About a month later, Adam e-mailed me again and mentioned for the first time his twin brother Antony and their animation studio: Imaginears Animation Studio. He asked me for more advice on lighting and rendering for their character animation, which I gladly provided at no cost.
About three months later Antony Murphy sent me an e-mail from Adam‘s account asking me for lighting advice and he attached a render that featured the character from their animation project, which turned out to be a commercial project, commissioned by a UK hardware company specialized in workstations.
The render of the character that was attached to the e-mail and that was intended to appear in their commercial project, bore a striking resemblance to Pixar‘s character from the short film BURN-E, not simply in terms of overall design but also in terms of graphic design and palette.
I provided Adam and Antony Murphy with a lengthy critique to their character lighting and an even longer critique to their design, in an attempt to persuade them to deviate from it, as it too closely resembled Pixar’s BURN-E character. I also offered to do some explorations as they previously claimed they could only draw stick men.
Several months went by and I continued to provide them with informal advice, created tutorials to teach them about lighting, critiqued their work, performed draw-overs of their designs and taught them principles of design and film-making.
All of this for FREE and under no formal obligation.
On August of 2012, after I informed them that I could only help them so much, given the hardware limitations of my laptop, Adam e-mailed me and offered to sell me what he referred to as a “Brand New Workstation“.
The very next day Adam contacted me and sweetened the deal by offering to purchase a Renderman Studio license for me (valued at $ 1,300), if I agreed to purchase his workstation.
In a following e-mail, Adam told me that the cost for the workstation would be $2,350 and once again, reminded me that that money would be used to get me a Renderman Studio License.
In late August of 2012 the payment for the workstation went through and Adam told me he would get me the Renderman Studio license he had previously promised me.
In early November of 2012, as production on Dreamworks “Rise of the Guardians” winded down and I was finally able to unpack the workstation and install the Renderman License, I discovered that something was off and immediately alerted Adam and Antony Murphy.
They had lied to me about the specs of the workstation, which instead of featuring an Nvidia Quadro as they had previously promised, featured an ATI , a graphic card unsupported by most CG software and prone to crashing.
On November 21st, after continued failures for the workstation to perform, Adam and Antony Murphy mentioned for the first time that the Renderman Studio license had actually been purchased under their name and that Pixar could take it back from me.
This was almost three months after I had purchased the workstation from them, and at no point prior to November 21st, they had ever mentioned that the license would only essentially be leased to me.
A week later, Adam and Antony Murphy contacted me and asked me to uninstall the Renderman Studio license from my computer, so that they could use it for “extra render power”.
At this point I had no doubt that I had been scammed by the twins, as I had paid them $2,350 for a machine that was falsely advertised as a discounted workstation (Adam referred to it as a “huge saving”), while they actually sold it to me at full retail price and on top of that, they had actually never paid for it, since it was received as payment for their commercial project. The money which I thought went to get me a Renderman Studio license (valued at $1,300) actually purchased the twins an extra Renderman Studio license.
I spent 8 months giving Adam and Antony Murphy free informal advice and mentorship, in order to be scammed by them, in cold blood.
I eventually moved on and put the scam behind me and in March of 2013 I paid $1,600 in order to turn the render node into a proper workstation and replace the malfunctioning graphic card with a Nvidia Quadro.
In October of 2013, in an attempt to mentor some friends of mine back in college, I tried to use the Renderman Studio license that was purchased for me by Adam and Antony Murphy. To my surprise I found out through the sales associate that Adam and Antony Murphy had transferred the license back onto themselves without notifying me.
I created a draft for a new e-mail and typed-in Adam‘s name as the recipient and realized his avatar was a painted rendition of one of my designs from 10/10/12. I immediately contacted him and told him that he had no right to copy, distribute or claim ownership for any of my work.
I received no response from Adam and Antony Murphy, and in an attempt to get a 2nd opinion on the situation, I e-mailed a former classmate of mine asking him for advice on what I should do. To my surprise I found out that this dear friend of mine had been working for them for some time and had just completed an animation test for them, which to this day appears on Imaginears Animation Studio’s Vimeo Page.
He had not been informed by Adam and Antony Murphy that the artwork he had been provided with belonged to me. Moreover, he told me that the twins were planning to go live with a kickstarter campaign in order to crowd-fund a $250,000 short film, based off of storyboards that I had shared with them over a year before.
Below: a comparison between my original drawings, (which I posted on Facebook, Instagram and on my blog on 10/18/2012) and Adam and Antony Murphy‘s design, derived from my sketches and produced by a paid contractor in 2013.
On 10/25/13, after I contacted Adam and Antony Murphy‘s associates and convinced them to withdraw their support to Imaginears Animation Studio’s kickstarter campaign, Adam and Antony Murphy finally contacted me and offered me a deal, which I promptly refused:
They offered credit for the original story and monetary compensation as long as I would stop interfering with their crowd-funding efforts.
The following e-mail proves:
*That no contract had previously been signed, that would assign them copyrights to my art. If I did sign anything waiving my copyrights away, they wouldn’t have needed to credit me.
*That no contract had previously been signed that would include compensation for my work, otherwise they wouldn’t have had a reason to offer me any more money.
*That they failed to credit me as the original creator for the story and artwork when they initially approached their associates asking them to collaborate.
*That their claims that I was a contractor who produced the artwork as work-for-hire were false and made up specifically with the intent to convince their associates that I was a lunatic.
Shortly after I refused their deal, they setup a now-defunct blog with the intent to defame me which is still available for anyone to read here:
On their blog, they claimed that I was a former employee of Imaginears Animation Studio and that I had to be let go due to my abusive comments, yet they failed to provide evidence of such a contract or of such termination notice. They accused me of purposely omitting evidence that I was working for them, and yet they couldn’t provide any themselves, at any point, ever.
They at times referred to me as an employee, sometimes as a contractor/freelancer and at times as a consultant. The variety of terms they used to describe my relationship with them is indicative of the lack of a contract or of an agreement between us and goes to show that I never signed or agreed to give up copyrights to my work.
Shortly after, they updated their LinkedIn page and used it as a public platform to refer to me as “fraudulent” and asked for people to contact them by e-mail and offer them support.
On that same day, Adam and Antony Murphy made similar claims in a personal e-mail they sent me, saying that I was working for them at the time and that they weren’t using any of my artwork.
I never signed any contract that would assign them copyrights to my art, I was never compensated for my work, nor I ever demanded to be. I agreed to their request to informally mentor them and they never received my permission to take my artwork and claim it as theirs, nor to use it to crowd-fund a short film. In regards to their claim that they aren’t using any of my artwork, I have clear evidence that they are, as it appears right behind them in their crowd-funding video.
I also have evidence that the artwork they stole from me was not commissioned, nor expected of me under any formal agreement. Below is a conversation that took place between me and the twins in October of 2012, after my return to work from a two-weeks stay-at-home vacation where I devoted myself to produce personal work. My vacation culminated in a big blog post that contained a large amount of sketches that Adam and Antony Murphy later took without my knowledge or permission in order to promote their kickstarter campaign.
The original blog post with my original sketches is still available here:
On 01/22/14 I received a letter from a solicitor hired by Adam and Antony Murphy, claiming that Imaginears Animation Studio reputation suffered significant damage as a consequence to my “campaign of defamation” and demanding $250,000 in damages in order to offset the losses from their failed kickstarter campaign. I contacted kickstarter and inquired about the alleged $250,000 campaign and found out from a representative that Adam and Antony Murphy‘s campaign was never submitted for review, and never at any point had been live.
This makes Adam and Antony Murphy‘s claims that I was solely responsible for their kickstarter failure void, as their kickstarter was never submitted for review in the first place, therefore I cannot be held accountable for its failure.
In regards to my role in damaging Imaginears Animation Studio “excellent reputation” I argue that they never enjoyed a good reputation in the first place and that any damage has been self-inflicted and due to their repeated misconduct regarding copyright infringement.
Their company name is borrowed from Walt Disney’s Imagineering and their logo borrows the font and the cloud in the background from Disney Pixar’s Toy Story‘s franchise.
Imaginears Animation Studio‘s logo bears a very close resemblance to Andy’s room wallpaper cloud, a very recognizable element that appears repeatedly throughout Pixar’s Toy Story movies
Even the company statement that appears on their LinkedIn page: “Dream like a child, Believe in your playmates, Dare to jump in the water and make waves, Do unleash your childlike potential, Making a Dent in the Universe!” is a blatant ripoff of Bill Capodagli and Steve Jobs.
According to their LinkedIn, Adam and Antony Murphy graduated college three years ago (2011) and yet to this day they aren’t credited with anything and don’t appear to have any working experience relative to the CG industry. Before their accounts on CG-talk, CG-hub and CG-architects were shut down they showcased no professional work.
Their now-defunct CG-hub page, featured characters from Pixar’s Toy Story 3 in the background, which seems dishonest as they failed to credit Pixar for their work:
Their now-defunct website, used to feature striking similarities to Pixar’s, from the general layout of the page, all the way down the font choice:
Their YouTube channel doesn’t seem to contain any professional work, only tests (they removed all their movies as of 02/20/14:
One of their movies strikes a similarity to a Digital-Tutors fluid simulation tutorial yet fails to credit Digital Tutors for the original content.
Their first and only client, which as far as I am aware of, was also their last, was the workstation business that Adam and Antony Murphy were working for when they first contacted me about two years ago asking me for lighting advice.
I contacted the business and asked about their experience working with Adam and Antony Murphy and they referred to it as a “total nightmare”.
Another person, who used to work for the same workstation company, described his experience dealing with Adam and Antony Murphy in detail.
In conclusion it seems that Adam and Antony Murphy‘s reputation was not hard-earned and that their claims of irreversible damage are only traceable to their repeated misconduct regarding copyright infringement towards but not exclusively me, Pixar and Digital Tutors.
In regards to the possibility that Adam and Antony Murphy could be responsible for my artwork, I still own all the original sketchbooks that contain the drawings they used to promote their crowd-funding campaigns and several hundreds more undisclosed ones, that I created over the course of almost two years. Altogether the massive amount of work in my possession, the distinct style of those pictures and the two years long electronic trail of work that I posted online regarding this project clearly demonstrates that I am solely responsible for both the art and story for my short film.
Further evidence that Adam and Antony Murphy would have never been able to produce the images they claim responsibility for due to their lack of draftsmanship, is a copy of a drawing assignment I gave them on 10/02/1012, two weeks prior to my sketches appearing on my blog post.
The title of the assignment I gave them was “Red Riding Hood”.
Thank you for taking your time to read trough all of the information contained on this blog.
Feel free to share the story! Take care!
— Francesco Giroldini (@FGiroldini) February 19, 2014