Author: admin

16Jan

Rendering…

I’m settled in a for a long night of rendering and writing.

What’s rendering are the final image sequences for my latest television commercial. The client’s really happy with just about all of the work, and that’s great. I’m sure there will be some changes before the spot airs, but it seems like we’re in the ballpark.

This was an interesting spot to create, the client only had a logo, 1 piece of product packaging (in Adobe Illustrator form), a concept, and 1 photograph. I turned that into a 30 second spot, making 3D elements where needed (such as for a product that doesn’t yet exist but which will be in stores this spring) and generally creating a world from almost nothing.

It was fun, if a bit frustrating at times.

We all feel that the CGI and voiceover/music parts of the spot are good enough to compete with spots that cost about 50 times as much. But, as always, there are things I’d have changed if we had the time or budget. That old saw about “Fast, Cheap, Good: Choose Two” really does hold true. Even with technological advances and really talented people involved, some things always just have to wait until next time.

At the same time, I’m pretty proud of the end product. And I can’t wait to get to work on the next one.

12Jan

Couch Cases Wrapped

Couch Cases

Our new sitcom “Couch Cases” wrapped this week. Thank you to all of our cast and crew- you guys are incredible, and I hope you all had as much fun as we did. We’re going into post for the show, right after we finish up a new television commercial and film edit for clients.

We have a lot of “behind the scenes” stuff online in the meantime, at http://behindthescenes.couchcases.com.

12Jan

We Now Use Imagineer Products

Imagineer Systems

I’m happy to report that we’ve upgraded our pipeline to now include the entire suite of products from Imagineer Systems in the UK. Imagineer pioneered a new planar tracking system, and has integrated it into a suite of products that will help us do our jobs better.

We now have online suites with Mokey, Monet, Mocha, and Motor.

12Jan

New Television Commercial Project

We’re now working on a new television commercial, which you’ll be able to see on a network station near you very soon.You’ll also be able to see it online, of course. We wouldn’t be living up to our mission if we didn’t craft a multi-platform campaign for our clients.

12Jan

We’re in Beta

Welcome to our Beta Launch! 

Genius Monkeys is a brand new production company that does video and interactive projects. I founded Genius Monkeys after having run Empty Street Productions, a very successful web design and development company, for many years.

It’s clear that television and the Internet are converging. And people are getting used to enjoying their entertainment in new ways, from mobile devices like the iPhone and PSP to  YouTube and video sites like Veoh. People are finding out about products and services in new ways, too.

But things are moving so fast that companies don’t know how to take advantage of these new opportunities. Old style “analog” production companies don’t know how to make things work in digital land. And strict web and online companies don’t know how to tell stories effectively.

That’s where Genius Monkeys comes in. We leverage our vast experience with online and web with some of the best technical and creative talent in Hollywood to create projects that stand out. When you work with us, you’re working with a creative studio that understands how to tell your story.

And we understand how to get it out there.

5Jan

Logic Rocks, A New Television Commercial, And Rain

I installed the new Logic Studio today on my music Mac, and it’s amazing. I spent a couple of hours playing guitar through the new guitar amp simulations, and I tell ya- if I end up playing out this year I think I may play into a laptop, not an amp. Wow.

In the meantime, I have been hired to create a new television commercial. I can only say that it’s for a consumer product in the healthcare side of things. It’s a low budget thing, but it’s another opportunity to create something cool for a client. And I love to do that.

It rained like crazy here this weekend. I’m hoping we get some relief until I’m done with this new project- it took out my Internet. And that’s not good. Gotta have hope, though!

1Jan

Happy 2008 / Belief and Pride.

I went to the ocean today, and despite the cold wind we saw at least two dolphin pods. The babies were playing, jumping over the grownups. It was awesome.

Today is a backing up day, so I’m babysitting the RAIDs while they back up our Couch Cases footage. There’s about a terabyte of footage to back up, and it’s spread across a few drives. I’ll be collecting that into one drive before I start editing. This gives me time to catch up with this blog.

Every time I get discouraged about how hard it is to get where I want to be, I take a look at the footage we’ve shot. It’s beautiful and excellent, I’m very proud of how it’s turning out.

I know my pride in our work is justified, but it’s a new thing for me. For some reason, until recently I was never the kind of guy who’d toot his own horn, so to speak. And it’s easy to look down at people who constantly do push themselves and their projects- so often, they’re full of hot air… especially in Hollywood. Maybe part of me figured I was too cool to push my work. And definitely part of me was insecure about my abilities.

Lately, I’ve figured a few things out. First of all, I’m learning that if we don’t talk about the project it’s as if it never existed. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, it doesn’t matter how f’n awesome the tree was… so to speak.

But mostly, I’ve figured out that my work is good. It’s really good. Especially once you account for the fact that we’re doing stuff for $12 that studios spend millions on, and we’re doing it without known actors or the support of the hundreds of dedicated craftspeople from caterers to vice presidents of marketing that make a network show or studio feature film.

We’re a true indie production company, and while I do dream of/plan on getting our project out on a major network or in thousands of movie theaters I also realize that we’ve done something few people outside the system (or heck, inside as well) have successfully done- we’ve created something that’s worth watching. Our little show is good. And has enormous potential, if & when we can find the right partners to help us get it to the next level.

I’m not speaking from arrogance. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m still learning every day. Still, I know I’m starting to scare or upset some people with what we’re doing, because it’s clear that Couch Cases is a case study of how things will work in the future. For those who hide behind the old ways, we’re a little threatening. I wish that wasn’t the case. We’re just a ragtag group of people creating something really cool and fun, and we love to play with others.

I hope your 2008 is a wonderful, exciting and fun time. I plan on doing everything possible to ensure that mine is :-).

27Dec

I’m a Big Winner!

One of my Christmas presents was a lottery ticket this year, for the Texas Lotto. And I won! All of $3. But the amount doesn’t matter- this external validation is just what I needed, and now I know that I am… incontrovertibly … a winner.

26Dec

Perspective

I love this time of year. Mostly because we always close down for a while. No matter how much you love what you do for a living, you really need to close down every once in a while. It helps give one perspective.

Perspective. I have a new ex-client who could use some of that. These bozos lost some critical data a couple of weeks ago. Then, instead of calling us up and asking if we had a backup copy of the data they could have, they hired a lawyer and wrote us a nasty letter threatening to sue us if we didn’t give them the data. Immediately. Now, of course we’re happy to help if we’re asked to help. But these butt-munches never even asked us (nicely or not) to help them out of their jam. They just went and immediately threatened legal action. And this from a client who only a few months ago sent an email to me praising us for our “awesome, rocking work” on another project of theirs. Weird, huh?

Those guys are clown-shoes. And I told them so. Of course, being the great and easy to work with gang that we are, we sent them a CD with all their data. And then fired them as a client. We don’t work with bozos. The chump change they paid us just isn’t enough coin to justify continued dealings with rude chimps.

But it’s funny how life is- once you clear out some dead wood, prune away some dead weight, etc., the world opens up for you and really cool things begin to happen.

And that’s what happened here. Even though we’re closed until 2008, I landed a new national commercial for an existing client and a website for a completely new client starting in January. We have some other really cool stuff happening in 2008 that I can’t talk about, too. Plus, of course, a good amount of fun work for existing clients that’ll be launching in a month or two.

In a nutshell- we’re busy! And it’s fun!

I love how we get to play for a living. And in general, I love who we get to play with- our client list is a pretty fun bunch of people these days.

I also have a new hire who came on- our new video editor Brandon, who will be kept extremely busy in our main edit bay this next quarter. Brandon’s a good friend as well as a very talented editor, so we’re excited about working with him in the coming weeks and years. He’s edited feature films and commercials, and well… that’s pretty much what Brandon will be doing for us as well, with the addition of a lot of video destined for the web.

Back to perspective, I decided to hire Brandon after enjoying this downtime and realizing that as we grow this company I will need to gradually bring people in to help out with these projects. And I decided that the best way to ensure success would be to bring in people I enjoy working with, who share our core values, and well… I’ll admit it… who are better at their specialty than I am.

This break is giving me perspective. And it’s much needed. I think 2008 will be a much more exciting and rewarding year because of it.

22Nov

Thankfulness

Projects are winding down, and I’m getting ready to go into my annual “Learn New Things” phase. That’s when I get the time to really go through tutorials and new software that I know I will need to use in the next year. This year, that includes Modo and Lightwave (I have used Lightwave for years, but there’s a new version out), ProAnimator for After Effects, and Apple’s Color. I’m also looking forward to more time for writing in the next month or so.

I’m thankful for this year. It started out pretty badly, but things really came together. Empty Street is doing well, and we’re currently in the middle of two great projects. I think we’re doing the best work we’ve ever done. I started Empty Street back in 1993, and we’re still one of the best web design and development shops in the USA. That’s awesome, and sometimes I have to remind myself how far we’ve come.

And this year I launched Genius Monkeys- a company I formed to fit the web video and broadcast video niche. Genius Monkeys and Empty Street play well together, as web and video continue to converge. I formed Genius Monkeys to give myself a vehicle to do what I love best- to tell stories. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s awesome to finally have the means to do this.

I’m happy to report that even after startup costs, Genius Monkeys made a profit our first year. That’s amazing, and it’s allowed me to co-create and produce a new original sitcom for the web called “Couch Cases”.

“Couch Cases” has really been a trip, I’ve learned so much and I’m having an amazing time. I’m positive that this show is good enough to deserve being on network primetime, but even if it doesn’t make it to your television I’m very proud of the work. And we have a plan. The quality of the project is high enough that I’d be surprised if we didn’t at least get some doors opened for us in Hollywood. And hey, we’ve already been in USA Today and we have not even wrapped yet!

I have a lot to be thankful for, I get to live an interesting life doing things I enjoy. That’s huge, and I know it. I don’t plan on wasting these opportunities. Most importantly, I’m thankful for my friends and family this year. I hope your Thanksgivings are all amazing and wonderful, and that you get to spend them with the people you love the most.

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