To paraphrase the immortal words of Zaphod Beeblebrox’s psychiatrist*:
“We’re just some guys, you know.”
Guys who happen to be passionate about filmmaking, admittedly, which is how this whole crazy ride started.
My name is Ken Schafer, and I founded this company back in 1991, and that’s me back when I was still “founding” and I had more hair than I knew what to do with…
While my daughter has become quite an amazing illustrator, she certainly didn’t get those genes from me, and when I started storyboarding I quickly realized I needed help.
Storyboarding that is, my mental state is another matter entirely.
* The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, of course…
The Why of What We Do…
The “How” is coming later but the “Why” is because I wanted a storyboarding software program to help me convey my vision of the film I was working on to my cast, crew and of course producers. And probably like you, I was looking for this software because my drawing skills are, shall we say, completely lacking.
“Damn it, Jim, I’m a filmmaker, not a cartoonist!”
(Jim is, of course, not James T. Kirk of Star Trek fame, but rather Dr. James Walker, without whom there would be no FrameForge Previz Studio. He’s waiting just off-screen and will be here in a second, but back to my search for Storyboarding Software.)
After playing with the clip-art programs and making pretty little pictures with all kinds of forced perspective, and spending the time to fake the look of cranes and zooms and everything else concretely relating to my shoot, I realized that the problem I wanted to solve wasn’t truly that I couldn’t draw, because the storyboards weren’t the problem, they were the attempted solution to the real problem of planning how the film was going to be shot and put together.
So why was I trying to solve the problem of being unable to draw when my real problem always was how to I best prepare?
Dr. James Walker, the Man Behind the Math
To me, it seemed obvious that the best way to prepare would be to mimic shooting the film as closely as possible, which meant building a virtual film studio. And while I had a lot of ideas what I wanted, there’s no way I know enough math to build the kind of 3D program I had in mind…
Fortunately, we happened to have on staff, Dr. James Walker, who holds a PhD in Mathematics and who was just the man for the job to make FrameForge happen.
We’ve thrown some pretty challenging program requirements his way, and he’s always managed to come through for us, so the next time you’re staring through FrameForge’s virtual cameras… he’s the man to thank!
Stuart Voytilla, the One Who Holds it All Together
Stuart Voytilla is a screenwriter, author, consultant, university lecturer at SDSU, and (based on his picture) apparently an international man of mystery.
He’s also our VP of Operations, and in that role he’s the glue that holds the company together and without whom FrameForge would never have seen the light of day… or at least not stayed out in the light.
He’s the one who answers all your tech support emails and phone calls, and who actually really cares about solving your problems. At least the FrameForge related ones.
If you’ve ever gotten one of his custom videos walking you through an issue you’ve been having, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t and you find yourself in need of a hand with the software, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by his knowledge and bedside manner.
But Tech Support is only the tip of the iceberg for Chris, who hand-crafted most of the version 3.5 walk cycles, and who models for us… well, makes 3D Models, I should say… and pretty much keeps the company’s infrastructure and websites from turning into their own disaster movie.