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Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor

Mike Tash hasn’t slept too often in the last two weeks. He’ll get the odd hour or two nap on his apartment’s couch from time to time but for the most part, Tash, whose blonde hair is commonly spiked cleanly with gel, is parked in front of his computer screen, only getting up for bathroom breaks and food. While working around the clock, the stocky Tash will occasionally log his progress on his Facebook like a despondent, drunk Mark Zuckerberg.

fast approaching another 24 hour regiment. lol i kind of know what crunch time feels like. my bed thinks im cheating on it with my couch or my computer chair, my sink thinks ive abandoned all my hopes off caffine aid to it, and my computer feels like a 50 year old hooker…. lol onward to the 5th!

-Posted October 27, 3:26 a.m.

Two weeks ago, Tash was contacted by Marcus Pro Group, an event planner based out of Fort Lauderdale, FL that needed the expertise of a video editor and 3D graphics animator to help put together a video for the 55th anniversary of Florida’s renowned Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour, as seen on Food Network and ‘Good Morning America.’

The problem is the project should be a month long effort, not something crammed into two weeks.

“It’s called crunch time,” Tash says, explaining his long hours without sleep. “When you sign a contract with a company, they make you sign a section of the contract that says ‘I will not sue or do anything against the company during crunch time hours.’ And I also give up my right of overtimes during crunch time. If you don’t sign that part, you don’t get the job.”

The parlour’s founder, Monroe Udell, feels as though he won’t make it to the establishment’s 60th anniversary so within two weeks, Tash has already created a character to keep his spirit alive. The designer’s creation is already set to be trademarked and turned into various types of merchandise.

“My first professional piece of work,” Tash says. “I haven’t even graduated yet.”

Twenty-one year old Mike Tash still has a quarter left to go at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale but what might be more surprising is that he’s looking at all of this as a stepping stone to his real dream: game design.

“That’s still the goal,” Tash says. “But it doesn’t hurt to have a character and an animation tied to that character trademarked by a few companies.”

“I remember the exact title,” Tash says as he drums up the name of the game that motivated the then 14-year old to seriously think about a career in video games: “Prince of Persia: Warrior Within.”

And of all places for a video game to inspire a person, it was during the credits that Tash had his epiphany.

“Some of the people who worked on the game, at the end of the game in the credits, they actually had them talk about what it was like making the game,” Tash recalls. “They were all speaking French, so you couldn’t understand, you had to read the subtitles but it was just the way that the guy looked when he’s talking about making a game. And I was like ‘Damn, I wanna be like that one day. I wanna sit there; I want to get interviewed about making a game so that I can inspire other people.’”

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

As the New Jersey-native entered Glassboro High School, the artistic Tash got involved in simple flash animations with his friends to complete his larger school projects. He’d make a cartoon for French class then have stick figures battle each other with elements copped from the periodic table in Chemistry. “I look back at them now and they’re shitty as hell but back then they were fun as hell so it doesn’t matter, we had a good time making them,” Tash says.

“He showed a lot of proficiency with them and he definitely showed an interest for it with playing video games and whatnot,” says Mel Sapiandante, a longtime friend and former classmate of Tash who currently attends Rowan University. Sapiandante helped Tash with some of his videos and even did voices in them. “You could really just factor in all of his qualities and dedication and not be surprised at his success”

“I was impressed by the time and dedication he put into our project,” says another former classmate and current University of Penn student, Kevin Xu. “I recall that he was already sure of what he wanted to do – to go into the game industry. For him I think a career in gaming made a lot of sense because he had the belief and dedication to make it happen.”

I FUCKING HATE AFTER EFFECTS!!!!!!! why is it the the frigan program will work great for you the whole time your working for 24 hours straight and then as soon as you start thinking hmmm getting close to the time i see… after effects decides to stop working! like seriously, crash everytime i import a file??? i have been importing all night! there is no reason why now i cant! and even after a full shut down and everything!!!!!!!!!!!

-Posted October 27, 11:38 a.m.

Crunch time is expected in the field Tash hopes to pursue, but along with it comes constant innovation and a need to stay on top of the newest adaptations in technology and the ever-changing and ever-growing industry.

“Along with an IV drip that has caffeine in it, you definitely need IGN and some of the industry news constantly feeding into you because if not, you can get outdated quick,” Tash says.

well it looks like im not going to class………………………………………………….

-Posted October 27, 12:22 p.m.

Tash recalls a time when he created minute long videos over the course of a month and he still got no sleep. While he continually designs the video, his employer is constantly fitting the next piece: “We need to change this, that looks good, we need to change this, can you put this in there?”Over the course of the two weeks, Tash has had to cut up and splice video together, import his animations into the clips, get feedback from the company and then constantly update the newest iterations. “For the last 48 hours, it’s been nothing but render the video, watch it through several times, pick out everything that needs to be changed, render, change, render, change, render, change,” Tash says.

stuck in a frigan twilight zone where im too tired to do anything, no sleep in two days,.. but if i go to sleep i will wake up at 3 in the morning and that will not be good…

-Posted October 27, 6:31 p.m.

In just a few days, crunch time will end for Tash as the video he has painstakingly put together in a mere two weeks will be completed. But for the 21-year old, this is just a warm-up level, simply another quest to jot down in his journal as he draws closer to the big bad boss battle at the end of the road. And just like the many frustrating and daunting challenges found in the games he cherishes and aspires to be a part of, Tash is happy to take on this journey head on.

sooo did i ever mention i love every aspect of what i do? no?…. well i do!

-October 22nd, 11:45 a.m.

Edit: Currently, Mike Tash is in the midst of starting his own CG business.