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This summer, SpringShoe produced a couple animations for the new board game Chickapig.  If you’re interested in knowing more about chickapig, check out The Chickapig  kickstarter page or at the official website.   

Official description: Break your flock of Chickapigs free while dodging opponents, hay bales and an unruly pooping cow in this strategic board game. Chickapig breeder and game creator Brian Calhoun joins forces with his farming buddy Dave Matthews to bring this game from farm to table.

Below is an excerpt from the Chickapig introduction animation.  I believe the sound design is just Dave and Brian fooling around, but it works.

And here’s a strange short promo piece created for Chickapig:  

Below are some concepts for the animation:  




Ancient cultures

Spring Shoe has just finished producing four animations and numerous illustrations for The Field Museum’s Ancient Cultures Interactive.  The Ancient Cultures Interactive is a new digital game designed to engage the Museum’s middle-school-aged visitors with an in-depth exploration of key objects and themes found in the Cyrus Tang Hall of China. Featuring four different activities, the game strengthens younger audiences’ exhibition context and build meaningful object connections by exploring stories of daily life in ancient China. Light, sometimes humorous, animations and music features are embedded throughout the experience.   Three of the animations are below:

And here a handful of objects created for the game. 

Ancient cultures elements

Some redesigned ancient symbols to go on the emperor’s robe. 

Ancient cultures symbols

And finally, below are some stills from animations within the game.

Ancient cultures symbols



BioMX Logo

Spring Shoe has just finished producing four animations and numerous illustrations for The Field Museum’s newest traveling exhibition: The Machine Inside: Biomechanics.   



See the video  2:37  14.5 MB

How do you compare parallel muscle fibers with ones that group together in angles?  How do you show how, at the molecular level, an increased number of sarcomeres in a muscle fiber can make it move faster?  It’s easy to overwhelm an audience with science.  In “Muscles”, we tried to use surprising examples to illustrate concepts by comparing them to an iconic muscle bound brute.  Surely, muscles as big and fine tuned as his would be no match to something as small as a crab or a squid, right?


This animation shows why fictional monsters such as Godzilla and King Kong were too big to exist in the real world.  There are some advantages to being big, but do they outweigh the inherent hazards?



See the video  2:44  15.2 MB


The Biomechanics exhibition's overall design is very clean and sleek, and to offset that, Spring Shoe was hired to inject some humor in wherever possible.  Besides doing this in the various animations, I worked closely with the show’s graphic designer, David Quednau, to come up with light-hearted graphics that introduce the hands-on, interactive elements throughout the gallery.   Here are a few examples:

Giraffe bloodpressure

The resistance you feel when the blood reaches the head equals a giraffe’s blood pressure (280/180) –more than double a human’s!

Chimp grip

The chimp’s hand probably isn’t much bigger than ours.  Their, longer, denser muscle fibers can generate four times more power in the same range of motion.  


Don’t let your blood run cold–insulate!

Dead spider

Have you ever noticed that a spider’s legs curl up when it dies?  Thats because the fluid that pushes its leg out straight has dried up. 


The Largemouth Bass gulps down huge fish with its gaping jaws.  An example of Linkages (linking bones).

The exhibition is open at The Field Museum, in Chicago until January 4th, 2015 and then will tour various museums for the next 5+ years.  


BioMec sketch-0004

Above: An early concept that never quite made it

Spring Shoe is producing three new animations for the Field Museum's upcoming Biomechanics exhibition as well as various illustration for the show.  The first is… Muscles (working title).  Muscles are the motors of the animal world; They are made up of bundles within bundles that produce force and cause motion through “ratcheting” at the molecular level.

My first thought was to make the style of the animation reminiscent of old medical illustration like da Vinci's anatomy drawings with scores of notes all around the drawings.  

BioMec Muscles sketch B

I think would look really beautiful, but the style would end of constricting the amount of movement in the animation.  Besides that, one of the goals of all three animations was to add some fun and humor to the exhibit hall.  So the style was revised to reflect something closer to the illustrations of David Macaulay's The way things work.  A little more spontaneous, a little less detail and a lot more flexibility to move.  This is an animation after all.  

BioMec Muscles sketch A

The second video is "Size/Walking" (a very rough working title!)  For creatures that walk on land, the effects of gravity create some big challenges to being big.  This one has all the ingredients of being tons of fun.  If all goes as planned, I'll be able to animate an elephant and a mouse being dropped from great distances… all in the name of science!  

BioMec Size A

Also in the cast are dinosaurs, Godzilla and King Kong!  The style for this is a little more simplified and calls out to the old "cartoon modern" style from the 50's.  The creatures will all start as a cube to show their weight and then morph into an elephant, sauropod, etc.  

BioMec Size C
BioMec SIZE sketch D

If you're still reading you must be a fan… thank you.  The Third video will be a mix of archival footage and some stylized Monty Python-ish animation to show the evolutions or human flight… and why airplanes don't flap their wings.  

 From Icarus to Davinci to the Wright brothers, people have long desired to fly. Over and over, we have taken design inspiration—sometimes insightful, sometimes a red herring—from the birds. 

This one is still early in development.  Hopefully some works in progress soon can be posted soon.  


Spring Shoe Animation produced animated video content for the Dave Matthews Band 2013 summer tour.  The Song that Jane likes is one of the band's oldest songs for which all new content needed to be created.  The four minute animation is played on a 60 foot wide screen behind the band.  I had the opportunity to meet Dave and discuss the ideas for the song.  Dave is very personable and downright hilarious.  I showed him some very rough sketches of some characters and some of the sequences I had in mind.  He was completely open to my interpretation to the lyrics and threw in some good ideas as well.  


My mother had died the week before, so the imagery is probably a bit more melancholy than the music itself.   The production time was about three weeks, which is really tight for 4 minutes or animation.  Many long nights went into this one, and the final files were delivered a day or so before the tour kicked off in Dallas.  



In those rare moments when it's available, free time can be used to simutaneously play and hone one's skills.   I haven't done much to keep up with the Daily drawings, but here's 19 seconds of animation inspired by the soundtrack of the classic western Shane.


Shelf Life is a satirical, animated comedy series that takes place in the local bar.  The episodic show is an adult-focused Toy Story meets Always Sunny in Philadelphia. 

Our characters are liquor bottles, beer bottles, cash register, jukebox etc… Character development is pushed through the use of faux, documentary-style interviews with a heavy dose of sarcasm.  

Key character voices are performed by renowned singer/actor Dave Matthews. Guest celebrity voiceovers will be featured in select episodes.  



The Charles Dickens project was first described to me as "a simple animation of Dickens pointing to various historic images… a film projector, an old radio, some image of the industrial revolution, etc. Our budget is limited so the animation can be very simple and lips don't even need to move when Dickens is speaking."

I received the recorded narration from the museum, which contained lots of thumps and booms from the microphone being bumped.  The only way to disguise this distraction was to make the film appear as though it was as old as Dickens himself.  Record pops, lo-fi filters and some subtle sound effects were added to the audio (thank you cleaver studios!) and film grain, dust and scratches were added to the animation.  All the elements are drawn in a hatching pen and ink style, mimicking the illustration style of many of Dickens's books.

See the Dickens animations here

I always try to find ways to make a project as interesting and entertaining as possible without distracting from the message.  So rather than having Dickens simply point to things on the screen, I made a dynamic camera that moves up to the sky to show "man landing on the moon", into a factory during the industrial revolution or though a window and into a family's home during a Christmas scene.  I imaged Charles Dickens might frown upon some of the changes in culture like internet authoring and ebooks, so I tried to add a little bit of attitude and humor wherever possible.   

The Changing View of T.rex takes a documentary approach and combines animation with live action backgrounds to explain how new discoveries change the way scientists (and Hollywood) see this ancient creature.  The script was written to include some improvised, off the cuff moments to make the film less stiff than a typical presentation of facts and theories.  There are parts where the camera seems to be hand held to accentuate that feel.  The backgrounds were mostly flat photos of the museum, offices and labs that needed to cut apart into layers and distributed to different depths to give the feeling of the character being in real 3D space.  

See the Changing View of Trex animation here

Just like the Dickens project, I avoided having a talking head wherever possible.  For example, while the scientist Pete Makovicky is explaining that a T.rex could only run about 18 mph, the camera zooms into a nearby Jurassic Park poster which fills the screen and becomes a scene showing T.rex being outrun by a Jeep and even a bicycle.  In another scene, Pete's drawing of T.rex on the chalkboard comes to life and because its just been given feathers (a more recent theory about many dinosaurs), it tries to fly by violently flapping its tiny arms. When it doesn't catch air, it slumps down defeated.  It's these instances when we are taken out of reality that make the film really memorable.   And it's these moments that can only be done with animation.


Below are some concept work done for the Lake County’s new Charles Dickens exhibition.  Unfortunately none of the these made it past the drawing board phase due to budget constraints.  

How do you add media to an exhibit based around the written word?

One idea was to have the animations give a brief “Cliff notes” overview of each of the chosen Dicken’s story.  Because of limited amount of time in which to reveal each story, this could be most effectively done in a humorous way where characters and plot twists are introduced in a rapid fire sequence.

Another concept for the Christmas Carol section of the exhibit involved scenes that would be broken into different windows using an existing replicated building exterior in the gallery. Behind each window of the building, a large flat screen monitor will illuminate the images inside the window. Telling the story using animation within the replicated building would have been a grand theatrical experience.

Another idea was to have each animation act as a theatrical “trailer” to each story, using one or two dramatic scenes that would entice the viewer to go home and read (or reread) the novel.  The look of the animations would be highly influenced by the original hand-drawn storybook. Illustrations of Dickens’ time.  

 Sketch for A Christmas Carol

 Sketch for Oliver Twist


Pat illustrated a new book available from Lookio Books.  Lookio is a new company started by Shawn and Christine Curry that publishes customizable children’s books.  There site opens this August .  

This story is a about a child (whose name, hairstyle, skin tone and clothing color is all customizable) and his/her rickety robot friend... right up my alley.  I showed this daily to Shawn (the writer) and he was sold.