• Adam Burke – A Pixar Legend

    Adam Burke passed away on October 8th 2018. I was a close friend to Adam over the years at Pixar Animation studios. When Adam showed up on the film Incredibles it was a breath of fresh air to have someone else that was from “back east”. The industry is small and we knew alot of the same people. Adam was always a guy that I could go into and chat with about life. There never was a day when I remember him being negative. It really was amazing because I was sometimes jaded by this or that and Adam would set me straight, telling me.. “Gordon, I’ve been on the outside” I aint ever leaving this place.” He was right. He was right about so many things. He did so many things for the animation department at Pixar and people in general. He started the hospital visit program at Pixar. He was the resident Bar keep. A guy who would always pour a drink or make you laugh. He had a voice that would shatter the earth…Singing at the stage on a Friday. He was always there on working Saturdays cooking breakfast with his son or making the best bloody Mary’s for the crew even if he was not on the film!  He and I taught the interns at Pixar one year and he made it one of the most fun experiences ever. He and I had a famous war at pixar where we would trade photoshops and fake shots in dailies. He went through the trouble of having someone model me so he could put my face on a cup in Finding Dory. These are the types of things that really are the stuff of legend. He added so much to the culture of Pixar and that culture is part of what makes the films so great there. He took an interest in teaching and even helping me with this site that used to be sucha beacon for so many people that wanted to learn about animation. One our best “Spline Casts” was with Brad Bird and Ed Catmull. Adam helped line those legends up. http://splinedoctors.com/Podcasts/BradBird.m4a

    another interview with Adam and Ed:   https://www.dix-project.net/item/1623/spline-cast-the-original-spline-doctor

    Adam was also a spectacular animator, animating scenes that you remember in the many films he worked on. I hope to post a link to his amazing work. Adam also was the keeper of my old secret room the Love Lounge. He hosted so many people through the years and kept the lounge in tact. I could not have thought of a better person, because he was a gracious host. When I think about the animators that we read about in the old books about Disney and Warners, Adam is one of those “characters” that made me want to become an animator. His attitude was that he was the luckiest guy to have his job and all the things he did for people made it show. I will miss you so much Adam. If there is a heaven, then I know Adam is sitting by some sort of Tiki Bar up there, having his favorite drinks, a martini with a twist. May we all raise a glass to a person that affected so many. I miss you buddy.



  • Creating a fun place to work…

    Its really no secret anymore that I have had a few offices that had secret rooms at Pixar… I’ve never really talked about it much, mostly people have told their own version of the story…Mostly mythology. In the next couple of posts Ill try to speak on why it happened and what the real reasons were…

    Well, it all started when I was a kid, as most stories do… Something imprinted with me… My brother Ken, always had the most amazing club houses…One was in a old ice shed out back. He had fur up there, a drawer of baseball cards, a chest of toys and trinkets.. Of course I was never allowed. I did sneak up when he was away, but I loved it there. Being in a place I was not supposed to be was the key. A hiding place… When your a kid, you make forts, you try to construct things, well because its fun! My brother had the shed, the attic, a bush that was a three story apartment etc…Why should it be any different at work? My brother inspired me , or rather as he would say it, I copied him. Copy Cat, he would often call me… I’ll admit, I did like what my older brothers were doing. A kid makes the kid version of what the older kids do…

    So The Love Lounge, was the place at Pixar I “found” When I moved in, there was simply a key in an air vent and I crawled in as any kid would do… Ironically, on the other side of the building there is the same door, but for some reason it never was seen as a place to have drinks and hang out… Animators are a special breed. Basically people that still somehow wanted to keep playing with their action figures…and make them come alive… The natural thing was to do the same thing. I strung up some lights, Bought some airplane bottles of liquor and the next thing I know, Im sending out invitations to my fellow animators to have a drink… Posters start going up…I was inspired by Shawshank redemption. The character in that film had a really cool Cell with a poster of Raquel Welch… The place started turning into a 50′s lounge…We were all so young and it was fun trying to hide from the Brass. One day, while on the Film Finding Nemo, I was supposed to be in a review. They came to my office and was coming out of the door… Caught red handed by Director Andrew Stanton. He looked inside and noticed that I had a sort of Snoopy Dog house. Snoopy’s dog house was also something that as a kid I always wondered about.. He had so much stuff in there… I knew I wasn’t going to be fired, but maybe get in trouble for having a chocolate martini in my hands while a bunch of animators crawled, or rolled out laughing… The next thing I know, John Lassiter is coming by, Then with Steve Jobs… They pretty much loved it… Steve signed the wall: This is why we built this building…The next year or three I met too many famous people to count. Some of my hero’s, So many actors, Musicians, Billionaires, Princes, you name it.. I met them… And had some pretty interesting conversations inside of an airvent.. hey would sign  the wall and crawl out. That part was always awkward… If I had only had a butt cam…

    One of the big things I learned, and that we all learned.. Don’t force fun. Its up to the employees to push on the culture to make things happen. Don’t wait for the HR team to set up a mixer. The people are who the company is. What I love about Pixar is that people are always trying to outdo each other. Whether its their office, a talk, a party, tools, anything, this is the stuff that makes things interesting.The big issue with a lot of companies out there is that you become afraid of asking… You start thinking that if you ask, they will say no.. Most of the time they may… Most of the great things that happen are spontaneous…Built on some crazy perception…

    Next week Ill continue some of the story of the Love Lounge and talk bit about the Lucky 7 and some other things that may be of interest…

    Thanks for listening..feel free to ask questions…





  • Zootopia sets the bar for 2016.

    Its been a while since I went to an animated film feeling like I needed to get back to my desk and animate harder! After seeing what our brothers and sisters down at Disney Feature Animation are doing, this was my feeling. Whats even better was keeping an eye on my kids and hearing them talk about it. Two kid thumbs up. I think the movie is great and as an animator I really just love the work and was amazed at how wonderful the animation was.  Appeal is off the charts and the acting is fun. If your an animator, or someone who just loves a fun film, go see it. Way to go ! Amazing work.


  • Cartoon Brew

    I used to like reading cartoon brew. Maybe it was when Jerry Beck was part of the site. Now, admittedly I read it much like looking at a tabloid on a news stand at the grocery store. Its very entertaining. It’s really become quite a negative site though. Amid, in all seriousness, whats up?. I do like to reading strong opinions, but lately, there seems to be something about many of the posts that lend themselves to a sort of bitterness. Maybe its me but I do find there to be a lot of articles that tend to dig at a particular studio…I know negativity sells though…

    Maybe the name of the site would be better called Cartoon Concoction.

    Just my opinion. Come on guys, we are making cartoons.. :)



  • Planning

    Tom Gately and animation interns discuss a pose during a field trip

    Tom Gately Shows Anim Interns a Strong Pose

    The nine old men would say “spend half your time planning and the other half animating. While this idea is hard to uphold, the basic idea is true. Going into a shot blind is like not studying for a test or stretching before a race. Clear planning, forces you to really think about what is important in the shot. Every time I animate straight ahead, I fall flat on my face and waste a lot of time figuring out what I set out to do in the first place. It really must become part of your routine. It is so important because it creates a foundation, something you can fall back on. I was always amazed at the planning that Doug Sweetland went though before he animated. He drew so many different ways of doing the same thing through thumbnails. Then he went off to record himself. Most people do video reference these days. It’s no big secret. The hardest part is to not rely on it to closely. You want to use the best parts. Another thing I have seen animators do is to write down what the shot means to them in a sentence… Where is the beat change? What is the most important thing in the shot? You always want to be asking these questions. If I have a character sitting in a room and the point of the shot is for them to be upset, I want to create a back story as to why. Maybe he is lost, maybe his his heart has been stepped on. How do I relate that to something I experienced?  What is the deeper meaning? If you animate simply the cliche of upset, there is not heart or pathos. Dig down deep and pull out something personal and it will show up on the screen…. Follow a ritual of solid planning and you will add a new layer of complexity to your work.