Thursday, December 4, 2008

Virtual Film making

I was recently interviewed for an article about using the web to produce your project. right after I was interviewed I started another project that used Google Docs more extensively as we have also started to use it at the office for Project management.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Autodesk buys Softimage - Long Live MayaMaxSoft

In the beginning of the summer the Autodesk/Maya/Max rep visited our studios just to say hi.  Our office is 40 minutes from the NH Offices of Autodesk and he was in the area.  Around the same time I received an email from our new Softimage rep who is head quartered in London.  I understand Reps move around a lot but this seemed very odd because our office is 50 minutes from AVID (parent company to Softimage) and we are a short 6 hour road trip to Montreal where Softimage is headquartered.  

So it now all makes sense 3D will soon be one happy family, or 3 brothers that fight all the time while their father AutoCAD tells them that when he was their age there were only lines and not solids and they only had 2 dimensions

I think Newtek may be a bit upset because the article mentions that Softimage was the last major independent package out there.  All the products have always had their followers, strengths, weaknesses, and vertical markets.

Rumor has it that Autodesk is also looking at Houdini and Blender.  But Blender is shareware and they are not sure how to buy it.  Blender may become that cousin on the Brady Bunch that is brought in to show how cute the show is after the rest of the kids grow up.  And so few people use Houdini and its so expensive that Autodesk plans to repackage their regular MayaMaxSoft with an install code that makes the program randomly disappear from your computer.

Long Live MayaMaxSoft

Softimage Press Release


Thursday, September 25, 2008

"The Birk plan" dont bail out AIG

I cannot take credit for this, it is an email forwarded from my friend Tracey B, who is a film producer in LA.  I just think that this out of the box thinking is what people are always looking for in marketing, but when will it come to politics?


I’m against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.  Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+  into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.  My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.  So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%.  Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.  That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.  A husband and wife has $595,000.00.   What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
  • Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.
  • Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads
  • Put away money for college – it’ll be there
  • Save in a bank – create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
  • Buy a new car – create jobs
  • Invest in the market – capital drives growth
  • Pay for your parent’s medical insurance – health care improves
  • Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+  including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( “vote buy” ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG – liquidate it.
  • Sell off its parts.
  • Let American General go back to being American General.
  • Sell off the real estate.
  • Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t.

Sure it’s a crazy idea that can “never work.”

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!
How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC .

And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest. Kindest personal regards,
T. J. Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic
PS:  Feel free to pass this along to your pals as it’s either good for a laugh or a tear or a very sobering thought on how to best use $85 Billion!!

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin the First Lady of VPILF

I always wonder who comes up with the new "In Saying" or anachronim.

Who was it that first coined the term "MILF"
A MILF (Mother I'd Like to Fu#k) is a mother usually over 30 and under 50 that is very sexually attractive.
Well a VPILF is a "Vice President I'd Like to Fu#k"

So with the announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate a new site was born, or was it planned months ago??? At this time I would like to thank the site owners for not including Joe Biden, the Democratic Candidate for Vice President, I guess he is technically eligible for this new anachronim lets focus on the Hot Mom. The site has Sarah Palin's 1984 Miss Alaska beauty pageant photo (She won "Miss Congeniality"), a link to an 1988 video from when the then Sarah Heath was a sportscaster in Alaska.

Wikipedia has already forwarded the term VPILF to the Sarah Palin's regular page

A clip from the Craig Ferguson Late Night Talk Show, where he described her as having a Naughty Librarian vibe.

And what has to be my favorite example of "What is that guy thinking" where John McCain introduces his new VP Candidate and the camera catches him looking over at her, and then starts to give us a voice over of what is happening in his head. The VO also captures the cameraman following the "Bro Code" and zooming in on Palin as it becomes very apparent McCain is staring at Palin.

With such a new term, I wanted to dig a tinny bit to see who gets credit for the term V.P.I.L.F. There were 2 user generated videos that mention this term. Both came out between August 29th and 30th which makes sense because Palin was announced as the VP Candidate on the 29th. What I thought was odd was that the website URL was registered on August 4th, and in McCain's home state of Arizona. Of course there were rumors of 7 or 8 potentials for the VP job over the last few months but to have a new term coined 25 days before the actual introduction or event shows it was an inside job. There is a link saying the people at moviespoilers are responsible for the site. but one quick look at that site shows that VPILF, was done much better so is it the moviespoilers people behind it or was it someone in the McCain camp. I think the further icing on the cake showing it was a Republican job was the site was only registered for a year. Dont they know if McCain wins Palin would be a VPILF for at least 4 years? And besides that I am sure other VPILFs will appear in the future.

The term MILF is specific to Mothers usually but VPILF could become a term for male or female Vice Presidential Candidates.
Now there's Playboy cover for you, Yeah I want to see that right after their special issue "Disrobing The Women of Congress".

Like many words an anachronim can have multiple meanings
a CD to a teenage is something old people listen to music on. To a banker its a "Certificate of Deposit"
DNC is not just the "Democratic National Committee" its also a painful female medical procedure. If I ran the Democratic DNC I would spend a lot of money re-naming and re-branding that.
But this other anachronim for MILF is all sorts of wrong.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, an attraction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Hopefully this comes up if you have NetNanny turned on and your teenager hasnt disabled it to do a search on MILF.

About me:
I usually dont discuss religion and politics in public or private. I have way too little free time. But I did want to state that I am an Independent Voter who has never actually voted for the Guy that one. But this was such an entertaining political move and one of the first times I think there was a Republican connection with connecting with the younger voters (Especially the 18-34 y/o males) I just had to comment.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Wii Britney

After searching 7 months to get a Wii my family has had a lot of fun playing the games and especially the use of the motion controllers that are really the way we all used to play the old Nintendeo games. Turning the wired controller to the right, as we lean our bodies to that side. Sometimes hopping a bit in our seats as Mario needed to jump a Koopa.

My Daughter Britney is 18 years old, 4'10" and has had developmental delays because of seizures she has been suffering since she was 6 months old. Her cognitive skills, and physical reaction time are that of a 4 -6 year old. Not one of those 4-6 year olds that play Guitar Hero on Hard and blindfolded on YouTube better than I play it on Medium but an average kid.

Before the Wii we would involve Britney in video games by giving her an extra controller while the rest of us played with active controllers. She even had her own Pink Barbie Guitar that she would play while I played Guitar Hero.
Now with the Wii Britney is able to keep up in Mario Kart to a decent extent but better yet she now has "Disney Princess Enchanted Journey" she is playing the game all on her own. For some reason she switches the controllers from hand to hand a lot depending on the challenge at hand, but the gaming allows for multiple ways to move and wave the wand so it works out well for her. She is getting better spacial recognition within the game. She still needs about 20 feet of play area in front of the TV because she walks around the livingroom as much as her princess character walks around the screen.

Now if we can just get the cat to master the Nintendo DS we will be all set

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Seven Year Itch - Employee Changes

A 1955 film by Billy Wilder starring Marilyn Monroe (The film in which her dress is blown up past her waist as a subway passes underneath) has created a phrase used to describe failing interest in the monogamy of marriage or disinterest after the honeymoon period of a relationship.

Marriages are not the only relationships that can have a seven year itch. The average lifespan for an employee at a creative studio is 3 years. From running the studio I know there are a few people that dont workout within the first year and that offsets the people who last much longer. In March of 2008 after 7 years, the first employee hired at Hatchling, Jeremy Clough, decided it was his time to go on his own. Personally this was very tough for me since he had become one of my closests friends and my most trusted compatriot. As a creative person Jeremy needed to push new boundaries that were not in line with the rest of the companies skillsets. While his departure did become a great opportunity for 2 very creative people previously under him, it took a piece of my heart and love for working that took me a few months to get over, and finally be able to write about.

When Jeremy opened the door for leaving after 7 years another person who I used to call my brother from another mother took the opportunity to announce his departure as well. Dustin was our main client representative on the interactive side of the business and they all loved him. With these 2 very key people gone our new President who was hired in late January took the opportunity to instill some more process that was not working out with the few of us that still did things as if we were 4 cowboys doing all the work. This process changed really helped unify team members.

In Early July it was clear that the though the new president had some great ideas they were not in line with what drove me to start and continue to run the company so we parted ways. With him another long time staff member is taking a part time role in the company because as we focus more and more on rich media and less on backend web development and databases he is looking for other opportunities that will help him grow.

These 3 key players and friends helped shape the company as to what it is today and they did it with having very few years of experience before they came to Hatchling. That is a similar story of many of the people that come to Hatchling, a real New Englander mentality of we can do it.

With departure comes opportunity and because of their great work and the comradery among all the team players the word on the street is very positive about working for us and the last 6 or 7 people I have interviewed are extremely excited about the opportunity to work at Hatchling. And often they are leaving a place they have been working for 7 years or so and are just looking for a change.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July update

We went shopping when the power went out today. We finally found a Wii
and used the gift cards I had been saving since Xmas to get all the
accesories but Mario Kart was sold out.

Have not touched "In The Cards" in 2 weeks since I got back on the
sales bandwagon.
Episode 3 of "Endurance Challenge" goes into animation this week.
Our game for ECMI is also in development
Working a few sales leads for August work but mostly setting the
groundwork for September work.
Zack wrote a new trailer for Flare and we are storyboarding that as
well as building a few of the characters in 3D for a new investor pitch.
The SF Producer who is working on getting development funds for Flare
has taken our list of AList actors to see if he can get them attached.
Met with an Account Exec I tried to hire last year and things look
great for him joining this year.
And my meeting with a guy who is a major player at a Boston/NY agency
went great and I hope to continue conversations with him about a
lasting partnership


Friday, June 20, 2008

48 Hour Genre is Comedy!!!

Stephanie reached into the bag of Genres and fished around and pulled
out COMEDY!!!

Character is Thomas or Thelma
Description: Former Attorney
Prop: String Instrument
Line: "I cancelled my plans for this"

Does anyone have a connection with a cafe or deli or small restaurant
we can shoot in?

Wheels Up at 9 heading to the NYC 48

Once Stan showed up it was quite clear we needed more space so we
loaded up the Sequoia. 4.03 a gallon for gas and 1.99 a gallon for
artificial fruit drinks. Has anyone thought of artificial gas? Maybe
that's what ethanol really is.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

California Wine trips and some films too

In the past month I have been very fourtunate to have had business twice in Califonia's wine country.  My trips covered Napa, Sonoma, and Lodi.

The main thing I learned, which many wine lovers probably already know is that the wineries keep the good stuff for themselves. Even the best wineries send their lesser wines to the stores.

I toured at least 4 wineries in each county and I has only ever tried wines from no more than 2 of them, either they don't distribute outside of their own wine club or just not in the places I frequent.

I was amazed that my favorite winery was not in Napa or Sonoma but in Lodi. The Lucas Winery is a very small wine
ry with huge attention to detail and they sell 90% of what they make to their wine club. I would encourage anyone who loves finely crafted wine to visit there, not only for the taste but the prices are amazing for the quality.

I was in Sonoma for 2 days touring because of "The Toll" was in their film festival. And at the recommendation of a friend at the Tiburon Film Fest we started the day with Bubbles at Gloria Ferrer. We stuck to the bubblly and some chocolate for my dad. We sat out on the patio and looked over the vineyard and it was a great start to the da
y. Maybe too quick for Wanda because the bubbles went right to her head. Oops wrong time of he day to get her tipsy. Later that night we were accross the street at the Jacuzzi Winery who threw a great opening party and Wanda was a knockout in her black dress ( I wasnt the only guy starring at her).   We came back the next day for a great and economical tasting and left with a case of wine a club membership and a few tasty bottles of olive oil.
Benziger had the best tour by far ( bought a case of some real quality stuff and signed up for 6 bottles quarterly) Pay the extra couple of dollars and taste in the private room and do the tour that includes tasting in the caves we were only the 2nd tour allowed in the caves and while it was an extra $30 each it was a blast. Arrowhead (bought 1 very nice bottle) and Imagery were very good Mayo was a great surprise and I totally reccomend their pairing restaurant which is located north of the wineries store. I bought a case of heir Pinot Noor that as on sale for $13 a bottle. We didn't make it up to Wattle Creek but did their tasting in Ghiradelli square and they were a great value and taste. (bought a case and signed up for 4 cases within a year)
The biggest disappontment unfortunately came from Kenwood. They were a sponsor of the festival and each day i avoided Their festival tent because the wines wee outside in the sun. Well at the closing party they were the only wine in site and I said what the heck be went for their reserve ( Pinot or Syrah I forget ) I only had 2 glasses and got 1 headache, not good!

I was going to save the Napa trip for anothertime when I had more time. But I called my favorite winery that my brother in-law Derek enjoys and the could fit us in. A huge difference in Lodi to Napa is you need to schedule a tasting to get into the good places.

We decided to take the 35 minute over the mountains instead of the 1 hour trip around them ( well thats the at the GPS read at least ) mullholland drive in LA has NOTHING on the curves and steep dropoffs seen on this shortcut thru the mountain, its not a trek for the faint of heart an especially the buzzed driver!!!

We arrived at Honig Cellars 30 minutes early so we ventured back to the main road and tried Elizabeth Spencer, now I am not saying the wine was vinegary or had a bad nose and ugly body but it was the first place I elected to spit or dump any extra in the glass. We didn't even finish the tasting choices. We headed back to Honig just in time to restore my faith in Napa Valley. Honig was a very small tasting area that was off the beaten path. The parking area had huge rosemary bushes and I think even speariment you knew walking in that this was not a tourist trap, there should have been a sign along the quarter mile driveway that read quality wine ahead. Kelley guided us through a very relaxing tasting with great conversation and a reccomendation for a great dinner place in up the street ( Market, we all loved this place dispite a few mixed reviews on Yelp ) Honig was the first place we bought a magnum, I ask Wanda for it to celebrate my 40th in a few (couple) years. This place was not cheap but it was all delicious. Along with an order for a pretty decent wine club I left with a hat that reads "friends don't let friends drink chardonnay"

The next day I returned to Napa to visit the local Mac dealer ( Napa 1 ) and stopped in at V Sattui winery. I mailmy stopped because I finally saw a sign that matched more than just cheddar cheese with wine. I was delitefully surprised with an extremely drinkable rose "Gamay Rouge" which will be my new hot summer afternoon refresher.

I signed up for more wine to be delivered and wine clubs than just 2 of us can enjoy so I think we will host a few parties.

I will be adding reviews of each place to my yelp page soon

Very happy to have a designated driver! Thanks Mom!

and please forgive spelling and grammar this was my first post from an iPhone and i suffer from fat thumb syndrome.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Google addict

I am caught up in all these google apps like gmail, docs, calendar, and desktop and they are all listed as being 'Beta'.
Is google just the worlds largest drug dealer hooking us up on the free stuff and prepping to charge us through the nose when they release these apps for real?

Monday, April 7, 2008

George Orwell's MAC

I don't know if I have asimilated a MAC persona or my inner MAC has been brought into the light. I always hated people calling their laptop 'My Mac' or worse yet, 'My MacBookPro' with Leopard. For crying out loud its a laptop and it only as good as the operator.
Maybe these people want a sense of belonging that MAC ownership gives them. Is it like being a high tech frat brother? Do you get invited to better parties now?
My father in-law used to call his TV 'My Sony' and my kids wore Pampers and we wiped their faces with Kleenex. So brand names are very often in our common vernacular. But I have always felt that saying 'My MacBook' showed a weakness in character of someone grasping to be included in a larger high school clique.

I write this from Interstate 95 South on my way to Cambridge in My Toyota 4 Runner Sports Edition, onto my Palm Treo 700zw. I will log on later tonight to fix any spelling mistakes on My MacBooPro.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Big Mac Migration

Last Friday I finally gave into the Mac pressure. My last apple ( besides an iPod) was my apple IIe in High School . After that I went to Amiga, and broke down to buy a PC 2 years after Amiga went belly up. So for almost the last 15 years I have been a windows pwrson and our company was a windows shop. I have always had problems with PCs but they were mostly due to the cheap nature of most of the other consumers who kept pushing for faster and cheaper, where Apple always keeps high quality control. Dispite these problems and the huge amount of video and designer peer pressure I stayed PC. I just couldn't see loosing that right mouse button. So OS X comes along and then the switch to intel chips. Those moves and Paralells so I can still run the windows apps I have to allowed me to migrate. Well that's not giving enough credit to Microsoft for releasing Vista which was the final straw that broke this deal for me. 3 of our 5 new Vista based Laptops at the company can't connect to our Windows based network with any regular consistancy.
The last few programs we run that don't run on Mac at least run on Linux and our tech people in the Animation Dept (Brian) have been testing that for a while. So a year from now I would guess our Windows based company will be all Mac and the remaining systems will be a party of my computer museum which also includes an Amiga 1000 and a few Newtek Video Toasters, or they will be relegated to jukebox like my old SGI O2 was for so many years.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Toll screens at Tiburon

I try and use my cameraphone to videotape the screenings of the films I make. This proved very helpful the first few months of "The Toll" because we re-edited the open and re-timed a few other edits to allow for the laughs to play thru. W.C. Fields was a master at the re-edit to allow for comic timing.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tiburon film Festival

My first time to Norhern California. Tiburon is on the bay with a great yacht club, a downtown market area that is like a small coastal New England town with less parking but more ferrari dealerships but great wine tastings all around.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Get out of my own way

Many years ago I was told to get out of my own way because my indecision on some growth opportunities were slowing business. So today we added Mark Samber, a longtime business associate who started and ran a very similar company in the late 90s. Mark will stick to business and growing our very good partnership basis and allow me to concentrate on the Creative part of the company.

I have often been told that I did my career backwords. This is the way most people do it
  1. Intern
  2. Work for a big firm
  3. Freelance
  4. Start your own firm
  5. Consult for other firms
Well I went from Interning to Freelancing to Starting my own firm. Skipping the working at a big name place wasnt in the cards for me because I didnt want to leave New Hampshire where I had a great family base to help with my kids. I have noticed that people who have even spent a year as VP of Animation Development at XYZ studio get their projects funded a bit easier than I have.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How Did I start

I am an eager self starter that started working professionally in my 2nd year of college. I had 2 kids by the time I graduated and didnt want to leave New England for Tinseltown or Gotham. So I started freelancing as an cameraman, editor and eventually an animator. after a few long projects for series on PBS and Discovery Channel I took a job as the head of CGI at a stop motion animation studio named Wreckless Abandon. 2 years in to the company they had to lay off everyone while they were waiting on the next big gig so I went into my garage and started what became Hatchling Studios.

Hatchling is now 25 people strong and the largest animation studio in the state (ok so its a small state). in 2006 we released our animated CGI short "" which has now won 12 awards. We have also created a web series starring Billy West, which has been invited to over 10 film fests and won 2 best of awards. Now we sit working on our day to day commercial gigs as we keep developing more animation and live action ideas, and we work and wait untill one sells.

Starting the studio and why do the blog

I have been asked many times how did I start my animation studio and a few times I have been asked to articles and even a book about my experience. I have never been able to spend enough time concentrating on one thing to get more than a small 2 page article completed.

I am no John Lasseter (though I would love to be) But I did start an animation studio 3000 miles from LA and I hopefully have some wisdom and insite as to how you too can create something outside the norm in the area you want to live in.
So I start this blog at my companies current state, and I will work my way back to the beginning. trying to post backdating the info.

I hope it educates and entertains you.