By lance weiler, March 11th, 2008

Power to the Pixel is a conference that focuses on funding, producing and distributing films in the digital age. The next edition of PTTP will be held in Paris this coming June. Liz Rosenthal the founder of PTTP was kind of enough to share the following video. Please feel free to embed and spread.

The final Power to the Pixel session brings together five pioneering filmmakers who are reinventing the way that films reach audiences and audiences reach films. Lance Weiler, Arin Crumley, Susan Buice, Matt Hanson, Jeremy Nathan explain why they chose the DIY path. Moderated by Liz Rosenthal.

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Posted in audience biz case study community cross-media crowdsourced deals delivery digital downloads discovery discussion distro diy doc dvd embed event experiment festivals funds online panel producing production promotion remix resource roundtable screening sharing social change software tech theatrical tools tv web 2.0

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

By lance weiler, January 24th, 2008


This edition of TCIBR is brought to you by IndieFlix and Breakthrough Distribution – Over the holiday break we recorded two editions of TCIBR that looked back on 2007 and forward to 2008. In part one we took a look at the year in digital entertainment. In part two we focus on films and distribution trends. Mark Stolaroff of the No Budget Film School and Paul Harrill of Self Reliant join us for a discussion about interesting DIY projects and emerging trends from 2007.

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Posted in audio biz content digital downloads discussion distro diy doc festivals podcast production roundtable theatrical

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

  • this conference is being recorded – Jon Reiss
    Our guest today is filmmaker Jon Reiss. Jon has made a number of features, both fiction (Cleopatra’s Second Husband) and non-fiction (Better Living Through Circuitry and Bomb It). For his latest film, Bomb It he traveled to 5 continents to document graffiti culture. In our discussion Jon shares how he funded, traveled and is looking beyond the festival circuit… read more
  • this conference is being recorded – Tiffany Shlain
    This edition of “TCIBR” is brought to you by IndieFlix – Tiffany Shlain is a writer, director, and producer of innovative short form work. Her most recent project THE TRIBE, is an unorthodox, unauthorized short film about Jewish people and the Barbie doll. Tiffany and her team have been able to reach their audience in an interesting and unique… read more
  • this conference is being recorded – Brett Gaylor of
    Today we are joined by filmmaker Brett Gaylor, who is also the founder of Brett is currently in production on an interesting documentary called BASEMENT TAPES. The doc focuses on copyright, digital music and its impact on remix culture. The project is embracing a user-generated / remix component that allows people to contribute to the documentary. In our… read more
By lance weiler, December 13th, 2007

M dot Strange reports – So I was lucky enough to be summoned to make an animated music video for one of my favorite bands “Mindless Self Indulgence” I used Cinema 4d 9.1 w/Cactus Dans tools, and After Effects 6.5.

I thought I would out together a little thang documenting my work on the Mindless Self Indulgence music video “Animal” There’s a ton of music video making-of’s out there but since I’m bored waiting for 3d renders to finish I’ll add one more to the mix.

So this is my process….

The sonG – The first thing I do is listen to the song over and over and just see where the sound takes you… If nothing really jumps out…if scenes don’t start building themselves in my head I’ll go read the lyrics and see if that does something for me… The title can also do thing for you… For this song I just kinda had an idea about the singer being chased around a weird city by a bunch of strange animals. So I listened to the song and drew up some totally photorealistic storyboards.

Storyboard Example

After doing the rough boards I had an idea of what I was going to have to model for the video. I had to model, texture and rig the four members of the band. Now I’m not trying to impress anyone with my modeling abilities. There’s no use in creating a multimillion polygon model if you can get the same effect with a 10,000 polygon one. When I’m designing characters for a project like this I just try to create very simple iconic figures with strong silouettes. Since my roots are with 8-bit video game graphics I approach building a 3d model like I’m creating pixel art except I use 3d primitive cubes in place of pixels. This leads to the 8-bit/lego-ish look of the models. So I always trying to use as few polys as possible with my models. I run my 3d app and render clients (cinema 4d) on Windows XP 32bit so I’m prone to out of memory errors which suCK really bad. So I try to keep the characters low poly so I have a lot of free polys to use for the ridiculous backgrounds I like using. So a simply designed cool looking character animated in a funky fashion in front of complex backgrounds.

Non textured Model

So after modeling all the characters and adding temporary textures to the them I hand them off to my old media friend Sean Boyles so he can hand paint the textures. He uses the colors and designs from my temp texturing but applies it by hand with Bodypaint 3d. This adds enough imperfection to the model to make it look less like it came off an assembly line.

Textured Model before my modifications

Once the models are textured I’m free to add joints, skin and rig them. Since all the bodies have the same geometry and only the heads are different it was a fairly quick job. I think I did it all in one sitting in the cafe before my laptop battery died. I use the excellent Cactus Dan plugins for adding joints, skinning and rigging. The Cactus Dan plugins make the process much easier and faster. So I just created a skeleton for one model and copied it over to the others. I use the joint mirroring and auto-skinning to speed up the process and the C4dIK plugin’s make rigging a snap. So once they’re all ready to animate I put them in cool poses and just make sure they look right together.

My evil 8-bit Lego MSI peeps

Since I only had less than two weeks to make this video I didn’t have time to create new sets and backgrounds so I just used some sets from my animated feature film “We are the Strange” I built an entire world in 3d for that film so I guess its like my own private backlot I’m shooting on now ^^ So once I have the time consuming modeling and rigging out of the way I revisit the storyboard. I add in new scenes that came to mind while in 3d land and then scan in my crappy drawings so I can create the animatic.

Animatic SnippeT

I use the shot times from the animatic as a guide for the 3d animation. Also by looking at my animatic I know exactly which shots and which parts of the song will require lip sync. I had a few people helping me out with this video project and since lip sync is SOOOOO fun ^^ I asked my friend DemonicBunny if he would do the honors. Like the character “Pasteur” in WATS I wanted the lip sync to be created in MAriopaint. So this would be a 2d pixel animated mouth pasted onto a 3d animated character. So I sent him the sound files for the clips that needed lip sync and a reference image for the style/shape mouth I was looking for. In a few days he sent me the adobe illustrator sequence files I needed for the mouth.

Mouth shapes made in Mariopaint for lip sync

Since I didn’t need to do any lip sync I could instead just focus on the character animation. I’m already familiar with the band and they’re performances but I went ahead and got some reference videos from youtube of the band performing the song “Animal” The singer is always the center of attention in a performance so the singer would be the focus of the character animation in this video. By looking at the animatic I figured out which shots would require synchronized animation and music. I went ahead and animated the Jimmy model synced up to the song in empty scenes for all the shots I needed. My composition contain many layers… I start with the coolest stuff first and than add on top of that. So for this video I had to make sure that the singers animation was entertaining enough on its own before worrying about anything else. I then animated all the shots that needed Jimmy to perform and slapped the lip sync animation on. So the scene’s looked like this.

Animation Test

At this point I’m already past the one week mark so I didn’t have time to keyframe animate the rest of the band for every shot. Well what does a band do anyway? They play right? So I utilized a little procedural animation to get them to play for me. Cinema 4d has an excellent Xpresso scripting module so all I had to do was parent the instruments to the models bones, set up the proper set driven/driver relationships then add use a noise generator to drive the rotation on the models spine. After tweaking with the setting for a few minutes to get they’re movments roughly synced to the music I had this.

Simple Xpresso setup for procedural animation

So now all I had to do was drop my band in a scene and they doing they’re thang. Once I had the singers and the bands performance animations down I could focus on the other character animation in the video. This includes the singer running around getting captured by giant monsters and flying around with his fiery fairy wings. Once all the 3d was animated I set it off to render and waited. Well thats what I’m doing now…waiting for 3d renders. I never do any of my skies in 3d, I prefer to composite them in After Effects. Since Cinema 4d generates After Effects project files with 3d light and camera information it makes this really easy as well. So once all the 3d is rendered I’ll drop in the skies and proceed to color correct and stylize the shots to my liking.


Then once all the shots are rendered out of After Effects all I have to do is replace the animatic shots with the final ones and hand the 1080p version of the video over to the band ^^ I don’t know when the band will make the video available online but be sure to check it out when it is. Here’s a little teaser video I put up for the music video.

Music Video TeaseR

And two other video that are pertinent to this making-of post…

MAking of Part 1

Making-of Part 2


M dot Strange is a mixed media animator from San Jose, Ca. He recently singlehandedly completed an 88 minute animated film entitled “We are the Strange” which made its world premiere in January of this year at the Sundance Film Festival. A reviewer that saw the film M dot made in his bedroom with 9 PC’s over the course of 3 years said “it looked like something Hollywood would make for 70 million” He has recently been featured in the NY Times, ABC World News , and his youtube videos have been viewed over a million times.

Find out more about M dot Strange and his work

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Posted in BTS News arg audio case study community design digital downloads directing discussion distro diy doc dvd education interview legal mobile production program remix resource roundtable scripting sharing sites tech update vidsocial

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

By lance weiler, December 6th, 2007

One of the goals of the Workbook, is to create a “social open source” project that encourages content creators to share information with one another. Yesterday we held the first in a series of discussions around the current state of the industry. A group of filmmakers came together at the IFP’s NYC offices for some food and conversation.

Participants included: Josh Zeman, Zachary Mortensen, Esther Robinson, Doug Block, Ry Russo Young, Arin Crumley, Susan Buice, Aaron Lubin, Karin Chien, Lanre Olabisi, Lance Weiler, Amy Dotson, and Karl Jacob.



The conversation covered a wide range of topics over a two hour period as people shared their experiences and thoughts on future models of production and distribution. The topics of discovery, time management, sustainability, and windows of release came up many times over the course of the discussion.


The roundtable was recorded thanks to the FEM gang and we’ll be making the discussion available here in the coming weeks. All video grabs provided by Arin Curmley.



We’re pleased to announce a new discovery and distribution project as an extension of the Workbook. FROM HERE TO AWESOME, is a discovery and distribution festival that enables filmmakers to reach global audiences while retaining their rights. Filmmakers will have a variety of distribution opportunities at their disposal with a direct return of revenue to them.

There are no traditional programmers or gatekeepers. The audience will program the festival based on ratings, volume of comments and the number of times a project is favorited. The festival will showcase 10 shorts, 10 features and 10 virtual panels.

We DO NOT charge any submission fees or sales fees. FROM HERE TO AWESOME offers filmmakers a variety direct distribution outlets such as; theaters, living rooms, online outlets, mobile and live events. All transactions are handled directly by the filmmaker and the outlet.

Festival partners include youTube, myspace, IFP / filmmaker magazine, heretic films, Vudu, mobmov, indieflix, breakthrough distribution, Wonderland and MANY MORE.

The overall concept is to assist with discovery of films by audiences and to provide real distribution options that lead to some type of finical return to the filmmaker.

For those who would like to submit a film contact us at info [@] In addition to films we are looking for people who would like to join this open source project – we are in need of volunteers to help with a variety of things.

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Posted in biz call for entry case study digital downloads discussion distro diy education experiment festivals panel resource roundtable sharing tech tools web 2.0

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

  • Filmmakers Seize Control
    This past weekend Arin Crumley of Four Eyed Monsters and myself did a panel about all things DIY called “Fast Forward – Filmmakers Seize Control.” The Vancouver International Film Festival held a special one week forum around the art and craft of filmmaking. Brian Chirls of FEM was kind of enough to man the camera – he had done a… read more
  • BTS – a look at the ifp rough cut lab – part 2
    Tom Quinn reports – After an amazing week at the IFP Market and Conference, I am prepping my film for Friday’s Sundance submission deadline. The six days spent in New York were all remarkable thanks to months of hard work by the IFP staff, especially Amy Dotson who programmed the Lab and Emerging Narrative sections. Here’s a quick overview… read more
  • Warm welcome to a new contributor – Kfir Pravda
    I’m pleased to introduce a new contributor to the Workbook Project. Kfir Pravda is a marketer, content creator and blogger. His blog “Media, Technology and Rebel Filmmaking” is read and quoted by investors, venture capitalists, CEOs of technology companies, content creators and bloggers. Kfir reports – In the past things were clear – broadcast television required a specific level of… read more
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