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Born in Milan, Italy, he moved to the U.S. in order to study animation at Ringling College of Art and Design. After a brief experience in Pixar and Dreamworks he graduated and started working at Blue Sky Animation Studios where he currently helps making movies. He is often found doodling or otherwise painting.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

*SCAM* Adam and Antony Murphy's Imaginears *SCAM*


It has come to my attention that two Scottish individuals, Adam and Antony Murphy, who own a business called "Imaginears Animation Studio" are going around pitching a short film idea and designs that I am responsible for.

This blog post was originally made on 10/26/13 and since then I created a blog specifically designed for hosting the information contained in this article as well as future developments.
http://imaginearsanimationscam.wordpress.com

They have setup a website with the intention to crowd-fund a short film (Steampunk AL) using my original art and storyboards.
(The website has been taken down as of 11/13/13)

http://steampunkal.com/



Above: My original artwork as it appears behind Adam and Antony Murphy on their fundraiser video.
Hi-res images of my original artwork are at the bottom of this page.


They contacted me initially about a year and a half ago, asking me for both technical and artistic advice and I mentored them and gave them informal advice for months on end *at no cost.*

Above: Notice they introduced themselves under a different last name "wormy" as opposed to "murphy".

Above: They asked about my personal projects and to send over my drawings.



I continued to mentor them on their commercial and personal projects *at no cost* and share with them information about my own personal projects and art until they scammed me.

They sold me what turned out to be a faulty machine that they received as down-payment for a commercial project they never completed and they promised me that they would use the money to buy me a software license that I could use to make tutorials and assist them in their learning process, but instead bought themselves an extra software license.

The machine I was sold was a so called "render node" a stripped down version of a desktop meant to be used as part of a render farm *NOT* for graphics/interactive work.
In order to turn the machine into a workstation I had to spend an additional $1500, once again out of my own pocket.



Above: They used my money to purchase a license for themselves.


I told them to not contact me ever again and to not associate themselves with me (as they were namedropping me in order to win clients over)

Recently I discovered that they took  my designs and story ideas and without my knowledge nor consent, contacted a bunch of artists and companies and asked them to collaborate on a short film that they are currently trying to crowd-fund:

 (The website has been taken down as of 11/13/13)

http://steampunkal.com/

In their fundraiser video for Steampunk AL they appear in front of prints of my original artwork:

Above: My original artwork as it appears behind Adam and Antony Murphy on their fundraiser video.


I contacted a previous client of theirs in order to get a better understanding of the scope of the scam.

Above: E-mail from a previous client of Imaginears who got scammed as well.



They seem to be comfortable ripping off artists and animation studios.
Their website appears to be a ripoff from Pixar's.

http://www.imaginears.co.uk/

Above: Pixar's home page VS imaginears homepage.
Notice that the similarities are down to the font.


Below you can see a comparison of my original character design sketches, which I posted online about a year ago, Imaginears design, and Russell from Pixar's "UP".

Above: my original design.
Above: Imaginears design.
Above: Russell, from Pixar's "UP".

Below you can see a comparison of  Pixar's "Burn-e" main character and Imaginears design for the commercial I was mentoring them for, which was never completed.

Above: Burn-e from Pixar's "Burn-e".

Above: Imaginears design.


They were able to get artists (among which some of my friends who were unaware of the scam) paint the design above, model, rig and animate an animation test of the main character and were planning on going live with a kickstarter, with the goal to finance and produce the short film.

After i successfully contacted their associates and got them to withdraw from the project and remove their association with Imaginears, Adam and Antony contacted me and offered me a deal.

Above: Adam and Antony's offer.

Above: my reply.



Recently they updated their linkedin page and used it to call me fraudulent.

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=172290456

They also appear to have bought two certificates of copyright on October 28th 2013.
For those not familiar with copyright, those belong to the original creator of the art and they can only be sold by that person to anyone else (usually through a contract).
I haven't sold any copyrights to anyone and still own all copyrights to my art.




Above: Adam and Antony's linkedin, which features two certificate of copyrights.


They recently created a blog with the intent to defame me but within hours from going live the blog was taken down.
I took a snapshot of it, and the blog is still available here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20131106063613/http://imaginearsanim.blogspot.com/2013/11/innocent-until-proven-otherwise.html


Because of this, I decided to put online the rough boards for my short film and re-post my original designs from about a year ago in order to be able to prove ownership of the designs and the idea.

I plan on refining the boards as time goes by, but in the meantime, the urgency of the situation prompted me to go ahead an put it live.


https://vimeo.com/77870173














30 comments:

Don Flores said...

That sucks! sorry that you have to go through that, your design sketches are great though!

James C Trujillo said...

Geez, these guys really got a pair, but apparently no brains. I hope this doesn't discourage you from helping real struggling artists with integrity.

Francesco Giroldini said...

I never turned anyone down! Anyone is always welcome to ask me questions!

Guz said...

SoBs! You were really cool to provide mentoring for them. And those idiots took advantage of that in the most possible negative way.

Gerland said...

Heared from them since?

That stuff just pisses me off..

Gerland said...

Heared from them since?

This stuff just pisses me off...

your sketches are awesome though

Scaloso said...

Gosh !!!! this things really happen unfortunately ,bellissimi concept comunque !!!

Gabriel Cuesta said...

Really pathetic. Sorry to hear that these set of events occurred Francesco. Hopefully, this mess will get resolved.

Ryan D. said...

Thats a shame Francesco, im sorry. Good thing is that im sure this story will spread and chances of them getting a real job in the industry will be close to nothing. Hopefully things turn around for you with this. Goodluck and keep us posted.

Shiben Bhattacharjee said...

This situation really sux man and I really like how you replied and did not give in. I am a fan of you now! :D

Frankie Stellato said...

Great designs man! These guys are quickly going to realize that stealing ideas is NOT a good way to go.

Aleks said...

Wow. Going through a similar thing with someone else. Trademark disputes take forever.

Aleks said...

Sorry you're goint through this. I know what it's like to have your work stolen and someone else calling it their own.

Trademark disputes draw out. Be ready.

William Vaughan said...

Sorry to hear about your experience although its quite common. Good for you for the way you handled it... I wish you success of your project.

William Vaughan said...

I think you handled this brilliantly... sad that people take advantage of artists especially after you were so open and helpful. Good luck with your project... looks amazing!

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear man, great work by the way.

Ant Grisham said...

Even the name of the company is unoriginal... Imagineers = imaginears but why ears? do they specialize in sound? Or they just wanted to fool people in thinking they're part of disney...

Lily Williams said...

Keep posting updates! Good luck to you!

Sari Rodrig said...

Wow, I'm so sorry you went through this. Know you are an amazing artist, and this will work out for you ultimately in the end.

Sari Rodrig said...

wow ,so sorry this happened to you! Just know you are an amazing artist, and everything will work out in the end. Looking forward to your short film.

Tingting Li said...

Wow that's incredible. How did they think they'd get away with doing something like that?! I don't understand D:

Jodie said...

Well they will soon find out that the animation community is a small one. Can't burn bridges here. I thinking you are handling this with integrity and taking the high road. I hope for a quick and justified resolution to this mess for you!

Jacqui Clark ART said...

Not sure how they can sleep at night. It can take a lifetime to develop the creativity and style an artist has and should be credited as such. When you stand up for your work as you have you stand up for artists and creatives everywhere x

Jesse Pohlman said...

So, here's the upside: You art is really good. But, you already knew that.

Here's the down: I don't know what your local copyright laws are, but if you created these images in concert with helping them generate ideas for a product, does that cover their literal re-use? Obviously these two guys come off as clowns who used "asking for help" as a way to get initial sketches for their eventual works, but that's sort of what you offered. On the other hand, you -do- mention something you are currently working on. If this is that, and you clearly claimed it was your project, then you probably have some working room.

It's obviously ripoffish in appearance, rather than inspiring a new generation of content, but since you provided this art in a manner that was originally designed to help them...Can you really hold them accountable? At the very least, can you really cut their production? I'm not sure. This is why, while I'm always willing to help other writers out, I don't tend to give them fully-developed passages of mine to work with if I don't already have them reserved somehow.

Good luck, dude. I'm sure you've already damaged them in other ways, such as getting your friends out of there before they became the next victims. I just hope you can shut them down for good, and maybe use the buzz you've generated to turn around some help for your own work?


My warmest regards,
--Jesse Pohlman

The Mir said...

Jesse, he didn't give them the drawings for them to start of with, he gave them because they asked for them in a disguise of honest interest in his work. That's not a new way of gathering drawings, that is still theft. They never asked permission to use his drawings. If this way of doing is okay than it would also be okay to just pluck sketches illustrators or other artists post on the internet and later say "Oh but it was just a sketch, you shared your idea!"

Hammy said...

Just caught this news recently, not sure how I missed it until now. Is there anything we can do to help?

Wishing you all the best, it really sucks when you took your time out for these people and they turned it around against you. They do not deserve your time and attention at all in the first place and are just wannabes. I hope you win this.

-Ting

Francesco Giroldini said...

Hi Hammy
Thanks for your support, please share the URL to these blog posts!
That's all I can ask for!
Thanks!

Ztoical said...

Not sure if you've seen it as it's not mentioned in your post but they have a vimeo account https://vimeo.com/user21331630 where they've posted the storyboard which I assume is all your art!

Harry Rayhouse said...

Man, this really sucks. But everyone in the field has to experience this kind of bullshit sooner or later... Unfortunately.

Harry Rayhouse said...

Man, this really sucks. But unfortunately everyone in the field has to go through this kind of bullshit sooner or later...