the director was inept.

The simple fact that someone can hold a position like that should give them the respect. And, most of the time, they've earned it.

But I've also learned that, often, our frustrations are their frustrations. Only more so because they have to argue with producers about them.

Directors are people too.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Seven songs I like

Andy requested I list seven songs I like at the moment and I loved that he got youtube videos for them all. So here are just seven songs that spring to mind -

Chromeo - Fancy Footwork. One of my favourite songs of the last couple of years. I adore this track.

The Smiths - Asleep. This one is miserable but it's one of my all-time favourite tracks. Not sure what that says about me. "There is a better world. There must be."

65DaysOfStatic - Radio Protector. There's something very cinematic about this and I love the way the tracks build. Actually just about all their tracks build this way but it works and I like it.

Natasha Farrow - Calling To The Night. This one is the main theme from Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, which I thought was a bit rubbish but the music was great. This has visuals from Twin Snakes, the Gamecube version of MGS.

Army Of The Pharaohs - All Shall Perish. To get away from the girly rubbish of the last track, here's some hip-hop for y'all motherfuckers. No video but a stunning track.

Ozzy Osbourne - Shot In The Dark. Classic Ozzy. This is one of his best.

Mouthmaster Murf and Dj Mayhem - Predator Rap. Fuzzy and Blue from Sesame Street was going to be my final choice but the one on YouTube refuses to be embedded so it gets the boot in favour of this absolutely amazing Predator rap. If you haven't seen this, it will blow you away.

So that's my seven. What do you reckon, Andy? Good choices?

Friday, July 4, 2008

So much spam

'Treatment for tiny dingdongs'. That was the title of the mail. It stood out amongst all the V!agra ones. Dingdongs... I like how that sounds. It amuses me.

But, day after day, I get mails criticising the size of my penis. That's not going to help anyones self-esteem. This is part of why I hate advertising. Ads are designed to make you feel inadequate without whatever crap it is they are selling. They are designed to make you feel shit about yourself.

Cults use that tactic to get people hooked too. They tell you that you have problems, that's why your life isn't absolutely fantastic every minute of every day and that they have the solution to that problem. For money. And then they start pricking about with your brain to get more money. Pretty much the same as advertising.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Even yet much bigger more adventures in advertising turbo

Back to the real world again. I didn't really travel back in time to rid the world of the insanity that is animation (one frame at a time!). Or perhaps I did and future Disney followed me back to destroy my time machine but I wouldn't know that because he changed history.

But, yeah, back to this world, if you can call it real, and one more litttle rant on advertising.

I don't know really why anyone bothers making ads. Clients would be happy with 30 seconds of their logo up on screen and nothing more. But ad "creatives" see themselves as mini-filmmakers, not the hack salesmen that they are, and so usually talk the clients into ads they don't really want.

But then it comes time to add that logo. Larger and larger it goes until your work is squeezed into a tiny window in the corner.

But, hey, who the hell cares? It's an ad. Not a piece of art or work to be admired. It's job is to bug someone into buying crap they don't need. So what difference does it make?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Target #3

He was always going to be the one prepared, wasn't he?

You see, it is a matter of absolute fact that Disney had his head frozen (I heard it from a bloke down the pub, or at least I would have if I were much of a pub-goer). So, in the future, when his head is revived and transplanted on to a robot body, he would journey to the past to warn his past self of the my arrival.

So I was never going to stand a chance against Walt Disney and his timetravelling robot future self. Not a chance.

And with the pioneers of the past wiped out, Disney could claim he invented animation all by himself and the world becomes one giant Disneyland ruled by an army of rodent-shaped robots.

I set out to save the world and doomed it instead.