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....