Character Animation at CALARTS
The 3rd year Journal of Mario Furmanczyk

2003-2004 FRESHMAN Journal
2004-2005 SOPHOMORE Journal

2005-2006 JUNIOR Journal
2006-2007 SENIOR Journal


January, 2006

We've been getting up at about 6 a.m everyday to get an early start on animation this semester. here's some photos of the sunrise from our dorm room view.

Jan 19: Various photos from Character Animation Art Show, 06'-

Jan 19: Caricature art during the show!-

Jan 25: Mark Hammil (Luke Skywalker) visits Calarts to talk about voice acting -

Jan. 31, 2006 - Disney/Pixar!!!

I've been pretty busy with my film lately as you might have guessed so I haven't been posting as frequently as I'd like to. Fortunately, I have a sweet workstudy job at the film library and since it's slow right now I have time to write this and finish up other assignments.
This month has been extremely hectic! So many things have happened but nothing is more significant than the Disney/Pixar merger. It happened a few days ago and just came out of nowhere. The thought of them actually merging didn't cross my mind. I was actually doubting if they'd ever work with each other again after "Cars". I've been going through a lot of forums and articles online lately trying to figure out the details about this merger. From what it seems, Disney is finally getting back to making films the way they used to when Walt was around. Films will be creator driven and "creative executives" will finally be booted to the curb! I have 100 percent faith that Lasseter, the new Disney/Pixar animation head, will do everything possible to bring quality back to Disney entertainment. He's also in charge of imagineering which is a huge deal so I'm excited to see Disneyland. I've actually never been to Disneyland which is pretty weird since I'm an animation student. I've always heard good things about it. Maybe I'll go after the film is done.
Since I can't really give any new perspective or insight on what is going on with Disney/Pixar (because it's been covered pretty well so far) I'll just write about what it means to us at Calarts who are on the verge of entering the animation industry. First of all, everyone's buzzing from this news. There's alot of excitement going around from students and faculty. Since we have some teachers that work at Disney, it's been awesome hearing about what they have to say. Aurian Redson is our third year story teacher and a storyboard artist at Disney. I couldn't wait to get to class last monday to hear him talk about what the heck things were like at Disney when all of this went down. Supposedly, nobody had any idea that a merger between the two companies was going to happen. There was some speculation about big things happening though. The Disney artists heard about the merger when everybody else in the world heard about it. They were called into a meeting the day of. Disney's Bob Iger announced the aquisition of Pixar and what changes would take place immediately. There were some grim faces in the audience ("creative executives" most likely). Sure there would be immediate layoffs and according to some articles online, Lasseter cleaned the "Mouse house" of all unwanted middle - management people and said, "If you don't love animation and if you don't draw, you have no place here!"
So I think one day after the announcement of the merger, Lasseter made a trip down to Disney. Aurian and a few of his story buddies ran into him that day at the studio. Aurian said Lasseter seemed like a cool guy. There's a lot of excitement at Disney right now. And as for us students, you can probably imagine how excited we are because it seems like the industry is on the brink of a huge upswing at the most perfect time. I'm graduating in one year and who knows, maybe Disney will start up their hand drawn unit again and hopefully with enough luck and hard work, I might find myself drawing for a living! That's something that I've been trying to forget about for the last two years because I thought there was no way in hell 2d would be back any time soon. It's also nice to know that there will be another really great studio to work at besides Pixar. Everybody and their mother wants to work at Pixar here at Calarts but realistically, how many more people does Pixar need? Hopefully, new doors will begin to open up all over the place!

Feb 2, 2006: Film time!

It's already the third week of the second semester here at Calarts! Time flies when you're animating everyday. Yup, I finally started animating just about when I arrived back from Chicago early January. Something happened over winter break that changed my perspective on my film and I think it's mainly because I had a chance to finally step away from it. I had an animatic ready to go before break which I planned on sticking with. But after watching a zillion movies over break, I revisualized the way my story played in my mind. So I had a choice of either diving into animation right away or making another animatic. I decided to dive in because I'm just sick of second guessing myself. And if there's one thing that I need to learn it's to learn to trust myself more especially after the disaster I went through last year. I feel like my second year film could have been way better if I was more confident but oh well, I think every artist goes through insecurities. So if I completely bomb my third year film I'll have no regrets because I'm going all out with my instincts. I'm not showing anybody the work that I've done not even teachers because I feel if I hear one negative comment I'll start second guessing myself again. At this point I think it's time for me to just animate and work through the difficulties myself without any interference. We'll see what comes of this strategy in three months I guess. All I know so far is that I love working on this film and I'm having a great time animating my two characters. I've already roughed through about 19 scenes and have a much better grasp on how to draw my characters . Every scene gets better and better.
Everyone has their own process on how they approach the production of their film. A popular way to do it is to finish a really detailed, cleaned up animatic before you start animating so that if you run out of time in the animation stage, you'll still have something solid to turn in. Another way is to just go from a rough storyboard or animatic and animate one scene at a time from rough animation all the way to the tie down stage. That way, even if you don't finish your film completely, you'll at least have a hand ful of "finished" scenes to showcase on your reel. I've adopted the process that Mike Disa, my first year animation teacher recomended. I'm going through my entire film in one rough pass which shouldn't take more than a month/month and a half. The rough pass is exactly what it sounds like. The scenes just have the barebones essentials to the point where you can understand what's going on with the acting but that's about it. After I finish this initial rough pass I'll go ahead and scan everything into the computer and put it altogether to get a good idea of how my film will look like. I figure I can put some sound and sound effects in there at that point too. So if the acting works, great. If it doesn't really work in some scenes, I can always go back and change it because I haven't invested much time anyway. I'm only spending one day on each scene right now and I have about 45 scenes to animate.
My second pass will give me an opportunity to redo some of the really crappy scenes and to put the characters on model a bit better since I'll know how to draw them by then. I'll probably spend another month on the second pass. About one scene a day again and then I'll scan everything in to see how it all plays together. My plan is to finish my second pass around late March so I'll have one month left to go in and tie down a handful of my favorite scenes. I didn't get a chance to tie down any scenes last year because I was so pressed for time and so stressed out. One of the comments that reps from Pixar told me was to make sure I flesh out the movement better in some scenes this year. Acting is great and most important but it's useless if you can't animate believable physics. That's one of my major goals in this film and I can't wait for that last month to really get into finishing some scenes.
That's my plan for executing the third year film. For those of you who don't have any clue as to what my film is about I'll summarize it quickly. I have two characters. One of them is a dwarf. He's sort of a hairy warrior type dwarf like Gimli from Lord of the Rings or something. He has this crazy axe ( which is a pain to animate) and a funny looking helmet. The other character is a tiny little dragon who the dwarf encounters in an abandoned cave. In the beginning of the film, the dwarf is struggling in the middle of an intense blizzard and fnds refuge in this cave. The film is about the dwarf befriending the dragon by becoming more caring and unselfish. There's a lot of good acting opportunities in the film and like I said, the charcters are a blast to animate. Hopefully I'll get way better by the end of it all. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I really really really love animation. I think becoming an animator is the route I should take for sure because there isn't any other process of the film making that I enjoy more than performance. Story is a nightmare, design is frustrating and never seems to come together for me. Animation is sweet.


Feb 3 2006 - Pixar visit #3 Ralph Eggelston and Ken Bruce

Ralph Eggelston visited along side Ken Bruce, one of his co workers from the story department at Pixar to talk mainly about storytelling and how the art direction can help tell a story. Ricky Nierva was supposed to visit with Ralph but he just had a baby. Ralph is the head art director at Pixar and was the director for the hilarious Pixar short "For the Birds". He just got back from doing rounds of lectures in New York for the Pixar exhibit at MOMA. They wrapped up their tour with the Calarts visit. Ralph Eggleston actually said that he's been looking forward to the visit at Calarts for a while so that was cool.
I ran down to the palace at about 6:30 to get a good seat for the lecture. ( I left my film today class a bit early). Ralph was already setting up once I walked into the palace. He actually remembered who I was from last year I think because he called me out by my first name. That was pretty cool.
The lecture went really well just as we all expected.  Everytime Pixar sends people over to visit us it ends up being very entertaining. I'll quickly go over some of the things they talked about.
First of all, in story, "show, don't tell". Don't use dialogue to tell the story when you can show it visually. It's a visual medium. If you're going to use dialogue, don't have your characters talk about what the scenes exactly about. It's more interesting if you are more indirect. Have subtext in your scenes.
"Story needs change". If nothing changes in your story you're going to have a hard time holding an audience.
"Great film real estate". Take full advantage of every minute of your film. If you're not showing your audience anything about who your characters are then cut it. You should learn something about the characters in every scene.
What are we all here for? To entertain or to hold an audience.
What is story? "The stuff of Life"
Ralph eggelston does color scripts to help the director visualize lighting and mood of every scene in the film. He showed us a bunch of his work including some of the color scripts he did on Toy Story. There was one small pastel script for every scene of the movie on one page. The director can easily see the visual progression of his movie. The pastel sketches are done at an extremely small scale but I thought it was amazing how much detail Ralph was able to put in them. You can see a bunch of Ralph's work in any of the Pixar "Art of" books. I had Ralph sign my "Finding Nemo" book which has a bunch of his work in it.  
One of the most important things I got from the lecture came towards the end of it. Ralph was talking about all the people who try to formulize the way a color script or a film should be made. Sort of like what the Visual Story by Bruce Block does. He prefers to just trust himself and use his intuition. I find myself worrying a lot about how everybody else goes about making their film or animating. The more I learn about animation and the art making process the more I realize that you need to find your own process and path othewise you'll just be a cheap rip off. I'm constantly fighting with my self confidence. I gues it's all part of becoming an artist.

Feb 17 2006 - Eric Goldberg visit:

(Cynthia Overman and Eric Goldberg)
It was his second visit to Calarts this year but this time the entire department was invited. For those of you who don't know Eric Goldberg (shame on you) he's most well known for doin the amazing animation on the Genie in "Aladdin". He's also directed "Rhapsody in Blue" and "The Carnival of the Animals" for Fantasia 2000. The first thing he talked about after arriving a bit late because of crappy LA traffic jams (we had a little bit of rain) was what he has been doing for the past few years. Sometimes people ask him where he's been the past few years because we haven't been hearing much of what he's been up to. Eric's been running his own animation business from his basement and has been living off of small jobs here and there. One of the recent gigs he completed was the animation intro to the new "Pink Panther" fillm. It's worth the 8 bucks just for the animation! He said that after he finished the animation for the intro, they decided to change the music so it screwed up all the work he timed out specifically for the music they provided previously. So Eric showed us the version that was animated to the original music which we won't be able to see anywhere else so we felt all special. I can't tell you enough about how much Eric Goldberg's work has inspired and influenced me. I just can't believe how awesome his animation is. Pink Panther animation was awesome by the way. Eric not only has amazing design and animation but every scene he touches is extremely entertaining. It makes you wonder, how did he think of that idea?
After Eric Goldberg showed us some of his recent work, the night became more like a question and answer forum instead of a lecture. We kept Eric busy with questions until about 10:30. Some asked questions about the recent merger between Disney and Pixar. Eric said that he thinks it's a good thing for animation but he didn't know whether this deal will definitely bring back traditional animation at Disney or not. I think the general assumption throughout the animation industry is that Disney is just waiting for the right project to come along for a traditional feature. Eric did mention that he and his wife have spent a few years developing 12 feature film ideas which they are actively trying to finding funding for. Holy crap! 12 feature film ideas! The guy is an idea machine! All I know is that if I were Disney, I wouldn't think twice about funding an Eric Goldberg feature. Just look at what he's done with "Rhapsody in Blue". Complete genius! I've been watching Rhapsody everyday for the past week marveling over the animation trying to get inspired for my own animation.
Over the course of the night, I finally managed to get myself to ask him questions about some of the things I've been struggling with recently in my work. I asked him about how he approaches animation when a character settles out of an action. I typically just slap a boring hold drawing for a few frames instead of fleshing it out more. He basically told me that it all depends first and foremost on the character personality/emotional state and the physicality of the character. He recommened looking at some old Tom and Jerry cartoons because the animation was very well elaborated.
I also asked Eric about how he approaches overlap and follow through and whether he animates everything all at once or separates it into layers. I'm having a hard time animating my character as it is but it's even more difficult when I take the long beard and clothing into account. Either way, Eric said he animates everything together becuase you can use things like beards or long hair to strengthen a pose or to design a pose in a more interesting way. He drew some examples for us and proved his point. Alot of CG animators typically do their animation in layers but Eric's opposed to that process. It's gonna be damn hard to animate my character and his beard all at once but I'll give it a shot.
I asked a few more questions but I left my sketchbook with the notes in my dorm so I'll skip it. Overall, the Eric Goldberg visit had a huge impact on me over the past week. The visit was very inspiring obviously. I'm looking at a lot of his work and trying to make sense of it but not with much luck. I'll just keep animating and hope for the best I guess. For some reason, ever since his visit I've been having a hard time with my animation. I think it's just because when Eric drew some sketches for us, he made it look ridiculously easy. He's so good that he makes everything look easy even when it's the hardest thing to do in the world. So when I tried animating this weekend I wasted two whole days. It was almost as if I forgot how to draw or something. I just got extremely frustrated and took some time off Sunday night and got back to it Monday morning and finally got somewhere on the scene I'm currently working on.
I've finally managed to finish a rough pass through my film and I'm at the point where I'm going back to a handful of scenes to elaborate. I'm revisiting the very first scene I roughed out early January. Like I said, I had a really rough start just trying to visualize my acting and putting it paper but it's gotten a lot better. I've been zooming in on subtlties of the movement in a way that I haven't done for a while. I had a funny realization the other day. I haven't REALLY animated since my first year! I had to rush through my second year film so fast that I didn't really get the chance to elaborate on any movement. I feel like I ripped myself off in a way. I'm so stupid for trying to do an unnecessary epic. The ironic thing about it is that I'm doing another epic just as long this year!  Damn! This time i'm going about it a bit different. Most of my film will have really rough animation but then there will (hopefully) be a few scattered gems within it which I'll have polished down. I'm going to spend as much time as I need to on each scene from here on out to take it to a polished level.
Going back to Goldberg, like I said, I've been watching a lot of his animation lately on my laptop. The fluidity he gets in his animation is unbelievable. I've been working hard to try to get some of that in my stuff with little success. It might be just because my design sucks. We have an animation teacher for the second year named Bert Klein who works really closely with Eric Goldberg. He's actually the one responsible for bringing him to Calarts twice in one year so I'm planning on meeting with him today for help on my scene. Hopefully I'll get over some of the things I've been struggling with lately.

March 3 2006 - Doug Sweetland (Pixar animator) animation lecture -

Pixar's been awesome to us this year! I think this was the fourth or fifth guest lecture they sent down for us and I think we have at least one or maybe two more left. I know that Mark Andrews is slated to visit us mid March to screen his Oscar nominated short "One Man Band".
Anyway, this time Pixar sent down one of their most amazing animators, Doug Sweetland. He's one of the names you hear tossed around a lot when you hear people talking about some of the great scenes in the Pixar films. I remember Shane Prigmore breaking down some of his scenes for us in class last year. Awesome stuff!
AS usual, whenever we have a good guest visit on Friday nights, I have to leave my "Film Today" class a bit early to get a good seat. By the way, we saw an amazing (but very depressing film) in class that night called "Nobody Knows". It's a Japanese film.

The character animation department posts up a flyer whenever we have a guest lecture. This week they featured Doug Sweetland and he was supposed to talk about "Advanced Animation". When I saw that I thought, Great! It was just what I would need since I'm in the middle of animating my film! So I figured he'd talk about timing, spacing, overlap, slow ins and slow out, moving holds, etc. After all, isn't that what makes animation look so pretty? I've been having a hell of a time trying to get beatiful movement in my animation but Doug's visit was a wakeup call. Once he started talking I soon realized that he wasn't going to talk about spacing or overlap or anything like that. My idea of what "advanced animation " was all wrong. In fact, all he talked about that night was acting/ performance! It was like a slap in the face but in a good way because it made me realize once again what animation was all about. It isn't about making things look and move in a pretty way. Character animation is about the performance and how it serves the overall story. That's probably the most important thing I got out of the lecture right off the bat.
Doug Sweetlands lecture was extremely helpful for me because first of all, it was about animation and I'm in animation hell right now with my film. There were some great points he covered that I'd like to mention which regard acting.
Doug started the lecture by talking about the concept of "status". It was confusing at first and I didn't know how it really related to animation but I soon realized why it's important to understand. It's just another tool to help the animator gage in your scene who has the most status. It's is about who has the superiority/authority in a scene/sequence. Just being able to identify that helps you understand what the scene is about and how to build a performance. I'ts interesting/ entertaining when status shifts from one character to the other.

Let's say character A says a "yo mama" joke to character B. Character B is hurt by the insult and doesn't know how to retaliate. Character A has the higher status at this point. Char. B has lower status. But what if Character B finally retorts with a more devastating "yo mama" joke and the crowd around them goes wild. The status shifts from Char. A to Char B. The status shift is what makes the joke! Doug gave us film examples of status shifts and broke the scenes down in a way that I've never really seen before. The concept ended up being very clear to me afterwards so that was good.

There was another segment of his lecture that was really helpful in understanding how to construct a performance. First of all, get this tatooed on your arm or something because it's important to remember. "Play actions, not emotions!" So in other words, don't animate a character who's frusterated. Animate the action always!
So lets say a character is feeling frustrated but is writing a note on a piece of paper. What's the action? He's writing a note. Don't overact and have him pout and sigh needlessly. Do something a little more convincing. Maybe he's so frustrated at the moment that he breaks his pencil from pressing down too hard. Now he's more frustrated because he broke his pencil! Just animate the actions! Animate how frustrated he is when he looking for another pencil but can't find one. Holy crap you have no idea how much that concept is helping me right now! I just cranked out two scenes for my film that read a hell of a lot better than my previous versions because of this.

Another key concept that he covered was "reincorporation". It's just a matter of reincorporating things that happen in a story again and again for say, a punchline. For example, character walks into a scene, picks up a cup of coffee and finds that it's cold. In another part of the story, he come back to that same kitchen, picks up the cup of coffee and drops it because it's hot. REINCORPORATION! Look for it in every story! Doug's lecture was mainly about showing us these principles to help us get a better understanding of the basic components of jokes and story overall.

He also broke down what the basic components of a joke are which helped me get a better idea on how to understand story sketches. The three components include the setup, twist and the punchline. It's what every "gag" is made up of basically. I'll use one of his examples to illustrate the point. Say you have a drawing of an old lady dressed in black but she's smiling. That's the setup. Then you see that she's sitting on a tombstone with a picture of a man with an axe through his head. That's the twist. The punchline is what the viewer infers about the image. In this case, the woman murdered her husband. I always try incorporating some sort of small story in my character design pieces but for some reason had a hard time thinking of ideas. So this is one area that this concept can help in building an idea.

As far as my film goes, I'm freaking out for the most part because time is running out and I feel like I have way to much work to do. One of my goals was to polish some scenes but I'm not really getting the chance to do that just yet. I'm at the point where I finally feel a lot more comforatable drawing my character which is good. That bad thing is that I hate all of the scenes that I've done before so I'm going over them on a second pass. I'm hopeing that the second pass will be done after spring break so then I'll have about three weeks left to polish one or two scenes. We'll see how things turn out. The other day I was actually thinking about making this project a two year film so that I could finish it the way I'd like to. But then one of my buddies discouraged the idea so for now, I'm planning on finishing whatever I can by the deadline. Making a film is such a rollercoaster. sometimes you just feel like crap and second guess everything but then you get those peeks where you feel great about what you've done. You'd never think that making a cartoon would be so stressful! It's all part of learning from what I hear.

March 14, 2006 - Film progress update

As you can probably imagine I've been having an insane March so far (because of crunch time). I still can't believe it's already half way through the month! I feel like it should still be Febuary!!
Since we only have about a month and a half left until films are due (April 24) I'm officially beginning to freak out! The stress of not finishing my film is beginning to give me huge headaches. On top of films, everyone has to worry about critical studies classes because of midterm papers. I had to write a paper for my philosophy class so that was added stress on my mind. It was just a pain to allocate time to something other than my film but I got it done (about an hour before class) so that was a relief.
It's kind of hard to explain all of the different emotions one goes through while making a film here at Calarts. You just have to go through it yourself to fully understand. One of the hardest things that I've gone through is learning how to accept that everyone is unique and is capable of getting really good in their own way or style. At Calarts it's sometimes overwhelming being around so many unbelievably talented artists because you begin to doubt your abilities. I think it's important for every artist to go through that because you really begin to think about how you set yourself apart from everyone else. What makes you unique as a person and artist? What experiences make you unique and how can those experiences translate into a perspective in storytelling or a visual style that nobody's seen before? That's really the only way to overcome insecurities. Just know that you're cabable of being awesome in your own way. It might sound cliche, but you have to learn to be comfortable with who you are. Otherwise, you'll just be a cheap clone of somebody else and will never be satisfied with your work.
I've been going through a lot of issues like this over the last year and a half here but I feel like I'm finally starting to get out of it. I'm just accepting where I'm at with my skill level and having faith that with hard work and persistence, I'll get where I want to be eventually.
Confidence is huge when you're an artist. The flow of creativiity is completely shut down if you don't believe in yourself. It can almost seem like you're going backwards when you don't have the right mindset. It's like anything in life. Confidence is key. Always believe in yourself. And when you're not feeling well one day whether it's emotionally, physically or if it has to do with confidence, just take a break. Treat yourself to a movie or take your girlfriend out on a date. Drink some wine. Just live life again and soon you'll put things back into perspective and realize it's not the end of the world if you don't get the overlap right on a particular scene! You'll get it sooner or later. Just remember there's a life out there that's full of experiences for you to go through.  Without those life experiences, we can't produce art.

March 14, 2006 - James Baxtor Surprise visit!

(left) James Baxtor, Chris Sonnenberg (back) talking to Steve McCloed in the animation cubes at Calarts on Tuesday.

As I was struggling with animation in my cube late Tuesday evening, word spread that James Baxtor was to pay a visit just to help people out with their films. Supposedly he mentioned way back in summer that he wanted to visit us sometime while we were all working on our films. I don't think there could be a more perfect time for him to visit because it definitely boosted everyone's moral at a time when stress levels are peeking.
So the great news is that he visited along with Chris Sonnenberg, one of his buddies and the director at his studio. James looked at some animation tests, helped my buddy Erik Fountain figure out some issues regarding a dialog scene he's working on and then went on to help Steve McCloed on his bear character design. Right after he finished with Steve, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to ask him for some help on my film. I showed him some of my most recent tests. He said he liked them but I still felt a little embarrassed showing an animation genius my crappy rough animation. Regardless, it felt good to get a compliment from him. After that I asked if he could help me with my character design. I've been having a hell of a time trying to keep my design consistent and trying to turn his head accurately. So yea, he sketched out a few drawings and did a turn around of my character's head and poof! I finally saw the light! Just by watching him draw I learned a lot about solidity and how to keep a character on model. I just can't wait to get back to animating so I can see how drastically this will improve the solidity in my animation. Afterwards, James went on to help some other people. I thought it was extremely nice of him to visit unexpectedly like that.

(right) Yes folks! That's James Baxtor drawing in my cube! Cube 41, Lasseter Lane!

For anyone who doesn't know who James Baxtor is, shame on you! He's regarded as one of the geniuses in animation these days. It's like having Stephen Speilberg visit your school to help you on your film or something. He's one of the most famous names in animation so you can see why it's such a big deal to have him visit!
James has worked on some Disney films including the Lion King (Rafiki), Hunchback of Notre Dame (hunchback), and Beauty and the Beast (Belle). He moved over to Dreamworks to work on some of their 2d films and went on to do Shrek and Shrek 2 in CG. He recently decided to open up his own 2d studio in Pasedena (which I visited earlier last semester) because he really wanted to get back to hand drawn animation. His studio's called "James Baxtor Animation" and like I said, Chris Sonnenburg directs while James is in charge of animation. They're currently working on a SWEET new project for Disney on a part traditionally animated and part Live-action feature called "Enchanted". I talked to Chris about how the studio is going and he said it's been really busy. They're up to 35 people on staff which is a big jump from when I last visited the studio. (There were probably 3 or 4 people working in the studio) Anyway, things are sounding great for James' studio and I'm sure it'll play a big role in helping traditional animation to make a comeback. It's a really exciting time to be in animation right now.

March 23, 2006 - I'm going crazy!!! -

This year has had many ups and downs. Mostly downs, though. I've had the worst time figuring out a story for my film. And then design was a terrible experience too! I just couldn't settle on a design! I thought I was finally in the clear once I started animating my film but even that has been torture! Why the heck is everything so hard? Why am I not having fun anymore like I did first year? Every idea I come up with is bombarded with way too much self criticism and insecurity. Sometimes I feel incapable of actually one day becoming a professional artist because it's just way too hard. Sometimes I sit in my cube and think about how it would be to just have an easy, brainless job somewhere in Chicago. Cold, windy Chicago. A boring job in a boring, cold and windy suburb near Chicago. No, screw that! I'm still glad I went to Calarts but damn I never thought making cartoons would be so freakin' hard!
So the reason I belong in a mental institution is because I've decided to scrap the film I've been working on all year. Yes, all that hard work will be flushed down the toilet. Everything except for about 5 or 6 scenes which will fit right into my new film idea which is a much simpler, more entertaining story. Well I don't know if it's more entertaining we'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully it has SOME entertainment value. Here I go second guessing myself again. Yes, it's more entertaining dammit! I like the story a lot! It's way better than the crap I was working on before. It just feels "right" if that makes any sense at all. I feel like it's got more of "me" in it.
I feel like I tried to make my film fit into some sort of mold that would be ideal for the Producer's Show or appeal to studios like Pixar. Let me tell you that there is nothing worse than being artistically and creatively restricted or censored by your own self. It just took me a while to realize what I was doing to myself. It's torture! It's the feeling of knowing you can do a lot better but somehow managing to get worse as time goes on.
My second year film felt sort of like this but I managed to finish it anyway. Honestly, I don't like how "For Giving" turned out only because I feel that I could have done much much better. This year's film was the same case times 2. I just couldn't take it anymore so I started thinking of alternate endings which would shorten my film and make it more entertaining. I kept on exploring until I came up with an entirely different second and third act. And for the first time this year, I was excited about my film!! I actually made myself laugh thinking about my story! That was enough confirmation for me to go through with the move to can all that crap I've been slaving over for the past two months and start working on the new animatic.
I can't explain it but once I started working on the new film, the drawings seemed to flow so naturely. They had so much more life to them than anything that I've ever done since my first year. I was finally having fun with drawing. It was a truely liberating experience and I quickly built up confidence in my work again. I started drawing caricatures of some of my buddies and all of the sudden I could draw caricatures again! There was a point where I refused to draw carictures because I thought I was so bad at them. I just couldn't make the connection for some reason. I can't really explain what happened to me this week but all I know is that I feel really good about it and I feel really good about working on my new film! And yea, i've been drawing tons of caricatures too. It's bee fun.
I just timed the animatic out last night and found that it's around 2 minutes altogether. I have some stuff done already but I think I'll need to get around a minute of animation done in this upcoming month. And even if I don't, I'll just plug some of my animatic drawings in the film and just turn that in. Who says that you have to stop animating after the Open Show deadline? I'll continue animating my film for another two weeks afterwards for my job fair portfolio because that's what's most important. And hey, I know this is kind of a crazy thing to do right before the deadline and because of it I might not get into the Producer's Show this year but who cares as long as I'm having fun drawing again. That's all I care about at this point. If I can have this much fun all the way through next year, I'll be happy. The only problem is keeping this artistic "switch" turned on. There was one point in the week where I began to freak out a little and the magic was gone. The mind is such a powerful thing. I think it's mainly a matter of keeping confidence in yourself. It's touch when you're around so many talented artists that make you question your abilities.
Anyway, one of our teachers, Corny Cole gave me and two of my friends some really great advice. It almost seemed like he read my mind or something. We were talking about how stressful our films were. He told us to "just do it". Stop thinking so damn much about it and just do it. And if somebody tells you otherwise, fuck'm. If anybody sees that you're slightly questioning something about your film, they're all like sharks waiting for a kill. They're just waiting to make you feel insecure and will tell you this isn't working and that isn't working until you freak out and lose all faith in what you do. So my plan is to just make my film and fuck what everybody else has to say about it. Thanks Corny!

Here are some photos of some of us lounging around in the cubes. This is CRUNCH TIME, BABY. We're trying to keep our sanity.

March 30, 2006 - Spring Break character animation BBQ! -

Spring Break is more like "Spring Work" for us animators at Calarts so the char animation BBQ came at a good time to give us something to look forward to during crunch time. It was really fun. We had a bunch of steak, chicken, tacos, veggie skewers and veggie burgers to munch on. I had a couple of beers and tossed around the football for a little while. It was a lot of fun but I had a hard time regaining focus afterwards. I'm looking forward to partying like a rock star after the deadline! -

The BBQ was held outside of the Lodge, an extension of the char. animation cubes.

Will Kim and Ed Juan cooking up the steak. Yummy!

Javier and Ed cooking

There was a long line for the food! We were starving.

My girlfriend, Ophir chilling near the BBQ.

Leo Matsuda, Bert Yoon, Alex Duckworth beating on the Shrek Penata after grubbing.

A bunch of us throwing the football around after eating.

Ah yes, good times.

April 6 2006 - 18 days till DEADLINE!!! -

Wow, what a crazy semester it's been! I still can't believe that I've practically started my film from scratch a month before the deadline! It's soooo STUPID! There's a huge stack of animation that I've done which won't be seen by anyone! Maybe I'll post them somewhere on my site as like a "deleted scenes" type thing. lol.

The good news is that my films looks to be about 90 seconds!  I cut even more animation out of it for the sake of saving time. A couple of weeks ago, once I decided to go with my new film idea (which has the same setting and characters from the previous story) I had to record some yelling and screaming for my dwarf character. Bert Yoon, one of my third year buddies did the voice acting and after editing it together, I got really excited about animating to it. There's one long scene in particular that I roughed out already. So far I'm pretty happy with it (which is surprising) but I don't think I'll get to completely finish it because of time. After I finish roughing out the rest of my film I'll get back to it if it's not the 24th by then. It's probably the most entertaining scene in the entire film so I'll have to find some time after the deadline to work on it more.
Enough of my blabbing. It's probably boring. The bottom line is that I'm finally having fun animating again so that's all that matters.   And I think it'll show in my animation, too. I actually feel like I'm getting better after every scene. Even though my film won't be the most finished looking piece in the world I'm still happy about changing my film idea because in some weird way I feel liberated. New ideas are popping up in my head all the time. I'm even thinking about next year's film already and have a few ideas written down. That's extremely rare because I usually stress out a lot about coming up with ideas. It just goes to show you that I shouldn't have taken all of this so seriously because it started to block my natural creative sensibilities. One of the major things I've learned to deal with @ Calarts is how to handle self doubt. * Whenever you have a doubt that crosses your mind about your art, just think of it as the devil trying to convince you that you suck!!! Ignore it and just go with your instincts! I'm not just speaking to prospective/current Calarts students but everyone on the creative field!
I'd like to write a bit about how it's like at Calarts around this time of year. Let's just say that most people are at their peek stress levels. The cube walls are highly decorated with caricatures and other crazy sketches. It almost seems like a war zone or something. An animation war zone, lol. There's something so distinct about the smell in the air when I walk into the cubes every morning. Just the smell alone reminds me that I have to finish a film by April 24th. I begin to stress out as I walk over to cube 41 on Lasseter lane and immediately prepare a coffee to sooth my nerves. Actually, I don't think the coffee soothes anything at all but I'd like to think it does. I've become a coffee addict at Calarts. My cube is known to smell like coffee all the time. I'll try to cut down after the deadline.
Holy crap! The deadline is in 18 days! I'm scared as hell but at the same time I can't wait because I'll finally be able to rest, lay out in the sun, swim, watch a movie, got out to eat, socialize, get drunk. I'll finally be able to live life again without having the monkey on my back constantly reminding me about my film! It's hard to describe the intensity of the character animation program but it's enough to make us miss the little things in life. Ohhhh I can't wait for summer!
......Ahh yes....summer. So I've been thinking a lot about what the heck I'll be doing this summer. Where will I work? Will I work at all?  Whenever I talk to my family and friends from Chicago they always ask if I'm coming back for the summer or not and honestly, I have no idea what's going to happen until job fair. Obviously, I'd love to be at Pixar for that animation internship this summer. Everyone in Calarts would die for that internship but the reality of the matter is that there are very limited spots available. I'll just cross my fingers and hope for a miracle. Outside of Pixar, there are other opportunities here and there. One of the coolest summer gigs is to work for the Simpsons movie. They're supposedly hiring like 40 animators to work on it. They're even offering summer jobs for Calarts students like myself so YOU KNOW I'll be applying for it!! It's a pretty exciting opportunity. A bunch of my buddies are applying as well. One of my teachers, Bert Klein is working on the movie and told me he'll help me with my reel. He also said he'll mention me to the ppl that are hiring. So if everything goes well, I shouldn't be going back to Chicago this summer. It's kind of depressing in a way because I miss my family and friends but they understand. I'm hoping to visit Chicago for at least a week. Time will tell.

April 6 - Somvilay vs. Melvina!! -

I think it's important to mention some of the silly things that go on in the animation cubes at Calarts. About a month or so ago, two character students, third year Somvilay and first year Melvina got into a "caricature war" which turned out to be pretty entertaining for the rest of us. I'm not sure how it all started but the war got pretty brutal. They drew tons of grotesque caricatures of each other all over the cube walls. Eventually, Frank Terry, director of the program told them to stop and paint everything they vandalised. On April 4th a bunch of people pitched in to help them repaint the cube walls. The fumes weren't too bad. I kept on working.

Pictures will be up shortly)

April 6 - Thumbnailing and Straightahead -

I've been struggling a lot this year with trying to find an animation process that works best for me. It's really confusing when you're surrounded by a ton of great artists that go about animating in different ways. Some will use straighahead a lot more than others. Bert Yoon charts the hell out of his animation. I just can't figure that stuff out. Then you have Eric Goldberg and James Baxtor come in. They're both geniuses but have different processes. So as you can imagine, I've been trying this and trying that all year. Good Lord have I stressed myself to death about which process would be best for me. I think I've finally had a breakthrough and it's completely changed my animation! I don't know how many times teachers have preached this to me before but THUMBNAIL, THUMBNAIL AND DO MORE THUMBNAILING! I've finally realized the importance of thumbnailing this week! I always just dove right into animation hoping that I'll figure out the thumbnails on the way but the best way to go about it is to plan first and bust out a lot of straight ahead afterwards. Straight aheading is another thing that I thought  I knew but didn't really utilize enough. That's why my animation was coming out lifeless and stiff.
So the first thing I do is thumbnail my scene. I draw little sketches of of each pose, breakdown, anticipations on one sheet of paper in a sequence. It helps me to discover problems I might encounter before I put the work into animation. Why didn't I do this before??? Stupid!!
After thumbnailing I'll dive right into the scene straight ahead for the most part. Animating straight ahead just basically means you start with the first drawing, then the second, third, fourth and all the way till the end without really worrying too much about charts, key posing or breaking down. I think it's wise to key pose here and there just so you have anchors to keep your scene in line and focused. I realized that I relied way too much on key poses and charts all semester. You have to "feel" the animation. The best way for me is to just go right through it using as much straight ahead as possible.
Of course, my process is a work in progress and will vary from scene to scene and will probably change as I learn more. I'm just happy that my scenes are coming to life. Finally!

April 7 - Mark Andrews and Andy Jimenez visit from Pixar -

Mark Andrews and Andy Jimenez just finished up directing a short called "One Man Band" at Pixar which will preceed Pixar's latest feature, "Cars" in theaters this summer. Their short was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year. They didn't win but they talked about how awesome the whole experience was. It's amazing to think that Mark Andrews was right here at Calarts in the early 90's. It's so cool to see how far he's gone! Anyway, for those of you who don't know about this dynamic duo, lemme elaborate a bit.
Andy and Mark first began working with each other on Brad Bird's "Iron Giant" in the mid to late 90's. This was the point where Brad Bird assembled his core group of artists which include Teddy Newton (character design), Lou Romano (Art Direction), Tony Fecile (animation), Pete Sohn (everything), Mark and Andy (story). This core group would follow Brad up to Pixar to make the "Incredibles" and I'm sure they'll stick together for quite some time. So Mark and Andy's job is primarily to visualize Brad Bird's vision as the director. Brad will write a sequence, for example. Mark Andrews will storyboard the sequence, pitch it to Andy Jimenez who then turns the storyboard into an unbelievably elaborate animatic that inclueds camera moves and a soundtrack. This process gives Brad a very clear idea of what the final film will look like. Supposedly this process is being adopted by studios all over the place because it's just more practical. Plus, it's ideal for getting cash out of investors because you can show them exactly what they'll see in the finished film without really getting into production yet. These guys have basically revolutionized the way feature films are being made these days. So yea, it's a big deal to have them visit us at Calarts.
Mark and Andy gave us a special screening of their short (One Man Band). So obviously, it was really good. They talked a lot about the process they went through to get this short film done. It sounded a lot like the experiences we're having with our short films so it was something we related to right off the bat. They gave us some really awesome advice on how to construct short films. Mark said this is the formula that they had come up with for making a short film.
First of all, the short film must have only ONE main idea. Too many ideas will drive you crazy and will make your short film into a not-so-short film. For "One Man Band" the basic idea was that two one-man-bands were dueling over one coin. After you have your main idea, the rest of the short is spent entertaining the audience with "gags". Gags can be jokes but are not limited to just jokes. They can be anything that happens that furthers the development of the story/characters. To end the film, there needs to be a twist that the audience doesn't expect. Surprise them! It reminds me of Doug Sweetland's breakdown of a basic joke. Set the audience up, throw in a twist and the joke is then inferred by the audience. It's all beginning to make sense to me. I hope my explanation makes some kind of sense.
Anyway, this is just a tool to use if you're making a short. As Mark Andrews says, these are tools, not rules. It's always good to have examples like this formula so you have something to start with but don't restrict yourself completely. Ijust found his advice helpful in giving me a clearer idea of how to approach making a short film.
The lecture ended in a Q & A. There were some really good questions here and there. Overall, the visit was great and a huge thanks goes out to Pixar for hooking us up with so many guest lectures this year!

Cynthia Overman introduces Mark and Andy

Couple of caricatures I did of Mark and Andy (don't think I got Mark too good though)

Mark and Andy signing "One Man Band" Posters!

April 13 - 11 days until the deadline -

The deadline is definitely looming and you'd figure that I'd be a nervous wreck right about now but for some reason I'm fairly calm. I have no idea why. As a matter of fact, ever since I changed my story a month or so ago I've been much calmer. That's a good indication I guess. Man, I can't believe how much I've stressed over that other story. I over analyzed every little thing way too much and it stopped being fun. It just wasn't spontaneous. Everything right down to animation became such a burden.
As I was animating in my cube the other day I couldn't help but listen in on a conversation that some of my classmates were having about making student films. Steve Macloed mentioned something that I don't think I'll ever forget. He said that he doesn't like stressing out about making his movie. We shouldn't try to achieve such high standards to the point where it becomes stressful. Shoot for high standards by all means but just keep your sights set on a standard that won't stress you out to the point where it all stops being fun. For God's sake we're making freakin' cartoons! We should be having a blast!
So that was like music to my ears because it's one of the struggles I've had to go through all year. I've tried to shoot for standards so high that it completely messed up my self confidence when I realized where I was really at. Wow, what a lesson!
Being called back by Pixar on job fair two years in a row would seem like a dream come true for anybody. And it is! I'm so greatful but at the same time, it freaked me out because all of the sudden I expected myself to be the ultimate animation genius like some of the recent Calarts grads that went over to Pixar (Matt Nolte, Dan Holland, Travis Hathaway, Matt Majors). It freaked me out! Now that I've come to grips with reality and have accepted where I'm at artistically, I feel liberated. It just took a long time to realize that I need to be confident and comfortable being Mario. Above all, I need to believe that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to. The mind is such a powerful thing. It can make or break you. Before I can control my craft I need to learn how to control my mind.
I work at the film library a few hours a week and was talking to Anitra Evans, my manager and recent Film school grad. She usually hears a lot of my complaining and the frustration I'm having with my film. Poor Anitra. Being a film making herself, she totally understands what I'm going through. I have a tendency to say "I can't do this" or " I can't do that". This week she basically slapped me around and told me to stop with the negativity. Just stop saying the word "can't". She told me to believe in myself and to stop worrying so much. If you have enough of that negativity in your mind you'll start to believe that you can't do it. So one of my goals is to stop being so negative. Pretty significant lesson.
As far as my film goes, I think everything's going to be OK! Sure the film won't be completely inbetweened or polished. Most of the scenes will not have little subtleties that I would have liked but for the most part, I'm going to get this thing done without losing too much more hair over it. I'm not too stressed like I said. I'm not sure why. I actually feel weird about not being stressed but I'll flow with it. I'm currently laying out keyframes and breakdowns on a scene I worked on earlier this semester. After that, there's a scene that I had to put away for a while because I was having issues with some of the acting and poses. Now that I thumbnail a lot more I'm pretty confident that I'll get that scene out of the way pretty quickly. There are three other really simple scenes that i need to rough out until I can go back to my massive dialogue scene. I'd say that it's the most entertaining scene in my film or at least the coolest scene to work on. I'm not going to spend too much time on it because I want to finish editing and sound as soon as possible. Oh, and I have to do my layouts, too. I estimate that I'll have something that's finished enough to turn in by late next week. So once I'm done with my Open Show submission, I'll go back into some of my favorite scenes and just work on them stress free all the way up till Job Fair. That'll be my official deadline. That's the plan.

April 26 2006 - "The Film is Done!"

I've neglected the journal for a couple of weeks because I was so busy trying to finish my film. I kinda wanted to have a few rants here and there about how stressful it was but oh well. I'm sitting at the Film Library right now ( my workstudy job). I'm definitely happy that my third year film is finally wrapped up but disappointed because I didn't get to finish a lot of the animation. It's pretty rough. I'll post the film on this site soon enough.
It's funny how making a film seems like a matter of life and death while your in the middle of production but once you're finish a huge realization hits you. You realize that all you've been busting your ass over for the last year is just some silly 2-3 minute cartoon. I feel like I've hyped everything up soooo much with my previous posts but now that I look back it just seems rediculous to get so stressed over something that supposed to be fun. But I guess I can't help it because I've sacrificed so much to get here. I'll be in over my head in debt when I graduate and that thought bothers me on a daily basis. So yea, it can be frustrating when you invest so much into something but don't see much in return. I think my film turned out OK. It was a huge struggle but I think the value shouldn't neccessarily be assessed in the final product but rather in the process that I went through in getting to that final product.
On Monday the 24th (the deadline) my girlfriend, Ophir and I went out with a bunch of classmates who had also just turned in their films for the Open Show. Everyone was extremely relieved as you can imagine. We were talking to Nick Butera that night and he said something that stuck in my mind. Regarding the films, he said it's not about the destination, it's about the journey that really counts. And it's true because I feel like I've gone through so much this year but my film just doesn't show that. It's just a three minute cartoon but you have no idea how much crazy crap I've gone through to get that film done! It's mind boggling.
Anyway, finishing my film was a bittersweet experience. It was bitter because I felt like I should have gotten some more "finished" scenes in. I get stressed out about Pixar because they told me to polish my scenes more this year which is something I didnt' do. Damn. I struggled a lot with getting my story together. That was my downfall this year. But I feel good about it because I got the film out of the way. It's scary to think that i was actually considering doing a two year film. It would be a nightmare to work on this project for another year!
I'm looking forward to next year but I need to avoid some of the mistakes I made. The most important thing is to make sure my film idea is extremely short. Think of a 60 second film idea and it'll be sure to blow up to about 2 or 3 minutes. That's manageable. So yea, less is more. Also, I need to get my film idea down in the summer. Not just the idea but a finished animatic. I want to walk into the school year pratically ready to animate. I need all the time I can get because animation is what I want to do. It's ironic that I end up spending the least amount of time on animation because of story and design hell. Ahhh!
So the big question right now is what I'm going to do this summer. I need to get my ass in gear and prepare my portfolio. That's my focus this week. After I get my portfolio together, I might work on a scene or two for job fair and cross my fingers for an internship or job. I don't want to go back to Chicago because I just can't get anything productive done. I'm way to close to graduation so there is a huge sense of urgency to get something going this summer.
The Open Show is on Friday. Only three days away so I'm excited about that but at the same time, kinda stressed about having my film on the big screen. There's always an anxiety about showing my work in front of a crowd but it's important for every artist to be able to let go of their work and see other's react to it.
Since I submitted my film kinda late in the day on Monday, I expect it to be on the last tape for the Open Show which means that it'll be shown at like 4 am! lol. I don't think this is very good for the Producer's Show judging because they'll be extremely tired and angry by the 8th hour of judging films. There's always a chance that my film will be in the Producer's Show but I think it's kind of slim this year because my animation is so unfinished. So I'm not expecting anything fantastic to happen. I can't complain because afterall, I had two films in the PD show already. To be honest, I'm just really tired of thinking about the Producer's Show. It makes everyone so competitive and stressed out. I just want to make my films without worrying so much about the big show.
Oh, almost forgot. The title of my film this year is "The Dragon's Den". yay.

April 29 2006 - The OPEN SHOW!

So I managed to take ALOT of coole photos during the Open Show this year. Everyone got pretty typsy right before the show started including me. Me and some of my buddies went out to get some beer. I had one six pack of Negro Modelo and another six pack of Guiness. Good stuff. But to be honest, I wouldn't recommend being drunk for the Open Show because it's hard, at least for me, to comprehend the films! I'm going to have to watch it again for sure. There were some really fantastic films this year by the way. It just seems like every Producer's Show gets better and better!

Pre Open Show party with some of my buddies. |
(left to right)
Leo Matsuda, Alex Duckworth, Javier Barboza, Jasser
Membrano, Will Kim, (and I'm taking the picture)

Heres a shot of everyone taking their seats

Birds eye of some of us taking shots.

(left to right) J.G Quintell, Devin Roth, Joe Pitt, Alex Hirsch (red flannel), Leo Matsuda (foreground)

(left to right) Leo Matsuda, Justin Hunt, Hwang

(left to right) my girlfriend Ophir Ariav, Ant Ward, Joel Crawford, and me

Drunkin Leo, Woooooo!!!

Justin Hunt, Austin Madison

May 1 2006 - The Producer's Show Selections!

Unfortunately, I didn't make it into the Producer's Show this year but I think the films that got picked were really awesome. I can't wait till they post the films online for all to see. Anyhow, as you can imagine, there is definitely some dissappointment that I'm feeling right now but when I think about it, I've had the priveledge of being in two Producer's Shows in a row. There's nothing for me to feel bad about at all. I like the fact that a lot of the people that got in this year are first timers.
In a weird way, there is almost a sense of relief about not getting in this year. The fact that I got in two years in a row just added another element of stress as I worked on my film throughout the year. Maybe the Producer's Show was one of the reasons why I kept second guessing myself so much. So now that's it's over and done with, I feel like I can move on with my life and not worry about the show at all.
Just so everyone knows, at Calarts, the Producers Show can get pretty glorified but whether someone gets in the show shouldn't be the deciding factor on whether or not one had a successful year. As long as you get better, that's the most important thing. I think I learned a hell of a lot this year. Not so much about the technical end of animation/drawing but more about how to be an artist/filmmaker. There are lessons you need to learn in life and sometimes you have to learn them the hard way for them to sink in.
One of the lessons I learned is to trust myself more. Go with my instincts. Dont' worry what other people are doing, just focus on what I'm doing. And also, everyone just needs to have faith in themselves and trust the process of learning. Learning can be pretty rough. A lot of times a student will come in with a certain amount of talent but school will strip that person down. It'll seem like that student actually got worse somehow but that's not the case. Eventually, the artist will build back and actually understand how to control the talent that comes natural to him/her. That's the point where an artist masters his/her craft and it's what all of us are striving for. The learning process is organic and you can never predict how long it can take to get to a high level. But with hard work, I think anyone is capable of getting there.
I've been jotting down some ideas for next year's film. I feel a lot more clear headed and confident about the process. For the first time I'm actually enjoying coming up with new ideas. Also, I've been trying to figure out what I'm going to do this summer. I sent in a reel to Rough Draft Studios in hopes of getting a Character Layout test. A couple of my buddies have tests scheduled for next week. I hope I get that job but if I don't, I still plan on sticking around LA this summer. If I'm persistent enough, I think I can find something. But that's typically my problem. I'm just not persistent enough. There's also the Disney and Buena Vista Games internships, too.

May 5 - Dogeball Championship!! -

It was a night to remember......The 2006 Dodgeball Championship Game at Calarts! As you can imagine, this event was highly anticipated throughout the week. There were about 11 teams starting at 8 p.m and it all came down to two teams and guess which two made it to the finals, baby! Yep, the "Dan Hansens" vs. "A-Team" !! (The A-Team is my team, by the way). Before I go on, I think I should mention that we had one subsitution on our team for the championship game because Austin Madison got hit by a car a couple weeks ago.  He broke his shoulder but no worries, he was still able to animate a bit more until the film deadline. But of course, he wouldn't play dodgeball so Joel Crawford (my first year roommate) filled in for Austin.
So the A-Team consisted of myself, Jules Soto, Devin Roth, J.G Quintel, Joel Crawford, and Sam Marin. It was was an awesome tournament but I could feel the tension from other teams as they tried to take our crown away. Didn't happen though because my team was too much for the competition! Just kidding, it was a hard fought tournament but we did come out on top in the end!  Woo hoo! It was a repeat championship for the A-Team! What a great way for the seniors to end the year! But what'll happen to our team next year? We only have three players coming back so we'll be recruiting some new players next semester. Maybe some freshmen can fill in and help continue the legacy that is.......The A-Team!!

May 6 2006 - Sinco De Mayo party at my Dorm Room -

This time of year is just as weird as it is awesome. It's weird because once we're finished with our films, we don't really know what the heck to do with our time. It's a strange feeling to have so much extra time on our hands. And at the same time it's great because we can throw Sinco De Mayo Parties in the dorms! Woo hoo! Well, my girlfriend Ophir and I were going to host a Sinco De Mayo party on the fifth of May but the Dodgeball championship got in the way of that so we scooted it over to the sixth instead. This Mexican holiday is typically about drinking a lot of Margaritas or something so that's what we did. A few of us went out to "Beverages and More" early that day and bought some alcohol. Ophir actually lived in Mexico city for a few months and worked as a bartender there so she appointed herself as the bartender for the party. She made some fantastic drinks!  Big She was a big hit! Here are some pictures that I took during the get-together. It's nice to finally spend some time with my friends and not have to talk so much about how stressful films are. I wish we could invite more people but we just didn't have the funds to back up the alcohol.

So altogether, we had 11 guests including myself. I just can't help but think how ridiculously talented the people in these photograhs are. It'll be awesome to look back on these photos one day when they're all famous artists!
(from left to right: top picture)
Adrian Molina - green striped shirt
Nick Butera and Margo - (the couple)
Lorelay Bove - foreground, tan shirt
Diane Lafyatis - background, bright blue shirt
Ophir Ariav - purple shirt (my g/f)
Mattias Baur - Dark hair, light shirt
Ed Juan - Asian dude along right side.
Neysa - girl with glasses next to Ed
Alex Hirsch - red flannel shirt, foreground

May 9 2006 - 2006 Calarts Job Fair!! -

Whoops! I forgot to mention that we had Job Fair coming up and that's probably one of the most stressful times of the year. We only get a couple of weeks to prepare our porfolios after the film deadline so everyone is in a rush to get stuff done. We just got a huge Laser printer in the Mac lab so we didn't have to go to Kinko's this year to print anything out. Unfortunately, I procrastinated way too much and didn't get the chance to print anything anyway. I just taped on a bunch of original drawings into my portfolio and put it out in the main gallery for the recruiters to see. But trust me, the night before Job Fair was stressful because I practically did everything last minute. I literally slept about 15 minutes that night but it's all worth it in the end because I got some really awesome call-backs this year!

Mario's Call backs -
James Baxtor Animation - 2d Studio in Pasadena CA
Pixar Animation Studios - 3d animation in Emeryville CA
6 Point Harness Studios - I think they do stuff for MTV
American Dad - TV studio in LA
Family Guy - TV studio in LA
Rhythm and Hues - 3d animation studio

To be honest, I didn't think I was going to get any callbacks this year because I thought my film was a disaster. I didn't get to finish my animation as much as I would have liked but oh well, I blame my inability to commit to a story!! Ahhh, how frustrating!
So the most surprising callbacks obviously were the James Baxtor callback and the Pixar callback. James Baxtor, for those of you who don't know, is a hand drawn genius! ONe of the best living today! He actually liked my film and told me to drop by the studio sometime! AWESOME!!!! He's not looking for interns this year because he's way too busy working on "Enchanted". Dang! 
Pixar called me back two years in a row but I just thought they'd be disappointed in my film this year so I tried to prepare for the worst. To my surprise, they liked my film, too! Bobby Podesta and Mike Wu were the animators that came down for Job Fair. I first met Bobby my first year at Job Fair so it was cool to see him there again. They had really nice things to say and encouraged me to apply for the summer internship. I sent my reel over to Pixar the next day. It would be awesome to get that internship this summer but they said that about 1100 people apply for only 4 slots!!! Wow! So the odds are definitely against me! A couple of my other buddies including Sam Marin, Jules Soto, Leo Matsuda, Austin Madison, and Mattais Bauer got the animation call back as well. They're all freakin' awesome!
I didn't get to meet with 6 point Harness because they wanted us to call them and talk on the phone later in the week. I still haven't managed to get a hold of Brendan but I plan to give him another ring. I'm going all the way with every opportunity to increase my chances of getting something this summer.
American Dad is a FOX TV show that I've never gotten the chance to see but regardless, it sounds like a cool opportunity. They're looking for storyboard artists. The only problem is that they're looking to fill permanent positions. I can't really go for it because I plan on coming back to school my last year. Family Guy was the same situation. I got storyboard tests from them both.
Rhythm and Hues was cool but they're not looking for interns this summer. And since I don't know CG just yet, they can't really do anything for me except urge me to apply for their scholarship, which I plan on doing for sure.
Job Fair turned out to be great. It definitely made me feel a lot better about my film. I'm looking forward to next year. I want to keep my portoflioin the back of my mind throughout the year so Job Fair doesn't hit me like a ton of bricks again.

May 11 2006 - 2006 Calarts Producer's Show!! -

First of all, I'm an IDIOT for not bringing my camera to the show. I totally forgot. I remember plugging the camera in to get it charged earlier in the day too. Damn!
Anyway, it was great to experience the Producer's Show again but not so great since my film wasn't in it!  This year had such a good line up but oh well, I was lucky enough to be in the previous two shows. Maybe next year!
Regardless, the show was amazing altogether! The shows have progressively gotten better over the last few years but this year's show was a exceptional hit! Everyone after ther show was raving about it! I'm truely proud of the great work that everyone did this year.
The show was pretty long. I think it ended at about 11:30 or so. There was food outside waiting for us. Typically, the post show festivities are the best time to socialize with industry people. The Producer's Show is amazing because so many people from the industry actually go to it. Most of which consist of former Calarts students. It's a terrific opportunity to network.
I talked to Angus Maclane again. I met him and a bunch of other Pixar animators from the previous two shows. He told me it wasn't that big of a deal that I didn't make it in this year but still wanted to see my film. I told him I sent over a copy of my film for the Pixar internship application. So ever since that point, I didn't feel bad about not being in the show. It actually seemed to not matter much which was surprising. Everyone was just really excited about the show. There were several people who had their film in the show for the first time so I introduced them to everyone I knew. It was awesome to see how excited everyone from the industry was about the Calarts show.
There were a bunch of Pixar animators at the show. Bobby Podesta, Mike Wu, Angus Maclane, Doug Sweetland, Mark Walsh, Sanjay, and a bunch of others. It was awesome! I also talked to Dave Pimintel, Calarts grad and head of story on the "Bee Movie" at Dreamworks. He told me to email him a copy of my film so that was pretty cool. I'm having problems with compressing my film for the web but hopefully I'll figure it out soon. That's why I haven't uploaded it to my site yet.
J.G Quintel's film was a HUGE hit! Everyone was laughing soooo hard. After the show, one of the guys from Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival was begging to get J.G's film! All the Pixar guys were raving over his film too. Just remember the name, J.G Quintel! He's going to be sooooooo rich and ridiculously famous within a few years. Yup, he was on my dodgeball team.
After the show, Pixar hosted an after party again at the "Castaway" restaurant. Free booze! whoo hoo! I didn't get to drink much though because I was too busy talking to people about the awesome show! Everyone should go to Castaway at least once in their life because the restaurant is on top of a huge mountain overlooking the valley. The most amazing view ever!!!
Anyhow, we got home at about 3 or 4. It was another awesome memory. It's sad to think that I only have one more Producer's Show to go until I graduate. Where the hell did the time go???