Tuesday, September 30, 2008

King of the Beasts

Lion designs for tomorrow night. We have the option of doing more than just character lineups, so while doodling I developed some fierce story vignettes.

I realized I never posted any of my story boards last year from class. So while I'm not going to post all 57 boards---here's just a handful. It's about a bull and a matador. The bull basically becomes one big puppy when he sees the red cape, however he turns real mean when the cape is out of sight, this little quirk doesn't fit into the matador's Macho outlook so chaos ensues. Anyways:

Just an assignment....far from my actual film work. And now a highlight from my Saturday:

One of my roommates and I were walking out to my car to drive to school when two extremely chubby male dachshunds and their owner crossed our path. I'm not kidding when I say their bloated bellies were dragging on the ground--Like little dirigibles on 2 inch paws. While passing the lady kept exclaiming in regard to the black one, "I really do walk him all the time, but he just loves those French Fries!" She said this twice to us and then repeated it to the lil addict. French fries must breed like rabbits at her place. As far as his younger SLIGHTLY skinnier workout pal, the brown one must have very big bones. ha. Anyways, that made our morning.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ben Balistreri Lecture

Been working away on storyboards for Monday's class--just finished, a grand total of 57 boards-- so I have the chance to post my notes from the first guest lecture.

Overall, his lecture was very inspiring and highly informative. He shared a lot of his work, both design wise and storyboard wise and discussed various aspects of each. Some of the work he shared included the boards for an upcoming Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Thanksgiving special...looking really cool. Supposed to be an hour and half long special and he shared one sequence from the show. In-between his pitch he'd discuss the lessons he learned when storyboarding for a Flash-made show, like how it's best to keep characters in profile rather than a lot of perspective based movement(moving away or towards the camera). Much easier for the symbol based work-flow. He initially graduated from CalArts as a character designer and was hired for the particular job. When he left his first job at Disney TV he started to take advantage of any opportunities to learn other fields within the business, which was how he developed as a storyboard artist. He particularly learned a lot about boarding camera moves, one piece of advice he gave was to, "look at live action films. That's how you can learn about boarding decent camera moves and get some interesting shots for your films." Another point he touched on was how much freedom you have even as a hired storyboard artist. When boarding a director's ideas(therefore, not your own), at least for TV--probably applies to movies too, but board what you want to board, the directors he worked with allowed this freedom of ideas, however directors ultimately make the final decision on what should be cut to even how the pacing of a scene should go. Board a scene to your best ability, to what you think is appropriate and then hand it off knowing it could be completely different(or gone). After discussing this he moved onto design.

He shared dozens of his own drawings, which a couple can be seen on his blog. He brought in the original thumbnails, studies, etc. all the way up to the finals on a couple pieces. I'm just going to list the key points for Design:
There are no happy accidents with design. An artist should never be happy on the first pass. A strong design should look like a lot of thought was put into it.
It's better to have an appealing drawing than a super technical drawing.
Repetition with variation equals a unifying and interesting design.
Get the underlying structure first---THEN push it as far as it could possibly go.
Research is key, however there's a fine line between copying and studying and you're not a slave to the photo. Observe to make the design your own. Understand what the reality is.
His work-flow is: Realistic study based on several references then push the design to the very limits.
When a design seems boring it means the shapes are too even. If you can basically cut a character down the middle and the proportions could be mirrored onto the other half, then you've got a boring design. Push one aspect of the character to fix this problem. Again never settle on the first pass.
As a designer, you need to cater to your own style however in order to have a secure job you need to be adaptable with others' styles.

He followed this part up with a demo on his personal inking technique, which is very difficult to depict here. Basically he uses 3 pens: An India Ink brushtip pen, a super fine tip, and a 005 micron. In particular work towards yourself when drawing the line, then taper off towards yourself. For a thick line: Just build it up, again working towards yourself---not away.

Anyways, that's all the notes I had. I enjoyed the lecture and was pretty inspired to get crackin' on my homework for Character Design---this week it's lions. Well it's going on after 1 am and I've got a full day of cube-time tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Updates from the Laughing Place

Various assignments. The Satyrs and Medusas are for Character Design--For the Satyr we had to base the personality off of Phil from Disney's Hercules. We didn't have to stick to his design though. Medusa was whatever we wanted her to be.

And for the weekly traditional animation homework of studying a character, I chose Pinocchio. After talking with the teacher, I studied an entire sequence rather than jumping around to various scenes like I did with Madam Mim. I stuck with the particularly traumatizing scene of Pinocchio turning into a Donkey after watching his friends' transformation.

Only a fraction of artwork though, I have yet to post my traditional animation homework of Daffy doing a sports' related action(2 week project though) or my layout assignment(still WIP). I've also been battling my storyboard homework. I finally figured out a story to fill 60 panels and have thumbnailed that all out. Just need to actually put them on notecards and prepare the pitch by next Monday. Our teacher is bringing in a co-worker/friend to hear our pitches as well, so pressure is on. This story isn't related at all to my film, it's just a 2-week project. Trying to stay on-top of my film schedule, going to do some major storyboarding this weekend and get a first pass finished for feedback. Still need that ever elusive ending though----I've been trying to come up with one since June! Not good!

Since school has been in session for a little while, I guess a review of my classes would be good:

Sound Design: This class has been a lot of fun. I've been learning how to use various recording equipment(418 and 416 devices). Assignments have involved running around the school and recording dialogue, foley, and ambient sounds. Learning a lot and will be very useful in the coming months. A voice actor is visiting in two weeks---he has also offered, on that one day, to record voices for our films. Too bad I don't have any dialogue.

Story: We've been reviewing various story techniques/formulas used in the industry. Your classic 8 archetypal characters in one film and then the far more original---Main character and Impact character. This second choice has been particularly interesting, pretty informative and should really help out with my film. We've got our first assignment due next week and he plans on doing theory lectures in-between the nights that are dedicated to that particular homework assignment. My second favorite class after traditional animation.

3D animation: Right now the teacher is making sure the class understands the difference between parenting and grouping, especially how each effects hierarchy in Maya. Last week we animated the solar system. Tonight we're getting our first homework assignment and he's placing importance on our thumbnails before we even touch the rig. Over the summer I really became addicted to thumbnailing so I'm excited to start something new, plus I haven't animated in Maya in ages.

MegaCities of Asia: It is a critical studies class, and it's pretty interesting. The teacher has been incorporating her personal trips to various cities around the globe, so it's a little more personal than solely text book facts.

Character Design: This class really works your drawing hand. We spend the first hour going over that week's homework assignment and then the rest of the time we're studying a wide range of model sheets while the teacher walks around and points out what needs improvement. The teacher is more than intimidating, but I do enjoy the class and all of the drawing time.

Layout: We've been going over effective ways of telling a story through visual means. The teacher shares a wide range of movies(both animated and live-action) to demonstrate strong compositions, etc. It's been really helpful and the homework assignments are pretty creative.

Traditional Animation: The teacher has spent the last class reviewing the principles of animation and quizzing us on the meaning of each one. He would then follow each principle with a clip from a film showcasing that particular principle. His critiques of the recent homework assignment have been really thorough and helpful. Again, lots of drawing and observation. The latest animation assignment has been pretty challenging---we have to study one sports action(baseball, tennis, football, etc.), find a good video reference, thumbnail the key poses, translate those movements to Daffy, and then fully animate him doing that action. Not rotoscope realistic, but not super cartooney. I'm on my 2 attempt because I "improvised" on the first try and that snowballed into one big mess. I had reference and thumbnailed, I just pushed it too far and it looked extremely weird. Anyhow, first pass is due on Thursday and then the final is due next week. 2nd attempt is going much better.

Lifedrawing: Lifedrawing is pretty much the same as last year. I'm a little rusty, but I think I'm catching up again. The teacher is also letting us visit the dance studio and sketch the ballet dancers(only 3 people can visit per week. I might get to go this week.) He also spends the afternoon on a long-term theme. This semester we're on the theme of "Hunchback of Notre Dame," not the Disney version, the teacher wants to push the truer/darker side of the story. So each week he's going to do something related to this particular story---dressing the model up to look like Quasimodo, putting images of churches on the screen, etc. Should be interesting.

Otherwise, the first Guest Lecture of the year is kicking off on Friday. Ben Balistreri is coming so I'm definately looking forward to his talk---until then, back to work, time to go hit Photoshop and finish that layout homework.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Greasers, Daffy, and Octopi---OH MY

Week two is underway, it's only Wednesday, and I already have a ton of homework. Though I'm enjoying the work, lots and LOTS of drawing time. However, I haven't uploaded what I did during week one:

Character Design:

Greasers.....lots and lots of greasers.


The prompt was, "An octopus in a jungle."

Traditional Animation:

Every 2nd year class is assigned an iconic character to animate. Our class is animating Daffy Duck this entire year. Walks, dialogue, etc. Gonna be a blast! Anyhow, Daffy walkin' with attitude.
For some odd reason, this version gets sticky whenever I upload it. He's fluid on the final tape I'm turning in, but for this blog--Daffy has sticky feet.

The second assignment is a weekly assignment, every week we pick a Disney character before the 70's to study. Here's just my one favorite page out of the several I did:

Madam Mim is still amazing....just so hilarious. Anyhow, that's all I'm going to show. In-between this work I've been toiling away on misc. film work---well, I've got MegaCities of Asia in 10 minutes....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The latest updates:

Internet is still off at the apartment, but I finally got my cube all set up and can access the Internet there. Since my last little post, classes have resumed and so far they all seem really great and should do a good job of kicking my work up a notch or two. My story teacher this year started his class by playing the opening bank robbery scene from The Dark Knight to showcase an example of a fantastic opening, while my sound design teacher shared many video clips including the music video of Christopher Walken dancing in the hotel to also show how important a good sense of sound is(this particular music video was just an extra clip that the class wanted to see). So here's my schedule for the fall:

MEGACITIES OF ASIAKhan, ChandraW 2pm to 4pm

Before classes started several of my classmates and I ventured out into LA and visited the Getty Museum(along with Yogurt Land, which was delicious!). I've never been to the Getty before and it was incredible, both the place and the displayed artwork was phenomenal. They are currently exhibiting Bernini so one whole level was dedicated to his sculptures, paintings, and even sketchbook excerpts! In the other buildings, artists like Dega, Toulouse Lautrec, Monet, Manet, Troost, etc. were displayed too. Very inspiring to see all kinds of paintings/sculptures in person. I brought my camera and sketchbook along for the trip:

That building was where they were showcasing Bernini.

The Getty also had a beautiful garden area.

After strolling around the Getty everybody wanted to draw so we all spent our remaining time drawing. Here's my favorite sketch of the trip, this lady observed every painting in the room like this. Her dress was just an added bonus, I spotted her pose before her outfit. Well this week isn't over quite yet, still have a critical studies class at 2, Character Design tonight, Layout tomorrow morning, Traditional Animation tomorrow night, and Lifedrawing on Friday.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Round Two, and....GO!

Reached CalArts safely on Monday and have spent the past few days unpacking and setting up everything. Kiwi my parrot is winning over everyones' hearts, despite his occasional evil behavior. He pretty much slept and ate for the entire 600+ miles. No Internet in the apartment yet, wireless internet at CalArts is my only hope for keeping my email in check---and for updating the blog. Spent today seeing a whole bunch of people and signing up for classes. Fantastic seeing the ol' gang of animators again, lots of catching up to do. Have to of course say, Welcome new Freshmen! You guys are off to a great start, going to be one exciting year for ya'll. Hope you guys keep your blogs updated too! For me, it feels really good and really weird not being completely new this year, though I'm leaning towards really good. I'm still dying to move into my cube(have to wait until Monday for sign-up! AH!) and for classes to officially start(also on Monday), now that I'm all settled in it's definately time to get to work. Anyways, here's to year 2--already sounds like it's going to be quite the adventure.