May 1: Sharon Wu's year end party:
Sharon Wu (Animation Principles teacher) threw a party for the freshman class at her house in Burbank on Saturday. It was a good time. There was tons of food and a lot of talk about animation. I had some of my friends draw their characters in my sketchbook and sign it. If any of them get famous, I can make some money off of them. booya.
My buddy Nick took us on a tour around Burbank after the party. Burbank happens to be the city where almost EVERY friggin animation studio is based out of ! We saw Disney Studios, Nickolodean, Universal Studios, Warner Bros and a few others. I took pictures of course. I figure that most of us will live in this area once we graduate from Calarts so I tried to absorb everything I could about the area. It won't be too bad. It's not Laguna Beach (I'm spoiled after seeing Laguna) but it's still nice.
Here are a couple of pictures I took as we cruised past the studios. I had more pictures but they didn't turn out good. The picture on the left is (or was) Disney's feature animation studio. . The picture on the right is self explanatory I hope.
May 4: Job Fair
One of the benefits of being in this character animation program is the exposure you get to studios in the LA area. Calarts hosts a job fair for our department every year. It's a great way to get your work out there and open up job possibilities. Here are some of the companies that came to the job fair. This nifty poster was hanging near the character animation hall.
And this is how Job Fair looked like. All of the portfolios were set up in the main gallery. Nobody was allowed in the main gallery the entire morning until the recruiters were finished viewing the work. After they were done, they posted a call-back list which included names of students that they were interested in speaking with.
This was how my portfolio was set up. I included one flippable scene, four life drawings, a few character designs, 2 layouts for my film, a bunch of resumes and 3 tapes of my first year film.
I was fortunate enough to get 3 call back by the end of the day. Wild Brain, PinUSA, and Pixar were my three callbacks. Obviously I was most excited about the PIxar callback so I included a picture of the list.
At about 2:50, I met with a couple of Pixar reps and talked about animation for a while. They liked my film and wanted to keep in touch with me. I recieved a card, keychain and a Pixar hat!! whooo! This was an amazing experience.
Wild Brain was interesting too but they weren't looking for anyone to hire right away. They're sniffing out prospective animators for a future project. PinUSA was just looking to fill two internships and two full time positions designing pins.
May 6 - 2004 Producer's Show:
The freshman class (picture on the right) got together at 10 am today to begin preparing for the Open Show. Each year, the freshman are in charge of putting up the Producer's Show and taking it down at the end of the night. This CAN suck pretty bad especially when you're trying to mingle with some of your idols from the biggest and best studios in the world. This year, I think we did a pretty good job of sticking together and getting the work done as fast as possible. We all got together in the morning and loaded everything in the trucks pretty quickly. When everyone works together things go a lot smoother.
Once we finished loading the trucks up with the T.Vs, tables, artwork, and other stuff, about 10 of us played a good game of football. We needed to kill about 3 hours before heading out to the theater. The game was awesome but I forgot to take pictures.
We arrived at the Television Academy theater in Glendale (or Burbank, I forget) and begun setting up the show. I was lost for words when I first saw the theater. It's the same theater that hosts the Emmy awards so as you can see, it was pretty fancy. I've personally never seen a nicer theater in my life!
Anyways, once we finished setting things up, it was time to sit back, relax and wait for people to begin pouring into the theater. The show started at about 8pm with every single seat filled. The excitement was overwhelming partly because of the brilliant set up we had but mostly because of the studios that came to see the show. Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, Rythm and Hues, and Warner Brothers were some of the bigger studios who showed up. Some of the greatest animators living today went to the show including Glenn Keane, Andreas Deja and James Baxtor
The show started with short speeches from the director of the Character Animation program, Frank Terry and the Dean of the Film/Video School at Calarts, Steve Ankers. Afterwards, Andreas Deja (picture on the right) presented the "Peer's Pick Awards" to Jiwook Kim for "April" and Elizabeth Ito for "Welcome to My Life". The Walter and Gracie Lantz Animation Prize (best film of the year) was awarded to Jennifer Hager for her film "Lights Out" (which was my favorite film).
The actual show started shortly after the awards were handed out. Overall, the show was really good in my opinion. The stories were strong, entertaining and I also liked the fact that every single film looked completely different. Judging by the audience response and conversations I had with people after the show, I think everyone else thought the show was a success as well.
My film was 17th on the program list. I'll admit that I was kinda nervous once it came on. When you have top animators and studios looking at your student film in a fancy theater like that, I think it's normal to have a few butterflies. Once it came on, I kinda felt like burrying myself in my seat. Everytime I see my film, I like it less and less. The animation didn't look as good as it used to and the pacing of the film felt too fast. Once you detach yourself from your work for a while you begin to see the mistakes and things you could have done better. I'm hoping that my second year film will be 10 times better than this one. I can't realy complain too much about my film because I learned a hell of a lot. That's all I ask for.
The show ended a bit past 10, I think. Everyone immediately ran for the fancy snacks and drinks set up outside of the theater and began mingling. As I walked out of the theater you wouldn't believe who I happened to run into! Glenn Keane! I couldn't pass the opportunity to meet him so I introduced myself. We talked about the show a little bit and he asked if I had a film in it. I told him that I did "Brokin' Toys". He actually remembered my film and said he liked it. And that was that. My very first meeting with Glenn Keane, who is considered to be one of the best animators around today. (He animated Aladdin, Tarzan, and Pocahontas to name a few)
The picture on the left is of Glenn Keane (left) and James Baxtor (right). Too bad they weren't facing the camera. Dang.
I talked to some of my buddies and teachers for a while with a plate of goodies in my hand and a coffee in the other. I'd snap a few pictures here and there, trying to soak up everything I could of this awesome event. Eventually, one of my friends came up to me and told me that Pixar was looking for me. They liked my film and wanted to talk to me! I was really excited when I heard that news, as you can imagine.
I found the Pixar animators outside chatting amongst each other. I think there was about 13 of them at the show. I introduced myself and talked to them for a while about the show. They were all really nice and invited me to the after party. At that point, the first year students had to start taking down the show. We all worked together really well and finished quickly. After that, I was off to the Pixar after party!
The after party was held at the Castaway restaurant in Burbank. It was an amazing site! The restaurant overlooked the entire city of L.A. The night just kept getting better and better! I went to the party with some of my first year friends. It was pretty packed when we arrived and Pixar picked up the tab so drinks were free. I had a couple drinks while I continued to mingle with Calarts alumni and Pixar animators. I got some pictures with some of them.
The picture on the right side of me and a few Pixar animators. The bottom left: me and some buddies at Castaway
The after party was awesome but it wasn't over yet. At about 3 a.m, we all headed out to Bob's Big Boy Diner in Burbank which is kind of a Denny's style 24 hour restuarant. We stayed there till about 4:30 and continued to talk to the Pixar animators. There were a bunch of Calarts students there with us.
(right): group of Calarts students at Castaway
I came home at about 5:30 a.m and passed out like a rock. The Producer's Show was a blast! Definitely the highlight of the year! The Show perhaps is one of the best things about the Character Animation program. It's an amazing oppurtinity to get into the industry network.
My first year at Calarts is done. In three hours I would wake up exhausted on my way to Mexico to party some more. It's time to celebrate for a little while and then begin work on my next film. It's gonna be tough but I'm looking forward to it.
The last week of school was filled with good times. A few of us went down to Rosarito Mexico the day after the Producer's Show. It was awesome!
Us animators are such party animals.
There was yet another Character animation show held on Wednesday at the Bijou Theater (at Calarts). Leo Hobaica (assisstant Director ) was in charge of the show. It was cool because they didn't just play the show straight through. Once a film was finished, Leo and Amy Danger held an open discussion about it. Plus, we had free donuts and milk.
That's a picture of the Bijou right after the show.
I didn't mention my workstudy job too many times in this journal but I thought I'd finally post a picture. They threw a party for the workstudy students. It was a cool job. More than likely, I'll be back at the admissions office again next year.
Here's a picture of some of the character animators playing "Mafia" in the Main gallery at Calarts. We played this game until like 3 in the morning. It's highly addictive. I had a great time.
The worst part of the last week is the fact that I won't have Mike Disa for a teacher anymore. Everyone who was in Disa's class with me knows what I'm talking about. He's the most passionate teacher I've ever seen in my life. His last lecture was amazing! He told us some stories about his life and then ended on an philosophical note. It's hard to sum up what he talked about so I'll just say that it was very inspiring. At the end of the class, he wished us the best, picked up his coffee and walked out the door. The class sat in silence for a while trying to absorb everything he said. That's when my first year at Calarts officially ended.
Dreamworks invited some of us for an extensive studio tour. They showed us all of the projects that they were currently working on including the first 15 minutes of Shrek 2. We also had a free all you can eat lunch with a bunch of Dreamworks employees including James Baxtor. I'd say something about their projects but I think they'd sew me if I did so I'll keep my mouth shut. It was an awesome opportunity to visit a big studio like that.
Here's a picture of me and my roommate, Joel, chillin at Dreamworks.
Graduation came upon us pretty quickly. Unfortunately, it happened to be on the night my plane left for Chicago so I didn't get to experience the post graduation parties. Damn. Here's a picture of the graduation. It was interesting because the graduating class didn't wear the typical cap and gown. It was really casual. Most of them wore what they would wear everyday in school. The only thing that every graduate had in common was that they wore Hawaiian style flowers around their necks. I took some pictures right when graduation started and then left shortly afterwards to pack.
School's officially over and I'm sitting here in Chicago writing this final entry after a long, slow day at the park. My first year at Calarts was awesome. It was better than I ever thought it would be and I can't wait to start school next year.
I plan to work on my weaknesses over the summer. I want to read, write and study classic film more. That'll be my emphasis but on top of it, I'd like to improve my drawing skills with the caricature job at Six Flags. I'm going to Poland for two weeks starting this weekend so I hope to get some inspiration for my next film.
It's weird to finally call an end to this journal. I don't know how to end it so I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who read it and I hope this journal helps some of you in one way or another.