Terence McKenna's theory of human evolution, animated. Featuring illustrations by Zdeněk Burian and Edward Hopper. Music: Steve Reich - Pulse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzJTYbHqdTE
COMING TO THE FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 2018 / 2019
Synopsis: A hopeless loser is sent into a crisis after he is made infamous by an online marketer.
You can listen to an audio book version of the screenplay here.
Perpetual Surrender is my second video experimenting with folded paintings. This time I used images with a strong, singular light source, that cast a shadow on one side of the figure (Carmen Elle from DIANA). I tried to illustrate the idea of a personality with different sides, by mirroring and animating the lit side of the portrait, then contrasting that by mirroring the shadow side of the portrait.
I think it’s interesting that a lot of movement and animation can be added to an image with simple folding and plan to do more of it in the future.
The Eavesdrop project is a series of short film collaborations with Toronto's live storytelling community. The first bloc of story's were shot live at public laundromats. The theme is dirty laundry. Featuring Jesse Yules, Ilya Schwarz, Amy Cunningham, Zeb Pike and Nolan Murray. Special thanks to Lisa Schwarz, Arianne Shaffer and Jessica Rae Gordon.
For Warm Myth I wanted to continue playing with some of the peekaboo shots I used in my previous video for Of Montreal’s “Spiteful Intervention.” I like the idea of an alternate video lurking under the video we’re watching. I began thinking of ways that an image could morph or fold out of the way to reveal a new image. I visited some simple origami blogs looking for ideas. After a while I started to think the origami folds could be used not just as transitions, but to animate paintings. The same trick is used to make the head of state on a paper bill appear to be smiling. Don Hertzfedt’s classic “Rejected” also comes to mind, although “Rejected” takes the idea much further.
As with the Of Montreal video, I did a series of paintings I thought fit the vibe of the song, then experimented with folding the paintings in various ways. From there, I decided to play off the geometry of the folds created, which led me to experiment with kaleidoscope images. I knew that the kaleidoscope effect had been done to death (it’s an After Effects filter) so I thought it might be interesting to try and do the effect practically. Bellow is a rough set up from the shoot. I shot the folded paintings near a window in my house, to take advantage of the natural light.
Animated multimedia video for the band Of Montreal. Pitchfork has the premiere. Also, a small interview with The Creators Project (VICE / Intel collaboration) on the making of the video and a Fast Company Review. Special thanks to Cameron Tomsett and Lee Stringle for their help.
Some of the characters that didn't make the final cut, I converted them into gifs...
Bruce Peninsula | Corrugated Screen Test
This a test for the Bruce Peninsula video I made last winter. The idea was to shoot the band footage while it was projected on a corrugated screen. One half of the footage was projected on the lefts side of the corrugations, the other half of the footage was projected on the right side.
The effect worked, but our broken dolly and lack of matching projectors make the footage mostly unusable.
Dance video for the great Kathryn Calder. Exclaim Article on Kathryn. Visit my partner Cameron's site. Credits | Camera: Greg Biskup, Costume Designs: Lee Stringle, Projections: Emma O'Neil, Dancers: Sessy Lee Slater and Peng Cherry. Special thanks to Dean Tzenos, Brendan Black, Todd Julie and Chris Chapman.
Cameron summarized the video in a single gif, for those of you in a hurry. For those of you with some time to kill, here are some details on how this video came together.
Kathryn Calder Making of...
May - July 2011
In the summer of 2011 Cameron Tomsett, Dean Tzenos and I began throwing around concepts for our friend Kathryn Calder’s new track “Who Are You?”. She had requested a “weird, fun dance video”. We threw around several ideas: Belly dancing video? Break dancing C3P0? A Sesame Street parody… Finally we decided on a stream of animated, colourful shapes with sexy lady legs, similar to the “lets go out to the lobby” cartoons at old movie theatres.
We came up with rough ideas for the costumes. We knew we wanted the designs to evolve and become more complex as the song progressed.
Eventually we decided it would be interesting to focus on animal evolution. We would start from basic shapes and as we added more geometry to the costumes, we would move up the evolutionary tree — Worm, fish, octopus, crab, gator, dinosaur, bird, pony, monkey and finally a human which would be played by Kathryn Calder herself.
Our friend, painter and designer Lee Stringle helped us design the “evolving” costumes. Each costume in the sequence has one or more extra geometric planes, or polygons, than the design that proceeded it.
Once we had the designs, we had to think about how to best build the costumes. We crafted a 1 meter diameter buckyball out of paper mache as a test, but the prototype was both too heavy and too rough-looking to work for the concept.
After consulting local builder Melissa Fisher, we decided to build the costumes from large sheets of foamcore. To create the blue prints for the costumes, we built 3D CGI versions of the animal designs in Maya. Using a program calledpepakura we “unwrapped” the CGI models and converted them into 2d blue prints.
We then projected the patterns onto 48 x 72 inch foamcore boards and traced the images with pencil. Afterwords, we used box cutters to trim the designs and duct tape to assemble the pieces into the final costumes.
During our construction marathon, I managed to slice the pad off of my index finger with a box cutter. It was 12:30 at night on a Tuesday, and all the stores were closed. Cameron, along with my roommate Brendan, ran around the neighbourhood looking for bandages while I sat pinching my finger in the fetal position. I figured I could fuse the severed skin back onto my body if I applied enough pressure. I had a rotten sleep that night. For some reason, because I have never had a pain in my finger before, I thought finger pain would be mild and easily ignored. It was not.
16 hrs and a few Tylenol liquid jells later, we were back at full capacity. Incidentally, a couple weeks later, the whole end of my injured finger turned brown and hard and eventually peeled off like a leather thimble. Underneath was a brand new finger, soft and pink like a baby’s…
On shoot day, our friend Chris Chapman set us up in a beautiful room at this awesome photography space Silverline Studios which basically took the project to a whole new level. It came with a small refrigerator full of coca-cola, which I think, Cameron and the dancer Peng Cherry are still dreaming of.
Later, Cameron and I rented a moving van and drove the fully constructed costumes to the shoot space in the dead of night to avoid Toronto traffic. We blasted Classic Rock Q107 all the way there, since there was no iPod jack in the van’s stereo. Here is one of the songs…
Next is a video from our dress rehearsal starring Peng Cherry and Cameron Tomsett.
The shoot day was a long 12 hour slog. The wonderfully talented Greg Bliskep worked as our DP. We shot one costume at a time, and used a HD video projector to add colourful animations by Toronto Designer Emma O’Neil, on to the while costumes.
The day after the shoot, faced with the fact that we had no place to store the huge costumes, Dean, Cameron and I ninja kicked them to pieces. Failing to capture video of this event, is probably the greatest regret of my career….
Kingdom of Frogs is an adaption of the Aesop's fable the Frog's that Desired a King. The film was my contribution into what was to be a collaborative feature, made of up a series of punk-fables by indie directors based on the stories by Aesop.
The sets and animation were done Winston Hacking and Brett Long of Toronto amazing Exploding Motor Car Collective. The sound track was written by Dean Tzenos, front man for the band Odonis Odonis. The clip was produced by Geoff McLean, Toronto's top commercial and music video producer.
The film was featured in various festivals worldwide including Contra Vision is Germany. It was the winner of Best Experimental Film prize at Hamilton International Film Festival.
Making of Photos...
The Frog Kingdom
Director: Jesse Ewles
Overview: The Frog Kingdom will be stopmotion animation based on the Aesop's fables the Frog and the Ox, and the Frogs Who Desired a King. The work will be an update and a tribute to the work of the early 20th century animator Ladislaw Starewicz, integrating contemporary music, editing, humour and digital effects.
Synopsis: A tiny kingdom of frogs is panicked after their scout sights an Ox near their pond. The arrogant Frog King scoffs at the threat, claiming the God Zeus has granted him the skills needed to protect his subjects. Soon after, while attempting to puff himself to the size of an Ox, the King explodes, leaving his subjects defenseless. Terrified, the remaining frogs petition Zeus to give them a new king. Amused by the frightened beings, Zeus delivers a new sovereign in the form of a huge rotten log. At first the frogs are overjoyed at having such a hulking King to hide behind, but in time they realize the log is inanimate and harmless.
Angrily, the frogs petition Zeus for a better King, a strong King to properly rule them. Soon Zeus, annoyed by the frog's lack of gratitude and wisdom grants their wish; he makes a stork the new King of the Frogs, and the stork quickly devours the whole kingdom.
The Frog and the Ox & the Frogs that Desired a King
Opening shot of a meadow and marsh stretching out to under clouded sky.
There was once a Kingdom of Frogs remote enough that none of it's creatures had ever seen a farmer or a beast of burden. Until one day...
Shot of a gargantuan Ox head looming over a terrified grouping of frogs. The small lot scrambles and dives over one another attempting to flee.
Cut to a shot of the hulking FROG KING wearing a crown, perched on a stone and surrounded below by smaller frogs on flowered lily pads. The subservient frogs are lashing out their tongues and batting flies into the yawning mouth of the KING. The tranquillity is broken by the panicked approach of one of the frogs from the opening.]
Such a torrent underling! What's the trouble??
Your Majesty! To the East! A woolly titan looms!!!
By Zeus! Calm yourself crier! Have you forgotten you're under my care?
But My Sovereign! The beast was far larger than you!!!
Rest easy little one, our God Zeus hath bestowed me with great potential! Watch as balloon!
The frog king puffs up his throat, going "Ribbit Ribbit" as he expands. Other frogs looking on applaud.
Aha! All too easy.
Master, to be sure the monster was much larger.
Not a problem!
The King sucks in even more air, becoming twice his normal size. The onlookers cheer and do back-flips approvingly.
Surely this is... enough to frighten your beast... What say you NOW?
NO! NO! Much bigger still! TEN TIMES THAT AT LEAST!!
Then larger we will go!
The King swells to enormous size, his skin stretches to a fine membrane.
ZEUS... AID.. MMME....
The King attempts one last breath...
BOOM!!! He explodes. Sparks, star-shapes and guts rain down on the swamp.
OH MY! What a turn! We'll surely be stomped out now. Zeus help us!
No sooner than this is said, Zeus makes an appearance. The clouds in the sky twist into a cottony beard, and from the beard the face of Zeus surfaces looking wild-eyed. Atop his head sits a crown of lightening bolts.
What troubles you my luscious babes?
Our King has exploded, oh Thunderous one! At a time of bad peril! Can thou offer new protection??!
Fruit of my loins, it is my top priority.
Zeus' mighty arm tosses a thunder-bolt at spot where the Frog King exploded. In a flash of comic stars an old log wearing a crown irrupts up from the swamp towering and back-lit like the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
THE KING IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE KING!
The frog's huddle down timidly behind the log, and peek their heads around it in search danger.
COMMON FROG 1
He's a strong one ain't he? All of us can be shielded by his mighty back!
COMMON FROG 2
And look at the confidence he exudes! No need for idol chatter at all.
COMMON FROG 1
We'll be well protected from the monster now.
Just a moment fellows... Our new King looks suspiciously like... A LOG! A COMMON LOG LIKE THE THOUSANDS LITTERING THIS SWAMP.
Crier hops to the top of the Log King and pushes aside it's crown. All around gasp as the King is revealed to be an ordinary log.
Zeus!!! You've marooned us!
T'is true! Shame! Hsss!
You pain me, sweethearts... I feel I have chosen the best protector for you, humble as it is. Perhaps you could paint it?
This is no time for half-measures! We're under siege! We need a proper king! A strong King and a terrible King to rule us properly!
Very well my lovely, may you have your wish.
Zeus karate chops the air and a new lightening bolt strikes the log. In a flash the log is transformed into a huge stork wearing a crown.
Here is your strong king. May you enjoy your time in his care.
The King Stork squawks and beats it's wings and promptly devours all the frogs in the kingdom saving CRIER for last. We cut to a wide shot of the meadow. The Stork King looks small and insignificant under the dark thundering sky.
FROG KING Technical Treatment
We will make a stopmotion animation using latex based puppets with aluminum skeletons, shot in a natural environment. Natural light will be used. The stopmotion approach will allow us to make the character designs highly elaborate and detailed compared to CG or traditional animation on it’s own. In post, CG effects and compositing (muzzle animation) will be used to excentuate the stopmotion footage. Squash and stretch and facial animation will be added using Maya and After Effects. The use of Latex puppets will make them water proof and enable us to shoot in a real marsh. In combination, the use of biodegradable latex, and an on location shoot will lead to a low carbon-footprint production.
The Frog King will be made of cast latex rubber over an armature wire skeleton. He will contain a latex “balloon” blatter that will allow him to be inflated with a bicycle pump. He will be painted with non-toxic latex paint. His eyes and back jewels will be made from composite polymer plastic and (along with the crown) be the only non-biodigradable elements of the puppet.
The Crier will be constructed with much the same design. The other two other Common Frogs will be animated using the Crier puppet and composited in post, double exposure style.
Making of Reverie Sound Review...
Making of Documentary by Exploding Motorcar (Parts 1 & 2)
Original Treatment (2008)
We will focus on a day in the life of a disorganized fashion designer (played by Reverie singer Lisa Lobsinger), attempting to get her life together. While cleaning her derelict apartment, Lisa inadvertently creates a monster from the mountains of trash in her closet.
We open with a shot of Lisa sitting at a cluttered dining room table, staring blankly at a pile of paper dress patterns she's laid out. Lisa thumbs through the patterns and becomes distracted by her open purse. She reaches into the purse's clutter and reveals an unfinished piece of knitting; the knitting's yarn has ensnared her license, pictures of loved ones and other knick knacks. Lisa pulls the mess of yarn from the purse and hangs it on the chandelier suspended above the table. It forms an unintentional mobile. Lisa surveys the mess piled on the table. The clutter seems to have a life of it's own. The dishes and mail jitter as if they are giggling, mocking her. Scrunching her fists, Lisa mouths "You don't exist". In a flash, the piles of dirty dishes, the yarn mobile and the unopened mail fly into the air past her head and into the yawning mouth of the broom closet behind her. The closet door slams shut. One mischievous dish tries to escape. The door springs to life again and pulls the dish into the closet with authority.
Lisa makes her way over to the kitchen counter. Much like the table, the counter is buried in junk. Amidst the rubbish is an old television with a VHS player. Lisa presses 'play'. A grainy home movie of a little blond girl swinging on a trapeze and falling into a pile of safety foam appears. Lisa closes her eyes again. "You don't exist" she mumbles. As before, the tv, the tapes and fabric all fly off into the closet. This time however, the closet door seems visibly stressed, struggling to contain junk and bulging outward. Pieces of coloured fabric, dishes and torn paper fight to escape through the widening gap between the door and it's frame.
Near the room's main window Lisa finds a fish bowl that has been neglected horribly. An exotic, coloured fish lies dead on the bottom of the bowl. Webs of green algae dangle through the water. Lisa says "You don't exist". The bowl flies off screen. Behind her, the closet is now fit to burst. The door bulges out painfully. In quick succession Lisa wishes away her remaining distractions: An out of date calendar, a dusty collections of butterflies and several hanging plants are whisked off in an instant.
For So Cold I wanted to return to some of the scrambled porn aesthetics we experimented with on In Decay for the band Phèdre. I wanted to make a simple dance video so that I could push the amount of distortion on the image, and still have it be readable. Video credits: Erin Moore (Make Up), Leilanni Todd (Styling), Charise Aragoza (Dancer Characters), Jesse Yules (Director / Animator). Watch the video here...
After studying illustration and computer animation in college, I wanted to further pursue filmmaking. Instead of more school, I decided to make music videos. Here are some of them.