Animation for “What’s In The Bible?”

Recently Phil Vischer, the guy who created VeggieTales, partnered with Focus on the Family to launch a new DVD series called What’s In The Bible? In it he uses a combination of live action, puppetry, and animation mixed with some humorous-but-reverent writing to educate both kids and adults about the content of the entire Bible, book by book and story by story. It’s an ambitious project but one with a lot of potential. Volumes 1-3 are currently available on DVD. Volume 4 is on its way with several more volumes yet to come.

I was hired to animate three segments for Volume 2 (“Let My People Go!”). The client has graciously given me permission to post one of those clips on my website and blog. It’s a short bit designed to explain one of those big church-y sounding words, “Redemption”. They provided me with some scratch audio and a rough stick-figure animatic. I animated over the top of that using Flash, and then the What’s In The Bible? editorial team laid in the final audio.

Unfortunately I’m not able to embed this particular clip directly into my blog. The closest thing I could rig up is this: if you click on the image below a Quicktime version of the animation should (hopefully) play in a new window. Or, you can go to the “Animation” page of my website to view this as well as other samples of my animation work.

You can order DVDs of What’s In The Bible? or purchase selected clips for download here. Or just check your local Christian bookstore.

PlaySkool Animation for Hasbro


Last summer I was hired by PUNY Entertainment in Minneapolis to assist a team of animators working on a new website for Hasbro’s “PlaySkool” brand. The website was created by Popular Front, also out of Minneapolis. My job was to animate a few dozen clips of Tubby the Turtle, one of four new Hasbro characters. I completed my animation over a year ago but, due to the size and complexity of the project, the site has just recently gone live. I’m excited to finally be able to show my work!

I did about two-thirds of the Tubby animation, the rest was done by other animators at PUNY. To see my work you can go to the site and watch for the red storybook to appear in the lower right-hand corner. Click on it and then choose the Turtle character.

The site is designed to be highly interactive so that each character will say and do something different each time you navigate the site. There were something like 150 total clips that had to be animated for each of the four characters.

I’ve also created a montage of a few of the clips I did. Unfortunately I’m having problems exporting them to a format that I can post on this blog or even on YouTube, but you can view the clip on the animation page of my website. It’s the very first clip at the top of the list.

Motion 08 Recap

Last week I attended the Motion 08 conference in New Mexico. The 4-day event was geared towards two industries: animation (2D and 3D), and motion graphics/editing. It was one of the best conferences I’ve attended in a while. The seminars were loaded with helpful and inspiring information, and I met a ton of great people.

As an animation character designer, I figured this would be a good opportunity to do some networking with lots of potential clients. My goal was to meet as many people as possible and flex my networking muscles. It was a real treat to get out of my isolated studio and hang out with other creatives in the industry. All in all I think I gave out over 100 business cards.

The first day featured several seminars open to the general public and finished off with a screening of animator Phil Nibbelink’s self-produced feature film “Romeo and Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss”, followed by a Q&A session with Nibbelink. I missed the seminars but flew in just in time for the movie. The film is a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet, with cartoon seals playing all the major parts. Nibbelink is an experienced Disney animator who wrote, animated, and produced the entire 80-minute film in his basement. Quite an impressive feat!

The next three days were packed with seminars on animation, editing, and motion graphics. At any given time three seminars were going at once. I focused on seminars about animation, so I can only tell you about those sessions. I can only assume the other sessions were just as terrific.

Monday I attended an all-day seminar on the modern television animation pipeline using Flash. The seminar was presented by animator Stanton Cruse from Film Roman. Afterwards I went out for dinner with four guys who design fake computer display graphics for TV and movies. When an actor uses a computer in a movie or TV show, these guys design what shows up on the actor’s computer screen. Most of the time the computer isn’t really doing anything, the actor is just miming to a mini-movie playing on his computer designed to look like real software is running.

Tuesday I attended seminars on animation principles, using Flash, and surviving Hollywood. Fascinating stuff presented by first-class speakers.

Wednesday’s seminar topics included animating to music, designing character packs for Flash, acting in animation, and designing ethnic characters. The last two seminars were both led by Dan Haskett, a veteran Disney animator and character designer. His work was incredible and his wisened, soft-spoken manner had me hanging on every word. More about his presentation in my next post.

If you are serious about animation, be sure to attend Motion 09 next year in Alburquerque, NM. Sign up for future updates.

Evolution Of A Racing Game

Yet another project I can finally go public with. Earlier this summer I was hired by BI: The Business Improvement Company to help develop an online racing game with an Olympics theme. The concept went through several stages. Here’s a brief rundown of how we developed the look of the game:

First I wanted to nail down the “look” of the characters. I wanted to give the client a couple of options so I sketched up a few characters in different styles. The crouched runner is meant to represent a more conservative style, and the two running characters were meant to show more cartoonish extremes.

Due to a misunderstanding on my part, I thought the client liked the more cartoonish styles. So I developed six goofy runners with a variety of body shapes.

Once I realized my mistake, I worked up another version with characters that were less extreme. I included a running sketch to show how the characters would look once they took off. The characters would be animated in Flash, so to keep things simple for animation each run cycle would be viewed straight-on from the side instead of from an angle.

I also made sure there was a clear range of ethnicities in the runners.The client liked it but decided there should be an equal mix of men and women. For budgetary reasons we also cut the number of runners from six down to five.

Here’s the final concept sketch, with women runners and color added. It was lots of fun to draw!

I also animated much of the game. Hopefully I can post the animation at a future date.

Watch Your Step


I found this using Stumble. It’s a fun (though bizarre) animated short by Pascal Campion about a man trying to open a very unique cartoon door. It appears to have been done in Flash. The timing is sharp, the animation is fluid, and the concept is delightfully simple. There is no sound or dialogue, just pantomime done very effectively. It runs a bit long, but you can tell the animator had a ton of fun doing it.

This little cartoon highlights one one of the often overlooked strengths of animation: the ability to really mess with physics, time, and space. This piece reminds me a bit of the work of Bill Plympton or “Duck Amuck” by Chuck Jones.

Click here to watch the cartoon.