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Tintin Wins Golden Globes: Best Animated Feature

by on Jan.16, 2012, under Uncategorized

While I had mixed emotions when Tintin  beat  Rango  for Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globes last night, there is no denying the technical merits of Tintin. Unfortunately for the Producers of  Rango, technical achievement beat out the movie with the much better story. That’s not to say that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson didn’t have an interesting story, it’s just that it was a rehash of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” using animated characters.  What makes “Tintin” worthy of an award is simply that Spielberg approached an animated feature from a cinematographers perspective, and the production team didn’t cheat… much.

Every production professional knows that films are as much about illusion and theater as they are about a good story (see Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.) We cheat shots not just because of cost, but often due to the limitations of our technology. In CG that might mean that we would use stylized human characters or shoot them at a distance due to the difficulty achieving realism.  Extreme close ups would seldom be a consideration, and never for long periods,  yet that is exactly what the the Production team did with Tintin.

By story boarding Tintin in the same manner as a live action film, Spielberg and Jackson demanded a level of quality and technological advancement that can only help move our industry forward.  That is a worthy achievement.


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by on Nov.18, 2011, under Uncategorized

At Tundra Media we are fortunate to know a number of  heroic individuals, in some cases we have had the opportunity to  share their stories.   Until recently the most significant of these stories  involved the responders to the  attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 ( NIMS/ICS Pro Edition Produced by Tundra Media.)  Last Friday we were again honored by  filming the performance of “Wisdom Within These Walls”, for Denver’s Shared Vision Films/Schler Productions, (David Schler, Director.)

Wisdom within these walls (volume 2) is a live stage performance of seven short stories,  stories of the brave men and women who fought to protect a nation.    Spanning from the campaigns of the South Pacific during WWII, through Korea and Vietnam, and finally into war torn Iraq, the stories portrayed were of ordinary Americans fighting for their nation, their buddies, and their own survival.

Preceding the event, we were honored to meet the actual veterans who’s stories were being performed.  These were ordinary men and women who were asked to bear a tremendous burden.  Some of these veterans experienced unimaginable brutality, others were wounded and captured and one was literally blown up.   All of the veterans were gracious with their time, and their stories, and we are truly grateful for their service.

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Job tips for Animators

by on Aug.31, 2011, under Uncategorized

If you are planning on a career in animation, there are several decisions that you will have to make at some point in your development. First, what do you want to do with your career, what kind of work environment are you looking for, how will market trends influence your prospects, and what does your future boss want from you, so fortunately nothing too tough.

The need for qualified animators is great, and the industry will only expand, but keep in mind that your competition is not just from other animators in the U.S.A. (if that is where you are) but frequently animation jobs, like so many others, are being outsourced to India, Korea, Canada, South America, and just about any other place you can think of. Don’t be discouraged though, because “the market is only going to expand”, and good animators,CG artists…etc., are always employable.

Getting your Dream Job

If you are new to the industry, and if you are reading this, you most likely are, keep in mind that you will likely have to pay some dues. Trust me, there are many other people who have come before you and they expect you to go to the back of the line. There are ways to avoid this, and one of the best ways to go to the front of the pack, is to be “Outstanding.” Simply put, as with any other job, the better you are, the better your chances of getting a big fat pay check. Of course it is helpful to keep in mind that it takes time and lots of practice to become an expert in any field.

So, how do you get your dream job? Well, that really depends on what you are looking to do. While each position may have unique characteristics, there are some things that are essentially universal.

1. Be passionate about your job. The more you enjoy what you are doing, the better you will do it.

2. Possess the skills that your employer is looking for. If you want a job with Dreamworks SKG, or Disney/Pixar, then you need to look at their job postings to find the skills they are looking for, or better yet call them and ask.

3. Have a reasonable understanding of other jobs that interface with the position that you are interested in. If you are planning to be a modeler, then you should have some understanding of the influence you may have on the rigging crew, the lighting crew and certainly the render wranglers.

4. Play well with others. No employer of any quality will be interested in you if you can’t work well in a team environment. Animation is a team sport!

5. Be efficient! You will be pressed to complete projects on time and on budget. These concepts may not seem important to you, but believe me, they are important to your boss.

6. Nothing is ever perfect. Get over it! This is a hard concept for many artists and equally difficult for employers. Certainly employers want to produce the best product possible for their clients, and most certainly artists are interested in producing their best work, but somewhere lying deep within is reality. If you are an artist, know that you will never create the perfect piece of art. Employers generally know this, but will push you to push yourself. However keep in mind that while you are looking to achieve the perfect vertex placement, you are costing someone money. If the customer can’t appreciate your perfect vertex or brush stroke, they may not be amused that you also achieved a cost overrun of 25%.

7. Learn and appreciate the concept of production pipelines. If you are working independently you may be able to get away with sloppy naming conventions or file management, but if you are working as part of a team, everything you do will effect someone else. Learn to do your job efficiently and in a manner that will allow anyone to pick up your work and run with it if you are out of the office lying on a beach. (No phone calls please, I’m dreaming about Cancun!)

8. Read everything you can get your hands on regarding your new profession. You should be the one person that your boss can count on to be up to date on industry trends.

Anyways, these are just a few tips that come to mind. It certainly never hurts to have the best Demo Reel, or a terrific personality. It also never hurts if your best friend is a top Hollywood producer, but keep in mind that rules are meant to be broken, so put yourself out there, take chances, and no matter what, don’t under any circumstances sell yourself short.

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Photoshop Grid Tip

by on Aug.31, 2011, under Uncategorized

If you have ever wanted an easier way to produce a visible grid for a layer in Photoshop, the May/June issue of Layers Magazine provides an easy way to accomplish this that you may not have previously thought of. This tip requires vanishing point. All you have to do is create a new file with a transparent background or solid as desired. Go into vanishing point, set your grid up but then click ok while holding down the alt key (pc), this will place the grid onto your layer. After this, just select the lines and expand the selection, stroke the selection, or do whatever you want.

The image above is a result of getting carried away with this process (note the grid in the background).

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Exploding planets, tree huggers, chaos and cartoons

by on Aug.31, 2011, under Uncategorized

Tundra Media has announced that it will begin efforts to expand its visual effects and animation services while developing new market opportunities directed toward environmental and emergency services productions. “These efforts will begin immediately and should provide substantially improved support for our clients by the end of 2009″ according to Brian Couzens, CEO.

“While we have always bent over backwards to serve our clients needs, it was painfully obvious that those needs had sometimes caused us to drift from our companies core mission of being one of Colorado’s few industry leaders in animation and visual effects. The Mission Creep effectively ends today” says Couzens.

A recent corporate review also identified Tundra Media’s unique potential for serving the environmental and emergency management communities. “We have the background, the passion and the talent to provide exceptional service in these areas. Life is short, it’s time to get back to doing what we love to do” Couzens said.

For more information contact Tundra Media at (720) 495-0512

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