Category Archives: General

Legends of the Northern Sky

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Legends of the Northern Sky is an immersive animated dome project that I initialed three years ago. Starting with an idea as a potential production that would run in a 360 immersive dome, it it was followed up as a well-research pitch. Now that it’s done, it’s days away from the premiere opening, and it all was well worth the effort.

For my involvement as writer, director, concept artist, storyboard artist, modeler, texture artist, project manager … I was involved in the entire process, and I brought in three other local animation graduates to bring this production to completion. It was a learning experience for all of us because it was an immersive dome production with plenty of CG animation … lots of animals and birds rigged and run through the paces, all to be rendered in 8K resolution.

Biggest challenge was managing technology and budget, because for CG, it had a fairly reserved budget. Overall, it all came together as planned, with not much fretting.

Legends of the Northern Sky premieres April 10 at Telus World of Science Edmonton

Legends of the Northern Sky, an immersive CG animated production written and directed by Perry Shulak and produced in Edmonton, will open at the Telus World of Science on April 10, 2019. It will be shown in the newly renovated dome theatre, with a recently added 10K projection system. This is the first immersive dome animated project to be developed in Edmonton, and one of the few ever to be produced outside Montreal. The premiere showing will include a presentation by “Wilfred Buck,” the nationally know expert on First Nation’s constellation stories. Notable invited guests, and children from local First Nation community schools will be in attendance. Following the opening, the production will be running in cycles at the Telus World of Science.

Voiced by Julian Black Antelope, known for his role in the TV series “Blackstone,” weaves a story of a time thousands of years ago when observation and imagination precluded modern science in our interpretation of the stars. Fantastical stories evolved from local First Nation communities that explored both the human and animal spirits as they strived to survive in a wild and unpredictable land.  It’s a story that is very much Canadian in origin, which embodies our desire to work together as a family, and strive to build better more resilient communities.

Unlike typical flat screen films, immersive dome is a theatrical experience that runs a full 360° around the audience. With the introduction of spherical cameras in CG animation software, it allows us to move through and around exploratory space where the camera is not rigid or stationary. This dramatically advances the story telling experience by stripping away traditional aspects of composition and framing, and introducing audiences to flowing world experiences.

The production is presented by Big & Digital, a Las Vegas based distributor and will be marketed to dome theatres worldwide in both 8K and 4K format. Legends of the Northern Sky will be hitting the immersive dome festival circuit, with first European showing in May in Jena, Germany.

A trailer of the production can be viewed at

Wendiceratops – 3D model

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This is a 3D model I have been working on for a while. The ceraptops family is vast and varied, and their physical attributes  and head bone structures are strikingly different. Once assembled in 3D with a level of accuracy to the base bones, the animals appears smaller and more nimble that the typical ceratop.  Fossil hunter, Wendy Slobodan, discovered the bones for this species in 2010 in southern Alberta. The Wendiceratops lived 79 million years ago, and is one of the oldest examples of the Triceratops family.

Full given name for this species: Wendiceratops pinhornensis

Next phase for me is to better smooth out the muscle structure, and then texture and paint.

In on everything

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As a creative, I tend to migrate more towards diversity than specialization. Working where demand neccesitates opportunity to earn a living, and then filling in the holes with personal projects. Past month included website development, some flash programming, print design, illustration and now wrapping up the year modelling a 3D triassic fish.

For much of the month, I have been focusing on illustrating images for a multi-path story on first responders for the Chaos an Courage television series. It’s moving its way to completion, and at this point … time is of the essence. So working quickly, and loosely … I had to turn out a large series of illustrations that conveyed the variability of the story, with focus on the primary character, Adele.

In addition to the illustrations, I worked with the producer and another writer to block out and fill in aspects of the story to provide plausible outcomes. For these illustrations, I drafted out the base images on paper, scanned them in and competed the line and colour in Painter. For illustration work, Painter is definitely becoming my most favourite go to application.

Work in Progress

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I recently did an update to the site and like everything, it’s a work in progress that gets slid into everything else I do. I have further enhancements I have yet to incorporate, both new content and site structural builds will take place simultaneously.

Above is a new link that leads to the place where I will post ongoing Dark Matters Chronicles: Days of Creation comics. The intent is that it provides me the opportunity to explore style and approach in story, illustration, composition, format and colour. With anything, it takes time and effort to bring an idea closer to where it needs to be. This is my proving ground. I can explore the personalities that inhabit my world, and provide greater depth to who they are, and where I wish to take them. Where all this goes, I don’t have the faintest idea. I have a trajectory that, to my better understanding, reflects current industry trends, and I can just be creative and explore boundaries.

Whether anyone reads these comics is unknown to me, because all I get is spam bot garbage comments. Geez … ain’t technology grand. So if you happen to trip over something that stirs you, leave a comment.

Review Manga Studio Pro EX5

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I’m finally beginning the process of illustrating my “State of Mind” graphic novel in Manga Studio Pro EX5. There is a lot to like in this application, and it has overcome many of the issues that I had with the previous version. Having the capacity to completely illustrate and lay out a book in one application minimizes the need to jump into other applications. It allows you to see your story in entirety all in one space.

A restructured interface and the addition of significantly improved drawing tools has made great strides in making Manga Studio Pro EX5 a blessing . Going into creating my first official page, I wanted to have a solid understanding of what this application offered. I spent a lot of time digging around the various palettes with the intent of revealing the applications full potential.

I chose to build my book in greyscale, more so because of the end cost related to printing. When I get to the end and I don’t have a publisher, it is more cost effective to print black and white. So within the application, I stuck with purely chromatic colours. Although, I did work with a blue layer to draft out the page in rough. The layers menu is similar to Photoshop, so using it for me was fairly intuitive. It took some time to determine how the frames plugged into it, but once I had a grasp of its functionality, it all came together very quickly.

The new drawing tools are clearly laid out and responsive. Added features provided just enough flexibility to modify and adjust the brush where necessary. Raster brushes worked well, although I did find the vector brushes to be a bit erratic. Especially if vector elements needed to be erased. But knowing this, I stuck with raster tools and more so, it fit well with the way I worked. The big plus was blending, which has to be by far more efficient than the typical blending process normally done in Painter or Photoshop. In this case, it makes sense because turn around time per page should be quick if you are illustrating a book that is comprised of several hundred pages.

Overall, my impression of Manga Studio Pro EX5 is that if your intent is to create graphic novels, I can’t see any better option than what this application offers.

Stitches in Story

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It has been a many years since I began crafting this story, much because I was on a learning curve when it comes to story development. I didn’t want it to become drivel that exposes nothing. And so I would consume information from everywhere on how best to write a story, and allow that story to evolve out of the protagonist, Stitches, and the decisions he would make given his nature. I had to take into account that much of his personality is initially not his, and he has to do a lot of back peddling against the inclinations that he inherited.

Now that I have a completed script that gels, the journey begins to convert it into visual form. I do have an abundance of scratches that resemble the various characters that appear throughout this first book, but I will have to do a lot more figuring to bring some of the other untouched characters to life.

For me it’s an unknown process, finding the time and motivation to push this project forward even though the market is very vague when it comes to graphic novels. There are a few books at large that have done relatively well, but there are far more that collect more dust than accolades.

Misconceptions in the Creative Business

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I continue to work on and edit my graphic novel script, altering the flow, dialogue and character details. Streamlining the plot so that it focuses on the core of the story, and removing excess content that is not relevant to the success of the primary characters. It’s an ongoing process, and at times, I question if it’s all worth the effort. Alternate to most peoples preconceptions, creating a graphic novel is not a path to financial bliss. On the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. Massive amount of work, and very likely there may be not much of a return. There is always potential, but one should never bank on it.

At one time, this financial imbalance resided purely within the creative realm, artists and writers contributing excessive time to something that may not have any benefit to themselves. Then came along mobile application development. At first it was thought to be a big cash cow for those searching for instant riches. App development became the defacto entreprenuurial pursuit for many who believe that this could provide them great financial returns. But as the industry evolved, trends began to program a completely different picture. With Apple’s apps store completely bloated, and adding an additional 200 applications daily, most applications find themselves buried amongst a clutter of me to material. Success is rare an getting fainter, with a third of the apps on the lower ranks barely scraping out maybe $200 per year in revenue. Average apps make more, but they also have much more capital invested into them.

Where to go now? Do what you love, I’ll continue to plod along investing my spare time into my book. I have been throwing around a change name as well, shifting Elly to Elizabeth Frankenstein. Provides it with a more grown up sensibility.

Face value

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illustration of Elly

More exploration on style with Elly. I pulled these sketches together as a start to flushing out a standard approach for drawing Ellie’s face. It’s a process of defining position – front view, side view etc … and expressions.

Other Work – HTML5 and Me

We’re entering our full business cycle, and usually with that I shift to work at hand for Critical Fusion. Which involves website development, print design and e-learning application development. Changing hats and focusing on the whole equation rather than just creative. Major part of Critical Fusion is technology deployment.

One of the more contraversial development tools is html5. We get requests to deploy using html5, thinking that it may solve some of the cross-device issues in delivering content on traditional PC, tablets and mobile. Much of our e-Learning type apps are developed in flash which is compatible on all browsers, but does not run from the internet on tablets and smartphones. Although, if properly assembled, flash can be packaged and deployed as an app on iOS and Android platforms.

Whereas, html5, in a compilation of tools urged to work together to create a solution. General consensus is that there is no consensus of where html5 fits, and what purpose it is meant to serve. At this point, it is largely experimental, allowing some capacity to develop rich media from the internet. The critical issue is that it is unpredictable, and the development time can be dramatically longer than Flash, because you have to build specifically for each browser. So, for me – I will wade in carefully, but wait another day before I get serious about html5.


This is my modal with stuff