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Posts tagged ‘animation’

PATTERNS = Memos from the Muse

September 15, 2015



Apologies for the sparse posting this summer, my friends. Work, travel, and Life got in the way (as they so often do), but I intend to hop back on the blog-horse for regular features and updates over the next 6 months at least. As always, your patience with my scheduling weirdness is infinitely appreciated. And speaking of weird…

In my creative and my personal life, I see patterns. 

Something as seemingly random as a rush hour commute with all-green-light intersections takes on prophetic business meaning. Pairs of butterflies circling the deck every morning for a week becomes a relationship omen. Monthly jolts awake after the same bonkers dream, only to see the same goddamn numbers glaring back at me:

(And the less a superstitious double-Gemini says about the thrice-annual shit-show of Mercury Retrograde, the better — back up those files and don’t sign contracts for a month, kiddos…the pattern of ‘Karmic fun’ starts tomorrow!)

Sure. It could just be my monkey brain’s way of making some desperate sense out of absurd, everyday, garden-variety chaos. But what fun is that? Especially when some of the greatest creative and scientific minds in history were/are ardent believers that recognizing patterns and potential connections between objects and events was the key to attaining higher knowledge and artistic excellence???

And that brings us to today’s topic: MEMOS from the MUSE.

Over the past six months or so, a common theme has reared its strange and fantastical head in the stuff I’ve been working on, as well as projects I’ve been brought in to help shape: the WHIMSICAL. The damn term keeps popping up in personal writings, in random conversations, highlighted in reference material, or even blurted out during conference calls. And it always came, it would seem, with the same qualifier: DARK.

How can you NOT smell a pattern like that? If the Muse keeps tickling your brain-balls, then it only makes sense to hear Her out over rib-eyes and a nice cab-merlot, amirite?

So I do what I like to call ‘tracing it back‘.

Follow the breadcrumbs of influence. Find the Alpha of the thought that’s recurring, which might help you predict the Omega of the path that you’re on — IE: the end result of the pattern — what it’s been trying to tell you from the start.

I recalled the shows and movies and books I loved as a kid.

I pondered the stuff I’m drawn to, and the tales I’m now driven to tell.

I revisited the last studio gig I agreed to, and the direction I gave to the team:

The music on that Hellboy 2 short is by my genius composer cousin, Tobias Tinker. We’d been making musical magic together for 7 years…and then that was that. I went off on walkabouts. He made more cool shit.

Last month, I flew my weary ass to his home in Berlin to see if our mutually-creative fires could be rekindled. It only occurs to me now that another 7 years had passed since our last big jam. And there we were, discussing the score on a massive (and massively daunting) audiobook project

‘What’s the vibe you’re after?’ he asked.

Dark, of course,’ I said, ‘but there’s something else…’

I sat up, and I think I felt the ghost of a gear click into place as I spoke the word. And then, in one afternoon, we built the following piece around our masterful narrator‘s silky boom:

A pained music box. Flourishes of harp. Mysterious choir. Moody strings.


A month later, I couldn’t help but smirk when discussing part of a (secret = SHHH!) reality TV project’s score with its producers. There was a scene near the end that needed a special sonic touch —  ‘heavier’ than the rest of the program, but still retaining a hint of playfulness and ‘hope’.  I referred the editor to a section from Howard Shore’s score for The Fellowship of the Ring.  

You can probably guess what two words were exchanged. ;)

That brings us to just last week. A designer on a seriously epic (and another SECRET!!!) game thingie asked me for input on the soundtrack.

Let me say this — if you were privy to the IP in question and what these cats have planned for it? Then you’d barf up the same goddamn tags I’ve been chucking since springtime. But that might mean very little to someone not lost in the vortex of signs and symbols…you know…like yours truly.

Thankfully, since I’d been bashing my head on this whimsy trip for months (nay, a lifetime!), there was an easier way to communicate. To share the PATTERN, whispered long ago through the Chaos by the Muse…

To be useful in this moment.

Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away = bombs of whimsy, yo!

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen = fanciful theatricality and fairytale decadence to legendary excess!!

The Dark Crystal = ground zero for ‘dark whimsy’ from my childhood!!!


What are some of YOUR dark and whimsical favourites?

And what patterns have played a role in YOUR creative and personal lives?

Sound off in the Comments…right below the kitten in a top hat…

Because WHIMSY!


CASE STUDY: Of Games and (going with your) Guts

January 12, 2015


CP Study

(by Brooke Burgess)

Happy New Year, kittens and cats!  With 2015 well underway, I find myself shifting gears out of (fiscal) necessity. It happens. The Beast must be fed, and those games and gadgets and goodies aren’t gonna buy themselves, right? Pity.

Most of us don’t have the luxury of making the things we want to make most the time. Instead, our stars tend to align in service of other masters.  That’s where the term ‘service work’ comes from — it’s your focus and sweat, in varying measures of servitude. So all you can do is cross your fingers, twiddle your rosaries, and pray for decent pay, benevolent bosses, and a pinch of artistic satisfaction after the dice are rolled. I’ve just been lucky to get a few more sevens than snake-eyes.

Somehow — whilst chiseling away at the narrative marble to carve out screenplays, a book, a few comics (animated and otherwise), and potentially cool stuff that never saw the light of day — I’ve been able to fashion a (nearly) functional balance between passion projects and rewarding contracts. Writing and narrative design. Animation. Interactive stuff. You can even scope some of it here.

And I’m about to start work on another one, helmed by one of my fav’ game industry pals. We first collaborated on a pretty cool Japanese co-produced PS2 launch game. This was easily one of the most rewarding and educational experiences of my professional life; the scope was massive, the timeline tight, and the team endlessly ambitious. 15 years on, and things have come full circle in many ways. Colour me optimistic.


But it doesn’t always work out so smoothly. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that I swore I’d never work on a game contract again.

Read more

What’s YOUR Story?

June 6, 2012



Special thanks to Hulo Films for the shoot/edit, and Tobias Tinker for the tunes!


Wapos Bay Logo

TIMELINE:  2010 – 2011

PLATFORM(S):  Web, Videogame

GENRE:  Animated Children’s content (stop-motion)

CLIENT:  Karma Film

I was contracted to implement a ground-floor imagining of the design, interactive narrative, production management, and creative direction for a multi-pronged digital experience for this beloved Gemini Award-winning stop-motion animated children’s series.

  • Designed user experience and overall media campaign strategy
  • Produced/directed all in-studio production, technical assets, and audio/visual contributions
  • Steered marketing strategy and ensured overall project timeline/budget adherence
  • Secured additional national funding for ‘PHASE 2’ of the web experience:  a Mariokart-inspired videogame, featuring hundreds of unique series characters and assets.
  • Designed, produced and directed the game – Wapos Racerz to completion with my recommended development team.
  • Consulted on production and design for the Wapos Bay iPAD experience, now available!

Experience the heart-warming world of Wapos Bay HERE.  (Flash required)


October 18, 2011


(Oct. 18, 2011) – Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes, based on the Gemini award-winning TV series, will have its world premiere at the prestigious imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto at its Closing Night Gala presented by Global Toronto. A co-production with the National Film Board of Canada, the movie was selected for the closing night of the Festival’s 12th edition and will screen on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 7:00 p.m. ET at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St W).

Fans from around the world will also have the opportunity to be part of the premiere via the Closing Night Technical Partner IsumaTV and a free live streaming at Creator / producers Dennis & Melanie Jackson, actors Andrea Menard (The Velvet Devil, Moccasin Flats) and Eric Jackson will be available for the Q & A following the screening, moderated by imagineNATIVE executive director Jason Ryle who will be taking questions from the floor and via Skype for the online viewers.

It is humbling to have our Wapos Bay finale movie screened at imagineNATIVE because it is one of the premiere indigenous film festivals in the world,” said Dennis Jackson. “It is always an honour to be recognized by your peers whether other indigenous people, animators, filmmakers or friends. This screening will be a unique experience because fans can log in online and they don’t necessarily have to be here in Toronto to watch the premiere.

The night will feature a special tribute to Wapos Bay cast member, the late Gordon Tootoosis (North of 60, Legends of the Fall). Announcements of the future of Wapos Bay will also be made on the night, including the launch of several digital media properties. Led by Brooke Burgess (writer, director & producer of Broken Saints), properties include a Mariokart style video game, eBooks and episode downloads.

Tickets for the world premiere / imagineNATIVE are available in-person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox or
Phoenix Concert Theatre, by calling the TIFF Box Office at 416-599-8433, or online at The national broadcast premiere for Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes is Saturday, Dec. 3 on APTN (8 p.m. ET on APTN HD and APTN East, 8 p.m. MT on APTN West, 8 p.m. CT on APTN North).

The movie has also been selected to screen at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (Oct.
29), American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco (Nov. 5), LA Skins Festival in Los Angeles (Nov. 16-
20) and Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival in Sydney, Australia.


July 28, 2011


Here’s my latest iPhone short-film montage from San Diego Comic Con:  IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN SAN DIEGO…

Featuring the trancey goodness of Broken Saints composer Tobias Tinker!


January 25, 2011


I’ve been teasing a cool little stop-motion animation project for many months now – time to finally spill the beans!


I was approached to design the campaign with Saskatchewan’s Hulo Films early last year.  My goal was to create an engaging, immersive Flash-based transmedia campaign that encourages young visitors from around the world to experience the Gemini (Canadian Emmys!) award-winning children’s series Wapos Bay.

Lots to see and do on multiple screens (think oldschool point-and-click adventure games) including reactive animations, production blogs and social media, and HEAPS of video treats from the 4 seasons of TV – so get clicking!!!

Visit, or Talon might get pissed...

Read more


July 26, 2010


Work/Play in Progress...


Stuck behind a desk?

I will think of you fondly

as I play with dolls



May 28, 2010


Ask and ye shall receive – the first in a series of quick behind-the-scenes vids from the Saskatoon stop-motion studio – featuring David Suzuki! 8)

This is just the first stage in a cool little project that’s launching in the fall, so stay tuned…


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