Mark DeRidder received an unusual surprise this past Halloween. As he opened the myspace home page to log on to his account, he noticed a very familiar character inviting users to visit the featured film of the day, "The Legend of Farmer Jenkins" - a film DeRidder started working on as a student at CCS.
"I sent an e-mail to the video team at myspace and asked them if they would feature it for Halloween since it was a somewhat scary story and very appropriate for Halloween," said DeRidder. "I never got a response, but when I checked my profile that day, I was very happy to see a picture of Farmer Jenkins on the front page! In one day it received over 60,000 hits!"
The 3D animated short film is about the childhood legends and ghost stories that live in the minds of children. The main character, Ryan, tells his brother the story of a local legend named Farmer Jenkins who hunts kids to feed his fertilizer machine.
Working together with classmate Mike Tonder, DeRidder began working on the film during their junior year with intentions of creating a full 3D animated short film that they could enter into film festivals and would land them their dream jobs. By graduation, they had created a fully rendered and finished 3D animated short film. Although they were satisfied with the visual aspects of the film, the pair knew they needed to improve the audio before showing it at festivals. The temporary soundtrack featured copyright-protected Danny Elfman music, the dialogue had some glitches, and there were virtually no sound effects.
"Since I was hired right out of college, my attention went away from Jenkins," explained DeRidder. "It took almost three years before I decided to finish the job and hire someone to write the music, clean up the dialogue recordings and add in the sound effects. I found Jay Semerad who was looking to gain experience with creating audio for animation. He created an awesome original score and filled in the holes. Once I had a complete short film with professional audio, I started submitting it to as many film festivals as possible."
"So far Jenkins has been shown in 10 film festivals around the country and I plan on submitting it to more next year. It's a blast to watch Jenkins with an audience at a film festival; it tends to get some really good reactions!"
This project has taught DeRidder about the realities of production and has contributed to his success as a CGI animation director with Armstrong White, a "render house" in Bloomfield Hills that creates photo realistic computer graphic images for the advertising industry. Working as part of an intimate team, DeRidder often finds himself fulfilling several roles - working on tasks ranging from modeling to lighting to animation. His main responsibility is directing the animation for all of the motion work created by the firm, which includes computer-generated vehicles, characters and cameras.
Through Armstrong White, DeRidder has had the opportunity to create animations for a number of major projects, including a Chevy Impala Web campaign, VW GTI Web animation, KIA car commercial, Barqs Root-Beer Web campaign, Chevy Cobalt Web campaign and Michelin Man print/web ads. The firm has also done work for advertising agencies BBDO, Campbell-Ewald, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Saatchi & Saatchi and JWT. His portfolio can be viewed online at www.mderidder.com.