Thursday, December 23, 2010

There's Always More We Could Be Doing

Above image by PES, pre-production sketches for his indie film which doubled as a commercial directing spec, "Roof Sex."

I'm still seeing a lot of newcomers to the NY animation scene having difficulty finding work. That's not a big surprise, given the state of the economy and the fact that NY animation production levels have been at fairly low levels since 2007. The first couple of years of a career in animation are the toughest. That's when you are building up your network of contacts, reputation, and skills, and that simply takes some time. My only periods of unemployment, in my 16-year (and counting) career, totaled four and a half months and occurred in my first two years. Here's where I have to write the obligatory "knock on wood."

For an 8 year span or so I was in the protective bubble of employment at Nick Jr's Blue's Clues, but that ended in 2004, so I've now had as much time away from that series as I did on it. One thing is certain, whenever I hear tales of newcomers (or even from some veterans) that are having trouble finding work, there's always a few common factors.

Here's a round up of what's missing in some of these job hunts:

1-You don't know the software
I know of some Flash animators that get snapped up for every flash job in town, but that only takes them so far. During some periods half the character animation work in this city is After Affects work, and the fact that these Flash animators don't know the program means that half of the available work won't be available to them. Knowledge of both programs are key to nabbing steady work in this town. Throw in a knowledge of Toon Boom, or Maya, and you'll be a triple threat.

In a related issue, I see some students graduating from local schools and listing themselves as "traditional animators." As an employer I read that as "I don't know Flash or After Effects." I think the term "traditional" is not doing a would-be worker many favors. True traditional work on paper is very scarce in this city. Most of that work moved to the digital realm of drawing with a wacom stylus on a cintiq. Of course, traditional skills are used in all animation, but to sell yourself as a throwback doesn't make you very marketable in today's Big Apple animation scene.

2-Networking at Events
Boy, this one's a biggie. If you don't make time to go to animation events, such as the kind presented by ASIFA-East, and actually stick around to talk to your fellow attendees afterwards, then you're basically saying, "I don't want to meet the animation community or start building the valuable relationships that will keep me happily working and busy for years to come."

Need an example? I often hear about a recent grad who lands a job at local studio, where they were lucky enough to be employed for a year or more. But, the job inevitably ends, and then all of a sudden that worker is left out in the cold with no large network of contacts to turn to. I collect several stories like this a year. Too few seem to understand that the best time to network is when you don't need to. When you're on that nice year long gig, it would behoove you to stay plugged into the larger community. That's what I did by joining ASIFA, and it led to my employment at Blue's Clues shortly after being laid off from my job.
A still from one of Elliot Cowan's successful "The Stressful Adventures of Boxhead and Roundhead" shorts.

A good example of someone taking advantage of what ASIFA-East provides is Elliot Cowan, who as a new comer to our animation scene had to build up his New York contacts from scratch a few years back. What did he do? In addition to making films, and taking lunches with local talent, he became a regular at ASIFA-East events and board meetings. ASIFA-East was able to help him make the concentrated effort he wanted to make to meet as much of the community as possible. It was a great and inspiring sight to see, and I'm truly surprised that more don't do as he did. Not only did ASIFA-East help connect him to work opportunities, it also helped him foster friendships. Not a bad thing when you're new to a city. And, like any smart and sincere networker, Elliot gave back as much as he got. He volunteered on the ASIFA-East board of directors, became our first communications officer (starting our e-mail blast and Facebook group), and created a postcard design and signal film for our film festivals.

3. Not being specific enough
Super Jail co-creator Christy Karacas told my SVA career class that they should create the type of work that they'd like to be paid to make. I think that's a good start, within reason. Obviously there has to be some degree of commercial or industry appeal to the work for it to be magnet for getting jobs. But, I like the focus that his advice necessitates. Another example is PES. He had a low-level job in an Ad agency (he made popcorn in the agency lobby), and on the side he created three very short films that doubled as commercial specs. In short, he made samples of the type of work he'd like to be paid for. I don't have to tell you that for both Karacas and PES the gamble has more than paid off.

A wall-sized illustration by Christy Karacas on display in a past 2Art for TV art exhibit.

Most students struggle through a thesis film even though their whole final year of school is structured for their success. Despite the fact that these films are graduation requirements, many students find it difficult to stay motivated through them, so it's not a big shock that most students will not go on to make another film of their own post-school. But, does that mean that they can't create new samples of any nature?

A good place to start is to look at one's reel. What are you lacking? There should be acting scenes (with dialogue) as well as walk cycles, etc. I'm amazed how many reels I see with no lip synch dialogue on display. An odd thing since lip synch has become one of the entry level jobs on an animated series. To not show an understanding of lip synch on a first professional reel is another hinderance to employment.

4. Waiting for perfection
I can't even count how many former students emerge six months to a year after graduating and announce "I just finished my reel or my website!" Upon further questioning, I usually discover that the student didn't look for any work over that year, but instead worked on their portfolio materials. In other words, they were in hiding, putting off the uncomfortable: the job hunt.

There's nothing wrong with fine tuning a web site or reel, or making new samples to feed them. But, to have to get all those ducks into a perfect row before you can step out into the world is a huge mistake. The better way would be to fill your evenings making those new samples, and your days by going out and showing them to the studios. You'll NEVER be done building you reel or updating a website. That's a lifelong pursuit.

Everyone gives the same advice about reels, resumes, and portfolios, but what we seldom hear is that you should also personalize your presentation. When I first looked for work I only showed my thesis film and a resume. I left the big clunky portfolio at home because I didn't think it represented me. I'm not a slick guy with a fancy black portfolio with every piece of art neatly pressed into its plastic pages. That didn't feel very "Dave Levy" to me, so I didn't do it. And, tailoring what I showed and how I showed it made the interview process feel honest and personal to me. For instance, when I applied at Blue's Clues all I showed was clasp folder full of storyboard samples. I simply opened the envelope and spread the pages across the conference room table. There was nothing fancy about it. It was authentically me.

Since Blue's Clues ended I've never made an animation reel, in a traditional sense. Shocking, isn't it? Instead, when I'm up for a job I show a couple of loose renders attached in an email, all of which are good matches for what I know the potential client is looking for. It's never failed me. Nobody has ever said "this is unacceptable." Or "Where's your reel?" But, obviously, I've built my career to the point where I can do this. But, isn't that precisely the point? You should be steering your presentation method to work for you. It doesn't happen over night, and you would be well advised to start a career by having the expected materials like a reel, portfolio, resume, and website, but it's never too early to nudge the presentation to being as personal as possible.

5. The industry is only an impersonal as you make it.
A huge mistake I see recent grads making is that in behaving as if this is a very closed and impersonal industry, they make their experience just that. Is this a difficult industry? Absolutely. But, the reality is that most people that work in animation from producers to interns are very nice people. And, compared to other arts industries, such as film or TV people, animation folk are often described as being very supportive of one another with a strong sense of community spirit. By not building relationships with actual animation people at events or through informational interviews, they put themselves at the mercy of gatekeepers. The gatekeepers don't really exist unless you give them power of you. If you believe the gateway to a studio is its general phone number or info.org email address, then good luck to you. You're in for a long wait because if you try to reach out to a studio that way because you'll just be one of the hundreds of emails unread, reels unwatched, and phone calls not returned.

Only people can help people, so you've got to make relationships with those at the studios. That's how you'll be able to get in the door, and start growing a network of people that will be on your side in the job hunt.

6. Increase your own odds for success.
When I went looking for my first job in animation post-graduation, I beat the pavement with VHS copies of my film and resumes. When I dropped off a tape with Michael Sporn I asked if I could come back later that day for some feedback. He happened to be a very generous man, otherwise that might not have gotten me far, but I think he respected the effort I was making by personally knocking on doors. When I came back later that afternoon, he offered me a job! And, all was trying to do was to see if I could get people to look at my film that day.

In another example, a recent RISD grad was having a lot of trouble finding work. The problem? He was only able to work legally in this country for a year, not being a citizen. And, he was telling all possible employers this when he met them. I advised him not to tell them that. After all, so much animation work is short-term. Why scare off a studio by telling them you won't be around in a year. That's not even their business to know. He listened to me and began a new round of job hunting following my advice. The other day I was leaving the lobby of the Sesame building after dropping off some work deliveries when I heard someone call my name. It was the former RISD student. He informed me that he got a job in the building doing CG animation for another department at Sesame. It came through contacts I had recommended him for, but more importantly he got the job after heeding my warning to not mention his year-long residency issue.

Whatever your particular circumstance, there has to be a way for you stack the odds better in your own favor. You are the expert of you.

I hope this list serves as a shot-in-the-arm to anyone struggling to break into this business. Best of luck to everyone in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Authorship

video
I've had a crazy busy year in 2010 (knock on wood), with my happy little virtual studio completing an eleven minute industrial film, two pilots, six original Sesame shorts, and about 150 (believe it or not) one-minute flash cartoons for Sesame Street English. As animation artists, whether working in a studio or off-site such as myself, we are usually animating or visualizing someone else's script or concept. So, as satisfying as all these above jobs were, the most enjoyable and rewarding commercial assignments are the ones where I get to write as well as animate/direct.

From September to December I was contracted to complete six more original animated shorts for Sesame Workshop's "Word on the Street." Just like the first six I had made the year before, Sesame would give me a word on which to create a 30 second cartoon.

Getting the opportunity to make 12 of these shorts to date has been the culimination of a dream come true. So many of my New York animation heroes, including The Hubleys, Michael Sporn, Buzzco, Mo Willems, and Howard Beckerman created original shorts for Sesame Workshop, so to get the same opportunity means a great deal to me. I thought I'd use this post to explain how I came to get this gig, and how the assignment works within the structure of my virtual studio:

1-Proof of Authorship
One thing I knew from my years at SVA was that the filmmakers that made original spots for Sesame all had proof of authorship, or in less legal terms, made their own indie animated films. This meant that Sesame Workshop would have no trouble seeing the animator's point of view. To see an animator's indie work is to see their own original work, unlike what you see when an animator cobbles together a reel of commercial assignments. Work made to order won't show the artist's stamp the same way their own work will, so having your own animated samples is key to anyone wishing to create original spots for hire.

I was making short animated films long before I went to SVA, so I had a leg up in that department. Continuing to make my own shorts was always part of my plan post-school, but the good news is that you don't have to be successful on the level of a Bill Plympton to have your shorts serve your career. For instance, my recent children's film "Owl and Rabbit Play Checkers" didn't set the festival world on fire, getting into only 8 animation festivals and not winning any awards, but the film has made a great sales tool to land work at places such as Sesame. By showing the best bits of the film as little self-contained clips, Sesame could see me as someone who could originate cartoons for their program. That's "proof of authorship" in a nutshell.

2-Relationships
Good relationships with others in the industry is important to any animation artist's career, and even more important to the livelihood of a studio owner, virtual or otherwise. In 2005 I worked with a great producer on an in-house TV series. After our year of working together we stayed in touch, bumping into each other at animation events (networking!) and in my SVA career class where I booked her as a frequent guest. A few years later when she landed as a producer at Sesame, she started to throw little bits of freelance my way, eventually recommending me to an outside producer who was responsible for producing the Word on the Street animated segments. With each job you get, especially as you get deep into a career, you can trace the family tree of how you got the opportunity. You won't become friends with everyone you work with (see my last post), nor can you do a perfect job of staying in touch with everyone as the years roll by... so a basic understanding of the importance of relationship building in your career is all you need.

3- Creative Confidence
To work as fast as these Sesame shorts require, you have to be able to dive in and quickly conquer the blank paper (or Cintiq screen). When I was assigned the word "Cling" for the short posted above, the client suggested "Monkeys clinging to branches" or "babies clinging to mothers," so I thought, why not put those together? So, I wrote the very lose story of a monkey clinging to a branches and a vine as it looks for something unseen offscreen. Then, the big reveal would be that its looking for its mother, ending with the baby monkey clinging to its mother's belly as they walk off. I wrote a couple of sentences to outline the idea and once approved I went right to an animatic/storyboard. A fun part of making all these shorts is experimenting with a different look for each one. For "Cling," I tried out a partially colored character, letting the rest of the shapes fill in with white.

Another enjoyable aspect of these shorts is planning out the action. In "Cling," I gave myself the rule of not having any scene cuts, but instead focusing on following the action of the Monkey's movements all in one scene. Setting some rules like this gives you an approach to the storytelling, helping you find your creative vision. The confidence to do all this comes from having put in that time making proofs of authorship. I also used this same dive-in-and-do-it approach to help me tap into a new kind of spontaneity I used in my new film "Grandpa Looked Like William Powell." No creative work we do is fully in a bubble, so its not uncommon for techniques employed in a commercial gig to inform a personal project (or vice versa).

4-The Right Production Model for the Right Times
My virtual studio set up has its pros and cons. But, when it comes to a gig like these two orders of six original 30-second cartoons, there is nothing that would work better. For work such as this, intended for a free itunes podcast, the budgets are very small. This means that there's no wiggle room to bring in a lot of help or to have a long production span. Each short is made in a five day period, from writing to delivery with my only help coming from my friend Adrian Urquidez who handles the background art. If I was a traditional studio, even a small one with two or three partners (like many are set up in this town), taking on this job as a viable account wouldn't be possible. Just having the studio rent and insurance would make this prohibitive. But working from home, and at great speed, with myself as the main workforce adds up to very doable scenario.

We didn't invent today's budgets nor did we invent the new platforms such as itunes for which my animation services are now being used. The world moves on and the way I see it, doing original paid animation for a platform such as itunes is a new outlet, one that I appreciate. In that context, I don't bemoan the low budget. New York animation artists are, by our very nature, survivors. We have never had the luxury of steady-Hollywood style work, so we've always had to scrape by and thrive on a diverse mix of opportunities.

My entry into the virtual studio game was not planned as a shrewd response to a shifting media landscape, its only with hindsight that I see the timing turned out to be just right. But, there is nothing random about the work you have to put in to create proof of authorship, or the relationships you have to build along the way to foster opportunity.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I haven't shared this particular story in one of my books, and I think that's because I didn't know how I could frame it into a learnable lesson. One of my favorite quotes from my friend, veteran development executive Linda Simensky is, "You're not working hard enough in the animation business if you aren't avoiding at least three people." All kidding aside, Linda's quote has served as a good reminder to me that not everyone we encounter in the work place is going to be someone we hit it off with. I think we animation folk sometimes assume that since we all have the same interest, we'll be an instant happy family. If only. Everyone comes to a job with a different agenda––some behave as if they're living the dream, others behave as if each workday is a nightmare, and many reside somewhere in between.

On one job I worked, early-sh in my career, my supervisor of the three person animation department to which I belonged, was very, very unhappy on the job. Once I was in a production meeting where he slammed his palm into a TV monitor and yelled at the show's creator during (what seemed to my eyes) a very minor creative disagreement. That was an odd meeting. I couldn't understand that level of anger and frustration.

Another time, my supervisor turned some of that attitude my way. After he explained some work to me, and I either didn't understand it the first time, or maybe asked one too many questions, I heard him mumble "fucking idiot" under his breath as he walked away. The trouble was that I happened to be walking in the same direction. He hadn't realized that, and turned around after his remark and looked embarrassed. I didn't say anything, trying not to react at all. But, the next day, he came to me and said, "Oh, I wanted you to know that I sometimes mutter things, like thinking out loud, but it has nothing to do with anyone else."

But, the next problem could not be ignored so easily. One day, this same supervisor quit, giving our producer a two week notice. Because of the nature of the schedule, he had nothing scheduled to do for these last two weeks. Seeing this, our producer assigned him to assist me for the entire 10 days, something that would help me catch up and make my future deadlines. I should note that my position was created fairly late in the game of the production, so there was quite a bit of work piled up that still needed attention. This was just the boost I needed to help get my schedule back under control.

On the first day of the two-weeks, my soon-to-be departing supervisor told me he'd help me tomorrow. But, tomorrow, it was the same excuse. The third day, he said nothing and offered no plan of help. The fourth day, same as the previous. The fifth day, he said he was sorry he hadn't been able to help me this week, but he'd be "all mine" next week. I accepted his answer. What else could I do?

Sometime in the middle of this first week, the producer came to me, asking if my supervisor was helping me. I covered for him, lying that he was. I really felt trapped and alone with this problem. The other member of my department was close friends my supervisor so that didn't feel like an avenue I could turn to for advice. And, if I complained to the producer (an idea that didn't sit well with me) I'd have an enemy for life.

The next week came and the same thing happened all over again. Monday through Wednesday, my supervisor gave me an explanation as to why he wouldn't be helping me that day, always saying he would help the following day. And, again, my producer checked in with me to make sure I was getting the help I was promised. Again I lied that I was, still covering up the truth.

With no solution in sight, I started working late hours to "fake up" the help I was supposed to be getting.

By the third day of the second week I was ashamed of myself for letting this happen. Enough is enough, right? So, when our office mate left for a meeting, I decided to close the door and confront my supervisor.

I told him:
"You're putting me in a very difficult position. The producer keeps asking if you've been helping me. And, I've been covering for you. But, where do you think those hours are going to come from? To make up for the help they think I'm getting, I'm having to stay late each day. And, even then, it won't be enough to add up to the two weeks of help that they think I've been getting. How am I supposed to handle this? What would you do in my situation?"

If looks could kill I would have been dead, or at least on life support. He was speechless in anger for a moment. Then he answered, "You're out of line. I'm your boss." And, he kept on repeating similar things like that, until he asked me how long I'd been in the business. I answered him "two and a half years," and he said, "Well, I've been in the business for "four years." But, with no good argument to be had, things just petered out and after a while, we both turned our heads and got back to our day. The rest of the day passed without us uttering another word about this or otherwise.

The next day he arrived in a very pleasant mood as if nothing had happened, and helped me on those final two days.

I remember thinking of Linda Simensky's quote. That's "one," I suppose. And, I also remember thinking how hard these workplace situations can be because there was no rule book to consult. Maybe situations like this are why I was later moved to try to write such books for our industry. Hopefully they help others handle similar situations better than I was able to.

Everyone is allowed mistakes. That goes for both me and my supervisor in this story. My mistakes (to date) have filled three books and could spill into three more. So, when I recall this story my focus is still on what I could have done differently so it could have worked out better for all concerned. We always have the most to learn and gain when we examine our side of a conflict. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have so willingly played the martyr. By the second day (when it was clear I wasn't getting the help I was due) I should have spoken up to my supervisor. But, at that moment, early on in my career, I was so eager to please and not make waves (or enemies) that I missed looking out for my needs.

One thing is certain, whether you're the employee or the boss, being a doormat is NEVER EVER good for the soul, your self esteem, or in helping to appropriately and professionally resolve a situation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It happened in NY Animation: 2010 Edition


The whole world seems to be "list happy," so how can I resist compiling a list of important happenings in NY Animation for our soon-to-be-departing year. If you notice any milestones missed, feel free to include them in the comments below. Wishing you all a happy, prosperous, and animated 2011!
-Wachtenheim/Marianetti tackled another set of Big Baby cartoons for CN.
-Animation Collective resurfaced in a downsized way with a new series "Jolly Rabbit," mostly working with an offsite crew, as opposed to their productions of yesteryear which used to fill three Manhattan buildings.
-Brooklyn-based animator Alan Foreman created a virtual animation studio, organizing as an LLC, to tackle a major workload from PBS Kids,' The Electric Company.
-NY Animation filmmaker/director/producer Ray Kosarin is enlisted to teach the History of Animation class at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Is it too late for me to enroll?
-Titmouse East, a major new studio founded by Chris and Shannon Prynoski, as an offshoot of their L.A. based studio, opens in Tribecca, throws some kick-ass parties, and raises the spirits of Big Apple animation. Early on their agenda? Season II of the Adult Swim series, Super Jail.
-Aaron Augenblick Studios, Inc. is the home of Comedy Central's "Ugly Americans," now in second season production.
-World Leaders is animating more shorts starring and based on the popular candy, Raisinetts, supervised by creative director Miguel Martinez-Joffre. Could a Goobers-based cartoon series be far behind?
-Diane Kredensor's first children's book, Ollie & Moon, is published with a release date for April next year.
-Sesame Workshop produces one of the cities largest animated projects of the year in Sesame English, employing a good chunk of our workforce, myself included.
-Emily Hubley created animated segments projected between scenes of the new play, Motherhood Outloud, which opened on the Hartford Stage in February.
-Talented locals, Fran Krause, Adam Rosette, Ian-Jones Quartey, and Dan Forgione became the latest to join the migration west, becoming talented locals of a different locale.
-Jen Oxley, parachutes out of Little Airplane (after a wildly successful 5-year residency as its creative director, serves on the Annecy jury, and scores her own preschool pilot for PBS Kids.
-Biljana Labovic ends her long residency as Bill Plympton's producer and embarks on a series of interesting projects, including a role as producer on Dash (The Bottomless Belly Button) Shaw's first animated feature, which is being produced out of Brooklyn.
-Dean Lennert lands funding to complete the animation on his long-running short film, Dear Anna Olson.
-Signe Baumane starts a winsome and confessional blog, and launches her first indie animated feature film production.
-Tatia Rosenthal (of the stop-motion feature $9.99 fame), expands her career horizons by writing her first solo live action feature screenplay, which was immediately optioned. She's writing another script now!
-The Mayor's Office of TV, Film, and Theatre express interest in helping to encourage the growth and continuity of NYC animation production. Good news, or don't hold your breath? Place your bets now!
-Art director extradorinaire Mike Lapinski's first comic book, Feeding Ground, a collaboration with artists Lang and Mangun, is published by Archaia Comics.
-The Rauch Bros., Mike and Tim, release three new remarkable StoryCorp films, which land mentions and articles in such august publications as The New York Times and New York Magazine.
-The Curious Pictures Nick Jr. production Team Umi-Zumi, goes on a planned year-long hiatus, starting at the end of this year, before rezuming with the production of Season Three.
-John Canemaker's latest book, "Two Guys Named Joe," cobbles together the life and art stories of Joe Ranft and Joe Grant. Somewhere, someone, gets the idea for the book "Two Guys Named Moe, The Moe Howard story," or "A Tale of Two Stooges."
-Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter's lavish and whimsical short film, "Something Left, Something Taken" will be competing in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
-Debra Solomon's new short was the half-hour HBO special "Getting Over HIm, in 8 Songs or Less," a very personal/funny/warm mini-musical memoir. She followed this by creating the title sequence to the TV show "Running Wilde." On both projects Debra was assisted by ASIFA-East's own Katie Cropper.
-At the second edition of Midsummer Night Toons, an event founded by filmmaker Matt Lee, Mike Carlo debuts his new short "President of the Universe." The event showcases work from some of this last decades most impressive (and in-demand) local animation talent, including: Ben Levin, Mike Carlo, Joe Cappabianca, Gary Doodles, and Al Pardo. Along with the longer-running Animation Block Party, this newer event is helping keep the sizzle in NY animation all summer long.
-Call this the year of Plympton! His latest feature "Idiots and Angels" played in select theatres around the country (and the world, including Russia), he wrote his first ever career documenting book (co-written by some fanboy), and his short "The Cow That Wanted to Be a Hamburger" made the short list for an Academy Award nomination.
-Buzzco's Candy Kugel, debuted a new film "It's Still Me!", a guide for people with Aphasia, and was a jury member at this past summer's Hiroshima International Animation Festival.
-Three (count 'em), three members of ASIFA-East's executive board of directors have their first babies––and all are boys. Congrats to all!
-The New York Times reports on the possibility of illegal internships at a New York Animation studio.
-Patrick Smith debuts his long-awaited new short "Masks" to a paying audience at the 92nd Street Y.
-Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) relocates its animation class to NYC for 8 weeks, under the supervision of talented animator/teacher (and soon to be author) Tom Gasek...touring local animation studios, attending ASIFA-East events, and planting lots of good seeds for the future.
-Producer Greg Ford is in production on director/animator Mark Kausler's new short, a sequel to his 2004 film, "It's the Cat." The production, which is one of the few examples of animation finished on cells and shot on film features camera work by Larry Q and Adrian Urquidez.
-Jerry Beck's latest book, 100 Greatest Looney Tunes, features commentary from such NY animation legends as Greg Ford, Michael Sporn, Linda Simensky, and J.J. Sedelmaier.
-Asterisk Animation, among its many projects this year, does the animation for David Grubin's documentary "The Buddha," which aired as a special on PBS.
-Blue Sky employee, Stephen Neary, puts his commute to good use and animates his upcoming short during his daily train ride.
-Indie stalwarts Patrick Smith and Bill Plympton launch a joint blog called "Scribble Junkies" and fill the year with from-the-hip reviews and commentary on their careers, influences, as well as musings on the state of the art form.
-Alan Foreman and Joel Frenzer launch their "Animation Forum" podcast on AWN.com, featuring chat with such animated guests as J.J. Sedelmaier, the Krause Brothers, Signe Baumane, and some joker who has his own blog called Animondays.
-J.J. Sedelmaier's studio creates the signal film for the Ottawa International Animation Festival, and debuts a different variation of the film for each day of the festival.
-In December 2009, ASIFA-East presented a career-spanning retrospective of local legend John R. Dilworth's work. Dilly followed that up with two more such events in 2010, one at the 92nd Street Y and one at the continuing "Animators Are God?" series at Brooklyn's The Obvervatory.
-Not only does he have a possible "Boxhead and Roundhead" feature in the works, animator/filmmaker Elliot Cowan also snagged a series of teaching positions this year, enriching the staff of such schools as NYU, FIT, and UArts.
-Animator Justin Simonich directed his first live action spots, shooting segments for Sesame Street's "Word on the Street" podcast.
-Cartoonbrew's Amid Amidi, went into semi-seclusion after this summer, to finish the writing of an upcoming secret animation book.