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I'm an artist and programmer. I make websites, music, paintings, games, apps, and of course, animations.

Dave Pagurek @Pahgawk

22, Male

Ottawa, Canada

Joined on 2/8/09

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Pahgawk's News

Posted by Pahgawk - May 30th, 2013

I'm heading off to Vancouver next week for the Skills Canada national animation competition, so in a week I'll have another short little animation to show from that. Also, the next NATA collab is going to start soon, and it's a walk cycle collab this time, so that'll be fun.

As for NATA, I recently submitted a rather dark movie called The Monster is Me, and I feel a little guilty about how some people interpreted it. It's not supposed to glorify suicide, and I feel bad knowing that that's what some got out of it. I was intending to have two separate conclusions to the video: the darker, purple-coloured version, where yes, the main character dies, but then also the orange version, where the character fights back the monsters and reaches some sort of "better place" by doing that. The purple was supposed to show the ineffectiveness of the non-solution. I'm kicking myself because it looks like suicide was portrayed as the means to that end, especially with the rising up bit, but I assure you it wasn't intended to be that way. I might re-cut the ending later to try to make that clearer.

To be honest, I kind of regret making the video since I don't really have anyone to blame but myself for all that. I've maybe made visual metaphors too much and this time it backfired. So, I'm honestly sorry about that.


Posted by Pahgawk - May 8th, 2013

I just got back from Waterloo where Luka and I came first in the Skills Canada2D Animation Competition. We were given the line from Monty Python that you hear at the end of the video and had to make an animation about it. I'm very pleased with the results.

So in a few weeks I'll be going to Vancouver for the national level. In the meantime, I have a metric shit tonne of work to do. I might even not end up finishing a video for NATA. I knew it was going to be difficult if I entered NATA this year, and it is definitely proving to be difficult. I'm going to try to stay above the water, but I apologize in advance if I can't make it this year.


Posted by Pahgawk - April 21st, 2013

Yesterday, me and Luka went to Kingston, Ontario for the qualifying round of the Skills Canada animation competition. It's this thing we have in Canada that I've been doing a few years where high school students from around the country get a few hours to make animations based on a theme of some sort, and there are different rounds in different places, and it's pretty fun.

So yesterday was the qualifying round (the lowest level) and we came in first. Rather than being given a theme, we were given a sound clip instead and we had a few hours to make an animation about that. Here's the video we made (the only sound in the video is the sound clip we were given):

I think the quality of the animation improved from last year, especially for Luka (the first half of the video was animated by him), who has come a long was since last year, and especially since we weren't allowed to install our tablet drivers like we are in other levels of the competition. We're definitely proud of this video for that. Also I think we had a better focus on what we had to do, so there was more time spent on animating the character speaking, for example, than animating cool explosions or something. But anyway, we came in first with that video, so we are advancing to the provincial level in Waterloo, Ontario in a few weeks. I'll report back after that happens.

Also, in case you missed it (which is pretty easy since it's not very visible anywhere), I made an entry for the NATA open round. You can see it here on Newgrounds or you can watch it on Youtube:

It's in 3D, mostly, which is new. As has been pointed out repeatedly, there's not much there in terms of story or character development. This is largely because couldn't make models with working faces in time, which seriously limits the kinds of stories I can try to tell and the depth I can go into. I won't make you think or anything after you watch it. However, I am glad I made it, because I feel a lot more comfortable working in 3D now than I used to be. If I get through the open round and if I'm able to model characters decently enough by the next round of NATA, I'll try to make another one in 3D, but otherwise I might have to go back to 2D. It's also a competition, and I know that I can make better movies in 2D than I can in 3D, so I might have to leave learning 3D to my own time. I'm not really sure yet. We'll have to see.

Lastly, on the way back from Kingston, our bus broke down and we had to wait for a bit. I didn't have any games on my phone, but I did have a graphing calculator app, so naturally I made this:

Video from Skills Canada Animation Competition Qualifying Round

Posted by Pahgawk - March 15th, 2013

I don't want to say that I'm going back to making five-minute shorts, because I'm not (or at least not yet.) I did make this, however:

I haven't uploaded it to Newgrounds as a portal video because I feel like it's maybe a little too small. Like, it's not the same quality as my other stuff, and didn't intend to be, so I suppose I don't want to tarnish my account with it or something. That is because it is really just a video to get me animating after a half-year hiatus. This started as an entry for the Toronto Animated Image Society's "UFO Jam", but since it ended up being longer than 10 seconds (the maximum time for entries to TAIS jams), it's too long for that but too short for a "normal" video. Oh well.

Hopefully I'll start work on a more legitimate project soon.

Aaaaawwwwww yeeeeeah

Animating again, sort of.

Posted by Pahgawk - February 3rd, 2013

Ok so in the middle of NATA last summer, I made a little progress tracking program to let you know how much you have to work on your animation each day in order to finish it on time. Today, I'm able to release a (somewhat) stable beta of what I thought to be the next logical step: A program in which you make storyboards, then check off progress for each slide (rough animation, backgrounds, sound, etc) and then the program tells you how you're doing (for example: At your current rate, you will finish in 9 days.)

So, I present to you, the sarcastically-named CoolStory!

You can go try it right now (if you use Chrome)! http://www.pahgawks.com/storyboards/

Firstly, this is currently for Google Chrome only. This project was also meant for me to learn Javascript and the cool new features of HTML5, but since implementation of HTML5 is still pretty radically different in all browsers, it currently only works the way I intend it to work in Chrome. In order to get Firefox to work, I need to change the colour picker and the date selectors and the way the slides load. For Opera, I need to change the way the colour picker works. For Internet Explorer, well, I have some work to do. For Safari, firstly, I need a mac, and then I need to change the date and colour pickers and possibly more. Also, right now, Chrome is the only browser that can save properly without uploading all the data to a server and then downloading it again. And that is why it is for Chrome only right now. More browsers soon to follow.

However, if you do use Chrome, you're in luck! Here are the features you can use right now!
- All the drawing tools and colour pickers and such work
- Add new slides with the + button in the timeline
- Hover over existing slides to move them up or down, remove them, or duplicate them (useful so you don't have to redraw backgrounds, until I make a better system for that.)
- In the settings window, set the project start and end date so that you can get a days remaining counter
- Under the drawing canvas for each slide, check off your progress as you go to get extra information in the settings panel
- Play back your storyboards using the play button in the toolbar! You can set the duration for each slide in the same area as the checkboxes (the duration also factors in to what percent of the entire project has been completed.)
- Save your storyboard locally as an xml file, which includes all the images and tracking metadata, speedily and without ever uploading it to a server (which means this app will eventually have offline support.)

That said, I'm finding new bugs every time I use it, so let me know if you find any so that I can fix them.


And now some little updates that don't have to do with CoolStory.

So as I said before, I'm trying to get into university for computer science or software engineering, so right now, that's my priority. That's why I'm releasing a program now and not a new video. In fact, that music video I said I was making earlier isn't going to happen any more. There was too much other stuff to focus on, and I didn't want to make a commitment that I wouldn't be able to follow through with, so unfortunately I had to drop the project. I have a lot more schoolwork than I initially expected, and I need to give that priority and keep my low-90s average so that everything else goes as planned.

I don't want to say that I'm giving up animation because I'm not, but I don't think I'm going to be making any new animations for a while. I won't be participating in NATA this year like I had wanted to earlier, which was a tough but necessary decision to make. For the next year and a half, unless something significant changes my plans, my limited free time is going to have to be spent elsewhere. I'm still going to try to keep in touch with everyone in NATA though, and hopefully I'll be able to make CoolStory (and possibly future programs) more useful that way.

Talk to you later, Newgrounds!


p.s. here's a screenshot of CoolStory.

I made a storyboarding and progress tracking webapp

Posted by Pahgawk - October 16th, 2012

As you probably know, NATA is over now, and after a close final round, Emrox has emerged victorious, and the guy deserves it. Here's his video:

...and, in case you're interested, here was mine.

I guess because so much has changed since the start of NATA, I should probably take a paragraph to reflect. The other day, I edited a new showreel for myself to include all the stuff I've done since last December, when I uploaded my last showreel:

It's not the greatest, but when you compare it with my showreel from last year, you can see that it's improved a fair amount. If there's one thing I definitely got from my experience this year, it's that I experimented a lot with my animations. That never hurts, right? Also, I have a vastly different work ethic since I started NATA. Due to the nature of the competition, I got used to having almost constant work. I think I'm able to completely focus on things for extended periods of time (six months, in this case) because I feel like it's good for me and also that it will make relaxing afterwards feel even better. I can now say that yes, being able to focus and work is a really good skill to have, and yes, last night was the first night in months when I did nothing (with the exception of editing that demo reel, but it didn't take too much time or effort so that doesn't count) and it was glorious.

So anyway, what now?

I don't have a shiny new demo reel for no reason. I think I mentioned in an earlier news post that I'm going to be making a music video next, and I think that maybe this will start the ball rolling for some more commissioned animations in the year to come. Or at least until the next NATA.

You may or may not know that I do web design work, so that will resume again now as well.

I also have been learning 3D animation on the side for a while now. Don't go looking for a 3D video of mine yet, because all my previous ones aren't very good. If an opportunity arises, maybe you'll see a new, improved, fully 3D animation from me. Who knows.

Lastly, I also want to spend some time programming. Although I spend so much time doing animation, I don't actually think it's the career path I want to go into. I am definitely not giving up animation, because I love it; however, I think animation will just remain a hobby of mine. Instead, I will probably be going to university for computer science or software engineering or something like that. (Side note: Although I don't have to apply to university for another year, I am starting to look. If anyone has any advice or insight about Canadian universities with programs that I might be interested in, I'm all ears!) So this past weekend, I programmed a game for the Game Jam. I'm pretty proud of how it turned out, since I initially wasn't sure if I'd be able to be any good at making games so quickly. It was definitely a fun experience and I hope to participate in the next one, too.

Although, I might not be doing game programming. In one round of NATA, I programmed a simple little program to take your progress on an animation and project how much you need to do to finish on time. It's neat making things that actually are useful. Sometime in the future, I plan to make a more advanced adaptation of that program that lets you make storyboards, and then check off your progress from there. I'm not sure when I'll have the time, though, since I guess I'm a pretty busy guy, but it'll happen eventually.


Posted by Pahgawk - September 30th, 2012

Is animation supposed to be art or entertainment?

I have been animating nonstop for almost six months now for NATA. I thought I would take this opportunity to address some issues I've been having with the idea of animation.

Without a doubt, the ultimate purpose of animation in this context is to entertain. That is the point. That is why other animators on this site and I animate. There is not a fixed structure required to make an entertaining animation, yet somehow, I find that I always end up looking for one.

Over the past few months, I have reached a point where I only really enjoy an animation if it has a clear, easy to understand plot and evokes some sort of feeling (humorous, sad, etc). Anything that deviates even slightly, I label as "unprofessional", "pretentious", or even just "bad". I do this when I look at my own videos and I do this when I look at other people's. I find that I can't even enjoy going to art galleries any more because I can't help but feel that everything there is just missing something. Maybe that's the correct way to think, and maybe it's not, but either way, it means less enjoyment for me, so as a content consumer as well as creator, I feel like that is a bad thing.

To be fair, I am not sure that animation is the right medium for those "unconventional" forms of entertainment. I think it is unprofessional if you make a movie with the disclaimer that you, the artist, have no idea what it means. I think it is bad if there was supposed to be a plot, but it wasn't thought out well enough for it to make sense. I'm even guilty of making movies like that, especially recently, and I'm trying to get past that and make better movies. But still, I am just not sure that it is a good thing to jump to conclusions immediately like we so often do. Is there anything wrong with having a movie where the plot is abstract and not literal and forces you to consider the other elements of the movie to fully realize the meaning? Is there anything wrong with making movies for oneself, rather than for the audience? Isn't that the point of art? Then again, this is all awfully hypocritical, because I myself jump to the same conclusions I'm ranting about.

I'm curious to know what you all think about this. I don't really know what side is the correct side, but I do know that, for better or for worse, I now look for that specific formula.

Other news

I feel bad for doing this, but I ended up just using some of my friends in real life for the voices in my final NATA entry. It's not that the voices submitted to me were bad or anything. In fact, I was really impressed by all of them, and I now know that Newgrounds is a great resource for voice actors for future projects. However, due to life getting in the way, I just had to go with the most convenient option, for my own sake. Sorry about that, guys, but my priority right now is keeping my head above the water. Next project that needs voices, though, I promise I'll follow through!

I'm not really going to get into why life was getting in the way, but I'm just going to say that everything's been rather overwhelming recently. To (somewhat sarcastically) quote The Catcher in the Rye, "it's so goddamn depressing. It really is." In addition to the more private issues, although NATA has been fun, it does get stressful after six months, which is a contributing factor in the decline of quality in my recent videos. I like the way my current video is going, though, so we'll see what happens with this one. It's funny to think that in a few weeks, this will all be over. It's been great to be a part of, and I hope it has also been great following along.


Posted by Pahgawk - September 18th, 2012

Ok so it's the NATA final round, and I am in need of a voice actor!

The general plot of the story is that a guy dies and meets death, and has to choose between remaining a ghost or moving on. However, he's a bit in denial, so he and Death test that he's dead, argue about it, etc, until eventually the conversation ends up about Death himself, and it turns out that he has problems with sadness and depression, too. I won't spoil the ending because that would be bad.

But, that said, I'm in need of someone who wants to voice Death for me. You'd have to be dramatic at first, but be able to break down a bit near the end while still sounding like Death might. If you're interested and have a demo reel or something you want me to listen to (or have a video you're in or something like that), let me know!



Posted by Pahgawk - August 14th, 2012


Ok so my website is back up after a fair amount of debating with the service provider. That's all nice. So now my new dilemma is this: It's coming time to renew my domain name, which is currently pahgawks.com, but I feel like maybe I should rename it now that I have the opportunity. My website has been under this name since I was in the third grade, and for the longest time, I only made videos about "pahgawks" (look at my older videos. Actually, don't; they're bad), so that wasn't a problem. But now I haven't done anything with the characters for a few years, so I think it's time for a change. Unless, of course, my username everywhere is well-known enough that it still works. Basically, it comes down to a question of who the main audience of my website will be: people who already know me online, and people who don't.

Anyway, what do you think? Any domain name recommendations?

Next order of business: I was contacted by a musician to ask if I could make them a music video. So, that'll probably be happening once NATA is over. But since this is something I'd be paid for, I'm going to take more than a month on it to make sure it's as polished as I can make it.

And lastly, about NATA. I'm changing things up this round. I've been getting lower marks in the art and animation categories, and with my current art/animation style, I don't think I can possibly get more points without putting in a ridiculous amount of effort. So instead, I'm changing styles. I've told a lot of people that I'm going to be changing styles anyway to keep things interesting for me while I'm making it, so this was bound to happen anyway. Below is a small example of the sort of atmosphere I'm hoping to create, although I should point out that I still don't have access to my tablet, so the whole thing was drawn with a laptop trackpad using the polygonal lasso tool in Photoshop.

Website and a music video

Posted by Pahgawk - July 30th, 2012

So some interesting things happened.

A Brief Summary of the Past Month, in Three Acts

On July 7th, I got a funny email from the legal department of some porn site claiming that I had hacked their servers and that I should cease and desist immediately or they would threaten legal action or something like that. Since they claimed to be from "boobysearch.com" or something ridiculous like that, I deleted the email and thought of it as spam.

Fast forward twenty minutes: Turns out there was a rather large load of traffic to a php script on my website that I couldn't remember making. Upon further examination, it appeared that the script was logging IP addresses to a text file. That was odd and unnerving. I promptly got rid of that, did a bit of research as to how it might have got there, fixed the security hole, and changed my passwords just to be safe. So far so good. However, after a few minutes, I noticed that the site was becoming increasingly laggy. This was because the hits had jumped up to 10,000 since I had last checked. Normally, my website only gets maybe one and a half hundred a day. Then, emails started piling in from other people claiming that I had hacked their sites. What had happened was that the same person or group that got my website presumably also infected a bunch of others and made them redirect to mine. I tried replying to all the emails individually, but they started coming in faster than I could reply. I decided instead to put a message up on my website where the now-deleted php script was so that people would be redirected to that rather than a 404 error. I put up what I was putting in my emails: No, I didn't hack your site. Yes, I'm on your side. I was hacked, too, and I'm in almost the same boat. Here is how your site was probably infected and here's how to get rid of the problem.Except then the server started faltering. I had previously set it to log any redirects into the database because I was testing something out a while ago and forgot to turn it off, so that was causing a lot of the problem. I disabled that, and that helped for a bit. But things still were slowing down rapidly, so I ran a script that would cache the main pages and serve them up as static html files rather than php files to minimize as much server load as possible, and that worked. I also made it start blocking certain redirects from infected sites that were sending me a particularly large load of traffic. Anyway, the server was handling the load reasonably well, and I was a bit proud of myself for dealing with it smoothly. At 2:00 in the morning on the 8th, there had been some 50,000 hits since 10:00 the night before, and then the hits started decreasing. The problem was dealt with, or so I thought.

A few days later, when the hit counts were beginning to return to normal levels, my site was taken down by the service provider, claiming that it had gone over my CPU limit and that I should upgrade my hosting plan. Unfortunately, even after trying to reason with them that this was not the normal traffic level and that it would get back to normal very soon, my site was still inaccessible and I still wasn't going to upgrade my plan. I've been too tired to negotiate further, so my site has remained offline since then. But because the site has been down and my message is now gone, the nasty emails began rolling in again with people who are really mad at me and who are threatening me and claiming that "I don't fucking know who I'm dealing with" and such. I did, however, also get some funny emails, like one from a guy whose website wasn't hacked, but who tried to visit a beer and wine blog which was, and found himself on mine. He then asked if there were any other beer and wine blogs he could get his beer and wine news from while the other one was being fixed.

So yeah, that was fun.

It's been a really long time since I've gone to a summer camp, but now I work at one. It's been pretty interesting. It's a science, tech, and computer science camp. My coworkers are pretty awesome, and they're all as geeky as I am, and even though I'm the youngest one working there by far, we're all friends. We all went to see the new Batman movie after work one day, which was nice.

As far as the actual work went, though, it's been quite the experience. I'll start off with the most interesting story. When I was working with a group of grade 1 and 2 kids (around ages 6-8, for those in other countries), and we were doing some really basic flash animation, a kid went and did his business on the floor. I'd like to think he was just so intrigued by the Flash lesson that he just couldn't get himself away from the computer to use the washroom. But no matter how it happened, we ended up with a shit on the floor. Another kid stepped in it somehow, and then started screaming and running all over the place, not thinking that he would be spreading it around by doing so. We had to interrupt the lesson and take everyone outside because the kids were starting to panic. Then we had to clean up the mess. It was definitely not the work I had signed up for, but it must have been even worse for some of the volunteers, who had to clean up shit and weren't even paid for it. Let's have a moment of silence for the bravery of those poor, poor volunteers.

tl;dr shit happens

Other than that, things went pretty well. I enjoy working where I do, and teaching programming and stuff is pretty fun, especially for the older age groups, who actually take it in and want to learn. I thought it would be a problem that I'd be maybe only one year older than some of them, but that didn't end up being a problem. It just made communication easier, if anything. Also it meant that we didn't have to waste time telling them how to spell stuff. We also had these awesome LAN Armagetron tournaments, which were cool. The only trouble with everything was that the hours were pretty long. I'd go in for 7:30 and leave at 5:30. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for animation and stuff, considering I have to actually get to bed on time now. That brings me to the next act:


First and foremost, I believe that because of a lack of time, resources, and creativity, I didn't make as good of a movie as I would have liked this time around. I mean, it's at the point now where I feel like it's a chore to open up Flash and start working. It just isn't fun, and I think that it needs to feel fun in order to actually put everything you can into a project. Do you know that feeling when you're in the middle of a project and then just get a sinking feeling that maybe what you're doing wasn't actually such a great idea, but you're too far in to turn back? That's pretty much what I felt. I don't know, I think I could just use a break. I won't be upset if I get eliminated this round because I'm against a great animator, and if I have to get out, now's not a bad time. It wouldn't be an unwelcome change to be able to take a bit of time to relax and wait for inspiration to hit so that I could make a movie that I can take as much time as I need on. I'm just going to try to regain a positive attitude, I guess.

And on that note, I think I should talk about what I can learn from this entry. Firstly, something that I thought went well. I let some of my friends help play some of the music, which was nice because it meant that I didn't have to worry about practising music to the point where I feel it is good enough, and that I could focus more on the animation. Unfortunately we had some technical difficulties with the microphone and ended up with some clipped sound, which I guess is something that happens when I don't have full control, but I think I dealt with it enough that the soundtrack still sounds nice. Also, I used some of Bing's music again near the end, which is always nice, because it's awesome music and it tends to fit well with the stuff I make.

Unfortunately, not everything else went well. I tried doing some animation on paper with a light table, but it turns out those things heat up an awful lot, which is a killer on a hot day, and also when I scanned them in and found a slight fault I had made (I accidentally put the wrong leg in front on one frame and then carried it on throughout the following frames), I had to end up redrawing almost all of it anyway. Being able to preview as you go is a really good feature of working digitally. Oh well. Lesson learned, I guess.

Also you'll notice a lot more 3D stuff. That's there mainly as a time saving thing. Once I have one 3D model, I don't have to redraw it. It's a bit faster, and it sometimes looks nice. I sort of like how the shatter thing ended up near the beginning of the movie. The rest admittedly doesn't fit as well, but it saved me time, so it had its purpose. If I ever get some free time, I'd like to try out 3D animation in a context that fits the medium more, such as in a full-3D animation, or in combination with video, which is something I've always wanted to learn more about. I just need to wait for the time and inspiration first, though.

Lastly, I've been out of town a bit, which has been a major hindrance to the completion of the movie. It meant that any recordings for the music became final because the only internet I could get reliably from my cell phone, which is slow and I also do not technicaly have a plan for, making it costly. Also, being stuck with a laptop trackpad is arguably worse than a mouse for drawing and especially for 3D animation (try using blender without the scroll wheel/middle click. I dare you.) Luckily, most of that was already done, and I was able to make the credits using only the text tool and the geometry tools (line, circle, etc.) However, uploading the video was a problem, and I spent the majority of the day visiting a bunch of towns near the cottage I'm at trying to find a restaurant or something that would let me sit around for an hour or two uploading my movie. I guess I probably shouldn't have made it 720p. Oops. Should have thought that one over more.

So anyway that was my past month. It's a little weird knowing that from now on, all of my summers will be this busy until I retire. That's pretty scary. I guess I'll get used to it eventually.

/end transmission