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

Update from Emru Townsend: The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning

From: “Emru Townsend” emru@pobox.com

Date: October 29, 2008 5:47:08 PM PDT

The good:
I’m back! Actually, I’ve been home since last Friday, trying to readjust.

The bad:
The reason for my discharge and transfer back to my old hospital is because although the transplant itself was an awesome success by any measure, I haven’t gone into remission.

So what does this mean? Well, there’s a chance that I’ll develop Graft vs. Host Disease (GvHD) which might attack the leukemic cells. But frankly there are too many ifs in that statement, and there’s no guarantee it would wipe it all out, as far as I know.

The ugly:
I asked one of my hematologists in Ottawa how much time he figured I had. He said less than a year. I asked the same question of my hematologist today, and she said weeks, maybe months.

Those are the facts about the leukemia. I have a lot more to write but I started today about twelve hours ago by collapsing and needing to be be brought in to the hospital by ambulance. I’m quite tired. I have just enough energy to ask a favour. Could those of you who are on mailing lists I’m on (or used to be on) please post this? I don’t have the energy to go to PWAC-L, the various SIGGRAPH lists, CE-L, and so on. You’d really be helping me out a lot. Thanks.

Emru Townsend | emru@pobox.com
Frames Per Second magazine: http://www.fpsmagazine.com
Black History Pages: http://www.blackhistorypages.net
The Accidental Blog: http://5x5media.com/accidental
Are you a match? Find out how you can help save my life:  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//

LFC creates Au Petite Mort an underwater fable


Animated in a painterly style, reminiscent of watercolor on vellum, Au Petite Mort, tells the story of life at the edge of the world where water meets sky. Attracted by the motion of an iridescently winged dragonfly, a predatory fish leaps from an ever-flowing river and in one sudden moment of carnal lust and abject destruction, vanquishes a life. Rain falls, leaves blow in the chill wind and the sky darkens as the fish enters his kingdom. From above a brightly colored float splashes into the water. Attached, a beautiful but barbed iridescently winged lure.

An award-winning, festival favorite, Au Petite Mort is a combination of computer animation with hand drawn images. The extensive layering of each scene is composited in Eddie and After Effects. Original musical score by PopTuna.