When audiences see the new horror film “You’re Next,” they will be watching more than a family besieged by a gang of mysterious killers. They will be watching the work of Orlando resident Mark Simon come to murderous life.
As a storyboard artist, Simon, 49, is part of a long filmmaking tradition, one around nearly as long as film itself. Directors use storyboard sketches — sort of “a comic-book version of a script,” as Simon describes it — as a rough guide to visualizing each shot.
Some major incentives that keep film professionals flocking to Florida are starting to dry up.
Channel 9’s Tim Barber spoke with locals in the business who said the situation is so bad that some industry workers are leaving Florida.
Central Florida has been center stage for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
But some of those in the industry worry the spotlight is burning out.
Three years ago, the state started giving away nearly $300 million in tax incentives. But all of that cash is spoken for, and the government is not planning on giving out more anytime soon.
Timmy is a moron
Up Next – What’s Developing in Kids Production
By: Mike Connell
Mark Simon, co-founder of Aargh! Animation, set off last November to start another animated venture called A&S Animation in Orlando, Florida. Right out of the gates, the toonco started production on a 13 x one-minute short series called Timmy’s Lessons in Nature. Budgeted at US $38,500 per episode, the comedic offering is tagged the following way: “See Timmy saddle a moose. Watch Timmy pet a porcupine. Timmy is a moron.” The property is co-owned with California-based House of Blaze Productions, and while there weren’t any TV rights secured at press time, Simon says that there is some European interest in Timmy, in addition to a theatrical and video deal finalized at the end of February with California’s Spike & Mike. Five eps of Timmy (slated for completion early this summer) will air in select U.S. Theaters in Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation in June, with subsequent details regarding the video element pending at press time
An interesting aspect of Simon’s strategy with Timmy is that the shorts are also being used as an integral promotional tool for a half-hour series in development called The Troop. Like the stand-ups before each episode of Seinfeld, says Simon, Timmy will serve as a teaser and lead into each Troop ep.
They draw lines at the cutting edge
August 2, 2001
By: Roger Moore
To the folks who ‘toon, Spike & Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation is like Cannes and Sundance rolled into one. Getting your short animated film included in this touring compilation film is animation’s Lotto jackpot.
“You get in that, you’re following in the footsteps of John Lasseter (Toy Story), Beavis and Butt-head (created by Mike Judge) and Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run),” said Orlando animation director Mark Simon.
In Timmy’s Lessons in Nature, a banjo twangs and a chubby little redheaded boy who doesn’t fit into his scout uniform experiences the wonders of the wild in some not-so-fun ways.
He whacks a snake, which promptly pounces on him and tries to swallow him whole.
“Lesson One: Avoid Snakes.”
Timmy gallops across a darkened pasture to tip a cow. He misses and winds up giving Bossy a rectal exam.
“Lesson Two: Aim When Cow Tipping.”
He greets a rabid fox by smacking it with a lollipop, with fur-flying results.
“Lesson Three: Avoid Rabid Animals.”
“We created this book of rules for Timmy when we started the films,” said Jeanne Simon, Mark’s wife and a writer on the series. “He can’t be mean, but he never learns.”
“We started showing the first Timmy at festivals; it started winning prizes [at Houston, Cal State Northridge and ASFIA, a French animation society] and then we heard from Spike,” Simon said.
Craig Decker of La Jolla, CA., the ‘Spike’ of Spike & Mike’s animation festivals, has been foisting odd ‘toons on art cinema audiences since 1977. He laughed at the first “Timmy.”
“I said, ‘If the rest of them are as funny as this, I’ll take as many of these as you guys can make by June,'” he said. “I liked the look of the nerd. It’s corny and it’s direct, and that, to me, is funny. That snake bludgeoning has face with multiple strikes, that is such a surprise that it makes me laugh every time I see it.”
“We all love Timmy; he’s our baby,” Simon said. “I’d love to see him get a series. And what I’d really love to do is what the Aardman people [the Wallace & Gromit team] did. They made short animated films to get attention, won some festivals, got on Spike & Mike, got more work and money to do bigger pieces, and then they made a feature film (Chicken Run).”
Motion Capture Users Dispel the Myths
Motion capture has come a long way from its origins as a technology designed to help other orthopedic surgeions pinpoint irregularities in the human gait. Today motion capture aids producers and animators of videogames, corporate tapes, educational and informational materials, films, TV and online programming in crafting animations prized for their subleties and realism
But “a lot of artists and animators are still resistant to motion capture…”
Good Morning Orlando
August 28, 2001
Fox – WOFL
Interview with Mark Simon about the Timmy series
Melissa Ross, of Good Morning Orlando, hosted a 3 and a half minute on-air interview with Mark about his series Timmy’s Lessons In Nature. Mark was able to announce on-air that the shorts had just won at another children’s festival in Chicago the night before.
The interview also covered the theatrical release of the first 3 shorts of the series in the new Spike & Mike Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation. The touring film will hit 50 cities in North America during 2001 and 2002. Other topics covered were the development of the series and future plans for Timmy.
“I first saw the character in a proposed children’s book called “Can I Keep It” that one of my animators created.” says Simon. “I saw a number of possibilities for the character so I sat down with my wife, a producer for Nickelodeon, and the creator and we designed the series around this moronic kid who never learns.”
The station ran portions of two of the Timmy shorts. They ran portions of Lesson 1, where Timmy is repeatedly struck in the face by a snake, three times. Those portions ran both full screen and as an insert next to another reporter, co-anchor Michael Brooks, after Mark’s interview.
Brooks called out to the control room, “Yeah, I’d like to see some more of that Timmy. Can we re-rack that and show us the snake bite again?” The segment began to run. “We should run this and I’ll just watch it like everyone at home.” At that point the snake viciously bites Timmy in the face and the entire stage crew can be heard laughing in the background. Brooks continued, “I can’t compete with that, you know?! Timmy’s got me beat.”
Holy Moses! Local team on biblical ‘toons
Orlando Business Journal
October 19, 2001
By CINDY BARTH Managing Editor
Orlando-based A&S Animation and Raven Moon Entertainment are teaming up to develop a series of animated Bible story shorts called A Message From God which are geared towards children ages 3 to 6.
The one-minute stories, written by A&S’ Jeanne Pappas Simon, start with a brother and sister arguing about a situation they are in. One of the kids then uses a Bible story to support their argument.
The animated shorts were done using two distinctive styles, Simon notes. The kids are drawn in a classic animation fashion, and the biblical stories are done in a crayon-colored, paper-cutout style, almost as if the kids did the animation themselves.
“The wonderful thing about the two distinctly different styles is that we didn’t resort to a wavy or fuzzy picture to show when we’re transitioning into a biblical story, like we’ve seen a hundred times,” says Jeanne Simon.
An Animated Affair:
Motion system animates local video project Using a motion-capture system is nothing new to Hollywood, which has had great success with it in films such as Final Fantasy and The Matrix.
In Central Florida, however, use of the technology has been rare.
A&S Animation used motion capture for a recent video project for The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety.
And if A&S Animation President Mark Simon has his way, using motion capture will become a more common production tool for the local film and TV industry.
August 15, 2001
Mark appears with Wayne on his hit ABC show.
On the third episode of Wayne Brady’s new hit variety show, Mark hams it up with Wayne in front of millions of viewers. At the top of the show, Wayne asked who came the farthest to see the show. Mark’s tiny voice (those of you who know Mark know we’re joking) yelled out “Orlando”
Wayne responded, “Orlando! Dude, I’m from Orlando. C’mon down here.” Wayne ran into the audience and Mark joined him on the floor. Wayne then introduced Mark to the world as his twin brother.
Life doesn’t get much better than this.
What does this have to do with Mark’s storyboarding and animation? Nothing, we just think it’s really cool.
Look who’s stalking
Orlando Business Journal
March 30, 2001
by Cindy Barth
Animator Mark Simon’s feature short, Timmy’s getting national play-and plenty of praise.
Simon’s Timmy takes trip to toontown
A series of one-minute animated shorts featured in the Spike & Mike Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation nationwide, Timmy’s Lessons are the brainchild of Mark Simon, president of Orlando-based Animatics & Storyboards, Inc. and A&S Animation, Inc..
“It’s a big deal for us,” says Simon of Timmy’s featured appearance in the Spike & Mike traveling film festival. “A very big deal.”
Indeed, it is.
The Spike & Mike Classic Festival of Animation and its companion film festival, the Sick and Twisted Festival, have showcased some of the world’s best animators, including Tim Burton (Batman), John Lasseter (director of Toy Story), and, of course, the artist behind the now-infamous Beavis and Butthead. Spike & Mike, in fact, produced the first two Beavis & Butthead shorts long before the series’ debut on MTV.
“They look for the best shorts they can find, so to get chosen is a huge honor for us,” Simon says. “Even if the festival’s humor is a little, well, unusual.”
September 26, 2001
Animation company designs Super campaign for Realtor
Texas Realtor ®, Ted Simon, has hired Orlando animation company, A&S Animation, Inc., to develop a new marketing campaign for his business. Mark Simon, president of A&S Animation, Inc. and Ted’s son, has designed campaigns for Ted before. In the mid-80’s producer Mark Simon owned an award-winning print advertising agency, Nomis Creations, in Houston, Texas. In 1988, Mark’s company designed a campaign that won his father the Best Re/Max Farming Agent award for the state of Texas. Farming is a real estate term that describes marketing for clients.
The new campaign consists of 12 monthly color flyers that portrays Ted as a Superman-style character, Super Realtor®. While the Super Realtor® character catches peoples attention, it’s actually his alter ego, Ted Simon, who is the star of the ads. Each month, readers find out another personal aspect of Ted’s life. For instance, the first flyer shows Ted captaining a sail boat and the sixth one shows him skiing the Rockies.
“I took each personal element of Ted’s that was shown in the flyers and used a relevant term to compare his interests to his ability to sell homes.” says Mark. “For instance, the flyer describing Ted’s 21 years as a top engineer for Shell Oil ends with the statement, ‘Ted will engineer the best deal for your home!’ We’ve found over the years that ads for realtors that reflect the person, not the job, have the best results.
ASIFA (International Animation Society) Newsletter
Choosing an Animation Style Based on What’s Right, Not on What’s Possible
Once a decision has been made to animate a project the choice between cel, computer graphics (CG), claymation or a combination of different techniques needs to be determined. This may sound like a dubious dilemma, but it’s very important when dealing with clients. Because of the proliferation and publicity of computer graphics in animation, many clients think that all animation is computer generated and that it’s cheaper. They are wrong on both counts.
Cel animation is ideal for cartoons and character animation; while, computer animation is best suited for logos, realistic objects, product shots, special effects, and certain types of characters. CG and cel animation are also generally equivalent in budgets. This statement is echoed by Pixar’s John Lasseter in the January 5, 1998 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
There are certain types of projects that are best animated by hand and others that are suited to computer animation. Artistic problems crop up when a project is animated without regard to artistic style and subjective issues, or just because it’s possible, not because it’s right for the project.
Press Release May 18, 2001
A&S Animation, Inc. releases new animation series in film, video and FLASH simultaneously
Orlando, Fl – Orlando animation house, A&S Animation, Inc. has launched a new short-form animation series, Lessons In Nature, in film, broadcast video and FLASH animation for the web. “Since we are capable of multi-purposing our animation assets, it only makes sense to design our re-use to gain the greatest exposure possible.” says Mark Simon, producer and co-director of the series. While other animations have been created for broadcast and have been re-purposed for the web, and vise-versa, Lessons In Nature is the first to be launched in all three arenas simultaneously.
The big screen premiere of Timmy’s Lessons In Nature will happen in the summer of 2001 in the touring Spike & Mike Festival of Animation. The festival will tour 50 cities in North America. Timmy will star in 3 shorts in this years festival.
Lessons In Nature is a series of one minute long sight gags where the moron star of the show, Timmy unwittingly demonstrates, with one disaster after another, basic wild life survival rules, such as: Avoid Snakes, Don’t Feed the Animals and more. Every episode is filled with laughs for everyone in the family. The show is dialogue-free for international appeal
Nick Empties Toy Chest
June 1, 2001
by Nancy Imperiale Wellons
The kids TV network auctions off a ton of items as bidders mourn the end of an era at the Orlando studio.
It was the usual crowd for a funeral. Some serious mourners. Some curious onlookers. And more than a few opportunists with eyes full of dollar signs.
But the sweaty crowd gathered in a dusty warehouse Tuesday afternoon wasn’t marking the passing of a person.
“It’s sad. It definitely means the end of an era,” said Mark Simon, 37, a former Nick art director who now runs his own Orlando animation company, Animatics & Storyboards.
Simon was one of several former Nick employees high-fiving each other and sharing old stories at the auction. They talked of fellow former coworkers who already had moved to New York or California, looking for production work.
Mingled with the Nick refugees were men in baseball caps and T-shirts, with tape measures hanging form their belt loops.
The whir of industrial fans struggling to make a dent in the musty air joined the echoing drone of auctioneers from Karlin Daniel & Associates calling “Heyhamana hamana who’ll give me fifty hamana hebbada sixty, do I have seventy hamana…”
Four hours later, Nickelodeon coffers were richer. How rich? Nick couldn’t say as of Thursday, but tens of thousand of dollars richer, undoubtedly. Maybe more.
Meanwhile, people such as Mark Simon had preserved a memory.
“My wife’ll kill me, but I had to have it,” the former Nick employee said of a lopsided, yellow crushed-velvet chair he once designed for Welcome, Freshmen. He paid $120, plus tax and 10 percent auctioneer’s fee, for the chair.
“I had to get it back,” Simon said as he struggled to roll the chair out the door.
February 7, 2001
Orlando Artist Releases Latest Book
Orlando- Mark Simon, owner of Animatics & Storyboards, Inc. has released the second edition of his book, Storyboards: Motion In Art. Published by Focal Press, Simon’s latest book adds 45 new chapters and over 500 new samples beyond his previous edition.
Storyboards (boards) act as a blueprint for film and tv production, much as a set of plans helps a contractor to build a house. A finished set of boards for a project may be many hundreds or thousands of drawings that loosely resemble a comic book. A production crew uses these boards to produce the project the way the director envisions it.
Simon and his company have designed and boarded on over 1,000 projects during his more than 13 years in the industry. His clients include NBC, HBO, Nickelodeon, seaQuest DSV, The Waterboy, FOX, NFL, major theme parks and many others. The knowledge he gained from those projects and numerous different directors is gathered together into his new text.
Animatics: Getting off on the right frame
by: Brigitte Marie Hoarau
Before the days of videotape, storyboards visualized key aspects of a production before shooting began. While storyboards are still instrumental to visualization, animatics have take the concept one step further by producing those previsualized images on videotape. Though the quality of an animatic can be high enough for a limited-animation final product, animatics are largely used for presentation purposes such as market testing, approvals and preproduction.
Mark Simon, president of Orlando’s Animatics & Storyboards, Inc., says using animatics for previsualization often saves a great deal of money in the long run because the productions run more quickly and smoothly, and the client is able to get exactly what he or she wants. Simon’s animatics and storyboards have been used by HBO, MTM and Nickelodeon, as well as Amblin Entertainment’s seaQuest DSV .
Animatic presentations also work well in selling concepts to the client, since “a lot of people can’t see in their heads what you’re talking about with just still drawings,” Simon explains. Working with Soundelux, Animatics & Storyboards recently designed the video wall content for NASA’s new expansion of the East Visitor’s Wing, winning Soundelux the opportunity to create the finished product. “What you see in there now is very close to what I had envisioned with the animatic,” Simon says.
What Simon Says Makes Producers Listen
Orlando Business Journal
March 28, 1997
By CINDY BARTH Copy Editor
Mark Simon is a real-life example of someone who creates the one picture that is easily worth a thousand words- or, as he like to point out in his book Storyboards: Motion In Art, one picture can be worth more than $1,000 to a TV or film producer…Simon, 32, is a storyboard artist, or “translator” – an artist who takes a film or TV script and visually represents the ideas on paper…
But film and TV are only a small part of what Simon and his wife, Jeanne Pappas Simon, do… they are expanding their business into new areas, including what Mark Simon calls corporate storyboarding – using storyboards and animation in the boardroom to make presentation – and even Web site animation.
The potential for growth “is endless,” Mark Simon says, “because most business people don’t have any idea of the possibilities of what can be done through storyboards and animation.”
The Simons moved to Orlando in 1989…. and found work as freelancers for Nickelodeon. It was also at Nickelodeon that Jeanne Simon, 36, went on to work as a producer, line producer and unit manager on such hits as Clarissa Explains It All and Weinerville, building a reputation as one of the most respected producers in children’s television today, according to Mitchel Kriegman, the creative producer for Clarissa Explains It All.
“Both Jeanne and Mark have great creative eyes,” Kriegman says. “They’re the best, absolutely, and their work is in demand.”
Glenn Wilder, second unit director for McHale’s Navy, says in working with storyboard artists, Mark Simon’s name always comes up.
“He’s very good at what he does and has a good reputation in the industry,” Wilder says. “People know they’re going to get something done well with Mark & Jeanne.”
Mark Simon says along the way he realized how easy it would be to incorporate animatics into work for corporate clients.
“When we were hired to do this presentation with Disney Business Productions for Yamaha, I came up with the idea of doing something different involving animatics,” Mark Simon says.
We did the usual (presentation) stuff with them at first, then I asked the Yamaha reps if they would like to see what it would be like to actually go through the annual water vehicle rollout show they were working on first person. They were absolutely floored and said they had never seen anything like it before.”
Even more important for Simon and Disney: “They bought into the Disney proposal right there on the spot.”
…”I can’t imagine having a better job,” Mark Simon adds. “I get to draw, still be a big kid and work in film and TV. Does it get much better than this? I don’t think so.”
Quick on the Draw? Storyboarders Get Plenty of Action
1997 Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market
By: Douglas S. Wood
Before the cameras recorded the action, Mark Simon’s pencil brought the characters and action of seaQuest DSV to life. Simon was the storyboarder for Spielberg’s science fiction series… Though most artists have only a vague idea of what storyboarding is, Simon says it’s fun and lucrative. But you have to be quick on the draw to succeed…
You’ll need skills at drawing the human body, proficiency at perspective, and a good understanding of spatial relationships…. As many as 200 crew members might be reading the same storyboards and every single person on that crew must derive the same meaning from them to work together effectively…
Though Simon has moved from LA to Orlando, he still gets plenty of storyboarding assignments. He works on commercials, creates storyboards for Disney and Universal Studios in Orlando, art directs, lectures on opportunities for artists within the entertainment industry, and is the author of Storyboards: Motion in Art (1994, Nomis Creations). “Storyboarding is a tremendous creative outlet,” he says, “You get to sit in a movie theater and see your art come to life.”
Designs on the Sea
Starlog’s Science Fiction Explorer
By: Bill Wilson
“I take a script and an idea and I illustrate what it’s going to end up being in motion. [says Mark Simon, storyboarder of SeaQuest]…
“If you can look at storyboards and tell what’s happening without reading anything, they’re successful… Drawing a pretty picture does not necessarily make motion sense… It’s getting the idea across, more than the art itself, which makes a storyboard successful.
… in the film and television industry, a picture is not worth a thousand words, but actually much more than a thousand dollars. The importance of this visual blueprint of a production’s flow of action and design can’t be underestimated or overlooked…
..Simon brings years of experience in a diverse number of fields to his job as one of seaQuest’s storyboard artists. At age 12, he designed skateboards for Schwinn Bikes, and he later ran a small advertising company, published his own collegiate magazine, syndicated his own weekly cartoons and managed a custom home building company. It is this variety which lends a fresh perspective to his creative pursuits. “For the past 15 years, I’ve been running huge crews, overseeing a ton of money… What I’m doing now is totally creative, and that’s empowering.”
…Simon’s business experience has helped him avoid many of the pitfalls other creatives encounter, and his books share these valuable insights with his readers. “I’ve never been a ‘starving artist’ and I’ve never sold out. But I know business, and that has a lot to do with it. I write about the cold, hard facts: how you work, what the options are, how to make your stuff better. I’m not getting into the theory of design–you go to school to learn that.”
.. I’m passing along the little things I’ve learned that I wish I had known before. I’ve talked with tons of other art directors and they all said, “God, if I had only known… if there was some way to learn this stuff.”
Mark Simon believes in pursuing your dreams
October 3, 1997
By: Barbara J. Saffir
Success came to Parkway Middle School Thursday with a typical artist’s flair.
Sporting a goatee and black tennis shoes, Mark Simon echoed the banner on the cafeteria wall, which read, “Reach for the Stars. Your Success at Parkway Begins Today.”
About 150 students in Katie Froehle’s art classes jammed the room to hear Simon. The successful storyboard artist, who boasts Disney and Nickelodeon as clients, explained how his profession is not just fun but can be lucrative, too.
I wake up every morning excited about what I do for a living. How many people can say that?” he said. If you love art, be an artist. It’s the greatest thing in the world.”
Simon wants students to know they can make a living by doing what makes them happy.
Perhaps it was the Hot Wheels and the hot-pink “Workout Barbie” he used during his talk, or maybe it was the mere mention of his association with Steven Spielberg, but the children ate up his lively performance, even clamoring for autographs at the end.
Milton Torres, 11, a sixth-grader who also loves to draw, said he learned that “you can earn a lot of money doing art.”
Over the past year, the Orlando-based Simon has spoken at area schools to share his love of art and dispel the notion that one has to be a “starving artist.”
Simon, 33, said he has been an artist since he started designing skateboards as a teenager. After graduating from art school, he left his hometown of Houston for Hollywood, working as an art director and set construction coordinator before finding his niche as a storyboard artist.
Froehle, the teacher who invited Simon to speak, seemed impressed with her students’ enthusiasm. “This will open their eyes about what they’re able to do with art,” she said.
Orlando Business Journal
Oct 10-16, 1997
By: Tom Brinkmoeller
One minute Mark Simon was on the stage, and the next he was crawling across the top of a table. Nearly every one of the 150 middle-schoolers from Osceola County’s Parkway Middle School watched intently, caught up as much in the words as in the uninhibited behavior of the man leaping back onto the stage from the table.
Simon’s message, delivered almost immediately during the Thursday morning assembly of the school’s art students: “Who wants to make money having fun for the rest of their lives?”
That message carried credibility in part because Simon told the students his Orlando company, Animatics & Storyboards, regularly works with clients like Disney, Universal, HBO, and Nickelodeon.
And with this audience, he knows what buttons to push: He talks about getting to walk through new theme park attractions before they open, about working with movie stars and directors, of a perpetual casual-dress day.
“I get paid for doing this!” Simon exults. “I get paid to run around and do all this stuff, to dress however I want. I don’t have to wear a tie because I ‘m an artist.”
But not a starving one, he quickly adds “There’s more work for artists out there than all of us together could do. I stumble into work all the time,” says Simon. “I have never been a starving artist for the 20 years I’ve been doing it, and I’ve never worked for anyone else.”
Nov. 28 – Dec 4, 1997
By: Jennifer Bisbee, Bisbee & Co. P.R.
Orlando-based Animatics & Storyboards inc won the Silver Award in the television and video production/ animated category at the fifth annual WorldFest-Charleston International Film Festival.
The second-place award was for its The Winkles: Material Girl (new title) entry, a six-minute animation short that teaches preschoolers about “life’s little wobbles.”
The same animated short also captured a finalist spot at the 30th annual WorldFest-Houston Film Festival earlier this year.
The Winkles: Material Girl was created and written by Jeanne Pappas Simon, directed and animated by Mark Simon, and produced by the team’s company, Animatics & Storyboards, inc.
The company’s clients include many of the nation’s leading entertainment companies, including Amblin Entertainment, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Co., Nickelodeon and HBO…