The Blue Sky Family

I went back to NY last week for the crew premiere of Ice Age: Continental Drift which opened this past Friday.  One of my best-buds Mike Thurmeier (who happens to be one of the directors) got my wife and I a couple tickets.

It was particularly awesome to see Mike’s daughter Meghan’s debut as a voice-actor in the film.  She played the role of “Baby Bird” asking the mammoth “Ellie” if drinking water from her trunk tastes like boogers.  Meghan also attended the premiere and signed her autograph for many of her adoring fans.

This was the last film I worked on as a member of the Blue Sky family before moving back to MA and switching my animation discipline from film to games.  I use the word “family” to describe the crew at Blue Sky because they are not only top-notch in talent, they are top-notch in character as well.  Upon arrival at the wrap party, I was quite literally stopped every 10 feet by friends who greeted me with big smiles,hugs and asking if I was okay after the closure of 38 Studios.  It was incredibly touching to know that although I was gone, I was never forgotten.  Anyone who is, or ever has been a part of the Blue Sky crew should consider themselves unfairly blessed.

Ice Age: Continental Drift has an estimated $46 million opening-weekend domestically and has grossed $339 million overseas so far.

My Work Flow.

I can remember watching Aladdin in the theaters and realizing that I wanted to animate…in 2D.  When I started my degree in computer animation at Ringling, I took a course in 2D animation and was happy as a clam.  Unfortunately around the same time there was a movement in the industry by a few notorious executives that “2D was dead”.  Ugh…It still makes me sick to my stomach.  So I put aside my aspirations of being a 2D animator and focused on actually learning how to use a computer.  I never stopped drawing.  Even when figure drawing was no longer a requirement in the later years at Ringling, I would spend time at a figure drawing club called FEWS and I would spend a great deal of time drawing everything with my buddy Ben Sprout.

Once I got into the industry, I was amazed to find that most of the animators didn’t draw.  I even heard some people claim that they didn’t need to know how to draw.  I still feel like the better animators out there can thumbnail ideas and successfully pitch their ideas with drawings alone.  I am a mentor at animationmentor.com and I am relentless in telling my students how important drawing is to animation.  In my opinion, there is NO BETTER WAY to learn the basics of body mechanics and posing than figure drawing.

Shortly after the completion of Ice Age 2, I started playing around with a program called Plastic Animation Paper.  I can remember using it to turn around ideas very quickly to the director at the time and it proved to be extremely efficient.  I can remember asking Blue Sky studio to consider buying the software and they went a step further.  With the guidance of Scott Carroll and I, a R&D genius named Hugo Ayala created an in-house software that is much more intuitive than anything available on the market to this day.

Blue Sky has embraced this work flow and is still used to this day.  Here is a shot that I animated on “Rio” showing it’s progress from it’s 2D choreography through it’s completion.

I am extremely happy to report that my new job at 38 Studios has fully embraced and supported this work flow of mine.  I now use a program called FlipBook to pitch ideas, but it’s nowhere near as intuitive as Hugo’s program.  If Blue Sky ever decided to market his software to the public, I’d be first in line.

“The Treehouse”

A little over a year ago a few of us animators pooled some money together to buy the supplies to make our pod of 4 cubes look like a treehouse. Now it is well known throughout the studio as “The Treehouse” and we have department parties and meetings here. It was a good investment for a bunch of 12 year old boys trapped in 30-something bodies. I couldn’t imagine a cooler place to hang my hat every day. Hopefully we can keep the Treehouse when the studio moves. Here’s some pics of the treehouse founders with links to thier webpages.  Photos by Ken Music.

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Yours truly.

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Scott Carroll (aka Pimpcane)

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Nick Bruno

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Paul Downs

TOGETHER WE ARE KNOWN AS…

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