This weekend has been quite fantastic! Friday night I flew down to LA to go to Cal Arts for a "accepted student
event". It was awesome! Even on the flight I met someone who has a cousin who works at PIXAR, also a passenger who graduated from Cal Arts 20 years ago(not from Character Animation though, didn't say what program, but he said not animation). The shuttle to Cal Arts was a royal nightmare and I'm very glad this school is not located in downtown LA, I'm still reeling from the 2 hour car drive(he had to drop off 4 other people, before going to our hotel). Anyways, onto the BIG DAY
Saturday morning, my mom and I were driven over to Cal Arts around 8:30 a.m. where we checked in and looked around. Already had my first encounter with a character animation student and continued to run into him the rest of the day. The African drummer group was a pretty cool welcome along with meeting another Character animation new student like me. The speeches were inspiring to hear, but when we broke up into our different deparments and students seperated from parents-that's where the fun began. Got to see a lot of different films from the film/video department-not just character animation. The majority of the student films' outside of the character animation progrm were pretty, experimental and could only be said as "thinking outside of the box." However, before the screening we met some of the faculty of the overall department and also ask questions-though no one did. One guy did ask how the search for the head of character animation was going, but the answer was "nothing yet, but you're in good hands." Afterwards, we got to breakdown even further and us character animation students headed into The Palace to meet faculty and current students. My mom and I got a little left behind and ended up being a little late(along with a couple other lost people, they would just say "Go out to the Palace" and the herd of random people would just move.). It was extremely inspiring to hear the current students discussing the program and their personal experiences. My mom and I have already started refering to Disney as "The Mouse". haha. One of the parents had asked the question "How many applied and how many were accepted this year?" and the response was about 236 people applied and out of those, 35 were accepted. It's still very wierd to consider myself a soon-to-be current student, but that made my mom grin ear-to-ear. A couple parents asked several questions otherwise and a couple accepted students asked some questions, but I had already known a lot of the answers just from my own research and reading the responses over at Mario's forum and his own journal(animatedbuzz.com). The current students shared their advice with us and told us stories of the kind of life we were going to have and like Nick(a 4th year character animation student) said "It's the best animation school ever." and went into detail about how in the industry a lot of employees went to Cal Arts and how there's this bond between Cal Arts' students of each generation and how there's that instant connection between you and a past character animation student. It was repeated a lot how connected Cal Arts is to the industry, legends like James Baxter will often come by(often unannounced) and stroll the animation cubes giving advice, and helping a student out with a scene. Another point that was touched on was how the character animation students do not have lives. It's unwise to even THINK about Cal Arts if you do not take your work seriously and want to constantly make yourself better at your particular interest(this does not only apply to the character animation program, but it's HEAVILY "enforced"). The character animation students have a heavy schedule of balancing their classes and their yearly films. Classes begin as early as 9a.m. while other classes might run until 10 at night. The current students I got to meet were always joking about how sleep deprived they were, but also said how rewarding it is to see your finished film(along with your classmates and friends). Anyways, the session was wonderful and I was brimming with excitement. Lunch was next and my mom and I sat with another mom/daughter pair who was just accepted as well. It was very inspiring to talk to another animation student and to hear her experiences leading up to being accepted and what she's up to now. After lunch, my mom and I headed up o pick up my portfolio only to find out it had been mailed out to me on April 6th(as a future note, it arrived that evening so it beat me home-lol). After that, my mom was determined to raid the student store and buy a shirt for me. So we spent some time in the store and came away with some nifty Cal Arts' merchandise. =) We then made our way back to the character animation hallway and spent time admiring the artwork and snapping photos of the hallway and such. It was incredibly cool hearing the flipping of animation paper as the students were eagerly working away on their films. I was grinning when I heard that-I wanted to jump in and start working with that paper and pencil. Around 1:30 my mom and I headed downstairs to the lower basement where students are allowed to draw on the walls(I'm blanking on a name, sorry). I wanted to find the sketch that Tim Burton was rumored to have drawn on the wall, but sadly failed and just settled on snapping two pictures of the main hallway. Afterwards my mom and I wanted tot tour the dorms so we headed back upstairs and ran into a current character animation student(not sure if he'd want me to release his name, so I'll keep it quiet) and he was generous enough to give my mom and I a behind the scenes tour of the character animations cubes----no pictures, but it was out of this world kind of cool. Seeing the desks, the cool little street names, and then seeing a quick glimpse of the equipment was really cool. So a huge shout-out to that student-it was awesome and I'm looking forward to spending the majority of my life in that animation cube. =) He also showed us where the housing was and spoke to us a bit about student life and the student films. We were then introduced to yet another character animation student who was giving tours of the dorms. He showed us his room and it was a great little place-incoming freshmen go two per room, and two rooms share one bathroom. The dorms come with 2 beds, 2 dressers, 2 desks, with options of either a kitchen-like area, or something else I can't remember because I'm more interested in being able to have my own little kitchen so I can make something other then Ramen noodles, haha. The room was pretty roomy, not too crowded. He also said that character animation students spend more time in their cubes then in the dorms especially this time of year, so don't worry too much about a certain dorm situation. He lived in what he referred to as the "quiet hallway" and gave us some tips on how to snag a room like he has. We also were shown where the main kitchen areas are for each hallway/floor where a stove/oven and a microwave and sink are located. He also showed us the catscratch where student can hang out, read, and watch T.V., the furniture was covered in carpet-just like a cattower toy kind of thing-it was amusing. I also saw where I can wash/dry my clothes and learned that this student was apart of the dodgeball team(I'm sorry I can't remember his name, but he runs a website) and told me it'll be around next year. After housing my mom and I just kind of hung out and walked around campus. We ran into the same character animation student who showed us the cubes and all 3 of us watched a couple of the producer's show chracter animation films for a bit before going our seperate ways(my mom adores the Cuddlebee short now....soooo hilarious). The remainder of the day was spent outside, our shuttle wouldn't pick us up at the hotel until 4:30 and it was just about 3, we called a taxi and would be picked up to head back to the hotel around 4. My mom and I just talked about Cal Arts and pretty much anything related to it. We were soon picked up, and later arrived at the airport where of course I flew home, didn't get back to good ol' Oregon until midnight(delayed flights abound).
Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I can't wait to go back and actually live there for a full school year! All of the character animation students were so friendly and inspiring to talk to. I wish I could have run into a couple of people I knew online, but I'll have my chances in the future. Hearing the flipping of animation paper, meeting the fantastic student body and faculty, and of course hearing about the alumni that wander the animation cubes eager to help you out with your film just made me soooooo eager to dive into the animation program. I'm forgeting a lot I'm sure, but anyone is welcome to ask questions about the program, I'll do my best to answer them. Today I just had a 9 hour shift at Target, so I'm ready to collapse from exhaustion, but again-it was completely worth it. Okay, time for photos and then bed!
Look PROOF that I've been there, courtesty of my mom:
The Character Animation area-First up the Palace:
Looking from the Palace to the entrance:
Just some of the artwork that was posted on the walls:
The basement where students of all years are welcome to draw:
And then a fun shot of one of the hallways in the dorms, try and figure out where the real hallway ends and where the painting begins.
I'm sure as I re-read this tomorrow I'll be making edits and adding things here and there a such. Probably add some more details tomorrow evening. Night ya'll.