Friday, December 07, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oh no he didn't!

Old friend, workmate and goof-off partner Jeff Lew just completed his 85-minute feature, Killer Bean Forever on his own! I think the whole animation community joins me in saluting your independent spirit, your perseverance and your eccentricity in pulling this off. It better be good, Jeff, but either way I think you have massive beans.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Animation at the Academy Awards

Victor Navone writes a great comment about Beowulf being nominated for an Oscar against Ratatouille. He focuses us on how recorded performances encroach on animation creativity, but also laments the existence of animation categories at the awards:
"I believe the category of Best Animated Feature should not exist, because it creates an arbitrary distinction between mediums and ultimately ghettoizes animation into a separate category so that it can never compete for Best Picture. If you want to make distinctions, do it by genre, not by medium. Ratatouille is the best reviewed film of the year, but it will never compete directly against the year's live-action films because the Academy has it squarely seated at the kids' table."
Come on, man. Remember who started the Academy Awards? Cigar chomping studio moguls posing for pictures with their tall film stars, putting on dinner suits and celebrating themselves one night a year. Animators have always been a more modest specie of filmmaker. As a kid I used to love acting stuff out, as long as no one could see. We're mostly shy. That's why we love to work from home, and, IMHO, why we like to ghettoize ourselves when in big buildings (wink wink honk honk). I think the award seperation is healthy for our kind as it is for foreign films, with some overlapping reasons; Most people like to watch stars more than watching animated characters. That's how it can be that there are too many animated films in one year for the market to absorb profitably. Academy members would never vote Remi over Daniel Day-Lewis and Johnny Depp. Not even Woody over Tom Hanks.
While the crossover of live-action and animation is pushing the envelope of filmmaking techniques and enriching the audience experience, the Oscars are really for the American screen stars and for their patrons.
Happy belated birthday, Victor!



Saturday, September 29, 2007

Flipbook Redux is deluxe!!!

To all free online flipbook maker fans - good news: The excellent flipbook maker that used to be at Fabrica is now online again on the Benetton website. No Benetton apparel purchase necessary, luckily.
Improvements include color and duplication of last drawing - very important for holds. Thanks to Gidon for pointing it out to me while messing about!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wham Bam Thank you Imam!

I made a little flipbook. It plays best at the highest speed ("Speedy")

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Off to LA

Hello fans,

I just came back from New York, where I attended my dear friends Gabriel and Samantha's wedding in the beautiful Hamptons, and I'm packing my bags again for a two week trip to Los Angeles. In LA I will be part of the Israeli delegation to the Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnerships’ 9th Annual Master Class in Cinema and Television (try saying that twice in one conversation!) As part of the Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Partnerships’ 9th Annual Master Class in Cinema and Television, Israeli and American professionals will get to meet and hear key Hollywood personalities from the areas of writing, producing, distribution and representation, in a bid to create personal relationships and cross-fertilize the two film industries with fresh talent and ideas from the one side, and professional experience and mentoring from the other. I'm preparing to pitch a number of ideas in development at Crew 972, including the short film Train Hunter (pictured above). Needless to say I am very excited about the opportunity, and I'd like to thank the Jewish Federation for the innitiative and sponsorship.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

Flipping again

Yesterday we had a group of kids visit the studio. As part of the tour, we gave a talk on how animation is made and helped them to make flipbooks. My role was to explain the principles. I found a new website that lets you draw and record animation (the old one I used to play with stopped providing their on-line tool) and I demonstrated on it with my tablet computer, connected to a projector. There is something very soothing about drawing animation, when you're used to animating 3D models for your day job. Most 3D animation projects out there spend most of the money on modeling and shading beautiful models, but don't leave a complex enough articulation or time for the animator to go beyond simple puppeteer-ing. In drawn animation, you easily get to animate the volume of the character at the same time as you're plotting its path of motion. Everything you know just flows out of your hand in thirty second sketches. I can choose to neglect the design and animate without staying on model. It's so satisfying, it's like scratching a spot on your back that you usually can't reach.
I recommend that all 3D animators play around with this concept once a week, so we don't forget those hard-to-reach spots.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I came under quite a lot of fire for the previous caricature of JP, so I offer this more flattering correction.

Jean-Philip Vine joins the Crew

Jean-Philip is a story artist from aardman who recently directed four episodes of Shawn the Sheep. He joined Crew 972 as Creative Director two weeks ago and we're now working on developing film and TV projects. I didn't have a photo so I drew him. Good luck, mate!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

My student film

Before working for Pixar, I went to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where I made three animated shorts. The last was a CGI group project, completed in 2000. 'Freeware' won the 2001 Sundance film festival in the on-line category, and the SIGGRAPH group project student film competition.
I found 'Freeware' is still available on As I watched it I became nostalgic and full of admiration for my colleagues who stuck with this beast for almost two years, staying at the computer lab late at night and looking for excellence at every corner. These guys went on to become key players in the animation industry, and I am proud to have worked with them:
Michael Kaczmarek (EA), Gabriel Schlumberger(Pixar, Blue-Sky), Tadao Mihashi (ESC, DreamWorks) Andres Martinez (ESC, Sony ImageWorks), Jed Diffenderfer (DreamWorks), Eric Smitt (Pixar), Dan Cayer (Tippet Studio, Blue-Sky) and David Lipton (ESC, DreamWorks).
Oren Jacob, who instructed the TDs on the project, is now director of studio tools at Pixar, and Jimmy Hayward, the animation instructor, is directing Horton Hears a Who at Blue-Sky. They both mentored me through making Freeware.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Actimel Campaign on air

Crew 972 was selected from seven studios by Young and Rubicam Israel, to design and animate the 45 second spot. It is now up on You tube.
Huge props go to Joyce Boll, the fiery producer, Eran Lazar and Guy Ben-shitrit, the courageous character animators, Alon Boroda and Larisa Lerner, the divinely gifted designers, and to our model and render shop, Snowball, for pulling this fourteen headed beast together in three months.
The ad plays to a cover of the song "You've got a friend in me", which is a little awkward for me , having worked at Pixar, though not on Toy-Story, where the song comes from. Just putting it out there - the song was picked by the agency...
The chameleon scene (pictured above) appears in the 30 sec version, which will soon be viewable on the studio website. In the film, the chameleon family is surprised by a noise, so they all change color to match their background, except for the one kid who's looking at the bird. Mother chameleon gently cuddles him with her tail, thus reminding him to camouflage himself before he becomes part of "The circle of life". Notice the difference in attitude from my original storyboard (pictured underneath.) We had to tone down the humor to make it palatable for the dairy client. Hey - we all have to eat, right?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cosmic gas girl

Artwork for a TV show we're pitching. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Party time again!

All family, friends and animation artists and professionals are welcome to join me on Sunday, March 25th at 20:00 in the Saluna-Bar, 17 Tirtza street, Tel-Aviv.
Animation projects, shorts and exercises will be screened. Anyone wishing to screen their stuff in front on a live audience is welcome to bring it on DVD.
See you there!

"Push the button" music video

One late night last week we completed the animation for the Tea Packs music video. The result will be screened on TV, but I found a low quality version on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crabby day

Blue Crab by Jean-Philippe Vine

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pushing the button with Teapacks

Happy Purim! Crew 972 animators and cg artists are hard at work this weekend, to produce a segment of the music video for Israel's Eurovision song contest entry, Teapacks' "Push the button".

Will post a link to the result next week!
Teapacks lead singer and songwriter Kobi Oz and I are developing "History of the Trains", a five minute theatrical short.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I made this for our material for the Game Developers Conference, next month in San Francisco. Crew 972 will be represented at GDC by ISM (Interactive Studio Management) who are our agents for game animation and art projects (

Friday, February 16, 2007

Short film in development

Here's a first peek at my short film in development, 'History of the Trains'. Original concept is by co-creator Kobi Oz.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I'd like to point out some talented people I have the pleasure of knowing:

Doron Meir is a prolific traditional and CG animator with a great sense of personality in his character artwork. His location design and color are pretty damn strong, too, but true to animator form, he'll never admit it!

Yaniv Cahoua is a designer, illustrator and animator from France. I like his expressive color and imaginative use of materials in creating environments, like in his book illustrations. See his portfolio here:
Yaniv just joined Crew 972 and is training as an animator.

Nir Hirschfeld is another designer animator who graduated Nemo art school in Florence, Italy. Great character art and funny 2D animation on a page dedicated to him at the school website:

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My tablet pc

I bought a Toshiba Protege M400 in NY.

Seven month update

Dear friends, family, fans and foes,
I'm back in the mood to broadcast (lucky you, right?) The past seven months haven't been very busy: In May I went to E3 in LA (which turned out to be the last ever) where I met our new agents for game animation projects. Then in June I went to Annecy '06 with Lior (our fearless ceo) and hung out with old and new friends. Michelle joined two days later which made it much more romantic.
In July Israel went to war against Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and in August we went to the Greek island of Kos for a family holiday for one week.
In September I went back to the US with Joyce Boll, our head of production, for meetings at some major studios, broadcast design shops and game developers in LA and NY. We must've done 40 meetings in twelve days! Among others, we met with Michael Daubert from The Animation Farm, Chris Rausch and Chris Glenn from Super villain games and Marc Levin, the bike racing genius lawyer.
I broke the trip up by flying to SF over the weekend, and played with my friends at Pixar. Andrew Gordon and his lovely wife invited me to stay the night in his beautiful new home. We had dinner with ex office mates David Smith and Victor Navone.
I lost my digital camera on the way to NY, so no pics. Blast.
In NY I had a great time with my old college days friends Doug Rowell and Gabriel Schlumberger. Doug is a major creative figure at (he and his wife Paloma hosted me at their lovely apartment), and Gabe is the camera designer on Blue Sky's upcoming feature Horton Hears a Who.
In November Michelle and I went to Paris to celebrate Michelle's birthday. We had a magical three days and nights walking up and down gorgeous streets, enjoying great museums and restaurants. In December, Lior and I went to London for two days to meet Sascha Hartman and John Frasier of Billi Productions, where we signed a new deal to animate 23 minutes for their film. Later that month the family and I went to visit our family in Sydney Australia for three weeks. We came back in mid January and have been very busy catching the kids up on school, and growing the studio to take on a few new projects. At this moment Crew 972 is animating on a feature film from Scotland, a TV show from Germany and an Israeli TV commercial. I'm also storyboarding a short film with Kobi Oz, which we will pitch to investors in coming week. I'm back in London in March for some meetings. Yawn!