10 December 2013

Million Year Picnic doc started!

As I start my latest and long suffering in the shadows documentary about the Million Year Picnic comic book store, I am rudely reminded of how difficult it is to do one of these things all by yourself. Every film has challenges, but this time I am starting with all new equipment and new formats I’ve not used in a personal project before. 

For starters I am using a Canon xa10 to film things, using the 30p setting and a Zoom sound recorder which I have to admit is not so easy for me to figure out. Even with that I have got some good sound from it using my shot gun mic, keeping it close to the subject. 

The biggest problems so far is  getting it all together for editing in Premiere Pro CS6. I’ve been using Pluraleyes from Red Giant software to sync the video and Zoom sound, which works pretty good and very quickly. The problem after that is that .mov files are not easily processed by Premiere even though they are prepared especially for it by transcoding the MTS file to .mov using MTS converter. I experimented importing in Final Cut Pro 7 and the same issue. Oddly they play fine in quicktime and in Pluraleyes. I finally discovered I can use the XML import from Pluraleyes to get the interviews into the editing software, but it’s a time consuming and far from elegant process. I had to go back a version for that work properly, however. These thing never come easy! 

The interviews went fairly well despite not really having a space to do them in. I even had to do one in a stairway! Visually they look pretty good and the sound could have much, much worse so I can’t complain too loudly. I really need an assistant or two to work devices while I interview… it really is just too hard to do them all at once. Beggars can’t be choosers so I’m doing the best I can on my own. 

Next stage is to get supplementary materials, like photos, scans of ads, whatever I can get my hands on to enhance and inform the film more. I’ll also have to make several more interviews at least before summer is over. On my post production side, I’ve already made a 3D version of the store’s logo that can be animated, lower 3rds with animations and experimented with some other graphic elements. So… allons-y! 

17 November 2013

Was AppleWorks a sign of things to come?

AppleWorks was Apple's long standing suite of programs used as an alternative to the Microsoft office suite. Office has and continues to have an on again off again relationship with the Mac so it made sense for Apple to have its own simplified version as a back up. It was quite capable and easy to use but one aspect of its interface might just make a comeback in light of recent developments in how software is being sold.

While Office has always been sold in a suite, adobe products have pretty much been separate products, but have more and more been grouped into suites until now you really have little choice but to get them all. Macintosh ended the AppleWorks suite years ago but just started giving away it's new suite of products for free with new computers, much like AppleWorks was.

The interface element whose time has come back might be the idea that instead of opening each software when you need it, you open the suite all at once and choose which function (word processing, spreadsheet, etc.) from a main menu. This way of using a suite has a few advantages. Shared resources and functions are not repeated in each program making updating easier and downloads smaller and faster. Another big plus would be that once someone is using  one part of a suite they are more likely to use the rest and with all the other functions one click away in the same software, it's much less likely the user will switch to a competitor's product.

Only time will tell if this old interface idea will resurface but it makes sense given the direction things are going. I know personally, I'd still be using AppleWorks if it were possible and the all in one place set up is part of the reason why.

15 November 2013

2014 updates

This page (as you may have noticed) is updated with a new look. The Portfolio has a similar update, is rearranged and added a new demo-reel and a page for stuff on sale. Should be less complicated to fond things and the video page is less overwhelming and all on one page instead of in a clickable html database.

11 November 2013

What I won't be buying anytime soon

Instead of reviewing things I have, I thought it might be interesting to mention things I not going to have anytime soon and some of the reasons for that. 

The new Mac Pro 
  • It looks like a beautiful machine but the looks don't add up to something practical for the price. Yes it is very powerful, if you get the higher end version and price is actually less than speculated for the lower end version but the cost of peripherals etc just doesn't make it a viable option for me. I can see a big studio going for them but in that case the revolutionary look really doesn't matter much. My 2009 Mac Pro tower will have to last a lot longer! 

Adobe creative cloud 
  • I have talked about this before. To much money for someone who doesn't constantly upgrade (like me) and the whole cloud, pay by the month deal is a dangerous rip off in my opinion. Why anyone would go for software that will not work and bring your entire business to a halt if you miss a payment or can't get online is a mystery to me despite the other possible benefits. 

Wacom iPad stylus 
  • Looks great but won't work with my iPad 2 which isn't getting updated for quite a while yet. I am a little skeptical after their inkling product was such a bust. The Canadian price a little high as well, if you could even find it somewhere. 

Cinema 4d version 15
  • I would love this, but since they went on a seemingly new version every few months schedule, I am so far behind I would have to pay close to 4000$ with taxes to get it now. (And it still lacks features some free software has, like smoke and liquid effects.) 

A new iPod (or any smart phone)
  • My iPod can not be updated to the new iOS but it works fine and really isn't all that old. I still don't have any pressing need for a smart phone or the fees that come along with one. I can't survive without my podcasts while at the gym or at my part time job so I hope this thing keeps working a long time. I don't have the funds to buy a phone simply for the iPod part. 
A new camera
  • My 12 megapixel Nikon serves me well but I'm not satisfied with the images as I was spoiled by using 120mm film for decades. I could really use a full frame Nikon but again 2 grand is not coming into the budget in the foreseeable future. 

A new bike
  • Hey! Bikes are more tech-y than many admit and my 12 year old specialized Allez-sport is great but past it's prime for my 3-5000km a year needs. I simply don't have 2 grand to upgrade. And if you think that is a lot for a bike, you aren't a cyclist. I just hope the break covers on the handlebars don't completely fall off next summer. They can't be replaced anymore and I have several 150 km rides planned in the spring and a triathlon to celebrate my 50th year in 2014.  

07 October 2013

Metropolis drawing series

Been trying to work out how I wanted to do this film as a series of drawings for years and think I have finally got something I like with this first finished peice. there will only be a few more then I'd like to tackle an image form "the crowd" I've been wanting to do but need a couple models to pull it off.

26 September 2013

Is sharing now the same as stealing?

Digital media does present certain problems when it comes to sharing. You need to have compatible hardware and software for example.  Since nothing is in physical form, you can’t simply give your copy for someone to listen to, but you have to transfer it to their device. Some media has copyright protection coding that not only makes it hard to share or pass it to a pal, but even to another device that you own. 

Corporations are working overtime to convince people that they don't own the stuff they buy.  If the rights change to another company you might  find stuff you bought disappearing from your hard drive, disabled or charged an additional fee for. More and more consumers have the right to pay for things but have no control what happens to it when they don't want it anymore. If someone dies, what will happen to their giant media collection? Can it be left to someone? Truth is, no one really knows anymore. 

I am not saying that there are not problems to work out with these new technologies or that people should be able to just distribute things without any restrictions but the basic act of sharing should not be so easily made into criminal acts. Libraries could be considered (and maybe are  by some) as illegal entities distributing massive amounts copyrighted material freely to the public. Big companies have managed to extend copyright to a ridiculous extent. The people who created the media rarely get anything from sales anymore and the rights which used to pass into public domain after a few years can now be prolonged indefinitely, long after the creators have passed away. No one should be paying anyone to sing Happy Birthday at this point in time. There needs to be less delay in passing things into public domain and more making money by supporting new products and not just selling other people’s work who can no longer personally profit by it.

Yes there are nuances and complex legal arguments in this discussion to make but, in a way that’s the point I’m making. Its those arguments and the laws created by them that are turning sharing in far too many cases into stealing

27 August 2013

Vieux Port Montréal

I have always wanted to draw this building and I finally decided to do it. Done in Sketchbook pro with a wacom tablet and took about 16 days to complete. Most of the work was on the front stones which are varied and irregular which give the place it's charm, I think.

16 August 2013

Lost Artwork

I have come to realize recently that I have lost a lot of artwork over the years. Sometimes I'll find an old image or just something I see will reminds me of something I did long ago and  disappeared from my collection. I also think of all the stuff I  gave away to family and friends as gifts and never took a photo or made any other kind of copy of. What happened to all those drawings and photos? Where are they now? How many are lost forever?

I know where a vast number went... When I lived in Boston, my first apartment there was flooded 4 times in 2 years. I lost many drawings and thousands of photos. This was long before the digital age so all that wet paper was ruined forever. As soon as the technology made it possible, I scanned all the remaining images, drawings, paintings and photos alike and still have them on my computer and on back up disks. 

But what about all those works of art I did when I was younger? Firstly, would anyone (especially me) want to see them again anyway? Some, I admit, I would. I remember doing a series of "tall ship" pencil drawings and some pen and ink animal images...and lots of dragons and sci-fi stuff for fun and a friend's fanzine.  I also remember a series of poster recreations, logos and all, a preview of my interests and career in graphic design perhaps. A couple pages did survive from these periods and I'm still not ashamed or even unhappy with most of it. Some of it I leads me to retry things or inspires me to new ideas. 

Not long ago I redrew an ink drawing I had done on a massive mounted drawing board 25 year ago and managed to compare it to the original which was still in the home of the cousin I drew it for. I learned quite a bit just by seeing it again.  I think I have improved my skill set but also I could see how my focus has changed in what details I chose to accentuate and how I chose to represent  complex subjects. 

What can be done about all this lost experience? Not much. I am making an effort to photograph stuff I gave away if I can get to it. The more I think about it, the more things I remember are gone. Is it sentimentality? Curiosity about my own past thoughts? Ego? I can't say I really know, but I seem to be getting a lot from just trying to remember my past accomplishments and even more if I actually rediscover them somewhere. 

05 July 2013

Fille Impatiente

Trying to get back into animation again… it's been a couple years since my last one. I wish I had the money to upgrade to C4Ds latest version which looks like it would make the many of the things that take me so long to get anything done, get done much faster.

This project has been kicking around a long time. It's nothing extraordinary but it's the first one where I learn dot rig well enough to not be struggling with the puppet the whole time and despite the long time between animations, I think I've gotten much better at the timing and fluidity of the character movement. Plus This has a real walk in it, which isn't great but it's true when they say the walk is the hardest thing to pull off.

04 July 2013

The Sweet Fail of Success

Success is measured in many ways and in the creative fields there are perhaps more ways to think of it than in other endeavours. 

In my case, for example, I can point to many signs of success. I wanted to work in special effects/animation as a child and make movies. For the personal documentaries I  made I wanted to:
  1. Win some awards
  2. Get a project shown in a real cinema
  3. Get something shown on TV

I've done all of these things and even sell my films on Amazon.com, something I wouldn't have imagined starting out. So I can't complain that I haven't achieved my basic goals. 

Now the fail part. I also expected with these achievements I hoped I would be able to squeak out a small living, nothing ridiculous, but this has not happened. I've worked on some nice professional projects for PBS and well know documentary film makers, and even though some won Emmys and Peabody Awards, I am cleaning streets part time to make ends meet with almost zero graphic design and truly zero video work is coming in for a couple of years now. 

There are lots of "reasons" for this. No one has the budgets anymore with the economic crisis ( or so they say) to hire people and I did not grow up in Montréal or New York City or get the chance to go to college all of which would have helped make stronger networks to draw work from. So while my work is considered excellent and not even expensive, I have to remind as many people in hiring positions possible that I still exist as often as I can. Knowing the right people is everything in business and no amount of talent, hard work or dedication can overcome the basic fact of "it's who you know" and "getting there at the right moment". 

Then there is the artistic part. I am very happy with my drawings for one thing and while I could certainly use more money (read: any money) for my film projects, in the end I'm happy to keep making them and progressing slowly into more complicated things. So success again. 

So in the end, I'm a success in how I think of my work and how it's received when I get jobs... but a failure in the "making a living" area which is, truth be told, the only measure of success everyone, including artists can agree on. 

03 July 2013

City of Dreams of Tamino the Cat

(cover art to: City of Dreams of Tamino the Cat)

Mice Luce has released his Tamino comic on iTunes in the bookstore and I highly recommend you get it. It was along time coming, but the effort shows and it looks great on the iPad. It's an inspiring piece of work and I encourage anyone and everyone to buy a copy to help support not just Mr. Luce but all independent artists in general.

21 June 2013

Colour Painting

I decided to try some colour photoshop painting and a more unusual subject (for me). I was fairly pleased with the result, though I still have much to learn about painting hair. I took some photos last year at Montréal Complètement Cirque  and I hope to fins a few more this year to get more references for more paintings. Since I am not finding models for a series on yoga poses on my own, this should satisfy that idea for now. I did this all in Photoshop as Sketchbook Pro recently updated to 6,2 and it's so buggy it's unusable for the moment. Hopefully that will change very soon as I missed its superior way of handling brushes.

27 May 2013

Monoprice drawing tablet

I decided it might be a good idea to have a portable drawing tablet to take with me and use with my 13" MacBook Pro. The obvious choose was one of the Bamboo Wacom tablets. They are small, elegant and I already have an Intous 5 for the tower which I  use all the time. The price of Wacom tablets is fairly high so I looked into alternatives after a friend turned me on to some other brands to check out. In the end I decided to take a chance on the Monoprice tablet. 

It took a little,while to arrive but at less than half the price of a bamboo, it's more than equal to one in most respects. It's slightly larger than my laptop and the screen is almost a one to one ratio with the MacBook Pro screen. It is light but sturdy and easily fits in the bag with the computer. The pen is larger than a Wacom pen and needs a battery but, unlike some reviews on amazon.ca, I didn't really notice a comfort difference. Then sensitivity of the drawing surface is the same as a Bamboo, but half that of the other tablet I use. Even so, the differences were subtle and I think what you might lack in fine detail control can be made up just by working slightly larger.  There is period of adapting to the less sensitive pen while drawing but it's workable. 

The device has a line of preset and programmable buttons on the top of the drawing surface, which is quite useful but it lacks a wheel control for rotating the canvas while drawing like the larger Wacom does. This is sorely missed but not a deal killer. All in all, the small discomforts I had using it were more a result of drawing on the laptop, not the tablet itself. I actually,like the feel of the pen on the tablet more than the Wacom and this tablet lets you slide paper under the plastic for easy tracing if you need to do that.  

I'd say for the money, this easily beats out Wacom for a portable drawing choice. 

My first test image made with sketchbook, some photoshop but all on the new tablet and with the laptop. 

23 May 2013


I had done a large drawing of this many years ago. My cousin was married in this place, whose name and location I have completely forgotten. I haven't seen the drawing since I gave it to her and when I found one of the original reference photos, I decided to make a drawing for myself from it. I really worked on making the building stand out from the trees all around it and look 3 dimensional. If you look to the right side you can see the multi-storey birdhouse next to the front tree.

19 May 2013

Wringing Blood from the Cloud

Cloud services of various types are getting more and more common but not all that popular as the news that Adobe will offer its software only in the creative cloud option from now on. 

A few years ago, cinema 4d began offering a subscription service allowing customers to pay a fee per year or month to keep constantly up to date as updates came up,without having to buy each update as a new purchase. No one was talking about this as any sort of cloud service but its pretty much what Adobe and soon Microsoft (for Office Suite) are offering with some differences.  The Adobe plan does give you access to all their software and updates but you must pay your monthly fee or the software is disabled. The C4D  set up stops your updates but the program still functions. Apparently the Microsoft plan will be similar to the C4D one. 

The creative cloud is, in my assessment, a terrible way to treat your customers and those customers are already looking for replacement software. You are paying quite a bit, more than most do buying upgrades when they need them but only renting the programs on a monthly basis losing the ability to keep working if you stop the subscription. Many pro printers don't update their software often and Indesign, for example, is not very backwards compatible so your constantly updated software makes it impossible to actually get work out. Adobe doesn't seem to know the old 80s model,where companies bought software and most designers/artists who used them worked for companies is almost gone, replaced by a system where companies hire contractors (like me) who don't want, need or can afford to be paying them ungodly amounts of cash to rent the software they need every day. This cloud plan will bleed us dry and make keeping our heads above water harder, not easier. And if there is a server issue at Adobe, and there have already been quite a few, you suddenly can't work.... at all

Using the cloud to share data among a team, or even software within a company can be a very useful thing but companies should not be forcing their customers to fulfill their accountants wet dreams of steady cash flow. Nothing, especially software, is really irreplaceable or indispensable. This  could be a short term money grab that leads to all those other smaller competing developers to take away Adobes dominance and actual choice. I imagine if Apple decided to come up with a full featured photoshop alternative on both platforms at a decent price even Photoshop... the unstoppable flagship of Adobe would quickly fade from view.

So while Adobe may think it has us all trapped in the cloud bleeding us dry, in the end you can't really squeeze blood out of a cloud. 

13 May 2013

Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

The innovative puppet animator Ray harryhausen dies this week, it's a huge loss to classic film effects fans and marks the end of an era of physical effects artists that started with Willis O'Brien in the silent film era. 

On personal level, Mr. Harryhausen was a hero of my childhood. While other kids wanted to be fireman and later astronauts... I wanted to work in a small room alone animating puppets to life for films. Films like "The beast from 20 000 Fathoms" are still in my list of top ten films to watch over and over for not just entertainment, but inspiration. 

Right up until his death, this pioneer was still working on new projects. These varied from new puppet animations based on Poe's works to colourizing his earlier films for a new audience.. something I normally would abject to but after meeting him a couple years ago and hearing his reasons for doing, I was convinced he was doing the right thing. They were, after his films to decide what was best for their continued enjoyment by fans. 

Ray never wanted to go the computer route with animation, he liked the physical models and the not so real quality of mixing them with real actors and sets. He did develop techniques used by others, including a way to move the models while clicking the shutter each frame to give them a motion blur.. making them look hyper real. He never used this in any of his films, however, thinking it would take away from the fantasy look. 

No one ever made films like him... and likely never will. he was a genre of film making unto himself. Luckily his monster films, Sinbad series and others are still around to remind us of his greatness and still give that spark of creativity to future artists. 

14 April 2013

New portrait

Unlike some of the last few drawings (flickr page)  with people, this one is a real portrait, that is recognizable as a specific person. In this guess my boyfriend of 10 ten years, Robin.

I tried to mix several techniques to make a sort of hybrid of traditional and digital styles and I think it works out nicely. The face is painted in greyscale with a slight hue added to give it a skin tone and the rest is digital pen and pencil.

01 April 2013

How many email addresses do you need?

As part of my constant battle to have less, not more things to maintain on the computer, I've been trying to reduce the number of email addresses I've accumulated over the years. I have one "official" one for Behemoth media I've had since the early 90's, plus personal ones, gmail and Yahoo versions for behemoth and the personal ones, plus an ever growing number of Apple emails thanks to Apple's constant adding and then abandoning of online "cloud-like" services, each with it's own email address attached.

All the passwords and remembering what email was used for where is a huge pain in the ass. No to mention every mobile device has to be set up for so multiple accounts and in the end, no one knows which one to use to get in touch with you.

So I'm trying to cut back and finding it practically impossible. Apple has no way to remove old email addresses but they do send everyone one to the same account so it's less a burden administratively. I am seriously thinking of getting rid of the dedicated Behemoth media account. It's not like I'm a big company (It's only me) and at this point I think the gmail version will work just find and be easier to manage. I'll keep a personal gmail for buying stuff. The yahoo account I had rid myself of years ago, but then I needed a flickr account and as flickr and yahoo are the same now, I had no choice but make anew mail account.

My ultimate goal will be to get down to 4 including the never to be looked at yahoo one. Wish me luck!

25 March 2013

NIK plugin collection

I have had several NIK plugins for Photoshop (they also work for Lightroom and maybe other software I don't use) for a couple years now. I REALLY like them. Everything but the price which I always though was high for plugins. So imagine my surprise when Google (who bought NIK recently) sent me an email to download ALL of the 6 plugins in one free collection today! No strings, and even Color Efex Pro is the complete collections of filters, I  previously had only the limited version they came with my Wacom tablet. The entire collection is now one suite you buy at once for less than the price of a single one before. As a current owner of multiple plugins, they gave me the new collection for free.

If you have never tried them, now is the time. There is a deal going on you should really take advantage of. 3 of them I had never tried out and I have to say the results are amazing.

Kudos to Google for not only making them affordable finally, but also giving those who already laid out cash for them the collection for free. This is not something I see Adobe or any other company doing very often. In a way, it's simply the fair thing to do, but as well know, fair is not the norm with software sales anymore.

17 March 2013

Paul in crow

I am thinking of making this into a series. I'll need a nude male model who can do all sorts of yoga positions,  however.

13 February 2013

Flash Gordon site from the past

At one time, the use of Flash was considered more cool than it is today and the ability to interact with animations was fun.. it got out of hand pretty quickly. This might be an example of that. But it was fun to do and that was point… to make the site fun. Sound isn't exactly in sync as it was on the site originally. Being obsessed with Buster Crabbe… I had to do it.

09 February 2013

3 Plays by Michael Z Keamy

Michael Z Keamy's new book of plays is out on Amazon.com
I did the cover art and design and the typography for the interior.

The 3 plays are disturbing… funny at points but very intense and at points, shocking.

08 February 2013

Drawing of Paul

Trying for a natural on paper look with digital tools. I really like the look of sketches on rough paper, especially when ink is combined with light and dark pencil to make it pop more. I find I use Sketchbook pro for almost all the drawing now and Photoshop for more of the effects work, not that some of it can't be done in Sketchbook but it's just easier and I think better implemented in Photoshop. The skin is almost all stipple work so this took quite some time to finish.

Click image for more detail if you wish.

02 February 2013


The film "Koch" has been released.. Coincidentally on the day he died. I worked on the restoration and retouching of photos throughout the film. It's been a tough couple years, I only hope I get more good work like this soon!

16 January 2013

Siegfreid et le Dragon

Merci à Jason Patrick qui était le mannequin pour Seigfried il ya 15 ans (environ).  L'image est ma première image avec les éléments fantastiques depuis une vingtaine des années. 

10 January 2013

The Hobbit and the future of cinema tech

If you want a review of the film, not the tech, check out the excellent review on "The Movie Wrench". 

With the release of the Hobbit came a slew of new, not so new and fairly old technology that's all been heralded at some time or another as the "future of cinema". While the future is not easy to predict, it's not too early to pass some judgement on these advances... if in fact they are. 

This has been the future since the 50's and I have to say that watching The Creature from the Black Lagoon in three dimensions is much more entertaining than any of the films released recently. It is headache producing, eyes straining and lends itself to excessively obvious shots of things pointed directly at your face with no reason to do so. 

IMAX screen
Again, not so new an idea as bigger and bigger screens were quite the thing on and off in movie theatres since they began. On the positive side, these new screens are not just bigger but clearer, have much more depth and the sound is amazing. This really does give you the larger than life feeling we want from a night at at the movies. The set back to this is the price... paying a lot more for what should maybe be standard if you want to compete with 80 inch TVs which let you watch for free and in your own home. 

High Frame Rate
While still not totally new (Douglas Trumbull - a god of cinema effects and tech) has been trying to get up to 70 frames per second (FPS) in our local movie houses for decades. Unfortunately in the Hobbit, this aspect of the film is hard to separate from the 3D. The images are 48FPS not 70 but even that might look either "hyper real" or "fake and video like" depending on each person's tolerance for the technique. The colour and sharpness is beautiful however when the images are up to the technology. People's faces can look odd at first and some action sequences look like they have been animated with puppets one frame at a time since there is almost zero blur. It makes any kind of special effect that much harder to pull off realistically, at least for now. 

The future could easily be comprised of IMAX and high frame rates but 3D is still something that time has never arrived and likely never will come to pass as something many people will want to see beyond the gimmick. 

02 January 2013


I've been sitting on reference images for over 10 years inspired by Fritz lang's Les Nibelungen. Jason patrick from Boston was the model and I never got a satisfying photo montage from the photographs… they just looked tacky to me. With my recent return to drawing, I thought now was time to really get the images I wanted out of my head. This first was sort of an art-deco poster idea. 

I have a second idea from this film and think I'll try other drawings inspired by other silent films.. most of which I've also taken tons of references for over the years and never did anything with. 

Edit: I've added a second image after some feedback on the figure mentioned it could have been more dynamic. I do think I like this better.