Television – Film – Commercial Production – Games – Software
I’ve been active in the media and software development industries, working across North America since graduating from the acclaimed Sheridan College | Institute of Applied Arts and Technology. I have had broad senior management and creative direction experience with a variety companies large and small – including C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, Electronic Arts, and SAS software group. My current focus is cross-platform content and applications development, helping to establish IP arm Chemistry Entertainment Inc with leading commercial partner Topix, as well as managing separate research projects. Most of my expertise is related to creative and work flow solutions, team management, directing, and operations. I maintain a close involvement with the CG community in Toronto Canada, offering consulting, mentoring, and participating in a number of related forums and events. I am honored to continue my connection with Sheridan College after being invited to chair their Professional Advisory Committee
Paperboy. Investment of time/energy high. Salary low, and first time dealing with challenging clients (delayed payments, service and products complaints, poor communication – hmm). Upside: Merit based reward (tips!).
My first production job was designing/creating digital slides for presentations on something called an AVL Starburst. Early interface, and mouse with a crosshair “bombsite” window which I miss to this day…
Digital Turning Points:
To name a few: Seeing the first 3D wireframe real-time demonstration on (then) groundbreaking SGI workstation. Later, the release of Softimage 3D modeling and animation software; inspired interface design and workflow that opened the industry to a whole new generation of new artists. And of course the integration of all that high-end power into game console systems. Currently, it’s all about the wireless age and the rise of smart mobile devices. Inevitable really since the first time any of us were able to walk away from our desks or homes and still communicate virtually.
Of the possible dozens: there are the entrepreneurs – the Bob Munroe’s, Chris Wallace’s and Chris Gray’s – and their indomitable spirit. They stood at the helm and enabled adventure and opportunity for many of us and in hindsight shouldered as many challanges as rewards.
A couple of other standouts: Executive Producer/Chief Creative Officer Steve Rechtshaffner (Electronic Arts/Microsoft). When you notice yourself quoting someone 10 years after working for someone it tends to suggest they were important. Steve confounded some with his vision and leadership style, but to those who saw and respected it, he was always acutely trend-aware and on the hunt for innovation. He offered enough clues behind his hunches and was quick to recognize when something or someone hit the mark.
On the talent side, how can I not mention – with tremendous respect – William Shatner (then partner at CORE Digital Pictures Inc of Toronto). My time on development concepts and pitching with him proved to me that he has earned every bit of his icon status. Mr. Shatner is proof that stature and experience need not reduce creative enthusiasm and collaboration. He was/is as ready to invest his creative and strategic input (which is remarkably sharp) equally into projects large and small. Two things stand out. His reminders to “leave no stone unturned!”, and his ability to deliver himself in his sports car to any corner of LA for days packed with studio (and horse ranch) meetings. Make no mistake; he is an impressive figure in any environment.
First Wake-Up Call:
The “Garbage In – Garbage Out” rule is true! The realization that precision and planning is critical to creating quality and avoiding eventual trouble in the digital workspace. I also recognized (thanks to experiences with very bright engineers and specialists), that working smart will tend to beat working hard almost all of the time. The latter is often more rewarded but its not a good thing to depend on in the long run. Brute-force is part of the game but by its nature is an “inelegant” approach that does not promote inovation.
In the digital industry it is a toss up between the “magic” of the technology and the sheer inventive/creative nature of the work environments with their constant inflow of new talent. The early Siggraph conferences stand out with all this in mind. The blend of theoretical math sciences and emerging graphics technology produced visualizations that astounded audiences – and entertained; Pixar’s “Luxo Junior” animated piece being one of them.
“If the technology is good, it will sell.” This statement from a founder at a startup company I worked for I think left many in the boardroom scratching their heads (and worrying – certainly from us on the marketing/sales side). To this day I wonder if I missed something, seeing as it came from someone otherwise extremely brilliant. But safe to say, I think the world is littered with the “best” technology or ideas that got beat or else never saw the light of day. On the other hand, the product was good enough to get the company aquired so maybe there was some truth to it…
Favourite Info Sources:
Beyond the obvious tech sources like Engadget and Gizmodo or trend sources like The Awesomer, I never fail to find something of interest professionally – especially at macro level – in Fast Company (Magazine) or The New York Times which offers a pretty sophicticated look across a broad spectrum tech, business, design, and trends.
My dear old California classic ’67 Camaro SS/RS muscle car (aka “The Dude”). But oddly enough, an ’88 Acura Integra won me over to the new-school import trend; nimble, high-performance…or maybe it was just that both had hide-away headlights. Hmm.
Some classics: Jaws (watch it again – trust me), Baron Von Munchausen, and the Cohen bother’s Big Lebowsi (or Miller’s Crossing); all for different reasons, but then again all showing talented young directors at the top of their game. “Kill Bill”? Sorry, by allowing it to be released as two movies ruined any chances for it to be a masterpiece. The original “Tron” deserves a mention as it was a wonderful first example of how good CG sequences could look when directed by traditionally trained cinematographers.
For those that recall it’s debut or want to look it up, I would go with Psygnosis’ console game franchise “Wipeout” – primarily for its design integrity. Very strong graphically, with nicely textured models that somehow used low polygon restrictions to an advantage, and carried the design sense right through front-end menus and graphics to the music itself (which was solid enough to release as its own soundtrack). Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption needs a mention as well – the graphics and immersive experience on a huge LED flat screen won me over.
In I work primarily in the heart of the city – in Toronto’s hip and vibrant entertainment district; home of clubs, fashion shops, and media broadcasters (see CityTV/Much Music for example). The city also offers me the chance to enjoy some time sailing (cruising and racing) on the water in the city’s scenic harbour.