Wednesday, December 10, 2008

recent illustration

I finished this a few months ago but haven't had a chance to post it. This was use for a print ad in a trade publication. The art direction was a sleek, sophisticated vibe. I looked at Jaguar, Lexus and Infinity for inspiration. Rendered from 3ds with VRay. The post work was done in PhotoShop CS3.

Friday, December 5, 2008

basic compositing with 3ds

A question came from the 3d user's group today asking about basic compositing with 3ds and Photoshop. I posted earlier about Scene States and Batch Rendering (SEE IT HERE) but thought I would put together a scene with states and batch setup. Plus I included a .psd with the passes comped. Restore each state and it should be straight forward how this system works. Scene states are critical for batch!!!! This system work really well for me. you will find SCENE STATES under TOOLS and BATCH under RENDERING.

This does not cover compositing elements, just scene geometry passes. I am planning to demo my pipeline next meeting.

Hope you find this useful Jay!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mom ...Can I get a Big Wheel?

I have officially found my favorite commercial. Yes, the Big Wheel memory is the best memory (maybe tied with Shogun Godzilla, homemade Transformers and Sega Genesis). What the Big Wheel lacked in traction; the Big Wheel made up in style. I took off the back rest and stood up, using my right leg to thrust me forward as if it were a scooter. I could launch off any ramp!

The concept of his inner self lobbying to keep the "Big Wheel for Christmas" as his favorite transportation memory is genius.

Look at it ...It's the Big Wheel.

Tecmo Bowl is the greatest sports game ever

My buddy Mike and I would play Tecmo Bowl for days straight when we were in middle school. We always played the Raider vs 49ers. I now have Tecmo Bowl on my Gameboy Advance and play it daily.

Monday, November 24, 2008

3ds max tip - finding a radius for geometery (editable poly)

I'm up late tonight working on a project that requires a rig for this retractable handling system. The system runs along this track that is an editable poly. For the rig I needed to find the radius and center for the track so I could get an accurate rotation - here is how i did it: First I set my snaps to include ENDPOINT and MIDPOINT. Then I selected ARC from the spline panel and clicked and dragged the first two endpoint of the arc and SNAPPED them to the MIDPOINT of two identical edges along the track. Then snapped the third point on an edge in between the first and second arc points. Then I turned on PIE SLICE in the ARC parameters and now have my radius center point. Finally I created a dummy by SNAPPING to the ENDPOINT of pie slice. Hope this helps someone out there.

introducing Isaac

My life has officially changed :) inspiration has a new name ...Isaac Joseph, born 11.08.08

Monday, October 27, 2008

KFC / Guitar Hero Promo

Today we launched a major interactive campaign for the KFC / Guitar Hero World Tour promo. The campaign included banners for, mainstage design on, a microsite ( and a videogame (

On you get to surf the crowd as a rocker dude or a rocker chick. Other features include a send to a bud, a customize character section and an upload your headshot tool. I still find it funny after weeks of viewing it. Here's me surfing:

You can also send a custom face shot to a bud. Here you can play as me:

And this isn't a freebie, level 03 is hard! I bet 99 percent of players do not get it on the first 3 attempts.

I applaud our agency client for believing in this vision and helping KFC believe in it and the entire team in bringing it to life. I hope people find it as fun as it was to make.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Basement hiring a 3D artist

Hello all, we are currently looking to hire a 3D artist / Motion Designer. Details can be found on our Krop posting HERE

Friday, September 12, 2008

checking in

Its been a long time since I've posted. I'm not sure how to describe my life this past month. Besides being robbed and a 10 day stay in the hospital with my pregnant wife, life's been good. Lauri and baby are doing fine, just at home resting for the next 9 weeks. Oh did I mention all my mp3's were stolen and my portfolio from the past 11 years of my career. ...Rough

On a more positive note, The build out is now complete and we are moving into our new studio later this afternoon. Our new studio is on Fort Benjamin Harrison off 56th street.

We are working on some cool projects. We just finished a banner campaign for a national QSR. The banners are tied to their TV spot that seems to be on every time I see a television. We are actively looking for freelancers to help with the flash, design and 3d if anyone is interested. We have a lot of microsite work, a national flash game and a few fresh animation projects. If you're interested, send portfolio or reel links to our default addy on

I'm over half way through my character rigging class with Paul Hormis. So far its been a great experience. I'm learning a lot and inspired by the thought of having confidence in my charcater rigs. Speaking of class, I've started another semster teaching at IU. It's always tough getting back into the classroom after the summer break, but this semester should be good.

So that i'm not posting without art, here's some character illos for a campaign we'll launch in late October. Nobody's getting past these two guys.

I'll work on posting more frequently.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

RATS! Lucas was right again.

In a move identical to the recently announced animal logic interactive division, Ubisoft acquires the visual effects studio Hybride Tech. Except this time its the gaming company jumping into the visual effects /advertising industry. Something tells me we will see more of these entertainment convergence deals in the near future. I can't wait to see if EA makes a move. Since the Take Two acquisition failed, maybe they'll go after The Mill.

Technically these deals make sense. Both pipelines are similar and require the same staff. Granted, one may require more animators to the other's programmers. A gaming studio and an effects house buy the same version of 3ds max folks, think about it. And with the introduction of normal maps in game engines, (in theory) high-poly models can be used on both side without major overhauls to the initial mesh. And that's just one example of the technical crossover.

I believe in the harmony between the two industries. We see it everyday at our studio. Lately its not uncommon to be concepting an animated spot and turn around the next week and work on an interactive game or product launch. Same process, same ideas, same need to captivate an audience, just a different execution.

The industry may be calling this convergence, but in the early 80's it was called pioneering. Lucasarts was established in 1982 as the interactive arm of the empire. Another steady contributer to the empire's bank account is the sister company, Industrial Light & Magic. I wonder if George Lucas knew about normal maps and DMM 26 years ago.

Oh yeah, here's the press release.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

max 2009 / NPower / VRay

3ds max 2009 came in today. So i should posting some new discoveries in the next few months. I'm currently working on project in which I've had to translate geometry from Rhino and Solidworks into max. I'm using the NPower translator where I've used Polytrans in the past. I must say, I'm enjoying the NPower translator's ability to manage large amounts of data. On the downside Its not friendly to edit the geometry on the basic translator level. However, we typically work with engineering models from industrial design shops and spend our time animating and rendering / compositing so the basic translator is appropriate.

It's currently 1:00 in the morning and I've been sucked into VRay calisthenics in max 2009. Here's an image of my workout.

Yeah I know its only spheres in a blue room but I like to study the settings, adjust and analyze the effect. So this image has been through numerous renders in an effort to understand the VRay basic material, VRay Blend material, Vray Lights and VRay Cameras. I'm a bit late to the VRay bandwagon party. My friends have been telling me about for years and I finally used it on the microsite. I'll quote a recent email from a friend that said "VRay is the poo-poo".

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blocking animation

Some blocking animation for an upcoming basement site.

rendering thumnail

"rendering thumbs" are drawn when you are watching buckets render in 3ds max. They normally live right between a "To-Do List" and phone number that will get misplaced.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mental Ray rendering Tip (I didn't need the last two hours anyway)

I'm currently using Metal Ray for a 3D character / composting project. I chose to use MR because of its intuitive Daylight system and for the fact that I'm composting my character on an outdoor plate. I built my model (in the User view), applied the Arch Design shader and when I would render I noticed these black edges on my model. It looked as if I applied a MR contour map. So I checked the properties tab, Applied a standard material, hit the help menu, checked and unchecked numerous boxes in the MR rendering tab... nothing! Then I came across a forum post that said to switch to a Perspective view. They're gone.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

RIP Stan Winston

I read an article today that the legendary Stan Winston died today of cancer he battled for 7 years. Stan Winston was the reason I went into the animation field. I always idolized Mr. Winston as a monster maker and wanted to create characters for a living just like him. I would always pause the VCR to get a fuzzy glimpse of his designs and lighting. Stan Winston won 4 Oscars and numerous nominations for his work in special effects. Here's a list of my favorite features he touched:

Terminator 2

Edward Sissorhands
John Carpenter's The Thing

The Relic


Raise a glass to a legend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Animal Logic Interactive Launches

Animal Logic is an Australian based visual effects studio that can be found near the top of the food chain in the industry (The Matrix, 300). Today they announced their new business division Animal Logic Interactive.

“As production values for games increase exponentially, so do the opportunities at the convergence of high end digital film making and game creation. ALI is uniquely poised to lead this convergence with its commitment to visual innovation, quality, talent and great ideas.”
-Zareh Nalbandian, Animal Logic’s CEO

This move is not only significant for the entertainment and gaming industry, but the advertising industry as well. It is another glimpse into the shift in media towards story, interaction and experiences. Established studios like Animal Logic do not jump into new industries without qualifying the opportunity, they are following the gaming industry's multiplying revenue increases. As mega brands like GM allocate 1.5 billion to online, I'm sure they are looking for visual innovation, quality, talent and great ideas.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

rhino something you don't know

ok, so the title is a bit lame :) This is a doodle I did in the back of a friend's car. We were on the way back from a bachelor party last weekend. I'm working on a series of animal character's for a nursery, but this sketch came out a tad sinister.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

o, how times have changed

Remember when we were young and "celebrities" would get Saturday morning cartoons instead of reality TV shows. How great would it be to have a Public Enemy cartoon where Flava Flav is still a side kick, but instead he's a dog. And Chuck D's weapon is his piercing rhymes. Yeah, and Terminator X only speaks through samples on wax. And they hunt down fruadulent corporate criminals and government oil lobbyists. I would buy that lunch box.

Anyone remember these:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

PIXAR presents "Lucaplakia the Penguin"

There is a little know studio in Emeryville, California called PIXAR. They are releasing a new film titled Wall-E. I was a bit apprehensive with PIXAR doing robots, I always admired them for their exploration of characters without having to do the robot thing. Don't get me wrong, robots and ninjas are my two favorites things in the world, but when i think of spending 400 million dollars on a story, robots aren't on the top of my list. I would have gone with Penguins. But then again, I do not have an academy award for best animated feature.

It appears the film is a love story between Wall-E and a clearcoat-drenched robot (designed by Apple). Could this be an animated remake of the 1986 classic Lucas? You must admit, Lucas was persistent, curious, lonely and his glasses have a lot of similarities to Wall-E's eyes.

I'm sure the story, environments, character design and animation will bring me to tears... they always do.

Here is a collection of Wall-E clips

Art Institute features The Basement Design + Motion show reel

Recently we were approached by the Art Institute and asked if they could feature our current show reel in their online curriculum. We said yes! (of course)

“We’re thrilled to showcase the demo reel from basement design + motion in our Advanced Modeling & Animation Topics course in the Media Arts & Animation program. The reel is an excellent example of how to integrate interface design, motion graphics, and both 2D and 3D animation work into an entertaining presentation.”
-- Jeannie Novak
Online Program Director, Media Arts & Animation / Game Art & Design, Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division;
Lead Author & Series Editor, Game Development Essentials, Cengage/Delmar PublishingMuch

Many thanks to Jeannie Novak and the Art Institute.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

portfolio update

Lately people have been asking about the new work I've doing, so instead of throwing myself into the chaos of a new studio website, I updated my portfolio. I've added some new work, reformatted some old favs and pulled out some I thought would never see the light of day. I plan to add a sketchbook section since I'm just about finished filling a sketchbook I've had for 2 years. Anyway here's the link:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Illustration Friday: FAIL

Here's the fish model, unwrapped, rendered and painted in PhotoShop. This is the first time I've posted to Illustration Friday.

Here's an additional shot of the character model before final pose and painting in PhotoShop.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I was sitting in front of my machine tonight and started free-styling a character in 3ds max. This is a work-in-progress, I plan to further develop the model, unwrap and paint. My goal is to submit this for Illustration Friday ...We'll see. It may have to be Illustration Next Friday. This started out as a few faces and I tugged on verts and edges until a fish appeared. I'll post progress as it come together.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

3ds max 2009 announced

Autodesk announced the new release of 3ds max 2009. Highlights of the release include:
  • The new Reveal rendering technology
  • Mental Ray 3.6 with new ProMaterials, MR proxies
    and a Glare output map
  • A slick update to the composite map type
  • And more Biped updates
See the press release HERE

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

3ds max rendering tip part II

I normally do not post twice in one day, but I'm on a roll. If you can't tell i'm doing a lot of 3D work lately. In Max 9 there are two new rendering features, SCENE STATES and BATCH RENDER. These are priceless rendering tools. Scene States allow you to store versions of your scene similar to Adobe PhotoShop's Layer Comps tool. In the old days, to render passes for compositing you had to save matte shadow materials in different files and set up a net render in Backburner to batch everything. Now you can save states in one Max scene. The new Batch Render tool allows you to render multiple "views" and tell Max which Scene State, Camera and Render Preset you want to use. Very powerful! But there's one problem, on the batch render interface there is no Pause button or check box to "Skip rendered frames". What you need to do is save a RENDER PRESET with "Skip frames" checked and tell the Batch Render to use it. Now you can stop it and start it with ease.

3ds max rendering tip part I

This will sound like a goofy tip, but it can be helpful to anyone who uses 3ds Max. Once you start rendering in Max and you want to minimize the interface while it renders (if clients come in and you don't want them to see your screen), you can hit the WINDOWS button + D to show the desktop. Everything at this point is minimized. Most times when you want to check your render progress, Max will not come back up when you select it in the windows toolbar. So RIGHT CLICK and select task manager; select 3ds Max from the application list and select SWITCH TO. It restores.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Where Do We Go Now?

While my student were working on their projects last night, I started demonstrating the process of Blocking animation to establish timing and Polishing to enhance the motion. Anyway, I wanted to work on Follow Through. This has some personal humor built in. We talked this morning about making a series based on this animation. We'll see :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fire Hydrant Monster

[ Acrylic on Canvas ]

Yesterday I was inspired to paint. I credit my wife who recently asked if I was going to paint the canvases sitting around my office. So I decided to paint something for a friend of mine. I hope he likes it! DOGS BEWARE!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

"as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a ninja"

I recently downloaded an XBOX Live Arcade demo called N+. The game is a 2D platformer that puts you in the shoes of a ninja with some serious hops that searches for gold and keys to glowing door. Originally build as a flash game, N+ has landed major cross platform deals starting with the XBOX Live Arcade version and development for both the Nintendo DS and the PSP. Once I played the demo, I had to buy the full version. Growing up, my friend Mike Murphy had a Commodore 64 (yes, with 5 1/2" floppy discs) and we loved a game called jumpman.

Jumpman was a Donkey Kong knockoff game and it had simple, addicting gameplay. Fast forward a few years and Nintendo kills the C64 and Jumpman can't match the style and appeal of Mario... the rest is history. Fast forward 25 years and we have N+, similar to jumpman, but a ninja. N+ sports an amazing physics engine, mad style and addicting (jumpman-like) gameplay.

You can waste valuable studio time and download the flash version HERE or give the demo a spin on XBOX live.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pivot Gallery Farewell Show ~ Friday March 7th

On April 1st, our friends over at Pivot Marketing are relocating their operations to Riverside Drive near the old bush stadium. As a farewell, they are having their final show on March 7th, with 18 artists. Doors open at 5:30. And there will be live entertainment by a musician named Crackhead Patty ... awesome!

Mo' Info

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We are looking for a Flash Developer!!!

To help accommodate our recent growth, we are looking for a super-duper flash developer to join our studio full time. We are stoked at the recently rewarded projects and have an immediate position for the right person. Details can be found on Krop. If you are looking to work with local and national clients on mid-major to major brands ..... step up!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Digital Content Producer of the Week

A friend of mine sent me a congrats email today and to my surprise, I was selected as Digital Content Producer's Producer of the Week. I greatly appreciate the accolade from and Reel-Exchange. HERE is the story.

PS - Thanks Eric (Filson) for the heads up!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two Brands Walk into a Bar....

Jacob sent me this article from and the author (Mat Zucker from attempts to demystify digital creative. He discusses the ideologies of traditional agencies and digital agencies. Countless times we've experienced the topics discussed in this article. One notable topic discussed is branding expression and the need for traditional branding standards to be updated to include tone and motion. In our business we our brought in to breathe life into brands through motion graphics and animation. But numerous times branding standards limit our ability to provide the strongest experience possible. You may ask yourself... "What would our brand say if it walked in a room?" but We're most interested in how it would walk in and how much noise would it make.

Enjoy the article: HERE

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year..... New Position

How exciting... my first post in '08! Even more exciting is the fact I'm posting our new job opening here in the studio. The position is for an art director/animator... Check out the details on We are looking for someone who has vast experience in interactive interface design (flash motion design), motion graphics design (After Effects wizards please apply) and 3D animation. If you feel you have the right combination of experience and drive... I can't wait to meet you. Best of luck in '08!