Rudolph Jr.

Back in August of this year, I was hired to storyboard a new animated Christmas music video for Capitol Records’ recording of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as sung by Burl Ives. You remember ol’ Burl, right? He was the narrator of the original Rankin-Bass production of Rudolph back in the 1960s.

Well, this new production was accomplished by the Fantoons Studio using computer graphics, but they did a great job making it look like stop-motion puppet animation. Here’s the video as it appears on YouTube:

Okay, I know you are all wondering, so let me set the story straight – why doesn’t Rudolph have a red nose in the cartoon? Well, despite Capitol Records having the ownership of that recording, they don’t own the rights to the visual of a reindeer with a red nose. That right is likely owned by whoever owns the actual song, thus my director’s invention of the floating red orb.

Storyboarding is not always a very glamorous art form. You don’t always have the time to make frameable pieces of art. My drawings for this were fairly simple sketches due to only having about three days to board the whole thing, but in that time, I whipped out about 260 drawings based on a written outline from director David Calcano. What IS important is what those drawings communicate: composition, camera angles and movements, transitions, sets, props, costumes, indications of lighting, acting – basically all those aspects of filmmaking that you see when you watch a movie or TV show.

Thought I’d share with you a few of my storyboard panels, followed by the corresponding final frames from the video. I was really impressed with how the artists who came after me really used the boards as inspiration for what they did in the final video – I especially was tickled to see how faithful they were to my portraits of the other reindeer at the beginning, yet rendered so beautifully. (Coming up with those silly portraits based on the reindeer names was most definitely a “chadism.”


I also created character facial expression sheets for the animators on this short, which is usually a function of the character designer (a job I have held many times in the past). The director thought I should do the expression sheets for this short on their final character designs (which I did not have at the time I boarded this), probably because of all the acting I had put into the boards.
I thought the team did a fantastic job, especially considering that starting in late August for an animated Christmas project is cutting it close!

White Christmas

Back in June I had another one of those out-of-the-blue, who-would-have-thought, stranger-than-fiction work opportunities come up.

I had already storyboarded a Frank Sinatra music video earlier in the year for the Fantoons studio. They liked what I drew for them, so when they were given the opportunity to animate a music video set to a recording of Irving Berlin’s song White Christmas as sung by the incomparable Bing Crosby, they called on me once again to board for them.




David Calcano wrote a script that set the song around the military at the time of the holidays that had some real storytelling in it. It begins in the late ’60s with the Vietnam War, and later comes to our modern era. It had nostalgia, love of family, tragedy, and full circle resolution – a whole lot of the human experience packed into three minutes.


Dad playing with his daughter in the late ’60s.
Dad now in the Army with a military haircut writing home as Bing sings through the radio.
Bing shows up as a mailman.


I love doing caricatures, but just like in the Sinatra video, I was asked to NOT caricature Bing in my boards. The studio was coming up with their design for Bing, which was going through approvals with whomever had to approve. If I drew him my own way, that could have complicated things. So, a generic character in a hat is what I drew (though I did get away with half-lidded eyes and big ears).


Here’s the comes the mail magically flying to the little girl and her mother.
When you see the finished video, you’ll see that an older mother doesn’t appear in it as I had imagined. With a young portrait of mom on the wall in the video, I think time ultimately wasn’t kind to her.


So, I had a very busy week boarding the piece. 217 panels later, it was finished and sent off. The drawings above are just a few individual panels of those efforts that the team at Fantoons used as a blueprint for their music video.

And here’s the finished product! Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you get to enjoy a white one!


Christmas with Sinatra

Never thought I’d get to say this, but earlier this year I got to work with Frank Sinatra. Well, “with” is more like it I suppose, since he is no longer among us, which is what made the experience surprising to begin with. “With.” Whatever.

The folks at the Fantoons Studio asked me to storyboard an official Sinatra music video they were going to animate for Universal Music Group who holds the rights to the Capitol Records back catalog. The song? Frank’s version of The Christmas Waltz. So, I had to get my Christmas on back in the sweltering heat of June in Los Angeles.

With a script by David Calcano, I spent a week swathed in the mello tones of Frank’s crooning as I boarded his holiday adventures in Palm Springs, California. I picked just a few individual panels from my boards to show you here, followed by the actual video made by Fantoons.


Ol’ Blue Eyes on the Palm Springs sky tram.
I based the shots in the house on photos of Frank’s actual Palm Springs home.
The parting shot at the end of the video of all the cards formed throughout the video.



So, it was a real treat to get to work “with” Frank. You know, back when Frank was still alive, I did get a phone call once from his secretary, but that’s a story for another time.