01 January 2020

the past: 2019 - the future 2020


2019 was a hard year, lately they have all been pretty hard with less revenue coming in less people wanting to pay to get work done. I was productive in many ways, however.

Animation: 
I finished 3 Dog & Weasel shorts to go along with  my trend of cartoon animations. With them I experimented with a more cartoonish style especially in the backgrounds. At the very end of the year I got news that "The Raven" would be shown at the Sunrise Film Festival which was a HUGE help to my fragile ego.

Drawings:
I drew a lot more than I thought I did and started to branch out with different techniques and styles,


Writing:
After two years of work I finally published a book of short stories called "Indifference" which included updated and rewritten works from as far back as the 80s.

Tech:
The update to Mac OS Catalina broke a few things. I lost the pen to my Wacom tablet meaning I had to replace the tablet with a Huion version which was cheaper than replacing the pen. This worked out really well in the end. I also went head first into my dump Adobe plan after Serif released the first version of Publisher to replace Indesign. The only application I really need to replace now is After Effects and if I had the money for 300$ in plugins, Apple's Motion app would handle my current needs. Almost there.

Setbacks:
I had a few financial, let's say surprises this past year. My dishwasher exploded for one thing. It turned into a nightmare trying to get it replaced. I ended up having to uninstall and getting rid of the broken one and installing the new one myself despite paying to have that all done by "professionals".  A month later,  my iMac also exploded when I was updating it. Luckily I had recently started using the Mac backup option "Time machine" and it saved me from losing any work or software.

Some pushes forward:
I did get some new contracts, some animation and some design and some photo. The new work didn't translate into regular work, sadly, which is always the goal. One very small contract just didn't pay and won't respond to emails while another was a bear to get done and it was a constant struggle with someone who apparently thought 3D was magic and simply asking for unreasonable changes was enough to get them. It always amazes how many people will demand 6000$ of work for 600$.

2020 is an unknown of course. I am starting off in a decent place with some old work coming back and some new ideas I want to try out.

Animation: 
I have three projects in the works. "25 Years Later", a very personal film that is about 40% completed and really different from anything else I have done.  "28 Young Men", is a reading of the Walt Whitman poem by Michael Z.Keamy and is almost ready for animating. Finally "The Cask of Amontillado" will be my adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe tale and will fit in with my previous gothic horror shots.

Cinema 4D has become too expensive, is always slow to get out new features and has started a subscription model, so I will stick with version 19 and some plugins for the next couple years while I transition most likely to Blender  - a free software that has really made some giant steps forward in 2019.

Drawings:
I want to start drawing on paper more often, I even have a couple drawing pads ready. I would like to branch out more with this part of my work as well. I might do a graphic novel, but I don't think I am close to being able to accomplish that yet and might instead go with a story with key illustrations.


Writing:
With "Indifference" finally done, I actually already wrote 3 more short stories and will just keep doing that as the mood hits me and see if there is ever enough to do another book. A more intense project is called "Covenport" and will be a short novel or a series of short stories that all take place in the same location - a secluded town at the base of cliffs near Gloucester Massachusetts. That will be the one I likely illustrate.


Tech:
There are some big updates coming for Affinity Publisher that should make my work go easier and further my distance from Indesign. Serif is planning an iPad release of that software this year and I would be able to do all my graphic and illustration work ion an iPad... !  This is making me seriously consider not having a laptop after this current one dies and just replace it with an iPad pro, something I can not afford anytime soon but I could use for photo shoots on voyages and for work while away from the studio.

20 December 2019

The Raven selected for the Sunrise Film Festival !


Good news! My short animated film version of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven was selected for inclusion at the Sunrise Film Festival.

I now have to send a screener, most likely on a data drive to them and see if it gets selected for an award.

It was a very nice holiday surprise to be selected! A big thanks to Michael Z. Keamy for reciting the narration for the film for me!


07 December 2019

drawing: triceratops



Procreate and scanned paper background. Like most kids I loved dinosaurs and decided to do this on a whim. Might have gone a little crazy with the white pencil highlights.

16 November 2019

Professional work with Affinity Publisher


I stopped using Photoshop and Illustrator a few years ago and with the release this summer of Affinity Publisher, it is time to start replacing Indesign in my workflow as well.

I started slow, replacing some poster work which is always given to the printer as a PDF file and that went pretty easily. Next was transitioning the monthly invitations I do for a client to the 4 colour press we use. Normally I would package the Indesign project and send it out to them so moving to Publisher meant having to discuss options with them. It went much easier than I anticipated. I don't send them Publisher documents, they don't have the software... yet. We had to work together to figure out the best configuration for the PDF files. I should say that at first they were horrified, thinking I meant Microsoft Publisher which is NOT professional layout material, but after I sent them a link to the Serif software website, they were relieved I hadn't lost my mind and I had found something of professional quality.

Aside from exiting the aggravation and controversy of the Adobe subscription cloud fiasco, are there advantages to doing this? Yup, plenty. Even though Publisher is, in effect, a version 1.0 release in many ways - working with it has been very productive. There are features I would love to have implemented and many will, I'm sure, eventually - but missing features or not - my work is getting done much easier and faster. One huge advantage is the workspace, it's always in what Indesign would call full resolution mode. There isn't another mode and there doesn't need to be, Scrolling and zooming is fast and effortless and being able to see everything clearing and as it will look in the final print version. I like how fonts and text are handled much better, though it takes some getting used to after a couple decades of Indesign use. One of the biggest changes and improvements from my old workflow is how editing of exterior files works. Indesign lets you open Photoshop or Illustrator, make changes, then update the files in your document. Affinity Publisher has an all in one approach - you literally just press a button and you are in the photo or vector app, no need to reload and update or have another program taking up screen space. It's a very fluid way of working. Importing images is different as well, and now that I have a grasp on the basics, it's so simple and fast I can't imagine going back to the old ways.

Some of the problems I saw on the horizon have been resolved. Blurb, the online book publisher has a plugin directly for Indesign but not Publisher, making it harder to design and send a project to them. Today, however I discovered they have a PDF calculator and set up page so if you are not using the Adobe product, you can still prepare your work confidently. It is not as easy, but it is workable. I will be experimenting with that soon. Speaking of PDFs, one thing I did not think about was that by sending in only a finalized PDF, I can work 100% on Affinity format with images and illustrations, meaning I don't have to format them as TIF or EPS files for the printing process, making it super easy to make changes and saving more steps than I realized it would. *This would work with Indesign too if  I wasn't sending in a packaged project.

My just published book, Indifference, was trial an error making Kindle and print versions but formatting mistakes I made at first were quickly corrected and I am very happy with the results.

I guess the best part of this has been I was able to do it and my clients never even noticed the change. I look forward to the iPad version next year for those times I am away without use my laptop since the entire, fully functional Affinity suite will be on iPad and for now I can use Photo or Designer to edit multi page documents to a large extent already.

All and all I would say I made the right choice to switch both financially and artistically.

10 November 2019

Indiiference: Short Stories by No one in Particular - Book release!


My book of short stories, Indifference: Short stories by No One in Particular is no for sale on Amazon! There is a Kindle and a paperback version.

These stories are based on earlier versions and notes about various things that have been lying around since the late 80s and through the mid 90s as well as some screenplays turned into short stories.

The subject matter does have an 80s punk/new wave feel to them and the humour is a little... odd, as some might say. I have spent almost two years putting this together so if you are interested...buy a copy and make every person you have ever seen in the entirety of your life buy one as well. If you like it, please write stunning review and rate it so it has a chance of others finding it. If you don't like, we need never speak of it again.

I do not have any social media accounts, so feel free to tell people on Facebook, Instagram etc about it. To be honest I have no idea how to promote this thing other than what I am doing here, right now.

Amazon paperback: 9.99$ USD
Kindle: 7.55$ USD

https://www.amazon.com/Indifference-Short-Stories-One-Particular/dp/1704586208/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=indifference+apruzzese&qid=1573414316&sr=8-1



01 November 2019

drawing: balance 03


Affinity Photo.

Another in my acrobat series. I do think my hair is getting better and I am learning to be better at simplifying the details. I hated the bottom guy's pants in the event I took my reference images from and changed them a little here but they are still pretty ugly. I think so, anyway. I much prefer the kilt.

About 20 hours to draw from sketch to finished image.

19 October 2019

25 Years Later: new animation test shot



Working out textures, camera move and all those butterflies. It seems to work overall. Some textures, like the street and brick walkway need some tweaking and the position of the butterfly swarms could use some more thought before settling on a final composition. The Goulding on the right is fully made and textured so it can be used in another shot as is the car which will play an important role when one of the characters sees his reflection in the window. This set might be used in 3 to 5 shots in the end. Again it based on the entry to the South West Corridor park on West Newton Street in Boston but it isn't supposed to be a recreation, just have all the basic details so someone who knows the area might pick up on it.

The bushes are 3D objects but the trees are all image cutouts on a plane as is the building in the back, which I drew in Affinity Photo.  I have to keep the poly count down so render times can reasonable. With that in mind, I restricted some shading effects like ambient occlusion on the butterflies and bushes. I don't really go for photo real look in my animation shorts... just real enough.