MFA Thesis – Excerpt 20

Why is the film relevant? – Relevance Reason #1 – Cooperation

“Table 1 presents evidence that armies of developers around the world have dedicated more time and resources to open source software packages, Debian OS in this example, than any one company could afford to sustain in a comparable fashion on its own. 


‘Table 1: Debian GNU/Linux Distribution Source : Data Adapted from “Against the ‘Networked Information Economy’: Rethinking Decentralization, Community, and Free Software Development,” Criticism 53, no. 3 (2011) : 389.

Debian is one of the distributions of the open source operating system (OS) Linux. “Distribution,” is the name for an individual OS version in the industry, like OpenSuse, and the most popular Ubuntu. The exception to the free availability of open source is RedHat, a commercial variation of open source Linux, but built on cooperate culture. While RedHat is for enterprise development and deployment with monetary charges, the company also has the free version Fedora for entry level developers who want to someday work with RedHat. Later the difference between free/libre software and open source will be explained.”

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 19

Why is the film relevant? – Relevance Reason #1 – Cooperation

“Software like OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird, ClamWin (Windows software), VLC Media Player, Audacity, PDFCreator, Inkscape, Gimp, Blender 3D and others have demonstrated how capable and successful are trans-frontier, worldwide collaborations among developers. The pride of having a strong and admirable software package that solves, in some cases, multiple problems is the reward.

According to Jaron Lanier, the information technology industry should move from a free information gathering market where the people with the strong servers (Facebook, Google, Apple, etc.) are the ones making money, to a market where individuals are rewarded with currency for the contributions of their information according to the quantity and quality of that information. There is evidence that perhaps a currency system is not necessary, but in fact limits the possibilities for the advancement and development of technology…”

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 18

Why is the film relevant? – Relevance Reason #1

Nor can any of these packages, costing thousands of dollars, handle as many steps in the production pipeline. Furthermore, none of them alone can produce an entire film. In addition, proprietary software suites are not available for open alterations to the code and are not fully adaptable to production needs despite the ability to add features with the proprietary languages some of them have, like MEL for Maya.

Buying proprietary software like Maya, 3dsMax, Cinema4D, Modo, ZBrush and others is, in the words of Bob Young, former CEO of open source software company RedHat, like buying a “car with the hood welded shut.” One cannot alter the source of the proprietary software as is possible with open source software. Because of this and the easy availability of the software itself, open source is having the unintended effect of democratizing industries where socioeconomics keep disadvantaged groups, i.e. poor families, from accessing better education, training or employment opportunities. In the VFX industry, for example, protectionism among the established studios influences employed artists to believe that open source software is unprofessional. That notion, in turn, denies artists not employed by established studios the chance of ever belonging to the artistic “elite” because they cannot afford the accepted industry standard software like Maya, Cinema4D and so on.

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 17

Why is the film relevant? – Relevance Reason #1

“The open source software industry has proven exponentially more effective in creating integrated robust programs than a host of proprietary software suites. One strong example is Blender 3D, which covers multiple production steps in film and video, and which is being used to produce the 3D animated digital short film Traces. The open source software Audacity is being used to produce the film’s audio phase.

A film, especially a digital 3D animated film, is composed of many phases and processes. Entire studios, like Pixar and Dreamworks are divided into departments where screenwriting, storyboarding, audio recording, character design, environment design (layout), visual development (colors and looks), character modeling, prop modeling, environmental modeling, rigging, texturing, lighting, scene composition and many other tasks are delegated. Most studios need multiple pieces of software for these steps including Maya, Modo, Cinema4D, Lightwave, ZBrush, Mudbox, Mari, Nuke and Fusion. Blender 3D provides an entire production house or studio in a single software, free of charge. Blender 3D is also multi-platform: available in Macintosh, Linux, Unix and Windows, and can be run from a flash drive! None of the proprietary 3D production software suites mentioned above can claim that.”

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 16

Experience informed goal

“In the summer of 2015, I participated in the Boundary Crossings Institute. This occasioned the creation of my first conceptually driven animation. At the gallery opening, I overheard a great conversation between a “mixed” couple regarding immigration. I was both pleased and surprised that my work prompted this discussion.

Originally, I wanted to create a short film [before finishing the MFA program] with high quality rendering and animation. Technology allows for such an endeavor to be accomplished by a single artist. I am now concentrating on a single scene out of the 13 minute short film I scripted, complete with audio, VFX, texturing and painting. Once the MFA program is finished, I will go into full production to create the 13 minute pilot and script 12 more episodes for future production.”

From that experience with the Boundary Crossings I realized that the power of animation to make people think of social issues was stronger than I anticipated. So I set out to re-direct my short film to cause just that.

Below you can see one of the vehicles for the short film (in process). It is meant to be a vehicle for security forces. Not so much a “military” or police force, but a security/safety one. After all, it is supposed to be a dysfunctional “utopia” story.

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 15

Evolution of Goal

“I was confronted with the idea of conceptual animation in the fine arts at PNCA. Coming from the commercial side of animation, I felt the necessity to change my goal to accommodate more conceptual elements into my animation project. I found the prospect unappealing and unconsciously resisted the change. I eventually realized that I was concerned by the prospect of loosing my voice to the spontaneous and accidental nature I perceived as the base of the abstractions presented in the examples of fine art animations to which I was exposed. I learned that the feeling of unease I had was due to the questioning of the tropes I was accustomed to in the commercial arts, and the strict control of the visuals required to deliver the message. It is at this juncture that I realized that conceptual animation does not require that the work be nonrepresentational or even accidental. Method and technique can be conceptual, but so can subject matter and theme. With this realization, my vision of Traces changed from a Disney-like film into an almost fully abstract animation and back to a representational artwork that became a tool to fight insidious social indoctrination.”

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 14

Evolution of Story

“The past two years [MFA program years] were filled by explorations that helped me find my voice. I started revisiting skills in traditional sculpture, and used those skills to redesign and find my characters. At first, I was falling into the tropes of Hollywood and Disney that I was trying to leave behind. Then, with the guidance and mentoring of Caitlin Kunkel, I turned the 120 page script into a 13 page short film script. And—for the first time in 20 plus years—the story had a title: Traces.”