Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Big Wrap Up!

As of Friday, December 17, 2011 at 12pm(after a nice 3 hour session of lifedrawing) I’m a CalArts’ Character Animation graduate! I can hardly believe that the date actually came. This past semester rocketed by and suddenly I’m dazed, but done. Talking with friends we got onto the topic of “No more…”---like “No more attendance rules.” “No more required classes.” “No more grades!?!?”, “No more night classes. My nights are suddenly going to be fairly open--which means I need a hobby outside animating, stat! haha” and it was bizarre waking up this morning and realizing what’s no longer going to be apart of my usual routine. Which is fairly scary to think about, however that's overpowered by how thrilled I am about what’s awaiting me in 2011---I’m looking forward to a nice chunk of downtime, but in January I get to jump back to animating full-time and I’m beyond jazzed about the upcoming workload.

CalArts has definitely become a second home to me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better 3.5 years here. From crazy scavenger hunts that ran until 1 in the morning, the inside jokes("TIMING!", "Tiny hands!"), to the super stressful final weekend before that year’s film was due, to the absolutely amazing summer at Pixar, to all the extremely exciting recent events over the past couple of weeks. Memorable is a very small word to say the least. The people I’ve met are quite the spectrum of characters, and on the whole, they’re all outstanding guys/gals. Wouldn’t have learned so much without my classmates or faculty being there by my side through both the good and rough times. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything and feel very fortunate to be apart of the department. It’s crazy to think about how much I’ve come, not just within my time at the school, but really in the past 6 years (7 in March.)--- since deciding that being a veterinarian was no longer my dream job, but animation was(though drawing was always my favorite pastime since about preschool). Touring CalArts for the very first time 6 years ago during my high school’s spring break sealed the deal, and now here I am with a BFA and hopefully a very long career in the animation industry!
(This is from my first year camp-out for cubes(2007!)! Aww! Such a long time ago. Lookit our wittle freshmen faces! Back in my day, no tents. haha)

I’m really going to miss all my classmates (under and upperclassmen!), I know I’m going to feel the distance the second I start hearing about class sign-ups, and that first week of classes. Always fun times. I wish everyone the very best of luck on their films and this upcoming second semester! I’m looking forward to Open Show already. And yes, I’ll be visiting as often as possible. Also, I will be attending my actual graduation ceremony in May so I do get to walk with my fellow fourth years who are about to head out into the world and kick some butt. :)

As for what awaits me now that school has ended--I have some very exciting news. In January, I’ll be joining the animation department at DreamWorks in Glendale! Starting to pack up my cube/apartment and will be making the big move after spending Christmas with my family. Excited doesn’t really begin to sum up how I feel!

So a tremendous thank you to everyone who has helped me over the years---all my family, and friends(new and old). And a thank you to everyone who follows this blog and has supported me since I started this shortly after my acceptance to CalArts. I think I might be ending this particular blog since its focus is on CalArts, but I’ll switch over to a new one that I’ll update with all kinds of daily life tidbits---like my misadventures when I try to use my Garmin to find a nearby u-haul store, or how I almost ran into a sliding glass door tonight while checking on laundry! The sort of stuff not covered in a classroom. haha. Entertaining drawings will be involved though, otherwise I'd just have to join Twitter....okay, well, over and out!

(How the department looked yesterday, post-Holiday department party.Woo! Fourth floor!)


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P.S. Here's my final assignment for Fourth Year Animation Class(not sure why the audio's all weird, might try uploading it again later. Playback seems to be acting up). Had almost too much fun working on this--especially on the tied-up guy.

P.S.S. Doodled this while waiting for files to transfer. My own lil "Monstrous Nightmare" getting into the spirit of things.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Very happy the break is here and I'm currently back home for a few days! I've been in crunch-time for the past 2 weeks animating away--and up until yesterday, my apartment definitely reflected the craziness that took place. But with CTN 2010 over with, and this past weeks' incredibly exciting events slowly wrapping up, I'm definitely resuming "normal" life. Being back home, eating a very delicious Thanksgiving meal, and spending time with family and friends has already restored some of my sanity. At this point, I'm going to finally post some work:



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The above is a collection of work, both done at school and a couple assignments I did during my animation internship at Pixar.
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And this test I wasn't able to finish in time to add to my reel that I showed at CTN, but since it's now in the can, I'm sharing it now.

Stay tuned, graduating in 21 days and I've got some major decisions to make in the next few days regarding the quickly approaching future.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thumbnail sized update

47 days left for this semester....crazy! Not too much to add from my previous post. I'm holding back on posting any animation assignments until the end of Nov. or so for a couple personal reasons, but they'll pop up eventually. Anyways, just to keep things slightly alive 'round here, have some thumbnails since that's about all I have time for nowadays when it comes to drawing (I still have lifedrawing of course, but outside of that....):
A doodle for my new assignment I'm working on. Sadly, the cheese head is no more and has been replaced with some stuff more along the lines of hockey. Tomorrow I'm going to try redirecting the shot back into this type of direction because it veered terribly off course over the past week that I've been working on it. My mood basically matches this drawing when I watch the playback.
This isn't recent, it's from a couple months ago, but while I was looking back in my sketchbook this popped out and I thought I'd share. Still amuses me. Mwhahaha.....
And then a full page of silly doodles of my lil trooper, Kiwi. Just for fun, though I certainly hope to animate the buzzard at some point.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An update of the traditional kind...

Wow, been a little while since I updated. The semester is well under way and I'm juggling the usual work load. I've been too busy to even venture over to the zoo since classes started. It's hard to believe it's already October and the big deadline coming up fast is December---since after that, I'm done with school. So I have a lot to wrap up before then! For now, enjoy my first assignment from 4th year animation class(we finished this a couple weeks ago and we're onto bigger and better looking things):


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It was actually a real treat to animate this lil flour sack in 2D. The last time I did that was last January...then it was onto my film, and aside from a couple days of animating in Flash, the rest of the time I was working in Maya. Obviously the summer was spent in the realm o' CG, so I was eager to try the traditional way again. It was pretty nice being able to just draw out a pose rather than having to pose out a sometimes stubborn rig. Just a fun test to get things rolling again...and now back to my current project(coming to a blog near you, by next weekend!):

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Week!

(My final class sign-up! At the time of this photo, I was standing by the character animation table. Photo also taken about 15 minutes before this place was packed! Very happy I got to "beat the rush.")

My class schedule for my last semester, a couple things are changing on here(lifedrawing will be all day now, instead of just morning), but this is basically it:

Acting for AnimatorsDuncan, RobertTh 4pm to 6pm
Advanced Life Drawing: The FigureLebow, DavidT 9am to 12 Noon
2D Character Animation IVTy, TedT Th 7pm to 10pm
Film Workshop III/IVKurtz, BobW 7pm to 10pm
Storyboard IVLence, RobertM 1pm to 4pm


Being Wednesday, I've now had most of these classes. The only one that's relatively "unknown" is Acting for Animators, which I've been trying to take for the past two years, but it's usually at the same time as another class, so I'm thrilled my schedule is open enough that I can take it. Overall, going to be a sweet final semester! Feeling pretty stoked about the classes/teachers and am ready to start breaking in my new cube:

Cube 65, top floor North Side! It was really tempting to stay with the same cube from last year, but in the end I decided to stick with my fellow fourth years. Not much else to report, I'll be trying to keep up zoo drawing as well, but that's taking a bit of a backseat this year, in order to give myself as much time as possible to really animate my heart out before December's graduation date. Anyways, first week is off and running!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Year 4 is GO

(Just leaving the Bay Area headed for SoCal as the sun came up.)

I'm almost done unpacking everything and getting settled into Valencia again. Last week was my very last round of class and cube sign-ups(cube 65! North Side, fourth floor, baby!). Crazy as always! Anyways, tomorrow year four kicks off and in honor of that, I decided to finally change my blog banner since the other one has been up since the end of my first year--not quite sure if this one is less of an eyesore...A little shout-out of my film characters from CalArts---Pilot the cat, Otis the croc, and Bot the alien crab-like robot.

I'll update tomorrow night with class schedule details, and some pics from the past week--just need to add a few more home-like touches to le cube, like my animation disc. Okay, over and out!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Mullet Rockin' Summer of Pixar!

The summer is coming to a close and before school kicks off in a few weeks, I thought I’d make a little post about the opportunity I had of being one of the summer ‘10 animation interns at Pixar, which is sadly wrapping up on Friday---though the interns are definitely going out with a bang(more like a lip-synced high note? ha).

It was definitely an all-around amazing experience, and also some of the most challenging weeks I’ve faced and tried my best to fight through. Film crunch-time was a pretty good warm-up for this summer. My expectations were pretty high prior to the internship and now at the end, they’ve definitely been surpassed in the best ways imaginable. It’s impossible to describe exactly what it’s like working under the Pixar crew. Every time I’d walk down the pathway and open the front door, I was always pretty dazed that I was even there. A lot of “pinch me” moments that’s for sure. We’d have regular intern dailies where we’d show our latest pass at an assignment and get thoroughly critiqued, which was always one of my favorite activities even if I got a little uneasy about watching an assignment of mine play on the big screen(the problems are always magnetized times 100 when being viewed on anything other than a computer monitor. Can’t. Hide. Anything. But at the same time, saw things from a completely new angle. ). Everyone has a very precise and critical eye—usually 1-2 viewings and they’d zero in on what was/wasn’t working and what could be done to make the shot better---whether technically or if a problem was coming from an acting standpoint. It was always an inspiring reminder of how much I’ve got to work on—I will say that my eye is that much sharper than it was in June. I learned truckloads from being fully immersed in the animation department environment; the wide-range of studio lectures were also a great daily-dose of knowledge. It was pretty incredible being in a studio environment for the first time and meeting the animators who have animated so many of my favorite/inspiring scenes(this certainly happens at CalArts, but it still made this internship very special getting to constantly visit with people on such a personal basis). Andrew, Adam, my mentor Don, and the entire team of mentors were always a motivating, hilarious tour de force that helped make this experience so memorable. My daily schedule certainly included many hours behind my ol’ computer screen working on a really nice range of assignments. However, the Bosses of the animation interns definitely found ways to schedule in the fun and I definitely have some hilarious memories—of the 80’s hard rock variety. :) The epic dodgeball game that took place last week which basically turned the atrium into an all out battlefield, is something I won't forget. It’s really hard to believe that it’s ending on Friday, just feels like last week was Day One. I’m sure I’ll be a little studio-sick(the industry equivalent of home-sick? I don’t know. Just made it up.) for a good while afterwards. The other interns as well have been a great bunch(“What is it!?!?!”) and I'll miss hanging out with them(story, TD, etc. Not just the anim crew) I’m certainly excited to be returning to CalArts though and couldn’t be happier that I got to spend my summer in the trenches of Pixar animating away! Certainly can’t say I’m rusty like in the past. Haha. So it looks like I’m now an official fourth year and I have just one semester left---graduating in December! Woo hoo, coming up pretty fast! Anyways, farewell NorCal, and hello again, SoCal….

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shark Week Wrap Up

The last round up of sharks:
Day 5 was the porbeagle shark. Such a cutie.

Day 6 was the ever popular Great White Shark. The bottom two are enjoying the Jaws' theme--whether humming it to himself or cranking up the tune on the headphones. Dun, dun! Dun. Dun....



Day 7 is the basking shark. Certainly gives the OMG cat on YouTube a run for its money.

And then, not sure, but I think tomorrow is a free-for-all, but I'm going to be swamped with work so I'm posting my contribution now:

SHARKTOPUS! I mean, the great white is great and all, but come-on.....

I personally prefer my sharktopi(?) a little on the wimpy side.

So that wraps up Shark Week....sad to see it go, but it was a blast to participate it. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No frills about it...

It be Frill Shark day...

"Stella!!!"or "Bacon!!!"
Honestly, the only purpose for this creature of the deep to exists is to be the fuel of nightmares. guuhhh.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Zebra Shark

Day 3 brings us to the Zebra Shark. They have such little mouths---bet they'd make excellent whistlers.

Apologies for the blurriness. My scanner is somewhere beyond the sea--aka. in an LA storage unit til Sept.... So handheld camera it is!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shark Week Bites Back!

It's that time of year again! Shark Week is back on Discovery and that means drawin' time! Kristen has started up the awe-some daily shark theme, so I'm setting down the mouse and dusting off the pencils to doodle up some sharklings:
The ever interesting Sand Tiger Shark was Day One. Teeth only a dentist could love.
And then Day Two is the Port Jackson Shark. Apparently you can buy one of these guys for yourself---if you have $800 laying around.

I'll be back later in the week with more.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Updates from inside the walls....

Not sure where this leads??? There's a clue somewhere....(it's brightly colored)


Giant Luxo!

Right now the main lobby at Pixar is currently featuring a life size version of Ken's Dreamhouse for various Toy Story 3 events. I didn't get a shot of the back of this, but it's pretty awesome. Always get a little thrill just from walking in the front entrace. So cool!

Week 2 just wrapped up and I've already had an incredible time. Time is flying by, but it feels like I've been here a lot longer than 2 measly weeks. I'm learning so much, literally at Pixar 10-11 hours a day--actually going in tomorrow to finish up my assignment before Monday's big critique. But I'm lovin' it, my fellow interns and mentors make for excellent company in the trenches of animating. Going to be a fun next couple of months! Alright, over and out!

P.S. Saw Toy Story 3 last night and I really enjoyed it. Lots of laughs and some very sweet moments with the characters. Definitely sad to see it end, but I thought Pixar couldn't have done a better job of wrapping everything up. Congrats to everyone who worked on it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Barker beauties???


I spent some quality time at the mall foodcourt today and did some drawing. Finished a sketchbook and I got to witness some lovely locals--it's a win-win situation!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Getting back on the drawing wagon...


Some quick thumbnails involving a tipsy elephant. Trying to figure him out a little more since I'd love to animate him in Sept.

(Sorry about the blurry drawings..I'm scanner-less and my camera's focus was being really finicky. )

Sunday, May 23, 2010

3rd Year Wrap-up--To Infinity and Beyond

Tomorrow summer officially begins--just moved everything into storage today and in the morning, I off for the summer!

A quick snap-shot of how chaotic my cube looked while I boxed everything up. Always a sad time when everyone is packing up, the cubes very quickly become a ghost town and it's hard to think that just a month ago everyone had just finished their films! My 3rd year at CalArts has been, quite frankly, a pretty kick-ass awesome year. I've learned an incredible amount since September and can hardly believe how fast the time has rocketed by! It feels like I was unpacking just last week! Anyways, it has been a wild ride, but every minute has definitely been worth it. I hope everyone has a great/relaxing summer and see ya in September!

A little under 2 weeks remain until I take-off for my internship at:


I'm so excited to start! (though definitely getting a little nervous about it. The first day jitters are quickly setting in.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2010 Producer's Show!

2010 CalArts Character Animation Producers' Show opening from CalArts Character Animation on Vimeo.


The above is the opening for this year's Producer's Show! A very loving little shout-out to the staff who represent the Character Animation department. :)

This year's showcase of films.

This past Thursday night was the annual Producer's Show. It was an amazing night and I'm still floored every time I watch everyone's films. This year my parents were able to fly down and attend the show as well! They loved the showcase and it was really special having them there--my Mom has been my "fan" from the beginning, which involved me discovering the joy of drawing while using a red crayon on a very white carpet in the living room--so, thanks for all the support guys and again, very sorry about that, Mom.

My Mom and I outside the theater, my Step-Dad was taking the photo. Later, we took a picture together once we had settled into our seats.

Anyways, it was a very memorable night and I met a lot of great artists throughout the show. While I was really nervous about the crowd's reaction, my film seemed to screen very well in front of the crowd and I really appreciate all of the positive feedback I've received over the past few days. :)

To conclude, here's a link to all the student films made this year that have been posted online:
http://vimeo.com/channels/calartscharanimfilms2010
Definitely make sure to check it out if you haven't already. It has been a really phenomenal film-year!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Film Talk

Going to do a couple blog posts instead of trying to cram everything into one. So first up, just a quick write-up of my experience making my third year film, "Bothered Bot."

I started out the school year with several ideas, I even had developed a film idea over the summer, but something always came up that made me shelve one idea and start anew---usually being, "This is way too epic. No." By November I had narrowed it down to two film ideas.
One simple 2D film idea involving this little elephant:


And then an entirely different 3D film idea based on this odd-ball robot/alien guy that I had doodled one day in an afternoon class:

I was boarding/pitching both for a couple weeks. I wasn't too concerned about the medium, I love animating whether it's Maya or pencil/paper, and I was jazzed for both film ideas. It really wasn't until I got some very sound advice from my 3rd year animation teacher, Scott Wright, that I made the official jump to only focus on the 3D Bot film. Another factor involved attending CTN-X and realizing that if I wanted a full-time job animating somewhere in the industry, I really needed more 3D work. At that time my reel consisted of traditional work. So what better way to bulk up my reel then making a 3D film where I'd only be animating in the computer.

Winter break was the final test for this film. If I couldn't get all the Maya-prep work, like modeling/texturing/rigging done before Dec. 31st, then I'd go back to the elephant idea. So on the day after Christmas, I battled my way through modeling the character, ship, and environment. Then followed that immediately up with a couple days of intense rigging madness. By the time I came back to school at the beginning of January I was already doing a couple animation tests to make sure the robot rig would operate properly once I started actual film animation. The above images show a little progression in his design, the Bot on the left is the "old" look before I showed him to a couple friends for feedback. Pretty cold looking and not quite there yet. The Bot on the right is the final design, not a huge re-do, but just tweaking a few aspects of him and he suddenly became a lot more likeable.

From the couple of quick animation tests, I fixed several issues with Bot rig version 1.0---a lot of bugs with those legs of his, but within another week I had version 2.0 up and literally running. Onto animating the film! Woo!

Out of 3 films I've made at CalArts, this was definitely my favorite one to animate. Despite the occasional rough-patch, like the PC labs being down an entire day for maintence(happened a couple times), or just having a really bad animation day(also happened a handful of times), I had an incredible time working on it(which was the majority of the time). That Bot was a blast to animate and a lot of scenes just fell into place so easily. I also had a close group of classmates/teachers right by my side to give me constant, very honest feedback(even on a frame-by-frame basis, which was amazingly awesome!) That group helped me really push my animation.

A quick screenshot of the graph editor from a scene in my film. This was taken before I started tidying up some of the animation---actually a small chunk was removed to keep the scene from "dying" in the middle. This scene had a build-up of tension/action and mid-way through it kind of stopped, but not anymore. Also, this doesn't include the facial animation(aka. the eye).

Anyways, that pretty much covers it. Like I said before, I really enjoyed working on it and after awhile, I almost didn't like the idea of "finishing" it--or at least no longer animating. Spending several hours a day just moving the lil Bot around was quite fun. No all-nighters, though things got a little nutty towards the end and I was pulling some really nasty hours trying to composite everything together in After Effects:

That's an example of what a scene looked like when I initially brought it into After Effects. Elements like the bg, shadows, reflections on the environment, additional camera moves, sky, special effects like snow, etc were all added in once I had the robot/battery animation working. This one scene(when the icicles are falling around the robot while he's desperately trying to pick-up the battery) took about 5 hours to put together. Most of the time, scenes took maybe 15-30 minutes to put together, just a handful almost did me in.

Okay, the next post will be a Producer's Show/Job fair wrap-up....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Open Show 2010/Bothered Bot/Producer's Show!

After many months of constant work and putting in some crazy hours, my third year film, "Bothered Bot" screened last night at CalArts' annual Open Show!This was taken roughly 2 hours before the start of the show. Huge screen, and by 2 pm, just about every seat was filled(by 4 pm people were sitting on the floor in the back/on the sides). This year was a little shorter than in the past, the first half ran from 2-7 and then there was a break before we started watching again from 10-12am. My film seemed to go well, got a couple chuckles when I hoped I would--sadly somehow when projecting the film, the colors were a little too saturated and my poor robot went from red to a sickly magenta/neon pink combo, so I spent most of my time agonizing over that. But it was still surreal seeing it on the big screen. Anyways, the Open Show this year was amazing, the films from the department were extremely strong! I'm very proud of all my classmates. So many favorite films, once I track some of them down I'm going to post them on here. So congrats everyone, we certainly put on one heck of a show! :)

I didn't get to bed until 1:30 a.m. so I slept in this morning, and eventually made my way to CalArts around 10:30ish.... and was greeted with a huge surprise. I made it into the Producer's Show! This year's posting was really fast(usually have to wait until Tuesday!), so it's still sinking in. I didn't have my camera with me so I'll try being cheesy and take a picture of the list a little later. Seeing that "Bothered Bot" is my last film at CalArts(graduating in Dec, so I need to focus on job-hunting), this latest news is something that's very special to me. Anyways, since it has finally made its Open Show debut...I've put it online, enjoy:

Bothered Bot from Jennifer Harlow on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bothered Bot! It's in the can!

After an absolutely insane weekend--yesterday at about 3:15pm(45 min. before the deadline) I turned in my film! And now that I suddenly have actual free-time, this blog is definitely in need of an update! It was pretty intense over the past few days, no all-nighters, but I was feeling pretty fatigued yesterday after 4 days of 3-4 hours of sleep a night. However, it was absolutely worth it and now my third year film is done! Since yesterday, I've been nit-picking it to death, and have gone through a roller coaster of emotions, but after a full-night's sleep and some serious time away from the computer screen, I watched it a couple of times and can actually say that overall, I'm pretty happy with it. I achieved the one thing I set out to do---give myself as much time as possible to just animate. I definitely feel like I was able to give many scenes a lot of attention which I really haven't been able to do before. It has always been painful to be so short on time that I can't revisit a scene and fix the animation. And because I've been able to animate/re-animate a number of scenes, I actually had a ton of fun on this film. Never really felt like "work" until the absolute end...when I was suddenly on a schedule of working from 8 in the morning until 3 or even 4 am the next day to get everything done in time(no animating obviously. Just post-production and duking it out in the battlefield that was After Effects). Oddly enough, this morning, after sleeping a glorious 9 hours, the last few days really only feel like one, big, looooong, day--all the chaotic events, are just a blur to me. I'm still trying to get my days straight. haha. Anyways, I'll be posting my film online sometime over the weekend(probably Sunday because Saturday is going to be jam-packed with Open Show style fun) and until then, here's quick cellphone snapped, photo of my computer screen as I wrapped up my film yesterday afternoon:

The top blue line is the video while all that bottom craziness indicates where all the sound is. Not on screen is the soundtrack which was just one line below all that stuff.

At this time though, I really wanted to acknowledge everyone that was right there by my side helping me throughout this year. I can't thank everyone enough for all their input and invaluable contributions. This film wouldn't have come together without them. Having my friends, teachers, and even my family swoop in and save the day was amazing. Another good thing were the people who'd give me a good kick in the butt to make sure every scene lived up to its own potential. Always felt very motivated/inspired after a critique. I'm not too sure how many of these guys read this blog, but regardless, here's the list of everyone who made sure this film could, "be all it can be":

Thank you everyone!

Alright, I'm off to go catch-up on life for a little bit before I start focusing on a portfolio/demo reel for the upcoming Job Fair.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Coming into the home-stretch!

The past few weeks have flown by and everyone is suddenly facing the terrifying prospect that--10 whole days remain until films are due! Time to break out the IV's of caffeine, kiss sleep goodbye, and hunker down for this last stretch! Probably have "Final Countdown" on a constant loop as well. :P

Last weekend was my final pass on animation. The one aspect I'm very happy about is how much I've been able to refine the animation. It has been really nice being able to finish large segments of the film, receive tons of great feedback from classmates/teachers, and then go back and actually have the time to address the changes. However, with the deadline coming up fast I had to put my foot down at some point and "lock" all animation/camera work---still need to tweak a few things, but the latest version of my film is leagues stronger then 4 weeks ago. Presently, I'm getting ready for post-production and getting all of my scenes ready for the magical realm of After Effects. I should be finished with compositing by Thursday/Friday and next weekend is all about the sound effects/soundtrack---and that Monday, I turn-in the finished product by 4pm(omg. Sooooo close!)!Knock on wood though. While some areas of this film have gone rather smoothly, I've certainly hit some obstacles and encountered some just plain weird events that have probably taken a few years off my life---like file corruption, computers crashing, losing several hours of work(happened last Saturday!), etc. Being this close to the finish line, I'm very paranoid, but at the same time, numb to the whole computer crashing on me biz. But overall, this year's Crunch-time is an improvement over the craziness of last year. Not having an epic film has certainly helped reduce the chaos. Any who, here's a photo from my day:

So how does this relate to a 2d film? Well, it kind of doesn't. Some major changes occurred over Winter Break--and the number one change is, this year it's a 3D film for me. Not a hybrid like last year. 98% of it is all Maya--some of the special effects were done in Flash(the final 2%). Most of my classmates know about the change, but I haven't posted too much, so I'll just announce it now and get into more details about what brought about this change after April 26th. Anyways, the above image is how I spent my morning--- I took over 4 computers(yep. PC lab) and for the good part of today, rendered out the majority of my film. Okay, back to work, still have a couple hours left before I go to bed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Past few weeks....

It's Spring Break and this year it's especially nice because I've been home for a couple days--which never happened before because I was drowning in film-work(this year isn't too different, just that things have been falling into place so I'm right on schedule). Certainly wish I was staying longer, but this was a very welcome break. Tomorrow I start the usual 2-day drive back to Valencia. Film is moving along, certainly in a much better spot than I was last year. Animation is pretty much done and, oddly enough, I'm pretty happy with it(there are certain scenes I can still watch and not want to toss out!)--last week I actually completed my first "pass" on the entire film, and I'm now going back and making changes based on all the fantastic feedback I've received--this involves a little bit of new animation, but I think at the end of next week that should be "in the can!" Very excited to see it coming together, it's a big relief to see people respond the way I hoped they would to what's happening with the robot character. Sorry no sneak peeks quite yet---with 31 days left there's lots to do!

Updates with CalArts' in general: the past few weeks have been jam packed with amazing guest lectures. This whole semester has contained quite a number of really inspiring talks(Glen Keane, Brad Bird!). It's incredibly easy to fall into a "film marathon" after artists like James Baxter, Mark Henn, or Andrew Gordon(Pixar Spline Doctor!) visit. Hearing them talk about their approach to animating has been very helpful and keeps me from falling into some bad animation habits from last year. We've also had a visit from Andres Deja which he discussed how he developed characters like Jafar, Scar, Lilo, and most recently, Madame Odie from Princess and the Frog. There have been a couple more lectures as well and hopefully after films, I'll find some time to catch-up on posting the notes. Last Thursday night, the department was very lucky---a visit from Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who just finished directing the new Dreamworks' film, "How to Train your Dragon!" They talked about their careers, starting with their schooling to how they handled directing Lilo and Stitch. Very interesting talk and both of them approached their new film Dragons with what they learned from their previous films. I'm very excited to see the film on Friday.
Then, to wrap up last week, Ewan McGregor visited CalArts and gave a wonderful talk. While I'm still pretty new to his work(I'm currently making an effort to watch the various films he's been involved with---most recently: Shallow Grave. It was creepy, but very good), it was amazing hearing him talk about his way of thinking when it comes to acting/developing a new character. One of the things I picked up on is how passionate he is about acting, how much he enjoys injecting aspects of his own life into a character to help make them more believable. However, he's always very conscious about how his performance affects the other actors, how this one scene will fit into the bigger picture, how the camera affects his movements, etc. I definitely can appreciate what he discussed and overall, he was a completely cool, very entertaining, and thoughtful person. Definitely hope he comes back soon.
(I did not take this picture. I found this via the Film/Video website, so all credit is to them. Just thought I'd share it here.)
Anyways, to wrap things up here are some videos relating to the recent guest lecture with Chris and Dean:

The first one is the scene Chris Sanders storyboarded--Mufasa's ghost coming back to Simba:


This is a scene that Dean DeBlois storyboarded that really helped set the bar for the rest of Mulan:


And then a clip from Lilo and Stitch that involves both Andreas Deja(who animated the little girl, Lilo),Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois. It's a deleted scene, but it's such a beautiful little moment with the characters, that I had to post it, "Bedtime Story":


And of course, just incase someone hasn't seen this. The trailer for How to Train your Dragon. Friday can't come soon enough!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ringing in the March Madness

Crunching away on le film. Should be wrapping up animation in the next few weeks and then onto the next challenge: compositing/post-production. But I'll battle my way through that when the time comes. So to keep things active, here are some studies:
Last Tuesday or Wednesday morning I was driving to school and at the very last redlight before reaching campus, this glorious sight entered the cross-walk. After seeing a lot of characters around Valencia...this lady takes the cake. Those are indeed small dogs in her "stroller"--I counted about 7-8 heads bouncing around inside. All these heads/bodies were shooting all over the tiny space. The image that immediately popped into my head was one of those preschool corn poppers that kids push around and the balls bounce around.
Yes, that toy. Not a single pooch was still, they were literally bouncing off the walls. As I'm drawing her all I can think about is her routine---she's obviously out for walk, probably every morning(though I've never seen her before), but what about the dogs? Does she rotate them for every day of the week? Or does the one lucky pooch get the leash while the rest are vacuum-packed into the stroller? Anyways, had to share, I smile every time I see this just because of how bizarre this was. Valencia folk are on the complete opposite end of the "character scale" when compared to Medford folk--so basically, this woman made my year. haha
And then yesterday I made a point of stepping away from my film and focusing on something completely different. Zoo drawing! I was pretty stunned that the African Wild Dogs were out and about--I've never seen them before so I was spent a good deal of time watching those guys. Also the Chacoan look like they're straight out of a Miyazaki film, they have such interesting shapes/proportions. Going out yesterday definitely made me realize how rusty I've gotten, so I need to try and get back into the routine of zoo drawing again---3+ weeks of just film-work really takes its toil on ya. But I really wasn't too focused on drawing, just needed a breather from film-life. Though the film itself is going really well, I'm not burnt-out and I'm crazy inspired every morning when I sit down and start working on an old or new scene. But I know it's very good to step away every once in a while so I made a point of doing that yesterday. And now, back to the grind....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Brad Bird Guest Lecture

On Saturday, CalArts was extremely lucky/fortunate enough to have Brad Bird visit!My notes are unfortunately pretty short, but that doesn't mean the lecture was anything but awesome! The majority of his lecture focused on various openings from his films and listening to him describe what worked, what didn't--basically how the final opening in films like Iron Giant and Ratatouille came to be. Anyways, onto what I did write down:

A quick history, Brad was apart of the first character animation class at CalArts, he later worked at Disney for a little bit before moving onto directing the first episode for, "Family Dog." He later became involved with other TV shows like The Simpsons and later directed Iron Giant before heading over to Pixar to direct The Incredibles and Ratatouille. And on a very fun note, he's the voice of Edna "E" from The Incredibles, darling!

"Breaking the rules of film making are really only broken by those who have a full understanding of them." One of the advantages of CalArts is being able to make films, gain knowledge of these rules and hopefully break them in a way that's successful. An example he shared was about Family Dog. In TV, it was the norm to have pretty standard cuts, flat eye-line, etc. An example being Flinstones---standard establishing shot of the location, and when a character talks you cut to them, then cut back to the listener's response. Just cutting back and forth, not pushing the perspective of the shot, or even leaving the camera on the listener as the other character talks. This was mostly due to budget and time restraints of course. TV shows definitely didn't have the budget feature films did. When Family Dog got under way, Brad and his team essentially "broke these commonly used rules," wanting to push the idea that animation can be like live-action. That shots can be long and uninterrupted and have crazy camera angles, but still within the limited budget/time of TV. He also continued to use elements like skewed angles, shadows, etc. during the time he worked on The Simpsons.

Brad then went onto talking about his experiences directing feature films and the kinds of things he learned. When developing an idea and something he learned from TV is the importance to explore quickly, commit early(don't change your mind, be open, but don't count on changing your mind), be specific(what do we see, and in CG what do we need to build to avoid over-building a set).
Going into detail on the "What do we see? And how much do we need to build for a CG world?" notion. This applied when Brad started on The Incredibles, he figured out the level of detail in a shot by asking,"how good does it have to be?" Does this shot fly-by the camera, or is there a long, slow pan where the audience will see every last pixel? This way the crew avoids putting in more than what will be on the screen. By identifying "How good does this have to be?" you focus the energy and maximize your time and resources. The scene Brad shared was actually the segment I posted earlier---Dash's race against the villains. He showed the animatic of this part and the boards were gorgeous. All the thinking about detail and how the camera would be handled had all been thought out in the boards so the CG set-builders could go in and only build what the camera/audience would see. I really wish the animatic of that section would appear on a DVD or something, it was amazing to see because as far as timing(some of the shots changed ever-so slightly in the final), camera moves, series of events--it was all right there.

Next was Openings. How it's crucial to create the strongest opening possible for a film. The comparison Brad gave was how film is a strange medium, like cement. Cement is wet for about 20 minutes and in that time, it's fairly flexible and can be sculpted in various ways. After 20 minutes it's solid and can't be manipulated any further or it all falls to pieces. Now in the context of film, audiences are willing to give about 20 minutes of their focus towards whatever the film's world has to offer. Those first 20 minutes, the audience goes for anything, however once that time has passed--if you add more(overwhelm) or "break" a pre-established idea the audience gets mad/frustrated and hates the movie.

The opening to Ratatouille was shown and everything you need to know about this film and the "rules of this particular world" were established. At this point I stopped taking notes, Brad was talking over the film and it was easier to watch/listen then watch/listen and try to write it all down. Basically, we establish that Remy loves cooking/good-food, his relationship with his family, how different he is from the other rats, and humans are extremely dangerous and are out to kill rats(Granny with the gun).

After discussing the openings to both Iron Giant and Ratatouille(showing the various versions etc.), Brad quickly discussed a unique challenge on a certain part of Ratatouille---how, in the medium of animation, do you create spontaneity? Everything is meticulously planned/controlled when it comes to creating animation...so how do you inject those fun, in the heat of the moment, type of scenes? This type of creativity was needed in a particular scene from Ratatouille---when Linguini is being controlled by Remy for the first time in the kitchen. Creating the "Special Order" and the duo starts to experiment. Linguini is weaving around the room, freaking out his co-workers, and grabbing various ingredients that Remy is picking out. The best way to handle this is to throw the system, itself, off-balance.

The conventional way to start a scene is script, then go into storyboards, record dialog, edit the dialog, plan the layouts, animate everything, and then you have the final. With trying to create spontaneity---the scene started with storyboards(mainly figuring out the action of the character(s)), write up the script improvised as a reaction to the boards, record the dialog, edit the dialog, go into rough animation, then layout(camera), edit it together, go back in and now refine the animation based on the camera, and then arriving with final scene. It was very cool seeing this particular scene come together with this new approach, and ultimately the scene really benefited from it. Very interesting and something I might try with my current short film(as far as camera work...I don't have any dialog or script.)

And to wrap everything up a Q&A(just the parts I could catch)---I also just put some key quotes that stuck out to me the most that came up during the session.

Q: Artists who arn't quite sure what they're good at yet, or interested in so many aspects but haven't figure out their niche quite yet in the industry:
A: Don't stress it. Proceed with whatever interests you, "just eat it all up and see what you want seconds on and that'll guide you with where you want to go". Along the way, it's important to catalog all kinds of experiences/influences--not just from film, but from real-life(someone doing something interesting in the grocery store. etc).

"Animators need to bring stuff from their own lives(looking at old work, new work, theater, paintings, sculpture, etc.)---anything that fires you up should be good fodder for animation." You're keeping it fresh by bringing in these "outside" influences.

Q: How much of the script do you write yourself?
A: All of it. A couple lines might be added based on feedback.But for the most part it was on my own(Ratatouille being a bit of an exception since it was developed before Brad came on board).

Q: Was Edna ever a super-hero and if so what was her super power?
A: And yes, he answered in E's voice, "Her super-power is self-evident, darling. To look fabulous...all da time."

"One of the problems that animators have is that they get so focused on making the movement beautiful that they don't focus on making it specific. " Everyone has an individual way of responding to an emotion/movement....that's the kind of thinking an character animator needs to keep with them. "How do they move and how is it specific?"

"Try to organize the information in a scene/story, so you're revealing it at the best possible point to reveal it." He used the example of poker, or even the idea of a stripper. You don't what to give away everything/show your whole hand right at the beginning. You want to give the audience opportunities to ask questions(and what DO I want them to ask), keep them interested, etc. before giving it all away. You don't want to just dazzle people just in the opening and explain everything right away. The audience gets the thrill, but then they're done.

Anyways, that just about wraps it up. To end I'll share some "Family Dog," enjoy:

The pilot for Family Dog(take note of the unique camera shots on top of so many things that make this so brilliantly entertaining). Part 1:



Part 2(look for the one scene where the camera appears to be rotating 360 degrees in the living room. Going from the dog, to the clock, to the door. Brad shared this scene with us--that's all one looonnnggg sheet of paper!):



On an different note: I've gotten a couple requests about posting videos or something from a previous lecture. Unfortunately, as great as it'd be to be able to re-watch the various lectures I've attended, I just carry a notebook with me and write as fast as I can. :) Sorry.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coming up for some air...

In the heat of animating. I have about 4-5 seconds left on a really juicy, acting shot in my film(estimated length of the scene is about 25 seconds!)--a shot that I've been dying to animate since the very beginning of the film, after this one I've got one more lengthy acting bit(a very fun scene of a dazzed/confused character fumbling around, trying to get his bearings again. About 20 seconds as well.) and then it's a lot of fast-paced action movements(scurrying, falling, and fast reactions). The scenes that have been animated arn't quite done yet, they're in various stages of "completion"---all of them need another pass to fix some things that have been pointed out to me over the past week. Shouldn't be more than a couple days of work. It's very cool seeing the character finally coming to "life"---it makes watching the scenes that are still only storyboards(aka. very still/dead), really really hard to watch. Just want to see it all moving!

Over the past week I re-visited the story of my film and have managed to tack on an additional 40 seconds of film-time. At least the setup for the entire film reads a lot clearer and the big buildup towards the climax is a lot stronger than the previous story-version. Generally everyone I showed the animatic to, who had never seen my story before, were completely confused within the first 15 seconds of the film...so definitely had to do some re-boarding, but it all seems to come across now. Yay! Yesterday I got the final "green-light" to leave the story alone and just animate. Which I'm more than happy to do. Anyways, just posting to comment that I'm alive and for the most part, kickin'--I'm just making my way through the usual film-crunch time(73 days....).

A nice bit of inspiration to kick off what should be an all around "incredible" weekend--film-wise and otherwise. ;) Less vagueness and hopefully more details to come by Monday:

Monday, February 1, 2010

More Zoo Studies

Weather finally cleared up last week and it meant only one thing, zoo trip!


Itchy bears, really cool orangutan(need to draw them more, they're very interesting characters.), and some of the birds.

The tiger was standing up and gnawing on the bamboo around his enclosure while the lions enjoyed the sun---the lioness was in such an elegant pose, paws crossed, just staring down any people who walked by. The male lion however was all sprawled out in a not-so-elegant pose--definitely a fun contrast between the two.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whittle and Spit

video
Inbetween film work I've been going back and working on some assignments from last semester. This is one of them, I've tied it down a bit and worked on some of the issues it was having a couple weeks ago.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Glen Keane Guest Lecture

Just got out of the lecture and my head is spinning from the past few hours. So because I'm a little too tired to actually go animate(which I'm dying to do after watching Glen animate), here are my notes/summary of the night:

A quick introduction for those who might be new to the name, Glen Keane. He attended CalArts before there was even a Character Animation department--at that time it was Film Graphics under the Experimental Animation department---and has spent the past 35+ years animating at Disney. He has been the supervising animator on characters like Ratigan(Great Mouse Detective), Ariel(from the Little Mermaid), Aladdin himself, The Beast(from Beauty and the Beast), Tarzan himself, John Silver(the cyborg from Treasure Planet), etc. There are so many scenes that he's worked on that have had a very big impact on me. Some of the first pencil tests that I found online were his and that really opened my eyes to the notion of pursuing animation as a career(along with a couple other incredibly talented artists).

Tonight, he came and drew/animated for us. My notes are primarily when he'd emphasize a point or just say something I wanted to remember while I animate on my own film. So here are these points and I'll do my best to put them in context:
"Push boundaries or you're not taking advantage of being an animator." Essentially, don't settle for what has been done before, or "safe." These are drawings, you can animate your wildest fantasies----you're not bound by any rules of real-life reality(or even live-action film), and as an artist you're able to "become" a savage beast, or a princess with 70 feet of hair! These characters can inhabit any habitat whether inside a wall, or in some deep region of the Twilight Zone. So shoot for the moon!
"The more action is related to the emotion, the more interesting it becomes." Always think of a way to put a more interesting perspective on an emotion. Glen had us shout out various emotions, then actions, and he randomly combined a few to create far more interesting descriptions. One of the example he drew out was, "fear"--well it's very easy to just go with a run of the mill pose--sweat, teeth chattering, eyes bugged out, shoulders hunched up to the ears. Usually something everyone has seen before. However, when "Eating" is added, in this case, "Fear of Eating"---you get a very character specific scenario...Glen drew a guy cringing at the very idea of actually eating a scorpion that was on the end of his fork. Much more fun to watch right? So find ways to link an action with an emotion and the animation will benefit greatly. Another one that Glen drew out(just one drawing that summed up the whole idea) was, anguished dancing which was hilarious---just think of Seinfeld and Elaine's spaz-like dancing and you come close to what was drawn out.

A very key point that came up, and is something that definitely applies towards this year's film is: Setup a goal and hold it back from the audience for as long as possible. Let it be known what the character(s) is after and just milk every second before they achieve their desire. The example Glen shared was a scene from Avatar---when Jake is trying to tame/fly those flying creatures. First Jake has to find the beast, keep it from killing him, connect his hair to control it, and then actually fly. That whole scene is prolonging the ultimate goal of that final flight scene between Jake and the creature--the goal is clearly established, but every task is difficult, nothing is easy and it makes the audience feel very satisfied once Jake succesfully achieves his first flight. Another example that I found that I think fits this idea is from ol' Wile Coyote(aka. Road-Runnerus Digestus):



Just a short segment from the full piece, but the artists are just playing with that gag. It's a little different then the scene in Avatar. Everyone knows the roadrunner will never be caught, however everyone knows that the coyote's attempts at catching that roadrunner always fail. The coyote doesn't just plummet straight to the ground like he does in some other gags, but instead has a very round about way of falling--and that whole time you know what's coming, all the setup is there---the rocks, the ground that's coming up(though off-screen until the very end, you know it has to appear), etc. Very fun to watch and think about.

At this point Glen sat down at the animation desk with a huge ream of animation paper and started animating. He was still following the point I mentioned above about prolonging the goal. In this case, it was a baby going from a seated position to learning how to stand. He worked out what poses would really hit home for the audience---to really feel the baby's struggle. Absolutely amazing to watch.

Anyways, that pretty much covers the night. I'm still soaking in everything he talked about. It was a fantastic way to start the weekend---myself and I'm sure the rest of the department will be spending tomorrow hunkered down and animating like crazy! Thank you again to Glen for the lecture and to everyone who helped make tonight so memorable. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Week Report!

Well the second semester is under way, so far it has been a bit bumpy and exceedingly wet(several storms have been hitting the SoCal area since Sunday and will continue until the weekend.) This is my schedule, which I couldn't be happier with.
Advanced Animation IIIWright, ScottT Th 7pm to 10pm
Film WorkshopKelly, MorganM 7pm to 10pm
Directing for AnimatorsPetkov, RumenF 9:30am to 12 Noon

This year the department is trying something new with the third and fourth year classes, we're getting credit for our films(which was never done before). That's what the "Film Workshop" class will be focused on. The whole point is to have more time for our films. Also, we're getting a lot of one-on-one time with the faculty/visiting industry people. I'm getting the feeling that this semester is going to serve quite the jolt to my animation. Both Scott(who I had last semester and already did a really great job of kicking the classes' animation butt) and Morgan are animators and the department is working on scheduling other artists from the industry to sit down and critique our work. Character designers, story artist, animators, etc. Seems to be a really great plan, hopefully will mean an awesome semester for everyone.

I've been working out a schedule, getting a list together of the scenes in my film, etc. and during an average week(weekly zoo trip included)--I'll be spending about 40-45 hours per week just on my film. I'll be starting official film animation this weekend...34 scenes to do. 96 days remain until it's all due(April 26th by 4pm to be exact)--I'm aiming to have a first pass on all my animation done by mid-March so I can spend the rest of the time going back and finessing certain scenes. Anyways, it's going to be an intense semester, but I'm ready to dive back into the madness.

Also, to kick off the semester in style and really get everyone into "animation mode" Glen Keane is scheduled for a visit this Friday night! Here are some of my favorite pencil tests that I love to watch:
An animation test of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast:

Glen Keane - rough penciltest - BEAST from Alex Petreski on Vimeo.



And a surprising find---a pencil test from Treasure Planet that was also animated by Glen Keane:



Real quickly--going to share this scene from Rescuers Down Under, which was(at least some parts, I don't think he did the whole thing) story boarded by Glen and then the eagle was Glen's character on this film:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Calm before the storm....

With a new semester about to start, a zoo trip was in order to get back in the groove of things....

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter Break Summary

Winter Break is wrapping up and I should probably make a post(though it's a long one. Lots of words ahead. Ye be warned.). I start the 600+ mile drive back to Valencia on Thursday and should be right back to working in my cube by the weekend. Being back home has been amazingly relaxing, and I can't believe how ridiculously fast the time has gone by. However, while I'm back home, I haven't taken too much of a hiatus from le film and had a little "lockdown" this past week to make sure I got some work done. I literally had nothing before Christmas, and then starting on the 26th I hunkered down. As of last night at about midnight, I can officially say I'm ready to animate! Which I'm very jazzed about. I still have several other film-related tidbits to attend to, but those can wait til March.

That's some of the work I've done towards the film. Trying to get some color ideas worked out(super simple, nothing "flashy"--and I have no idea what this looks like on other monitors. My Macbook can sometimes be wacky with color.) But like I said, I'll give these types of things more attention in March. Also, as you can tell, that stringy green-bean isn't an elephant. I had a change of film ideas towards the end of November....and I've gone with a completely different character/environment. I actually was developing/boarding this idea and the elephant idea at the same time--and ultimately I chose(with the help of some great critiquers) this lil story. It' s even simpler then the elephant idea and the animatic is coming in at a delightful 2 minutes--with plenty of room for animation. And I can't wait to start moving this lil guy around. Enough film-talk--with only 104 days remaining that's all I'll be talking about in the coming months....

So, just a quick re-cap on last semester. Fall '09 was a very full semester--while I didn't have that many classes and technically I didn't have as much homework as first year or even second year, this semester definitely kept me working some long hours. It has really been more about pushing myself and trying to conquer a lot of artistic hurdles. I've always struggled with drawing in general, and then when it came to animating just about everything was up for a re-do. This year I made sure to leave lots of time for my animation assignments and kept trying to always push-it more--sometimes spending an entire weekend just animating and breaking it apart trying to improve it. Thanks to my animation teacher this year, I definitely feel like I've improved since Sept. which makes me even more eager to get started on my film and apply everything I've learned to this year's moving-picture.
This past semester has also just been interesting from a film standpoint. I've boarded a lot of possible ideas. During the summer I had one floating around, but dropped that one once I realized it was getting out of hand. In late September I had that epic film idea I posted about earlier---obviously after realizing what I was getting into, I had to shelve it and start from scratch in early November. Which eventually led to developing this new idea with the "stickly green-bean" character. In the previous two years, I had a pretty final film idea by the end of the summer. So I certainly had my moments of panic whenever I thought about how "behind" I was compared to the previous years. One thing I do have to comment on is how everyone around me has really had a hand with helping me stick with the goal of "SIMPLE film, with every focus being on the character animation".....both faculty and friends have pitched in and it's really this group that has made this year really awesome/enjoyable--definitely helped keep my head when I would have to start from scratch. So a big thank you to those guys. :)
Otherwise, not much else to say. The semester had its fair share of ups and downs, but overall it was a darn-good time and I'm certainly looking forward to returning for round 2. Just am still dazed at how fast the time is whizzing by, it's very slowly sinking in that I'm graduating. And at the rate this year has gone, it'll be much sooner that I thought...

Well that's pretty much it. A good part of Winter Break has been spent up in my room getting all this film work sorted out. But I did get out, spend lots of time with friends and family, and even do a little drawing at the mall. I also saw Avatar with some friends---as a quick review, I went in with not exactly the highest of expectations and came out of the theater very entranced by the film. While the story has certainly been told before(*cough* Pocahontas. Fern Gully. Atlantis...I like how I went right for animated films. ha *cough*), the visuals set a new bar. The motion capture was really seamless and showed, how in the right hands, it really can avoid uncanny valley(Peter Jackson/WETA team are also fantastic at this. Gollum/King Kong are reigning kings of good mo-cap). Also, the way James Cameron used the camera in 3D was very eye-opening. So fairly cheesy dialog, pretty "safe" storyline, and kind-of stereotypical characters aside....it's a really enjoyable film. I certainly would be up for seeing it again and encourage anyone to go see it.



Can't make a blog post about being home without including Annie. She and Kiwi were my two sidekicks while I was in film lock-down last week. The picture above is literally what she looks like from where I work. This is also the most flattering angle--she looks about 5-10 pounds lighter in this photo. Kiwi and Annie will also be contributing their voices to my film. I got a nice videocamera/recorder for Christmas and have taped a few trademark noises these two are known for making, they'll probably be mixed quite a bit in the final sound track...but they're there.

This photo just makes me laugh. It was taken on the very first day I was back. I had gone outside to grab the last bags from my car and as I rounded the corner to go upstairs, this greeted me. A very classic Annie sighting.
Well, this post is long enough. I hope everyone had a Happy Holiday/Merry Christmas and are off to a good New Year. Until the new semester starts...ta ta for now.