Monday, March 31, 2008

BIG week ahead of me

Walked out of the computer lab to three guest lecture signs posted in the character animation hallway! Coming throughout this week: Pixar, Blue Sky, and.....Andreas Deja! Pixar and Blue Sky are coming to talk about internships. Andreas Deja is coming on Friday---very excited to go to this lecture! Anyways, had to share the news---however, nothing exciting tonight, just more one-on-one time in Photoshop.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


A recent salmon-colored process that's replaced animating/scanning/compositing. Since I'm throwing this word around a lot, thought I'd define it a bit and show you what I'm up to nowadays(though this explanation isn't very techy.)

Alpha-channeling, otherwise known in Photoshop universe as quick-masking, modeled by the ever-so lovely Ollie.

The original drawing. See all the crinkles in the paper? Faint sketchy lines around him? This is what alpha channel eliminates. Believe me, this is a pretty clean drawing compared to some I've cleaned up. This also prevents the problem of the background showing through a character when you're compositing(this is a whole other ball-park though and too convoluted to blog).

Start out really broad and big in the quick-mask mode(Just drag a selection box around something and hit "Q") and then start refining with the brush tool.

More refining.

Here's the finished piece. The white is what you want, pink is canceled out. See?

When you hit the "Q" key again you get this very specific selection box.

The finished drawing. This is just one---I do this for every drawing in about 85% of my film. Just put on some good tunes and keep trying to beat your own record of "How many can I finish in an hour, but still stay clean"

21 days to go! Plan on blasting through a lot of alpha-channeling this week(I'm estimating around 6 scenes to go---which is around 200-300 drawings....or more) until then---time for some kind of activity that's less pink. haha

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Sunburnt Shutter Sisters' Debut

Quick collage of some sketches done at Disneyland yesterday. 08 micron and watercolor.

They weren't REALLY sisters--more like a mother 'n daughter duo. And in case you can't read my chicken-scratch it reads: "Videotaping Splash Mountain drop responses" Spotting these two standing out in front of the ride made the 95 minute line-wait well worth it. Loved their hand gestures as they held the cameras up to their faces.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Turbulent Flume Adventure

So...wondering what I've been up to for my Spring Break? Well, hanging with the parents as we pillage and plunder around southern California! Here's a quick little re-cap with some pictures and whatnot:

Monday: My Mom and Step-Dad flew down from Oregon and visited me. I gave them the royal tour around CalArts etc. before we headed off campus and did various shopping sprees---which resulted in some very nice items that I can't thank them enough for. :) I'm staying vague if you couldn't tell. But I assure you, one item in particular is going to really help me out now, and during the summer. Thank you again Mom and Robert! Afterwards, they were really tired and worn-out from the long travel day(and the ever so delightful LA traffic) so we took the evening off and I spent the night hanging out with school buddies in the Palace.

Tuesday: Parents took me to Santa Barbara! We walked along the shore and later drove around town and visited a place called the Mission. At the Mission my Mom spotted a unique gift-shop item that we've been referencing since she spotted it---so it HAS to make it onto the ol' blog.

The shoreline--REALLY nice weather. Easily mid-70s.

A shot within the Mission garden area. Wish I had taken a picture of this gorgeous HUGE tree they had in the cemetery(roughly 4000 people buried in the cemetery).

Here's that certain item btw:

I can't believe it's online and has photos! 5 stars on Amazon too! That evening we went out to dinner and had a delicious meal before I returned to campus.

Wednesday: I spent the morning alpha-channeling(I swear I'll actually define this term later) some drawings for my film before my Mom came. We hung around CalArts and I showed her what alpha-channeling actually is, along with introducing her to Maya a bit. I really needed to do a Vons trip, so we hopped in the car and did that errand before we met up with my Step-dad, who had gone golfing. We had lunch, I was dropped off at CalArts again and did even MORE alpha-channeling(I did about 30 drawings in one day!). That night I got to dress up(I wore stockings---pigs flew, I swear) and attended a really fantastic concert with the parents down at Disney Hall:

I didn't take this picture, but it's exactly where we sat. That detailed structure in the middle is an organ! The pieces were all played by little Quintets and were very enjoyable. The big event was Gustavo Dudamel came and was apart of a quintet for a Mozart clarinet piece(he was featured on 60 Minutes a little while ago). He's extremely passionate about music, his body language was simply fascinating to watch! Again, thank you Robert and Mom for the treat! :)

We visited an old-family favorite:

Look familar? How about this?

Give up? It's Disneyland---during Spring Break! The crowds weren't TOO bad, but lots of fun to draw(filled a good 7 pages!). We didn't set out to conquer the park---just rode our favorite rides:

Indie was open today! I was very happy to ride this thing again(its been at least 5 years! Too long since I last looked into the Gods' eyes! haha). We later went on Pirates and then Haunted Mansion. And it is true---Small World is indeed closed down. Whether for this reason or the other---maybe both, only time will tell. We ended the day on:

Splash Mountain(the title of this post is a reference to a sign that's on this ride). I got stuck in the VERY front--parents ducked to the back, but weren't kept entirely safe either. My spot was good for video(AFTER the final plummet)---VERY bad for staying dry. I was soaked to the bone for the rest of my Disneyland experience.

Afterwards, we decided we really didn't want to battle traffic(it was now around 6 and heavy LA traffic hour) so we grabbed some Main Street ice cream, and in my case, pulled out my sketchbook, and awaited the Disney parade:

I took a couple pictures of the floats, but this one is the coolest:

Mr. PuppetMaster!

It was now 7pm and safe to head onto the freeway, so after the final float passed-we bid farewell to the happiest place on earth and drove back to Valencia. I'm now hanging in my dorm because A) I was still wet from Splash and B) work on some artwork/write this post up. So it's been a whirlwind week! A spring break filled with new and old sights and sounds.:) Lots of great experiences and memories. Exactly what I needed and beginning tomorrow night(after my parents head off) I'll be diving full-on into my film and getting this beast wrapped up! Lots of things to do--especially within the next 4 weeks! Anyhow, that's been my break----
Here are some more random pictures around Disneyland:


Disneyland LEGS! In this case, at this hour, weary Disneyland legs---which have been standing in the line for Splash Mountain for the past 70 minutes or so.


Uh-oh Mom! Watch-out!!!!

I didn't set out to include this mission in this picture--but, in all seriousness, spot the Nun!

The second coolest float!

Picture taken right before leaving the park. And in the next few weeks, I'll be sure to upload some Disney sketches. The Sunburnt Shutter Sisters will make an appearance here soon enough! ;)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

"Wait......I have to go OUTSIDE to hide eggs???" Because indoor easter egg hunting was never a tradition in my childhood.

Bet you didn't expect to see this fat cat again. Annie also dreads the outside world. She'll stare at the windows/doors for hours, but the second a door is opened---she bolts for the sofa. The garage was as far as she got once, and that traumatized her for life. Another figure in her life that has left his mark on her demeanor:

Kiwi--A guy that would give you quite the pinch if you tried to put bunny ears on his feathery head. Got a phone call from Kiwi's temporary home earlier and he's doing beautifully, so I felt like drawing the green meanie. One of many observations, "He's definately got more personality than any bird I've met. He honestly believes he's a person." haha, that's Kiwi. Apparently he was crawling down her pant-leg to explore the mysterious universe of her carpet.

Film goes well, lots of photoshop today....tomorrow(or I guess in a couple hours), After Effects/Final Cut. I'm mostly onto editing now, I just MIGHT have to animate some more(Ollie oddly enough), but I'm holding out until I finish this new pass at the ol' film. Most of my "battles" have been clarity in certain events in the film---I had several very fresh pair of eyes look at my film(upperclassmen pals) and no body picked up on one element. Which isn't too severe, they still laughed at the ending, got the jist of it and liked the actual animation/characters, but I'm still yanking my hair out over how to clear up the confusion. I think a week hanging out with the parents will do me a great deal of good. :) While CalArts is great, after 2+ months here, it's time to venture down from the hill my current life is focused around.

"Hello, I must be going. I cannot stay I came to say...I must be going."----if you get this reference, a pat on the back for you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Obama Mama

Look who my Mom met at the local gym this morning! Turned around and there he was on the leg press machine. Congrats Mom between the phone call and this picture you made my morning! :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Meet the people of Valencia

Decided to spend my morning off campus sketching people. It was very refreshing--I simple adore sketching/observing people and implore any artists/animators out there to do it. I feel all nice and inspired plus this little trip really cleared my head again about film woes. Anyways, here are some highlights:

A little girl running around with vibrant pink bunny ears on her head(they'd occasionally fall off her head and she'd exclaim, "AHH! MY BUNNY EARS!" and then pick them up only to have them fall off probably 10 seconds later). A very tan lady that had the most interesting pose/mouth combination. She was completely wrapped up in the conversation her girlfriends were having. A lady with a velvet red jacket on. This particular jacket had gray felt cats stitched on, she stood out a tad bit compared to everyone else's apparel. Then Mr. Bank Security guard with his partner--Officer Cheez-its! I felt bad for him though, it's easily 75 degrees here, all bright and sunny---and this guy has to stand around all day(in the shade at least) and wear such a dark/thick outfit. But hey, he's got a box of Cheez-its!

It's also officially Spring Break and though I'm not going home, my parents are coming down on Monday and are going to provide a whole week full of fun activities! Can't wait!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gary Trousdale Guest Lecture

Have some spare time now so time to finally post that guest lecture!

Gary Trousdale came on Friday to talk primarily about character. As a little history: he was a student of CalArts and broke into the industry by doing various effects animation on Black Cauldron. He later moved into storyboarding and worked on Oliver and Co. and the Little Mermaid before being hired as a director on Beauty and the Beast. He's also directed Hunchback of Notre Dame and Atlantis. Currently, he's over at Dreamworks directing the upcoming "Mastermind" movie. My notes are pretty brief, he showed a lot of clips from the movies he's directed and then had an in depth Q&A that I listened to more than wrote down. So as far as notes:

What makes good character:
"The secret to great acting is sincerity"-George Burns
Characters must believe in themselves and stay consistence in their actions throughout the movie. Classic examples of consistent, sincere, characters who believe in themselves can be found during the black and white comedy days. The 3 Stooges and the Marx Brothers are prime examples of the above. Don't know who they are? A lot of the Marx Brothers' films are on YouTube(I've been watching them a lot for inspiration) along with the Three Stooges. They each have their own distinct personality and stick with it. Here are a couple examples that I found:

Harpo is hilarious in this. For the entire movie he's running around cutting things, etc. Very consistent and for instance, his thigh gag is in a lot of other Marx brothers' films. Plus, he never talks among his many character traits.

Creating a strong distinct character enables the ability to easily put that character in different situations and respond in their own unique way.(Create an in depth background or back story helps one "become" that character). Again, just look at the classic comedy stars.

The rest of the lecture he shared various clips from Beauty and the Best, Little Mermaid, Atlantis, and Hunchback of Notre Dame to illustrate the points he mentioned before and to touch on a couple various topics.
One topic that really stood out was putting exposition in music. Having characters sing their intentions, personality traits, etc. help immediately establish the film. Here's are some clips I hunted down that he showed during the lecture:

First up is this chef sequence from Little Mermaid. He didn't direct this movie, however he storyboarded this entire song/action sequence. Just flat-out describes Louie and through visual means, how Sebastian reacts to such a horrifying situation.

While this one comes towards the end of the movie, this one shows more about the crowd rather than Gaston(he's really defined during the aptly titled,"Gaston" song). The crowd was treated as one organism rather then individual personalities(which makes sense). However, the villagers are not truly evil, Gaston is the ultimate villain, the crowd is just highly reactive and are easily swayed into action and Gaston pushes the right buttons to get them up-in-arms over the Beast. This song is Gary Trousdale's personal favorite by the way.

This next segment doesn't have any singing, however it brings up a point that I hadn't paid any attention to when it comes to a lot of animated movies made in the 90's at Disney. The Silly fight vs. the serious fight. Think back to any movie and you see this situation where the serious, main fight(in this example, Gaston fighting the beast--which comes shortly after this segment) with the cartoony lots of jokes fight(furniture battling the villagers). He said it helps keep the overall tone of the film from getting too downhearted or serious. Just an interesting point he brought up.


Another example of silly fight vs. serious. Also check out that wicked James Baxter animation of Quasimodo running up the walls with the 3D background/camera move(all 2D animation animated by him up until Quasi finishes yelling "Sanctuary!")
Serious Fight really takes place in this next part, if you're curious.

This one is the king of musical exposition. No need to describe why---you know exactly what's coming, who these characters are, etc. Very quickly gets the audience into the film. As Gary Trousdale actually said, "If you sing it---you can get away with murder." As a side note, apparently that opening sequence of the camera coming down from the clouds, through the village, and up to the bell towers crashed Disney's super computer(the one that government officials routinely checked on it was that super) twice.

That's pretty much it. Like I said earlier, my notes are pretty brief. He did share some clips from Atlantis, but it had more to do with atmosphere than singing or silly fights vs. serious fights. He shared the clips more to illustrate his experiences being a director on that project(Like the alternate opening sequence on Atlantis that's not on YouTube, but is on the DVD bonus features). So enjoy the clips and now to bed...

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Paddy's Day has Come!

He might not have a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, however, he does have a gold tooth and a 4-leaf clover! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

And if you consider days of the week rather than an actual date, one year ago at around 5:30pm today. I got my acceptance letter to CalArts! Monday, March 18th is a day that I'm going to remember for one long time---and from what I've been hearing several people who follow this blog(and are on Mario's forum) are now upcoming Sept. 2008 freshmen of CalArts! Very exciting to hear and once more, congrats you guys! You're all in for one phenomenal experience! Feel free to ask me any questions regarding any advice on what to bring, not to bring, etc. I know I had MANY questions going into CalArts, but I assure you-after that first week, you'll be right at home.

Film updates: 95% done with my scene, just wrap up Pilot's last bit of action(10 or so drawings left to clean-up), flesh-out the ol' background, fill-out a handy dandy x-sheet, and then that scene is wrapped! For now, my bed to calling....

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Some quotes for your weekend

....woah it's raining! Even though the 80 degree sunny weather was nice for the past few weeks, this is very refreshing. :) Now if only I could get my mind back on animating instead of zoning off at the wall in front of me. Good thing my cube isn't next to the windows or else no work would be done. ha! Alright, back to the whole point of this post:

"The picture that looks as if it were done without any effort may have been a perfect battlefield in its making."

-Robert Henri
(For me it's more like a scene or particular action that a viewer might really like. So many scenes in my film have put up such a fight, yet in the end, when I see the scene really moving the way I want it to, it's extremely rewarding. Can't wait to see the entire film completely finished in a few more weeks, alpha channeled and all.)

"A man is a fool for not putting everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating...It's a matter of just sitting down and working."
-Frank Herbert
(This quote makes me want to re-animate some of the scenes that I'm deeming "weaker," but we'll just have to see how it goes. The next 2 weeks are dedicated towards this though. So hopefully get to put a little more care into a couple of the scenes that "bug" me because I really just whipped them out and didn't really think them through too well and I feel it really shows.)

"Try to draw something that connects with people. Draw things that connect with yourself and try to express that through your drawings so that other people get it. At Pixar, it has to do with character. Whether it's an individual character that you're trying to find the expression of, or the character of the environment. How does it feel? What does it evoke in others? Is it funny, sad, beautiful, irritating, claustrophobic, invigorating? Work on creating expressive drawings-drawings that feel like they're alive."
-Joe Ranft
(Found this quote in August, right before coming to CalArts, and really favor it. It's posted in my cube so I can see it every time I reach for more animation paper. Always a goal of mine whenever I draw, whether a single still drawing or a whole stack of animation drawings.)

Okay, back to work! Get to start roughing in my most anticipated scene today! Real juicy acting bit with my cat character, Pilot. And away I go...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Suddenly I see, this is what I wanna be!"

Edit at 6:30: We talked about 3D animation in my Animation and the Body class today and the teacher shared this really cool short with us: 9 It's a spooky one so heads up
Best if you watch this in a dark room. The rest of the class was spent watching parts of Toy Story at half speed and looking at how both the toys and humans were handled. Really cool....oh the eye blinks. haha.

Just finished meeting with my assigned mentor(Leo Hobaica) about my went really well, still not completely perfect(and honestly never will be. There'll always be something to fix--as with anything), after a second viewing, he picked out scenes that "bothered" him and he framed-by-framed them; pointing out specific issues and why they're detracting from what I have so far(only was able to show the first 55 seconds. Not quite ready to show the next half). Just from his critique: 3 more things to fix---still have other issues I need to address, just need to get this film fully animated before I go back and fix such things. Feeling really jazzed though(like back in November when my story class "tore" my boards apart) and my mind is all fired up and dying to finish my two last scenes so I can A) Share the next half and continuing getting such fantastic feedback from people like my mentor. And B) Fix what I have so far and make it sing(at least be able to sit back and watch Fight or Flight comfortably). Going to be one VERY busy weekend--not going NEAR the internets until probably Tuesday--so going to be a little quiet around this blog. Do expect a nice little guest lecture update next week though, Gary Trousdale is coming by tomorrow night so that out to be fun. Anyways, two classes are left for today--Animation and the Body and Traditional Animation. Actually, it's just about time to head on over to that first class.....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The sequel of Guess that time

Happy Daylight savings---get to SPRING forward now and lose an hour.....want to know the only living thing I know of that'll be happy about this?

"You mean I get to eat a WHOLE HOUR EARLIER?!?!?"
Her new favorite holiday. haha. Geez, I remember when I had to turn the clocks back in October...time has shot by--that day does NOT feel that long ago.

P.S. I sense a similar theme going on in the past couple of posts.....need to move away from the feline world in my next update.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Guess what time it is guys?

It's crunch-time. I've heard this said about 4 times now(by upperclassmen no less), so it's official. CalArts' character animators have hit crunch-time! 44 days to go guys! We can do it!
12 days until I have to finish actually animating(according to my own schedule)---this cold I caught yesterday isn't helping, but I'm getting over it. Indiana Jones and tomato soup make great cold fighters-haha. Also a scene that's actually going well(first one in the past 2 weeks) helps too.

Crunch-time also defines the main action in this particular scene I'm working on. Here's a photobooth preview(they really do match up in terms of size. Just can't keep consist when holding them up to camera.)

*CRUNCH* This is actually a secondary hop, I'm not going to show the first BIG smash quite yet, but it's gloriously scribbley! Till later, back to the disc...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Bottomless Pit Calls!

Oh the entertaining stories I'm hearing from my Mom about our cat Annie(Butter Boat). These quick doodles are dedicated to our cat's daily 5 am routine outside of my parent's bedroom door.

Which will quickly give way to this

A few agonizing seconds pass, not a peep from behind the door, and Annie is reduced to a rocking lump:

However, fear not for our young hero, this tail has a happy ending--once the parents wake up, head downstairs and fill Annie's a blink of an eye(before you could even sketch this event)--she's eaten her fill and happy once more:

At least for the next hour.....haha.

Alright, life drawing in 8 hours! Yeah, definately time for bed....

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ollie's Final Performance

Tonight marks the night that I finished official animation on one of my characters. My old man, Ollie, has reached his final pose and so I can call him basically finished! I still have to composite, etc. him and he has two other scenes that he's in, but he's a non-moving tiny background element. So yes, primary animation is finished on the ol' guy! I have 4 scenes left--3 involve my other character Pilot(SUPER fun scenes! I've been looking forward to animating these scenes in particular since summer!) and 1 scene involves a background with a pan(all After Effects so I just have to draw the background). As Corky St. Clair(Christopher Guest's character) said in Waiting for Guffman, "The pieces, as Dr. Holmes would say to Watson, are coming together sir."(This quote has been stuck in my head for the past week! Yet I can't find the actual scene anywhere online! YouTube has failed me....)

Just quickly thinking about Ollie--here's a good piece of advice for anybody reading this: Never give your characters goggles, poofy mustaches/eyebrows, or poofy coat collars. They might look cool, but they're one huge pain to animate--granted I'm thrilled I stuck with it and animated every last goggle drawing in perspective(the results work just fine), but I have no intention of doing that again on any future films. And here's a quick photo-booth image of a drawing of Ollie from his last scene:

The goggles.....alkdjfaporu@#I($W....

However, this drawing and the handful before it will never make it into the final film. I had to cut a few seconds off and this drawing, despite being a favorite of mine, had to go. It was even cut before I had a chance to really clean him up too.

Here's the very first drawing of the scene(Scene number 22 to be specific). Cleaned up and ready to go. I wonder what he's up to??? Hmmmm. This one will be in the final product. Anyhow, tomorrow I plan on roughing in a big action bit with my cat, Pilot, and by the weekend start my favorite Pilot acting scene.

P.S. James Baxter interview on't wait for the next part, incredibly inspiring though now I don't want to see a frame of my own animation that I've finished. Oh well, I still have 3 scenes that can really benefit from what James Baxter talks about.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lights Out--the Adventure

Oddly enough, I had my camera with me on Friday so here are a couple pictures of the events that took place:

First off, like I said before, I spent my morning out sketching Valencia people. These two drawings are my favorites out of the handful that I did. I kid you not on how vibrant her pants really were....I loved her pose, so hilarious along with the faces she was making as she read her book(never caught the title).

The father had this black plastic bag that he kept opening for his son. Never took the item(s) of interest out though---maybe something else to match their ensemble?

Beautiful day for drawing too. Already in the 70s around 11 in the morning. A shot of the bridge I walked across to get to the people...

4pm: and off the electricity goes---

An example of how dark it got in some areas of the department. This is Keane street, the street that I'm on(Disney Walk) had a little more light, but obviously by 6pm everything was pitch black except for the emergency lights(some lights were on, but only for stairs, some hallways, and the main gallery). By 7pm an exciting game of badminton commenced in the main gallery:

This above picture gives a better sense of how much light we had in the gallery. Still made it hard to see the birdie though.

It's now approaching 9:30 and the topic of ghosts and haunted places come up. 4 of us decided to venture away from the main gallery and head into the most haunted place at CalArts---the Modular Theatre or Mod as it's called. Earlier I had run back to my dorm and grabbed my flashlight, it came in really handy while exploring the Mod. Sadly didn't take a lot of photos, however here's a shot of what it looked like under the stage(had to use the flash to see anything). Looking back over this, It would have been really creepy to suddenly find a person in here----

Otherwise we explored from ceiling to floor, climbed a couple staircases, etc. no ghosts, secret compartments containing Walt Disney's frozen head, or anything spooky like that. We did find a piano and started playing "Grim Grinning Ghosts" and other such haunted tunes on it while describing our own stories with the supernatural(living in haunted houses, etc.). It was a lot of fun and by the time we came back out an eerie fog had formed outside the main building--it was drizzling too(this photo does not do this scene any justice).

Otherwise, we joined the rest of the animators in the Palace, and watched cheesy movies while playing Risk once the power came back on shortly after 10. Pretty fun night---okay film calls--for my own schedule I have 18 days to complete the rest of my actual animating stage!