Introducing Our First Animated Shorts

I’m very excited to be introducing our first animated shorts to all of you.  I have mentioned it a few times in previous posts, but I know some of you have been dying to see some artwork, and hear more about it.  As promised here is a more detailed introduction to the shorts we are working on including some concept art.  Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Earlier this year after finishing with the Toys”R”Us project I wanted to create a series of short animated videos that I could post online.  I had a general idea of what I wanted the short to be, but did not have a story idea.  Really all I knew was that I wanted a character driven short with a cute lovable character.  Something that audiences could connect with, and enjoy watching.  I thought it would be a great way to showcase the kind of work my company could do, and wanted to do.

On March 10th of this year I contacted a very talented writer, and great friend, Charlie Petrek.  He had just left DreamWorks Animation, and I was hoping he could help me with the story.  We met up for lunch, and talked about what I wanted to do, and we had a really great brainstorming session.  The next day I woke up to an email from him with all kinds of great ideas on where we could take these shorts.

Shortly after Charlie accepted a position at Disney, but I had enough to go on for the first few shorts.  Over the next few months the story continued to grow, and the short started to take form.  It continues to evolve every day as we continue developing the story.

valerio_working_creatureI reached out to Valerio Fabbretti about doing the character design for the little creature.  He was the illustrator for the “Action Movie Kid” book that our friends Mandy Richardville and Daniel Hashimoto wrote based off of Hashi’s hit “Action Movie Kid” YouTube web-series.

creature_for_webValerio agreed to do the character design, and in May started his work on it.  Since we were doing a lot of exploring on what this creature would look like we went through a lot of sketches all of which could be a character on their own.  I wanted something that would work great for this short, and by July we had a final design.

At this point we were also in progress on the model for the room environment that all the action will take place.  We are now ready to begin work on the model for the character, and I can’t wait to see how he translates into 3D.  Often times you find out that something that works, and looks good in a 2D drawing does not look good in a 3D model.  It takes highly skilled modelers to be able to look at a flat drawing, and bring it to life in a third dimensional world.

I wanted to get concept art that we could use for surfacing and lighting as a color key.  Unfortunately for me, but great for Valerio, he got a position at Cartoon Network and was not able to help with the concept art. I was able to find the amazingly talented Rachel Wan, and she agreed to do the concept art for the short. She started towards the end of July, and was able to complete it by the 5th of August.



I was very happy with how it turned out, so I asked Rachel if she would do the character design for the mechanical hand(the shadow in the background).  She agreed, and has begun work on the design for it.  I’m very excited to see what she comes up with.

This catches you all up on where I’m at with the short.  You may have seen posts from me looking for different artists to help out.  As you may already know it takes a crew of people to make these things happen, and I could not be happier with the people who are helping me with it.

Before I end this post I’m guessing you might be interested in find out a little more about the story.  So here is a little back story on the creature.

He is not an alien from another world, but actually a creature of Earth.  His species are seafaring, and travel around on the sea.  This is why we have never come in contact with them before.  The oceans are so vast that they could have avoided us forever.  There are stories told by sailors that date back to when we first started to sail the uncharted seas of these creatures, but people took them for nothing more then stories from drunk sailors.

Our main character was curious, and wanted to learn more about us humans.  Contrary to what the humans who “captured” him thought, he actually let them catch him.  It was his curiosity to know more about us that brought him to this secret testing facility.

Each short will be about a different test that the humans perform to learn more about him.  Don’t worry, he does not seem to mind the tests, but what he does seem to mind is the mechanical hand that administers the tests to him.  All he wants to do is observe the humans, and this hand keeps getting in his way.  It is this conflict that creates tension, and comical outcomes during the testing.

As I mentioned the story is constantly evolving, but I hope to have a lot of fun with it.  I will keep you updated as we progress through this blog, and eventually share the completed shorts.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

A quick update on this week

This week has been a pretty busy, so I was not able to finish the article I was working on, so instead I thought I would give a quick update on this week.

Last night I went to a Producers Guild networking event in Hollywood that was hosted at the Den on Sunset.  As always I met a lot of really great producers, but I also met a guy from the U. S. Coast Guard Motion Picture and Television Office.  We were talking about the services the different military branches offer to production companies at no cost.  Some of the stuff does have a cost but mostly if it is going to be additional expense to the military.  If you want solders running around or doing military stuff it is free, and they calk it up to training.  He said he can even get helicopters and tanks, and I would only have to pay for fuel…  Who wants to get a helicopter with me?  I’m sure the fuel is not cheap, but really awesome the military offers these things to production companies.

Tomorrow I’m attending another Producers Guild event that is an Associate Producer Council Master Class: “Comps: How Comparable Films’ Financial Info Can Make You a Better Producer”.  It will go over how to get people to invest in your projects by making your numbers look good to potential investors by using comps.  I will let you know if I learn anything interesting.

This week I also registered for the Creative Talent Network 3-day Animation Expo in November, so I’m looking forward to that.  Has anyone gone to this expo before?  What is it like, and any suggestions on what panels to see?

I wanted to give a big congratulations to my friend Hashi for his Streamy Award win for “Best Visual and Special Effects” for his YouTube channel Action Movie Kid.  And a even bigger congratulations to him and his wife who are welcoming their daughter into the world today.

Well, that is all I have time for today, but keep following for future updates.  If you are interested to hear about anything specific please feel free to leave comments below.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

So much to do, so little time

The exciting news for this week is that the first 3 Toys”R”Us: C’mon Let’s Play commercials that I’ve been post supervising are now airing on TV, and online. You may have already seen them on TV, or if you are following me on Facebook or Twitter you might have seen them there.  If you have not seen them in either of those two ways I included the videos here(click play all to see all 3 spots).

It was exciting to see the first one on TV, since I was not expecting to see it so soon. They posted them on their Toys”R”Us YouTube channel on Saturday, so I wonder if they will be posting 3 more this weekend. We have been delivering 3 commercials a week to them, so that seems to make sense in my head. It is also really cool that these all came from the fun videos my friend Daniel Hashimoto did of his son, and posted on his YouTube Channel Action Movie Kid. Toys”R”Us loved these videos(like many), so they asked Hashi to direct these 15 commercials for them.  I owe Hashi a big thank you for bringing me on to help out.  It has been a fun experience, and I look forward to seeing how the rest of them turn out.

Eric Miller Animation WebsiteIn addition to working on these commercials I have also been updating my website, since I have not done so in awhile.  I tend to update it, and then a week later decide I hate it, and start all over again.  It is a vicious cycle that never seems to end.  That pattern got interrupted.  I was using DreamWeaver to make my site, but it stopped working when I upgraded my computer awhile back.  I had no way to update my website until recently when I decided I would just use Apple’s iWeb.  I don’t have all the flexibility that I had with DreamWeaver, but at least I can update my site now.  It is still a work-in-progress, but you can check it out here. I always have the most difficulty with the wording I put on each page.  If you have any suggestions to improve what I wrote, and would like to volunteer your words please let me know.

I have also started the search for an attorney to make sure I’m not doing anything illegal, and also help me get some contracts written up for working with clients, and freelancers.  This stuff is so foreign to me, and it is very draining trying to make sense of it.  I guess that is why lawyers cost so much.  I found a guy that has years of experience in animation, and really knows his stuff, but not sure I can afford him.  I guess the big question is can I afford hime, or afford not to have him?  He brought up a lot of interesting points that sent me back to the drawing board on how I’m structuring my company.  It is the little things that you don’t think about that can ruin you if you are not careful.

This week I had several friends reach out to me, and it was great hearing from them.  They also wanted to talk business to see how we could maybe work together, or help each other out (forgive my vagueness, but I’m excluding their names for their privacy).  One of them was an animator that I worked with at DreamWorks Animation on Kung Fu Panda 2, and since then he has left DWA and has been working as a freelance animator.  He is also interested in starting his own animation company, so he wanted to meet up and talk about that.  A good friend of mine that is now back at DWA has a friend that might have a project for me to help him with.  He plans on calling this weekend to discuss the project, and it will also give us a chance to catch up on life.  It will be interesting to hear what his friend is looking for, but it will also be great to catch-up since we have not talked in awhile.  Another friend of mine that I have not had a chance to talk to in awhile called, and wanted to see if I could meet up with her and her business partner to talk about how our two companies could work together.  They run a film/television production company, so there seems to be a lot of potential for us to be able to help each other out.  On top of all that I might also be meeting with an intern that is interested in getting into animation that I agreed to meet with to talk about my experiences.  As you can tell next week appears to be the week of meetings for me.  It should be nice though since besides my wife the only adult interactions I get is over conference calls.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.

The First Week

toysrus-todayWhen I thought about how my first week after leaving my job at DreamWorks would go I envisioned a much less active week. I figured it would mostly be me trying to get some of the basics in place so that I could eventually start finding clients. In reality it has been a pretty active week, and that gives me a lot of hope for the future. I was hired on as the Post Supervisor for a series of Toys R Us commercials my good friend Hashi is co-producing/Directing and doing his After Effects magic on. They are in the fashion of his Action Movie Kid videos that he has been doing with his son. If you have not seen them yet you should check them out. It will be exciting to get to work with Hashi, and see him take his craft to the next level. There are 3 shooting days at the end of next week, and then I will mostly be working from home making sure we get all After Effects work done on time and delivered to the client.

On this last Sunday I posted on Facebook about me leaving my job at DreamWorks, and my plans to start my own animation company. I was hoping for a big response, but did not expect the response I got. My friends and family have been so supportive, and gave me a lot of words of encouragement. As of the writing of this post my company Facebook page has 423 Likes, and in the first 24 hours my blog received over 900 views from all over the world. Which includes 756 from the US, 46 from France, 16 from Canada, 11 from Italy, 10 from Malaysia, 8 from Brazil, and it goes on and on. A total of 24 different countries that have visited my blog. This chart below shows you the numbers for the whole week, and I’m shocked how it spread to so many different countries.
By country

I had a good number of artists that reached out to me to let me know they would love to work with me, so I have a rapidly growing list of freelancers that I can call when I have projects. This also generated a few clients asking for my help on projects. Most of them were asking for help to make their animation projects for much less then what is possible. Although one project I was able to find an artists that agreed to the budget being offered. They are working on the final draft of the script, and then after that we should be able to get started on it. I will keep the details of the project private out of respect for the clients privacy, but once finished I will be glad to share it with all of you.

On Wednesday I went to a Producers Guild event, and was able to meet a lot of really great people. I love that when I go to these events I’m almost always the only person in animation. This works in my favor since if I can be known as the animation guy anytime they need animation they will hopefully think of me. I can offer them help on their projects with animation, but also graphics, titles, special effects, and many other CG visuals that they may want.

This morning I have a conference call with Hashi and the team working on the Toys R Us commercials. It will be exciting to see how this process works, and meet some of the other people that are onboard the project. Next week on the shooting days will be a new experience for me, since I have never been on location for a live action shoot (besides my own college films). It has been a great first week on my own, and I hope the momentum of this week can continue on into the future.


If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog. If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.