or, perhaps Olive the Woolly Blogger...

Month: October 2011

Olive the Woolly Bugger in 3D CGI

Anyone who has seen the Olive books knows that the illustrations which bring the stories to life are of a traditional, 2D style (the way all animated films used to look).  Thanks to Pixar’s 1995 groundbreaking Toy Story, the first feature-length 3D computer animated film, the majority of animated films are now being done in 3D CGI (Computer Generated Imagery).

I’ve been itching to see how Olive might look in a “Pixar-ish” style so I sought a 3D animator to interpret my characters.  Through the Animation, Media & Entertainment group on LinkedIn, I contacted UK-based animator Simon Cornish to inquire about his availability to render Olive and Clark in 3D. When I saw his website, Itchy Pictures, I thought, “This is the guy for the job.” It seemed my destiny to connect with Simon since Olive is a brand of Itchy Dog Productions, my freelance business. Great minds, or at least itchy ones, think alike.

Other than classrooms of elementary school kids, I’ve never had anyone draw Olive before, so I was a bit worried about how another artist might interpret characters that are so near and dear to me. My trepidation was for naught as I was thrilled when I received Simon’s renderings.  Now that my itch has been scratched and I know how she might look in this computer-generated medium, it’s time to forge ahead…

Thank you, Simon, for doing such a wonderful job with Olive and Clark. I’m hoping your work will help launch Olive and Clark toward big screen stardom!



Olive the Woolly Bugger film: The End

A while back I shared with you my idea for the opening scene for the Olive animated film. Based on this concept, those familiar with the Olive books recognize that this film will not just be a recycled version of the stories from the books.

The opening scene precedes a dream sequence in which the magic of the story is contained. After the dream has concluded, the closing scene finds Olivia and her father standing together along the edge of a river. It’s Olivia’s first time fly fishing, and she is filled with wonder and intrigue. Like any child she wants to catch a fish, but thanks to her dream from the night before, she has gained insight that goes well beyond her young years and lack of experience. As she casts her line into the water she asks her father, “Dad, do you think the river can talk to us?” Her father is delightfully caught off-guard by the question. Through their conversation we learn that a river does talk to us, if we’re willing to listen. And thanks to Olive the Woolly Bugger we come to realize that there is much more to fishing than just catching fish…

Olive the Woolly Bugger as an animated film. This is my dream.

Olive is 1% behind the environment


Olive the Woolly Bugger is 100% about introducing kids to the great outdoors through fly fishing, and by doing so she hopes to instill a sense of stewardship in kids today so that can lead tomorrow.  Now she will be able to do more to help with conservation because of her membership with 1% for the Planet.

1% for the Planet exists for the sole purpose of building and supporting a world of businesses that are financially committed to creating a healthy planet. Members commit to giving one percent of their revenues to non-profit organizations working for a healthy planet. Funds flow directly from the member company to the organizations of their choice.

Started in 2002 by Patagonia CEO and founder Yvon Chouinard, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1%  of the Planet includes more than 1380 member companies in 43 countries. Its members are a varied assembly of companies of all sizes with one common goal: to be a powerful force for change.

Olive the Woolly Bugger may be small, but she can be mighty. And she will be doing her part to help insure that future generations have fish to catch thanks to 1% for the Planet.

Thank you to everyone who supports Olive. By doing so, you’re effectively contributing to 1% for the Planet. And by virtue of that you’re giving back to the environment. Without a healthy planet, we wouldn’t have clean waters and fish.

Please check out this 1% for the Planet video to see how they’re making a difference.

Getting started: 1% Ambassador Program with Terry from 1% from 1% for the Planet on Vimeo.

Kids love fishing, period.

Kids needn’t ever have fished before, nor must they hail from a family where fishing reigns supreme, in order to love fishing. There’s a thrill that comes with catching your first fish, or your 100th. I recently spent an entire day working at a “trout pond” and had ample opportunity to witness first-hand the joy and excitement that kids experience when they catch a fish.

This wasn’t even a real pond, but rather an above ground pool lined with a black tarp and fresh water filtration system. This trout pond is part of a kids activity area at a Stocker Farms, a working suburban farm that is transformed into a Fall festival each October. Because of this, it’s not a permanent structure and only houses trout for a few weekends each year. It was my job to oversee a group of high school wrestlers who were in charge of managing the trout pond. Our tasks included stringing up new fishing line and tying on new hooks as needed, helping youngsters place salmon eggs on their hooks, and generally maintaining order. Oh, and to help them catch fish, too. This year the farm mandated a catch and release policy, so barbless hooks were used. Kids were allowed to catch 2 trout before reluctantly giving up their fishing poles to the next eager young angler.

Of all the activities on the farm the trout pond was, hands-down, the most popular.  It was a cool, damp start to the morning but as the day wore on the sun shone through and the afternoon turned pleasant and warm. Being a Sunday, the crowds were considerably lighter than they had been the day before (according to reports), but it was still very busy.  At the peak there were as many as 25-30 poles in the water: poles consisted of a 4 foot bamboo stick with 4 feet of fishing line attached by electrical tape. I doubt these kids appreciated fishing with bamboo rods so early in their angling careers 😉

As with most artificial trout ponds, the fish were eager and willing to inhale the salmon eggs, and countless hatchery-raised trout were caught, much to the delight of everyone in attendance. Most fish were 10-12 inches, all in good shape with bright silvery sides and  pink cheeks. They jumped and thrashed when hooked, putting on a good show for everyone.  There were a couple really big fish – honest 24 inchers – that cruised the depths of the pond and ignored all but the rarest of offerings. I’m fairly certain these fish were placed in the pond just to create added intrigue and excitement, and while a couple kids did manage to hook up with a couple of these bruisers, the fish easily dispatched of the rudimentary tackle and were never landed. I must admit, I wished I’d had a real fishing rod handy…

I was fortunate to be able to help a lot of little kids catch their first fish on this day. The later in the day, the more the fish became tight-lipped. Some kids really had to work at it to catch a single fish, but all were very determined. I spent 15 minutes with one little boy of about 5. He hardly uttered a word, but I could tell he badly wanted a trout on the end of his line. His perseverance paid off, and it was obvious that he was rather pleased with himself for having caught a fish. The boy’s dad was just as excited as he was.

The pure, unbridled joy and excitement these kids experienced was a priceless confirmation that kids love fishing. Even if they never fish again, or never become an avid angler, these youngsters were thrilled with their catches of the day. And as the fish were cradled while the hooks were removed, the kids were fascinated by the colors and spots and slippery texture of the trout. Many had never seen a one before. Nearly every kid was also very concerned about the well-being of the fish and wanted reassurance that after the trout were released that they would be OK. In some cases I had to stretch the true and assure them that their fish would be just fine.

What I can wholeheartedly confirm after spending the day at the trout pond is that fishing is not just something that appeals to a select group of children or adults. While there are certainly those who don’t have an interest in fishing, from what I observed the overwhelming majority of kids, and their parents, were absolutely enthralled by the chance to catch a fish, observe it up close, and after releasing it, to do it again. Imagine if the setting were a beautiful lake or mountain stream, with wildlife and birds all around…the thrill of fishing would be amplified. On this particular Sunday, I couldn’t have imagined a better place to be than right where I was.


Note to prospective animation studio producers: Audience members for Olive’s future film needn’t have a particularly keen interest in fishing any more than those who have enjoyed Pixar’s Cars are NASCAR aficionados. Kids like fishing. They like fish. Olive the Woolly Bugger is for everyone. Period.

Recipe for Olive the Woolly Bugger

I’m posting this demonstration on how to tie a woolly bugger not so much as a favor to those reading who may want to try a new recipe, but as a reference for the animation studio that will eventually bring Olive to life. It may help them to see how the actual woolly bugger is tied and how it looks when completed (although Olive doesn’t have a bead head).  Thanks to Midcurrent for posting this video by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions.

Olive Woolly Bugger from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.

“Olive, the doctor will see you now…”

In this day and age of cyber-reality where online networking has redefined the social norm, I definitely consider Nick Hamill a good friend, even though I’ve never met him in person. A few years ago when the Olive books were first published, Nick and I struck up an online correspondence (truth be told, we met in a fly fishing chat room). Since then he and his kids have become fans and big supporters of Olive.

For example, a couple of years ago, Nick, who is a very talented fly tier, created these very unique versions of Olive and friends to entertain his kids.

One-of-a-kind Olive Woolly Bugger

Custom Olive and Fly Box Friends

When his daughter had a birthday at the beginning of this year, she requested an Olive the Woolly Bugger cake.

But Nick’s enthusiastic support of Olive didn’t end there. Most recently he asked if I’d be willing to send high res images of illustrations from the Olive books so that he might decorate the walls of his medical practice. Of course I eagerly obliged, and Nick had the images digitally printed on canvas and stretched over frames. The results are exceptional–I want a set!

You’ll also note the presence of some artwork by artist Derek DeYoung hanging on the walls of the waiting room of Nick’s practice (below, left).

Says the good doctor,  “I was attempting to keep my fishing addiction subtle, but I think I blew it.”

I would agree.  Well done!

So the next time you’re in Tacoma, WA in need of a ears/nose/throat specialist, I recommend you schedule an appointment to see Dr. Nicholas Hamill at Pacific Otolaryngology. Nobody likes going to the doctor, but Olive may help reduce some of that fear. And you’ll be in very capable hands. After all, anyone who can tied flies like Nick can must be pretty good at tending to other delicate matters.

Thanks to Nick and his family for being such great friends of Olive. Your support is very much appreciated!

Olive the Woolly Bugger film: an introduction

Olive the woolly bugger animated movie poster

Most recently I posted the movie poster for the Olive film. Now it’s time once again to share a bit about the Olive film project – not so much an update on my current progress in attracting Big Fish to the project as I’ve done in the past – but by sharing with my readership the actual concept for the film. A sneak peak, if you will.

For those familiar with the Olive books, you may wondering how the stories will make the leap to the big screen. I’ve been wondering that myself, and over the past few months have been developing the story. While the film will obviously draw heavily from the books, it won’t just be a recycled version of the Olive the Little Woolly Bugger, Olive and The Big Stream and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride – it’s much more than that. It has to be. The books are quite basic by virtue of the fact that they are children’s stories for ages 6 and up, and there is not “room” to tell a much deeper story. An animated film must have considerably more depth, and while it may visually look like something created for an audience of children, it has to be as much for adults as for their kids. There’s a reason grown-ups love the great animated films produced by the likes of Pixar (Cars), Dreamworks (Kung Fu Panda) and Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age).

Opening scene

The film opens with a scene that sets the stage for the adventure to unfold. A little girl named Olivia watches with great wonder as her father sits at his fly tying desk. In his vice is an olive-colored woolly bugger, which he describes to his young daughter. Once the final touches have been made to the fly, Dad removes it from the vice and hands it to Olivia.  The little girl is excited to use her new fly the next day, when she’ll be joining her father on her first fly fishing trip.  Filled with anticipation of the following morning, Olivia dashes off to her room, hops into her bed and gently places the woolly bugger into her fly box along with other patterns her father has tied for her.  She admires the many colorful, interesting patterns, then gently closes the lid to the fly box.

“Goodnight, olive woolly bugger,” she says as she turns out her light. She drifts off to sleep and begins to dream…

Stay tuned for more updates and descriptions of new scenes specific to the film. A strong undercurrent will be an important message about conservation, from respecting fish to caring for the river and the surrounding environment.  I’ll also be introducing new characters in the coming weeks–characters that I think everyone will find engaging and humorous.  I hope you’ll enjoy the progression and I welcome comments from those of you who have been following along since the beginning, as well as from those of you who’ve just come onboard.  Thanks for your continued interest and support in bringing this dream alive.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got more Big Fish to pursue…

Olive the Woolly Bugger movie poster

What comes first:  the movie or the movie poster?

This answers that question.

This is a mockup poster for the animated Olive film. It’s done in the style of the books, and this 2D style may or may not be what is used in animating the movie. Personally I’m envisioning a 3D CGI film along the lines of Finding Nemo, Shrek, Ice Age, etc. but that is a good ways from being determined.  I’m currently looking through portfolios of 3D artists to see about having a version of this movie poster created using 3D software. If you’re an exceptionally talented 3D animator/illustrator, I’d love to see what you can do. Contact me!

Olive the Woolly Bugger movie poster