Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Freelancing is a slippery thing.  Sometimes, weeks go by and I wind up wondering where the time went and what on earth I did with it, if anything. 

Business this year, for instance, has been slow compared to 2011, slow enough to force me to finally reorganize my bookkeeping system after years of evasion.  (Once done, it makes life so much easier!)  But looking back on it, business hasn’t been awful.  I’ve worked for six clients so far this year – which, for me, isn’t bad.  And two of them are new this year, while two were new last year and have come back for more, which is always nice, and the last two I’ve been gratefully working with for many years. 

A slippery thing, freelancing.  You have to do everything yourself, and have to pay for it all.  Maintaining the website, among other things, and the social networks (well, not so much lately), upgrading software, preparing quotes, doing the bookkeeping, paying taxes, learning how to do stuff you’ve never done before, and – oh yeah, working, and getting paid for it.  But you never quite know exactly when you’ll get paid (especially by new clients), and sometimes you don’t quite know how you’re going to pay the rent.  But (and this is a big But) you don’t have a boss, don’t have to commute every single day, don’t have to wear a tie (or anything else, if you don’t feel like it – unless you have a Skype conference scheduled), and as long as you meet your deadline you can work whenever you want.  Take a three-hour lunch on a sunny day, or play with your son after school, then work til midnight.  I’m a night-owl anyway, which makes working for clients three timezones away less stressful. 

So, I guess it all balances out in the end.  One thing I can’t overlook is that I’ve only managed to survive as a freelancer by diversifying within my field of illustration and animation.  In my experience, overspecialization means doom, sooner or later.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The First New Render Test

Even a glance at the shiny green-eyed robot from the new Bad Reflection and a look at the 2001 animation will reveal some of the huge differences between them. 

Now, for the first time, you can check out the new robot in motion, if only for a few seconds.  Since this animation is just a render test to verify purely technical variables in my production process, it doesn’t reveal anything substantially new about the story or characters. 

For that, you’ll have to stay tuned.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back to 2001

While working on the latest version of Bad Reflection I naturally refer back to the original version, both in its entirety and in pieces.  I discovered I never posted the animation online and thought now’s as good a time as any to share it. 

Although it’s relatively crude and meant to be essentially a previsualization of the eventual final work, I like to believe it retains the bit of charm that has kept it alive in the back of my mind for over ten years now.  I can’t wait to put a few hundred more hours into the new version!  I have so many ideas for the animation, the variety of reflections, the plot twists, the effects, that I can only hope to squeeze it all into a five-minute film. 

And now for my first attempt at embedding a video into a blog…  


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hi, I’m Tom Sylvan.  Pardon me while I get the hang of this blogging thing.  I’m a freelance animator and illustrator.  I make a living (such as it is) primarily by animating forensic reconstructions for litigation, and by illustrating products such as toys, medical devices, kitchen accessories, stuff like that. 

While I may mention my professional work occasionally, my intention for this blog is to share and show off the development of my own animation projects.  These are few and far-between, unfortunately, the necessities of life being what they are, but they refuse to disappear entirely.  

My current endeavor is Bad Reflection, a comedy, a farce starring a mild-mannered misfit robot working in a mirror factory where he has trouble telling the difference between his own reflection and his malevolent doppelgänger.  It’s a new, expanded, and vastly improved version of my experimental 3D animation Bad Reflection from 2001.  (Experimental for me, that is, being largely self-taught.) 

The old Bad Reflection was an attempt at a quick comic interlude, but never quite finished, never quite refined enough.  Now, eleven years later, I think it’s time I finished what I started.  And after years of animation experience, now that I know what I’m doing (pretty much), I want to turn Bad Reflection into a little masterpiece of comic relief.