A Blank Canvas, and Endless Possibilities for an Animation Studio

We are in the last weeks of our second Toys”R”Us project, and when it is done we will have made around 40 commercials for them.  These have been amazing first two projects for my company, and very fortunate to have had this opportunity.  A big thanks to Hashi for thinking of me, and brining me on board to help with it back in July.  Earlier this week after finishing one of the very important commercials we got a very nice email from the agency letting us know how happy the client was with our work.  This is the kind of late night emails I actually enjoy getting.  Hopefully we will get to work with this agency again on other future projects they might have.

As this project is coming to an end I have been kicking the search for my next projects into full speed.  I’m currently in talks with a company that asked me to do some CG animation work for them that.  I’m actually really excited about this project, since it is the kind of project I have been wanting to do.  I will know more in the next couple weeks if I will get to be involved with this project.  It would be perfect timing for me as I start to ramp down from the Toys”R”Us project.

I have also been doing a lot of thinking about how far my company has come so far, and where I want to go with it.  When I left DreamWorks Animation 5 months ago I was expecting that the first 2 years I would not have any clients.  I figured I would need at least that much time to put together a portfolio, and to build a brand for my company.  I feel I’m already ahead of the game, so I could not be happier with how things are going.  With that said though, I feel I have not done anything extraordinary.  I’m positive that anyone that took a chance, and spent the time could be doing the same thing that I am doing.  If I want to make my company great I will have to find a way to make it stand out from the rest.  I will need to find what is unique and special to my company, and expand upon it.  This of course is easier said then done, and I’m still trying to figure out what will set us apart from the crowd.  Luckily this does not have to be figured out at this moment, and it might end up being a more organic discovery as the company grows.

What excites me about where I’m at with the studio are the endless possibilities, like an artist with a blank canvas.  I have the opportunity to guide this studio in any direction that is seems best.

“The sky is a canvas, so paint your own life.” – Jada Berglund


If you have not already, please join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  Also, 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.

900 Facebook Likes! Why Social Networking is so Important for an Animation Company

It is a little after 4am, and I thought… “what a great time to write the blog post that I was not able to get to on Friday”.  I took a quick power nap earlier, so I’m full of energy now.

I will start off by saying Thank You for all of you who have supported me in so many ways since I left my job at DreamWorks 5 months ago.  Our company Facebook page now has over 900 Likes!  I’m getting closer to my 1,000 Likes goal, and I will need all your help to get there.

You may ask why I care so much about the number of Likes I have on Facebook, but a strong social presence is extremely important these days.  There are several reasons why I feel this is important.  First off it gives me a direct line to people who are interested in what I’m doing with the company, and the work we are doing.

There are a lot of people doing some amazing work out there, and on occasion something goes “viral”.  It is not always clear why one thing goes viral and another does not, but having a large social following certainly can help.  It all depends on the right people seeing it at the right time, and sharing, and then it getting shared again, and again.  If you are not reaching enough, or at least the right people your work may never be seen more then your own social network.  The more people that I have a direct link to show our work the greater chance I will have of it being seen by the most people possible.

Another reason is that I would love to one day create my own content, and a popular way of raising money to do that is crowd funding.  I have mentioned before about some very successful campaigns where the people raised far more then what they needed.  I feel like having a way to communicate directly with people that are interested in your work is a great place to start in raising money, or getting the word out there.

Working in the commercial world it is important to always be bringing in new clients, but finding clients is not always easy.  Often calling clients up directly does not seem to get a very good response.  I think they have people calling them all the time trying offering their services, so they often put up these walls.  A more natural way is for them to “discover” your work.  When they find something they like they will reach out to you.  Sounds simple enough, but if they never see your work, then don’t expect this to ever work.  Once again, having your work being seen by more people you have a greater chance of an agency seeing your work.  It also helps if they see that people are interested in your work, and you already have a large following.

So for my small company that does not have much of a marketing budget a strong social network is important.  Of course this is only part of the puzzle, but it is not a part you should ignore.  So once again thank you for Liking our page, following our blog, and supporting us in any way.

You might be saying “Eric, I have already liked your Facebook page, subscribed to your blog, and following you on twitter, so how else can I help support your company?”  Well, I’m glad you asked!  You can share with anyone in your network that you think might be interested in what I’m doing with the company.  If you like a blog post, please share it on your Facebook wall.  If you like a video we made then tweet it to your followers.

In all seriousness, I can’t thank you all enough for reading my blogs, and following along on this journey.  It is hard to believe it was only 5 months ago that I left the port of DWA, and set sail on my own.  It has been such an exciting voyage so far, and can’t wait to see what is on the horizon.

Last Monday I was invited to attend the DreamWorks Animation’s Home Leadership Dinner.  They have these dinners when they are nearing the completion of a film to thank the show’s leadership for all their hard work.  I actually was a little shocked when I got the invitation, but was excited that I was able to attend.  It was really nice catching up with everyone, and sharing with them my experiences since leaving DWA.  Many of them had no idea I started my own company, and were very surprised to find out.  Some even thought I was still working at DWA.  It was a very fun evening full of stories, reminiscing, and laughter.  I really appreciated that they still including me in the celebration.  I can’t wait to see how much the movie has changed since I left in July.




If you have not already, please join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog.  Also, 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.

Life is Like a Strategy Game

Have you ever thought about how much life can be like a strategy game?  You are constantly faced with choices that require you to make a move.  Sometimes a move is just a move, but sometimes a move can determine a victory or game over.  What you don’t want to do is just react to what happens in the game, but instead have a strategy.  Sometimes luck is on your side and it moves you forward two spaces, and sometimes it is against you and you have to skip a turn.  If you are only reacting to what happens you are at the will of the roll of the dice or the hand you are given.  When you have a strategy you can better withstand the obstacles that the game throws at you.  You can’t win the game purely on luck, since you luck will eventually run out.

How to Play


Image from my first Animation “ChessMate” that I made in college in 2001

I remember learning how to play Chess when I was younger, and how much I instantly loved it.  At first I had no idea what I was doing, and what each piece could do, or not do.  This could be like your early years in life when you are learning how to walk and talk.  In Chess there are very clear rules, but in life there are no clearly defined rules to play the game.  You are left to figure them out on your own.  You try and learn as much as you can from experienced players like your parents, but in reality they are also trying to figure out the rules of the game.  Of all the games you will ever play, life will be the most challenging, but will also be the most rewarding one to succeed at.

You will eventually get to a point after you have read the rule book a million times, and you just have to play a practice round to understand the game.  Unfortunately in life you don’t get this practice round, but fortunately your moves are limited at this stage by your parents to keep you from making really bad moves.

Early Game
Once you begin to understand the basics of the game you are ready to start learning the strategy of the game.  In Chess I could eventually look at the board and play out in my head different scenarios that could happen.  I would always try to be 3 to 4 moves ahead.  I would think to myself, “if they moved here I would do this, but if they moved there I would have to do that”.  It was a combination of having an overall plan of where you wanted to go, but being able to adapt your strategy based on their unpredictable moves.  This is key in being able to get a head later in the game.  You have to have a road map, and a plan for detours that you might have to take.  For anyone who has ever played any of the Civilization games this is when you are setting up your empire.  Deciding where to put your cities, and sending out scout unites to explore your land.  Although it won’t be that evident at this point what you do in early game can have a huge impact on the rest of the game.  If you mess up at this stage it does not mean you will be sure to lose, but it will make it more difficult for you to pull ahead.

Mid Game
In the early game everyone is at an equal playing field, but by the time you get to this stage you start to see some players pulling ahead while others start to fall behind.  There could be many reasons for your position at this point, and it could be your strategy, or it could be your luck.  No matter what the reason that landed you in your current ranking it will be good strategy that will either keep you ahead, or help you pull ahead.  It is at this point in the game the momentum really starts to pick up.  What happens at this stage of the game will determine the outcome of the game.  In the game CashFlow this is where you are trying to get out of the rat race. Some players will get out, but some will never get out.

End Game
You are in the home stretch, and victory is within your grasp.  You are finally out of the rat race, you have your enemies last city surrounded by your military units, or you are chasing down their lone king.  The chances of failing are still possible, but highly unlikely.

“How dreadful…to be caught up in a game and have no idea of the rules.” ― Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

In real life how to play the game and how to win are not always clear, and often is different for each person. There can also be mini-games within the game, and those mini-games can effect the overall game.  There are different ways to win, and you get to decide which victory rules you want to follow.  You can compete against others, or you can simply compete against your past self.   It is actually up to you if you already won or not.  Your victory condition could be to help others win, and by helping them win makes you win.  That is the interesting part about the game of life, it is what you make of it.  Time is both your alley, and your enemy.  Time will earn you experience points, but in the end time will eventually kill you.  To make the game even more difficult… you only get one life.  This game is not always a fun one to play, and that is just a part of the game.  If you are lucky the game is a long one, and you learn how to enjoy it.  The high difficulty level is what keeps the game exciting. I really enjoy playing games, and of course strategy games are my favorite. Some of my favorites are Civilization, CashFlow, Settlers of Catan, and Chess.  I love that feeling when your strategy first starts showing that it is working, and you start to build up momentum moving ahead.  I also realize how much time some of these strategy games can take.  For example a game of Civilization can easily take weeks to finish depending on how much time you can dedicate to it.  As much fun as they are I decided I wanted to focus my time on the game of life.  It is a much slower pace, and it takes a lot longer to realize if your strategy is working or not.  With that the successes are much more rewarding, and it is filled with mini-games that keeps things interesting.  I look at starting my own company as a mini-game, and right now I’m at the stage where I’m learning the rules.  Once I understand the game I can start refining my strategies, and setting my victory conditions.  I realize that like all the other strategy games I have played it will start out slow while I begin to implement my strategies, but if the plans are good they will begin to get traction.  I feel I have already had a lot of great luck, and good strategy as a backbone to keep my traction.  You have to keep moving forward one space at a time.  At the end of the day, the most important thing is to enjoy the game.


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.