They’re just words…

With almost everyone communicating via text these days it goes without saying that there are a plethora of  “buzz” words used daily to convey emotion. Long gone are the days when we had to wait for our mood ring to tell us how we’re feeling or use words such as “indubitably” in a sentence to confirm a lunch date.

This invention of meme words has left some words in the dark never to be used with enthusiasm again…or so they think. Writer/Director Xaque Gruber believes one word has really fell on hard times, so he wrote a short story that captures that predicament quite literally…

These “words” come to life in a narrative short Xaque has named poetically, “THE”. Cast in her second role on film is the wonderful and luminous Isabelle Garrett who portrays “THE” in the story. Her side kick from The Pistol, Anne Talbot will also return to play the role of THE’s one and only friend, “OF”. The film will also introduce Barry Shapiro in the role of THE’s dedicated psychiatrist, Dr. Heinrich Sprechen.

The Pistol was made almost a year ago to date and forged a great relationship between local filmmakers. In similar fashion to The Pistol we formed a small team of about 12 that includes production designer Jared Thomas, sound engineer James Fleck and Kenneth George as Director of Photography.

It’s ironic that one can not write a simple sentence without using the word “THE”, yet the…see I just used it! Yet, for some reason the word “THE” is really not as exciting anymore to say when you have words like “LOL” or “HANGRY”. Those tasty new adjectives are actually in the dictionary now, can you beleive it? OMG!

Here are some production stills and BTS photos from our first 2 days of production. Hopefully THE will make her way out of the darkness and find peace. It will also give her psychiatrist some relief from her lamenting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Using Adobe Lightroom to Color Grade your film.

This is a short how-to demonstration of the before and after process of color grading using Adobe Lightroom. If you come from a photography background and enjoy the comfort and wonder that is Adobe Lightroom, then you’ll love this technique I use to capture that same look while editing my film projects. There are numerous ways to color grade films but it’s important to understand the basics first.
This technique is based around Lightroom. It starts with grabbing a still image from your movie or any film that you find has the desired look you are going for.
You can accomplish this in Photoshop, however I find it much more streamline using Lightroom’s built in tools. I must stress that this is just a brief overview and requires a basic knowledge of both Lightroom and Premiere. A more in depth how-to will be posted at a later date.
To begin, I started in Adobe Lightroom with a single RAW Still image from my film. I exported a single images as a TIFF from my Premiere Pro timeline to be exact.
I then imported this TIFF image into Lightroom and spent some time adjusting the basics like color temp, curves, whites, blacks, etc. When I achieved the desired look, which was a warm tone with vibrant primary colors. I exported the result as a PSD file (JPG is fine too).
Then, I used this website to convert the PSD file to a TARGA.
TARGA files are common in the post-production and visual effects realm. They are highly detailed files that store loads of color information. SpeedGrade works exclusively with TARGA’s when using still images to match footage.
Once in SpeedGrade I color matched the TARGA file to the original ungraded still image. There is a great tutorial on how to do that here by YCImaging. The point of this step is to match the “look” of your still image and apply it to your ungraded footage.
The results won’t be exact, but you can use SpeedGrades color tools to adjust things like color temperature, contrast, etc…
I then exported the resulting LUT (.cube) file out of speedgrade. Make sure to save the .Cube file to either your desktop or inside the Lumetri “Creative” folder. Restart Premiere.
Apply that LUT in the “Creative” section of Lumetri Color!
If you have any questions or want to learn more about color grading, contact me at We have some great workshops lined up for this fall season and it would be great to have your feedback!
Film: GOODBYE, ESTHER Written and Directed by Jared Thomas Colorist: Kenneth George

How young can students grasp the concepts of animation?


Over the past 3 years or so I’ve been tutoring students in animation and digital art. Their ages have ranged from 10 to 23. This summer was my first experience working with kids in the 6-8 range and they were amazing. I was surprised at how quickly the majority of them picked up on animation concepts that can be challenging for adults.

With a little patience, the students understood the key components to making something that is otherwise inanimate, come to life. For materials, we used Plastilina clay and worked with the iStopMotion app for the iPad ($9.99). The kids all began with operating the camera, they loved it! So how does a 6-year-old grasp the concepts of animation? See for yourself. Here are some clips from my animation summer camp at the Vero Beach Musuem of Art!


How It’s Made.

In my opinion, hand-drawn animation is the most challenging of all; it’s tedious, time consuming and one can become discouraged easily. My students were young but I didn’t want to leave this iconic art form out…so we stuck with a rudimentary flip-book style using yellow sticky notes from the Dollar Tree. Demonstrating each of Disney’s 12 Animation Principles was done by having the class first act out each principle. For the principle ‘squash and stretch’ I had them physically squat down really low and then JUMP in the air. Having them act out these ideas helped with understanding the changes in shape that happens and it’s also a fun ice breaker activity. The simplest way to apply these concepts on paper is with a bouncing ball. Using their yellow sticky notes, each drew out a 24 page animation a ball bouncing across the page. This is easier said than done and a difficult exercise. Not all of them got the idea. However, they were elated when I showed a few examples of their work over the classroom big screen (if you listen carefully you can hear their reactions in the above video).


On the second day, I brought with me a toy alligator I had bought years ago at a 7-11 gas station. I always had the intention of animating him but now was the true test. Could a 6-year-old create a walk using a 4 legged character? Sure can! By having them “pivot” the alligators feet in a shuffle fashion it gave Mr. Gator life. This also gave students the opportunity to apply animation principle #5: follow through and overlapping action. Can you guess what part of the gator that is? That’s right, you guessed it, the tail!

The last 3 days were focused on a final underwater production. After some concept drawings, students constructed their own underwater characters out of the clay. Students then each built set pieces and props (each also brought in a small shell). The final day we spent animating. Students were taught to be mindful of their props and make sure to not kick or jostle any of the set once it had been placed. By the end of the shoot most of the students had become methodical about not kicking the light or nudging the camera too much. The 8-year-old students of the group took a leadership role and communicated with the younger 6 year olds on how many pictures have been taken. For example, when shooting a scene it is common to take 2 pictures instead of 1 to lengthen the animation and smooth out the timing. These extra pictures are called “in-betweens”.

The Challenges & Rewards of Animation

Students quickly discovered it only works when there are no hands visible! Some of the younger kiddos were more about the clay and would remove their character from the set before the scene was finished. But thanks to a software feature called “onion skin” which allows you to view the previous frame overlayed your current shot, the students learned how to replace their character in the scene and match the previous frame. No problem!

Having 16 students gathered around a small table became a challenge. To avoid kicking the camera we set up the camera remotely using the iStopMotion app on my cell phone and had a student trigger the camera using an iPad set up to the side of the room. I think each student left with an appreciation for how animation is made and by working with their hands gave them the ability to create the illusion of life.  Below is our result, enjoy!

Resources: The Illusion of Life –


Figure drawing studies (shaking off the rust)

It has been nearly 4 years since I drew off model which is too long. Most of my day-to-day professional work involves a keyboard and a mouse so no worries about unplugging for a night. My computer won’t miss me.

Figure drawing is tough and it will be frustrating at times however, it has been known to greatly improve posing in 3D animation because of the focus on form, silhouette and shape. The hardest thing for me is letting go and forgetting about making any mistakes which is why I need more practice.

Luckily, there is a fine studio in town that is offering weekly drawing sessions to the public.  I managed to shake off some of the rust tonight and meet up with some other wonderful artists. I was inspired by the other artists’ styles tonight; india ink, charcoal, colored pencil and water color. I decided to stick with good ‘ol pencil.

Here are the three sketches that I felt were decent (click to view large image).

Each pose was 15 minutes. The model tonight was great and I hope to continue improving my faces, feet and work on smaller gesture drawings. I tend to start really big which can paint me into a corner.

Speed Drawing – Katie and her baby girl

I told my sister I was going to make her into a toon. So here she is with our American Bulldog Baby Girl. Baby Girl is 11, or 77 in dog years. She’s one of a kind.

My sister is currently in school to become a Vet. She’s in her 2nd year; Hope this keeps her motivated!