Seattle Indies Game Jam

Hi everyone, this is Theo!

The last weekend, Ben, Xing and I attended the Seattle Indies Game Jam! It took place at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, where the general public watched us develop from a distance.


On the first night, we were told the Game Jam’s theme was “Unexpected Results”. Sometimes I like vague prompts because it lets me flex my creativity, but other times it could leave you aimless and uninspired. That’s how I felt at first, but Ben and I bounced ideas back and forth as we meandered out way to a thai restaurant.

We decided to keep the game extremely simple and play around with the concept in unique ways. The simplest objective we thought about was simply clicking on a chest. Click the chest, go to the next level. It’s pretty straightforward and we could expand upon that idea for forever. We had ideas where we played around with how the cursor was controlled or how to open the chest. It was great fun!

Unfortunately we didn’t have a clever name for our game, so Ben looked up a pun generator online and looked for puns revolving around “Click”. The one name that caught our attention was “One Click Pony”, a pun on One Trick Pony. It had a special charm to it and with a pony, we can give our game some personality. We got started on developing the Unity project right away and grabbed temporary pony assets from the internet. For the rest of the night, we just cranked out ideas for 100 different levels.


Usually, people would stay overnight for the course of the entire game jam. However, being experienced all-nighters, we decided to take a break from that life and have a solid night of sleep. So the next day, we met up around 1pm and got cracking. Ben worked on gathering background images from the 1910s to avoid copyrights. He also ran them through a dual tone filter in Photoshop to match our color palette. I started making some simple levels and developing the foundation of each level. Xing also joined us and sketched out our ponies and centaurs and whatever else we needed. By the end of the day, we cranked out about 16 levels. We had enough images for 25 levels, so the next day we finished the last of them. Unfortunately we didn’t do all 100 levels, nor did we implement all of the best ideas. But what we did create had a lot of heart and humor that we both enjoyed. You can play our game over at!

The last day of working, we actually worked from the Broom Cupboard house, so we weren’t there for the final presentation and judging. However, we did link our game to Tim Cullings who played through our game in front of the other game jammers. This play through was live streamed, unfortunately the video feed was cut off, but you can hear the crowd laughing throughout the game. Honestly, my favorite part of being a content creator is to watch/hear people’s reactions. So despite not winning any awards, I am very proud of our work and happy to see people enjoying themselves (or raging) while playing out game.

Post #14 Get to Know the Team - Theo Chin

Interview Qs: Xing again, With the end of WAFA the game, I’m interviewing Theo Chin, animator and Unity guy who basically built the bulk of the Were Glitch Project. -

We met through the Animation Capstone at the University of Washington. How did you get into animation?

I like to believe that I got into animation at a very young age. I remember back in 1st or 2nd grade, I got a couple of Captain Underpants books from a book fair. If you’ve ever read those books, you’ll probably remember the Flip O’rama sections which were basically two frame animations you’d flip between. I remember having so much fun with those, I decided to make my own versions on scrap notebook papers. Or maybe I made them because I ripped the book into shreds because of how fast I flipped those pages...but I digress. I made a few Flip O’ramas and I remember my mom actually gave me like 25 cents for each one I made. I guess that was my first ever profit as an animator. Thanks, mom!

In reality though, I would say I got seriously into animating in 7th grade when I took my first media tech class with an awesome teacher, Mr. Burke. He didn’t explicitly teach the class how to use Flash, but he showed us the world of the most amazing resources called, “the internet”. From there, I was hooked because I had the tools to create the flash animations I grew up watching as a kid. So the next few years, I just animated stick figures fighting and I guess I could legitimately call myself an animator.

How about game development?

Before dreaming of becoming an animator, I remember wanting to be a game developer/maker/designer/whatever I thought they were called. However, I didn’t start developing games until my sophomore year at UW. After taking the intro classes to computer science, I decided to put some of that knowledge to use and make some games in Unity.

Proof of wanting to be a game developer in 2005 (still got like 1 ¼ years to go!)

Proof of wanting to be a game developer in 2005 (still got like 1 ¼ years to go!)

What games made the most impact on you?

There are a lot of games that made a big impact on me. To start, the games that inspired me to create games are Braid, Undertale, Thomas Was Alone, Portal, To the Moon, Limbo, and Inside. All being very atmospheric indie game titles with an interesting story. Other ways games impacted me include connecting myself with friends and just straight up addiction. Dota 2, TF2, Minecraft, and most Blizzard games are games that connect me with friends who I will play with for life. On the other hand, Tetris and Bejeweled are games I will find myself playing non-stop in solidarity for the rest of my life. Those are addicting games and sometimes I wish I could stop playing them.


Tell us about them. Tell us about your role and experience on WAFA the game. What did you learn on the project and what did you hope to do going forward on the game?

My role on WAFA the game is the main game developer. I learned a lot about creating pipelines that allow other team members to help develop the game in Unity. I also learned that it’s very easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to implement something into a game. There are a lot of things I would change about the current state of development, and we hope to fix those issues going forward so we can finish the game faster.

Basically my code sucks and rushing to meet deadlines will typically lead to a lot of bugs (but mainly because my code sucks. If you’re a hiring manager, please ignore this sentence).

What do you enjoy most about being a Broom Kid?

Being able to make cool projects with my talented friends and being able to share the projects with the world! It makes me really happy to see people enjoying the work we make.


What is your favorite vegetable?

Chinese broccoli.

Where can readers find more of your work?

I just started posting things on Instagram:

I plan on posting random animations and pictures on there, so feel free to follow along!

Post #13 - Get to Know the Team - Amanda Nelson

Hey y’all -

It’s Erin the ghost here, finally making my inaugural Broom Blog post. And it’s a good one - we’re getting to know Amanda Nelson! Or Nelson, as we Broom Kids call her, because we have two Amandas and that is just too much for our brains to handle.

Nelson is an animator and artist based in Seattle. She is an integral part of our team, handling many aspects of the production management side of things, as well as making awesome kickass baller concept art and animations for our projects. The Broom Kids would not live to sweep another day without her. Keep reading to find out more about her!


You were a part of the Animation Capstone at the University of Washington. Tell us about your time there, and your most valuable experiences!

When I was in High School, I took an animation class and fell in love. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of public schools that have animation programs. So, when I found the Capstone at UW, I knew I had to be a part of it. I loved every minute of my experience there. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard. We learned the entire pipeline and worked on animated short in just 9 months. It was grueling because I had my other university classes and was also working full time, but I was definitely in love with the process. For me, I think the most valuable experiences were learning to let go of my ego when it came to my art in order to further the project as a whole and also working with so many talented people. I was constantly inspired by my team members and I made some amazing friends. These people still continue to inspire me today not only with their talent and hard work but also with their unwavering friendship.


2D animation - Egg Toast ‘18

You also have taken classes with Animation Mentor. What was that experience like? What was it that made you choose to continue your education there?

I actually learned about Animation Mentor before the Capstone. It was always a part of my plan to do that after I graduated with a Bachelors. I was certain that I wanted to be an animator and it was the only program I had heard of at the time that I knew had helped people get there. My experience was great. We had pretty small class sizes and the school encourages community involvement with your peers. Again, it was hard. I haven’t had a chance to work on school without working full time so it was definitely a balancing act but I learned a lot while I was there and definitely grew a lot.

“Forest spirit” - India ink. Done for Inktober ‘17.

“Forest spirit” - India ink. Done for Inktober ‘17.

You have a wide variety of skills in the 3D pipeline, but focus mainly on animation and concept art. What drove you to specialize in those areas?

Well, as much as I love animating, it also gives me some anxiety to work on it. I get frustrated really easily when I am animating and so even though I love the art, I knew I had to pursue something that didn’t affect me so much. I started drawing again after about 6 months of taking a break from animating and I realized that I enjoyed that quite a bit more. Working on it felt less like work than animating did to me. Luckily, I have an art degree so I wasn’t starting totally from scratch but I’ve had to do a lot of practice to get my skills back up. I love both and I believe that they influence and inspire one another. I will continue to do both and while I probably won’t pursue animating on a full time basis, I don’t want to say “never.”


Are there any people (artists or otherwise) that particularly inspire you in your work?

I have quite a few, actually. I love Ida Hem. Her character designs have so much emotion and personality and her work inspires me a lot. I feel like she’s always pushing herself to show great stories with her characters which is something I personally need to practice a lot more. Malcon Pierce is another person that inspires me. He was my teacher for an animation class I took through AnimSquad. He is a fantastic animator and a fantastic character artist as well. He was influential in movies like Moana while they tried to figure out the dynamics of her hair (which seemed like a beastly task) and his character art has a great Leyendecker quality to it which I love. I encourage everyone to check out both of their instagrams.

Background art for Dubs’ throat - WAFA ‘18

Background art for Dubs’ throat - WAFA ‘18

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned in the field of 3D animation?

I mentioned this before but I think the ability to let go of ego when it comes to art has been huge. We get so attached to the things that we work on that sometimes it can be hard to change them either because of constructive criticism or to better fit the project you’re working on. It’s important to see where that feedback is coming from though. It’s easy to zone out and grow blind to your own work and miss something simple. Something that is holding your work back from being better or just something that would fit the style of the entire project better. It has helped me work and improve exponentially but it was definitely a difficult lesson to learn.


What do you enjoy most about being a Broom Kid?

Working with excellent people and on cool projects. I feel fortunate to know so many kind, talented, hard working people that have such creative ideas. I’ve learned a lot just in the past 6 months and I look forward to the next 6.

Portrait - Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion ‘18

Portrait - Detective Corgi and the Mysterious Mansion ‘18

What has been your favorite Broom Cupboard project so far?

I think WAFA has been my favorite. I have had to learn an entirely new art style (pixel art) and it’s super challenging but a lot of fun.

What’s your favorite vegetable?

Parsnips. But I love roasting them with carrots. Definitely recommend it if you haven’t given it a shot yet.

Where can readers find your socials and see more of your awesome work?

My website is currently under construction but I am on Instagram. Feel free to plop on over.

Instagram: @Amnel_art

Post #12 - Get to Know the Team - Erin Caswell

Hi all-

This week we are going to begin our new series - Get to Know the Team - Broom Cupboard style! Each segment will focus on a different member of Broom Cupboard Studios. To kick off, we'll be getting to know Erin. Erin is a 25 year old artist from Seattle. She specializes in 3D modeling but also does some fantastic 2D art for the team. Below, read her interview detailing about her background, schooling, and more. 


To start off with, I'd love to know when you started becoming interested in the arts?

I was raised on animation; Disney, Warner Brothers, Dreamworks, Pixar, you name it. I have been interested in the arts since before I can remember, but it wasn’t until James Cameron’s Avatar came out and I stumbled upon an art book for it in Barnes & Noble that I realized creating these animated worlds was an actual career. 

" Chameleon House" -  modeled in Maya, shaded and rendered with Arnold

"Chameleon House" - modeled in Maya, shaded and rendered with Arnold

What was the first thing that you remember modeling? What about that part of the pipeline inspired you?

The first thing I modeled was a boat, at the University of Washington. It was extremely rudimentary and simple. Once I moved on to more complicated pieces like faces and bodies, I was blown away by the unbelievable power an artist has to create something out of nothing. I think the most inspiring thing about modeling is getting to take the incredible 2D concept art created by people more talented than me and trying to do it justice in 3D. I’m also a fairly detail oriented person, and there’s something about mesh and topology puzzles that’s super fun for me. 

I’d love to hear about your time at animschool. What did you like and not like about the school and who was your greatest inspiration while you were there? 

Animschool was an incredibly valuable experience. The thing I loved most was meeting the inspiring instructors, and getting the opportunity to interact with them and absorb as much of their knowledge as I could. All the teachers were amazing, but I’d have to say Juan Pablo Chen and Brien Hindman were both such talented, nice people. Even in their positions, they were both eager to learn new things and encouraged the sharing of knowledge between students. One of the things I disliked about the school was the larger than ideal class sizes. The larger the class, the less individual critique time you received, and classes would drag on for 4 or 5 hours sometimes so the instructors could get to everyone. This does, however, shed light on the instructors’ dedication to giving every student an equal amount of critique, even if class went far overtime. 

" Miguel" -  modeled in Zbrush, retopo in Maya, lit and rendered in Zbrush

"Miguel" - modeled in Zbrush, retopo in Maya, lit and rendered in Zbrush

Outside of animschool, you also worked for the University of Washington. What was that experience like? 

I worked for the Animation Capstone at UW for a total of 4 years, 1 as a TA and 3 as a staff member. Working at the capstone provided a unique opportunity for me to work with incoming students while simultaneously growing and advancing my own skills. I started there as a student in 2013, and then moved into TA and staff positions, giving me a lot of insight into how a program like that is run, from many perspectives. I was given the opportunity to contribute in various capacities to most areas of the 3D filmmaking pipeline including story, concept art and character design, 3D modeling, layout, lighting, rendering, and editing. I learned a lot during my time there, and worked with many incredible people.

You’re working for Broom Cupboard Studios at the moment – what is your favorite thing that you’ve done so far there and why?

The best thing about Broom Cupboard is that it’s full of awesome artists that are also awesome people, so anything we do is just friggin really fun. If I had to choose, I’d probably say creating pixel art for our next game has been a really fun learning experience for me. It’s something I’ve never done before, and it presents a lot of unique challenges.

"Mother and Child"  - Collaborative project. Little girl character model by Erin Caswell (modeled in Zbrush and Maya) all other 3D work by Amanda Cook, concept by Jason Kim.

"Mother and Child" - Collaborative project. Little girl character model by Erin Caswell (modeled in Zbrush and Maya) all other 3D work by Amanda Cook, concept by Jason Kim.

Broom Cupboard is a yearlong endeavor. Where do you see yourself after that has finished?

I would love to be working at a cool studio in Seattle! Working with cool people!

If you could work anywhere in the industry, where would you like to work and why? 

Pixar or Disney have always been the long term goal for me because of the quality of their work and the effect their movies had on me a child (and let’s be real, as an adult), but honestly as long as I’m working somewhere making fun things with fun people, that’s what matters most to me.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do? 

I enjoy a good hike, and a good beer post-hike. I’m always trying to find time to expand my movie knowledge library. I love reading and jigsaw puzzles. I spend time with my friends and family whenever I can. 

" Sun"  - Modeled, lit and rendered in Maya, Concept by Laia Lopez

"Sun" - Modeled, lit and rendered in Maya, Concept by Laia Lopez

Where can people find you, follow you, and generally take in all of the awesome that is you? 

Here are all of my socials, prepare to be fully underwhelmed:

Instagram: erinc3d



Post #11 - The Project Selection Process and WAFA Updates

Hi all - Nelson here. Have you ever wondered how we choose our projects? If you have, great! I'm about to break it down for you. If you haven't, don't worry. I'll get to our WAFA updates shortly...

Once upon a time, a wonderful individual named Ben dreamed of a studio where everyone involved had equal say on the projects they worked on. In his infinite wisdom, he decided on a system that inspires each team member to not only be creative, but to also feel included in the decision making process. Thus, our procedure was born...

When the time comes for our studio to decide on a new project (dictated by a schedule created at the beginning of the year) each member must dream of a concept. It can be anything they want - a game, animation, comic, something 2d, 3d, or VR... the only restrictions are that it has to be somewhat economically viable, be able to be done within our time constraints, and play to every member's strengths. You can imagine that with this many talented people, some super excellent ideas are born. 

Once we have our ideas dreamed up, we all convene for a pitch meeting. In this meeting, each member of the team has to get up and pitch their idea, sometimes using visual aids or references to really drive their ideas home.

As soon as everyone has given their spiel, it's time to vote! We all get 6 points to use - 3 points to our top pick, 2 to our second, and 1 to our third. This is all done anonymously by writing them down and passing the sheets of paper to our head honcho Ben, where he tallies them up and tells us our next project! 

It's all very exciting and glamorous. The person who pitched the project then becomes our project lead, decides on our production schedule, and assigns lead positions for the different factions of the project. 

-sigh- I know what you're thinking, it can't be easy to decide amongst so many fantastic ideas that are pitched at these meetings and goodness, are you right! But, not everything in life is easy and sometimes hard choices have to be made. 

Speaking of fantastic ideas, let's talk about our We Are Fantastic Architects progress!!

This week some cool stuff happened - Take a look!

Here's some stuff from the art team...


Theo tested out some glitch effects which look pretty darn cool..


Xing did some dialogue UI...

and that's about all I got for today! Check back with us to get more updates! We're having a lot of fun with this project and it's going to be really great once it's done!

Nelson out-

Post #10 The WereGlitch Project: Dev Log #1

Hey, this is Theo. The first month of this project went zooming by, but we’ve made some great progress! Our artists have been creating and iterating on several assets at a time (a sweet perk of having so many artists on the team). Below are some examples of their work!


For many (or everyone), this is their first time creating pixel art for a project of this caliber. A couple of challenges we overcome includes creating tileable sprites and simplifying characters to fit our 32x32 standard tile size. Although any sprite can be tileable, it takes a lot more effort to make them seamless. Luckily there are tons of tutorials online that covers sprite art. One of the limitations of a 32x32 canvas is obviously the lack of pixel density. For every pixel we draw on our sprites/characters, we need to make sure it serves a purpose. We want to emphasize the main features of our characters, so we make other parts of them smaller. Effectively, we created a chibi style look for our characters, where the heads were more prominent than the body.

An interesting approach we decided was to allow a few backgrounds to be a relatively giant canvas instead of one comprised of tileable sprites. This allows for a more organic look and feel and it’s also more artist friendly (at least for our talented bunch).


Once these assets are created, we import them into our unity project so our developers (Ben and I) can plop them into our scenes. I’ve been working on a very basic scene structure that can be used in the rest of our project. The goal is to allow anyone to easily create a scene without a developer. This is due to the fact that Ben and I will be away for a hefty stretch towards the end of this project.

However, as I continue developing scenes and game systems, I feel confident that our workflow should be easy enough that one person can build our the entire game in a matter of days. (As long as he or she isn’t working on anything else). We’ll see if that holds true… :)


Anyways, another way we’ve been speeding up progress is by using 3rd party assets! One asset we picked up right away is called Dialogue System for Unity by Pixel Crushers. This amazing asset has a ton of features built in that saved us a butt load of time. Developing a dialogue system this complex would have taken months.


Another asset we found comes from a guy name Keijiro. He is an amazing tech artist who made his code open source so anyone can use it. We’re using his KinoGlitch package for a glitch effect. Because of his generosity, I would like to usher you all to check out his stuff and support him!


Last, but certainly not least, we’re working with Skybox, a local chiptune artist, to produce our music! More updates on that later, but for now, definitely check him out over at his bandcamp and soundcloud.

Post #9 The WereGlitch Project


For our 3-month project, we're making an pixel art rpg set in a fantasy western using Unity. Based on a cartoon series pitch Ben and I did, "We Are Fantastic Architects and the WereGlitch Project follows a group of four talented architects building a castle in the sky for a mysterious witch. You play as Melody, the youngest of the architects who is documenting the project. However, as she learns more about the project, Melody begins to learn that the witch is not what she seems, and that this project may go on for longer than she anticipated…"



Drawing inspiration from games such as Earthbound or Undertale, WGP (WereGlitch Project) would be a primarily a story driven rpg with mini games and puzzles. However the main game mechanic was inspired by Melody's handiness with a camcorder. At the start of each day, Melody logs onto her computer and in a program similar to Windows Movie Maker or Premiere, she arranges video clips to create a story. That sequence of clips foretells the events of that day and tells the player what their task is for that day. Basically players need to solve this puzzle in order to be given a quest.


Pixel Art Style Explorations

Photo Jul 11, 6 22 40 PM.png

HUD and layout


Story Meeting



Detective Corgi and the Spooky Mansion was Broom Cupboard's third project that I led. It's a non-linear story game using Twine and is available to play on I've been wanting to make something in Twine for with everyone busy during the month of June, I thought it would be a short, fun project. I wanted to make something lighthearted, silly and about a corgi. If you want to play, here's the link:



Crazy Schedules
The team was busy and everyone had various schedules that made a lot of conflict for meetings or assigning due dates. To make things easier, I tried to make this project more independent for everyone and check in with the team individually for progress or updated content. We had a couple scheduled meetings to make sure everything was coming together and talk more about the story. Those meetings were pretty fun blurbing out "what if" statements of silly or ridiculous ideas for the puzzles and characters. 


I wanted this story to be fun and a bit ridiculous since we didn't have a lot of time to plan out for a deep, intricate story.  Ben pitched different stories and made an entire twine outline after I selected which story to work on. I divided the story into 7 segments and had everyone choose what part of the story they would like to work on. They would fill in text for the game and make illustrations or animations. 

Original pitch for Detective Corgi and the Spooky Mansion:

Detective Corgi #34: The Case of the Spooky Shack
Wow! Detective Corgi’s on the case in the latest adventure in this award-winning children’s book series, now brought to life on the internet screen!! Inspired by old campy books like Encyclopedia Brown, The Hardy Boys, The Boxcar Children, or Nancy Drew, this story follows Detective Corgi trying to solve the mysteries of the Spooky Shack, a ~mysterious~ haunted house. We could make fake old book covers, VHS tapes, and generally lo-fi up this story to make it feel very 90’s. Also, it could be really funny to make this intentionally feel like a very 90’s “INTERNET IS COOL!” experience, where this story is supposedly the first time that a Detective Corgi book was ever brought to the internet, and that is a BIG DEAL!!!
f you want to read the other pitches:


Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 12.56.13 PM.png

To keep things fun and allow everyone to produce quick content, I tried not to restrict the art style too much and made a simple guideline. 

Here's some reference of the color pallet I wanted. Basically everyone could color their illustrations however they wanted but needed to stick with these colors. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 12.40.06 PM.png

The illustrations needed to be flat, 2d and very simple. I wasn't super picky about the line style, but I wanted to keep it doodly/cartoony and not realistic.


Concept Art
Art done by Amanda Nelson



I hope you guys enjoy the game! 


Post #7 - E G G T O A S T

E G G T O A S T was Broom Cupboard's second, month long project which was pitched and led by myself. The theme was hotpot, a communal Chinese cooking method. Everyone picked a different hot pot ingredient and created at least at least 2-4 seconds of polished, rendered animation, set to the first 15 seconds of this video for timing purposes.

I wanted everyone person to have agency and control over the style and content of their shot. Taking inspiration from Nihonbashi Koukashita R Keikaku, the highly individualized shots would be reminiscent of scrolling through a social media timeline like Tumblr or Instagram; rather than determine a style to stay consistent to, each shot would reflect the animator's personality and style. 


Because for various reasons, almost every single team member was traveling for a part of the month, I intentionally designed Project 2 to be accomplished individually. Even though our team members originally come from a 3D animation pipeline, figuring out that pipeline ourselves was a challenge while were working on Project 1. The theme of our project would be consistent across shots but as everyone was responsible for their own shot from beginning to end, no one would be holding back anyone else. 

During the month, I also required that everyone go out for hotpot (a member of Broom Cupbord had never had it!). We had a fantastic dinner with our friend Dave who was visiting from Copenhagen. Incidentally, the day we had hotpot was also my birthday.




Blog #6 - Flawed, but Finished, and Onward!

Hey, Theo typing here.

We officially ended production for Brush it Off on May 5th, and uploaded it to YouTube. We followed our strict production schedule and despite some clear flaws in the “final” render, I’m proud to say it’s done (for now).

As Zori mentioned before, we’re starting our next project called Egg Toast! Which is going to be Don’t worry about it. Just know that it’s going to be a really fun short -- and by short, I mean short.

The pitch for this is a compilation of random shots of hot pot ingredients synced to the beat of the music here: We all got assigned our ingredients and parts of the music:


The great thing about this project is that each shot is independent of each other. This is important because people will unavailable/busy throughout this month whether it’s because of vacation, school, or work. So by keeping the shots independent, we’re less likely to be blocked by the production pipeline. As an animator who started out with online stick figure collaborations, I feel right at home with this project. This is exactly how flash animation communities back in the golden age of flash animation worked together. I really like it because it lets us showcase our unique styles and talent.

So far, I’ve made a layout of my animation. Basically the enoki mushrooms are going to split in half and fall over. I also animated a single mushroom to test out my workflow. Basically, I’m going to animate the stem of the mushroom first, then draw in the head, and then plop the face on the head. Then I rinse and repeat this for 18 other mushrooms! No big deal. It only took like 3 hours for 1 mushroom. 3 x 18 = 54 hours...for 4 seconds of animation. Well, welcome to 2d animation I guess. Hopefully I’ll get faster at it once I get into that animation groove.


Anyways, I’m still excited for this project! Some of us haven’t actually tried hot pot before. So for research, we plan on getting hot pot together! Stay tuned for a vlog or something.

See you all next time!

Post #5 Crunch

Hello, this is Mikey.

With production being condensed into a week, there were a lot of moving parts that were trying to find their way to the finish line. Animation was the bulk of the week followed by shading, lighting, and comp. The latter having difficulties as we have yet to establish our pipeline and trying to complete different parts of it at the same time. With film and games being such an iterative process, this is definitely something we'll be looking into to improve as soon as possible. 

Speaking from the animation side of things, this week has been a test for CG animation as the limitations of CG is brought to light. The animators are used to certain tools that we currently do not have that dramatically hindered our workflow. There are ways to work around these problems such as trying to get specific shapes on the characters and workflow shortcuts such as Studio Library, aTools, and the AnimSchool picker. But we were all working with clean versions of Autodesk Maya without any of these savvy tools. Nevertheless we cranked out animation that translated the boards to our 3D environment. 

Sometimes, limitations can bear fruit in interesting way. For example, in this shot: 


This shot was done in a straight shot marathon using straight ahead without much of a plan besides the Broom needed to enter the screen and end up in the trashcan. Deviating from the original boards and layout, the act of the broom rolling in and crashing into the can came from a combination of needing more energy and through the limitations from an earlier iteration of the Broom rig. Three general shapes were used in order to pull off the actions in order to keep it from being too complex and time consuming. The limitations of CG animation came to light in this project; though the next project we have cooking up might bring to light the limitations of CG's counterpart. 

Post #4 Production Continues

Hi, this is Zori!

Week 4 has been some great progress on the film production for look and feel, as well as finalizing a logo for our studio! This week has been focused on getting all the props and characters uv unwrapped and textured. I also needed to figure out what we were going to render with and the type of shaders to use. I was in a toss up of between Renderman or Redshift.

Other things on our task list was searching for a rigging artist to rig our broom model so we can start animating. Definitely crazy times ahead of us as our deadline approaches. We're still trying to figure out a good pipeline to keep everything organized. 

We have some exciting News! We've been thinking about our second project starting in May and Xing Guo will be directing it! The project is called Egg Toast, but it's actually a short 15 sec video based on hot pot ingredients and set to the music in this video. Everyone will animate however they want; 2D, 3D, Stop-motion, ect. We're all very excited and ready to also eat tons of hot pot during the production.


Theo was able to finish the final look of our logo and did amazing 2D animation work. It was very relaxing watching him animate on the Broom Cupboard Twitch page.
Overall, this logo took a lot of effort! We narrowed down many logo designs that you can see from last blog post, and special thanks to Nelson, Xing and Theo, we came up with this. 

Look Development

Here's a look development test I did over the week. I UV unwrapped the broom and made a simple texture for it. The bristles were a pain, so I decided to add in a shader that would make a vertical gradient and darken the bristles around the bottom of the broom. This shader is called KoddeCreateRampMap.
Here's a video of it:

You can download the script from the website -> Link

For the toon shading, I used a surface shader with a ramp node plugged in. The ramp node has 4 texture-6 nodes of one texture map of different light values. The ramp node is also connected to a clamp set from min-0 and max-1. The clamp node is connected to a surface-luminance node. Basically the surface illuminance node will break down the surface of a mesh into numerical values between 0-1 depending on how light hits it. A texture from the ramp will appear on the mesh, depending on the value of light hitting the surface on the mesh. So if you had a bright highlight on the mesh from the light that was a value of .1, then a texture on the ramp close to .1 will appear.  This pipeline came from a production I worked on for the University of Washington. Down below shows the original setup. I just removed the noise. 

Here's an example of the textures I made for the broom.


Lastly I connected the koddcreaterampmap shader to the texture ramp shader through color composite set to multiply. Then the out color was my shader I applied to the broom. 

Everything was rendered in Arnold...that can render surface shaders in Maya 2017 and not Maya 2018. 
I rendered out a beauty pass and an AO pass that was then all composited in After EFX. I has to apply some painterly effects to the broom to make it fit a little more with the matte painting. 

Whelp, check back soon to see the final result :) 

Post #3: Production Obstacles and Progress

Hi all – Nelson here. Although I have spent most of this week at home in bed with the flu, the rest of the team has been working away.

Project 1 has been a rather interesting test for us. As an artist collective, we have a team of exceptionally talented people. Our team includes many specialties ranging from background painting to character modeling. However, as a team of 7, we cannot cover all the facets of production gracefully, and one of the parts of production that we are missing has proven to be a bit of a problem.

In the last few weeks, Erin and Xing have created a beautiful broom through grade A character design and modeling.

Zori is the next up to bat with some texturing, which is going to bring a lot of life to our little bundle of broom joy.

BUT before our broom of wonders can make it to Mikey, who will be providing a breath of personality through animation, little broom-diggity needs to be rigged. If you don’t know what rigging is, it is basically the difficult process of giving the character a skeleton. This skeleton is what gives the animator the ability to move the character around. Without it, our little boy broom is essentially just a beautiful, solid, immoveable object.

Since week one we have been on a journey to fill this gap in our production pipeline. We have traveled over rivers, through woods, pestered old friends, and found ourselves at the end of week 3 with a glimmer of hope. We have sent our model to a rigger who is taking a look at it now. Since this broom is essentially the shining beacon of Broom Cupboard Studios - the Luxo to our Pixar, the Mickey to our Disney, the lamb to our tuna fish - we were hoping to have a quality rig that we could use for future projects, and our team is excited to be one step closer to that happening!

Don’t think all that stopped Mikey from progressing though. With style and class he tackled our beautiful solid object by animating the geometry. This is not a long term solution, but it helped to progress our reel while working out story beats.

The rest has been moving forward solidly. Theo and Xing have been crackin’ away at some fantastic iterations of the logo:


Erin has given us a great little family tree of our broom, roomba, and trash can:


And Xing just sent us this lovely looking iteration of the background:


That’s all for this week over here at the broom cupboard. Check back next week to see how we’re progressing! 

Post #2: Project 1 Begins

Xing here. Working off of a film jam we did in September 2017, Broom Cupboard's first month project was to finish the Broom vs Roomba story idea and form it into a watchable piece. Unfortunately despite our range in specialties our team is lacking in parts of the pipeline (Rigging & Audio) and so those sets of challenges will be interesting to tackle as we dive into this project.


1/2 painted background

1 broom and roomba gray model

1 minute storyboard



We overhauled all of our old models, pushed them in a more cartoony fun direction, and started to also make assets for our social media platforms.


From my notes, Erin fattened the roomba and changed it to a more friendly, round version and scruffed up the broom model. 



Theo, Amanda, and I created a logo and are trying for a witchy, autumn, coat of arms



Zori did some shading tests on the old broom model to fit it with the chunky, painterly backgrounds I did back in September


I worked with Ben on simplifying the old storyboards to have a much simpler arc and thought about how to reduce the amount of work for animators down the line without sacrificing the armature of the story.

New Beats:

  1. Broom is happily sweeping in the interior.

  2. Broom then sweeps a trail of dust, etc outside.

  3. Broom is outside sweeping, is cut-off mid sweep by a noise inside.

  4. Roomba enters the scene. Broom peeks inside and watches the roomba, doing the brooms job.

  5. Broom tries to sweep away the Roomba, absolutely ineffective. Roomba pushes broom outside

  6. Broom is dejected, and throws itself in the garbage, like the garbage that it is.

  7. Hear the noise back behind it. Perks up. Roomba caught on the lip of the door, unable to sweep outside.

  8. Broom helps up the roomba, and bumps . Pause, and a moment of understanding.

  9. Broom does a little sweep outside; roomba does a little sweep inside.

  10. Broom is happily sweeping outside, it is an outside broom now. Roomba happily sweeping inside.

From my revised boards, Mikey created a reel to pin down the timing

Post #1: Welcome to Broom Cupboard Studios!

Welcome to the Broom Cupboard! This website catalogs the adventures of our seven-person yearlong digital artist residency that we call Broom Cupboard Studios. We are animators, artists, AR architects, arduino artisans and all manner of everything else.


We aim to document the heck out of everything we make, so please follow along with each of us on social media as well as this blog. All seven of us are actively recording, making, streaming and shouting every week for the next 52! Click here to see where each of us will be posting each week.

We will be making several different projects as part of our yearlong residency of April of 2018 until March of 2019, ranging from animation to games to VR experiences to all kinds of everything else. We'll be posting links to all our projects here on this blog, so check back here for more!

Logo Design (work in progress)



April 2018 to June 2018

For the first three months, we will be creating one new project every month, with each project led by a group-selected project lead who will pitch a digital collaborative project on the first day of that month.

July 2018 to September 2018

Then, for the three months following, we will create one project that will take us a total of three months. This will be slightly longer-form than our other projects, and will allow us to explore something in a little more depth.

October 2018 to April 2018

Once we're halfway done with the year, we'll hold a summit where the seven of us will talk about what's gone well and what's gone poorly with our past projects. We will then decide how to break up the rest of the year: into 6 more one-month projects, 2 three-month projects, one 6-month project, or continuing one of our previous projects for another 6 months of work.



Each week, a different Broom Kid (tm) will post an update here to catch you up on who they are, as well as what we've been up to for the past week. We'll be posting each Sunday Night (PST), so keep your eyes peeled for the update.

Next up is Xing, who will be talking about our first project (1-month, for April 2018) to let you know what we're up to on our first dry run. Be on the lookout for that here this Sunday!

(Current work-in-progress logo)

(Current work-in-progress logo)

I'm signing off for now, but let me say thanks and welcome to a wild, broom-filled adventure that is certain to be exciting. Glad you're joining us on this adventure! I'm in charge of updating our tumblr at so hit me up there if you've got any questions, comments, or generally excited shouts.

Hop aboard our broom! Let's go flying.

-Ben Schiffler, Director of Broom Cupboard Studios