Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Final Post of 2005

On the last day of 2005, I hope you all look back on the previous year with good memories. It's been fun blogging, meeting new people, and reading other's thoughts as well. Hopefully I can continue bringing you enjoyable links and stories in 2006. Thanks for all the support!

As the final post for 2005, I present some unique New Year's-themed illustrations to enjoy...

Vintage Soviet Holiday Card 01

Vintage Soviet Holiday Card 02

Vintage Soviet Holiday Card 03

Vintage Soviet Holiday Card 04

More great vintage Soviet Space-themed New Year's cards can be found at this link.

Be sure to check out the other galleries too. Link via BoingBoing.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Instant Message Santa Claus

If you have iChat or AIM, try adding 'SantaClaus' into your buddies list. You can chat with him, play games, and tell him what you'd like for Christmas! I keep him around all year long to add some festive cheer during my Internet wanderings.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Clay Animation Brings Audiences to Theaters

Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit images

Carole Horst with Variety reports on the charming effect of clay animation on movie-going audiences:
Computer generated 3D images dominate the short history of the animation Oscar. But this year, two front-runners -- DreamWorks' Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride from Warner Bros. -- both use film's oldest animation technique: stop motion.

Wallace director Nick Park -- who has already won three Oscars for shorts, two of which starred cheese-loving Wallace and his clever dog Gromit -- fashioned a plasticine Little Britain for the film, with artists painstakingly manipulating the plastic clay figures, then photographing them frame by frame.

"Audiences love the technique. Audiences think (the characters) are real people and they respond to them," says Wallace producer and Aardman Animation principal Peter Lord, adding, "once you've seen an army of 2 million in a CGI movie, you stop being moved," and people react to the reality of claymation.

Tons of clay was used, and CGI was only used briefly -- and only for scenes in which traditional claymation methods would not work.

"The technique doesn't hold you back," says Lord. " There's nothing you couldn't try."

Corpse Bride was shot using two dozen digital cameras and five Power Mac G5 desktops. Tim Burton and animation vet Mike Johnson directed the film that used puppets covered with Latex "Skin" -- inside each puppet was a full animatronic armature that was manipulated to create frame-by-frame movement and facial expressions.

"There's something compelling about the tone and style," says Johnson. "But the most important thing is the story."
Read the full article at the link above.
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride © 2005 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Wallace and Gromit © 2005 Aardman Animations Ltd. DreamWorks Animation L.L.C.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

That's interesting.

I'm in Iowa right now, home to W.P. Kinsella's 'Field of Dreams,' but I haven't seen any baseball-playing ghosts. However, on the way to Urbandale and Des Moines yesterday, my wife and I witnessed:
  • 1 dead cow on the side of the road with a gaping wound across its chest (I think it was Werewolf damage! ;-)
  • 1 giant candy cane decoration out in the middle of a farmer's field.
  • 3 wild turkeys strutting down a train track.
    If we weren't in a hurry to get to an appointment in the city, I certainly would have taken photos. It was as if we were having one of those dreams where seemingly random images insert themselves. Only this stuff was all real.

    I did snap a shot of the weather on the drive back home. Though it doesn't look like it, the large, fluffy flakes were coming down at a blizzard pace. Our usual 1 hour and 20 return trip was closer to 2 hours this time.

    Photo of near Des Moines, Iowa by Chad Kerychuk.

    I also managed to fire off a quick snapshot of the giant neon mascot for Terrible's Casino near Osceola, Iowa. It's near the interstate highway so all travelers can pass by and cower at the beaming behemoth. It reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons where all the store mascots and giant signs come to life and attack Springfield. I'm not quite sure why you would name a casino 'Terrible's' but I understand there's a chain of them.

    Photo of a casino near Osceola, Iowa by Chad Kerychuk.

    Photos © 2005 Chad Kerychuk
  • Friday, December 02, 2005

    Rankin/Bass Santa and Rudolph Puppets Found

    Thanks to Cartoon Brew for bringing animation fans this news: the original puppets of Santa Claus and Rudolph (from the treasured Rankin/Bass holiday special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) have been found.

    Photo of Rankin/Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus puppets.

    Long thought lost, the puppets were found among the holiday decor of a former Rankin/Bass employee. The puppets have been purchased by and will be restored for public display.

    Check out the article for more information.

    Also, be sure to read last year's lengthy but informative post on the animated holiday classic.

    RUDOLPH animated program © & TM Classic Media.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    New Dinosaur Species Announced

    Illustration of Centrosaurus brinkmani dinosaur species by Mark Schultz.
    Art © 2005 Mark Schultz and Dr. Michael J. Ryan.

    A new dinosaur species discovered by my good friend, Dr. Michael J. Ryan, was officially announced recently.

    From the press release:
    "The new species of dinosaur, named Centrosaurus brinkmani, belongs to the group of dinosaurs related to the well-known Triceratops, but lived about 10 million years earlier. Remains of the dinosaur were discovered in bone beds in southern Alberta, the largest of which is in Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Ceratopsian (horned) dinosaurs can be distinguished from one another by the ornamentation on their frills that extend shield-like from the back of their skulls.

    Distinctive hooks and "spikelets" on the frill of Centrosaurus brinkmani allowed scientists to identify this dinosaur as a new species."

    Read more about the new dinosaur, who it's named after, and feast your eyes on other beautiful illustrations of the species at Palaeoblog.

    When you're done, head over to CBC's 'Quirks & Quarks' website and listen to Dr. Ryan describe the new species.

    Thanks to Dean for the CBC link!

    Tuesday, November 29, 2005

    Vote Topples Canadian Government

    As if plucked from George Lucas's latest 'Star Wars' films, a 'no-confidence' vote has toppled our Canadian government.

    Unfortunately, we don't really seem to have any solid options in our other political parties. Politics...bah, humbug!

    Sunday, November 27, 2005

    Photography: Computer Bugs

    This 'little lady' decided to check out our new 17" PowerBook...

    Photo of a Ladybug on a 17 inch Apple PowerBook.
    Photo © 2005 Chad Kerychuk.

    There seems to be an invasion of Ladybugs and Box Elder Bugs here in the Midwest. They're not harmful, but they become annoying, sometimes flying right into one's face, laptop screen, or nearby light source.

    According to the ever-resourceful wikipedia though, Ladybirds or Ladybugs can be beneficial:
    "In parts of Northern Europe, tradition says you get a wish granted if a ladybug lands on you. In Italy it is said by some, that if a Ladybird or Ladybug flies into your bedroom, that it is considered good luck."
    Perhaps they're not so much of a pest after all.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Photography: Raking Leaves

    Raking leaves on November 23, here in Creston, Iowa. I had already raked many leaves in the front yard a week before this blustery, but warm day, however a nasty snowstorm blanketed the area, covering all traces of my past efforts. After the snow melted, we finished the job. Well, the front yard at least. 13 bags of leaves in total.

    Photo of April Kerychuk raking leaves.
    April strikes an adventurous pose.

    Photo of Chad Kerychuk raking leaves.
    I break for a photo during the hours of raking.

    Another photo of Chad Kerychuk raking leaves.
    April frames me...with leaves.

    Photos © 2005 Chad and April Kerychuk.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Photography: The Difficult Life of Cats

    While working away on some video projects here in Iowa one afternoon, I observed the seemingly difficult life cats lead. Shown in chronological order of course...

    Photo by Chad Kerychuk - The Difficult Life of Cats 01
    Xavier takes a nap.

    Photo by Chad Kerychuk - The Difficult Life of Cats 02
    The camera's noise rouses the slumbering beast.

    Photo by Chad Kerychuk - The Difficult Life of Cats 03
    Monique enjoys her lazy solitude.

    Photo by Chad Kerychuk - The Difficult Life of Cats 04
    "The paparazzi won't leave me alone..."

    Photo by Chad Kerychuk - The Difficult Life of Cats 05
    " I might as well start some trouble." Boxing match followed.

    Photo by Chad Kerychuk - The Difficult Life of Cats 06
    "That was a tough bout. Time for a nap again."

    Throw in some meal times, bathroom breaks, and play periods, and you've summed up a cat's incredibly stressful day. And when it's all over, they decide to crawl in bed with you at night, stretching out fully and taking all available extra space, relegating you to a little corner of the mattress. It would seem felines are the superior species!

    All photos © 2005 Chad Kerychuk.

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Own the Original 'Hollywood' Sign

    Hollywood sign image

    Supposedly, the original Hollywood sign is up for sale. Not to be confused with the current one most people see in California, but the original itself, built in 1923 for a real estate development company.

    Due to termites, arson, and other damage, the sign needed to be either repaired or replaced. In 1978, 'Playboy' publisher Hugh Hefner sponsored a party to do just that. Celebrities including Gene Autry and Alice Cooper, along with other individuals, kicked in funds to restore the iconic sight.

    If the whole sign is too much for your rec room, or that starting bid price is a bit shocking, how about owning a small piece instead?

    NPR has a feature on the history of the famous American landmark. Check it out at this link.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Ray Harryhausen: Portrait of the Animator as Zeus

    Ray Harryhausen photo with stop-motion skeleton model

    There's a good interview by Mark Zimmer with stop-motion animation legend Ray Harryhausen at

    "Harryhausen: I always worked by myself, because I like to concentrate. I prefer not to have people around. So every inch of film is usually the first take. We never had time to do retakes.

    dOc: How did you remember from one day to the next, 'Now, was I moving this limb this way or that way?'

    Harryhausen: Sometimes if I had to stop a scene I would make notes, but you have it in your mind. When you make storyboards, you sort of think of it as though it's in action. I guess I have a Zeus complex. I like to manipulate these people as Zeus did in the early Greek concepts."

    Ray also talks about his past work with Willis O'Brien, the upcoming 'King Kong' 'Mighty Joe Young' and 'Song of Kong' DVDs, and even Peter Jackson's 'King Kong.'

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    Hellboy Animated

    Hellboy Animated Concept Art by Sean Galloway
    Hellboy Animated concept art by Sean "Cheeks" Galloway.

    Like the recent motion picture, 'Hellboy', created by author/illustrator Mike Mignola, will be coming to life in animated form. IDT Entertainment and Revolution Studios will bring 'Big Red' to life in direct-to-DVD productions, and possibly an animated series, online content and video games. Ron Perlman, who acted as Hellboy in the feature film will also be providing voicework for the animated versions. Guillermo del Toro, director of the film, will serve as a creative producer along with Mignola.

    Read the Variety article at this link.

    I was pleased to hear that a fellow member of The Drawing Board, Sean "Cheeks" Galloway, was chosen as the lead designer and fellow forum member and animation veteran, Tad Stones, is the supervising director. With all of this talent, Hellboy is certainly in good hands.

    Follow the production of Hellboy Animated at the new Production Diary.

    Check out more of Sean's outstanding artwork at his online gallery, where I'm sure you'll see how his dynamic style is a natural fit for animation.

    There's also a great interview with Tad regarding animated television series development at Digital Media FX.

    While we're talking about Hellboy, here's two great lithographs I recently received. The first comes courtesy of '...' at the Hellboy fourm, and the second arrived thanks to Jun at The Comic Bug.

    Hellboy Palenque Lithograph by Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Comics
    Hellboy mini-lithograph produced by Dark Horse Comics.

    Hellboy Hurricane Katrina Red Cross Relief Lithography by Mike Mignola
    Hellboy Hurricane Katrina Red Cross Relief lithograph by Mike Mignola.

    Hellboy and all related characters © Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Comics, Inc.

    Photography: From Above

    November 8 Aerial Photo by Chad Kerychuk
    Photo © 2005 Chad Kerychuk.

    I traveled from Edmonton, Alberta to Creston, Iowa on the 8th, and took this photo on the Calgary to Denver portion of the trip. Earlier during the flight, there was some great scenery that I didn't capture though. If my camera wasn't stowed, I would have had some photos of the badlands and mountain ranges covered by snow.

    Oh well. Next time.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    It's Experiment 626!

    Check out this great Flickr photo from Princess Shari of Stitch from Walt Disney World...

    Photo of Stitch at Walt Disney World
    "It's Experiment 626!" - Originally uploaded by Princess Shari.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    ♫ Halloween Apples! ♫

    I love Halloween. Always have. Cool costumes, dark decorations, mysterious movies, and creepy activities make this one of the most fun times of year! So, in keeping with the Halloween 'spirit,' here's some spook-tacular treatsll!

    2005 Star Wars Mask Screenshot
    Images © Lucasfilm 2005.


    In addition to the Star Wars paper masks I blogged about last Halloween, has posted a new set of masks for you to print, cut out, and wear. This year's masks feature characters from 'Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith' including Kit Fisto, Yoda, Aayla Secura, Tion Medon, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, R2-D2, General Greivous, C-3PO, 3 clone troopers, Padme Amidala, The Emperor, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the Boga.

    Darth Vader Pumpkin Template Small The site also features a tutorial for home-made Star Wars treat bags at this link.

    For Jack O'Lantern patterns, Star Wars Kids also features fun intergalactic designs ranging from a simple Rebel Insignia to a complex Tusken Raider. Paste them on your pumpkins and start carving your galactic affiliation!


    Michael Fleming has been posting an insane amount of links to obscure but fantastic Halloween-themed MP3 music files on his blog. Unfortunately, the process is slightly complex but it's definitely worth it to hear some great music! Especially noteworthy are Bing Crosby's 'The Headless Horseman,' Vaughn Monroe's '(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,' Ronnie Dawson's 'Rockin' Bones,' 'Watusi Zombie' by Jan Davis, and 'King Kong' by Tarantula Ghoul and the Cryptkickers.

    A few more obscure songs that fit the Halloween mood can be found at this link on WFMU's Beware of the Blog. 'Parade of the Damned' features the cool 'Bo Meets the Monster' by Bo Diddley and Messer Chups' 'Intro Monstro Crescendo' among other hip tunes.

    Where Are You Scooby Doo Screenshot
    Image courtesy of The Scooby Doo Case Files.

    Halloween without everybody's favorite canine sleuth and his gang, Mysteries, Inc.? No way! 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!' is still considered one of the finest animated series. From spooky storylines to eerie locations with evocative background art, the show still outshines some of today's top cartoons.

    The Scooby Doo Case Files website has posted links to the hip 'Scooby Doo themes,' including unreleased symphonic score tracks from the show. A real treasure, Ted Nichol's compositions are not to be missed! Delve into the site to discover episode summaries, imcompetent sheriffs, avatars for the Internet, and an index of monsters with roll-over images revealing their true identities! Be sure not to miss a section I savored, Wallpapers, which features a ton of outstanding animation background designs from the show!

    The Hilarious House of Frightenstein Screenshots
    Images courtesy of Ben Kane.

    Some readers will probably remember 'The Hilarious House of Frightenstein,' a 1970's Canadian TV variety show featuring some of our favorite monsters. Wth the legendary Vincent Price and Billy Van, the show had some truly enjoyable moments featuring Count Frightenstein, Igor, Grizelda, the Librarian, Wolfman, the Oracle, and others. I remember being particularly fascinated by the set design, cinematography, effects, and music. 'March of the Martians,' the memorable theme from the show, (created with the famous Moog Synthesizer) can be found among the other goodies on the Frightenstein Downloads page. Be sure to snoop around the incredible tribute website for show info, music, video clips, and even a 'Return to Transylvania' documentary!

    Of course, no Halloween should go without a visit from Jack Skellington or a giant robot!


    Photo from Old Haunts BlogKeith Milford's blog, Old Haunts, collects "Halloween photos of long past," marketing material, greeting and trading card art, and even music and audio stories from old vinyl LPs. The bonus audio downloads 'Alfred Hitchcock presents Ghost Stories for Young People,' 'Casper the Friendly Ghost Haunted House Tales,' 'Sounds of Terror!' and others let your ears enjoy a Halloween chill! I have no doubt that you'll recognize some of the costumes and relive childhood 'trick or treat' memories.

    Jay Stephens Tutenstein - Animated Version ImageCheck out Jay Stephen's blog, Monsterama for some amazing illustrations and creative monster lore. Described as a place to see 'cute creeps from popular culture,' the new blog is already loaded with great images by Jay. Along with artwork, you'll discover brief histories of characters like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Gossamer, Fangface, and others.

    Jay, a Canadian with a great sense of design, is the creator of 'Jetcat,' 'The Land of Nod,' and 'Tutenstein,' all of which I highly recommend. He's also a regular contributor to Drawn!, a blog that provides insight and links about illustrators around the globe. Some of the links in this post were found at the blog.

    Project Gutenberg has online text versions of 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' by Washington Irving. Available in both HTML and Plain Text formats, this is the original tale that has spawned numerous film versions. No Halloween celebration is complete without a reading or viewing of this great story! Download 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker or 'Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley as well!

    Photo of The Mechanical Bat Paper ToyRavensBlight features a fun collection of Haunted Paper Toys including The Mechanical Bat, Coffin Gift Boxes, the Splatterbot, and more; all courtesy of artist Ray O'Bannon. With paper (preferably heavy cardstock), scissors, an X-Acto knife, glue, and tape, you'll be able put together these morbid masterpieces. To download and print the files, you'll need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    retroCRUSH, "the world's greatest Halloween website," is a must-see for any pop culture and Halloween fan. The vast archive of images, audio, and text will devour hours of your time. Check out "the world's greatest Halloween costumes" with photos of many vinyl and plastic costumes from yesterday and today. I know I've certainly worn a few! Marvel at the Top 100 Monsters of All Time! Note: Not all portions of the website are safe for younger children or work viewing.

    Monster Party Font Sample

    Open your goody bag to find the MonsterParty font by Michael Gaines (use the caps lock key with it) or the many other horror fonts that await your experiments!

    Halloween Icons Screenshot

    How about some great icon sets such as Vintage Halloween, Creeps, Boo Buddies, Macabre, Snappy Hour Halloween, and Cute Dead Icons. You may also enjoy Haunted Hard Drives, Ravenswood Revisted, World of Aqua - After Dark, and Jack Skellington.

    Oh yeah...if you can't find a real pumpkin to about a digital one? Thanks Tad!

    Well, that's a bowl full of treats from me! How do you like them apples?!

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! links:

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    One Year of Blogging

    Well, as of October 15th, it's been one year since I started blogging.

    As most of you know, I also contribute to 3 other blogs: The Alberta Movie Guide, Luxo: A Pixar Blog, and Palaeoblog, all of which take a good deal of time.

    Why do I do it? Aside from sharing things I find of interest, working on the blogs lets readers know what I'm up to, helps me meet new people, hones my writing skills, generates possible work opportunities, and provides a forum to work on my ideas 'out loud.'

    The first posting on the Digital Dream Machine blog dealt with the death of Christopher Reeve and his role as Superman, so I thought it would be a fitting tribute to do something related to 'The Man of Steel.'

    Looking around my archives, I found this old 'Superman' promotional poster....

    The Fortress of Solitude Travel Poster by Chad Kerychuk

    Actually, this wasn't ever produced for consumers. This week, I decided to dust off my WACOM Graphics Tablet and Pen, get my illustration skills back into shape, and create an original digital image.

    Between the paperwork, documentary editing, motion graphics design, and blogging, I haven't had much time to just 'sit and draw.' So I forced myself (yes, artists have to do that occasionally) to flesh out an idea I had kicking around my brain. Influenced by Jeremy Vanhoozer's fantastic 'Medusa' image (definitely check out his blog and website!), I intended to create a digital painting of Superman's Fortress of Solitude realized in the style of 1950's-era travel poster. Overall, I'm pretty happy with this image, and there's things I'd change if I continued working on it; however, for a piece that's meant as practice, I feel it's finished (for now) and ready for show.

    The last illustration I remember working on was a 10th Anniversary of Hellboy tribute for the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Book. Like the fictional poster above, the 'Hellboy' piece took a great deal of time, and demonstrates why I don't turn out art as often as I used to. I really want to put my best effort into my work, and unless I can contribute the time to something, I won't take it on until I feel ready.

    Even with all the digital technology I'm surrounded by, I really do miss the days of traditional sketching and painting for hours on end. Whether it was at high school in my art studio, or at home watching a James Cameron flick, I usually had my sketchbook or drawing board nearby. From icon roughs to logo mock-ups to character designs, my art skills were constantly being focused and my ideas became solidified on paper. All I had to do was find a page, grab a pencil, and start drawing.

    The WACOM Graphics Tablet allows artists like myself to create images digitally. An input device shaped much like a traditional pen, glides along the pressure-senstive tablet, responding to our hand movements as if we were sketching with a pencil or even painting with a brush. Since the artwork is created on a computer, we have the benefit of being able to 'undo' our mistakes a little more easily and make revisions without affecting the original. The method isn't perfect, and it's not meant as a replacement for creating art 'the old fashioned way,' but it sure does let us do some pretty amazing things.

    I've got some ideas for other images, so hopefully I'll find the time to create and share them with all of you. In the meantime, thanks for supporting the blogs and the effort I put into them! Here's a toast to one year of blogging, with potentially many more to come!

    As a bonus, below is my Fortress of Solitude Travel Poster as if it had been printed yesterday. Enjoy!

    The Fortress of Solitude Travel Poster by Chad Kerychuk

    If you're interested in seeing a larger-size version, please e-mail me.

    'Superman' and 'The Fortress of Solitude' are ™ and © DC Comics.

    Friday, October 14, 2005

    'Sand Pirates of the Sahara'

    Thought I'd share this fun old movie poster image...

    Poster for Sand Pirates of the Sahara

    As some of you are probably already aware, Sand Pirates of the Sahara was not an actual feature film. It was sort of a mini-movie produced for use in Frank Darabont's underrated 2001 film, The Majestic. "Brett Armstrong" is really cult-film favorite, actor Bruce Campbell, known mostly for his role as 'Ash' in the Evil Dead movies.

    The sequences that were shot for Sand Pirates of the Sahara can be seen on the bonus features section of The Majestic DVD. It's a campy, but definitely fun throwback to the adventure films of the 1900's. Though the pseudo-film was a nice homage to the George Lucas and Steven Spielberg blockbuster, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Darabont actually has ties to the whip-wielding character, having worked as a writer on 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.'

    Careful viewers will notice that a certain golden idol from the Indiana Jones series makes an appearance in the movie. It's even illustrated in the poster near the bottom right corner.

    For more information about adventure films, check out this link.

    Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Jim Carrey Online.

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Fire Destroys 'Wallace and Gromit' Warehouse

    Photo of Wallace and Gromit
    The much-loved inventor Wallace and canine companion, Gromit.

    Sadly, a fire has destroyed the warehouse of Aardman Animations in Bristol, west England early this morning and claimed much of its animation past.

    Thankfully nobody was in the building, but most of the company's history has been lost. Sets and props from 'Chicken Run' and the first 'Wallace and Gromit' shorts are believed to have been consumed by the fire. CNN had this to report:
    "Today was supposed to be a day of celebration, with the news that 'Wallace and Gromit' had gone in at No. 1 at the U.S. box office, but instead our whole history has been wiped out," Aardman spokesman Arthur Sheriff said. "It's turned out to be a terrible day."

    Sheriff said the warehouse contained sets, props and models from the company's productions, from the children's cartoon character "Morph" through the Oscar-winning, anthropomorphic "Creature Comforts" series to the Wallace and Gromit films.

    Wallace and Gromit's creator, Nick Park, said the earthquake in South Asia helped put the loss into perspective.

    "Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today isn't a big deal," he said.

    You can read more at the CNN article and Bloomberg U.K. site at this link.

    Word also comes from BBC News that all is not lost...
    "I'm pleased to say Nick Park's original 'A Grand Day' out rocket, that he built by hand, is safe and sound," Mr. Sproxton [company co-founder] says. "It's very close to him."

    Park's three Oscars for Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts were also elsewhere.

    The clay characters themselves are not kept after filming because they disintegrate, and the Aardman film studio is in a different part of the city and so is unscathed.

    The original film and negatives are stored in a humidity-controlled vault at a different location and the sets from the current Wallace and Gromit feature film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, were also elsewhere.

    and regarding the studio's future...
    Although the company's history may have gone up in smoke, its future is still looking rosy.

    "The fire doesn't really affect future productions because even the Wallace and Gromit sets tend to be built almost from scratch for each film that we do," Mr. Sproxton says.

    My best wishes to the entire animation studio and staff in recovering from this disaster. Now get out there and see 'Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' at your local theater!

    As a note of interest: Not only did the studio create award-winning shorts and feature films, but also the much celebrated 'Sledgehammer' video for musician Peter Gabriel. Find more of their history at the official website.

    Update: December 11, 2005 - The Big Cartoon Forum has posted an article on the cause of the blaze. It's believed that the fire was started by an electrical fault with an appliance.

    Image courtesy of Aardman Animation Studios.

    More Tortoise Photos

    I've been receiving lots of kind feedback regarding the story, writing, and photography of the Franklin the Tortoise post. A big thanks for your support! Along with the comments, photos of other shelled pets have found their way into my e-mail box, so I thought I'd share them with all you tortoise fans.

    Photo of Sam and Ella the tortoises
    3-year-olds Sam (Sulcata) and Ella (Box Turtle) enjoying some tomatoes. Photo from Lori.

    Photo of Nicholas the tortoise
    Nicholas in the office. 43 lbs. 10 years old. Photo from Kerry.

    Another photo of Nicholas the tortoise
    Nicholas napping. Photo from Kerry.

    Another photo of Nicholas the tortoise
    Stanley and Nicholas. Best of friends. Photo from Kerry.

    Another photo of Nicholas the tortoise
    Morning Nicholas. Photo from Kerry.

    Another photo of Nicholas the tortoise
    Nicholas takes a bath. Photo from Kerry.

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Life is about the people you meet.

    Screenshot of Tortoise walking story

    Thanks to friends and the post at, I've watched the hit count on this blog soar. Many thanks from me to all the linkers and readers! I hope I can continue to bring you interesting things to read and see.

    One of the purposes I had in mind when I started this personal blog was to talk about subjects that interest me, including people and places near and far. I've always found that one of the most important ingredients in life is the people we meet and that any other benefit is secondary. I've based a good deal of my personal and business decisions on the people I have a chance to work with and who I feel can really bring something positive or challenging to the relationship. Sometimes it becomes a lasting friendship, other times they become excellent contacts for projects, and still other people bring that one bit of wisdom to your life that allows you to progress on a personal or professional level.

    Rushing to and from work, or the shopping malls and restaurants, the little gems of stories might not surface if we don't stop to talk to some of the more interesting people around us. Tragedies in life teach us that people can be gone in an instant and we should take every opportunity to meet the souls who make up our world. You may not get that second chance to talk to that girl at the bus stop, that artist you've watched sketching at the coffee shop, or the guy walking down the street with his pet tortoise.

    The story I posted on Franklin the tortoise and his caretaker Jeff has helped one more interesting individual be introduced to the rest of the world. I had seen Jeff walking Franklin previously, slowed down to look, but then drove on. So when I saw him again the day I posted the story, I wasn't about to pass up this second chance to meet him. Little did I know that others would also find the story of interest.

    When people enjoy our tales, they'll want to share them with friends and family, just as they would do when gathering around a crackling, summer campfire. The Internet, and blogs specifically, offer us a way have our own 'digital campfires' and regale our readers with our own thoughts, tales, and brilliant ideas. Often the stories are driven by themes but during other moments they're completely random. Sort of like this blog, which serves a collection of my varied interests.

    Of all the items I've discussed on here, I had no idea that the one of the most read postings to date would be about a man taking his tortoise for a walk. In addition to that, stop-motion animation, the Muppets, and movies have all proved popular reading material for visitors. Evidently, I've found topics that people enjoy and I'm pleased to be able to share my thoughts on them.

    Through Luxo, a Pixar blog I collaborate on with my friend Ken Bautista, I was asked by a reader to contribute opinions for a magazine article about the animation studio. The Alberta Movie Guide has provided a venue for readers to inquire about the provincial film industry, and recently I received an invitiation to submit photos of the tortoise and his caretaker to the Greek edition of FHM Magazine. In the past few hours, I've also discovered that the Franklin story was featured on's Tech News & Web Guide.

    Screenshot of USA Today Tortoise walking story

    Even with my limited contributions to the Palaeoblog, edited by Dr. Michael Ryan, I've been fortunate enough to share my interest in dinosaurs and meet like-minded individuals. Not only has it allowed me to discuss the latest palaeontological discoveries or newest video games, films, and comics showcasing the giant beasts, but it's also directed visitors back to this site to learn about my other adorations.

    Contributing to these blogs takes a tremendous amount of time but I truly enjoy all the various subjects I'm able to talk about. More importantly, and back to my initial statement, life is about the people you meet and I'm constantly fascinated by those I encounter. If these links from other blogs, websites, magazines, and papers help me meet new people and put a smile on our faces, then I believe I'm doing something right.

    Thanks for all your support!

    A big 'thank you' also goes to my wife who continues to indulge my many creative passions including writing for these blogs. She's easily one of the most important people I've met yet!

    Thursday, September 29, 2005

    Live Giant Squid Photographed!

    Because I'm a bit of a science geek, and because they have that 'cool' mythic element to them, news regarding Giant Squids excite me. Well, on September 27th, word spread that a live one had been photographed underwater!

    Live Giant Squid Photo 01
    Photograph courtesy T. Kubodera and K. Mori.

    Live Giant Squid Photo 02
    Photograph courtesy T. Kubodera and K. Mori.

    The Japanese scientists estimated the animal to be an astounding 25 feet long but the longest giant squid on record measured 59 feet (18 meters), including its two elongated tentacles. Along with photos of the exciting discovery, National Geographic posted the story:
    "The scientists say they snapped more than 500 images of the massive cephalopod before it broke free after snagging itself on a hook. They also recovered one of the giant squid's two longest tentacles, which severed during its struggle.

    The photo sequence, taken off Japan's Ogasawara Islands in September 2004, shows the squid homing in on the baited line and enveloping it in "a ball of tentacles."

    Tsunemi Kubodera of the National Science Museum in Tokyo and Kyoichi Mori of the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association report their observations this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    "Architeuthis appears to be a much more active predator than previously suspected, using its elongated feeding tentacles to strike and tangle prey," the researchers write.

    They add that the squid was found feeding at depths where no light penetrates even during the day."

    Check out the link for the full story and more on the history of the Giant Squid!

    This post seems like a fitting one to share one of my all-time favorite poster images. It was created by the great Disney Imagineers and can be seen in the book Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real.

    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Tomorrowland Poster
    Image courtesy of Walt Disney Imagineering.

    If anybody knows where I can get a large-scale poster of the above image, please contact me. I think I see the Nautilus now!