One of my strongest memories is being a sixth grade student in an advanced program at my primary school in Newark, New Jersey. Once a week, several other students and I would go to see Mr. Lombardy, who was the resident computer instructor for our elementary school. His classroom was situated on the first floor in the back of the building halfway between the cafeteria and the playground exit, a virtual otherworld in my school. It was here that I was first introduced to computers. It was 1985 and I vaguely remember, learning to input code into one of the machines. The images are feint in my memory, so I actually couldn’t tell you if it was a PC or a Mac we were working on (though I like to think we were working on the Macintosh 128k), but the memory of being there is potent to me. Even though I was only 12 years old, I knew that computers were going to be a major part of my life.
I have one other significant memory. I have always written stories and drawn pictures. One of the first stories I ever wrote was a script called “Star Kids”. It told the story of a group of pre-teens, children of NASA scientists, who decide to hijack a space shuttle and fly it to an alien world that is at war with Earth. Their reason, to rescue an injured NASA astronaut who has been stranded on the alien planet. The mission is masterminded by a 9 year old boy, the son of the astronaut, and several of his friends. They decide to take the shuttle when they realize that the adults are too busy arguing over the costs and politics of a possible rescue mission, to actually do anything about it. In recollection, the script is very much in the tradition of The Goonies or E.T., except that my script was about youth of color.
I wrote this script, a whopping 100 pages or so, on graph paper (which if it isn’t apparent, are made up of very small boxes), back and front. Then, I convinced the resident bad boy and the most talented artist in my class, Michael, to draw all the robots and weird creatures for the story. We worked on it for a few months, until one day while on my way home from school, I lost the script in a gust of wind and rain. Later, with the help of a crossing guard, I was able to recover about two-thirds of the then wet and dirty paper script. I spent the next couple of months, re-writing and filling in for the lost segments. Later I proclaimed, proudly to my mother, it was completely better than my original version!
A month or two after that, when my family was moving from our apartment, I decided to throw the script and drawings away, because, as I justified to myself, I could write something even better…
I have never thrown out anything I have written or drawn since.
Now how do those two stories relate? Well not so easily at first. See I went on to study filmmaking in college in the early 1990’s, however, I was on the cusp of the analog and digital ages. As I was graduating from college with my film degree, the department was just getting into teaching computer animation. I missed out by one semester. My entire undergraduate media education took place on film cameras, film editing machines, analog tv studio cameras and analog linear video editing stations. It wasn’t until I went to graduate school that was able to use my first digital, non-linear editing app, Avid Media Composer.
The rest as they say is history, because for the past ten years, I have completely produced my creative work in the digital world, which means my storytelling and love for computer technology have ultimately come together, fulfilling what I believe to be the ultimate purpose of my life, to produce media using computer technology.
This blog is not so much about reminiscing about my life or instructing others who may or may not be interested in what I live for, but really a way for me to explore my love for these two items, storytelling and computer technology.
I want to talk about what inspires me and why. I want to talk about my work, my process and my methodology in a real, practical way, that others may find inspiring and useful. I want to seek out other creators and find out the whys and hows of their work. I want to explore the work of other SF creators. Many times there will be images and video because I have a visual understanding of the world. But words will be included too, as I want to really to critically examine some of the work I love and take time to explore it in detail.
This blog gives me the “space” and the “opportunity” to do so, on a wide platform.