Animated short film The Sketchbook

$10,200 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 127 people in 40 months
In 1914, a father marches off to war. Two years later, his son goes looking for him.

Hey everybody. I'm Chris Williams and I've been working as a professional feature film animator for just about 20 years.  I've been extremely fortunate to work on some big, exciting projects and I've met some exceptionally talented artists. My work, some of which you can view HERE  and HERE , has been very rewarding, but today I'm hoping to make something a little smaller,  and a lot more personal.

After a year of storyboarding and edits, my animated short film "The Sketchbook",  is finally ready to take the next step. I am proud to say we have an emotionally charged and visually compelling  story reel, but in order to keep moving forward, I will really need your help.

Based on a true story

"The Sketchbook" is an animated short film based on the true story of a 16 year old boy who goes into WW1 to look for his father. This young man's story will be told through the pages of a sketchbook belonging to a soldier he meets on the front lines. It will definitely have a unique look, as we intend to blend the modern feel of 3D animation with the more traditional hand drawn animation. To get it right, we've done a lot of preparatory work, and you can get a sneak peak into our process below. Hopefully you will begin to appreciate not only that we are ready to go, but we are ready to produce something very special.

Who are we? Feature film artists and animators.

Sketchbook has been in development for a number of years, and I'm thrilled to have had the help of one of the great story artists in the animation industry, Bill Frake . You might not know Bill by name, but you certainly know his work. Bill has contributed to many of your favorite films (Iron Giant, Ice Age), and he's produced some stunning story boards for Sketchbook. He is passionate about the subject matter,  the story I am trying to tell, and I couldn't have asked for a better partner in this early but crucial developmental stage.

There are many who  view "The Iron Giant" as one of the greatest animated films of all time. Bill was instrumental in its development and emotional storytelling.  To have him lay the foundation for Sketchbook is not only an honor, but it speaks to the quality of our production.

All the way through the ranks of our team,  you'll find feature animation artists ready to produce something gorgeous.  Here are just a few of the films we've worked on. 

So the project is in great hands, but we have an enormous hurdle to climb, and that's the cost of animation.  In order to keep the film moving ahead,  I would require some kind of operating budget. Every nickle raised here will be going to artists that love their craft and believe in this project.  If I can reach my goal, I'd be able to finalize the character designs, produce amazing backgrounds, and hire a top level voice over artist to tell this story. That kind of progress would be tremendous and would really send us on our way. 

Why you should help

Being able to tell this story certainly means a lot to me, but it's more than just a short film. It's a veteran's story. A commemoration of WW1 as we celebrate its centennial. Above all though, it's the story of a son's love for his father.  For all of these reasons, I hope you'll take this journey with me and our team. 

We are ready to produce something amazing. Help us share this incredible untold story from the First World War. All we need is a little push to get us over the top. 

Many thanks,

Chris Williams

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Oh hey there! Seems like an update is LONG overdue, so here we go!!!

First off, here's the trailer for our next movie at Blue Sky called Spies in Disguise! The completion of this movie may or may not have had an impact on my Sketchbook updates these past few months. :-) Check out the link below!

We're all super proud of how this movie is coming together, and we hope you'll love it as much as we do! As for Sketchbook, I'm happy to report there's been some fantastic progress there too. Character design is in large part a wrap! That's a massive milestone and I'm thrilled with how great they are looking. Kudos to all the designers who have been lending their talents to this special project. Next up is getting those designs translated into 3D and I've been unbelievably fortunate to have been able to collaborate with a first rate CG modeler too. Seeing these characters evolve has been gratifying to say the least, and getting one step closer to animation is incredibly exciting. Can't wait to share the progress!!

So what's next in the pipeline? Once I have the CG characters approved, they will land in the lap of a rigging specialist who will prep the models for animation. That's another detailed process, but it will be the last step before I get to dive into performance. Amazing, and all virtually impossible without your generous donations. We have a long way to go, but having the opportunity to pay these talented artists has meant the world to me. Thank you all for your continued support!!

Much love!

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Hey there! Just a quick note today, but first I want to wish all of you celebrating American Thanksgiving to have a great and SAFE holiday. I also wanted to share this trailer for Peter Jackson's WW1 documentary. He has taken original footage, colorized and slowed it down to make the images seem like they are from yesterday. It's astonishing. For all of us that are so used to seeing sped up black and white footage, you won't believe your eyes.

Peter has a real passion for the Great War, and I'd love to sit down and chat with him about it one day. He loves it so much, he has a fleet of restored WW1 planes he films flying around. Incredible.

Anyway, watch this when you have a moment.
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Hey everybody. We are just 3 days away from the centennial celebration to commemorate the end of WW1, and I am reminded how fortunate I am to have had so much support from you over the years. I have devoted a tremendous amount of time and emotional energy to Sketchbook, dating all the way back to 2002 (!) when I first put pen to paper. I'm extremely proud of the strides we've taken this year, but recognize that we have a long way to go. Thank you so very much for being a part of this journey. It means a lot to our team. It means a lot to me.

As we approach November 11th, please consider sharing our project with friends who might find some comfort in commemorating the sacrifices of the Great War along with us. All of your donations are meaningful, but the ones that are made now are extra special.

Thank you.
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We've crossed the finish line!! Wow!!! Thank you!!!

It's simply not possible for me to express how grateful I am for all of your contributions and support. It means the world to me. This is a project I started writing over 15 years ago, and although it's taken many forms, it has settled into something truly special. I am working with artists that inspire me, and we are all pushing forward on a film that we hope makes everyone proud. I know I'm extremely excited about where it is today, and where it's going.

So what's next? Well, now that I have a budget to work with, I can hopefully allocate some of that to move things forward at a quicker pace. Just today I hired a background painter. Two weeks ago it was a voice actor. These are things that I simply didn't have the budget for when all this began. Your support is so meaningful, and now we are all a part of this journey together.

As this is my only 'Sketchbook' internet presence, I intend to continue to post updates here for all of us to enjoy. It's a great way for me to log progress and share in the journey. I also intend to introduce a stretch goal so that visitors can still show their support and help us keep pushing forward.

For everyone that pitched in for a specific reward, I'll circle back on those when we are a little further along. This is partially because anyone who wanted a story panel will want to wait for me to get a locked cut of the movie. And for artwork, it's best we finalize the look of the short. So, it's a work in progress there.

So there it is! I can't believe we made it! It started with Sly and ended with Rita, spanned over two years and 20 updates. So much support and love for Sketchbook. It's going to be fantastic. Can't wait to share!!

If anyone would like to reach out, please feel free to connect with me here!


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$10,200 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 127 people in 40 months
Created April 27, 2016
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