I graduated from Roycemore in 1985. I’ve treasured my time there ever since.
For the next five years, I looked for a major at USC. Classical Music Composition eventually won, after I tried Mathematics and Computer Science. I volunteered at the student radio station, eventually becoming Program Director. I worked in the Drama Department from Sophomore year on, building and demolishing sets, and running sounds and lights. I wrote symphonies for myself and music for student films, all the while causing no end of havoc among the school’s mainframes.
Once out of college, I started working in cartoons. Starting at the lowest job available, known as a Production Assistant, I worked my way up from getting donuts and delivering film canisters all over Los Angeles on a one season Fox show called “Peter Pan and the Pirates,” up to coordinating post production on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “The Simpsons.” I like to say that my job there was to make sure Homer came out the right shade of yellow. It was on “The Simpsons” that I met my wife, Wendy.
Cartoons were not as much fun for me as they look on TV, so in the mid 1990s I transitioned to video games. I worked on several Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo titles including “Robocop vs. Terminator,” “Aladdin” and most of the “7-Up Spot” games. In the late 90s I started a video game company in Vancouver, Canada. “Mad Genius Software” published one title, “Gunmetal” for the PC, in October 1998, the month I got married. The company eventually failed, but everyone involved learned graduate-school level lessons.
Computer Graphics have played a part of all my jobs since 1991 when I did a flying logo for the “Turtles” production company. You can still see that animation at the end of the original episodes on YouTube. My first real dive into doing CG full time was on “Babylon 5,” where I animated spaceships and blew them up. The technology was amazingly primitive compared to today, but the writing, the design, the challenges and the team were worth every 18-hour work day. Not only did I learn “tricks of the trade” that serve me well today, but I learned important lessons about delivering quality work under trying conditions.
Since then I’ve had the privilege to contribute computer graphics to projects that I loved, like “Spider Man 3,” “Bubba Ho-Tep,” “Serenity,” and “Battlestar Galactica.” To get there, I’ve worked just as hard on projects I had little personal attachment to, but whose fans deserve the best I could bring, such as “American Wedding,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “The Vampire Diaries,” and ABC’s “Revenge.” And to those that fall somewhere in the middle, but are now so famous (or infamous) that they’ve helped my career, such as “Sharknado.” Most recently, I worked as CG Supervisor on 4 TV shows at once…one of them being “The Orville,” a well loved and popular TV show. I lead and managed a team of computer artists to deliver their best work under the usual challenging TV delivery schedule.
It hasn’t all been about work. In 2014 I earned my Private Pilot’s License. Besides flying for fun and to some really out-of-the-way restaurants, I fly for the Civil Air Patrol. Volunteering for them allows me to help with search and rescue efforts, as well as introducing high-school age cadets to the wonders of flying.
Another volunteer group I offer my time to is the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences–the Emmy’s people. There I helped shape the current rules surrounding the Emmy award, and in 2008 was elected Governor of my Peer Group – Special Visual Effects.
Looking back on almost 30 years in the entertainment industry, I can not say the work has always been fun or fair, and it’s rarely glamorous, but there have been brilliant moments that make it all worth the sweat and frustration. And I have tried to learn something from every opportunity, short or long.