Sunday, September 30, 2007

First Month Report

Wow, it really has been one full month since I really moved into Valencia. Certainly doesn't feel like it. Cal Arts is a pro for taking away any sense of time....the classes are so intense that time just slips by(though the classes are not overwhelming, and I'm enjoying every second of the majority of my classes.) After one month I thought I'd post a little look back kind of entry, you're more then welcome to next post will have a dorkfish so plan for that one, it's hilariously ugly in design(as I'm sure you saw) but the animation itself is pulling off the "fish feel" pretty well. My fellow classmates are VERY entertained by how thick the pile of animation paper is quickly growing(go back to the picture of the pile of animation paper I used for the roller coaster and multiply that by about three....and I'm only roughly 85% done!)

Dorm living is alright....aside from the random massive ant attack that took place about 20 minutes ago(a jar of tightly twisted shut peanut butter was the culprit.) it has been normal. Suite mates still obsessively use the shower and I'm starting to find that I'm spending more time in my cube then here in my dorm.
Classes: Going swell, I have 3 favorite classes that are hard to rank really, but if I had to:
Traditional Animation: Just keeps topping itself! I'm VERY fond of using paper and pencil now. Flash and Maya are going to be a hard adjustment whenever I animate in those programs(Flash in particular). I can officially say that I've learned the multi-paper flipping trick to test my animation without any need of a machine. Otherwise, the teacher is wonderful and every class I learn something new. I'm finding my eye and brain are switching into full animation mode---it's fantastic, no problems there. Just got to watch how much animation terminology I say during a normal family phone call(I bet you're learning a lot too, huh, Mom! :P)
Story Development: Even though I'm far from the strongest storyboarder in the class, it's still one of my favorites. The teacher is once more VERY inspiring and I'm learning so much about the boarding process! Aside from traditional animation, this one has the most entertaining homework assignments. The only downside is it's running later and later into the night(we're lucky if we get out at 11:30 now), which wouldn't be a problem if I didn't have a 9 a.m. class....uggg. In the VERY near future we're going to be presenting storyboards that are over 60 panels long(that have no connection to our actual short films, which we'll be boarding and presenting at a later time). I don't want to know how late THAT class will run! The critiques are always pack full of information and constantly show how much I have to go before I'm a little more confident in my boards.
Basic Perspective: Still a great class, get to play around with character design(for fun, the teacher doesn't actually say "design a character" or anything, I'm just practicing) and integrating a fitting environment around them. From what the upperclassmen have told me, pretty soon the teacher will hopefully bring in original backgrounds he created for various movies(primarily Disney) so I'm eager for that! Also the teacher is fun the talk to, knows a lot about the industry and is eager to share his experiences with us.
Other classes: Just grouping these together.....3D animation isn't exactly any animation right now, we're still presenting our old artwork to the class(we haven't even finished the H's, and we have to go to K!)! It's approaching 4 weeks of classes and we've touched Maya for maybe 20 minutes and I'm not going into detail over the "lecture", but it involved a lot of interpolation and NO squash or stretch---I did get to present some of my animations from last spring, which went over pretty well. The students enjoyed Batty very much...the teacher, though, called him a compilation of stale poses that he's seen before *not that I'm bothered by this comment. It was kind of the point---he's an over dramatic theater bat!* My 3D animation and caricatures were a little more warmly received by him. Anyways, after seeing my 3D demo reel piece he said we'd be animating 3D flour sacks and such, so I'm holding onto that tiny glimmer of hope. Life drawing: It's a very fun class, the teacher emphasizes exaggeration over being anatomically correct and he comes up with some creative ideas on what to integrate into our drawings(like motorcycles, giant pictures of frogs, monkeys, etc.). Story for Animators: eh...not much to say. Lot of reading homework and the book itself is full of interesting aspects, but compared to my other story class----....yeah. Contemporary Literature: I have my first paper and it involves a 3 page analysis of one of the more uncomfortable moments in the book......and I just started the new book I have to finish in 2 weeks and while it has an interesting beginning, it suddenly(where I last left off) became very uncomfortable as well......but it's critical studies so not much to say except: I'm eager to be rid of the class. It's just valuable time I could be spending animating! Computer/Animation Production: I actually enjoy this class. The teacher knows a lot, and he covers topics that still involve animation, but not computers at all. He also shows us video clips demonstrating strong visual storytelling. So this class covers a lot of bases. Plus, we're required to know just about EVERY LAST keyboard shortcut on a MAC(he's giving us weekly quizzes on the subject!). He's a firm believer that you can do just about everything with only the use of the keyboard. I've started getting the hang of some of the simpler shortcuts and they are very useful.
Classmates: I know a lot of them check this blog out so I gotta be nice(totally kidding guys.). But really, they're a fantastic lot. Always running into someone I know and everybody is eager to give insightful feedback and are great resources for making an idea fantastic. =) Plus what other group can sing "Meatloaf" at the top of their lungs to the point where I(and everybody else) can hear every last word from clear across the department. ;) haha. Always something entertaining happening in the freshmen dominated area. Plus everyone is so talented, it's always inspiring(though intimidating when looking back at my own stuff) to see what someone else has done--- awesome artwork always posted on the walls and a constant feast for the eyes. =)
Misc. area I guess: Cal Arts is starting to feel a little less dream like, and the reality is sinking in that I really DO go here. That I really get to experience a guest lecture, animate in the same building that has held many legends, and have the once in a lifetime chance to dive head first into animation----and it's very invigorating and just fantastic. I do miss home and seeing my Oregon homies on a regular basis, but I still get to keep in contact with everyone and in 74 days(yes I have a countdown, and yeah that means I was a little homesick when I initially started it) it's Winter Break. Overall, I'm far from regretting my choice in coming to Cal Arts, I really enjoy being just so immersed in the animation world and it's only the beginning! Just wait to see what kind of stories I may have by the time winter break DOES roll around, and what kind of drawings and animation I might have created! I can already tell how much I'm improving, nowadays, I'm usually found with a pencil in my hand and a lap full of eraser shavings. :P

Well one month has passed and I'm still floored that I'm here. =) Alright I'm off to bed, got a lot to do this week! Over and out...

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Ready? Set? GO!!!

You know you're an animator when you look at this picture below and think: "OH MY GOD! LOOK AT THE ARC!"

And a quick video of one of the more exciting moments:

Alright time to go back to animating this little guy(already roughed in and lookin' pretty sweet! First animation in a while*since June* that I'm enjoying. :) )

Look Ma! A dorkfish!

Friday, September 28, 2007


Friday is here and with it came the guest lecture with Mark Andrews! Overall, it was astounding! He showed us storyboards, animatics, and other various panels to demonstrate what he was saying! Extremely inspiring and my head is overwhelmed with knowledge and until I took some Tylenol I had a lovely headache. ;) Anyways, here's the extremely detailed going to go over a few heads version(I took 15 PAGES of notes on a little notepad that is about as long as the distance from you finger tips to JUST beyond your wrist, about as wide as your palm.), I kept it pretty close to how I actually took notes so I'm sure I'm repeating myself and it is choppy, but hopefully the messages still come across. Also be forewarned it's long, but there's a fun reward at the end:

At first he gave a little background on himself, he was a student at Cal Arts from 1989-1993. During this time at school he was a die-hard animator, all he wanted to do was animation. Upon graduation he interned at Disney, but when they didn't hire him---he started in on the TV industry doing animation and then discovered the joys of story. It was around this time that he switched his interests from animation to story. At this point he pointed out that being involved in the storyboarding process means you work with animation, layout, editing, and ultimately in a small sense, the director. You must consider all of these elements when boarding, otherwise it goes no where. He also realized that the other departments only deal with key bits when it comes to developing a film. From here on out he went onto the elements of story:
Visually construct your story. The more specific you are equals a better storyboard. Details bring you into a story. He basically said in a far more entertaining way than I could EVER recreate, "Give the audience a reason to stay, NOT leave for the bathroom!" Overall, lock the audience in with golden shots. Try to tell the story with one image was a key point he brought up, he showed us several panels he randomly drew(not related to any movies I saw, though some did resemble Star Wars---kind of) and let us dissect the drawing and gather the information of the character, scene, mood, etc. just from one drawing. All of the information was in the one picture, no dialogue, explanations, etc. He also pointed out that ambush scenes are the best intense moments(95% of the examples shown involved ambush scenarios.)
Other key topics were, to keep it simple even when giving the audience new information, always relate it to the character. Story is about feeling for the characters. Milk a moment(like ambush), see the emotions, convey any struggle. Dynamic elements show difficulty. A point he brought across many times involved putting the audience in a character's place, no matter if that character is a villain or hero.
At this point he brought up how as humans we don't experience everything, that's why we go to movies, read books, etc. we want to live through other things. In this sense a storyboard(and movie) cannot be all about the beats(key points: First he did this, then he climbed this, and then he battled an orc!) it also has to be about the emotional attachment and bring the audience into the movie visually(Ratatouille is one GREAT example, of Point of View shots, various perspective, etc. that make you FEEL as if you are Remy running through the kitchen just about to be stepped on). Going about a movie intellectually only involves the beats of the movie, you've got to bring the visual key elements in(like HOW the castled looked as the hero enters or how many orcs he fought and how Pegasus managed to suddenly appear at the end to save the day). Through storytelling we can make the audience worry about the character, these concerns and emotional investments in characters are what make stories work.
He then emphasized character and broke this element down: Character comes down to choice. When you give a character a choice and ultimately what they actually decide on tells volumes about the character. Sayings like "I had no choice." are a script writers cop-out--DON'T do this. EVERYONE must make a choice at some point. How do you arrive at a choice????
CONFLICT: Conflict creates a way for the audience to relate and care about the character on an emotional level. It's always good to involve the character in several conflicts to create a defining choice.
After conflict he discussed how storytelling must be economic and only include essential elements. Camera is where it needs to be to convey the actions. Another point he talked about included the benefits of bouncing back and forth from being solely within the character(like point of view shots, etc.) to wide shots and pans, thus seeing things the character sees, emphasizing scenes where you are in that character's shoes, and also creating the mood of safe vs. unsafe(where you can see everything that's taking place, however the hero might not know that werewolf is just over that hill). Dramatic angles, low-shots, high-shots, the lighting, colors, etc. influence the audience and how they might feel while watching. Overall, build a scene through progression. However, it's very important that when first starting out in film and storyboarding to try these elements one at a time---this way you have experience with them and can establish the best point to use these techniques.
The best way to start storyboarding is to first start with the facts then move into making these facts more dynamic and full of variety. Mark Andrews was always saying how much he LOVED the challenge of storyboarding and how there are so many ways to portray the same story. How you can take an audience on a journey the otherwise couldn't go on----Story is the greatest teacher.

Here he went into a Q and A section and so I'll kind of pick my favorites though I did take down the entire thing:
I missed what the actual question was, however, I liked his answer so here's the answer:
Your job is to mess up-put it down on paper-mess up then analyze "what could make it better?" Whether shots or otherwise. Rough it out, put it up, tear it down. No One can hit it out of the ballpark on the first try.

A point he brought up during the Q&A was how when you go into a movie you don't know squat. Through exposition you receive information. You begin to think about what's going to happen next. Keep building to develop the character, throughout the movie process you discover what they're capable of.

Question: "If you could give advice to yourself while you were still a student at CalArts, what would it be?"
Answer: "This is your time. 99% of the time it's all you. Right now do the stories you want to do. Try stuff out, experiment, fall on your face and learn from your downfalls. You get to figure out how to tell a story within 2 minutes and somehow entice the audience with your short story. Do what you want to do. Outside of CalArts, it's all about timing and luck not always about the talent. When opportunity comes-grab it."

Question: "What's the best way to market a portfolio specifically geared at grabbing a job in a storyboard department?"
Answer: " Include storyboards---NO LIFE DRAWINGS or anything outside of storyboards(including character designs, animation reels, etc.) Give only 1 page for each idea. Include vignettes---anything to tell a story. He'll know on that very first page if there's a possibility with you, otherwise--onto the next portfolio. If it takes a lot to prove a story you've got nothing. Show variety, tackle cinematography, show how you approach lighting. Variety gets you further-don't include full film boards, just a specific sequence. Also these boards don't have to be the greatest drawings. It can be rough(not chicken scratch, enough to know what's going on) to polished as long as it reads. If a portfolio includes cross-hatching it's out the door, not a single Pixar story boarder cross-hatches on their storyboards. You've got to be fast and efficient."

Next one goes out to a certain animation class in Oregon:
Question: "Do you use reference?"
Answer: "All the time! Google images is my life-saver! Reference is my chief weapon! Hundreds of thousands of resources all at my finger-tips! USE IT!!!"

Question:"What do you do when you get stuck?"
Answer:"Move on, bounce around to other ideas. Work backwards, etc. This helps bring inspiration to the parts that are stuck. Don't stay idle! Doodling something completely different helps as well. Variety keeps you going."

I can't remember the question that brought up this point, but here's a section I thought is really beneficial to me:
Work on any production, good or REALLY bad, 300% .Even if the movie is terrible you will still improve and overall become a better artist. Don't lie around only doing the minimum to collect a paycheck. Learn from these productions and put your best foot forward and you'll be noticed.

Now I'll just kind of include some parts that I found interesting, but came shortly after the Q&A:
He described how whatever you show has an effect on a viewer. And proceeded to draw a "graph". Along the Y axis(north to south) he wrote "High Intensity<--------Low Intensity" then along the Z axis(West to East) "Story-Time------->" and then draw a curve to demonstrate the shape of a story and how a well balanced story escalates upwards from low intensity to high intensity at the climax and then resolves at the end at a low intensity again. Basically, as he put it, "Don't stick the audience right at the top of high intensity! It's like throwing the audience through the manipulator's gauntlet!" He also drew an identical character for points of emphasis concerning visuals and how if you start out again at high expectations, fall at the climax suddenly to low expectations and then end somewhere in the middle, you're veering towards a more experimental view and not a general film approach. It doesn't leave a good effect on the viewer basically.
He also listed several of his favorite films that demonstrate the following breakdown of telling a story:
1)Within a shot: one image with the elements playing against each other.
2) Shot to Shot: Board selected pieces to build intensity.
3) Sequence to Sequence: Follows the same above standards, I don't think he expanded on this part too much.

Anyways the movies:
Lawrence of Arabia, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Horseman of the Roof, The Professional, The Man who Would be King, Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Braveheart, The FIRST Matrix, Star Wars: A new Hope and also Empire Strikes Back, Usual Suspects, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Amadeus, and Tootsie. To name just a few.
He also highlighted a key sequence from Princess Mononoke:
When the main character is forced to leave the village at the beginning of the movie after being attacked by the demon boar---watch the background characters. As the character walks away the background people are prime examples of establishing a feeling and emphasizing visual details without ANY words.
He also talked about the different levels of story, regarding an audiences age level. These different levels offer different amounts of intensity. For example he used an experience with his 4 year old daughter, basically "If Gumby loses a shoe, she loses it. It still follows the graph, but to her and kids her age, this action is at the highest point of intensity!"
He also describe the change in the industry how live-action is becoming more animated while animation is slowly becoming more life-action in the sense of developing complex stories. Style ultimately dictates HOW the film will be made, whether animation or live-action it all depends on which will benefit the characters and story. A quote, "Why am I crying! It's a drawing! However, just like live-action is still an image and audience react to images.

He did talk about Ratatouille a bit(I bet you were reading JUST for this.;) All the insider's scoop eh?), however he mostly talked about the barriers they ran across and how during the last 18 months of production--all conventional barriers of film development were broken down. No second pass at the story, Layout tied down all scenes(before story would clean them up and finalize a lot of it, not layout) They had to work fast anything else was a disservice to the film, if they stuck to the old ways---they would have never met the deadline.
Another tidbit about the film: During development they rendered every last set in Maya to give the storyboard artists an opportunity to plan their shots at ease, to explore every last crevice and ultimately deliver the best scenes. That was fun to learn. :)
Someone asked about the video game industry and his response: The industry is beginning to bring more visual storytelling into the genre. Hopes to someday have games where your choices influence the game. He wants a player to be so immersed in the game that if he's playing a game where he's in dark room and something happens that causes him to make a choice to switch from a simple pistol to the ultimate mega-shooter. He's going to use that ONE bullet in that gun if that means he feels "safe" in an unsafe environment, even if it's on the first level. ;) Visual impact the viewer, the music, and other elements used to heighten ones' senses are there to support the visual side of the game.

Alright, long enough. :) I didn't include everything and I know there are probably a billion grammatical errors I missed(Sorry Mom!), but you get a sense of how informative and extremely inspiring the lecture was. He did this GREAT voices and performances when presenting some storyboards of his and told some great stories about his kids and wife(a quote: "No drawing during wife time. After wife time, it's back to the Cintiq!")

Pssst....check this out! Mandrews was kind enough to sign the very last page of my sketchbook(get to start a new one tomorrow!) after I introduced myself and thanked him for coming(along with several other freshmen, upperclassmen, and even some graduates from CalArts came and said Hello---a couple of them had internships at Pixar in the past.)

It reads " Memorize this will save your life" It's referencing the high to low intensity chart I described earlier. haha, brilliant. =)

Well goodnight everyone! Lots of homework to do and also DODGE BALL TOMORROW NIGHT! So going and bringing my camera. =) Also, Spline Doctors updated with another awesome podcast! Go give it a listen! It's after 1 a.m. now, I not going to reread this and edit it now. So until around 1pm tomorrow, I apologize for the muddy parts that I'm sure are sprinkled throughout here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Update

Only at CalArts can you walk out of the animation department at 11:30 at night, into the main gallary, and see a group of topless, hairy guys(with dreadlocks on both scalp and chin---not in a good way) playing hard metal, screaming at the top of their lungs----"Kick the Drunk" to a group of equally hairy, dreadlock covered people(male and female) as they stood there in a daze(I don't want to know what induced this eerily calm audience demeanor). It echoed through the department and pretty much the entire school---I'd be surprised if anyone on sub level didn't hear the racket. Anyways....

Traditional Animation was awesome tonight, we watched everyones' roller coasters and he gave us feedback. He enjoyed the personality and character in my animation, but the speed wasn't accurate in some parts---it was jumping from slow to suddenly very fast without going through just a fast speed(particularly on that first drop at least.) Otherwise we watched a lot of reference videos that demonstrated timing/spacing/character. Videos including a guy that has spent the past 25 years of his life perfecting the art of time-lapse camera techniques(REALLY awesome studies, though not a huge fan of the maggots devouring a mouse on a large screen), animals in Africa that became a little "tipsy" after eating this particular fruit that was past its' prime and apparently, when consumed, makes the victim pretty disorientated. The monkeys, elephants, and the giraffe were definately classic unsteady examples--the 60s silly cartoon sound effects only amplified the effect Other videos were motion captured elephants riding bikes VS. the Fantasia sequence with the gators and hippos to demonstrate conveying weight. He also showed a clip from Pocahontas and it was VERY clear who took the cake on a convincing portrayal of weight, spacing, timing, and character.;) There were a couple polar bear documentary clips- we also watched, foxes, coyotes, and then to show different character timing he showed THIS Disney Short. He also demonstrated the animation technique he uses and with pencil and paper- made a hippo jump,punch the air with its fist, and land. Really cool to watch, and in case you're wondering he uses a combination of straight-ahead and pose-to-pose. He doesn't necessarily go through and put in the key poses and then in-between; he'll draw the action like straight-ahead, but keep a clear direction in his mind and doesn't deviate from it. That hippo was looking pretty sweet for being rough and not more than 24 drawings. And yep, I'm animating a fish. Can do anything as long as the fish has a believable movement, an underwater feel, good timing, etc. Should be fun, my brain is already buzzing with ideas. =)

Alright well I need to work on that questionnaire some more and it's getting ridiculously late again so since I'm finally starting to get over my nasty cold I don't want to take a step backward because of lack of sleep(yes, despite my precautions and care I still got sick. It wasn't much fun being me for the past 3 days, but it's MUCH better now). Anyhow, tomorrow night----Mark Andrews!

On a Side note: managed to hunt down a WHOLE library of soundtracks related to the Haunted Mansion Ride in Disneyland, like the entire ride soundtrack, general music, sound effects, out-takes the voice overs did, and alternate versions of things. Ohhhhh the dialogue test possibilities involving Paul Frees(the guy who did the welcome voice for the ride "Welcome Foolish Mortals---to the haunted mansion!") and other perfect character voices.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ride the Brain Buster!

So here it is! My silly roller coaster...already not a big fan of it, but it's alright. I still like the beginning and the first loop and the other freshmen seem to enjoy making various sound effects when they see it (I had about 5-7 people randomly show up next to me and a chorus was born.)

(Shot on my video camera because there's no way I have the time to individually scan at least 150 drawings in and edit them together to look like this, Jiminy taught me the pain of that process REAL quickly.)

Here are a couple pictures I took:

And the lovely stack of animation paper all occupied with 3 little rectangles zipping all over the place. :P

Far from perfect(I've tried fixing that ending several times, but it never wants to look right. For now I guess it's just the relief of the carts at finally reaching the end). Rumor has it we'll be designing/animating a fish for our next assignment, so that'll be entertaining. :) I'm beginning to wonder if he's actually going to have us animate any flour sacks or bouncing balls at all this semester. Until then I've got some reading and a questionnaire to do for my Friday story class and then back to all of the fun drawing homework that's due throughout next week.

Friday at 7pm!!!

The first guest speaker of the year has been announced! This Friday from 7-10pm Mark Andrews is coming to CalArts! Everyone is very excited and greeting each other with "Did you see the sign! Mark Andrews! This is gonna be GOOD!" To give a little background he worked on The Incredibles, Ratatouille, The Iron Giant, and also the shorts One Man Band and Jack-Jack Attack.

Super excited for Friday! I'm finished with my roller coaster as well, just going to shoot it again and finally record it so keep a sharp eye open on this blog----if all goes well I'll hopefully have the animation up by tonight. :) For now, to the fridge and then back to the cube!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Meet Ian

Working away on homework. Finished The Handmaid's Tale for my Contemporary Literature class...not much to say except "eh." The ending left something to be desired. It basically had a "WHOOSH" kind of ending where nothing was really resolved. But now, back to drawing!

For one of my classes I need to create a character, give them a name, occupation, and some kind of conflict. The teacher gave us several examples and based on this I came up with this character:

Picture courtesy of Photo Booth. :P

Meet Ian! The description next to him reads "Ian the puppeteer is afraid of string. Will only work with hand-puppets and do everything within his power to avoid marionettes." Based on a guy I saw over the summer when I was sketching in the local mall food court. I only had his head, I made the rest of his body up just now and gave him his nifty official puppeteer cape!
While doing research on ACTUAL phobias(a phobia of string is real, it's called Cnidophobia) I stumbled upon some unique fears, here are some examples of possible character phobias I considered using:
Arachibutyrophobia- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.
Helminthophobia- Fear of being infested with worms.(who doesn't have this fear???)
Octophobia - Fear of the figure 8.
And for all of the ladies I've drawn at the mall food court who probably take this to the extreme based on certain facial practices I've witnessed (like the constantly surprised pulled back eyebrow look):
Rhytiphobia- Fear of getting wrinkles.

Well nothing else, finished my storyboards for the same class, and am almost finished with my roller coaster just hammering the timing and such out---that and inking the beast, then shooting it again for class. Alright, so another week at CalArts has begun!

You want photos with that????

A rainy Saturday at CalArts:

Finished more homework and such, managed to find someone with a car and now my mini-fridge is full once more with delicious food. =) I'm already very sick of the cafeteria food, the hot-cocoa is delicious along with the deli-sandwiches served ONLY M-F at like 12, come after 2 and the sandwich area is closed. But that grill....good for maybe the first 3-4 days I was here, now I'm taking the advice from the upperclassmen and avoiding that grill. ;) ANYWAYS! MORE PHOTOS YES????

My animation disc NOW with the power of light!

My homework for perspective, the above is a full shot and below is a closer shot. Poor lighting ahoy!

And the next two shots involve my all-time favorite machine that I've spent a lot of time at:

The pencil test machine, or the lunchbox! Basically I can test my animation to see how it's going and to also record a finished animation onto a VHS tape, it's addicting to use. I'm pretty comfortable with all of those little buttons on that little box on the second shelf down from the TV. =)

Well that's it, nothing very exciting going on. I didn't play dodgeball tonight because 1)everything on campus is soaked and I didn't want to get whacked with a wet rubber ball and 2)a lot of people are catching the cold, so running around in the cold, wet weather would NOT help me stay even remotely healthy. Instead, I stayed inside, worked on my many assignments, and hung around with several other freshmen who also wanted to avoid the oncoming cold plague(we were promised on day one, that if one person got sick---the ENTIRE department would be hit. So far it's coming true.) And with that final thought--NIGHT! =D

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rain and Discs!

Another week at CalArts has gone by in a flash and an intense weekend of epic homework battles begin....though I have finished some pieces, about 85% done on others, and I'm leaving the reading and writing for Sunday. :P I hope to finish all of this so I can start working on my film again---my brain is bursting with the possibilities of portraying the exact same main basic plot that I've been working on over the summer. Already need to re-do a majority of my storyboards, scan those in, find out if it DOES meet the 90second limit and then start running it by people. A lot of upperclassmen are starting to hunker down and get into film mode as well.

So the Oregon weather has kind of caught up with me, it's been in the lower 70s and cloudy all week and today it finally rained! The main building smells of rain and venturing outside is very refreshing after spending WAY too many hours indoors. :) Fall is on the way, but knowing California(and of course does apply to Oregon, but I'll be visiting when it's guaranteed to be cold and wet) it's probably just a taste of cool weather and then it'll hit the upper 90s again. :P
Quick update at 11:45ish at night: Upgrade that rain to a DOWNPOUR and thunder and lightning RIGHT over my dorm. Lights flickering and such. Very awesome while trying to figure out a way of storyboarding a restaurant scene for a class. haha. Okay, back to the regular scheduled post:

And on a final note and to keep my promise:

FEEL the animation energy! Too bad I forgot to take a picture when the little light under the disc is turned on----oh well maybe tomorrow when I take a picture of my bat homework. :) I've already animated on the little guy---it involves roller coasters and quite fun! Good spacing and timing practice, too bad our teacher told us to make the roller coasters physically possible or else I could have created the ultimate brain buster! hahaha, mine still is pretty bad, but I'm sure you'd live(I may or may not post the animation since every animation I try to post is one big uphill battle). Well night everyone!

P.S. A quick shout-out to my Aunt for her lovely cards that are finding the way to my mailbox! =) They are very inspiring and I enjoy reading them, so Thank You again and glad you enjoy the blog updates!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Happy National Talk Like a Pirate Day! Sadly, no one on campus participated in this glorious event(same thing happened last year when I had a 9 hour shift at Target and no one to ARRG or AHOY to!). So except for my Mom who actually reminded me why today was special---we were the only true pirates. ;) Psst Mom....I totally wore that necklace you put in that secret package. ;) Forgot to tell you that over the phone. Cry-Baby ahoy! Haha.

To keep with today's theme: I FINALLY recieved my own SWEET little piece of pirate treasure! My dear ol' animation disc has finally made it to my cube! Pictures of my precious to come over the weekend(super busy tomorrow, 7 hours of life drawing and then 3 hours of traditional animation).

Otherwise, classes are fine. The computer labs now officially have Maya licenses(8.5), so I've been refreshing my memory and my teacher will be happy to know I do remember most of the keyboard shortcuts and am finding all kinds of goodies(they have fur and hair textures to play with!). My CalArts' 3D teacher, Ellis, is as caffeinated as ever. Yeah----I'm not going to go over details about the class on here, but so far--------

I miss being back in this room(bad lighting and all.) I'm just dying to get back to Oregon and share everything with you guys. CalArts is great and more then I could have ever imagined(I can just walk into a certain character animation office hallway and see original drawings by Glen Keane among other famous animators and animation directors), but still....oh well, I've got a slew of homework to keep me busy and I really am having a fantastic time here----and in my other classes I am learning a LOT. So until I post pictures of my completed animation desk, here have a sketch I did for an upcoming perspective assignment: we have to draw 3 characters---one standing, one sitting, one on top of a box---all the same character(but in different areas of the picture plane) and preferably something small like a squirrel, so I went with BATS*this one is a highly addicted fruit bat*! Here's the one I'm going to use for the standing pose:

Just going to redraw him onto a larger piece of paper, then ink and color the little guy along with the 2 other poses I have him in.

Well night mateys! And with less then an hour to go until it's no longer Talk like a Pirate day: GO WALK THE PLANK! :P

Forgot to add this on: My suitemates take the longest showers in the history of mankind. I just want the sink, but I'm locked out until she finishes with her multi-shower cycle! :( This twisted tale of her shower cycle, can only be told in person.....until then----HURRY UP---YOU'RE CLEAN ALREADY! YOU DID THE SAME THING THIS MORNING! D:
*I wrote that last bit at 11:32, it is now 12:20 on my computer and they just finished!* AHHHH!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Cricket MOVES

Got Jiminy to move! However, when I scan the images into the computer and compile them in flash he likes to float around. On the pencil test and on the VHS tape I'm giving to the teacher---he doesn't float. He stays as solid as a rock. Oh well, at least he's moving convincingly.

The whole animation is 9 drawings long. I did 4 of these drawings, the rest were xeroxed drawings the teacher gave us and we had to "fill in the blanks" or the more professional term: In-between the poses to make the animation all smooth. So without further ado, here's a moving cricket:

Clicketh Here

*I still cannot get any of these animations to work properly with the blog. Photobucket and this uploading program on blogspot have failed me once more.*

Second Week Summary

So my second week at Cal Arts has come to an end and I've just been busy attending classes, doing my homework, and enjoying the animation world. :)

On Friday I had Story for Animators and so far it seems like another pretty cool class, not as great as the traditional animation class, but it might help me with developing stories. After this class I buried myself away in my cube and started in on all of my homework I had to do. I did finish my Jiminy Cricket inbetween homework, however I'm having computer problems uploading it so instead, you get to see two stills I did:

Kind of looks like the ol' cricket(the second image is as far as the animation goes). Afterwards, I finished my flipbook animation, roughed-out a storyboard assignment(finishing it today), finished off my perspective piece, selected some animations to show in my computer animation class on Tuesday(Batty will live on! Along with Lt. Dan!), and completed my pencil test paper-cut out animation. Did all of this homework over the past 2 days and just for my Mom: I didn't have to pull an all-nighter or anything, always back in the dorm by like 11. :)

On Saturday a VERY popular tradition took place. The infamous Dodgeball games began! This game was founded by a past character animation class and has been growing ever since. Last night was SOOOO much fun, about 25-30 people all gathered on the tennis courts and after introducing ourselves(about 98% of the people were from the character animation department)---the games began! We divided ourselves into various groups throughout the night(team names that come to mind: D.C. v.s. Marvel Comics*Batman v.s. Spiderman insults mainly*, Disneyland v.s. SixFlags, Pants v.s. Shorts, 1's v.s. 2's, etc.). It was a great way to end the week and meet some new faces of the upperclassmen. I forgot to bring my camera this time, but never fear dodgeball is scheduled every Saturday from 7-9pm, so I'll be sure to photograph the action next time! =)

Well that's pretty much it, I'll work on getting my short inbetween homework online later this week. So ta ta for now!

P.S. I never did post what the hallway outside my cube looks like:

(I'm the first curtain on the right)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday Adventures!

So since my last post I had a couple more classes:

Computer Animation: This teacher is MADE of caffeine, seriously. Very energetic and so far seems enthusiastic about Maya. For the class itself---we'll be learning strictly the animation side of Maya(though the teacher said he might sneak other stuff in as well). During the lecture the teacher told us about two rigs that Pixar made that we have access to! One is called "Cal" and the other "Arts" I guess "Arts" is a dog and isn't ready for use yet, but according to the teacher---"Cal" is an animator's dream so I'm VERY eager to get my hands on this rig. I'm excited to get back into Maya after a far too long break.

Contemporary Literature: Not much to say about this class---it's a critical studies foundation class and everybody has to take one(yeah, transfers too). The books seem interesting.....but I would still rather be animating or something.....oh well.

Life Drawing: This morning I had life drawing from 9-4, straight on figure drawing. We literally just sat down on the floor and started drawing the model(clothed and not). I'm a little rusty and after seeing other peoples' artwork I'm cringing a little whenever I see a drawing of mine. But it is the first day and I have plenty of time to improve. During class our teacher(who wears an eye-patch---how sweet is this!) walked around and critiqued us and would occasionally pick up a piece or two that he liked and would hang it out in the Character Animation Hallway. Another class that I'm looking forward to, and the hours are not bad at all, suddenly it was 3pm and just one pose to go!

Traditional Animation: This class was the one I was looking forward to the MOST! The teacher is beyond description. He lectured about connecting with your drawing, FEELING the motion and emotion, drawing from your own life and NOT copying previous animation. During the lecture he would show clips from various animated and live-action shows to demonstrate his lessons. He also showed us some of his own 2D animation that he did on some feature films---the two clips he showed were from "Space Jam" and then the ever-awesome "Iron Giant". At one point he talked about how he went to CalArts the same year as Pete Doctor, and a slew of Pixar people as well("Whenever I visit Pixar it's like being back at CalArts!"), and said how he had a cubicle in the EXACT same room we were seating in and that he one day hopes to see our animations on the big screen and say, "I taught that person in this room!" I do have to say that just from this one class, it's already my favorite. Our homework is awesome(get to work with Jiminy Cricket!) and I'm incredibly inspired to get my animation disc tomorrow morning and start bringing my drawings to life again!

Otherwise, just chugging away on my homework and enjoying as much as I can of CalArts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Big Day

Just a side note to remember what happened 6 years ago today. I still remember waking up and being the first person in the house to hear what happened(used to have a radio alarm clock). I was in 8th grade.....just feels weird thinking what I was like back then, and where I am today. My sympathies continue to go out to the families and friends of the victims of 9/11.

First day of the semester started yesterday! My morning started off in the computer labs with a class titled "Animation Production" with Ernst. It seems like a really interesting class, during the first class we covered the syllabus(learning After Effects, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro mainly) and then learned how to use a pencil test machine. Seems like a good class to start off the week. Afterwards, we had Basic Perspective with I can just tell I'm going to learn some valuable information from the class. Very inspiring. And finally ended the "day" with Story Development with Kindregan, between Basic Perspective and this class I'm going to be bursting with knowledge. He had us doing story board exercises and already I have an assignment requiring 10 boards based on a storyline he gave us. He was very energetic and very quick with the jokes. Kept everyone in good spirits! Definitely looking forward to my Mondays---that's for sure! Afterwards the infamous insanity of cube sign-ups began. I was 7th in line and spent the night hanging out with other freshmen as we wittled away the hours with working on homework, drawing each other, much dancing, reading, and occasionally sleeping(we did actually sleep, I got about 4 hours!) Here's a picture taken around 1 a.m:

By 6 a.m. we were up to 25 or so people waiting to sign up for cubes at 10 a.m. I actually don't regret spending the night with the other freshmen, I had fun AND it all paid off! At 1 p.m. I became the proud animator of this little SINGLE-PERSON cubicle:

Close-up of the W.I.P. desk(I'll take a picture of the desk once I get my disc on Friday):

Oh yeah and the street sign I'm located on:

On my second class day here, I had Color and Design I with Hobaica.....another inspiring class and another fun teacher. Our homework involves flipbooks. From what I can tell all of my classes(excluding my literature class tomorrow) are all tailored towards helping you on your yearly film, which is really cool and helpful since that April deadline is coming ever closer. Oh yeah and there was another department meeting for the character animation department where we discussed proper cube fire safety, all of the new mac labs and other new shiny electronic equipment, film requirements (up to 90 seconds with an additional 9 seconds for credits), AND which companies are planning on coming to the guest lectures that are held throughout the semester. According to the department there will be 5 Pixar lectures(rumors of in-depth Ratatouille discussions came up!) 3 Disney lectures, and then I'm sure a couple misc. they didn't mention. We also are getting FREE animation paper on Friday morning from Dreamworks! Pretty swell of them. Anyways, super excited about my lovely little cube and the upcoming school year! Well I have computer animation tonight and I need to go work on my cube and complete some more homework! Probably update again this weekend! TO THE CUBE.....

Monday, September 10, 2007

First day of classes went REALLY well! A more detailed report later, but for now....spending the entire night with the majority of the character animation freshmen class in the character hallway for animation cubes! Pictures and a full-night sleep report to come. =) Night guys!

Sunday, September 9, 2007



Totally just got back from watching the "Iron Giant" with a bunch of character animation students down at Mom's Cafe! Now everyone is officially bouncing off the walls excited(as if we weren't already)! Okay, well night and I'll be sure to post how this week goes!

Friday, September 7, 2007

alrighty then

Okay, I lied, I'm posting pictures now:

Quick pic. of where registration took place, this is JUST before it got VERY busy. Lines everywhere. You can just dimly see the character animation sign in the VERY back right hand side(the little black sign with the white text).

Here's a rough stitch-together of what the animation department looks like on the top floor.
The rest are quite awesome, the cube areas all have street names, I'll let you guess WHAT field the names all came from:

So cool huh? The little animation geek inside me is ridiculously happy. haha. Well I'm off to go hunt down some other freshmen!


So this morning I registered for classes and paid for all of my animation deposits! All set to go now! I'll post some CalArts' related pictures over the weekend so keep an eye out. :) Anyways, registration wasn't too bad, got there at 8, signed-up for classes at 9(had to get there early to try and beat the crowds), and now chillin' in the dorm passing time until the ice-cream social(Free food is VERY good). It was really busy and at times a little chaotic(pictures to come), but I survived! So onto the schedule:
W 10-1
TH 7-10
T 7-10
ErnstM 9-12
Th 9-4
M 1-4
T 9-12
M 7-10
F 10-12

Busy busy, this all adds up to 18 credits! Going to be a fun 1st semester at CalArts! =)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Day 3

Wow! Wednesday has come and gone.....CalArts basically eliminates all sense of what day it is. I can bet it's only going to get MUCH worse once classes actually start, and on that note, totally can't wait.

So today I got my I.D. card, toured the character animation department again(but more in-depth with an actual upper class men), received a warm welcome from the department, met some of the teachers, saw what JUST my character animation schedule will be like(15 credits of pure classes related to animation! Sooooo cool! Can't wait to get started! :D), had the sketch party with a bunch of other character animation students(we all went around and sketched each other and later in the night just drew from our heads to work on film ideas), watched the entire 2007 character animation Producer's Show(So inspiring to watch), had another mini-sketch party, and then a character student told us some haunted tales surrounding CalArts and also certain areas of the character animation cubes(some of these are really freaky). Oh yeah Freshmen now sign up for cubes on Tuesday.....should be interesting how busy that day will be since there's also classes at the SAME time and also another entire character animation orientation meeting----also at the SAME time.

Just quickly to go in-depth on the character meetings that took place today:
All of the freshmen animation students met in the Palace along with some faculty and also some upper class men(they didn't need to be there, but they were kind enough to show up and welcome us---though as they put it "We just want to know your face so we don't think you're a stranger out to steal our stuff"). Once we settled in the faculty had an in-depth talk with us about what to expect during our time here and basically to work hard, but also find that needed balance in your life between work and play to survive your time here. They explained some of the history of CalArts and what the future holds for us. They discussed how we may be classmates now, but in the very near future will be our coworkers for the rest of our careers. It was very exciting to hear about the road ahead of us and also how everyone is so open and friendly, everyone I've met so far has been very generous with their time and have been very patient with us silly freshmen. Also, like I mentioned earlier, we received our character animation required class schedules, so JUST the classes for animators, not critical studies, etc.---that's on Friday for me; the schedule holds 8 classes all adding up to 15 credits. Times range from 9 in the morning until 10 at night and all of them meet just once a week. Once I get my official schedule I'll post it. :) Anyways, another busy day at CalArts and I'm just about dying to get into a cube and get animatin'!

P.S. I really need to write these posts when I'm not about ready to fall over from exhaustion----the typos.....the typos. D:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Just another update

So...a lot took place since this morning. Went down to the library orientation and got there early(by about 10minutes) however, across the hall is the character animation area---the door was actually open today so I snuck in for bit and talked to the occasional student and just kind of absorbed the atmosphere. It's still so extremely weird that I'm an actual student here, I still feel like I'm visiting and that at the end of the day I'll be kicked out or something. A bit of the reality has sunk in a little more, but I keep expecting the fun to end and suddenly have to leave campus the next day(not too say Oregon wasn't fun, it's fantastic...but yeah I can't even describe the feeling). Alright, so after browsing the hall I headed back over to the library and for the next hour got to see all kinds of cool things----the film/video library area is AWESOME, the area is like a normal study room like in a normal library only with a bunch of TVs(some flat screen) and the chairs are actual movie theater like seats. Can't wait to use those guys! After the library orientation I headed upstairs after running into several character animation freshmen from the day before and we made our way to the cafeteria for the BFA lucheon event. After we literally turned a corner we ran into a whole gangle of freshmen character animation students and we all immediately decided to join forces and spend the entire lunch just chatting about animation(future plans, if anyone has a film idea yet, etc.) and just getting to know each other---at one point the believed head count of JUST freshmen character students was like 26(we're planning on meeting every freshmen character student by the end of the week). We ended up pushing 4 tables together and forming this giant weaving line of character animation students(a couple experimental animation students joined us every so often). Everyone hung out until 1:30ish and long after the rest of the CalArts students had left the cafeteria we made our way around campus just talking and joking around, etc. Around 2:30 we decided to meet in the sub level(the area with all drawings and paintings on the walls) and look at each others' sketchbooks----everyone is sooooooo talented. Just looking at the other sketchbooks made me wish I could start drawing right then. At 4 there was a new student meeting and we all made our way upstairs to an auditorium and listened to various information about our upcoming school year as BFA students and how things are run on campus. Our group stuck together and eventually made our way to a dinner type event where we hung around and ate, played games, and then added everyone into each others' cell phones(I now have like 20 new contacts). We spent the rest of the night wandering around to various places with lights and spending oodles of time talking pure character animation while pondering the many unique aspects of the universe. The group has already decided to hold a sketch party tomorrow after we meet with the faculty and our mentors of the character animation department. After that we're hoping to figure out a way to view 2007's Producers Character Animation Show and then go from there. It's been so much fun and extremely inspiring being around people who are equally passionate about character animation and want to hit the animation cubes and start working ASAP. I'm starting to get used to the campus now and really want to start animating, I'm itching to start in on the massive workload. Anyways, the freshmen character animation class so far has been awesome and look forward to experiencing my first year(and then some) with these guys! Well I'm off to bed, critical study meeting for incoming students starts at 9 tomorrow and I have yet to get a full night's sleep.

P.S. Rumor has it that the animation cube sign-up day is this coming Monday at 10 a.m. should be very entertaining.

The Big Trip

As promised here's a big ol' photo post with a little commentary(DORM INTERNET WORKS!):

Oregon sent me off the night before with a bit of a thunderstorm, quite cool---this one kept missing the area I live in so I only saw pretty clouds and heard the thunder, but still here's a couple pictures:

The Next Morning we packed the ol' car up(yeah we could only use our side-mirrors while driving, not very fun in heavy traffic):



And instead of getting off at the offramp like I used to for school I just kept heading straight. So goodbye for now Ashland and SOU. =)

Hello California!

Just a pretty picture, one of many taken on the trip, but I'll only post a few. ;)

Check all THAT traffic out, it kept going for like 10 miles!

The infamous California windmills!

A certain school is just beyond these hills. =)

My Mom is in the car now and so I'm now in the backseat, thus the odd shot. But still---LOOK at that sign!

My sweet little dorm, I snagged the bed on the left. So here's the before. And then:

the after, still moving things around and I found out this morning that duct tape does NOT hold anything onto these walls so I'll need to buy something else....

Well that's pretty much it, hung out with a BUNCH of students yesterday and I'm convinced I met like 99% of the freshmen character animation students they were everywhere! So I've made a bunch of friends already and we're all hoping on meeting and looking at each others' sketchbooks soon, until then we just geeked out over animation talk and roamed the main building and each others' dorms until 9 at night until we all departed to our separate dorm resident meetings(much hilarity occured here, nobody could figure out the dorm hallway navigation, we kept getting so lost! Other than how to get to my dorm from the main building, I'm still lost. haha.). Well I have a library orientation thing to get to at 11 and then another lucheon for BFA peeps! See ya around!