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:
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.