Botox Beowulf

I love the idea of this project… of translating the epic story into immersive film via the comic book / graphic novel talents of Neil Gaiman. But after viewing the film (on DVD admittedly) I question the choices of the director (Robert Zemeckis), and his overuse of performance capture techniques. The special effects work great for dramatic scenery, action, monsters, and group scenes. The scenic lighting is particularly good. But what a sorry misuse of acting talent… like Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich and Robin Wright Penn in the human roles. There is some very tender writing here, with nuanced performances hidden beneath computer generated Botox. The 3D performance capture dots seem to miss enormous numbers of tiny movements that make up our facial expressions. Are Hollywood folks so accustomed to seeing faces frozen by cosmetic surgery that this feels real to them? It really got in the way of my enjoyment of this ambitious retelling of Beowulf. I’d rather watch Brad Bird’s Iron Giant, an example of 2D animation that gets the emotion right on.


Our library now has a copy of The Art of Beowulf by Mark Cotta Vaz (Author), Steve Starkey (Author), Robert Zemeckis (Foreword), Neil Gaiman (Introduction)

Read articles about the performance capture and computer graphics techniques used in the recent film version of the epic Beowulf. Many visual stills from the film + process…

VFXWorld / an animation world network publication





Portfolio One-on-One

Please register ASAP and attend if you can!

Portfolio One-on-One
Friday, April 11, 2008 / Sat April 12, 2008
900 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Your portfolio is the key to your future. It opens doors. It allows
others to see how you take an idea and unlock its potential. Since
1993, AIGA MInnesota’s annual Portfolio One on One event has brought
design students together with experienced designers to share
conversations, experience and ideas, all to help you develop further.
Come see, listen, discuss, network and test your key with the design
community at Portfolio One on One.

Ghost in the Machine Event

For the past few years, the VizLab has hosted a Video Game Symposium at UMD in the spring. This year, Harbor City School, an alternative highschool in downtown Duluth is hosting a related event. My students who are working on anime or video game related projects in Digital Studio class can earn extra credit by presenting their projects on April 26 when there will be workshops, displays, presentations, and speakers.

PLAYLAND Revisited


The New York Times had an article on gender toys and Ugly Dolls this Sunday. They claim that Ugly Dolls are particularly appealing to boys.

Here is a website devoted to vinyl toys and a link to blank DIY toys you can buy and alter…

This week we wrapped up our DIGITAL PLAYLAND projects in Digital Studio 2 class.

view gallery of projects

Students were asked to investigate recreational and playful opportunities for adults in digital culture. Some areas of interest : virtual worlds, video games, web comics, character design and toys created using digital tools.

Here’s an image from Sam Pickard’s project. His wacky character designs for an imagined video game are created using 3d modeling techniques.

More project ideas and reflections by students…

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Inanimate Alice

Here’s a terrific example of digital narrative for a youth audience , complete with teaching resources!


‘Inanimate Alice’ tells the story of Alice, a young girl growing up in the first half of the 21st century, and her imaginary digital friend, Brad.Over ten episodes, each a self contained story, we see Alice grow from an eight year old living with her parents in a remote region of Northern China to a talented mid-tw enties animator and designer with the biggest games company in the world.