1999, Becoming an Animator & the Inspiration of Shynola

Shynoloa Logo

1999 was the year when the world prepared for the end with Y2K, Cher introduced us to Auto-Tune (also forshadowing the end of the world) and Bill Clinton finished his second presidential term. This was also the year that I opened Flash for the first time and began animating.

When you get into this sort of thing you begin to absorb the world around you like a sponge. You break down and analyze influences and apply pieces of it to your work the way a kid takes apart a toy to see how it works, and then builds something new. 1999 also saw the release of the music video I Changed my Mind by Lyrics Born (Quannum). This would mark the first video from the production house Shynola and the one that had the biggest impact on my early animation style. The video was decidedly low res in an era where we were trying to push for realism, and the combination of 2D and 3D was something fresh and new at the time.

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Pfff… I Could Do That : The Verbal Street Saga

In the winter of 2008 I was browsing the web at work in a store with a co-worker/friend. The store was a modern, trendy carrier of over-priced  home furnishings, with computer kiosks at which we could sit down with clients to redesign their rooms. These computer kiosks faced out toward the public at all times. We wanted a stylish desktop wallpaper to replace the boring Windows default. After a bit of browsing, we came across a vector graphic of a city-scape with flourishes and paint splatters. My co-worker, Ryan, made a comment, something along the lines of how cool the graphic would look on a shirt.

Pfff… I could do that, I said.

What followed, after some back and fourth, was we agreed to start a t-shirt company. However, the truth of the matter was, I really didn’t know if I could do that. I had reasonable confidence in my abilities, but I’d never taken on a project of that scope. We had some idea about what we needed. Here are some lessons learned:

  1. A Brand
  2. A Web Site
  3. Merchandise
  4. Customers

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Matt’s Dinner with My Dinner With Andre

My Dinner with Andre Screen Capture
Shawn (left) and Andre (right) discuss love, life and death in the film My Dinner with Andre by Louis Malle

I treated myself to a taxi. I rode home through the city streets. There wasn’t a street, there wasn’t a building, that wasn’t connected to some memory in my mind. There, I was buying a suit with my father. There, I was having an ice cream soda after school. And when I finally came in, Debbie was home from work, and I told her everything about my dinner with Andre.

Recently in several different instances I heard mention of the film My Dinner with Andre. In a “Baader Meinhof” manner, the title kept appearing to the point where I could no longer put it off. At the outset, there is good reason for putting it aside. The entire film, apart from the opening and closing minutes takes place at a table in an upper class restaurant with two characters engaged in a conversation that is generally more appropriate for literature. This actually turns out to be a refreshing break from the modern world, where conversion gives way to mobile phones and other distractions. The characters (Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, whose names match that of the actors) begin with idle chitchat and catch-up, which is expedited by Wallace’s voice-overs. It’s not until Andre begins touching on deeper topics that the film really starts to take hold and resonate. Andre, who carries the majority of the conversation throughout the film, shares his experiences and beliefs, which tend to err on the side of faith and free will, which then is countered by Wallace’s more grounded point of view. Although they have wildly different perspectives, they manage to see eye to eye.

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