Brave New World

It's been a lifetime since my last blog post and a lot has happened to me to validate a new entry. I'll try to keep this short and sweet. As some of you may know, I've been working full-time for various game companies the last 10 years. It began when Say Design (Los Angeles) hired me as an AD and I worked remotely from my home on the east coast. After a year or 2 I was offered a position with Acclaim Games as an animator and studio art manager. After 2 years with Acclaim, we were bought by Playdom and then Disney Interactive. From there I was offered a job 7 miles from home with GSN Games and spent 6 years with them.

This past January GSN Games had their 3rd round of layoffs in just over 2 years and I was included in the culling of the herd. I was anticipating the layoff due to rumors of how big the numbers were going to be and the fact that my skills were under-utilized for the past year or 2 leading up to the layoffs. I could see the writing on the wall and in full disclosure I was hoping to be dismissed as I felt stagnant creatively.

The most fun I had at GSN Games was when we developed a game title in-house which was a very rare thing. Most of our games were outsourced to 3rd part developers and we would only internally QA them and add them to a container app for publishing. I was a "point of contact" for one of these 3rd party companies and attended daily meetings for the better part of a year leading up to the layoffs. Not exactly a "skill" I was excited to wake up for at 6am every morning. The title we did develop was super fun and very creative. It was a match 3 style mechanic with a cast of characters that I referred to as naked mole rats in bunny costumes. These characters were wandering around space on various planets harvesting their favorite food source: breakfast cereal. It was quirky, fun and visually rich with inventive personalities and engaging animations. We built the game with saga-style levels and QA'd it extensively. We also generated marketing assets and received approval from Apple. We were on the 1 yard line ready to go live when management pulled the plug on the entire project. The entire team was dumbfounded. We asked why and was told that they never intended to go live with the game and that we as a team, were merely being tested.

There are moments in life that define you, who you are and/or where you want to be in your life and career. It was at that moment seeing our game baby get shelved forever that made me realize it was time to move on. I hung on for another year and when the rumors of layoffs started, I bided my time to see if I was to be selected.

Layoff day came and I got the call along with over 80 other employees. Our entire San Francisco office was decimated also. It was widespread across the company and that came with lots of employees in tears, hugs and confusion. I was packed and ready and drove home looking forward to the next chapter of my career, if I still even had one. Having been focused on my current employees' whims for most of the past decade, left me unsure if I even had an audience anymore.


[text_type type="three" max_font_size="" min_font_size=""] If you are lucky, inspiration can drop right in your lap. [/text_type]
For me this could not have been more literal. My daughter Andrea had just turned two years old. She was quite precocious at an early age, with a confident command of the English language and a newfound singing voice. On one particular day she wandered into my home office to show off a new song that she had learned: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, a popular English nursery rhyme from the early 19th century. Andrea asked to sit up on my lap and as usual I obliged. Being at my desk with my computer in front of us and my little plastic USB microphone at the ready, I discreetly clicked record and began capturing her entire performance in digital format.

Andrea was unaware she was being recorded. Her performance was completely natural and not without the human imperfections of a two-year old trying to perform to a level beyond her years. The recording captured all of her hits as well as misses. It was evident that she had not learned all the words to the song as she fumbled her way through the performance but that is precisely what made this recording special: it was real on a human level.

I saved the audio file to my hard drive and went about the rest of my day. It wasn’t until seven months later that I would resurrect this audio file for the purpose of using it as the soundtrack to an animation. Since it was the holidays, we tried to take a family photo to send to family and friends as our holiday card. Our efforts were thwarted by our five-year old who was expressing his disdain for being photographed in an emotionally unstable manner. Combined with the dog not posing ’correctly’ and various other photographic mishaps, we were unable to get that perfect family shot. Two weeks before Christmas and we had nothing to send to anyone.

I’m an optimist at heart and knowing every problem has a solution, I turned to software for help. I thought maybe I could use Photoshop to edit the best of each of us from all the photos and combine them into one single, perfect family picture. Then I thought of importing the photo into Flash and adding some animation, possibly some snow falling and maybe even some Christmas music. Then it hit me! The audio of Andrea singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star would be perfect to use as a soundtrack to a holiday card. I should also mention that Andrea and I would spend time together drawing and each time I would ask her what she would like me to draw. Her response was always the same: ‘Draw me, Daddy!’ Using crayons, colored pencils, felt pens and various markers, I had drawn a large number of Andrea characters. Eventually I perfected my daughter as a cartoon character.

[text_type type="three" max_font_size="" min_font_size=""] At this point I realized: [/text_type]

  • I have a recording of Andrea singing.
  • I have Andrea designed as a cartoon character.
  • I know how to animate in Adobe Flash.
  • I had all the ingredients to make an animated holiday card.

[text_type type="three" max_font_size="" min_font_size=""] All I needed now was a concept. [/text_type]

Having done enough work for clients in the world of advertising, I knew that the most successful creative campaigns were the ones with the best concepts. I listened again to the recording of Andrea singing and noticed that she made several mistakes during her performance. The idea of pretending she was performing in an audition on a stage was an easy one to come up with. The rest just fell into place. This was one of those animations that miraculously created itself. It was inspired.

Once I finished the animation and uploaded it to my website, I sent the URL to family, friends and clients as our holiday ‘card’. The response was overwhelmingly positive. About a year later I received an email from someone in Australia with the link to my animation. ‘I love this and I hope that you will like this to.’ was the body of the message. This was the first time I had created something viral. A complete stranger sending me my own work. It’s something I’ll never forget.

The annual Georgenes holiday animation was born


This is an excerpt from Pushing Pixels


RIP SWF > Premiere Pro Workflow

Apparently one of my favorite and most efficient workflows when it comes to animating in Flash for video has been removed from Adobe Premiere Pro. Was I barely on the bubble with this workflow? Perhaps I was but it worked really well. It seems to me Adobe feels like the Flash > SWF > Premiere > (insert chosen video format here) workflow is not popular enough to support. That's bad news because it's a workflow I have detailed in a couple of my books.

[text_type type="three" max_font_size="" min_font_size=""] Crap [/text_type]

So now what can we do?

Well this morning I opened up a project I created using the above mentioned Flash > Premiere path only to find all of the imported SWF media to appear as offline in Premiere. I used the "locate File" command only to find that the SWF format is completely invisible in my Finder window.

[text_type type="three" max_font_size="" min_font_size=""] Double crap [/text_type]

It's really true. Premiere Pro CC completely ignores SWF files.

[text_type type="one" max_font_size="" min_font_size=""] Go to a happy place...go to a happy place...go to a happy place... [/text_type]


My options are:

Open each FLA and use the "Export Video" feature in Flash and replace each footage with the resulting MOV file.

Import each SWF file in After Effects and import that After Effects project into Premiere.

The sad part about SWFs no longer supported in Premiere is that SWFs are much smaller in file size than MOV files. It was also much easier to make changes in Flash after editing in Premiere Pro. Simply updating the SWF by publishing from Flash was super quick and easy as the SWF compiler takes a fraction as long as exporting to Video.

Open plea to Adobe: We all just want the SWF > Premiere workflow returned to us – no questions asked. Just leave it on the front doorstep and walk away. Nobody else has to get involved.

There's power in numbers folks. If you feel the same way as I do, go here to voice your request.

OFFF Motion Graphics Conference


Thibault Imbert (Adobe Systems) and myself holding court in Paris a few years ago.

An author's perspective


This is what 392 pages of technical and copy edits looks like in hard copy form. I'm actually in this photo – buried underneath the pile of paper somewhere between chapters 9 and 10.

Character Design in Flash CC

hopperDesign is one thing, technique is another. Everyone has their own way of working in Flash, and there are many ways to go about designing in Flash. For this character I chose a technique that a friend and talented illustrator showed me. It involves using the Pencil tool with Object Drawing mode and the Union feature to combine multiple Object Drawings into a single object. I love her technique so much I’ve started to incorporate it more into my daily workflow.

Pencils, Pixels and the pursuit of Awesomeness.

A fresh start

Whoa whoa whoa! Yeah something happened, but it's all good. I'm changing things again.

New designs, new animations, a new book. It's all new and this is yet another growing pain. will be up and running again soon. In fact, my other website ( may soon redirect here as well so you are in the right place, just not at the right time.

If I don't blow it, there will be some cool stuff (imho) uploaded as soon as I stop breaking things.

For now, go watch Game of Thrones or something. I'm good.