Character Animation at CALARTS
4th year Journal of Mario Furmanczyk

2003-2004 FRESHMAN Journal
2004-2005 SOPHOMORE Journal

2005-2006 JUNIOR Journal
2006-2007 SENIOR Journal
 



 

January, 2007


Jan, 2007 - "The Summer Sum-Up" -


There are just way too many things that have happened since I last wrote in my journal so I'll try to summarize. First of all, I've taken a semester off of school so that's why I'm starting this year's journal in January. The reason for taking a semester off was so that I could continue working at Renegade Animation studios in Glendale to basically get more experience and to save some money for my final semester at Calarts. I was fortunate enough to get that job at Renegade right after my third year ended. I would say that the main reason why I got the job in the first place was because of the recommendation that Bert and Jennifer Klein gave the Darrell Van Citters.

Bert Klein was the second year animation teacher at Calarts last year and I often asked him for animation advice especially towards the end of the year. He and Jennifer are both amazing artists and on top of the Renegade job, they offered me an opportunity to work on their 10 minute short film, "The Founding Father Dogs" I didn't think twice about it because I knew it was an opportunity to work closely with two really awesome animators all summer long. And as a bonus, Bert Klein was set to work with his best friend, THE Eric Goldberg on a traditionally animated project but I won't go into detail about it because I think it's still on the DL. Anyways, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to help inbetween for Bert Klein on this project. As you can imagine, it ended up being the best summer I could ever hope for.

Ironically, about a week after all of these summer plans were set, Pixar called and offered the animation internship to me so all of the sudden I was faced with a tough decision to make. I thought quickly about it and to sum it up, I decided that traditional animation was the direction my heart wanted to go. I figured that it was what motivated me to pursue Calarts in the first place and since Disney/Pixar's merger, things were beginning to look bright for the future of hand drawn.

I worked at Renegade for about 6 or 7 months altogether and officially have credits in two films. "Christmas is here Again" (character animation) and "Reanimated" (character layout). You can even find my name on IMDB!! I learned more than I would have ever imagined mostly because of the great people who I worked with every day especially Darrell Van Citters (Calarts alum) and Scott O'Brian (fellow Chicagoan).

As for the projects involving Bert and Jennifer Klein, I felt like I was finally learning all the things that I was confused about throughout my three years at Calarts. This is going to sound stupid but I literally didn't know how to do an inbetween correctly until I started working with Bert and Jennifer. I also learned alot about drawing, charting, designing poses and how to get a scene through the finish line and set for clean up. I can't put into words how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to work with Bert and Jennifer. At one point during my third year I was begining to doubt whether I would be cut out for character animation. My confidence was at an all time low and when I look back at where I was earlier in 2006, I feel like my growth as an animator was tremendous in the past half year. Again, lots of thanks to Bert and Jennifer!

You might be wondering why I haven't learned some of these "basic" animation things like how to do an inbetween at Calarts and I think the answer that everyone would agree with me on is that nothing beats professional experience. Working on a student film is like walking through a forest in the middle of the night without a flashlight. When you have the opportunity to work on a professional project with pro animators all of the sudden you're in a hummer with state of the art navigation technology, baby. I remember Shane Prigmore, (my second year animation teacher) saying that once he had that internship on the Iron Giant, he learned more in three months than all the Calarts years put together. I see what he meant by that!

So since I'm starting my journal up again for the last finale I thought I'd do something a bit different this time around. Instead of focusing so much about activities going on at Calarts and within the Character animation program, I figured it might be more interesting to make a detailed journal following the progress of my fourth year film from start to finish. I'll include as many animation tests, pre production, design work, etc... as I possibly can. So basically, you'll sort of have a real time look at the development of this film instead of just seeing the final product in late April. I hope this will mix things up and keep some people interested.


I also wanted to share a couple of ridiculously amazing experiences that I had over the summer. One of my good buddies at Calarts, Erik Fountain, is a good friend of James Baxter. And through some act of God, James Baxter invited me, Jules Soto and my girlfriend at the time, Ophir, over for his fourth of July barbeque!! The weirdest part of it all was how down to Earth, humble and just plain nice James Baxter is! I've met him before but this time around we got a chance to hang out with him and his family all day! He even showed us pictures
of himself when he was a youngster. It was a great time!

Another surreal experience was going out to dinner with Eric Goldberg over the summer. Like I said, Bert Klien is a really good friend of Eric's and it just so happened that I was at Bert's place shooting some animation when he invited me, Hyun Min and Ophir to join him and Eric for dinner. It was a great time because they have so much enthusiasm about animation. Eric was telling us some old stories from back when he worked with Richard Williams and he even gave us a mini lecture about animation. Man, it just goes to show you how small this world is! Three and a half years ago I was in Chicago outside looking in and all of the sudden I'm hanging out with geniuses! This industry is actually a pretty small one so once you know one person the rest is sorta like dominos. So look. I'd say Calarts isn't quite the best school academically but as far as networking goes, you'll never find anything better. I'd highly recommend learning how to draw really well before ever stepping foot at Calarts.





January 4, 2007 - Rough story boards for my fourth year film-

So I took a month long vacation to Chicago starting Dec 6 and came back on the 3rd of January. During that great vacation I managed to figure out what my story would be for my final year. On the plane to Chicago I quickly roughed out a storyboard in my sketchbook. By the time I landed I was finished with it.

I decided to make a film around a short Jazz song this year because I figured it'll keep me from expanding my film to the point where I wouldn't be able to finish animation. I picked a Billie Holiday song which was about 1:40 in length. I'm so happy this is going to be a managable project! But listen, this rough storyboard thing I did in my sketchbook is extremely crappy and incoherent to anyone but myself. It doesn't really matter because this was a pass that wasn't supposed to be shown to anyone. I'm extremely embarassed of the quality of it since I'm broadcasting it to everyone but I just wanted to make a point that sometimes you don't have to make "amazing" drawings when you don't need to. As long as the drawings communicate to you that's all that matters.

Check out the rough boards here

I also managed to finish a rough story reel over break and I think it's a lot more coherant than my sketchbook boards. Hopefully by the end of this journal we will see this project turn into something cool. If not, maybe I'll be delivering pizzas like Mike Disa told us we would first year. Hey! Somebody's gotta do it!

Fourth Year Film: First pass Story Reel




May 2006 - The James Baxter interview! -


Interview by Erik Fountain and Mario Furmanczyk


So one might be wondering how the hell did this random Mario guy arrange an interview with the one and only James Baxter? Well, thanks to my good friend Erik Fountain, who’s a good friend of James‘, I tagged along for an interview which was meant to help Erik pass one of his critical studies classes! I ran into Erik that night and he asked if I’d like to go with him and obviously I did. It was an interesting interview because it started out very planned (Erik had a list of questions to ask him) and then it ended up as a sort of improvisational, casual conversation! It was almost as if I was talking to one of my Calarts buddies about animation. (But this buddy happened to know a lot more about animation.)

So one might also be asking....why didn't you post this interview in last year's journal? I'll be honest. At the time I was kind of avoiding anything and everything that had to do with my website because I was just at a low point artistically and didnt' want to confront it. I was also looking for the best opportunity to do this golden nugget of animation wisdom some justice! So here it is! My new journal will start off with a bang this year!

I'd like to thank James Baxter for this interview. I think it'll be a great resource for you all!


Ok so first of all, here is some background info on James before his animation career.

- Before Art School, James Baxter attended the Cambridge Tech College for graphic design. He took classes in ceramics, industrial design, and graphic design. That’s where James first managed to get his hands on film equipment. He started animating with cut out animation under the camera and was intrigued with animation ever since!

James later attended West Surry College of Art and Design, which was the only school for animation in London. The program was more experimental in nature.

After about a year at Surry, he was offered a summer job on Roger Rabbit where a handful of his friends were also working. James said that Roger Rabbit was a big deal since it was so rare to have such a huge production done in London. So James initially expected this Roger Rabbit gig to last for the summer but they hired him full time. That ended his career as a student and marked the beginning of an amazing career in the world of animation!



- Q: What’s the best thing that has ever happen to character animation?

JB: Walt Disney - no brainer!


- What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to character animation?


JB: WWII


-Erik asked an interesting question which seemed to spark a bit of excitement in James. Who was the best out of the Nine Old Men and what would make the ultimate animator?

James came up with the “Nine Old Men triangle”. A combination of Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas and Ward Kimball.

-Milt Kahl - Insane draftsmanship, staging

-Frank is acting from the gut, unique for every character. Doesn’t have the best draftsmanship but approaches acting in a unique, spontaneous, honest performance

-Ward Kimball - for his comedy and zaniness and limitless animation.


- Q: What’s your opinion on the combo of 2d and 3d?

JB. It all depends on who’s wielding the tools. It’s a matter of taste. What kind of look do you want to achieve? With enough work you can almost achieve any look these days. I don’t think it’s been done extremely well. It sticks out like a sore thumb a lot of times. Iron Giant is one instance where it was done well.


Q: If you were in a position to use both would you?

JB: If it’s best for what you’re trying to do as far as the demands of the story


Q: What are your feelings on where hand drawn is right now?

JB: Something’s definitely brewing. The regime change at Disney was very exciting. Disney’s doing shorts again so that’s great.


Q: Based on things that are being done now, where would you like to see things go now?

JB I’d like to see hand drawn start pushing some boundaries. Stylistically it was in a rut, looking back on itself a lot, even though I’m working on a project (Enchanted) that’s supposed to look back on the past. We’re trying to get a nostalgic feel to it.

I’d like to see things done in a different style. Since there’s so much digital help, there’s a lot of digital possibilities for the future. We’re trying to do things that won’t limit us to line and flat color. But just be careful that you’re not just doing things just to be doing things. Just don’t distract the audience. (Freckles on faces, textures, etc.)


Q: What’s your favorite CG film so far?

JB: Incredibles because they tackled humans for the first time and they were very careful to pick the style so they wouldn’t be to literal and not too abstract. It’s very easy to add a lot of distractions. It takes a lot of discipline to hold back on going overboard with details.


Q: What is your opinion of CG as opposed to hand drawn?

JB - you have to get more subtly in CG because of the nature of the design. It’ll go dead without more subtlety. CG takes a lot more layering. Powerpuff Girls for example lends itself to more simple acting. Subtleties just wouldn’t fit with the design.

What James doesn’t’ like about CG is that it just mimics live action a bit too much.


-
On comparing and contrasting Spirit and the Donkey in Shrek:

JB: Spirit was supposed to move realistically. Donkey is visually more realistic but his acting wasn’t necessarily very realistic to what a donkey would do. (example) donkey doing the running man. I was glad that I did Spirit first because I learned what to do and what I could leave out going into Shrek.
 

Starting Spirit was daunting because I didn’t know enough about horses. But once you seriously invest yourself into learning one four legged animal the rest aren’t so hard. Didn’t know how to change gate properly. All the specifics to horses were unknown. ….what they do with their heads when they gallop.


-With animation being so young, as Ollie being the last representatives of the 9 Old Men, they contributed to the animation industry with the books they wrote. Do you plan on dong anything like that?

JB: Best things that Ollie and Frank did were write those books. I love teaching maybe on DVDs because animation moves. Trying to explain animation in book form is limiting because animation is all about movement. I’d love to do something on DVD.


-What film did you learn the most on?

JB: Roger Rabbit followed by Spirit. Up until Roger I was on my own, just drifting with my friends. Just trying to learn by watching movies. Self teaching ourselves. It was a steep learning curve in getting into a studio and assisting pro animators. The stuff you can get from watching and reading are the basic stuff (through analyzing). What you don’t get until you actually sit down with a professional is the process. How do you start? How do you structure the scene? You can do it on your own with time but it’s much easier to learn from someone.

One of the things that I learned from Andreas. All my animation is in graphite and the inbetweens/rough inbetweens in blue pencil so the clean up artist knows on which drawings he/she has liberties in changing. (This process originates from Milt.)


Q: What were your influences, what made you want to pursue a career in animation?

JB: saw star wars when I was 10 and loved it. Wanted to blow up spaceships. Was initially into special effects. Really into special effects! Fan of Harryhausen. But all the while drew since 6. Saw Robin Hood and mother remembers him coming home trying to draw the Robin Hood characters. He copied a lot of stuff. Phase where he would copy Frank Frazetta pictures. I remember sitting in art class and copying the “Death Dealer”. My future brother in law was in the next door print shop and saw his drawing and said it was a Molly Hatchet cover!

Can’t remember exactly how I first heard of Dick Williams but I grew up watching a lot of his commercials but grew up watching the “South Bank Show” with Melvin Brag and they did a show about Dick when I was about 14. They showed footage from the Thief and the Cobbler which was inspiring. It was just so nice to look at. It was always destined to be the ultimate animated cult movie if it happened. Maybe THAT was one of the worst things that happened to animation. It’s pretty impossible to find the work reel.


Q: In the industry, who’s work do you most admire?

JB: There’s Eric Goldberg and Sergios Pablos. Those are the first two that come to mind. Sergio is a great draftsman and great acting. Great actor. Eric is a master of the more cartoony Warner Brothers style. I’d like to do some more of the cartoony stuff myself.


Q: What do u make of Sergio’s film?

JB: Seen the trailor, thinks it’s really cool.


James Baxter on the most recent batch of Calarts films (05-06)

Jules Soto’s film is the only thing that gets James’ boy to clean his room! His son LOVES Jules’ film! Margaret Baxter (James’ daughter) says Jules Soto makes the best films ever!

Bert Youn’s film made James laugh out loud and James also said that my little dragon (my third year film) was the cutest dragon ever done! That was an awesome compliment considering how crappy I felt about my film at the time!


-James Baxter on the “Process”

- the more you get to the place where you have a pretty good idea of what it looks like without testing it, the better.


Process wise- the ability to project ahead. When you time out your keys in the lunchbox, determine which drawing is really gonna be there. You got to commit and write the number down on the piece of paper. If it works, then you’ve learn something. You get a better idea of what it’s going to look like in the end.

It’s all about analyzing what you’re doing. Trying to break down the little things in what you’re doing. He structures his scenes not only around the extremes of what’s happening but also structuring in terms of what’s happening in the torso.


Structuring a scene - deciding which drawings are going to be on which frames and committing to them. “Tent poles” - where everything comes together to a solid structure.

On perspective runs - just plan out the perspective on one sheet of paper by drawing indictors for where the heads are.


On a woman running with dress - draw what’s going on underneath the legs first and then overlay the dress.


Animating tension/acting in a scene. - takes some acting chops, actor’s ability. To come up with the right acting choices to sell the idea. Da Vinci’s quote, “Drawings should be done in such a way so that there is no confusion as to what’s going on.” Honesty. *


Q: What do you think about video reference?

JB: Could be good and bad. Just realize the pitfall. The character will be doing what you’re doing. The character might not be you. Just keep that in the back of the mind. He never acts in the mirror because it assures that the character will end up looking like him too much. It’ll be his mouth shape, not the character.


Q: How do you work out expressions without any kind of reference?

Just by memory. There’s a commonality to how the face works in general but how one character’s face moves as opposed to another should be explored.

Subconsciously connects a person in memory to character or study reference. Rafiki is just the silly side of James Baxter!

Big Jack Lemon - some like it hot, Mr. Roberts, apartment
Clarity in the acting seems like over acting but it’s not. Just extremely clear.


Animatability in character design -

JB: needs to have limited graphic cheats. Daffy duck snaps into poses (so that gives room for the cheats)

Sculptural. Designs which are sculptural. Recommends sculpting





Jan. 11, 2007- First batch of character designs -

I've been drawing like a maniac the past few days trying to get some decent character designs. First of all, let me go back a few days to elaborate more on the process and some of the problems I faced and am currently facing with designing these characters.

I took a stab at designing a few characters the other day (did a terrible job but hey you gotta start somewhere) and then proceeded to visit Bert and Jennifer once again for some advice. I sat down with Jennifer (who's an amazing designer) and felt like I learned a lot just watching her sketch out some ideas. One of the concepts that she helped me understand was thinking of designing characters in terms of shapes instead of anatomical forms. It's so easy to get carried away with the details before you solidify exactly what general shape you're going to use first. Seriously, you can use this philosophy for almost everything so remember it! Start general (broad/simple shapes) and then make your way to specifics/details. Well, it sounds simple in theory but so does jumping off a plane. I sat down and did my best to design these characters thinking of their overall shape and what it would communicate. It's definitely not easy!

Check out some of my character designs...

You should pause for a moment before drawing anything and think of what general shape would best communicate the kind of character you're trying to get accross. Also, take the clothing into consideration (how it affects the overal shape of the character). For example, say I'm trying to design a body builder. Just thinking of the basic silhouette I'm obviously going to go with the broad shoulders, huge torso, blah blah. It wouldn't make any sense trying to give the poor dude big hips in proportion to his shoulders, right? So lightly sketch in that general shape (big torso, short legs perhaps, blah blah) and then go ahead and start messing with the general shape of his head, then the relationship of his facial features on that head shape and so on.

One of the problems that I've been having with my particular designs is my inexperience with drawing black people. So Jennifer arranged a meeting next week with Jamie Lopez, who is a genius according to Bert and Jennifer! He's a pro at designing appealing black characters so I can't wait to get his take on some of my designs. He was the designer for Fat Albert recently. Bert was animation director for that film so I browsed through some of the stuff he accumulated from that project, made copies and posted them in my cube for reference.

I should also add that one of the first things you should do is research! My story takes place in a 1920s Chicago Jazz Club. I've been researching fashion and interior design from that era.

Jennifer sat down with me and helped sort through the mess that is my current story reel. It was extremely helpful because we ironed out a bunch of screen direction and staging issues and simplified them. Also, I can't preach enough about how helpful it is to see a professional go over your drawings (in this case storyboards). There is a simplicity to how Jennifer handled the staging and character expressions in each panel which was an eye opener for me. The problem at Calarts has often been that the teachers are way too overloaded to take that much time with each student. Class sizes are too enormous. I feel sorry for the teachers! Anyway, this was an extremely valuable experience and I'm still digesting all the stuff I learned. One of the key tips I can ever give you all is to let your mentor draw over your drawings and WATCH THEM! You'll learn a lot. At least that's what I think.












Jan. 17 - Final Character designs and incidental char. designs.



After consulting with Jennifer Klein over email I've narrowed it down to these designs. I've also started to design some of the other random characters that will be in the film but I can't get too far with that until I nail down my storyboards. So, that's the next step! Story is the most stressful part of the process. (For me, anyway.) There are some parts in my first pass that I'd like to make better and in general, I need to start thinking more about composition and staging. We'll see what I can come up with.

Jennifer showed the designs to Jamie Lopez and for the most part, he said they're working well (which is an awesome compliment coming from him!) There are some notes he had about their feet and a couple of other things.






Check out the designs here:

Singer
Little boy
Little girl
misc. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5





Jan. 18 - 2nd pass on story reel

2nd story reel pass

This process is about constantly taking something general and slowly working it and reworking into something more specific. Anyway, so this is my next story pass. I consulted Dave Pimintel, my story teacher (and head of story at Dreamworks). He gave me some awesome advice and so did Bert and Jennifer. I feel like I'm pretty much ready to start my "workbook" pass, which is kind of like a layout/organizational pass. My goal is to start animation by Febuary 1st but who knows, if things keep going well I might start earlier! I'm in shock at how smooth this year's film is going! I think the right guidance is key! The last couple of years I tried figuring things out by myself and fell into a miserable black hole of confusion. So if you have the resources available, use them! Don't try to be a hero. And no matter how good you think you are, you will always have lots to learn. Stay humble.




Jan 22 - Pete Doctor Animation Lecture

Pete Doctor (left) came in for a noon lecture and somehow I misplaced some golden notes that I put together from his visit. As you can imagine, I'm furious! I'm hoping I'll run into the notes one day and if I do, I'll elaborate more on his lecture.

So lets see how well my memory is working! Ok....I remember the lecture being very inspiring....it was great timing because Pete's focus was on animation and since everyone is just about ready to kick off production on their films, we needed a boost like that.

Pete has been working at Pixar ever since he graduated Calarts in the early 90s and of course he's most well known for directing "Monster's Inc." He had some interesting things to share as far as how he and his small team of story people developed the story. There were a couple of early story sketches he showed us to illustrate how far the story had come from the initial concept. In the early developmental stages, Pete would get together with his story crew and spread a gigantic roll of paper down on the floor for the artists to doodle little ideas down onto. He would go over the ideas and continue to write the script. They kept doing that until they ran out of time and since time is money, they didn't have much time to get it all done!

Pete elaborated a little on his experience launching off into the industry right after Calarts. A lot of his friends had all the bragging rights as they went off to Disney and the other big name studios at the time. Meanwhile, Pete found himself going to San Fransisco to work as an animator at a tiny no-name studio called "Pixar". Paid off in the long run didn't it?

He mentioned that his initial ambition after Calarts was to go to Canada to persue a career as an independent animation filmmaker! He found himself battling the idea of either settling as a commercial artist versus becoming an independant who focused on artistic integrity and personal vision. He was on the verge of leaving Pixar at one point because he felt he was selling out or something to that effect. So, he had a talk with John Lasseter about this conflict and what Lasseter told him that day seemed to have a big impact. He told him that we are all entertainers and to stop being in denial about it.

I wish I had my notes because I probably wrote the quote down. Sorry Pete, for butchering this story! I just thought it was important to hear because I often have a similer conflict myself. I get the feeling of being looked down upon if I aspire to selllout and work at some cartoon factory but I think that's all nonsense. I embrace the studio system because they make feature animated films a possibility! And I definitely agree that in the end, what we do is bring entertainment home to an audience and hopefully give them a fresh angle on life for a couple hours that day. So this was one of the most memorable points of that lecture but there were soooo many more and I promise to update if I run into the notes!!!







Jan 16 - Angus Maclane Animation Lecture:

Since Pixar is the coolest, they've been arranging lecture series for Calarts over the past couple of years. This time around Angus MacLane stopped by and entertained us for three hours. I'd have to say that his lecture was definitely full of laughs. Probably the funniest lecture I've ever had at Calarts! Of course, not only was it funny but very informative as well.

Angus is a supervising animator at Pixar who's work can be seen on pretty much everything they've come out with since 1997. He went to RISD (Rhode Island College of Art and Design) and currently teaches at the San Francisco Academy of Art. I'm sure most of you are familiar with his website Splinedoctors.com/

Since animation is looming for all of us with student films under way, I thought sending Angus at this time of the year was very appropriate. He had a hilarious slide show presentation which I regret not capturing photos of. Only problem is that my camera has been missing for months now and that's why there is a severe shortage of photos in this semester's entries!

Modern Animation Concepts:

- Shot Planning and Execution
1. Ask yourself, how does the shot serve the story?
2. What's the most important part of the shot?
2. Minimalize the acting, emphasize the high point to achieve contrast within the shot!
3. Is there a resting point for the audience?
4. Find a places to show character's thought process!

I missed a few points here and there only because my hand couln't write fast enough. Plus, it's hard to write all the information down when you're trying to absorb it, too.

SHOT BREAKDOWN:
Angus went on to break down some of the shots he's worked on over the years. One of them included the shot in "Incredibles" where Bob gets out of his tiny car, almost slips on a skateboard, picks up his car over his head and nearly tosses it across the street until he realizes that a little boy has been watching his roid rage all along.

I went to the Annie awards a couple of years ago when The Incredibles swept the show and remember Angus winning an Annie for that shot! So congrats for him!

It was great seeing the scenes in their various rough stages. Another cool scene he worked on was in the opening sequence of "The Incredibles" when Frozone has his monologue. Angus explained that one of the big challenges of animating Frozone was that his eye mask disabled the use of the eyebrows which gave him limited options to work with. But then again, he said all you have to look at is some of Frank Oz's muppet animation and realize that even with a limited model, good animation can still be achieved with a bit of creativity. "Limitations are good. Use them to your advantage." Anyhow, that was one of my favorite scenes in the film.

KEY POINTS FROM ANGUS:
- "An Animator's job is to be a decision maker" Basically make a decision and move on. From my experiences, I've encountered so many situations where I would let indecision drive my life. Ultimately, you have to pick something (acting choices) and just do it. If you overthink it it'll drive you crazy and you'll never get anything done! Of course spend time planning the shot but just be a decision maker when it comes down to it.

- For all of us who are about to embark on our journeys through crunch time hell, Angus had a suggestion for us. He told us to line up the scenes in our films and make sure to do the "money shots" first because there is nothing worse than seeing the boring scenes animated while the money scenes are stuck in storyboard form! I agree. The one reluctance I've always had in animating the money shot first has been that I figure my best animation comes towards the end of the production so I save the best for last, right? Well, last year I saved my favorite scene for last and didn't come close to finishing it! Damn!

- "Don't scale the teeth"! Hey, the teeth are connected to the skull so don't squash and stretch it because it's kind of impossible in reality. Of course there are exceptions here and there (i think) but 99 percent of the time don't do it!

- "Find 3-5 people who you trust and ask them questions regarding your scenes! Make sure you take and don't take advice. Just be open minded to their comments even if you don't agree because they might be seeing something you don't.


- "Scribble out new ideas" When you think you have an idea of where you're going with a shot (acting wise) it never hurts to just scribble out a couple of new ideas (thumbnails) to see some other possibilities.

- "Over-acting in films is an epedemic." Angus showed us a funny timeline of the typical animators life. There was a point labeled "birth" and a line connecting to a point labeled "death". About the first half of the timeline was designated as the "Prime Overacting Years" until the animator reached the pivotal "Intro of Restraint" which meant that the animator finally begins to understand the concept of "less is more". Well, If you look at live action films and study them you'll notice how little they do to communicate what they need to communicate. In animation, the tendency is for people to think since it's a cartoon, lots of movement is necessary but Angus says NO! Keep it simple when it should be!


Tips on how to avoid Overacting!

-
prepare - listen to the track a lot.
- Pick one storytelling pose which encompasses the whole idea
- Start with fewer gestures|
- Push it in the right way
- Act out what you have - if it feels like too much it probably is.
- Keep moving around - don't spend too much time on any one thing in the shot!
- "Better ideas are better than bigger ideas"


Angus spent the second portion of his lecture on hand poses which was awesome because I've never got such detailed coverage about hands before! I've always tried to hide the hands or just scribble something in place of them because they're scary to draw. This lecture definitely made me a lot more excited about drawing hands and filled some of the gaps of knowledge I had as far as how to draw them in a clear way. Let's just face the fact that the hands are one of the most expressive parts of the figure. If you gloss over the hands you're missing out on an opportunity to show something about that character.

( I did my best trying to get all the notes down but definitely missed some)

HAND POSES:

- Helps distinguish characters
- shows weight
-communicates emotions
-symbol of hidden emotions
-can symbolize rocking out (picture of Steven Seigal rocking out with guitar)

Where do hand poses come from?

-
hand anatomy
- interaction with itself
- interaction with prop
- the slideshow had other point but i write too slow!


Choose hand pose shapes carefully

-
relate to arm line
- simple draws less attention
- complex shapes draw more attention
- hand is often a simple shape

Common problems with hand posing

- make sure you maintain natural rhythm in hand pose
- don't move hand left to right too much
- avoid banana fingers

(see, this is where the photos of the presentation would come in handy because a lot of these notes were images and went by fast! Here is a handout I found online with some of Angus' hand notes.)









Jan 16 - Mark Henn Animation Lecture -


Mr. Mark Henn has been one of the most highly regarded animators at Disney for around 23 years. He is well known for his great abilities as an actor as well as his mind blowing speed. His work can be seen on pretty much all of the Disney features dating back to the "Great Moust Detective" with the exception of "Hercules" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" If you have the Aladdin DVD you'll find him talking a little bit about desiging and animating "Jasmine".  One of the things he mentioned was that the design for Jasmine was inspired by his little sister. Awe, brings a tear to my eye.

Mark seemed to be in a chipper mood during his lecture. I've met him before through Bert and Jennifer Klein and always got the impression that he was a quiet sort of guy. But when he started the lecture he was really comfortable speaking in front of an audience and as most animators do, he cracked jokes here and there which made the lecture all the more entertaining.

After a quick summarization of his career (which all started right here at Calarts), he talked a little about some of the animators which had inspired him which included most of the Nine Old Men and a couple of other guys like Freddy Moore, of course. He focused on showing their rough drawings which was what he always wanted to see as a student because cleaned up drawings can be misleading to a confused young animator. It was eye opening to see how rough some of these geniuses worked, to be honest! Sometimes I find myself worrying way too much about drawing and it really does take me away from the most important thing which is clearly communicating ideas. *sigh*....animation is really tough, for all of you who don't know.

He proceeded to show us a Mickey Mouse short that was never finished which was called "Plight of the Bumblebee", I think. For the most part all of the animation was done but wasn't colored or cleaned up.  The backgrounds were rough line drawings too so it was almost like seeing a Calarts film or something! Yea, it was nice to see something like that in a rough stage because the glitz and glamour of a finished film with color can be misleading in the way that one might tend to focus on polish before ever getting down broad ideas beforehand.

Mark Henn sure does come up with great acting ideas and gets them done in a hurry! So he shared the secret to us. It's all about the "Thumbnailing" process. Before the animator dives into a scene it's highly recommended to sort out ideas on one sheet to make sure you have a clear idea of what you're going to do before actually going for it. This means general poses, expressions and clear staging. Mark jots down these tiny thumbnail drawings, goes through a couple of different possibilities and once he's confident with what he has, proceeds with roughing the scene out.

I discovered the glory of thumbnailing last year after constant frustration and confusion. I have a long way to go but I'd definitely agree with Mark that thumbnailing a crucial part of the process becuase it makes a distinction between choosing acting ideas and actually animating, or making the drawings relate to each other. I find that it's painful to key out a scene unless i have a clear idea of what I am going for.

So Mark showed us a bunch of his thumbnails.  Some for Little Mermaid, Mulan, and Home on the Range. He followed up with showing us the actual scenes in the movies. I think Mark definitely cemented the importance of "thumbnailing". It's one of those things you find yourself taking for granted somewhere down the line and then you wonder why your scenes aren't coming out right. It's like drawing. Sometimes it's so easy to dive right into rendering volumes or forms in the torso before you get the gesture down first. A good teacher will come by and smack you upside the head with one of those rulers and yell, "Gesture first!". So it's kind of a principle, I'd say. Just tatoo it on your hand or something.

After the lecture, Mark answered some questions for us. I had a few questions about acting for him. The first one was "what were the most common mistakes that young animators would run into as far as acting goes". He said that young animators have a tendency to just dive right into a scene before thinking it over beforehand. He mentioned thumbnailing once again as a way to combat this problem. He suggested to just "take some time and think."

Another tendency that a young animator would find himself running into is over-animating a scene, perhaps just out of excitment and inexperience. Mark suggested that we take a look at some good live action films and study the acting in them. He says that most of the time you'll be surprise at how little poses are used. Frank Thomas, (one of the Nine Old Men) used to say he'd start out with just ONE pose that clearly communicated the idea and would build on that pose only if he absolutely needed to.

One of the key points in acting that Mark mentioned was to make sure your acting was sincere and believable. You'll find Frank and Ollie preaching about this in the "Illusion of Life" as well.

Another question I asked Mark was about what he would do to go the extra mile to find the unique acting solutions that he's known for. He said "put yourself in your character's shoes". If you were them, what would you do? Also get ideas from life experiences.

My last question was about how he would know when his acting choices were right and how to fight against the indecision that plagues us all at this stage. He said that he relies on his intuition, thumbnails and the people around him. "If an explanation is required (for the sake of your scene's clarity), something is wrong."

Thanks to Mark Henn for the great lecture!





Feb 21 - Animatic! yay.....


It's been a long and painful journey thorughout the story, design, layout and animatic phases of this fourth year film. Not to mention the work that I needed to do to make sure everything is organized for production. I have colored scene folders (which I made out of construction paper) to help with smooth and clear workflow. I've even timed out every scene to the frame and wrote all that info down on each scene folder so I know exactly how much time I have. Since I'm animating to music, adding time to scenes isn't an option.

Dave Pimintel, my story teacher and head of story on the "Bee Movie" at Dreamworks has helped me tremendously in ironing out story ideas, making them clearer and staging them better. I'd say that Calarts is lucky to have Dave right now and hopefully he'll be back again next year! He's been holding an amazing gesture drawing workshop in place of his story class (because of our films). He was directly mentored under Walt Stanchfeild himself so as you can imagine, I feel like I've run into a gold mine!

Anyway, there is still a bit of work that I need to do with the animatic but I think it's at the point where I can pretty much move on. I consulted Bert and Jennifer Klein this past weekend with a rougher version of the animatic and they gave me a lot of advice on how to stage the shots better (by cropping away empty space) and we also discussed some acting choices for a few of the more problematic scenes. Bert suggested that I thumbnail my entire film before going into animation. That way, I'll have figured out and explored the acting choices so ideally, I'll be able to blast right through animation. So, that's what I'm currently working on. I'm going through each scene one by one and exploring the acting possibilities. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the process because just with a couple of little doodles on a sheet of paper you can discover several interesting solutions that can have a huge impact on the scene. From here on out, everyone, I'll be having the time of my life! I love to animate!



Check out my ANIMATIC!



March 2nd - First stab at animation! (2 scenes) -


Ok, well I've dived into the deep end and after all of that story and design stuff, I'm trying to get familiar with animating again.  Hopefully from here on out (since I'm graduating) I'll never have to go through story or design hell again!! But you never know. All I am certain of at this point is that I'm extremely excited about animating and I don't want to stop any time soon.

So I started animation with a short action scene with my main character running around and throwing a wine glass. Then, I roughed out the scene after it with the girl dodging the wine glass. I figured that these scenes will loosen me up and they're kind of fun, quick and seemingly painless.  I did my first pass and showed Bert and Jennifer Klein. There were major notes on the first scene because the story/idea aspect wasn't properly figured out before starting animation. I fell into the trap of not planning/thumbnailing properly without even realizing it. I think part of my mistake was just over excitement and me being too eager about getting to the fun stuff. It's like jumping into the pool without putting the sunscreen on first. Bad. But it was fun though!

Anyhow, Bert and I went through some thumbnail ideas for the scene along with a bunch of other scenes that I planned out. By the way, thumbnails are just little sketches which aid the animator in figuring out the acting ideas in the scene and the best/clearest way of communicating them. I'm finally beginning to really figure out the importance of thumbnailing.  You'd think that I would know by now considering that i'm a fourth year, right? One thing about animation that I've grown to learn is to always stay humble because just when you feel you're figuring something out you realize that you didn't really understand it fully in the first place!

One of the most resonant things that Bert told me about thumbnailing was to figure out your idea first (acting idea) and THEN play around with the CLEAREST way of communicating that idea. It's a process. Do one at a time. This simplifies things for me.

Check out the first couple of scenes here...--

First pass animation (bad)
Second pass animation (better)


So I completely redid that scene and it turned out much better than the first time around. AFter showing Bert that second pass he said it was better and proceeded to go through the animation a drawing at a time showing me how to get more looseness and clarity in the drawings (good silhouettes). Holy Crap! Man, I kinda had that feeling like I'd never get the hang of it, you know? Right now I feel like I have a long way to go but at least I have great guidance. I'm gonna plow through the animation and make the best of the next two months in production. I've already learned a lot with these first couple of scenes but I need to apply this knowledge to the upcoming scenes.

It just dawned on me that Febuary ended! That means it's March! How the hell did that happen? I don't have much time so I'm going to bypass a lot of the problems I have with these first couple of scenes in order to flesh out the rest of the film. I hope I'll have enough time to go back for fixes. I wish I had some sort of a turbo button to press right now. I'll just rely on my yerba mate.





March 2 - Glen Keane Animation Lecture! -




Well it's my fourth year at Calarts and my class has finally had the privledge of seeing one of Glen Keane's great animation lectures. I've never seen Glen Keane speak in front of people before but I've always heard that his lectures are a huge deal. Obviously it's because he's one of the best animators around but what I've also learned is that he's quite the entertainer as well. I'd have to say that Glen's lecture ranks among my all time favorites because it was not only extremely informative and enlightening, but very entertaining as well. I didn't find myself dosing off at all throughout the 3+ hour long lecture!

Glen Keane worked at Disney for around three decades and has animated on almost every major feature that has come out of there since "Fox and the Hound". He's most known for his work on Ariel, Aladdin, Beast, Pocahantas and Tarzan. He's regarded as one of the best living animators and was mentored by the "Nine Old Men". He's also a Calarts Alumni.

Glen started off the lecture like a great story teller and took us on a tour throughout his history. Unlike the tendency that most guest artists have, he didn't concentrate on his glory or accomplishments but went through his experiences in a way that made me feel like I could directly relate. Basically, he went through everything that we're currently going through (as students of animation) and gave us his take on going through the growing pains of becoming an animator.

He spoke a bit about how he first applied to the painting program at Calarts. He put his trust in a hippie to submit his portfolio to the proper program but soon enough, Glen found that his portfolio was submitted to the "Film Graphics" program instead.  He tried to argue with the school but finally settled on "Film Graphics" only because he would be able to take a minor in painting.

On his first day at Calarts he walked into the character animation department and saw a bunch of people hunched over light tables flipping paper. He wondered what the heck everyone was doing but in short, once he sat d
own and realized what this animation stuff was all about he was hooked! Whenever Glen would draw a picture it would make him feel as if he were transported into another world with the only limitations being his imagination. With animation, this world would start to move in front of his eyes so he was quite mesmorized.


Once he finished Calarts he went to Disney where he was directly mentored under one of the Nine Old Men, Eric Larson.

" Animate Believability that the audience would like to accept" - Eric Larson

Glen mentioned that Eric was always conscious of the audience. He felt that you shouldn't cheat the audience. You have to make sure that you make their time worth while because they're giving two hours of their lives to watch what you have to say. Make it real. Base everything you do on something that is true. Believability!

"People are who they are by the way they react to things" - Glen Keane

Glen talked about an example that Eric Larson showed him which involved a provacative painting of a woman exhibited along a busy sidewalk in the 1930's. There was a hidden camera taking pictures of the people who stopped to take a look at this painting. It was hilarious to see the variety of reactions. Every picture was in essence, like a story telling drawing and the expression that each person had told a lot about who they were and what they thought about that particular painting. One of the funniest examples was of a couple who stopped at the window. The woman was intrigued by another painting nearby and looked like she considered buying it. Meanwhile, her husband was sneaking a peak at the naked chick out of the corner of his eyes obviously just pretending to be interested in what his wife was talking about. All of that communicated with just one photograph! Hilarious!


One of the most interesting stories Glen shared was about an experience with Ollie Johnston during his early
years as an animator. He worked particularly hard on a scene for the "Rescuers" and anticipated showing Ollie the scene. He went so far as to even render out a few drawings of his character to impress Ollie. Glen fully expected a pat on the back but what he got instead was a very memorable humbling experience. Ollie flipped Glen's scene, put a sheet of paper over one of his drawings and proceeded to draw over Glen's animation drawing by drawing. Glen was blown away at the simplicity and grace of Ollie's drawings and after a short while felt the impulse to just grab his scene and run away in shame.

I felt a relation to this particular story because a day previous to Glen's lecture, I had a similar feeling when Bert Klein went over my animation! I was soooo embarrassed of my work after Bert went over my drawings but definitely learned a lot. I think the biggest thing I learned is that I have so much more to learn!



Glen started talking about animation. I had sort of an epiphony when he talked about how he thinks of animating forces. He did some sketches while working on "Fox and the Hound" that he keeps pinned up in his office to remind him of the discovery he made. It's kind of tough to explain it without the visuals he showed us.  Look in the "Illusion of Life" and find the drawings that Glen did of the Bear sequence. That's what I'm talking about. Look at all that movement and tension in those drawings! He's thinking of forces like gravity, what's pushing what's pulling, etc. This is a huge deal for me.


The next part of the lecture focused on breaking down some of Jack Lemmon's acting from the film "The Apartment". Glen's analyzation of Lemmon's acting was pretty amazing. One of the biggest concepts that was reinforced in my mind was the fact that "people are who they ar
e by the way they do things". For example, Jack Lemmon's character is a very considerate, socially conscious person. He's wiping his nose just before he walks through a glass door. A receptionist is watching him from inside. So what does he do? He's a considerate person so he stops (feeling a little salty), tucks away his tissue, recomposes himself and then walks through the door! These are very specific acting choices for a specific kind of person. How would another character react in the same situation? Perhaps another charcter would go on wiping his nose or maybe different character would freak out and run away in shame! There is a lot to think about when considering acting choices.


During the next part of Glen's lecture, he showed us a bunch of drawings. Partly his own and others were
drawings that inpired him. He went through some of his life drawings at one point and said that life drawing is always important because there is a truth that you're trying to capture when drawing from life. It then sets a standard for your animation. As an animator, you should always strive for that same kind of truth in your animation drawings.

- Glen says that he draws from a "feeling" in his gut, rather than drawing from a picture in his head. Although some animators do draw from a picture in their mind.

- "Simple shapes, simple forms create appeal" - Glen Keane

- "Every line that you put down relates to another line" - Ollie Johnston

When Ollie first told Glen this he didn't quite understand what it meant. But he understand now. It means that every line put down describes a form in relation to another line. Like the line that indicates the corner of the mouth in a smile in relation to the line that indicates the top of the cheek. They both co
mbine to create a sense of form (the cheek) together.


Glen eventually sat down and started animating an action for us. This was what everyone was waiting for and it seemed like Glen highly anticipated this moment as well! (since he's not animating at the current time)

He chose to animate an old man trying hard to get up out of a chair. The poor guy struggled so much until he gave up and fell back down into the chair. First of all, one of the most interesting things about watching him draw was how focused he was on the actions and forces that were happening. Not the actual drawings! The drawings were extremely rough but they had the "feeling" that he was going after. And his thought process was very methodical. It was step by step. First, he leans forward, arms reach back and grab the handles on the chair, weight is transfered to the forearms, fists clenched, burden of weight then transfers to the shoulders, back, etc... Very interesting!



The Q & A forum was great because I had the opportunity to ask a couple of questions and got a lot out of it. First, I asked Glen how he would go about taking his rough drawings (like the old guy in the chair) and tie them down (clean drawing on model) without losing the integrity/ spontenaity of the rough sketches! He sat back down and sketched out a Tarzan pose. He took a clean sheet of paper and went over the pose a little carelessly to show us how a bad tie down drawing is done, completely disregarding the details in the rough which give it life. He did another drawing but this time paying special attention to certain lines he made in the rough and made sure they translated over into the finished drawing, even if they didn't completely agree with the design or anatomy of the figure. It's all about taking that life in the rough drawing to the finished drawing and it's all a matter of being very particular about which lines you conserve. You need to learn which lines are important and which are not. Easier said than done but it was amazingto watch Glen bring that drawing from rough to finish.

The second question I asked was more along the lines of design. How do you think "straights against curves" add to a design or pose and in what situations would you look to use straights against curves?

His reply was that in essence, straights against curves give "strength" to you drawing. First of all, it's in
everything you see. Straights against curves are in nature. It's not something an artist decided to randomly come up with just because it makes a drawing cooler. He provided an example of drawing a shoulder. If you observe carefully, you'll notice that there are subtle ways that straights are played against curves in the rounding of the shoulder. If you just draw one lousy curve it's just going to communicate as a mushy shape with no solidity. On the other hand if you think of a straight line going into a curve and then a straight again you'll acheive a better sense of solidity. That example changed my life! He went on to draw this crazy amazing hand pose and showed us that straights against curves are everywhere in the hand if you really observe. He added that while supervising Tarzan's animation, the only way to get a look and feel of dreadlocks for Tarzan would be to make sure you constantly have straights against curves. Otherwise his hair would look like speghetti! Anyhow, this was a huge revelation for me. Hopefully I did it some justice with my explanation.


So to sum it all up, Glen Keane really is quite awesome! I know he's currently working on Repunzel at Disney (director) but he even said that he can't wait to animate again, now that 2d is back at Disney! Go hand drawn!





March 8 - Update on my film!


I ran into some hard times. All of the sudden I got really confused and forgot what the heck I was doing so I ran over to Bert and Jennifer's for some advice.  I think I've come to the conclusion that the thought of the deadline stressed me out a lot and also the thought of trying to impress other people was mixed in somewhere. Thus, a demon was created and prevented me from moving forward. Now that the demon was identifyed and hopefully cleaned out I can move forward with no worries. I mean, what's the point of worrying. It'll only slow you down so you might as well just accept the fact that you might not get everything done and it might not end up being at the level you wish it would be. So who cares as long as you do your best and have a lot of fun? That's my new mindset and I'm back to having fun again. It's so easy to let stress get in your way so make sure you make a conscious effort in dealing with that bastard.

We've decided that the new plan is to rough out the animation very quickly and then go back to it once the idea and clarity issues are resolved. I have till Monday to finish roughing out half of my film. So far I'm behind but making lots of progress. Here is the latest animatic.  Well, half of it at least. There are many timing, clarity, and syncing issues but I'm blazing through in a hurry so I'll get back to those problems later.



latest roughs.wmv



March 21 - Update



March 21 Rough Animation Reel

So I managed to rough out around fifty percent of my film and took it over to Bert and Jennifer's for their critique. There were a couple of scenes that worked but pretty much every other scene had issues with them mostly dealing with clarity. This made me feel really good about roughing out the film before going into detail because you can screw up big time during the rough stages of a scene and not notice. One can make the mistake of assuming that the tie down pass will make everything clear but no, it should read very clearly in the roughest stage.

One of the biggest revelations I've had since my last visit with Bert and Jennifer is the realization about what is most important in animation. In the back of my mind I've always put "great drawing" and technique/fluid motion on a pedestol. And something kept bugging me when they wouldn't mention much about my drawings or motion and instead focused on clarity and staging. They kept giving me advice on how to make actions read quickly and clearly instead of sitting down and analyzing arcs, spacing, volumes, drawing (all the refined things). Bert said that if you have a beautiful piece of art that doesn't communicate what the artist set out to communicate then it's pointless.

The tendency, especially as a "Calarts fourth year" was to subconsciously start focusing my energy on the more "sophisticated/challenging" aspects of animation because of course, after going through three and a half years of this program I must know everything already, right? The latest meeting with Bert and Jennifer made me realize that my priorities somehow got mixed up in all the hype about the superficial aspects of animation. It made me realize that I don't know nearly as much about what I should know more about. And I think everyone falls into the trap of overglorifying "great drawing" just because they look up to Milt Kahl drawings, for example. The one thing that people tend to forget about geniuses like Milt Kahl or James Baxtor is that underneath those beautiful drawings there are good ideas presented in a clear fashion. I'd say performance and clarity is the meat and potatoes of animation! The rest is just dessert, you know? So look, I'm gonna be like Mom now and tell you to eat the friggin meat and potatoes before dessert, Ok? I have to constantly remind myself of this, too. Maybe I'll get a tatoo.




April 11 update - 12 days till deadline!



derI haven't been doing as much updating as I'd like only because I've been focusing on the film and nothing else for that past while now. James Baxtor came in for a lecture which I'll definitely write something up for when I get the energy to. He came in and animated a little scene of a character throwing a dodgeball off screen. I learned sooooo much from watching him! It was one of my favorite lecture of all time. I feel like I've been saying that a lot this year.

As far as my film goes, surprisingly I'm not as stressed out as much as I usually would be so it's really affecting my animation in a positive way I think. My roommate and I went to Rosarito Mexico (Spring Break) for a couple days to get away from it all and when I think about that trip in retrospect it was very essential. Afterwards I was reset and ready to cruise through the last month.

I managed to rough out my film and am beginning to tie some scenes down at this point. I'll continue animating through Sunday and then I'll start scanning, editing and rendering backgrounds. Hopefully I'll have alittle time at the end to fix up some scenes. Here is what I have so far!

April 11 reel





April 20 update - One the verge of completion!!

So after that recent meeting with Bert and Jennifer I went in and tried plussing everything I could possibly get to by Tuesday. We set up a plan and came up with the crucial priority scenes which needed plussing. In essence, the most important fixes were the ones that dealt with story/clarity issues. There were some scenes that weren't reading and I had to reanimate or in some cases just put some patches on them here and there. Once i finished up the high priority fixes I went over as many scenes as possible trying to make the drawings look better and also fixing some of the fluidity.  I feel like I've learned a lot this semester so it was painful going back to some of the older scenes and looking at how bad they were! Anyway, tha'ts why I'm here. To learn. And I finally feel like I'm learning again!

I wanted to upload a semi-finished version of the film just to give you all an idea of the process of going from general to specific. Right now the backgrounds are all done and scanned but most scnes don't have bgs because I just haven't gotten to them yet. Basically, I just finished editing all the animation together. The only thing left is plugging in the background and then tweaking the drawings in photoshop to add a little more atmosphere to the film. Lighting and all that. Since the film isn't colored you have to keep in mind that the backgrounds can't get in the way of the action. Otherwise you'll jeapordize clarity. So, I tried keeping the bgs simple or in most cases, blank in the areas where animation exists.

You all have no idea how excited I am to be at this point! It's been a long journey and I'd say the film will be done by tomorrow! Hey I'll have a life again! Woo hoo!

I drove down to Disney studios yesterday to drop off my resume and application for the awesome apprenticeship opportunity they're offering in the fall. Everyone and their mother is applying for it but hey, I'm glad I didn't forget to apply!



April 20 Fourth Year film (semi-completed)




April 24 - Open Show submission is done! -



So I finished a bit early and submitted a couple days before the deadline which was quite nice because I dodged the frantic last minute rush which I've taken part of three years in a row. I took this open show version to my mentors, Bert and Jennifer Klein and just as I thought they would, they motivated me to push it a bit further with another round of notes so that's what I'll be working on for the next couple of weeks. I want to get a few fixes in here and there for the Disney Apprenticeship submission. Well, I hopw you enjoy this 90 second piece which I labored intensely over for the past six months. I'll update the absolute final version in a bit.

"Them, Their Eyes.mov" (not quite compl ete though)



Producer's Show!

I'll post some of the pictures I managed to take during the Producer's Show in a little bit. I just have to get some of the people together who took photos. I've been a slacker as far as photo taking goes ever since my digital camera mysteriously disappeared. Anyway, I took two photos for sure. One of them of course was with Bert and Jennifer Klein right before the start of the show and another was with James and Kendra Baxtor along with a handful of other buddies from Calarts! One of the personal highlights of the show was John Musker's compliments on my film! Other than that, it was a GREAT time and as usual, we all went over to Castaway in Burbank for the Pixar after party. I hung out with some of the cool Pixar people including Pete Sohn and Angus Maclane. In the middle of a conversation with Angus, a cute waitress came by and gave me a Martini that I ordered previously. Apparently she was sending me some vibes....Angus told me to get her number and I did! So yea, gotta thank Angus for that one! To sum it all up in short, it was a fantastic final Producer's Show!




It's A WRAP!!!

The time has finally come to wrap up my four year Calarts journal! We just had our graduation ceremony a couple of nights ago and I'm sitting in my cube right now writing this last entry. I think it's an appropriate place to write the last entry considering I've spent two of my four years in this cube! Anyway, I'll be packing up and going back to Sweet Home Chicago for a bout six days to celebrate my graduation! Afterwards, I have plans to work at Renegade in Glendale so I'm definitely looking forward to that! I'll keep in touch with Bert and Jennifer Klein along with James Baxtor to continue improving my animation. James told me I could stop by anytime during the summer to show him stuff so you can't ask for a better situation than I'm in! I'm truely grateful!

As far as the Disney apprenticeship goes, they still haven't sent out the final results about it but I did receive a call from them a couple days ago. It's not 100 percent sure that I got that apprenticeship but they told me not to accept any offers just yet because they're interested in me and will get back to me within the next week. So maybe I'll post a little update if I get the apprenticeship! If not, I'll just keep working on hand drawn on my free time!

I seriously couldn't have asked for a better four years! I feel so lucky to have studied something that I've been dreaming about almost all my life! It's been the best four years of my life by far and I'm extremely excited about what's to come in the future! I hope to be part of something that will continue the legacy of what Walt and the Nine Old Men started! That would be the ultimate dream come true!

So thanks to everyone who has read this journal. I hope that it's helped some people out! Here's a link to the final version of my fourth year film! "Them There Eyes"