the three reasons why I’m no longer worried about turning forty

9, February 2013

I always hated the idea of waiting until I was forty to really hit my stride but I was convinced for the longest time that was what was going to happen. I told myself it was the universe’s way of teaching me patience and I resented the stupid meddling universe for it.

It turns out my prediction was right but I’m happy to say that with my fortieth a mere seven weeks away all that looking up at the sky and shaking my fists in resentment has now melted away … and here’s why.

The Three Reasons Why I'm No Longer Worried About Turning Forty

The Three Reasons Why I’m No Longer Worried About Turning Forty

new york

Me at Bleeker Street Pizza, New York

My last trip to New York …

… with TJ

Not only am I travelling to New York to celebrate my birthday, I also get to share the experience with my partner TJ and four of my closest mate. Crazy right?

TJ was the one who originally suggested it … I suspect to nip any potential mid-life crisis well and truly in the bud.

I have to say, It’s been one of the easiest holidays to organise. After putting the word out, our best mates here in London, Lawrie and Amanda, who travelled with us to New York before, jumped on board and two of my oldest mates from my school days, Stephen and Ashley, signed up as well without a second thought.

Lawrie, TJ, Me & Amanda in NY

Lawrie, TJ, Me & Amanda on the Brooklyn Bridge

Thanks to AirBnB we’re staying in a beautiful apartment in Chelsea/Greenwich Village that is very fitting of my soon to be mature forty years and I cannot wait. It’s definitely going to be a trip to remember.

new job

For the past three years I’ve been working part-time as a moderator and live engager for the social media management company Tempero. If you ever wondered who deletes the defamatory expletive-filled comments from news article or responds to you from a brand’s Facebook page, it’s someone like me.

Engagement

Engagement

Moderation

Moderation

Tempero was my first regular employment here in London and I owe them a lot. Prior to joining them the only work I could seem to get was the odd bit of film and television runner work … something I was vastly over qualified for or delivering junk mail for a dodgy Ukrainian dude … who’s idea of a farewell gift was to stiff me of my last pay.

The glamorous life of a runner

The glamorous life of a runner

Junk Mail

Mail’s here …

 At the start of March I’m moving to a full-time position at a start-up YouTube channel called BuzzMyVideos as an Audience Development Partner Manager. What that means is I’ll be helping to look after content creators who are signed to the channel and working with the BMV team to develop and implement strategies to attract more eyeballs to what they’re making.

It’s a great new challenge that is both scary and exciting but anyone who knows me knows that I have always been passionate about the digital video space and independent content, so this new job is a perfect fit for me.

new commission

In 2012 my writing goal was simple: “write, network, produce and seal a deal”. Well I’m happy to say that all that work has paid off and 2013 is going to see me writing and producing a project I’m very excited about.

I’m holding off revealing the details about what and when as you usually only get one good go at making a splash with an announcement like this but hopefully before the end of February I’ll be able to reveal all.

To say that I am excited about it is an understatement.

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So there you go, the three reasons why I’m no longer worried about turning forty and why the stupid smarmy universe was right all along.


new eden in shooting people’s “film of the month”

3, July 2012

It’s been a long time between posts I know. Most of you will know that’s because I’ve been working on the release of New Eden, a pilot for an animated sci-fi web comedy and its series of animated shorts.

If you’ve seen New Eden and want to support an indie animation production then I’d be eternally grateful if you’d pop over to the Shooting People site and give New Eden a watch and a vote.

Click to watch and vote.

If you’re a member of Shooting People you can vote. If you’re not, then please give it a watch while you’re there and share it with anyone you think would enjoy it.

You never know who’s a Shooting People member so the more we can spread the word the better. Every little bit helps.

There’s a big prize on offer this month. Shooting People have teamed up with Channel 4 so there’s a potential to not only have your work seen by Channel 4′s shorts editor Ravi Amaratunga but also:

Winning filmmakers will have a crack at securing development funding and support from Channel 4′s £2million strong Alpha Fund, so now’s the time to pull your socks up and get out your killer shorts.

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Once I finish up running things over on the New Eden website and social media feeds I plan to do a post here reflecting on the experience, especially the process of seeding and promoting videos online, so stay tuned.
Cheers!

watch the new eden trailer

1, May 2012

Want to know more?

Check out our New Eden About page.

We’ve got some great extra content planned to celebrate the release of the pilot so there has never been a better time to connect with us via FacebookTwitter and Google+.


the new eden trailer is nearly here!

25, April 2012

Mark Tuesday, 1st May in your calendar because that is when we’ll be releasing the New Eden trailer!

Regular followers of my blog will know that New Eden has been something I’ve been beavering away on for quite some time now. Well I’m happy to say that the pilot episode is finished and we’ve got some great extra content planned to help celebrate its release.

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To keep up-to-date with the latest New Eden news you can connect with us via one of our various social media feeds.

Follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates on everything New Eden related.

Add us on Facebook or Google+ for official announcements and to hang out with other New Eden fans.

Subscribe to our Tumblr for things that tickle our fancy.

Or subscribe to our Blog to ensure you never miss an update.


new eden pilot update

26, February 2012

Those playing along at home will know that as of February I have been in London for three years.

What you may not know is that March 2012 will mark one year that Freek and I have been working on the New Eden pilot and hopefully the date, fingers crossed, we finish it.

Actually to be accurate, we’ve been working the New Eden series for over fifteen months now. Freek and I first teamed up four months prior to officially working on the pilot in November 2010. These first several months were spent fine tuning the script and working on the character designs plus the look and feel for the series. March 2011 marked when we first started working on the storyboards for the pilot episode.

When you’re working on something part-time around jobs, life and families things take time, especially animation. Despite this Freek and I have stayed the course and I have to say it’s been a ball. It’s still early days but we think we’ve got something very special on our hands.

Being new to animation it’s been a great learning curve for me as well. Yes it takes time but it also gives you the freedom to try and fail at various shots and even entire sequences before you succeed. I read an interview recently with WALL-E director Andrew Stanton in response to questions about reshoot on his live-action movie John Carter, which sums this up beautifully:

“You draw it, you put your own voice on it, you cut it, and you don’t like it, and you do it again. You do it every six months over three to four years. Every time you do that, that’s the equivalent of a reshoot, so I’ve been taught how to make a movie with four reshoots built in every time. And you wonder why our movies are good? It’s not because we’re smarter, it’s not because we’re better, it’s because we are in a system that recognizes that you don’t go, ‘Oh my god, okay, I’m going to paint this, but I can only touch the brush once and I’m only going to make one stroke’.”

Recently we went back and did some pick-ups with the actors and after some final tweaking I’m proud to say that we’ve locked off the vision for the pilot. We’re now working with a very talented sound designer Justin Bryant of Timesquared Audio on the sound and music. Meanwhile Freek is going back and redoing the opening titles to add some shots that will help set up the series premise a bit better.

Last weekend I hosted a script reading with the actors and Freek, who came across from The Netherlands to be there. It was exciting for Freek and I, not only to hear the entire series read, but also to show off an early cut of the pilot to the actors.

Anyone who’s follows my blog knows I’m a big fan of script readings because you finally get to separate yourself from your work, hear how it sounds and take on some constructive criticism. I’m happy to say that things went well at the reading and we’re more excited than ever.

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So what does the future hold for New Eden?

We have several international events that we’re hoping to be accepted to where we will get a chance to pitch New Eden to a room full of people who have the ability to help us get the series made – namely brands/sponsors, TV and online commissioners and production partners. We will also be doing a certain amount of pitching around the traps as well to see if we can drum up some interest.

Being an animated series this is not something we can just pull together over a couple of long weekends. That said, we have a production plan in place that will allow us to produce the entire series in less time it took us to produce the pilot, a reasonable budget plus a marketing and social media plan all ready to go.

As March gets closer you can expect to hear more on New Eden’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as right here on my blog, so stay tuned.


london … three years and counting

25, February 2012

Well it’s official. I have now been in London for three years.


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Me and the girl spent our first year living in a studio flat near Euston Station where we were gently rocked to sleep and woken up every day by the rumble of the tube.

Our days were spent looking for work and watching our bank balances quickly deplete while every second report on the evening news was about the Global Financial Crisis.

Good times.

Year two and three have been much better since we moved to our lovely little flat in Kilburn and found our feet work wise.

We’ve settled into London now, have some London friends (which includes plenty of Aussie expats) and feel much more positive about the future.

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2012 also marks the year that I finally swapped this:

(Yes that is a Nokia 1100)

For this:

My long wait for an iPhone that wasn’t marred with bugs or design flaws has finally come to an end.

Up until recently this was my favourite game on my phone:

I haven’t found a new favourite game on my 4S yet.

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I’m happy to now be a part of the smart phone generation and to say that with each passing day London is feeling more and more like home, although I do have to pinch myself on both counts sometimes.


reflection on 2011

31, December 2011

As I sit here reflecting back over the past year waiting for twenty twelve to arrive I realise 2011 has been a good year. I didn’t achieve everything I wanted to but honestly, do we ever?

This year I released my Sample Radio Sketches, attended the London Comedy Writer’s Festival, completed the scripts for Tessa & Adam, made more industry contacts, pitched projects, enjoyed hanging out with the ScriptTrank, Script Chat and British Web Series crew and spent way too much time on Twitter.

My two big achievements this year have been seeing New Eden come along leaps and bounds and moving more into social media engagement work as part of my day job at Tempero.

New Eden has been the number one topic I’ve blogged about this year and with good reason. We’re yet to officially release footage but I have to tell you it’s looking great. Freek’s illustration and animation skills has been in high demand this past year but he was still able to carve out time to work on the New Eden pilot. We’re currently finishing up the animation and starting work on the music and sound design. We aim to have the pilot completed early in the new year.

The New Eden web series scripts are completed and I’m currently adapting them into a half hour animated TV comedy pilot script as well. We’re working with some talented creative and business people and have a plan to pitch New Eden as either a web or TV project in 2012, depending on who we’re talking to. So expect even more New Eden blog posts in 2012.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in social media engagement at Tempero. Tempero has been a great company to work for and a great bunch of people to work with. Engagement is now another tool I can add to my  writing/producing toolbox and what I’ve learnt this past year has helped inform my social media/marketing plans for my current projects.

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In 2011 I said I wanted to “write, network, produce and seal a deal”. I can happily check off the first three and feel like I’m well on the way to reaching the last. Despite what I said earlier, I do believe that we can get what we want out of life. It just takes persistence and patience, well for me at least.

On my laptop I have three little mantras that help keep me going. The first and the last are my own little notes to myself. The second came from a newspaper interview with someone, I forget who now but that’s not important, and it always struck a cord with me.

So, with this in mind my goals for 2012 is to stay the course and spend more time enjoying the work ahead.


new eden – promotional images

21, October 2011

As promised, illustrator/animator Freek has whipped up some new promotional images for our animated sci-fi web comedy New Eden, which I can now share with you all right here.

Designed to compliment the New Eden pitch material, these images will go a long way to help sell the sizzle as they say. For an update of where the project is at, check out my last post here.

We're not in Kansas anymore ...

Hamilton: Murray!

ARRRGH!

Ivana: No I know! I know I do not like you!

What the ... ?!

Keith: Ye 'ave a true warrior in ye!

Murray: Ivana! NOOOOO!

I told you he was talented right? Well in additional to pumping out these great illustrations Freek has also recently had some of his commercial work featured in the Dutch design magazine Publish.

If you’re interested in finding out more details about Freek and his work then please visit his website at FreekvanHaagen.nl.

To find out more information about New Eden you can read the short synopsis here and also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.


quick tessa & adam / new eden update

9, October 2011

I know it’s been a long time between drinks here at drettworlb so I thought it was time for an update.

I’ve been busy since my last post in July. The scripts for all ten episodes of Tessa & Adam are now completed and I’m currently working on the script for the eighth double-episode finale for New Eden.

Freek and I have been doing more work on the New Eden pilot and it’s coming together nicely. It’s taking a while due to the fact that we both have other work and contracts to complete but we’re very happy with the progress thus far. Freek is working up some more promotional images for New Eden that I can’t wait to share with you guys.

On the producing side of things, I’ve got some interesting leads on financing for both series. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how things play out. It’s too early to talk about and nothing is definite but watch this space.

In terms of distribution for Tessa & Adam and New Eden, I’ve being researching successful original web series and have drawn on my growing skills in social media to put together a solid distribution and marketing plan for both projects.

If you’re interested in the whole web series/original digital content/youtube space then you need to be reading NewTeeVee, TubeFilter and Reel SEO. Also follow NewEdenseries, which is littered with tweets and links from all three and many other sources.

And finally check out the YouTube Creator Playbook, a free resource breaking down the best practices in production, distribution, marketing and community building learnt for successful YouTube creators.

That’s it for now. Thanks for checking in and feel free to say G’day if you see me mucking about on Twitter.


interview with new eden animator – part two: animation process

13, July 2011

Here is Part Two of the interview with New Eden’s character designer/lead animator Freek Van Haagen. Be sure to check out the clip at the end. Enjoy!

What tools are you using to animate New Eden?

Adobe Illustrator for the drawings. Adobe After Effects for the animation. Photoshop for the backgrounds. And finally Adobe Premiere for editing.

What style and restrictions have influenced the look of New Eden?

I kinda shift style every now and then. But I like the strong shapes in the characters. It is a bit American maybe.

New Eden Character Line Up

It sounds weird but it should not be perfect animation. Simply because it’s a series that’s limited by budget and therefore can’t take forever to make. The animation should bring across the joke/story. That’s it. If I can get away with no animation, why not? So basically it’s efficiency. Try and do every shot as efficient as possible. Without falling into the pitfall of rushing over everything.

What was your process for designing the New Eden character?

I just scribble. And often end up with a different figure along the way. It’s a trick I learned.

New Eden Character Sketches

New Eden Creature Sketches

If you really try and get what you have in your head you can loose some spontaneity. You have some idea of course but you shouldn’t be blind to ‘lucky mistakes’.

How do you then convert these character designs into figure that could be animated?

That took a bit of figuring out. Since we use a kind of puppeteer animation technique there are some design elements that go out the door but you have to do that in order to animate. It was just checking what you can do without and still have some sort of design to the characters.

Break down the basic steps of animating a shot of New Eden?

Listen to the voice track about 10 times. Until you pretty much have it in your head. Then act like a fool in front of the mirror saying that line. And watch yourself say it.

Shot Sketch

See how your body moves and what faces you pull. Check out where the actor has put the accents in the dialogue and try to emphasize that with your body gestures.

Murray Face Sketches

After the sketch I draw the character in Adobe Illustrator with everything that needs to move in a separate layer and try to figure out where the pivot points are for each limb.

Breakdown of Character Assets

I have a rough idea of what I want to achieve in animation so I draw different hand gestures that I can use. We can’t animate the fingers bit by bit because that would really take too long. So in the animation style we choose to shift the hand in the middle of a movement. That way you don’t really notice the hard switch.

Breakdown of Character Assets

Then it’s time to import it into After Effects and set up the skeleton using Duik tools.

Character Set-Up in After Effects

This means that I have foot controllers and hand controllers. I only have to move those controllers and the whole arm or leg will move. Which saves time.

After Effects Arm Controller

I usually separate the head in a separate file so I can concentrate on the facial features alone. After that it’s just fiddling until you get it right.

After Effects Face Animation

From there I cut down the movement to the basic positions. “Keys” as they call them in the industry. This means basically that you try and capture the whole performance in two or three body positions/holds that bring across that line of dialogue.

After Effects Animation Keys

You set that up in the character and time it to the dialogue. Then it’s tweaking until the character becomes alive and seems to be saying the line all by themself. I usually start with the lip sync. But sometimes it’s easier to start with the body to see where the accents are put best.

What’s your usually time frame to complete a shot?

Phew … don’t know. A shot can take two to three hours maybe. For animation alone.

Thank you for your time Freek. It’s great to get inside the process and hear how it is being brought to life.  Where can people find you online?

www.freekvanhaagen.nl

As promised, here is a sneak peek of a short piece of character animation from the New Eden pilot.

The backgrounds and audio are still being worked on and it’s yet to be edited for timing but this is a good example of the quality of animation that Freek and our second animator Adam are pumping out.

The New Eden pilot is now complete, so I’ve updated the video below. Enjoy the trailer!

Check out Part One to read about Freek’s animation background and his career aspirations.


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