BRAD DEGRAF
brad@sociative.net
415-847-8097
Synopsis | Recent Work | Computer Animation | Design/Furniture | Skills | Education | Exhibitions | Publications | Public Speaking
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SYNOPSIS

Called by Wired "an icon of 3D Animation", Brad has been an innovator in computer animation in the entertainment industry since 1982, particularly in the areas of realtime characters, ride films, and the Web.

Since 2000, he has concentrated on work at the intersection of media, technology, finance, and social change. In addition to his current role as co-founder and CTO of the Interra Project, that work has included consultancy on digital media in international development, development of web commerce and financial systems, and pro-bono work on social change through alternative financing strategies and "disruptive" information technologies.

Prior to his computer career, he studied sculpture and architecture at Princeton University, earned a BA in Mathematics from UC San Diego, and spent five years building custom furniture .

SYNOPSIS

Brad is co-founder and CEO of Sociative, best-of-breed in social news.

In 2000, Wired called Brad "an icon in the world of 3D animation," and it's been all downhill since then. He has been an innovator in computer animation in the entertainment industry since 1982, particularly in the areas of realtime characters, ride films, and the Web. He founded and/or managed several ground-breaking animation studios including Protozoa, Colossal Pictures Digital Media, deGraf/Wahrman, and Digital Productions.

Since 2000, he has concentrated on work at the intersection of media, technology, finance, and social change. Before Sociative, he was co-founder and CTO of the Interra Project, that work has included a variety of consultancy roles focused on next-generation digital media technology, particularly lately in international development work with the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and the US Agency for International Development.

Other recent roles include executive producer of Youthgive, executive director of the Internet Bookmobile project , co-director for Moving Images at the Internet Archive, and senior analyst for Jon Peddie Research.

In his copious spare time, Brad also develops web-based social applications, most notably Books We Like and Smartocracy .

Brad began his career in 1979 as a Fortran programmer for Science Applications International (SAIC), engineering interactive training systems and digital mapping applications for the US Army National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA.

In 1982, he joined Digital Productions in Los Angeles, as Head of Technical Direction, and oversaw production there on numerous groundbreaking feature film, ride-film, and commercial projects.

He co-founded deGraf/Wahrman in 1987, where, inspired by a collaboration with Jim Henson, he created the first live computer-generated character, and produced several "firsts" in computer-generated ridefilms.

In 1992, he joined Colossal Pictures, the leading San Francisco animation company for two decades, to start up a digital media division, to replace their previous co-production relationship with Pixar, which had recently shifted over to producing features with Disney. He grew the department to 30+ people, producing all forms of digital media, including Robocop the Ride in Imax for Iwerks; two CD-ROMs for Broderbund; Cartoon Network's launch character; numerous commercials and music videos; and several early interactive television interface designs including the Full Service Network for TimeWarner/SGI, and First Person, the precursor to Java.

In late 1994, he and his partners spun off to create Protozoa (aka Dotcomix) for which he served as Chairman, CEO, and Chief Creative Officer. In those roles, he oversaw the creation of over 24 hours of televised animation and a year of daily web cartoons, and raised over $13M.

Prior to his computer career, he studied sculpture and architecture at Princeton, earned a BA in Mathematics from UC San Diego, and spent five years building custom furniture.

Credits include:

  • Duke2000.com, a campaign with Garry Trudeau to get his Ambassador Duke character elected president;
  • Moxy, emcee for the Cartoon Network, the first virtual character for television;
  • Floops, the first Web episodic cartoon;
  • Peter Gabriel's Grammy award- winning video, Steam;
  • "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera", the first computer-generated ride film;
  • feature films "The Last Starfighter", "2010", "Jetsons: the Movie", "Robocop 2",
  • and numerous television shows.

RECENT WORK

Social Finance

INTERRA
July 2006 to the present
  • Co-founder - Co-founded, with the founders of Odwalla and Visa among others, a universal, card-based loyalty/affinity system that creates an economic ecosystem aligning local merchants, conscious consumers, and the causes they care about. First deployment is Boston Community Change for the city of Boston, with Puget Sound, Cleveland, and San Francisco Bay Area launching October 2007 through March 2008.
  • Chief Technical Officer - Provide technical vision, oversight, and leadership over all aspects of Interra's work, including internal development, subcontracting, and partnerships.
YOUTHGIVE - school-based social network and financial system for study of philanthropy
June - December, 2006
  • System Design and Executive Production - Developed a system and website for Youthgive that combines a social network of youth, parents, and teachers; curricula around the study of local and international non-profits and philanthropy in general; an online "catalogue of philanthropy" co-created by the students; a print version for holiday season distribution in local communities; and "giving accounts" that act as "allowances for giving", filled by parents and others, and donated by the users to their favorite causes.

International Development

World Bank's International Finance Corporation - Industry Specialist in Digital Media
January 2000 to the present
  • Provide expertise and assistance in due diligence for digital media investments under consideration by IFC's Information Technology group.
  • Projects in China, Vietnam, India, and Jordan so far. Involve early-stage project review, multi-week on-site visits, financial and other due diligence, and final report including yes/no investment recommendation. Coincidentally or not, recommendations have been followed.
  • At the request of IFC, hired as board member and US director of business development for Glass Egg , an IFC portfolio company in Saigon, Vietnam.
US Agency for International Development - Digital Media Strategy for SE Europe
October 2004 to the present
  • Macedonia - Hired by USAID's Macedonian Competitiveness Activity in Skopje, Macedonia for several projects, ranging from business strategy for specific companies to industry-wide vision and strategy for their digital media sector. Recommendations have resulted in major investments of resources, including a nation-wide training program for 3D animation, 3D @ E-Schools, and formation of a digital media trade organization, among others.
  • Europe and Eurasia Bureau, Regional Competitiveness Intiative - Macedonian work expanded to the development of a digital media strategy for southeastern Europe, focusing on Romania, Bulgaria, and former Yugoslavia. The project included a thorough exploration of existing digital media capacity, the venture capital and enterprise fund industries needed to finance it, and the opportunities for deveopment of "digital media parks" networked throughout the region. Here is the final report.
  • Digital Media Park in Skopje, Macedonia - Wrote successful proposal for a USAID Global Development Alliance for a "digital media park" in the capital city, recently funded for $500,000. Consulted on acquisition of a de-commissioned military building from the Ministry of Defense.
  • On-going advisory role with one Macedonian studio, FX3X, successfully getting them work on Martin Scorcese's Aviator and major contributions to PBS Kids' new series, It's a Big Big World.

Internet Systems and Social Change

Internet Archive
March 2002 - July 2005
  • Directed the Moving Image archive at the Internet Archive for most of 2002.
  • Secured a grant from SIGGRAPH Special Projects to create a sub-collection of the Moving Image archive showcasing the best of computer graphics.
  • Served as Executive Director for the Internet Bookmobile project from late 2002 through late 2004. Created a standalone organization, Anywhere Books, fiscally sponsored by the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, to support the project.
  • Secured a $150,000 grant from the World Bank's Information for Development Program for an Internet Bookmobile in Uganda, and successfully managed the project on time and budget.
Media Venture Collective - Founder and Executive Director
  • Media Venture Collective was conceived as a "third way" between grants and venture funding, to provide startup and working capital for public-benefit enterprises that have the potential to thrive financially.
  • It is a fund of the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, in partnership with a super-group of activist organizations, focused on aggregating tax-deductible donations and grants, small and large, into "program-related investments" in high-impact, public-interest media enterprises.
  • MVC has raised over $260,000, with very little overhead, of such projects as the Internet Bookmobile, Critical Mass Radio, Books We Like, YouthGive, Ethical Markets, and Smartocracy.
  • Books We Like - Conceived, designed, and raised $30,000 (from Alternet and Wallace Global Fund) for this innovative, non-profit service for activist e-commerce and collective intelligence. BWL is a peer-to-peer recommendation system for book (and music and film) lovers, that generates revenues from commissions on the online purchases of its users and passes those on to a partner network of social-change non-profits.
  • Smartocracy - Conceived, designed, and raised $25,000 (from Threshold Foundation and Wallace Global Fund) for this experiment in "augmented democracy". It uses a simple social network as a tool for making collective decisions meritocratically. Initial application is to enlist a network of 1000+ independent media influencers in deciding how to re-grant some of the funding for media reform projects. (view the original proposal).
Social Networking Tools
  • Link Tank - Conceived, convened, and led the Link Tank, an ad-hoc group of brilliant, multi-disciplinary thinkers focused on the use of new information technologies in support of large-scale "eco-social" change.
  • Among other outcomes, Link Tank raised grant funding for and commissioned a white paper called The Augmented Social Network (see Acknowledgements) which was widely regarded as a significant step forward in envisioning the use of social networks for public benefit.
  • In 2002, Link Tank commissioned a very early social networking system that pre-cursed the emergence of such systems as LinkedIn, Friendster, MySpace, etc.
  • Spinoff projects include Media Venture Collective (see below), and the Interra Project.
Miscellaneous
  • The Media Consortium - member, and recognized tech expert, of a network of progressive, independent media producers and distributors, including Mother Jones, Air America, Alternet, Ms. Magazine, Link TV, Grist, and many more.
  • San Francisco State University's Institute for Next Generation Internet - help develop strategies for international collaboration, distance learning, new distribution technologies etc.
  • Mayor Gavin Newsom's Digital Media Advisory Council - helping develop a unifying vision and strategy for the city's digital media initiatives.
  • Jon Peddie Research - Senior Analyst focusing on entertainment issues such as game development, 3D animation, etc.

ADVANCED COMPUTER ANIMATION

1983-2000
Overall credits include:
  • Duke2000, a campaign with Garry Trudeau to get his Ambassador Duke character elected president, including a full hour on Larry King Live and a debate with Bush and Gore (2000);
  • Moxy, emcee for the Cartoon Network, the first virtual character for television (1995);
  • Mike the Talking Head, the first live performance of a virtual character, at the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theatre (1988);
  • collaboration with Jim Henson on the first digital puppet, marrying Henson's "Waldo" controls normally used for physical puppets to a real-time computer character (1985);
  • Floops, the first Web episodic cartoon (1997);
  • Peter Gabriel's Grammy award- winning video, Steam (1993);
  • "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera", the first computer-generated ride film (1989);
  • "Journey to the Fourth Dimension", the first sterescopic ride film (1990);
  • "Robocop - the Ride", Imax ride film for Iwerks Entertainment;
  • feature films "The Last Starfighter" (1984), "2010" (1985), "Jetsons: the Movie (1989)", "Robocop 2 (1988)";
  • "Virtual Bill" Clinton, on MTV (1998-99);
  • "Squeezils", flying squirrel simulator game for Inscape (1994-95);
  • and numerous television shows on PBS, Disney, TechTV, etc.
Protozoa/Dotcomix
November 1994 - November 2000
  • Founder and CEO - Raised startup funding of $2M from Motorola New Ventures to spin off the Digital Media division of Colossal Pictures (see below).
  • Protozoa was a leading developer and user of real-time 3D character animation systems. It produced over 24 hours of televised animation for MTV, Disney, ZDTV (now TechTV), and numerous others. Its $80,000 flagship product Alive had licensees in Germany, Holland, South Africa, Japan, and the United States, including MTV and ZDTV.
  • The company's launch coincided with the rise of the Internet, and real-time character made a compelling web opportunity, leading to a subsidiary company, Dotcomix, which produced more original animation for the web than any other company, approximately 1 minute per day for eighteen months.
  • Additional investors including Intel, Hearst Communications, Rogers Communications, Allegis Capital, and others.
  • The company was sold in late 2000 to Dreamtime, another Internet startup that promptly went out of business.
Colossal Pictures
September 1992 - November 1994
  • Board member and Director of Digital Media - joined Colossal, the leading San Francisco animation company for two decades, to start up a digital media division, to replace their previous co-production relationship with Pixar, which had recently shifted over to producing features with Disney.
  • grew the department to 30+ people, producing all forms of digital media, including:
    • Cartoon Network's launch character Moxy;
    • music video for Peter Gabriel's "Steam", which one the music video Grammy in 1993
    • Robocop the Ride in Imax for Iwerks;
    • two Living BookCD-ROMs for Broderbund;
    • numerous commercials and music videos; and
    • several early interactive television interface designs including the Full Service Network for TimeWarner/SGI, and First Person, the precursor to Java
  • spun off Protozoa in 1994.
deGraf Associates
January 1991 - September 1992
  • Independent 3D software developer - developed a second-generation real-time character animation system, Alive, based on lessons learned from previous implementations with Henson and deGraf/Wahrman (see below)
  • Licensed Alive to Walt Disney Imagineering
  • Under contract with Silicon Graphics (SGI), prototyped an "Electric Atlas", a precursor to Google Earth, that unfortunately required a $100,000 computer at the time.
  • consulted with Sony on the formation of Imageworks, its digital effects division, and with Colossal Pictures
  • Motion-capture for Blue-Sky Studio's "Spaceboy in Sky-high Scramble"
  • Licensed Alive to Colossal Pictures as part of employment contract (see above)
deGraf/Wahrman
Spring 1988 - Late 1990
  • Co-founder, President, and Head of Production - designed and developed Perform, the first real-time character animation system
  • 1988 - "Mike the Talking Head", the first live performance of a computer character, at the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theatre in 1988
  • 1989 - Produced the villain character in "Robocop 2"
  • 1990 - More than five minutes of animation in "Jetsons: the Movie" from Hanna-Barbera
  • 1990 - Produced three state-of-the-art ride films for Universal Studios Florida and Landmark Entertainment, the first use of computer animation, and of stereoscopic computer animation in theme parks
  • 1989 - Digital puppets for "The Warrior Ant" at Brooklyn Academy of Music, for Lee Breuer and Mabou Mines
  • 1989 - Live performance opening the second TED Conference
Digital Productions
Spring 1983 - Late 1987
  • Head of Technical Direction - managed a department of over 30 artists and technicians
  • oversaw production of more than 20 minutes of finished animation for "The Last Starfighter", using a Cray XMP supercomputer
  • co-directed "Plan 3D from Outer Space", a stereoscopic expo film for Hitachi's pavilion at Expo '85 in Tsukuba, Japan
  • Animated the new AT&T "death star" logo, directed by its designer, the great Saul Bass. That animation was in regular use for over ten years.
  • Highlighted in US News and World Report in article on "Jobs of the Future".
Science Application Inc. (SAIC)
Spring 1979 - Spring 1983
  • Graphics Programmer - engineered interactive training systems and digital mapping applications for the US Army National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA, and produced graphics for the company's annual reports.

LOGOS and FURNITURE

Logo Design
    designed numerous highly regarded logos
         
    Protozoa ROVR Signal Hill Anywhere Books Bloobot
Custom Furniture Design and Creation
1974 - 1979
  • designed and built one-of-a-kind sculptural furniture on spec and on commission.
  • patented a chair design
  • examples:

SKILLS

Business
  • All aspects of jumpstarting, running, positioning adventurous ventures
  • Business Plans
  • Financial Models
  • Financing and Fundraising
  • Road Shows
  • Vision and Leadership
  • A great Rolodex
Technical
  • somewhat over-the-hill former hotshot but acquisitive of new programming skills, especially web-native
  • Ruby, Python, PhP, Javascript, Java, Plone
  • HTML, CSS
  • JSON, XML, AJAX
  • *SQL
  • Salesforce.com and other CRM

EDUCATION

  • 1971-72 - Princeton University undergraduate, concentrating on Architecture
  • 1977-79 - Virginia Commonwealth University, Sculpture and Craft major
  • 1979-81 - UC San Diego, Mathematics, BA
  • fluent in French and Spanish

EXHIBITION

In progress, not complete.
  • 1983 - SIGGRAPH Art Show, exhibition poster image
  • 1985 - "Plan 3D from Outer Space", stereoscopic short film for Hitachi Pavilion, Expo '85 in Tsukuba, Japan
  • 1989 - Art Futura, "Paz", live host character
  • 1989 - Ars Electronica, "Xen", 60-minute stereoscopic film directed by artist Tom Shannon, performed with live concert by Jon Hassell
  • 1989 - "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera", first computer-generated ride film, for Universal Studios Florida
  • 1990 - "Journey to the Fourth Dimension", stereoscopic 70mm ride film for Landmark Entertainment, Sanrio Puroland, Japan
  • 1991 - "Journey to Inner Space", stereoscopic 70mm ride film for Landmark Entertainment, Sanrio theme park, Oita, Japan
  • 1992 - Spanish Pavilion at the World's Fair in Sevilla, Spain - virtual tour guide "Roscoe"
  • 1993 - "Robocop - the ride", Imax ride film for Iwerks Entertainment
  • SIGGRAPH Electronic Theatre - annual showcase of the best of computer graphics
    • 1984 - Digital Productions portfolio reel
    • 1985 - "Last Starfighter" - excerpts
    • 1985 - Special stereoscopic screening room for Hitachi Expo film
    • 1986 - Digital Productions portfolio reel
    • 1987 - TRW "Head" - commercial
    • 1988 - "Mike the Talking Head" - first-ever live performance of a computer character
    • 1989 - "Robocop 2" - excerpts
    • 1990 - "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera" - 70mm ride film in its entirety
    • 1991 - "Journey to the Fourth Dimension" - 70mm ride film in its entirety
    • 1992 - Spaceboy in "Sky-high Scramble" - motion-capture for Blue Sky Studios
    • 1993 - Making of "Moxy" for the Cartoon Network
    • 1994 - "Moxy" - Season 1 for the Cartoon Network
    • 1994 - Peter Gabriel's "Steam" - Grammy for Short Form Music Video
    • 1995 - "Moxy" - Season 2 for the Cartoon Network
    • 1996 - The Worm and Fred in "Chocolate" - short film
    • 1997 - "Conscience" - short film
    • 1997 - "Driftwood", "Floops", etc. - VRML web-3D skits
    • 1998 - "Virtual Bill" - MTV shorts
    • 2000 - "Duke 2000" - live on Larry King Live
    • 2001 - "Elmo's World" - excerpts of digital puppets on PBS show

PUBLICATIONS

About:
  • 1979 - Fine Woodworking "Biennial Design Book 2" - rocking chair
  • 1984 - "Creative Computer Graphics", Morton and Jankel, two full-page photos
  • 1985 - US News and World Report, Dec. 23, "Jobs of the Future", interview and photo
  • 1998 - "Computer Graphics Stories", Cartoombria/Mattei, five photos
  • 1999 - Millimeter online about the BBC's Dog and Dinosaur show
  • 2000 - "People to Watch in Animation", article in Animation Magazine
  • 2000 - Wired (issue 8.08) on Duke 2000 - "The Revolution Will Be Satirized" - "an icon of 3D animation"
  • Wired and Animation World Network on digital puppetry
  • Wikipedia entry on digital puppetry
  • numerous articles on advanced character animation in Computer Graphics World
  • "A Brief History of Motion Capture for Computer Character Animation", paper by David Sturman
  • Google - computer graphics history degraf
  • The Newshour with Jim Lehrer - segment on Performance Animation
  • other too numerous to mention
Written by:

SPEAKING

in progress
  • 1989 - Siggraph - "Facial Animation"
  • 1991 - Art Futura - "Characters in Virtual Reality"
  • 1997 - Siggraph - "Narrative Environments: Virtual Reality as a Storytelling Medium"
  • 1998 - National Association of Broadcasters - "Real-time Characters for Television"
  • 2002 and 2004 - Planetwork - "Alternative Financing Strategies for Social Change"
  • numerous others ...

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