Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Winter 2024

Adapting to 'ride the waves of change' sounds great
until you consider that waves come in many sizes.

    Over 30 years ago, I got my first email address. The internet was a rising topic of conversation, and might be less of a fad than I initially thought. I couldn't imagine how extensive and ubiquitous 'the net' would become. Over 20 years ago, I got my first true smart phone. The idea of accessing email from a phone seemed silly and impractical. I never guessed what would later be possible using a handheld device. Building consensus and concern over climate change has been in my peripheral view since the late 80's. While I grew up thinking these impacts would arrive in some vague and far-flung future, the last decade has shown profound results we're experiencing firsthand whether you believe it or not.

    My inability to see the future is evident. Change is arriving more quickly and acutely than I expected.

    I've been reading a lot about the rise of AI for the last few years. The impact on creative tasks and the folks who perform them is already being felt. Creative companies are already finding ways to adopt these new tools and reduce the time and people needed to generate a product. I maintain that it is an inherently unethical technology because of how the tool is created (training AI models by scraping publicly viewable art, using it without informed consent or fair compensation and then concealing the theft.) (see the infamous spreadsheet archived here).

    It raises a difficult to answer question: how do artists adapt to it?

    My lack of precognition provides little insight, but experience suggests: this challenge will only deepen and become more profound. Like climate change: the wider the impact is felt, the more motivated we all become to find a way to manage this change.

    At least, that is my hope.

Here are my classes this term:

ANC Animation 2 (6017)
Weight Lift (WL)   *alternative assignment

ANI 3d Animation 4 (5023)
UbiSoft Next (UN) ~or~ Shot01
Change of Emotion (COE) ~or~ Shot02
Mocap Cleanup (MC) ~or~ Shot03
Final Animation (FA) ~or~ Shot04 *under construction

ANI Client Studio (5025)
Checkpoint (HW)
30 Second Reel (30S) *end of program

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Fall 2023

A literal fat cat. More adorable than the robber baron variety.

    Welcome to Fall 2023. Fanshawe has released it's annual report to the public for 2022/23. You can see the pdf here. Of particular note is the financial report section pages 12-16. It shows a very profitable turnaround from the pandemic: over $400 million in total revenue!

    Hopefully this will translate to smaller class sizes, better student to teacher ratios, and more full-time faculty to deliver an even more exceptional educational experience for our students. I mention this because, while student enrollment revenue increased by 29%, expenditures for content delivery (teachers/equipment) increased by only 16% during that same timeframe.

    It appears money spent on content delivery is significantly lagging behind expanding student need. While that gap is clearly highly profitable for the college Hopefully Fanshawe close this gap before it becomes a serious issue. You'll have to look around and see for yourself if it already hasTo learn more about one place where an unknown amount of money is being spent: read about the College Employer Council. and also Ontario Colleges and the Real Meddling Third Party

    Here are the courses I'm teaching this term. This is my first time teaching ANI Pre-Production 1 so I'm grateful that there is a very experienced Art Director, Fraeya Pinto, teaching the other section.

ANI Pre-Production 1 (1067)

1067 - Plot Arc, Scene Breakdown, Model Sheets (HW1)
1067 - Board and Edit Scene AS IS (HW2)
1067 - Creature Scene, Characters and Environments (HW3)
1067 - Final Creature Scene: Thumbnailed Animatic (HW4)
1067 - Final Creature Scene: Animatic (HW5)

ANI 3d Animation 3 (5020)

5020 - Polishing Scene (PS) or Melee Attack (MA)
5020 - Weight Lift (WL)
5020 - 30s Reel (30S)
5020 - Short Lip Sync (LS1) or UbiSoft NEXT (UN)
5020 - Creature Animation (CA) (includes checkpoint) and Dailies

ANC Animation Intro (6012)

6012 - Rigid Pendulum (RP) or Change of Emotion (COE)
6012 - Bouncing Balls (BB)
6012 - Ball with Tail (BT)
6012 - Leg Ball Jump (LBJ)

ANC Preproduction (6020)

6020 - Storyboard (SB)
6020 - Conversation Movie (CM)
6020 - Simple Rig (SR)
6020 - The Chase (TC)

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Summer 2023

from prompt: 3d digital art of AI plugged into the brain of an animation teacher.
Generated using image theft technology: Dall-e (

prompt: 2 paragraphs talking about that I will be teaching level 2 animation to videogame students this summer

    I am thrilled to announce that I will be your instructor for the Level 2 Animation course in the upcoming summer semester. As a passionate animator and experienced educator, I am dedicated to guiding you through an exciting journey of discovery and growth in the world of video game animation. Together, we will explore the intricacies of this captivating art form, unlocking the secrets to breathing life into virtual characters and environments.

    Throughout the semester, I will provide you with a rich learning experience that combines theoretical knowledge, practical exercises, and real-world insights. Drawing from my industry experience and expertise, I will equip you with the essential skills and techniques required to excel in the field of video game animation. From mastering the principles of movement and timing to implementing advanced rigging and motion capture techniques, we will delve into every aspect necessary for creating compelling and immersive gaming experiences. I am eager to share my knowledge, inspire your creativity, and empower you to become confident and proficient animators. Together, we will shape the next generation of video game artists, ready to leave their mark on the industry. Get ready for an exhilarating summer of learning, growth, and endless possibilities!

(--end AI generated post. begin actual written comments by me--)

    The rise of AI driven tools (Deepfake, ChatGPT, Dall-e) has been a morass of ethical quandaries. The largest issue in my mind is the erosion of our confidence in knowing what is real? Did someone actually write this? Is this video true? Is this just stolen art? Will I know the difference? While the text above is reasonably accurate, it's mostly a buzz-word filled bit of fluff that avoids saying anything concrete, specific or meaningful. 

    Why bother reading anything if it could be generated with no more thought than a single sentence prompt, especially when no one is carefully fact-checking the output? How do we trust what we see? Why bother to create art if it just becomes fodder for machine learning, allowing the creation of iterative works without permission or compensation? It is a daunting time and place for artists right now. 

    I still believe that something genuinely authored by human creativity will always resonate with us in a way that an algorithm will never match. At least, I hope so.

    This summer, I'm co-teaching level 2 VGD animation with Paul Wollenzien. Time to dust off my long dormant 3dsMax skills. (ugh). In the end, the tools matter a lot less than the person using them. At least, I hope so.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Winter 2023

By artist Galina Bugaevskaya who put cat faces onto different animal bodies.
Like Island of Dr. Moreaux but with more whimsy and less Brando.

    After the last few years, I have no idea what is coming next so Cat/Moth hybrids are as plausible as anything.

    Currently the creative world is roiling with anger, anxiety and antipathy toward AI Generated Art (read more at L.A. Times) The public release of several AI image generating tools has made this a very hot topic. I recall similar discussions in the mid '90s.about how motion capture would supplant digital animators  Likewise, around the same time period, there were conversations about photogrammetry tech replacing digital modelers...or photography replacing painting...or how television would doom live theatre and on it goes. 

    To be clear: there are a number of  issues with this AI tech that need to be resolved. Predominantly how the training images are sourced (unauthorized/uncredited/uncompensated = stolen) and how it further devalues the work of highly trained professionals. I can already imagine the unethical and uneducated managers opining that they can 'finally fire all the artists and let computers do the work.' The rise of automated checkouts is just one example of how such minds will always work. 

    It is true that new tech will sometimes change the landscape for a particular role. After all, how many farriers do you know? Also, how many of you had to look up what a farrier is? In matters of art however there seems to be a perennial need for people who create things that deeply resonate within us. While the tools we use may change, for at least 40,000 years that need has never faded.

    I think we'll be ok. 

    With increasing student enrollment and part-time teachers becoming harder to find, I've had to step away from the level 1 and 2 animation classes to focus on ANC and level 4 ANI students.
Here are the classes I teach this term, along with assignment links:

ANC Animation 2 (6017)
Weight Lift (WL)   *alternative assignment

ANI 3d Animation 4 (5023)
5023 - UbiSoft Next (UN) ~or~ Shot01
5023 - Change of Emotion (COE) ~or~ Shot02
5023 - Mocap Cleanup (MC) ~or~ Shot03
5023 - Final Animation (FA) ~or~ Shot04 *under construction

ANI Client Studio (5025)
Checkpoint (HW)

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Fall 2022


Cats Organized Neatly: a game based on actual events?

    Welcome new and returning students for ANI and ANC. I've been doing some organizing. For the first time in a long while, I feel like there is some predictability to the coming term and I am able to plan ahead a bit more.

    We will be seeing a normal return to onsite classes though, due to economic and logistical factors, some classes have been moved to online delivery indefinitely. The last two years have forced us to find ways to deliver a great learning experience in an online environment. With excellent tools like Zoom, TeamViewer, Discord, SyncSketch and Miro it's getting better all the time. Be sure you have all of these installed on your home setup.

    I look forward to a smooth fall term, with no disruptions or catastrophes. (he said, hoping it didn't ironically foreshadow some sort of apocalypse later that year.) Good luck and I'll see you in class.

    Here's the assignment links for my classes this term:

ANC Animation Intro (6012)

6012 - Bouncing Balls (BB)
6012 - Pendulum (PM)
6012 - Ball with Tail (BT)
6012 - Leg Ball Jump (LBJ)

ANI 3d Animation 1 (1069)

1069 - Rigid Pendulum (RP)
1069 - Bouncing Balls (BB)
1069 - Seaweed (SW)
1069 - Ball with Tail (BT)
1069 - Leg Ball Jump (LBJ)

ANI 3d Animation 3 (5020)

5020 - Polishing Scene (PS)
5020 - Melee Attack (MA)
5020 - Weight Lift (WL)
5020 - 30s Reel (30S)
5020 - Short Lip Sync (LS1) or UbiSoft NEXT (UN)
5020 - MoCap Cleanup (MC) and Dailies

Thursday, March 17, 2022



The CEC and Union have agreed to binding interest arbitration. This ends all work to rule and strike actions. I am beyond elated we'll be able to return to normal immediately.

I invite students to learn more about who the CEC is and why contract negotiations have become more adversarial and disruptive since they were established in 2008.

There is no readily available information on how the CEC is funded or what the cost is to the colleges and students.

Ontario colleges and the real meddling third party

Monday, December 6, 2021

Winter 2022


What is the word for 'excited to see you' but also 'get away from me'...Aloha?

There is a lot to prepare and very little time between the terms to do this. Over all of this is the fear of another disruption like the one in 2017. I'm hopeful that everything will work out but my ability to predict the future has proven...inadequate.

Here's a separate page to explain that.

ANI 3d Animation 2 (3052)
Melee Attack (MA)  * or alternate assignment
Short Lip Sync (LS1) *or alternate assignment

ANC Animation 2 (6017)
Weight Lift (WL)   *alternative assignment

ANI 3d Animation 4 (5023)
5023 - Change of Emotion (COE) ~or~ Shot01
5023 - UbiSoft Next (UN) ~or~ Shot02
5023 - Creature Acting (CA) ~or~ Shot03
5023 - Final Animation (FA) ~or~ Shot04

ANI Client Studio (5025)
Checkpoint (HW)