On the passing of Emru Townsend 1969-2008

emru Emru Townsend 1969-2008

Emru Townsend came into our lives back in 2003. We made a little animated short by the name of Au Petite Mort. Emru saw it at Siggraph that year and reviewed it on his site. I did not see that great review until months later but as soon as I did I wrote to thank him. I felt he truly understood the intent of the piece and was so happy he appreciated all the work that went into it. That moment of contact started a long, interesting and incredibly diverse friendship. Our conversations via email and Skype covered all sorts of topics from animation, the arts and the state of industry on any given day, we discoursed on culture and simulculture, we nattered on about friends, relationships, family ties and touched very lightly on our backgrounds. It was easy and casual. I sent him everything Jerry and I worked on and solicited his honest opinion with which he was generous.

Many moons passed and we arranged to do a podcast for Frames Per Second. Through a series of technological mishaps it turned into a weekly event of chitchat on the phone while being recorded. Many of those sessions failed to record or transcribe or simply vanished like a poof of smoke in a cosmic disappearing act. It was as strange and baffling as it was amazingly funny. But it kept us talking for weeks on end always starting with, “Now, where were we?” Somewhere along the line Emru got a cold that he couldn’t shake. We commiserated because I had one too that seemed to drag on for weeks. He said it was making him feel strange and was going to see the doctor if it didn’t shape up. The rest is history.

We followed everything Emru posted by the day and sent encouraging notes. And even when things seemed bad I refused to accept that he would not somehow just get better. There were so many highs and lows and even at the worst moments I found myself rocking with laughter at some of the things Emru wrote, said or described. When Emru’s sister Tamu wrote, “Game Over”, I couldn’t believe it. I almost still can’t… So, it’s taken me months to write this piece and also start writing the blog again.

Sometimes people come into your life for a short time only. They make a profound impact and when they depart the planet they leave a gaping black hole where once there was an outstanding human being. Emru Townsend was one such person. We are all richer for having known him and all poorer for our loss. Now become a donor and help save a life.

UK – Anthony Nolan Trust, African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust

USA – National Marrow Donor Program, DKMS Americas

Canada – Hema Quebec Stem Cell Registry, OneMatch Stem Cell Network

Emru Townsend’s Bone Marrow Drive. It’s easy – it’s just a swab.

Help save a life. Who could say no? Anyone who knows me will have heard me rave about my animation super hero, Emru Townsend, editor extraordinaire of Frames Per Second Magazine. which IMHO is one of the net’s best animation zine/blogs. You’ve heard me extol his virtues in running FPS, be entertained by his diverse pod casts, swoon at his dulcet tones and revere his skills at holding down a heavy hitting job, keep a young family happy, and in his spare time chair the SIGGRAPH 2008 Computer Animation Festival. I am unashamedly one of his greatest fans. So, it won’t come as any surprise to you if I make this a very personal appeal to your higher selves.

Emru has Leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant – not sometime in the future – but now. His nearest and dearest are sadly not a match so he is relying on outside donors. We are asking you to help us encourage members of the animation community and others to join a bone marrow registry. You – or someone you know – may be the match Emru is hoping for.
Because tissue types are inherited, patients are more likely to match someone from their own race or ethnicity. As an Afro-Caribbean, Emru Townsend will be most likely to match other donors of African or Caribbean decent. So please urge anyone in your circle with this racial background to participate – send them this info in an email.You will be added to the registry and hopefully you will be a match for someone who needs your donation. On any given day, more than 6,000 men, women and children are searching the National Marrow Donor Program Registry for a life-saving donor like you. These patients have leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases that can be treated by a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. For many of these patients, a transplant may be the best and only hope of a cure.

It’s easy. It’s just a swab. In the US, registering is as easy as filling out a form, signing your name to make a commitment, and swabbing your mouth 4 times. Go to this URL, sign up on-line and receive a swab kit in the mail, or check the dates and addresses of the swab collections in your area: http://www.marrow.org/HELP/Join_the_Donor_Registry/index.html. Follow along in the adventures of Emru at: http://www.healemru.com/

LFC’s Betsy de Fries presents Adobe Design Achievement Award

On Thursday evening at the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the Adobe Design Achievement Awards were held. I was most honored to be asked to present the award for best animation. When you are face to face with all those young, hopeful things, sitting together in little groups – daring not to dream but not being able to help it – you’re honestly amazed at the raw talent of it all. Every category chock full of imaginative, interesting, smart thinking projects, by students from all over the world. One of the things I stressed to the students was the need to make, and keep, as many contacts in the industry as they possible could. Also to make the most of this unique moment provided by Adobe. You look at their work and can’t help but feel good about the future of our industry as well as being cheered by the prospect of following them through the course of their careers, which I’m sure will be illustrative.

The three finalists in the animation category, Axel Brotje, representing the Braunschweig University of Art, Johnny Kelly, from The Royal College of Art in London, and Sean Monahan, of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, each produced excellent short films. All were diverse in look and theme, yet each one was arresting, unique, stimulating to the senses and of the highest professional quality. All of these young men have bright futures ahead of them.

Fische und Schiffe by Axel Brotje was the winner. Axel is a charming, unassuming young man from a small town in Germany. He was, I think, fairly blindsided by his win which made it all the more poignant. Making the most of this opportunity to be here in California, he got up early the next morning and made his way to SIGGRAPH.

On a side note, I was impressed by the fact that, for services rendered, Adobe donated 10 licenses to each judge for them to choose a worthy recipient organization. The judges worked extremely hard sifting through thousands of entries from more than 30 countries and made the awards the great success they undoubtedly were.

Take some time to look not only at the animations, now on Adobe’s site, but also at the other categories of this exceptionally interesting competition.

See: http://www.adobe.com/education/adaa/winners//