Friday, June 26, 2020

New Website / End of Blog

I decided I needed a proper website - especially as I teach students how they must have a website in this day and age, but my own example is a blog. Also, the focus now is on social media, and my time and attention is on updating the APSU Animation + Visual Effects profiles.

I started this blog back when I was starting Animation Mentor, at the very start of 2011. Since that time I switched to animating full time at DreamWorks, then moved to Tennessee to head up a new animation program - which saw it's first graduates this past Spring. The wife and I have each embarked on our own freelance careers. We've also welcomed two amazing little boys into our family (who now insist on staring in their own visual effects shorts). It's been a helluva ride.

Please check out my new site at:

Friday, May 8, 2020

Virtual Graduation

Official graduation ceremonies has been postponed this year due to the pandemic. So the Department decided to throw our own version for our nearly 40 Art+Design graduates! The Chair opened with a few remarks, the Dean read off the names of the students, and we were very lucky to have Kaye Vassey join us to give some encouraging words to the students. It was a really fun experience - and we live streamed it to Facebook Live so any and all relatives of students could join in the moment.

You can check out the full video at:

Monday, April 20, 2020

Spring Senior Thesis Projects

With the closing down of in-person University functions, it means all the senior thesis capstone projects have had to find a way to move online. We have several animation projects this semester which will be announced on the APSU Art + Design Instagram and Facebook pages.  Check out the full Press Release at this LINK.  Our animation student Myles is also quoted in the article:
On Monday, April 27, APSU senior Myles Johnson will present “After School Cartoons” - an animation project that recreates the channel-surfing experiences of his childhood. Johnson created a website to host his collection of videos. 
“I mean, this whole thing has been rough,” Johnson said. “My main idea was to immerse the viewers in a living room environment to transport them to a time specific in my life when I would come home from school and watch cartoons. Now that my show will be online, that idea is so much harder to execute. I have to find some way to make a website that will do the same job the living room would have done. I have a positive outlook on this, though. Animation lends itself well to being in an online format, so I'm lucky in that regard."

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Pandemic Academic Life

Well, as with the rest of the world, APSU has moved to online classes for the rest of the semester. A few students are still going into the animation lab, but most students are at home. Classes are being held via Zoom.  It's been a bit of an adjustment, but I'm super proud of all my students learning to go with the flow.

Learning some remote collaborative workflows is actually a REALLY good career skill right now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Loomie App is live

Excited to see the Loomie App get launched recently!  I had a hand in helping with this project and it was great fun to work with my ol' supervisor from DreamWorks Mahesh (along with a great crew of people). The app is available on Google Play the apple App Store and can be added to networking platforms like Slack!

Check out all the cool avatar projects in the works at

Monday, March 2, 2020

Heather VASE Talk Followup

APSU Press Relations has a followup article about Heathers speech last week.  Check it out HERE

The Department of Art + Design and the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts welcomed award-winning senior matte painter and environment designer Heather Abels to Austin Peay State University on Wednesday, Feb. 26. 
“Abels is a Clarksville resident and friend of the Department of Art + Design who works with major film, TV and animation studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Rhythm and Hues and Nemesis Collective,” Michael Dickins, chair of the Visiting Artist Speaker Committee, said. 
Abels has worked on matte painting for various movies, including “Frozen II,” “Deadpool,” “Game of Thrones,” “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Django Unchained,” “300: Rise of an Empire” and “Moana.” She also worked on Academy Award winners in best animated feature or visual effects, including “Zootopia,” “Big Hero 6,” “Avatar” and “The Golden Compass.” 
During her talk at Austin Peay, she discussed with the students three major things that she has learned throughout her career: inspiration, failure and acceptance. 
Abels was inspired early in her career by legendary matte painters. She got her inspiration when she was a young child by watching “Star Wars,” “Toy Story” and “Jurassic Park.” 
“When I talk about inspiration, I’m not talking about what excites you,” Abels said. “I’m talking about people that you surround yourself with and surrounding yourself with people who inspire and motivate you is one of the first things that helped me in my career.”  
She encourages the new generation of artists to take the next leap and evolve from digital 2D to digital 3D matte painting techniques. She has taught at several universities and has an ongoing workshop at CGSociety. 
She reminds her students that they will fail at times.  
“It’s about failing and failing again until you get it right,” she said. “And it’s not always what you want. You’re trying to execute somebody else’s vision.” 
Acceptance is being able to take the feedback and create something better. 
“You don’t know what you don’t know, till you’ve learned what you didn’t know,” she said. “What I’m saying here is about being humble. There are a lot of artists whose careers haven’t taken off because they were unwilling to accept feedback, and visual effects is all about modification.”