Saturday, February 28, 2009

Caroline Leaf workshop

This afternoon I attended the workshop with Caroline Leaf hosted by the Filmpool. Animators were able to bring some of their work to show to her and the rest of the group for discussion. We started with Dan Wright and "Treadman", which is a fantastic sand animation from 1997 that Dan made inspired in part by Caroline's work. Caroline was consulted on in for technique and story, but she'd never met Dan face to face. A good meeting. I showed an excerpt from "Modern", it went over well. Some solid discussion about optical illusions of whether or not the action was speeding up or not. It was just a one minute clip, but appropriate for the event.

Friday, February 27, 2009

still winter

My Film 200 class took 16mm Bolex cameras out today to shoot with for the first time. I love this aspect of the course, they become FILMmakers for the first time, although so many things can go wrong and mostly do. The weather is really really cold again and my ability to get William to come with me to Caroline Leaf's talk at the RPL failed as a result. I did catch Caroline's talk at the university today at lunch time where she discussed her paintings. I really like the paintings, quite luminous. This evening was the opening of the projections show at the MacKenzie. We went. As I've been to three talks at the MacKenzie in the past three weeks and Margaret has been to none, I didn't argue when she said she wanted to listen to Carle Steel in conversation with the curator. William and I, since he never sits still for lengthy academic lectures, explored the show itself. Great work. I'm putting together my notes for the workshop on projection I'll be doing there in two weeks. I have two hours and too much material, so I've really got to start focusing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mike Hoolboom

I had a wonderful time listening to, and later talking to, Mike Hoolboom at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. I wrote a paragraph about it for my other blog.


It started to blizzard as William needed to go to school this morning. While he could easily walk there, he was late and I was on my way to work so I promised him a ride. Once in the car, which required extensive sweeping off, I already knew that I had to go back home to get a couple of things ready for work. I dropped him off and doubled back and reparked for 15 minutes. The car was covered with snow again so I swept it a second time. I went to the MacKenzie Art Gallery to drop off a contract regarding a workshop I'm to teach in a couple of weeks. I was inside for only a minute, but the car was covered with snow again and I had to clean it off to be able to finally get to work. Filmmaker Ann Verrall, currently a filmmaker in residence in our department, came to my class today to talk about her work with my students. After clearing my car again, I drove her home where she is staying in Carle's building. Managed to stay home tonight, lucky since I couldn't face the snow again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Yesterday was a big day at work, two very important filmmakers were in town, Caroline Leaf and Mike Hoolboom, to lecture and show work. Not together, it is just coincidental timing that they are here at the same time. We all had lunch together. I reminded Mike of a caustic letter he wrote to me a few years ago that he's forgotten. He pointed out that he sites my thesis on his website when I discuss his seminal film "White Museum". It is now available as an audio-only download, perhaps I'll jog to it (for those of you who know the film, that would be funny as the soundtrack consists only of Mike's voice calmly talking about the nature of sitting in a movie theatre and thinking about how you would prefer to be sitting and having coffee with your friends after the movie to talk about your experience of sitting in the movie theatre). Mike will be talking at the MacKenzie Art Gallery on Wednesday night.
Caroline Leaf showed her work and techniques to my class for 3 hours. After showing her film "Two Sisters" to students for a decade, I finally know how she made it. Caroline will be showing her work at the RPL this Thursday night and will look at other animators works on Saturday at the Filmpool.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Margaret's new show

Margaret and a collective of artists, including Gerri Ann Siwek and Gerda Osteneck, held a reception to show the collage based art they created a few weeks ago. Margaret's "Snow Witch" turned out very well (see below). We took William to it; it's the first time he's left the house in eight days. We're planning on sending him to school in the morning. His cough still lingers but has finally begun to get better. He's not had a fever in days either. Academy Awards were this evening; Margaret dressed as the woman from Hellboy II and went to the annual party. I stayed home. She just got home from the party, I didn't win the pool, missed by one film. Oh well, I don't think I should be allowed to enter when I never go to the party, but they take my money every year. Cool with me. I have it recorded so will take a quick look at it, catch the high lights.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

finishing up my catch up week?

I finished my light box today, or did I...? The last part I needed was the light itself and for this I was taking a page from Ivan's animation light advice and was installing a piece of foam core with a set of LED lights punched through it. I have been having a hard time finding lights in stock, the summer stock isn't in yet and tall the winter stuff is gone. I eventually realized that the set I needed was in my back yard; I took them down off my gazebo, thawed them, and drilled the necessary holes in my foam core. We were going to go to Moose Jaw today but William is still sick so we didn't. That was fortunate as i was able to take the lights to the office and test them out. It was a disaster! The acid etched glass is still too transparent so the individual lights are still spots of light rather than an overall light. The glass would need to be an additional six inches higher for the light to blur. Some additional mylar did not help. I eventually determined that an addition of a sheet of bond paper would create the even light. Now I'm worried that it will cut out too much of the light. I've got some paper that is big enough but will not likely get to test it until Monday when Caroline Leaf is actually here.

mix up

I had to go to the hospital today for a routine test, the appointment was made nearly a year ago and I had the appointment card in hand saying the specific time to be at the General. Margaret dropped me off then wend off with the car, leaving me to discover that the appointment is moved to the Pasqua Hospital without me being told. There was a cab outside so I tried to get a ride but he was going the other way and suggested I talk to Russ who was driving the wheel chair van between hospitals. Russ was a bit confused about my request but figured the other driver may have been his boss and was really nice about giving me a lift.
I'm fighting off this cold as best as I can, but I've got another headache that won't go away. William was still home from school today.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I got my grading done for my Film 200 midterm. I found the missing Anamorphs book for William, who is still sick. This evening we watched "Temple of Doom", the only remaining Indiana Jones movie William's not yet seen. I also figured out that the Pentax K-1000 will shoot without its battery so it perfect for long time exposures (thanks Joe).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

liking the break

The spring break continues. William is still sick but I've been really getting into the swing of things, catching up on stuff. I picked up the new light box I built from the glass place. They cut it a bit small but it'll be fine. I need light now, that'll be for tomorrow. I read Chrystene's new draft of her thesis paper, it's coming along really well. Watched some Superman cartoons with William, the mid-90s series that actually connects directly to the Justice League series we own (some sub-plots began in this series). I re-recorded "Mr. Saul's Ultimate Getaway" because I realized a few hours after doing it before Christmas that I should change one word, and it is invariably easier to redo a whole 3 minute piece than it is to fix one moment in the middle. The Mr. Saul series is now complete and I'm going to try to do a nice dvd collection of it with a fancy menu and an ironic commentary track sometime soon. I also had a couple of meetings (can never seem to have a Wednesday without meetings), and would now just like to sleep, but I won't since I have a window to watch more tv. Every day should be like this.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

busy and getting sick

I'm acting department head this week. Had to stop in and some something, but it's usually not difficult to fill in during reading week. I built my light box for Caroline Leaf to use next week. I cut it from a nice oak 6x3/4" board. Darcy helped router the edge in the visual arts shop, otherwise I was able to get it done myself. It's at Queen City Glass right now getting some 6mm acid etched glass put into the top.
William was sick still today and I expect him to be sick again tomorrow. He watched lots of tv and read an entire Animorphs book, but for the last 3 pages. He's lying beside me right now, he said he had to rest his eyes. That was nearly an hour ago (an early night for him, but he only got 8 hours last night). I just designed a directed study course focusing on long exposures that a student wants to do in the fall. It's actually looking like one of my better designed courses, I'd like to take it myself.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Mike came to town from Saskatoon yesterday. He and Kevin and I hung out last night, it felt like old times. We even stayed up past midnight!!! William has another cold, it started yesterday and is worse today, lots of coughing. He's even sick enough to rather be in bed than in front of the tv. We did watch a bunch of shows together today, mostly the Kratt Brothers "Be the Creature" which I bought him for Christmas. When I ordered it he was really into Zamoobafoo, which was an earlier, more juvinile Kratt brothers series. He didn't want anything to do with Be the Creature then, so it's sat on the shelf until this weekend. Now he's just flipping for it. It's a solid, informantive and fun series where they go into the natural habitat of animals for 3 weeks. For all ages (although not for the faint of heart, animals often kill other animals on screen, it's nature's way). Now I'm realizing that I didn't do any of the things I wanted to complete this weekend, but the spring break is just starting so I should be able to get back on track tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day

Fairly calm Valentine's Day today. I baked a heart shaped chocolate cheesecake and I sawed some wood.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


William's four day weekend started today. I got a bunch of errands done this morning, shipped a film off, etc. This afternoon I stayed home, William had his friend Rowan over to play lego and I did some editing on a frivolous video, sort of like a vacation where I do the same things I do when I'm working but don't put it on my cv.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I will be showing my super-8 film "Cake" at the $100 Film Festival in Calgary in a few weeks. I need to sent the film and soundtrack there and discovered last night that I wasn't sure where either of them were! I had the dvd but the film ended up being one of the unlabeled rolls on a shelf with a bunch of other rolls of random stuff in my basement, and the soundtrack, featuring William giving the recipe as well as some opinions such as "baking is the flavour of life", was in a folder in my office.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I was so wrecked yesterday leaving work that I didn't change into my winter boots. The sidewalks were all dry yesterday so it was fine, but this morning I had to wear them again and they have virtually no grip. It was freezing rain and I could barely stand out there. William and Margaret had eye appointments this morning. I thought I'd just drive them there and them home again and then to work, but William has a sore in his mouth that we were worried about so we managed to get him a lunch hour dentist appointment. With Margaret having those drops in her eyes, she couldn't drive so I continued being the chauffeur until after lunch. It did give me enough time to design the Film 200 midterm for later this week. It'll be my last class before the break, so I'm feeling like I can start relaxing a bit; I just watched two episodes of the Sopranos. Really feeling the need for a break right now.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I gave my animation students all needle tools today. It's a design I started doing in grad school, inserting a sewing needle into a partially split wooden chopstick - which proved harder to find than usual - then tape and wrap with an elastic band to make it gripable. It was all about being frugal but still having the right tool for the job. I expect the students not to stab themselves with them. I hope someone makes a nice scratch animation with them. I showed some good examples. One guy stabbed another guy's water bottle causing it to leak slowly. Egad. My head aches, I just couldn't go the three hours today. I finished the class with the classic "Everready Hardon's Hidden Treasure" from 1928. A gut ripping classic.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I finished grading my Film 200 assignments (except the two late ones). I only have one class, as opposed to the three I taught at a time previously, so the act of grading is not as daunting. I think I built it up in my mind as an all weekend thing, but it was really only 2 or 3 hours.
Kevin lent me the final half season of Sopranos this evening, which is pretty exciting. I'm just a few days away from spring break so will go double time through them. Tv is so great. I've been watching Battlestar Galactica, the first four of the last ten this weekend. It's finally back in its groove with Starbuck and Apollo (or whatever his name is) fighting side by side, shooting bad guys. All the characters we like (Apollo, Starbuck, the admiral, Baltar, and the sexy Cylons) against all the characters we don't like (the whiner with one leg and the VP who's also a perpetual complainer). I recorded The Brave and the Bold today but haven't watched it yet (new Batman cartoon, not a soap opera) and Joss Whedon's Dollhouse starts on Friday. Life is good, if only I didn't have to leave the house.


I woke up at 4 am on Thursday night and couldn't get back to sleep; I think it is a bit of my cold and just feeling stuffed up. I had a couple of meetings on Friday but luckily no teaching, I was a bit of a basket case all day. I went to bed last night at 10 and caught up. William and I watched the last of the Donald Duck volume 4 disc 2 today, making me caught up on the animation I own for the first time in at least 3 years (maybe 4 or 5). I buy lots of animation but don't always look at it. In the past 2 months I've watched 21 dvds of animation, certainly 40 hours. That's at least 40 minutes per day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

a marathon

Mark suggested yesterday that doing in class critiques is like running a marathon. Perhaps it's not that exhausting, but it's close. Three hours of looking at work and responding immediately to it challenges the mind. Luckily most of the work was pretty good (first year classes can be very unpredictable).
Here is William on his way to school on 'fashion disaster day' last week.
It's February fifth, a special day for Margaret and I, so we barbequed some steaks and had a lemon cheesecake that I baked last night that worked out perfectly.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

sick again

I think I'm coming down with another cold. It wasn't bad at the office since I wasn't in the classroom and I have my thermostat cranked up to make everyone else uncomfortable. I guess I was at work all day, but aside from a couple of meetings, I can't seem to recall what I did except experience my headache.
Last night I finished "The Black Donnellys" tv show, the thirteenth and final episode was great although predictably disappointing since it left many things hanging before being canceled. The narrator points out that everyone asks him what happened and he's trying to tell them why and how things happened; a great piece of advice in storytelling.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

something old, something new

I posted a new video on William's blog today, using some demo animation I shot of one of his Bionicles in animation class yesterday. I also ran across this drawing made by Shane Kurenoff (then known as Pukka T) of me and an unknown band back around 1989 or 1990. Here it is:
I think it was part of a pitch for funding that we were part of where we'd make music videos or something. There obviously would have been a title in the blank area, typeset rather than hand lettered. Hard to remember now. He is a cook and musician in Toronto now, says he hasn't drawn in years.

Monday, February 2, 2009

not enough sleep

As I sent my post last night, after I got home at 11pm to a quiet house, I heard William talking - apparently still awake (he outlasted Margaret who was napping). Then, in a fit of foolishness, we watched "Momma Mia" until 1:00. It's a disc full of awfulness. You might be thinking I'm critisizing the corny ABBA music, but no. I actually have some fond memories of ABBA from grade school, anyone who was anyone had ABBA's Greatest Hits, I still have my copy. No, the movie just suffered from a bad script, bad choreography, and uninspired performances. I was certain Pierce Brosnan's performance was the worst thing he'd ever done until he began to sing, then he invented a whole new scale to gage badness by.
This morning at a few minutes past 7, William was out of bed and setting up a teasure hunt for the groundhog. You had to follow various signs around the house until you reach a groundhog he made out of a toilet paper tube. Kids his age are supposed to get 11 hours sleep per night, he's lucky to get eight.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


We've become obsessed with earning kinz-cash for William to spend on his virtual pet in the Webkinz world. There are some tetrus-like games, that sort of thing, generally fun. There are also trivia games, pretty easy ones, that earn much more money. Last week I planted him a big garden so this week I harvested his pumkins and watermelons and sold them back to the store. In about 5 weeks I'll recoup the investment then be bringing in 4 or 500 kinz cash dollars per week for him to buy virtual hot tubs and virtual clothes and virtual food and more virutal gardens and garden decorations for his virtual pets. Here is what his big garden looked like today: