Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Independent toy design

So, this is something new I am into. Basically, making figures of my character designs allows me to make them real without having to animate them and adds in the slight possibility of being able to sell them to collectors!

I mentioned this years Comic Con was lacking in panels I was excited about. One that I was excited about was about Independent Toy Creation, hosted by the fine people from October Toys/Toy Break. Naturally, since it was the one I wanted to see it fell at the same time as Wootstock (nerdworld problems) and I had to miss it. But thanks to technology and foresight it was recorded and put on youtube!

If you are remotely interested in making your own toys, this video is a good place to get started.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The summer months and the fall arrival.

For the first time in a little while, the summer was kind of slow. June wasn't as terribly busy as we were told to expect, but I did get put onto night shift which made most social interactions outside of work rare. We wrapped Guardians of the Galaxy and it was an incredible film, breaking all sorts of box office records. One would hope that Hollywood would see the risks taken with this property (Previously indie director, B-rated cast list, weird characters,talking raccoon and a walking, blinking tree) and try out some fresh stuff. However, I have a feeling what it means is there will be more space movies with classic 80s music as their soundtrack and zero passion. But, whatever, its their piggy bank.
 We also wrapped Ninja Turtles. While it was not as successful as Guardians, I still loved it. (In my opinion) the characters were spot on and all of the rumors (and based on early scripts justified) that had kept me leery of the film were not there. It was actually pretty accurate to the original comic story. I worked on a couple of other projects over the summer months as well, but those werent as noteworthy in my mind.

Jeff Goldblum sings jazzJeff Goldblum sings jazz 

We did go to the Rockwell to watch Jeff Goldblum sing jazz, which ranks pretty high up in my awesomest things ever list.

 That leads us to San Diego Comic Con 2014....which was just weird.

Mariachi Kombat
   Its the best way I can think of describing it. It just seemed slightly off. We walked into Hall H twice without having to wait in line. This in itself is huge as sometimes the line to get into Hall H will take you (and has taken us) more than 10 hours to get through. There were fewer panels I was excited about seeing, fewer celebrities/artists/actors there that I wanted to meet and I went in with a light backpack that never really got any heavier. Wootstock was once again good, but last years show was an impossible act to follow. There were many random celebrity sightings.George RR MartinKevin Smith sayin hey.

I met some cool folks and hang out with one of the coolest folks out there, Mr Tyler Rhoads. I got more signatures from one of the creators of Ninja Turtles, Kevin Eastman and finally remembered to get a photo with him.
Kevin Eastman

I got to get some books and coin of the realm signed by Patrick Rothfuss (read his books and his blog if you are even remotely into fantasy). I did get to meet one of the Godfathers of modern day visual effects, Phil Tippet. He was incredibly cool and I was amazed by all of the films from my childhood that he was responsible for the iconic imagery (pretty much anything with a dinosaur in the 80s-mid 90s).

 But it all was just meh. I dont think I am jaded, but rather its so expensive that a lot of artists are choosing to stay home and get work done and earn money rather than breaking even by attending. Also, several studios are blaming lackluster box office profits on the negative reviews of clips shown at the convention (as opposed to the more likely scenario of the films just not being great to begin with). Ill still try to get tickets to next years, but if I dont I wont be upset.

 Home for a day after SDCC and Rachel and I went on our first vacation as a couple by ourselves. We had gone on trips where we were visiting people we knew and with other folks, but never just the two of us without seeing anyone we knew. We wanted to do a west coast tour. We took the train rather than driving because Rachel was 7.5 months pregnant and we wanted to both be able to enjoy the scenery.
somewhere in northern california

We took the Coastal Starlight, which is an Amtrak train that has all the fun old school amenities such as observation car, dining car and sleeping bunks. It was a good time and a nice relaxing way to spend a day and a half after having just spent a week surrounded by people at all times at comic con.

Train at Union Station

We got off the train in Portland then spent a day there, Seattle, Vancouver and Astoria, Oregon. For those film nerds out there you know Astoria is where they shot scenes from the Goonies (and Short Circuit, 1941, Ninja Turtles 3, Kindergarten Cop, etc, etc, etc). It was a beautiful, sleepy little cannery town who were incredibly pleasant considering how many random nerds probably end up trooping through their yards.
Haystack rock2014-08-01 13.21.45
2014-08-01 12.25.03

Then, the big news.....

Persephone and her pomegranate.


First Family Picture!
Exciting, terrifying, sleep depriving. Persephone Rose Claunch arrived a couple weeks early, but other than a bout of jaundice is doing well. Her sleep schedule is still off, so she sleeps days and parties at night, but otherwise seems to be enjoying life outside the human submarine known a mom and we are loving our little girl!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life in the 401st----The more you know, the more you learn. Listen to this man.

One of the best breakdowns of why Edgar Wrights films are pure genius while most comedies lose their luster after the first viewing. Watch, Learn, Laugh.

Edgar Wright - How to Do Visual Comedy from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A recap....also known as TLDR

Work has slowed up a bit. I have weekends again. Having the ability to get a full nights sleep and the ability to plan outings with the wife and friends took getting used to. The peace wont last more than another couple of weeks. Ive been told to expect virtually no days off all of June, so to suck up the easy days while I can.


We are working on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I am both excited and feel a little dirty about that. Next to Ghostbusters, TMNT is my favorite property and I have wanted to be a part of that universe since I was eight. However, I always have hesitations when it comes to reboots of old franchises as I rarely agree with the way they are handled. That said, its mainly because I want more of the version I loved as a child and not ready to give the series to another group of kids.  What I have seen of the movie does look like a lot of fun, so every day I get a little more excited about the film.


We are also working on Guardians of the Galaxy.  Im a fan of the marvel owned movies and James Gunn is one of my favorite directors, so there is nothing but excitement and anticipation for this film. I mean, talking raccoon with laser can that be anything but glorious.

2014-05-17 12.26.40 
   Rachel and I went to see Godzilla yesterday morning. This was another film that we worked on (if you havent noticed, the best way to get your name on a bunch of blockbusters is to be a stereoscopic compositor) and I was beaming with pride when the end credits rolled. The film was phenomenal from the script all the way thru the 3D conversion (the 3D scored almost perfect marks on one blog).

  Its been awhile since Ive had the time for a good long type on here. I keep meaning to do little recaps, but I get distracted by Call of Duty or sleep. There was going to be a big End of Year wrap-up, but we spent a few weeks back home in Missouri with family and it was hard to pull myself away from all them. A short and quick summation of last year?

  2013 was awesome.

  Living in Los Angeles affords one a lot of opportunities as a nerd (its to balance out all of the time you spend dying slowly in rush hour traffic on the 101 or 405).  In 2013 (and up to now in 2014) I was able to meet all of my favorite authors, artists, and many actors and directors. A few for instances.


I got to sit in and be a part of the audience for Bruce Campbells pilot, Nightcap. In real life he is just as charming, witty and hard working as he seems in his films.


Rachel and I were in the audience for SPOILERS with Kevin Smith, who has been a icon of mine for quite awhile. I got to chat with him one on one for awhile and had him sign a comic that my Pops had bought for me a few months before he passed away.
2013-07-18 12.31.252013-06-27 23.12.19

I met Jim Butcher (Dresden Files),  Neil Gaiman (Sandman and a hundred others)Chuck Pahlniuk (Fight Club), got knocked over by Patrick Rothfuss (he very was sorry and I bounce), James EllroyNeal Stephenson, new favorite author Stephen Blackmoore, artists Dean YeagleFrank ChoJuanjo Guarnido, and the iconic and incredible Drew Struzan (on 5 different occasions).

Drew Struzan and Igoonies_q_and_a_2

I was able to meet actors from the Goonies, watch Elijah Wood spin the turntables at a movie shown in a cemetery, chatted with Bill Paxton (the dude is just as laid back and awesome as you'd imagine), and saw a random smattering of B-C-D list actors at the grocery store. I was able to meet the director of Godzilla who thanked us for our awesome work. We see Weird Al almost every Sunday morning (brother knows his hymns).

2013-06-29 13.57.33dj frodo

   My shelves of autographed books literally had so many books on them that they pulled themselves out of the wall. I had to buy another heavy duty, sealed poster tube to keep all of the art and posters Ive had signed better protected. For the first time my studio, Knights End, will be listed in the credits of a film created by people I had never met before, but contacted me after seeing my reel and wanted me to do all of the visual effects for their horror film, Mile Marker 7. I've added 14 movie and television titles to my IMDB page and worked with more incredible artists and compositors than I thought possible (none of who get the thanks and adoration they deserve but are all moving on to great things).

And the icing on the ridiculously tall, 30 layer red velvet cake, is that we are expecting our first baby in September. We are excited as all get out. We are told its likely a girl. To keep our baby name choices from getting out into the Collective Consciousness, we are referring to her as codename Dr Zhivago.

2014-05-18 12.24.08
(photo taken at the Gallery 1988 Ghostbusters Art Show)

I dont expect the next year to be as mind blowing. Honestly, I feel like there are probably a lot of people calling bulls--t now. But If all else slows down, being a dad sounds like it will be an experience hard to top.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing

Another of the articles from by Maria Popova.  Gaiman is my number one literary type.  At this point I think I have all but two of the books he has written signed (thanks in large part to ebay).  His word on words is the last.

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing

“Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”
In the winter of 2010, inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules of writingpublished in The New York Times nearly a decade earlier, The Guardian reached out to some of today’s most celebrated authors and asked them to each offer his or her commandments. After Zadie Smith’s 10 rules of writing, here come 8 from the one and only Neil Gaiman:
  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
For more timeless wisdom on writing, see Kurt Vonnegut’8 rules for a great storyDavid Ogilvy’10 no-bullshit tipsHenry Miller’11 commandments,Jack Kerouac’30 beliefs and techniquesJohn Steinbeck’6 pointers, andSusan Sontag’synthesized learnings.
Image by Kimberly Butler

Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

I am a huge fan of Steinbeck's work and over at I stubbled across his six tips on writing. I wanted to bookmark it and realized I may never see it again and its something I need to keep in mind, so I am copy pasting it here. Here is the article in its entirety, but please go over to the site and spend some time.

Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

On the value of unconscious association, or why the best advice is no advice.
If this is indeed the year of reading more and writing better, we’ve been right on course with David Ogilvy’s 10 no-bullshit tipsHenry Miller’s 11 commandments, and various invaluable advice from other great writers. Now comes John Steinbeck — Pulitzer Prize winner, Nobel laureate, love guru — with six tips on writing, culled from his altogether excellent interview it the Fall 1975 issue ofThe Paris Review.
  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
But perhaps most paradoxically yet poetically, twelve years prior — in 1963, immediately after receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception” — Steinbeck issued a thoughtful disclaimer to all such advice:
If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.”
If you feel bold enough to discount Steinbeck’s anti-advice advice, you can do so with these 9 essential books on more and writing. Find more such gems in thiscollection of priceless interviews with literary icons from half a century of The Paris Review archives, then see the collected wisdom of great writers.