• Ice Pond Studio was founded in 1992, as a full service graphic design firm. As of recently the design firm also began to specialize in high end 3d animation.

    I recently had the pleasure of speaking with former Blue Sky Studios animator Floyd Bishop, who has recently joined with Ice Pond Studio. We speak about the future and vision of this young 3D animation and web design studio.

    About Floyd Bishop
    Floyd Bishop grew up in rural Waymart, Pennsylvania. He holds a BFA in Communication Design from Kutztown University. He is a self taught computer animator.

    Prior to founding Ice Pond with Tom Bisogno and Rebecca Rabinowitz, he was a character animator on "Ice Age" at Blue Sky Studios in White Plains, New York.

    Tito A. Belgrave: Can you tell us how Ice Pond Studio came to be?

    Floyd Bishop: Well, officially, Ice Pond began in 1992. The company was founded by Rebecca Rabinowitz as a full service web and graphic design studio. Not only have we been able to work with our friends from "Ice Age", but we've also met some very talented people during the past year and folded them into the group. The studio is on Ice Pond Road, which is where the name comes from.
    Anyway, the animation part of Ice Pond started right before Christmas in 2001. Tom Bisogno and I (along with many of our friends) had been laid off from Blue Sky. I started working with Tom's wife (Rebecca Rabinowitz) doing some freelance design work.

    While in the middle of a very dry web page design job, Tom and I started talking about how someone could start a new studio with all of the now unemployed talent in the area. Rebecca suggested that we roll everyone into Ice Pond, and we've been going strong ever since.


  • Tito A. Belgrave: You mentioned you were employees of Blue Sky Studios at one point in time, how has that experience helped you with your new ventures?

    Floyd Bishop: First off, I was not at Blue Sky for very long. In fact, I've now been at Ice Pond longer than I was at Blue Sky. Tom, however, goes all the way back to before Blue Sky, to the MAGI/Synthavision days. (remember "Tron"?) The body of work that Tom and some of our other crew members were involved in helps to open doors for us. It helps people see from the start that we know what we're doing.

    Tom was also with Blue Sky for it's early formative years, so we have that as a bit of a guide to know what worked and what didn't for them.

    I've also met some of the other founding members of Blue Sky that had been out of the company for some time when I started there. Their stories of the early days (not only of Blue Sky, but of computer animation itself) are very inspiring.

    Tito A. Belgrave: Although your present client list is short, it's quite impressive, with your experience and contacts in the industry, has it been difficult getting your footing with a new studio?

    Floyd Bishop: At first, it was a little tough getting work because we really didn't have any "Ice Pond" work to show. No one really knew what we could do as a group on our own. Now it's much easier.

    Tito A. Belgrave: Who are the key personnel currently working at Ice Pond? And what are their duties?

    Floyd Bishop:
    There are really five people at the core:

    Rebecca Rabinowitz - She heads up the studio and manages all the web and graphic design projects.

    Rebecca is also the voice of the Blue Gill character in our upcoming short film "Bass Hole".

    Tom Bisogno
    - Tom handles all of the financial information and is producer on many of the Ice Pond projects (Rebecca and I do some of that as well, depending upon the project). Tom uses his years of experience in CG to direct production on each project.

    Ilya Skorupsky and Andre Tardin -manages story and art direction.

    Al Concepcion, and James Marcus -
    manages the technical issues at the studio.

    Me (Floyd Bishop) -
    I usually handle all the initial client contacts, recruit new artists, and head up the animation department. I'm also co-directing on the "Bass Hole" production.

    Tito A. Belgrave: Managing a new studio must be a very tough task, can you share any advice you may have on starting up a new CG Studio to our readers?

    Floyd Bishop:
    It is VERY tough, and it's not for everyone. The important thing to remember is that you are only as good as your crew. Surround yourself with great people, and you can do great things. Treat your crew with respect, from the seasoned pro to the new intern. Don't promise them something you can't deliver. Think always of what's best for your crew, because without them, you are sunk.

  • Tito A. Belgrave: What services does Ice Pond Studio offer?

    Floyd Bishop: We do everything, literally. We can do everything from filling in gaps in an existing production pipeline to doing an entire project ourselves from start to finish. We have creatives from every phase of production from initial story and storyboards to the final edit.

    With the winter weather we've had here in New York, we've also discussed going into snow removal, but no official decision has been made yet.

    Tito A. Belgrave: What was your involvement in the commerical "GI Joe vs Cobra" for Hasbro?

    Floyd Bishop: Well, actually we've worked on a few different "GI Joe vs Cobra" commercials for ReelFx. The first CG "Joe Vs Cobra" commercial was our first big job as Ice Pond. For that commercial, we were asked by ReelFX to model and do materials for Cobra Commander and Destro. Later, on the second commercial, we were given more characters and expanded duties, including rigging. We did a few more characters for a third commercial, but that's still under wraps.

    Tito A. Belgrave:What can you tell us of your involvement with Big Idea's feature "Jonah?"

    Floyd Bishop: We sent three of our lighters out to Lombard, Illinois to help out with the lighting on "Jonah". They worked on site, and were extended twice, but the hard work paid off.
    The film looks beautiful. If you missed "Jonah" in the theater, make sure you pick up the DVD in March.

    Image: Merriweather Sailor character created for a "top secret" Ice Pond project.
    Tito A. Belgrave: What are some of the current projects you're undertaking at the moment?

    Floyd Bishop: A lot of our commercial projects have not been publicly released yet, so I can't talk about those. As for the Ice Pond projects, we have several ideas for both series and feature film application. We're currently working up 30 seconds of animation for each of our ideas. It's a lot of work, but it builds up our reel and makes a great "proof of concept" piece when we pitch. Think of them as trailers for films we'd like to see made. We've just started pitching them around, and they've gotten a warm response, but no greenlights...yet.

    Small but bursting with talent. Ice Pond Studio.
  • Tito A. Belgrave: Currently you're working on your first short film entitled "Bass Hole" what can you tell us about this project?

    Floyd Bishop:"Bass Hole" is a five minute short that came out of a two sentence idea I had. I actually wrote the title first, and then a loose story that supported it. The story crew met on a Saturday soon after that and we knocked out the bulk of the story that day. It was an intense twelve hour session of coffee, story boarding, and more coffee, but it flew by. When we were done, we had what we think will prove to be an entertaining short.

    I went after guitar legend Junior Brown to compose the music for the piece. After Junior heard the story and saw some of the concept art, he signed on to the project. If you're familiar with the style of his music, you already know the mood of our short film.

    Tito A. Belgrave: Is there any specific intent for Ice Pond Studio to create this short?

    Floyd Bishop: I want to tell a funny story with great characters and nice visuals. The story of "Bass Hole" is one that everyone can relate to on some level, and hopefully the people who see it will get a kick out of it and laugh a little at themselves.

    I also want to show what Ice Pond can do on it's own from start to finish. It's a lot different than working on someone else's project. We have complete freedom to do what we want with this, and I really think people are going to like the result. The fun we're having shows in the work I'm a big fan of the humor in the cartoons from the 1950's, and we're trying to get that same feeling with this piece. Kids will laugh and so will adults, but for different reasons.

    Image: Watch for this smooth talking catfish to appear in the Bass Hole movie short film.

    Tito A. Belgrave: Does Ice Pond Studio have a projected release date for Basshole?

    Floyd Bishop: Honestly I would like to have it all wrapped up before the release of Pixar's "Finding Nemo", but we don't know for sure yet. But for the time being you can use the tagline from the site "surfacing soon" as an indication :).

    Tito A. Belgrave: What software and hardware do you currently use? And why was it your choice?

    Floyd Bishop:
    We use custom built PCs running Maya. We used Maya on "Ice Age" at Blue Sky, so we already knew the software. It's really easy to customize as well, so we'll probably stick with it.

    The geographic area we're in has a pretty active Maya community as well. If there is something we're not quite sure how to tackle, odds are that there will be someone at the next user's group meeting that can help us out. It's a great way to share information and techniques. If there's a user's group in your area, GET INVOLVED!!

    Water color concept for one of the five fish friends in the upcoming short film "Basshole". Click above to visit the official Basshole movie website.
  • Tito A. Belgrave: Outside of Ice Pond Studio, what keeps the crew occupied?

    Floyd Bishop:
    We're a pretty diverse group. I'm kind of a homebody. I have a wife, a three year old son, and a new baby girl due any day now. They keep me pretty busy when I'm not working.

    Tom's kids do some acting from time to time. In fact, the whole Bisogno family will be in an upcoming episode of "The Dave Chappelle Show" on Comedy Central.

    Everyone else is pretty active in their own way. There's a lot to do in and around New York city.

    The studio mascot, Smokey the dog

    Tito A. Belgrave: Thank you Floyd and the crew at Ice Pond Studio. Its been a pleasure learning about your work and Studio. I wish you all the best in the future.

    Floyd Bishop: Thank you. We're all big fans of the site, and of the interviews, so it's going to be a bit strange to see ourselves under the magnifying glass this time.

    Discuss this on CGTalk - Digital Visual Effects Professionals >>

    From the Director of Community Development, Tito "Lildragon" Belgrave
    I hope you enjoyed this feature interview with Floyd Bishop of Ice Pond Studio. Be sure to keep an eye out for their upcoming short film Basshole! Where I'll also be publishing a follow-up interview on Ice Pond Studio's first animated film. Until then, salud!
    - Lildragon -

    Related Links:
    Ice Pond Studio
    Official Basshole movie website

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