Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And now, what everyone's been waiting for...

Yep, we finally figured out when the party is happening. So, come one, come all! Denizens, friends, and supporters of Collideascope, I cordially invite you to:


Please join us in celebrating
Collideascope’s great accomplishments
& contributions to the animation
industry as we say our goodbyes
to a great company!!

Date: November 8, 2008
Time: 8pm – 1:30 am
LOCAS www.locasbar.com
5430 Doyle Street, Halifax
Corner of Spring Garden & Queen Street
Lots of food, drinks & great laughs

For more information
please email

Monday, August 18, 2008

So, the cat has been let out of the bag

Just so we can keep those crazy ol' rumours at as low a roar as possible, I'm writing this posting to announce the winding down of Collideascope.

Yep, you heard it here first, folks. Well, not really first. We announced to the general community on Monday and things like this don't take long to disseminate. We're closing the company. Why? Well, there's never just one reason for things like this, is there?

Collideascope recently celebrated 13 years in operation. We started out as a little, 2 person shop cranking out web pages for people who wanted to put their businesses onto the "information superhighway", and thereby become multi-bazillionaires in the process. We also made commercials and broadcast graphics for the local TV business. It seems we came a long way since. At our peak last year, Collideascope was employing about 120 people on long term full time contracts. To me, that's a lotta people, eh?

13 years of running any one thing is a long time. Reason #1 is that I'm just ready to go off and find something else to do.

Reason #2 is more related to the timing of this announcement than the decision itself. I'd been working for a long time on a project that was slated for a Fall '08 start date. The project has experienced a delay that meant the start date was now delayed indefinitely. As this project was my main one slated for the fall, I decided that I really wasn't interested in putting Collideascope into hibernation, pending what might come through later on.

There are, of course, lots of things that go into making a decision like this. These 2 points are just some good ones to toss out to satisfy people's curiosity. Just know that the decision wasn't made quickly, though it looks like it was.

Of course, when bad news comes, there's inevitably the search for who the bad guy is, and the rumour mill has a surprisingly efficient way of magnifying conjecture in order to cast that role. In this case, there's the temptation to have Steve take that place on stage. However, even though both he and I have occupied our good cop and bad cop roles over the years, it would be wrong to lay the closure at Steve's feet. He's been a huge reason for Collideascope's success over the years, and his contacts brought the steady stream of work in that we enjoyed. However, as I said, 13 years is a long time to be running any company (plus almost 3 years for a company we ran immediately before Collideascope), and the truth is at this time, we're both pretty tired and neither of us has the energy anymore to want to deal with the latest moves made in the industry. Between the shift in broadcasters' more aggressive approach to CRTC regulations and a quite sudden and surprising shift back to Asian studios last year, these were changes that, while not insurmountable, require a retooling that we didn't want to go through.

Nonetheless, I think now is the time for Collideascope to be able to make a graceful exit, for Steve and me to finish it on an up note, and to be able to do right by the people who are finishing the projects on the slate. I've got to say, since the news came out, I've been gratified by people writing to say how they've enjoyed their experience at or working with Collideascope. It hasn't always been an easy ride, but we've always made it the priority to do business in an upfront and honest manner, so it's nice to see that acknowledged. After all, being the boss, I don't get performance reviews. It's nice to see that at the end, some people think I've done a good job.

And of course, this message wouldn't be complete without thanking everyone who's been a part of the Collideascope experience, whether that was working at the animation studios, being part of our small but mighty new media crew, helping keep the infrastructure of the place running, or everyone on the outside who helped and cheered us on. That's what made this a great 13 years for me. Of course, I must single out Ron, who may just be the best person who ever ran an animation studio. His dedication to the place has inspired everyone who ever worked with him, and was a huge factor in giving Collideascope the reputation we gained as a place people wanted to come to work at. Thank you, Ron.

One last thing - it's not Collideascope unless there's a party involved, so everyone is invited to our last blowout. I don't have the exact date yet, but I'm planning for early October, and I'm shouting out to recent employees, alumni from far back, and all of our friends in the extended community to join me for the send-off. I'll post more details here once it's firmed up.

All my best,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

LA is an interesting place

I participated in a trade mission of Nova Scotian producers to Los Angeles last week. Went everywhere from Burbank, where the major studios are, to Santa Monica Boulevard, where the more boutique operators live. I had 12 meetings over the course of 3 days. Great people down there, and some interesting opportunities presented themselves, both to pitch and to partner. Of course, as is standard in such things this was an exploratory mission, set up to shake hands and meet new people. No one was waiting at the airport with a contract and a bag of cash, ready to say “animate!” However, it’s a true cliché that relationships are what make this business (any business, really) work, so the more people we meet, the more opportunities we have at developing new properties and getting them picked up. As is my recent mantra, “development, development, development” will pay longer term and more sustainable dividends in terms of work. Did I mention that we’ve got a treatment together to pitch our first feature? I did not? Well, we do. Exciting times!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A quiet summer

So yes, things are quite quiet overall in the Canadian animation industry, and Collideascope isn't much of an exception. We found out recently that our friends at Story City, who did some amazing board work on Johnny Test, have decided to pack it in. Very sad news. I'm getting reports of far less production activity in all sectors of the country than there was last year, when you couldn't find an animator in the country for love nor money. Amazing what difference a few months makes.

We're currently working on Speed Racer until the end of August. We're busily working on getting another production through the door after that, which I won't mention until we're further down that road. These things are months to years in the making, and are often down to the wire in terms of whether they are greenlit or not. As always, getting the job in the door requires a calm demeanour, a steady hand, and a few bottles of pepto-bismol. ;)

More when I get it. Have a good summer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wither Johnny?

Poor ol' Johnny Test. He's off to another home, somewhere to the west of us. We got the call last week that we were unsuccessful in our bid for Johnny Test Season 4. Though we put in what was generally considered to be a very competitive bid, we were outbid. To whomever got it, I wish the best of luck. For our part, I'm very proud that we were integral in earning Johnny a Gemini award and a finalist place in the Shaw Rocket prize with the work we did on seasons 2 and 3. Now, on to other things for Collideascope. And yes, there are other irons in the fire.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Now, a short break from what I'm up to...

...to go over what others are up to. Specifically with regard to a rather poisonous piece of federal legislation called Bill C-10. This bill seeks to impose a set of standards that any government can use to decide what they consider to be “moral” and to deny tax credits to Canadian productions based on such standards. To hear some people talk, you’d think Canadian producers are getting tax dollars to make porno films, when in fact, the financing of Canadian film and television is subject to probably one of the most rigorous systems of review in the world, in which anything that is financed must clear the provisions set forth in standards documents of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and the Canadian Criminal Code.

What burns my ass is people like “Doctor” Charles McVety, an evangelist who supports this bill and says that it doesn’t go far enough. He argues that films that even show homosexuality in a positive light should have their funding yanked as well. It is exactly this quality of human being meddling with what they think you should be allowed to watch and to think, why we should be extremely careful about subjecting our content to arbitrary rules based on the personal comfort levels of supporters of the Government of the Day.

Full article here: http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/415391

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Collideascope Award

So, in the spirit of showing support for the animation industry in Canada, I’m pleased to say that Collideascope is sponsoring an award! The Collideascope Award for Best 2D Animation will be presented to a winning Sheridan student by representatives from the soulless corporate behemoth of Collideascope on April 24th. I can’t wait to see what ensues...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Boy oh boy, what a difference a month makes.

So, as those of you who visit the far more popular and frequently updated Collideascope Studio Blog already know, we're back on Speed Racer, helping to finish the series' other 21 episodes. This should take the studio through to end-August, albiet at a reduced staffing level than we're used to.

But I'm not resting on my laurels, dear readers. No, far from it.

I'm currently negotiating 2 other projects I'm hoping will hit the studio between July and September of this year. And, as of this week, we got a request to bid on another season of your and my favourite ADD-riddled test subject for his genius pre-teen sisters. No start date as yet - we have to get the job first - but we'll keep you posted.

I also got a request from one more colleague about putting some numbers together for a possible series, which could possibly start later on this year.

Apart from that, on the New Media front, we're still working hard on Mystery Hunters Training School and a small game called Shift that should launch in a couple of weeks.

There are some other neat things afoot, mainly from the corporate perspective, but those will be detailed in future posts when they are closer to happening. Here's hoping that we go into the summer brimming with new work and cool stuff for everyone.

All the best,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Back from NY and boy, are my arms...

I just got back from Kidscreen. Good conference. As always, opportunities abound, and apart from talking to some broadcasters about pitching them new series concepts, I also met with a few producers about projects. Preschool may hold a few opportunities, but the 8 to 10 market, especially in Canada, seems the place to be right now. If I realized anything this time down to Kidscreen, it's just how well known Collideascope is internationally. When I mentioned who I was with, even to people I never met before, I always got back a knowing "Ohhh", followed by the many good things people heard of us. Can't say that's a bad thing. Once again, thanks to all Collideascopers, past and present, for contributing to that reputation...

So, work wise: Still working on something that may start in March and go about 3 to 4 months, and another larger project (about a year's work) that would likely start early fall. Still no word on Johnny Test Season 4, although Season 2 has been nominated for a Shaw Rocket Prize! That's 2 nominations in less than 12 months. Plus, JT is running 5 days a week on Cartoon Network. I can't see why they wouldn't keep production going. But then, I ain't a broadcaster, am I?

On the (less interesting to most) new media front, that game for Microsoft that I mentioned last post - it's going ahead. It'll be launched in about a month. Mystery Hunters Training School has 9 scripts done now by yours truly and the lovely and talented Anne-Renee Dumont. We're going to boards and software framework now.

Follow-up to the Speed Racer job: When I was visiting Animation Collective in NY, everyone at the studio who I was introduced to was very impressed and appreciative of the assist we gave them. So, good job again, everyone!

As with all of my posts, I'm going to be obtuse and let you know that there are a few very cool potential animation service projects out there that I'm working on, but that, as usual, I can't give you any detail about. However, I can confirm to you that we will not be doing anything with a certain very nice gentleman whose initials are D.S. ;)

Till next time,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Speeding on Speed Racer

So we're full bore into helping pinch hit on the Speed Racer project for Animation Collective. We're doing in-betweens, cleanup, ink and paint & a shadow pass, and trying to get 2 to 3 eps done inside a few weeks. Happily, AC has given us excellent direction and is doing all of the keys, so that let us hit the ground running with essentially zero prep time. We're hearing good feedback from the client and have been getting work done faster than they can supply us with new work, so big props to the crew working on it.

I got an RFP from Microsoft last week while I was on my Western tour to develop a game with them. As I'm under non-disclosure, I can't say much except that after I figured out the parameters of the RFP, I had essentially 24 hours to devise a game concept and write up a proposal / design overview document. By the time I finished that night, my eyeballs were hurting. I'm sure there's a Visine for that.

I had the meeting out in Saskatoon, and have an agreement in principle to start doing some interprovincial co-development between us and them I'm also getting alliances together with 2 other companies & 2 individuals to get into development of new series concepts. This year, my target is to have 5 concepts to take to broadcasters and re-establish our hat in the original intellectual property ring. This has a time horizon of about 2 years to get the next collideascope developed property to TV if all goes well, but this time working with other parties will (I'm hoping) help accelerate the cycle of getting some good work done.

Kidscreen is coming up, so I'm arranging my meetings and looking for opportunities for us to partner with new companies and producers on their projects. Any suggestions of companies you'd like to work with? Send me your top picks & I'll see if I can't get a meeting.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

January already?? What in the hell happened to December?!?

It was a busy, busy month, mostly taken up with proposals and estimates, as well as helping out on Busytown, which was perhaps busier than anyone had bargained for. Now, here we are in early January, and we're negotiating to pick up some work from Animation Collective for Speed Racer. It needs doing tout suite, and there's a call to get going on it tomorrow. Hopefully we will get going on it by Monday. The show needs a lot of work in a short period of time, so we're going to go with a footage rate rather than a salary, I think.

No word on Arthur as yet, but I saw the test and it was nothing short of impressive. Steve's going to poke around with CJ and see what's up there next week.

There's another thing we're talking about with AC - a full series, but again, I don't like to count chickens before they've hatched. If we were to get both that and Arthur, I think we'd be getting very big, very quickly. Keep us in mind, gentle folk. We're still in the running! ;)

Speaking about counting those chickens, the Christmas special got shuffled to Studio B at the last minute, so that one is unfortunately in the dustbin. However, I'm very excited to be going to Sask on the 10th to talk with the producer of that show to talk about co-development on other properties. Over this year, Collideascope will be slowly starting up the original development engine, but this time by partnering with other producers rather than going the very taxing and not necessarily better route of doing it all ourselves. I expect to see this start to pay dividends within about 2 to 3 years, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.

There are other things in the hopper - the Mystery Hunters New Media project is a-go and in design phase. We'll be needing some good internet flash animation help on that one, along with people who are experienced at Photoshop photo collage for the backgrounds. It'll be a very different departure of style and content from things we've done before. I'm looking forward to it.

There's even more to come, strategic-planning-wise. Steve and I have plans for the place that I'm hoping will ensure more stability starts to gradually seep into place over the next 12 to 18 months. I'm still formulating the details of these plans, and when they're done, I'll post them here for your perusal and hopefully your feedback.

Your humble Commissar,