Friday, September 28, 2007

Star Wars Maps

I have a confession to make. I have a REALLY REALLY dorky hobby. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but I make Star Wars maps for board games. Before you judge me, remember, you've got some dorky hobby too. I'm sure you've got Beanie Babies tucked away some where, or a miniature railroad in your basement.

Why Star Wars maps? Well, I stay up really late. Ashley and Sawyer usually head up around 10:30 - 11:00, but I usually don't hit the sack until about 2:00 - 3:00. Typically I'll fill that time with writing (screenplays, film shorts) or editing. But every few months, when I don't have a current project in the works, I find myself translating famous Star Wars locales into overhead maps for various games. It began with Hoth several years ago, just to see if I could it it, and for some reason I just kept on going. Jabba's Palace, the Death Star, all the way through to the Ewok Village.

Now in my defense I have benefited somewhat from this hobby. 1) I've learned an incredible amount more about Photoshop, which has helped me on other projects. 2) The maps have been noticed by the lead designer of the Star Wars game and he has offered to potentially use them in later releases. 3) I've uploaded the various maps onto different sites and they've been downloaded by thousands of Star Wars game fans and are used in homes, game shops, and conventions around the world. (You wouldn't believe how many downloads I've had from Brazil alone.) They have even been featured in an online version of the game. Every once in a while I check in with, an online printing company that offers these maps via print-on-demand, and they have made several thousand dollars off of them. (Unfortunately none of that profit is extended to the artist due to copyright.)

Recently I created a website where all the maps can be seen, downloaded, and(or) printed and I thought you normal people might enjoy seeing them, and get a glimpse into my dorky nightlife.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Invader Concept Art

Here's another piece of rough concept art I did for the upcoming short depicting "the invaders."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Leah's Engaged!

Yep, she's gettin' hitched and headin' off to America's headquarters for cars and crime, Detroit. In mere months her new name will be Leah Leach. Very comic book sounding. She fits right in with Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and Lex Luthor.

You may recognize her as "girl laughing in the backyard as Colin looks over the fence" in Captain Blasto. Not only is Leah a great friend to both Ashley and I, she's been a constant ear for stories and a script reader all the way from Blasto through Zero Day. She even helped color some storyboards on Blasto.

Congratulations Leah, and remember to keep a picture of him around at all times. You never know when you might wake up with amnesia.

You can read all about the engagement and more on Leah's blog at:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Mercury Men

Got another short film I'm lining up and thought y'all might enjoy a peek at some concept art I did for it.On a side note, Google Analytics tells me there's a couple hundred of you reading this each week, from varying countries. That's pretty freakin' crazy. I honestly thought I was just writing for the heck of it. Now that gives me some incentive to write a bit more often. And now that you've all been outed by the good folks at Google, you don't need to continue to lurk in the shadows. You can actually comment on stuff.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

G.I. Joe: A Real Politically Correct Hero

According to Fox News, the upcoming G.I. Joe movie, under the direction of Stephen Sommers (Van Helsing, The Scorpion King), will be making a rather large shift in the origin story.

"Paramount has confirmed that in the movie, the name G.I. Joe will become an acronym for "Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity" — an international, coed task force charged with defeating bad guys. It will no longer stand for government issued, as in issued by the American government."
Why would they do this I wonder?
"The word is that in the current political climate, they're afraid that a heroic U.S. soldier won't fly."
Then why are you making a movie about heroic U.S. soldiers? If you want a politically correct "global integrated joint operating entity" you should be making Captain Planet. Heaven forbid we offend other countries by telling stories about heroic Americans. Especially fictional ones named Beach Head, Shipwreck, and Lady Jaye fighting villains with metal heads and serpent costumes.

Something similar to this happened with Superman Returns. If you remember, Superman's response to "why are you here" in the original 1978 film was to fight for "truth, justice, and the American way." In Superman Returns they changed his personal motto to "truth, justice, and all that stuff" because they were afraid that America's current international image would reflect negatively on Superman with foreign audiences.

Why must we take fictional American heroes and disassociate them until there's very little American about them? More than any other pop culture characters, Superman and G.I. Joe were created to celebrate our countries core beliefs, not to be ashamed of our current political "climate." In fact I think the climate could use a bit more heroic American imagery, and not just the fictional sort.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Oakland Film Festival Wrap-up

Attended the first North Way Oakland Film Festival last night. I was pretty impressed with many of the films. Of the ones that I can remember, Robin Rd., a black and white film noir, had nice framing and lighting. Wanted, which won best short film, was a neat concept. (It also featured Shawn Smith, who I previously worked with on the Assassin's Creed video.) Erie, which may be my personal favorite of the night and won best documentary, featured two friends riding their bikes 130 miles to Lake Erie in the middle of a 19 degree winter weekend. Although the filming wasn't particularly spectacular you'd be hard pressed to find a cinematographer that could achieve much better in a gray Pittsburgh winter. The story and it's stars were funny and endearing.

The night also included a handful of self-portrait pieces that featured 45 second stories by each director who were not able to maintain a shot longer than a few frames. They were frantic, sometimes funny, and captured a wide range of hobbies, experiences, or beliefs.

One of my fears of a church holding a film festival is that they are going to limit what's being shown to clean, G rated, 7th Heaven style stories. North Way however, showed films with a whole range of subjects that you'd be surprised to find in a church. There was a documentary on a father hoping to win custody of his child and a short film featuring a guy who has been sleeping with a girl for months and is terrified to discover she loves him.

The general tone ranged from serious to very serious, so my only critique is that a bit more lighthearted selections would have been appreciated. Nintendo Office ending up taking home a prize in the Misc. category. That makes the quickest video I've ever made now the most successful, which is hysterical.

Great job done by Lindsey, Mike, and the gang down at North Way Oakland.

HBO Intro: Behind the Scenes

A little while back I posted a video clip of the infamous HBO Feature Presentation introduction. (You know the amazing one that flies past the miniature houses into space.) You can see it here if you missed it. While searching for that video, I discovered this behind-the-scenes video on how they created it. It's amazing to see just how much talent, time, and money went into something like that. (And I still say that the music cue is better than 90% of today's soundtracks.) Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


A year and a half ago I did a series of short animated "fables" for my church. I use the word animation lightly because there's not much movement. They're more a combination of character art, music, and sometimes text.

Beyond the obvious influences (Samurai Jack, The Legend of Zelda), the idea of doing this style of picture stories ultimately comes from older video games. Before they were able to do full 3D characters, environments, and audible dialogue, video games were limited to showing still images with music and captions. Even with these limitations they were able to tell some great stories.

Below is one of them, the fourth in a series of five. And the rest can be found at: I will leave each of their meanings to your own interpretation.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Assassin's Creed Video Online

Our entry into the IFC/Ubisoft Assassin's Creed short film contest is now on YouTube.

Unfortunately we didn't make the final 10. Regretfully (and unknown to me), the contest was open to ANY video that featured murder/assassination, regardless of when it was created. Therefore, while they may be impressive, 7 out of the final 10 are videos that were not created for this contest, have been finished for months, many with budgets even greater than the prize money offered, and have little or no connection to the game on which this contest was based.

Regardless of the results, it was great experience. Thanks to all involved.