Wednesday, May 31, 2006


This is a piece we did for a Schoolhouse Rock type project.

HoC has an agent. We have used other types of representation before that have not been very successful and expensive. Because HoC is located in Toronto we need proper representation in Hollywood, since much of the type of work that we do is located there. This is what a good agent will do for you.

Meetings with potential clients:
This might seem obvious, but some agents may only get you in the doors of the places you don't want to get to.

Close the deal:
They will negotiate the best deal for you. If they don't, you need another agent.

Give you advice:
A good agent should have the pulse of the industry. If they see an opportunity they will let you know immediately.

An agent will have other clients that may be complementary to your needs.

Things to look out for in an agent is anyone who charges a retainer. This is basically a fee for the privilege of having them represent you. You should find an agent who charges commission without a retainer. This means that they only get paid if they make you money. Make sure that you get along with your agent, because if you get into a dispute with them, they are much better at screwing you than you would be at hurting them.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Digital Storyboards

Robin from The Dreaming.

Lately HoC has been getting a lot of interest in the way we do digital storyboards. There are a number of studios that I know about who are dabbling in digital boards. I first tried it out at Pixar and now I'm implementing it at Blue Sky. I have heard that Dreamworks is trying it out. I don't know of any studios other than HoC who are doing it only digitally. Most studios use Photoshop, though in my opinion it is too slow to have a natural feel. I have heard of one person who does it profesionally in Flash because he can easily flip from one frame to the next. At HoC we like Sketchbook Pro because it's really fast. If you don't want to drop the $650 for Photoshop or the $200 for Sketchbook Pro then you might want to try Art Rage 2 for the measley price of $19.99. Art Rage is a solid program mainly used for painting but still good for doing boards on(thanks Turtle).

After you buy the necessary software you must choose your hardware. Most of the artists at HoC use Wacom tablets (Graphire work just fine). This is the reason we need fast software. If you can spare that cash and buy a Wacom Cintiq you can use pretty much any software for decent results. I use a Cintiq but I have be testing a number a tablet pc's lately and I have found that they work very well. A 21" Cintiq
will set you back about $2500. An average tablet pc will be under $2000. That's an entire computer for less than the price of just a tablet monitor. These numbers are very appealing especially considering when we are boarding we typically only use a small area of the screen to actually board on.

Lastly is the actual process on drawing on the computer. You can't get around practice on this point. To get truly confortable doing this you have to adapt your drawing style. A sketchy style does not work very well digitally. A more acurate, efficient style seems to work much better. It will take about two months of solid practice to get comfortable. If anyone has any tips on making digital storyboards easier, I would love to hear it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


This image by Robin is from one our television projects called Dog Tags Urban.

Before I started a company I would see oportunities to do work and I would think that, if I had a studio, I would be able to do this or that project and it would be cool. I always thought about the missed opportunities that wouldn't happen because I had the facilities to do the work. I would talk to my wife and friends and they would encourage me to start a studio and make it happen. I felt I was prepared to do the job and I was confident that I could find or train the talent I would need. For the most part this would turn out to be true. I was mostly prepared to build my studio and I did find and train some good talent. Unfortunately, there are numerous thing that happen that you can't predict unless you do it. The thing that I was most unprepared for was the rate of disappointment when it comes to securing projects. Just because someone tells you that they want to give you a project, doesn't mean that you are actually going to get it. There are a myriad of reasons for projects to fall apart and most of the time it has nothing to do with the studio, but they fall apart regardless. We are currently at about a 20% success rate at securing projects. That means four of every five potential projects are lost. My goal is to raise this rate to 33%. One in three may not seem that great but it's actually a really good success rate. I might of reconsidered this studio thing if I had known that it would have required this much rejection. Luckily the times when you actually get the project, like we did today, more than make up for all the others you miss.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

This is a version of a sketch I did of Norm the other day, but he said I made him too fat. So this is the Jenny Craig Norm. But in real life hes probably a bit more hairy. (us Canadians have to adapt to the winter somehow.)You should see some of the women up here!

Anyway, Norm always has something new to show me in his big bag 'o' tricks, and this is him calling me over to see what else he has discovered.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Hello all...i know it is a bit late to do a write up about myself. My name is robin joseph, and i've been with houseofcool since June 2005 as a characterdesigner/vis-dev artist. I've been very fortunate to have worked on some great projects in the short span of time i was here. I get to work on Hoc's inhouse content for both feature and tv shows. Ocassionally the lovely folks at the studio call me Tigerjeet or 'tiger' or plainly just 'Jeet'. Just to clarify, even though the name suggests a mean, violent and potentinally threatening fighting machine..i have to reassure one and all that i am extremely passive and slow. i still hold on to fond memories of getting beaten up by kids half my size back in school. AHHHH

..But i have been managing to get some kills recently on CallOfDuty..mebbe some day i'll hold up to the name of Tigerjeet..SOMEDAY..Cheers all