13 March 2013

Daily dailies

This is an experiment inspired by Beeple, an animator and illustrator from the states who produces under the Brain Feeder label. It is also inspired by my friend, Tom, who, inspired by Beeple, decided to make a song a week, thereby introducing me to Beeple. Check Tom out over at ELPHNT.

There's something to be said for daily practice of a single discipline, so I've chosen to write a short story, 100 - 200 words only, daily and illustrate a small picture to go with it. So far I've got 3, with another on it's way up this afternoon. This is with the hope of developing my story telling skills in both literary and visual technique, all towards the goal of putting together a graphic novel or something like it.

Check out Howler Tales to get new stories daily, and please subscribe by email if you like daily spam :)

So far the first is still my favourite, but there's still time to top it.

In other news, I'm on Twitter these days, find me @StuHowler

My desk is a pickle.

18 February 2013


My first graphic story -Much like a graphic novel, only tinier.

Here for you to read on the internet for free! Go, tell me what you think :) Click here to read it

I had a lot of fun doing it, I hope to do another soon, and eventually have enough material to make a grown up graphic novel.

25 January 2013

Scribbling Stories

Something I've wanted to do, for a very long time, is make a graphic novel. I've finally come around to starting a short graphic story, and I'm excited to soon have one, or two or three under my belt, and eventually pluck up the courage to do one on a larger scale.

Work in Progress
One challenge, which I was not expecting, is keeping consistency of design throughout your story as you get better at drawing your characters. This is something I'll try avoid in the next attempt at Picture-story telling... with luck there will be opportunity for many more attempts!

05 November 2012

Kunjani'mation 2012

So despite my actions I am still alive, though my lack of an update is quite appalling nonetheless. A great deal has happened since my last post, but by far the most interesting was Kunjanimation 2012, the second edition of the original South African animation festival.

Much expanded, this years festival was host to hundreds of animators from across the country, fascinating workshops and talks, deplorable screenings of absolutely excellent local and international films (Thanks Ster kinekor, thanks Nu-metro) and all round festive atmosphere!

The festival centred around the V&A Waterfront, where I had the fortune (figuratively and literally) to attend the Gobelins master classes taught by animator, director and all round decent bloke Alexandre Heboyan. Unfortunately, attending the master classes excused me from many of the other awesome events of the festival, but it's ok, because everyone at those events hated me for being amongst the hotshots who managed to book for the masterclass.

The Masterclass was an in depth breakdown of Alex' performance animation workflow, and man. Man man man, it's a seriously logical workflow, and Alex is a seriously encouraging, honest and clear teacher. I'm definitely going to be making use of what I learned and I don't blame those who didn't apply fast enough for their envy - What a great experience.

But my luck in securing a seat in the workshop had everything to do with sitting two desks away from Daniel Snaddon at Triggerfish. Daniel is the only man I know crazy enough to organise an animation festival while working 29 hours a day as a lead animator on Khumba, and he is also crazy enough to be a close friend of mine. And while we're here in the past, before the festival, I can explain how I came to be in charge of the outreach component of the festival.

Again, I blame Daniel. But like he would tell me, it's my own damn fault.

Alexandre Heboyan, the Gobelins lecturer, Dreamworks Alumni and currently the director of his first animated feature film Mune, offered generously to give a free talk to students from under privileged communities. So I volunteered to head that up, sounds like something chicks would dig, right? Needless to say, the experience of organising the talk was a huge lesson to me. Through a convoluted and poorly illuminated search for help, I eventually came into contact with Leon Buchner, head of Visual Art and Design for the WCED(Western Cape Education Department), and Gary Kachelhoffer, head of the animation department at the Falsebay college, the only animation course to my knowledge in the Cape Flats. These guys did the real work, of getting the students with the aptitude and interest for animation aware of the talk, and of getting them there.

Triggerfish generously came to the table, offering us their viewing room as a venue, and WESGRO generously offered us Patricia de Lille, who unfortunately had a date with some rather unimpressed truck drivers and couldn't be there to enjoy the talk. A more interesting extra guest was Tumelo Selemolela, a friend and animator who fought alongside me on Khumba, who grew up in Alexandra township in Gauteng. Tumi had the challenge of standing up after Alex and talking about the path he took to find his career, and he did an awesome job.

At the end of the day, despite my lack of experience in event management, the students got to the talk and left with their heads exploding with awesomeness.

Me, talking about talking

Alex, blowing minds

Tumi, giving us his story

Alex and the animation students from the Falsebay College, in the Triggerfish Parking area.

From that point my stress levels decreased, and I was able to enjoy the festival, a true celebration of the art of animation. The next night was the opening ceremony, and the Cape premiere of Adventures in Zambezia, the first Triggerfish feature film. 

The opening ceremony.
You may think I came this far back to get the perfect shot, but actually I was trying to spot all the food platters.
From there the festival was all day and all night animation, I made it to only one other screening, the closing ceremony screening of le Tableau (the Painting) directed by Jean-Fran├žois Laguionie, who I got to have lunch with on the harbour. He's an incredibly knowledgeable man, which would have changed my life if I could understand French.

Left to right, Triggerfishies Samantha Cutler (Animator), Vanessa Sinden (Producer), Anthony Silverston (Director), Daniel Clarke (Concept Artist), Karen Botha (Art Director) hanging out with Alexandre Heboyan (French) before the screening of le Tableau.
I can't really say I feel comfortable in normal everyday life since, the festival was a buffet of opportunities for everyone. Had it never happened, I feel my future would be painted with a different brush. 

(lol painter jokes.)

Daniel and I at the closing ceremony after party. Being hunks.
Photo by Shannan Taylor.

In the meantime, I'm lecturing on animation principles and drawing at the SAE institute Capetown, and looking for any freelance work that hasn't seen me sneaking up behind it. Have a look at my new portfolio blog, and also check out these stories I've been writing

I've been considering alcoholism as a career booster towards my goal of one day being a renowned author. What you guys think?

08 September 2012

Showreel 2012

So I finally got around to cutting a new showreel. If you'd like the password, drop me an email at vimukun@hotmail.com, it's available for employment and educational reasons only.

In other news I've discovered the thing they call Tumblr, and subsequently started a blog for my short stories, which you can see here.

Short stories are a hobby for me. I'm terrified that if I ever started writing for a living it would immediately stop being fun.

Which is not to say animating for a living is no fun, it's just that words take a lot more energy to extract colour from.

Many happy returns from the world of questionable freedoms!

Good night.

03 September 2012


As of Friday my contract at Triggerfish is complete. With the animation deadline for the film Khumba passed I now return to floating in limbo, gnawing on chocolate with raisins in it while contemplating the work I have done on my first feature film.

Over 100 artists have contributed to Khumba, and the final look of the film is greater than the sum of its parts. Everyone there is working unbelievably hard to make some seriously international quality work, and I can say that what has been done has been done as a team. No one person can take credit for how engaging each shot has turned out, because it passed through so many departments with trust and the confidence that the shot will only get better as it changes hands. I've made friends I plan to keep, and I've contributed to a project I'm excited to see completed - it really is a beautiful looking film.

That said, every day was frantic - deadlines were a gift and a curse. We had to come up with solutions to keep the quality of animation high and consistent while delivering it on a 3 second per day quota. My idea of a good animation workflow has completely changed, and in the future I plan to post about what I've learned in terms of 3D character animation workflow... I have a new appreciation for spline that the 2D purists will spit on - I welcome the argument =)

I can't say the past nine months have been easy, but I can't say they haven't been fun. I've had the pleasure of working with the finest animation talent in the country, and I can't stop thanking you guys for all you've taught me and the good times we've had learning and working together.

Until next time, best wishes to the artists still completing Khumba and to the ones that I left with, I hope we can work together again soon.

If you would like to see my 2012 showreel, drop me mail at vimukun@hotmail.com             

19 May 2012

Out, in progress

I'm sitting in a mountain of snotty tissues, clinging the power cable of my laptop close in case it lets loose and sets fire to my cosy recovery den. The thing that is most fun about winter in Capetown, is your clothes are more wet coming off the line than going on.

For two months now I've been toying around with a short film concept, and last month flew down to Johannesburg to shoot a portion of it and visit some good friends, when they let me. The film is short, less than a minute long, using stop-motion animation with clay puppets and my reluctant body.

Here is one clay puppet, the antagonist and omphalos of my little story, has he not marvelously sexy legs?

 Somewhere in the time between now and then, I blocked myself and my good friend Thomas in my tiny rented room, behind a barricade of rubbish and nonsense, to shoot all the interior shots for the project.
Here's Thomas, helping me to cover one side of my room with bad journalism, pre-lock down.

This entire thing fell down while we took a break, and had to be redone before shooting.
Nonsense Barricade. We could not leave the room during the shoot, to preserve continuity. Thomas is still recovering from the isolation.

The project consists of using stop motion techniques and my ectomorphic-pseudo-athleticism to create peculiar effects, and use them to tell a story. Here's one such effect, shot that day:

Next week, if my nose permits it, I hope to shoot some of the exterior shots, and in the following months, if I do not scare him away, Thomas is going to design the sound for this picture poem we are making.

Watch this space: should it be that I survive the winter, there will be more posts.