I love the writing of Haruki Murakami. His stories take simple, mundane elements and make them sublime, and they frequently brush against the metaphysical.

He’s written about Spaghetti several times. I was inspired years ago to cook it quite often, like a character from one of his stories.

I’m not going to admit how many hours I spent in the following video, but it was more than seven. It’s a WIP, and is rough, and I see things that I should fix, if I decide to develop it further.

I started with the sounds. I recorded them in my kitchen (as mentioned before) and then put together the soundtrack, with the idea it would be about someone cooking spaghetti. In fact, I recorded myself cook spaghetti that night.

I wanted to to keep it simple and for this to be a “quickie,” which, after the hours started to spread over several days, it was not a “quickie.” My original idea was to have a pot of water boiling. Not so interesting, so I thought someone should fill the pot with water, put it on the stove, start the burner going, and check the spaghetti. These scenes definitely pushed this past “quickie,” and I actually drew several characters that might be my cook in this one. I settled on this bug fellow, and I like his reach. As you can see, I started with the pot on the stove, already filled.

I drew each frame by hand, scanned them into my computer, and touched up the drawings in Photoshop. I rendered the final video with Premiere. And I have to thank my friend Dusten for the steam and boiling sounds, recorded on my phone in our office at work.

I hope you like it.

Animation Journal: The Room of Indefinite Holding. 

I want to share two character tests that I made for a short film called The Room of Indefinite Holding, which is based on a diorama that I made last year.


The first character, who I think of as Birdbrain, is a paper skeleton on a wire armature. I’ve been exploring Birdbrain’s story in other dioramas, and it’s particularly satisfying to bring him to life.

Here is birdbrain with my hands, shown for scale. He’s taller than the previous diorama versions.



As I was leaving work one day, I found three discarded wasp nests in a patch of ivy near where I park. One of the hives had bees/wasps in them. I immediately thought the hives looked like faces, so I picked them up and brought them to the studio.

Here’s the first puppet test:

Here’s a close up of Beeface, as I was assembling her.

Jim Doran in the studio

Here’s one of the sets for the room itself.

I’m moving (too) slowly on this because I don’t want to make a mistake. Yes, mistakes are essential and can be good things. I’m taking about the disastrous variety, the “WHAT IF I SPEND DAYS FILMING A THING AND IT’S ALL WRONG?” variety.

Disney did this when they first used their horizontal multi-plane camera in Fantasia. The camera that they used to shoot the footage had an incorrect lens and they didn’t noticed until after many days of filming. When they viewed the developed film, they could see not only the animation, but the room and floor, too. They had to scramble and reshoot the entire sequence, as the release date was looming within weeks.

I’ve experienced this too, though on a much smaller scale. My film wasn’t Fantasia or even for Disney and it mostly involved spoons.  But, entire days of work were lost, and the motivation to spend hours hunched over spoons, repeating myself, can be greatly diminished by such mistakes.

And yet


In the documentary about The Residents called The Theory of Obscurity, it is suggested that the Residents are as successful as the Beatles. Their Twitter bio reads “Formed in 1972, The Residents are an avant-garde art collective that has released over 60 albums, numerous music videos & short films, 10 DVD’s & 3 CD-ROMS.” What it doesn’t mention is the members  have remained completely anonymous. Their goal (it’s said) wasn’t to be famous, so their definition of success may actually be oranges, while the Beatles were concerned with Apples. Still, they have been highly productive and influential, and they have made a living at making their work.

I like the Residents more than the Beatles.

I’m writing about this to share something profound Penn Jillette said in The Theory of Obscurity:

“If you wait until you know understand enough to do something, you’re never gonna get it done.”

I recommend the documentary, even for non-Residents fans. And I’ll leave you with this  wonderful Jillette outtake: