Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Forward To 2012

The time is upon us where one year comes to an end and a new one begins. This is also the time when I start looking back at 2011 and ponder how I could have made it better. And with that I start thinking of ways to make 2012 a very prosperous and productive year. Here's what I've come up with:

Resolution #1

First and foremost is my Battle of the Bulge. In 2011, I decreased my amount of exercise compared to 2010. I said I was going to take 2011 off and just try to maintain. So it comes as no surprised that I gained back some of the weight. I was fluctuating between the same five to ten pounds. Then it went to ten to 15. Now I'm back up to around 325, maxing out at 327. So with the new year comes the first challenge which is the same one as before: to lose 30 lbs. in two months. I have new DVDs from The Biggest Loser. I will start exercising six days a week. I will get back into the mind frame of responsible eating habits. I will make a change.

Next month begins the new season of The Biggest Loser on NBC. The theme for this season is "No Excuses." Whatever your excuse was for not exercising, it will not cut it anymore. That was my philosophy when I started this in December of 2009. My only excuse was that I did NOT have an excuse. My main reason for gaining the weight was I was too lazy to do anything about it. But there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. What I was doing to my body was not right. I had to make a change and I did. Now, it is that time again. I know it can be done because I've done it before. The first time the big hurdle for me was to get under 400 lbs. Now the big hurdle is getting under 300 lbs. I almost made it once before years ago. I got down to 303 lbs. then stopped. I gained it all back and then some. Last year I got down to 305 lbs. I was so close to grabbing that brass ring but never held it in my hand. This time I am determined more than ever to get it. I have to keep psyching myself up about it or it will never happen.

That's what I have planned for the physical part of 2012. Now for the creative part of 2012:

Resolution #2

As far as having completely polished and DONE animated scenes in 2011, I only have a few. My demo reel has not changed that much since graduation two years ago. By year's end I will have a completely revamped demo reel. I have been applying to a few studios here and there and have yet to have any luck. I have been sending out the same scenes but just in different orders. Yes, I have added a couple of my scenes to it but nothing that I would say is completely polished, nothing to be really proud of. What I am really proud of are the scenes I have completed for Dana's short film. It has been so awesome to work with her on this. She has been very supportive of all the work I've done for her. I can't thank her enough.

But I need to spice up my reel. I need some fresh meat. I'm tired of looking at the same scenes over and over. I can't keep working on the same old stuff over and over. I need to invest my time into something new. So I plan to animate one new scene a month, whether it be a dialog scene or strictly body mechanics. I need something NEW!! But this time I will do it the right way. I already have several dialog clip to choose from. I even have video reference for a couple of them. What I need to do is sit down and plan it out, vidref to storyboards to first and second blocking pass to final polish. This is what I need to do in one month. Heck, that's what I did back at Animation Mentor. We had four to six weeks to do a scene from beginning to end. I just need to get back into that frame of mind. One way to help with this resolution is to enter the 11 Second Club competition. They always have a nice selection of audio clips. It's just a matter of finding one that peaks my interest and gets the creative juices flowing.

Resolution #3

To help with the creativity, I plan to read at least one chapter of The Illusion of Life a month. That book is considered the bible of animation and I have yet to read it cover to cover. I've skimmed it and read a chapter or two, but I need to immerse myself in it and soak up as much knowledge as possible. I know there's so much I'm missing out on. And it's not just that book. I want to learn as much as possible this year from everything I can find. There are so many tutorials and videos online now that it's so easy to find what you're looking for. So it's not only reading The Illusion of Life, but studying my craft more intensely.

And one more thing to add on to this "learning" resolution. I need to get into my sketchbook more often. I have recently picked it up for a side project I'm working on for a friend (details later) and I am loving it. It's a bit frustrating as always to not create on the paper the image I see in my mind. Somewhere along the path from my brain, down through my arm and out my hand it loses a bit in the translation. I may not create some elaborate sketchbook like the ones I've seen by different animation professionals, but at least I'm creating something.

Well, that's about it. There are a few other things I have in mind but I'm going to keep those close to the chest but here's an idea.. As for now, it looks like 2012 is going to be very busy and very productive. It's going to take a lot of hard work, determination and dedication.

In the year 2-0-1-2,
I will do as much as I can do!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

HTTYD: Gift of the Night Fury's gone. :(

Guess I'll have to buy the bluray. :D

Moonshine: Artists After Dark

DreamWorks first personal art publication, Moonshine, was conceived as an opportunity to highlight the breath of artistic development talent at Dreamworks. This short documentary gives you a sneak peek into the personal works from the artists. Directed by Alexis Wanneroy & Christophe Lautrette Artists : Sam Michalp, Nicolas Weis, Griselda Sastrawinata, Christian Schellewald, Paul Duncan, Marcos Mateu, Nathan Fowkes Special appearance from Jeffrey Katzenberg Moonshine book : Produced by Angela Lepito Published by Design Studio Press Edited by Christophe Lautrette & Pierre-Olivier Vincent Music by Drew Barefoot - The forest in bloom

Aardman Animation Studios: Behind the Scenes

Disney's Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Lorax new trailer

ILM - Creating the Impossible

"Industrila Light & Magic - Creating the Impossible" is the latest documentary from Leslie Iwerks. She is the director of "The Pixar Story", a wonderful film that chronicles the history of Pixar Animation Studio. Now she turns her sights on Industrial Light and Magic. This is nothing short of amazing!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Toy Story Toons - "Small Fry"

Buzz Lightyear is left behind at a fast food restaurant when a kids' meal toy version of Buzz takes his place. While Bonnie's toys are stuck with the annoying three-inch-tall Buzz impersonator, the real Buzz is trapped in therestaurant at a support group for discarded toys. As Woody and the gang devise a way to rescue their friend, Buzz tries to escape the toy psychotherapy meeting. "Small Fry" is scheduled to release in cinemas with Disney's "The Muppets" on February 10, 2012.


Sleep Well - Take 1 - WIP

So I decided to go with the "Sleep well" audio clip from Supergirl. This is my latest blocking pass. I started splining everything but I started running into several problems. Her walk into the scene just wasn't working right. As she turns different controls were moving at different times. I thought I cleaned it up in blocking before switching over to splines but I may have missed some things.

So after a great brainstorming session with my buddy Richard, we came up with a different layout and an all new blocking. So now I'm taking it "back to formula." Starting from scratch. The deadline for Reel FX is looming so I have just under four weeks to get this done. The other scene I'm working on for the short film is nearing completion. When I get these done I will have a few more scenes to add to my reel. That is always the fun part.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New possible dialog projects

I'm trying to decided on my next couple of projects. I'm planning on applying again to the Reel FX apprenticeship program. The deadline is December 16. That gives me roughly two months to come up with some new material. I'd like to add a total of three new scenes to my reel: two acting scenes and a body mechanics scene. So the other day I went looking for dialogue clips and I found a few. Here are my top six choices:


Voice One: "Curse you, Bonzai! Don't you realize what you're saying?! Your whole plan is gonna be destroyed and you sit here wasting time!"
Voice Two: "Time? I got nothing but time."


Voice One: "This is no democracy. It is a dictatorship. I am the law. If you survive camp you will be on the team. If you survive.


Voice One: (exhale) "Sleep well. And when you wake drown in my eyes and be all mine.


Voice One: "You hate me, don't you."
Voice Two: "Hate you? I don't even know you. I don't even know your name."
Voice One: "Ethan."


Voice One: "See This? This is my boomstick!"


Voice One: "Beef jerky?"
Voice Two: "No, no son. Thank you very much but it gives me the winds, something terrible."
Voice One. "Oh!"
A fellow AM alum gave me some advice that is really helping me make my decision on which ones to work on. One of the main factors is time. I need something I can accomplish in two months. Is the scene going to involve huge sets or can it be accomplished with a very simple set, or no set at all? Also, what am I trying to accomplish here? Which skill am I trying to show? Am I focusing on body mechanics or facial acting? And quite possibly the most important question is what kind of studio am I applying for? If I am applying to a feature film studio, then I would need to focus on facial animation, lip sync and acting. If I am applying to a gaming studio I would need to focus on walk/run cycles, body mechanics and fight sequences. LUCKILY, there is a webinar coming up this week discussing that very topic.

Once I have made my decision as to which clips I will use I will post the results here. I may even do some quick animatics for each to help illustrate the ideas I have in mind.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Swag!!

Last month my mentor Dana was at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver. During our usual video chat meetings she asked me and my buddy Richard for our mailing addresses. We were two of the four animators not able to make it to SIGGRAPH. She told us she got us something there and needed to mail it to us. Well I just received a new toy in the mail today!! And here it is....!!!!!

If you haven't heard of it before, here are some links that talk about it:

And the actual RenderMan software from Pixar here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Going Off Grid....temporarily

Since my last post I've been doing some thinking. Sunday is my day off and there are quite a few things I need to get done. For starters I will be filling out a PDAS for the day so I can make sure I list everything I need to get done. A few things on the list are the usuals: laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc. What I also need to do is change my oil on my Durango. And last but not least is what I always want to do on my day off, ANIMATE!

Here's what I intend to do. I am actually going to unplug the internet from my computer. (GASP!) In doing so I will eliminate these Weapons of Mass Distraction from my sight before they even get a chance to arm themselves. I will still be able to check e-mail and facebook from my phone; however, since it is not a sophisticated smart phone its capabilities are pretty limited. No web browsing for hours at a time. My PS3 will still be able to pick up the wifi signal. I'll keep that going so I can have something to watch during my breaks. BUT that, too can become a HUGE distraction so I may have to limit my access to hulu and Netflix, as well.

So I will see you back here in 24 hours. Hopefully I will return with a greater sense of productivity and accomplishment.

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weapons of Mass Distraction

I have been reading the book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. In it he says:

"Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance." 

Basically, he is saying that Resistance is any force that holds us back from being the person or artist we are meant to be. It is a force that prevents us from doing anything creative. With today's social networking and internet, this is truer than ever before. I can tell you countless times I have tried to get some work done but have been distracted by Resistance. The graphic above says it all. I get online and check my e-mail. Then I check facebook. Then I go to Coming, Cartoon Brew and On Animation. and see what's going on in films, TV and animation. Some of their posts have videos which will lead to links of other videos, and so on, and so on, and so on. Next thing I know several hours have passed and I haven't done a damn thing!

How does one stop these Weapons of Mass Distraction?!

I have no idea. I'm still reading the book. But I think I came up with a solution that seemed to work really well. It's described in one of my last posts. If left to my own devices, I'd never get anything accomplished. If there was a way to make money off of watching TV and browsing the internet, I'd make a fortune. So what I had to do was make a schedule for myself on my days off. I scheduled myself something do to every half-hour. And you know what? It worked! I got so much done that by the end of the day I had such a feeling of accomplishment. I knew when I rested my head on my pillow that night that I had done something productive and, more importantly, something creative by day's end. The creative bit was not something huge, but I DID do something that I enjoyed and gave me fulfillment.

So what is my solution to defeating the Weapons of Mass Distraction? 1) I could unplug the internet from my computer. (HEAVENS NO!!!!) or 2) I can make myself a Personal Daily Assignment Sheet and follow it to the letter. The first one sounds plausible but a bit extreme. The second is very doable, because it has worked before.

I found out recently that a studio I've been trying to get into will be posting a job opening coming in November. They will also be opening up their apprenticeship program again in January. This means I have about six weeks to come up with new shots for my demo reel. Now comes the tough part, trying to decide on what to do. According to a recent blog posting from Animation Tips & Tricks, here's what I know I need and what recruiters might be looking for:

  • A body mechanics shot
  • A pantomime acting shot
  • A dialog acting shot

So that is what I need to do. I have plenty on my reel but nothing new. I need to change it up to show my growth, knowledge and experience. I have a couple of shots in mind already. It's just a matter of narrowing down my choices to the top three in each category and picking one.

If I can paraphrase Steven Pressfield to better fit my situation, here is what he would have to say:

"There's a secret that real (animators) know that wannabe (animators) don't, and the secret is this: It's not the (animating) part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to (animate).
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance."

The fact that I'm sitting here and writing about Resistance IS RESISTANCE!


Every time I stop and think about my life and my unlived life, two songs come to mind. The first is called "Living Without Living" by Hipbone. I think the title alone says it all. Most of us are just "living without living." Hipbone is a jazz group that I came across by accident and this and this are the only traces I can find of them online. If you love great modern jazz, I highly recommend their album The Brothers' Love and Movie.

The second song comes from my favorite band in the world, the Dave Matthews Band. This song is from their Listener Supported CD and DVD concert. It is called True Reflections and performed by the great Boyd Tinsley.

The lyrics say it all:

Find some inspiration
Reach down deep inside of you
Amend your situation
Your whole life is ahead of you

If you want to make a change, you are going to had dig deep inside of yourself, tap into that inner strength that we all have, DESTROY those Weapons of Mass Distraction and MAKE that change. What have you got to lose?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vimeo Walk Cycle Tutorial and My Results

The other day I came across a walk cycle tutorial on vimeo. I thought it was pretty interesting in that it was a four-parter and seemed to go step by step. After looking at it for a few seconds, I decided to follow along and see what I can do. So I opened up Maya 2008 and opened up the Bishop character from Animation Mentor. I have the Morpheus rig the tutorial was using but I found it a bit too challenging at the moment. As I was following along, I noticed he was using some controls that Bishop does not have. Aw crap! So I went ahead and opened up Morpheus and proceeded with the tutorial. It was not as difficult as I remembered. Granted it was only a standing still walk cycle, but still not too bad. So here are the tutorial videos and my results afterwards.

 Walk Cycle Part 1

Walk Cycle Part 2

Walk Cycle Part 3

Walk Cycle Part 4

My Walk Cycle Tutorial Results

One of the tips I learned was when doing a walk cycle was to animate the two feet together, then when it looks complete you take one foot and offset it and BOOM you have a walk cycle! Another is that when the foot lands after contact, it is the pinky toe that makes contact first and then the rest of the foot rolls down. It was fun doing this tutorial. If I have some time later on I might go looking for other tutorials that I can follow along with.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Short History of CG Characters in Movies

a short history of CG characters in movies from lnrdshelby on Vimeo.

Three Amazing Trailers...

that blew me away!!!!
Dana Dorian - Age Of Empires from Flaunt Productions on Vimeo.

Portal: No Escape

30 Ways to Kill A Cowboy! app trailer

ready steady bang - 30 ways from Ed Barrett on Vimeo.

Simon Irvine August 2011 Animation Reel

This is just some amazing work! The camera work on some of these shots (not the feature film shots) are just amazing! That is the kind of camera work I am trying to get in my own work.

Simon Irvine August 2011 Animation Reel from Simon Irvine on Vimeo.

Monster in Paris trailer

I really hope this makes it to the states. I REALLY hope this makes it down to Corpus!


"Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self" by Don Hahn

This is the latest book by Don Hahn entitled Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self. I saw this book in the latest issue of Animation Magazine while at work and did some looking into it. I saw it was available to order and it is on its way. I also saw that it was available as an e-reader and have been downloading it to the NOOKS to read during my break. I'm only a few pages into it but there was one section that really struck a chord with me. He was talking about a time he gave advice to a young production manager he called Sven. Sven was in junior management but wanted to be a screenwriter. Here's what he had to say:

   "For some reason, I responded with a diving metaphor, the first I had ever used, but it seem appropriate for the occasion. 'Sven,' I said, 'you can either tiptoe into the shallow end or jump naked into the deep end. It all depends how much you want to swim.'
   "If you are going to pursue your happiness, you must start by deciding what your happiness is. What's inside of you? What story do you have to tell? What truth do you have to share? The most successful writers write because they have to. They have an unquenchable, burning desire to write about the worked as seen through their own eyes. This whole conversation with Sven really came down to how much Sven really felt he had to write.
   "At issue here was authenticity. Sven's work at a film studio was a detour from his real job, which was this: to wake up every morning and be the best Sven Bjornson that he could be. To do that, first he had to dig deep and find out who he was. He had to honor his personal history and the strengths and limitations that have made him who he is today. He needed the courage to be honest with himself and make big changes in his career path. He had to write as only he could write. He had to be authentic.
   "If Sven was willing to go home at night and say to himself, 'I'm going to work harder than anyone else; I'm going to carve out big chunks of time to write and study films and scripts and commit myself to my passion,' then maybe he would get a break and be able to write a magazine article that might lead to a television movie and then a feature. Otherwise, he'd be a hobbyist for life. Not a bad thing, but an amateur thing. It's the difference between me on my three-speed bike and Lance Armstrong.
   "Then Sven said something that stopped me. He was talking about his college experience and the fact that every day he used to do something different in drama or art or music, and that when went to work in management he left all that behind him. He decided years ago to put his dream on a shelf for a while, but he never went back to it. In essence, he was living a lie in denying himself the parts of his life that gave him joy.
   "Sven was at a crossroads. Most people who come to this intersection won't make a dramatic change. They may take a class or practice a bit, and then see the writing on the wall and pull the plug on their dreams once again. But a few stalwart souls will latch onto the dream like a bear trap and not let go. They will work and seek out experts and study and marry their dream for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do them part. They will work to dig deeply for the truth about their lives. To explore their desire to create without guilt and for no other reason than this: they have to. They can't not do it.
   "If you love your dream, why not marry it? Feel the fire in your gut. Grit your teeth, put your ears back, and scream a primal scream. There is strength in boldness, and let's face it, the alternative - doing nothing - doesn't sound very satisfying.
   "Pursue happiness. Strip down and dive into the big waves with Sven. The water is deep, cool, and endlessly refreshing, and you've got plenty of strength to swim to shore."

There were several lines in there that hit me hard:
  • "If you are going to pursue your happiness, you must start by deciding what your happiness is."
  • "Otherwise, he'd be a hobbyist for life. Not a bad thing, but an amateur thing."
  • "If you love your dream, why not marry it?"
  • "There is strength in boldness, and let's face it, the alternative - doing nothing - doesn't sound very satisfying."
These are some of the lines that have been going through my head lately. "If (I am) going to pursue (my) happiness, (I) must start by deciding what (my) happiness is." I am lucky enough to know what makes me happy and that is animation. But how much time am I willing to put into this passion. I sit here at the computer everyday and watch the time tick away. All I do is check e-mails, look around facebook, check up on the latest movie and animation news, or watch movies and TV shows on hulu and Netflix. That's all I'll do for hours a day. All the while I know what I should be doing. I should be working on my craft. I should put in the time to what "makes me happy." 

"Otherwise, (I'd) be a hobbyist for life. Not a bad thing, but an amateur thing." One thing I've always said is, "Animation is my avocation." After reading that last line I really started to analyze what I've been saying. Animation is my "hobby." It's a hobby?! Is that what I think of my passion, my dream?! Just a "hobby"?! How am I ever to succeed if what I love to do is simply a hobby, something you do on your off time?! A hobby is what you do in your spare time, when you're done with you real work and you have some extra time. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word "hobby" is defined as "a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation." How can I ever call myself an animator if I consider my passion, my love, my desire just a simple hobby. My hobby has to become my life if I am ever going to succeed and make a life for myself.

I kick myself every day that goes by that I don't have something productive or creative to show. Every day I don't have a new playblast for Dana, a rough blocking pass of a new scene, or storyboards for a new short film idea, it kills me all the time. I've gone to school and studied character animation and graduated. It's been over two years and I have yet to land that dream job, nay, no professional paying animation job whatsoever. (Believe me, I am ever so grateful to be working with my mentor Dana on her short film. Without it, I don't know what I would have to keep me going.) I've had several rejection letters but not even a single follow up e-mail or phone call. "If (I) love (my) dream, why not marry it?" Am I ready for such a commitment? Here I go sounding like a typical guy who is not ready for commitment. But I have not made this commitment with myself. It seems life is always getting in the way. Working 40 hours a week at a non-creative job really drains it out of me. Then there's the house chores that ALWAYS have to be done: laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, etc. Then there's family and social gatherings. I still have a life. Not a very exciting one at the moment but there are some great times to be had. But at the end of the day, I still come back to the main question: What have you done today that makes you happy? Have you done anything creative today? Have you done any sketching or drawing today? And the big one, have you done any animating today? When am I going to stop making excuses and start making results?

"There is strength in boldness, and let's face it, the alternative - doing nothing - doesn't sound very satisfying." No it does not. That is what I need to become. I need to become bold and take charge of my life. I need to shut everything else out and focus on what needs to be done. One day last week I had a lot of things to do. I had to clean, do laundry, wash dishes, and wanted to get some animation done. I wanted to get all this done before I had to go to work. So I took a cue from work and created a "Personal" Daily Assignment Sheet. I marked out every half hour on a legal pad starting at 8:00 a.m. Basically I made a daily planner. I wrote down everything I wanted to do every half hour. 

I listed what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. I even wrote down "ANIMATE" in red because I felt it was the most important activity of the day. And you know what? I got it all done! Laundry, check. Workout, check. Breakfast and lunch, check. Dishes and cleaning, check. Animate, CHECK!! I tell you, I felt so accomplished that day. It felt amazing when I walked into work that afternoon knowing that I had accomplished everything I had set out to do. THIS is what I need to do if I am ever to succeed creatively in this life. On other PDASs for my days off I even marked break times between the animating times. I need a break or else my butt and legs go numb from sitting in this chair for hours at a time. I'd watch an episode or two on hulu, maybe a little snack. Sometimes I'd go over a bit. But when the time was up I got back on the computer and continued animating. 

Plus, I also made a deal with myself and my mentor/director Dana. I have three scenes I am currently working on and I want to get them done, hopefully by the end of the month, no later than the end of the year. Here's the deal: I will not shave until I complete the animation on ALL three scenes. I'm making progress on one of the scenes. The other two involve a dog and I have not worked with a quadruped character before. These are going to take some time. If you've seen some of the behind-the-scene featurettes on certain animated feature DVDs, sometimes the guys will do this to help keep them motivated. I was watching a featurette on "Bolt" and saw the guys do this. They let their beards grow until they finished primary animation on the film. Granted, these guys were working 40+ hours a week on this film and I'm working a few hours a day on three scenes. So it might take me a bit longer that I planned. I ran the idea by Dana and she loved it. Not only will she give me the "F-bomb" for my scene ("F" as in FINAL!) but she can also tell me to shave. I have been keeping it neat and trim. I wanted to keep it looking professional since I still have to deal with the public on a daily basis. I didn't want it to get too crazy. That's just me, thought. I've gotten some very nice compliments over the past several weeks. What do you think?

But I'm straying off subject here. What I need to do is focus on my animation as much as possible. If I want to get any better I need to practice, practice, practice! When I think of this my Dad always comes to mind. When I was growing up I never really knew he could play the guitar. He told me he used to play a little bit back in high school but that was about it. When I started taking an interest in the guitar, he'd bring out his old acoustic from the closet and show me a couple of chords. I'd drag out my Mom's Beatles songbooks and try to play along. Over the past couple of years he has picked it up again and it has consumed him. He has several guitars, acoustic and electric, and plays AND SINGS in the church choir and at retreat meetings. He'll play for other churches and gatherings. He'll play for just about anyone. And I realized why. He is always practicing that guitar. He converted my old bedroom, which became my sister's when I moved out, into his own little guitar room. He has his guitar stands, his music stand, his amplifiers, his pedals, and books and papers and binders everywhere! Everything he needs is right there within reach. If he needs the chords for a new song, he goes to the next room, looks it up on the computer and prints it out. He is always practicing, constantly learning and getting better every day. This is yet another reason why my Dad is my hero. I want to be just like him when I grow up.

So when I think about my animation and what I need to do, all I have to do is think about my dad and his guitars. All I have to do is put in the time and I will get better. It may not be overnight, but I will get better. I will feel creatively fulfilled. I will feel creatively justified. I will BE creatively satisfied.

**UPDATE** I just received an e-mail that my book order was received today! I know what I will be purchasing tomorrow! I can't wait to continue reading it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Tip from the Pros

For the past few weeks, my animation has not been  progressing as much as I would like. I've been in a slump recently and I guess I just needed a break. Well, I've gotten back into the groove. One way to help stay in this groove is to take a tip from the pros.

If you've seen some of the featurettes from some of the animated movies, you've seen some of the ways the animators stay motivated. One way is for all the guys to let their beards grow until all the animation is complete. Well, that's what I plan to do.

I am currently working on three scenes for the short film project I'm working on. One scene is coming along nicely and making great progress. The other two are posing new challenges. They both involve a dog jumping around, which I have very little experience with animating a quadruped. So this is where most of my time will be involved.

So I will not shave until these three scenes are complete. However, I will keep it neat and trim. I do have to work with the public and can't let it get too out of control. My mentor/director Dana loves the idea. She said I could maybe get a big beard for Christmas. I hope I am finished with the scenes way before that time!!!

Well, I tried to find a clip on YouTube but I couldn't find one. I do remember seeing this done on the Bolt bluray featurette. I know I've also seen it done by the Pixar guys. So now I will give it a go. Anything to stay motivated, eh?

By the way, the last time I shaved was Monday, August 18, 2011. I'm hoping to complete the scenes in about four weeks. Because I know that this beard can get pretty long in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Demo Reel April 2011

All hand keyed animation

Scenes 1 - 3: Young Man rig, props and set provided by Killerjellybean Animation
Scene 4: Bishop character provided by Animation Mentor
Scene 5: Roboter rig created by Niklas Wennersten
Scene 6: Bishop and Brussels characters provided by Animation Mentor
Scene 7: Bishop character provided by Animation Mentor
Scene 8: Bishop and Pawn characters provided by Animation Mentor
Scene 9: Young Man rig and set provided by Killerjellybean Animation
Scene 10: Murdock rig provided by Animation Mentor
Scenes 11 - 14: Bishop characters provided by Animation Mentor


To bring characters to life through animation while continually challenging my artistic abilities.

Animation Experience
                        Character Animator, September 2008 – present
                        Killerjellybean Animation, Boston, Ma.
                        Remote animator on multiple shots for an independent animated short film project. In the Fall of 2008, I volunteered to join director Dana Boadway on her project. Through video chats and e-mails, I regularly receive detailed critiques on my scenes and make the necessary adjustments.

Work Experience
                        Merchandising Manager, July 1996 – present
                        Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Corpus Christi, Texas
                        Opening and closing the store, in charge of merchandising the non-specialty departments on the sales floor, responsible for counting down registers, daily bank deposits and change drawer, responsible for overseeing the duties of 7-9 employees on a daily basis, assists in interviewing and hiring new employees.


                        Autodesk Maya 2008, Quicktime Pro, Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0, Adobe Audition, Adobe Premiere Elements 7.0

Diploma in Advance Character Animation Studies, July 2009
Chris Chua                   C1: Basic Foundation                           Winter 2008
Mike Walling                C2: Body Mechanics                            Spring 2008
Dana Boadway             C3: Intro to Acting                                Summer 2008
                                    C4: Advanced Acting                           Fall 2008
Kenny Roy                   C5: Short Film Pre-Prod.                      Winter 2009
                                    C6: Short Film Production                    Spring 2009

Del Mar College
Associates in Art – Studio Art, July 1999

                        Available upon request

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Creative Gap by Nick Campbell

I just finished watching this speech and it was very interesting and motivation. It made me want to jump on the computer and start animating.

Nick Campbell - The Creative Gap: Becoming Better Than Most from Nick Campbell on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Happy Medium (the flip side)

Maybe I'm just making excuses. It's not that I do not want to workout, I just want more time to work on my animation.

Since I didn't hear from Reel FX, I know I still have a lot of work to do on my reel. I am switching my focus from dialog shots and going to work on body mechanics. That is the one course that gave me trouble in school, so I know I have my work cut out for me. I've been in touch with the career services lady from AM and she gave me a listing of game studios here in Texas. A lot of them were in Austin. I then started doing research and seeing what they look for in demo reels. I saw a great video from an AM alum who works at a gaming studio. He gave a lot of tips and pointers as to what the recruiters look for. Here's a quick rundown of what he had to say:

•  Strong body mechanics
        ex. monkey bars, swimming, jumping over stuff
•  Bipedal action
•  Quadraped action is a plus
•  Nice run and walk cycles
•  Knock downs and get ups
•  Make it interesting. Give it a bit of a story
        ex. guy jumps over a car, leans against the car, starts to run away and trips and falls, then gets back up
             and runs away.
•  Avoid cliche scenes.
        ex. walk up to a boulder, push it, walk away
              walk up to a rock, pick it up, throw it and walk off screen
•  Do the animation geared towards the studio you're applying to. Know what type of games the studio
              makes, realistic or cartoony.

All great advice and things I can do. I have so many ideas running through my head right now it's difficult to find a starting point. Which one do I do first? Do I need to build any extra props? Which character rig am I going to use? Do I start sketching out ideas or just go for it and start blocking it out in Maya? My next day off is going to be dedicated to answering these questions.

Like I said, I want to add a new shot to my reel at least every two months. If I can do enough of these little bits, come next year I'll have a whole new reel to start shopping around.

Another tip I received from someone on the forum was to try some combat stuff. Anything from punches, kicks, swords and stuff like that. Gun recoils are a plus. Apparently a lot of the games out there now are combat oriented scenes like this can e more relevant that simple cycles. Also include at least a one hit combo and a two or three hit combo. He also suggested to stay away from using the AM rigs since they are not really great game style rigs. I can agree with him there because Bishop has a pretty big head and long fingers.

These tips have been some of the best. Now I have a whole NEW direction in which to focus my animation. Now I have to do "research" and start playing video games. WOOHOO!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

AT-AT Day Afternoon + The Making Of..

AT-AT day afternoon from Patrick Boivin on Vimeo.

Making of AT-AT day afternoon from Patrick Boivin on Vimeo.

I first saw this video and was cracking up! The AT-AT was one of my favorite toys. I, too, made a short film with it and my Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures. I'll admit I did cringe a bit when I saw how they made the film. He actually....(tear)....cut up the AT-AT!! HE TOOK IT ALL APART!!!! OH THE HORROR!!!

(gasp)....I'm ok.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Gruffalo + Making Of Documentary

I've never heard of this children's story, but this short film has been making the rounds on several animation blogs. I did see the documentary before first ever seeing the film. Apparently they made actual model sets then later added in the CG animation. It gives the film a similar texture the illustrator captured in the book. I recognize some of the celebrity voices, like Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt and Tom Wilkinson.

"The Nation s Favourite bedtime story is being brought to life in an all star beautiful adaptation of the best-selling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The Guffalo debuts on BBC One this Christmas and comes to DVD in time for Easter 2010. The film's all-star voice cast features Robbie Coltrane as the Gruffalo; Helena Bonham Carter as the narrator; Rob Brydon as the Snake; James Corden as the Mouse; John Hurt as the Owl and Tom Wilkinson as the Fox. The Gruffalo tells the magical tale of a mouse who takes a walk through the woods in search of a nut. Encountering three predators who all wish to eat him a fox, an owl and a snake the plucky mouse has to use his wits to survive, creating an imaginary monster who then turns out to be only too real."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And the Golden Globe goes to...

Congratulations to Lee Unkrich and the cast and crew of Toy Story 3!!

So for the first time in quite a while I did not watch the Golden Globes. Probably because I cannot stand the host Ricky Gervais at all! He insults everyone with a smile and never shuts up. I just don't like him.

But when I saw this clip of Lee's acceptance speech, I got very annoyed and here's why. They never left the camera on Lee for more than two seconds at a time!!! WTF?!?! They were showing the "reaction" from the audience who didn't seemed that moved at all!!!! The entire clip is 1:12 and Lee was only on screen for approximately 24 seconds!!! The only acceptance speech I wanted to see and it was ruined.

And apparently the director Chris Donovan did the same for everyone else. He didn't care about the winner's acceptance speech, he cared about the reaction of the audience. Well, a lot of them didn't even seem to care. Each one seemed to have a blank stare across their face like they wanted to be somewhere else, or thinking of the after party.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Demo Reel January 2011

My Demo Reel January 2011 from Rene Barrera on Vimeo.

Rene Barrera
Character Animator
Bishop, Brussels and Pawn rigs provided by Animation
Young Man, fishing pole and set provided by Killer Jellybean Productions

To bring characters to life through animation while continually challenging my artistic abilities.

Character Animator, September 2008 – present
Killerjellybean Animation, Boston, Ma.
Remote animator on multiple shots for an independent animated short film project. In the Fall of 2008, I volunteered to join director Dana Boadway on her project. Through video chats and e-mails, I regularly receive detailed critiques on my scenes and make the necessary adjustments.

Merchandising Manager, July 1996 – present
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Corpus Christi, Texas
Opening and closing the store, in charge of merchandising the non-specialty departments
on the sales floor, responsible for counting down registers, daily bank deposits and
change drawer, responsible for overseeing the duties of 7-9 employees on a daily basis,
assists in interviewing and hiring new employees.

Autodesk Maya 2008, Quicktime Pro, Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0, Adobe Audition,
Adobe Premiere Elements 7.0

Diploma in Advance Character Animation Studies, July 2009
Chris Chua C1: Basic Foundation Winter 2008
Mike Walling C2: Body Mechanics Spring 2008
Dana Boadway C3: Intro to Acting Summer 2008
Dana Boadway C4: Advanced Acting Fall 2008
Kenny Roy C5: Short Film Pre-Prod. Winter 2009
Kenny Roy C6: Short Film Production Spring 2009

Del Mar College
Associates in Art – Studio Art, July 1999

Available upon request

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Animated Resolutions for 2011

My animated resolutions for 2011 are pretty much the same as they were for 2010. I have not yet achieved my dream job, but I am still working towards it. I have not given up yet.

1) Last year I competed in the July competition of The 11 Second Club. I did pretty good considering it was my first time out. I learned a lot from that experience. For this year I would like to compete in at least two competitions. Speaking of which, it's time to vote for last month's competition. Plus, the selection for January sounds intriguing.

2) I want to keep adding to my demo reel. This is one resolution that needs to be completed in a matter of days. I am applying for an apprenticeship with Reel FX and the deadline is the end of business day on January 4th. I have already applied but I need to upload a new reel to YouTube and link it to my application before it is too late. But I don't want it to end there. I still have several ideas for other small dialog scenes that I would love to work on. I still have my "Bowfinger" scene sitting on the back burners. There are other clips from that movie that I also want to work on. I have a sound clip from "Inglorious Basterds" that I really want to work on. ("Bingo!!") Plus a few other physical actions that I've always wanted to animate. I want to do another one or two parkour scenes.

3) I want to get back into my sketchbook. I want to build up a portfolio of quick gesture drawings. I want to be able to draw just about anything at a moment's notice. I want to be able to express an emotion with a few simple lines. There was a time in my life when I really did love to draw. There's nothing quite like that feeling of being able to create that illusion of life with a simple piece of paper and a pencil. I would really like to do a Sketch Crawl here around town. I heard about this through another blog and it sounds like so much fun. It's where you get a group of people and you walk from one place to another, sketching anything and everything you see. I think it would be a lot of fun if I can get the local art scene involved. I would probably have to contact the Art Center of K Space.

4) Once I get my reel up and running, I would like to start applying to more studios. It's been a while since I've applied anywhere. It's because I have not updated my reel for the past six months. Once I have it all "nice and neat" I will feel more comfortable about shipping it out there. There are several studios here in Texas that I have my eye on. Then there are the big one's that I would love to work for.

5) Several friends have asked me to collaborate with some of their own creative projects. I've been asked to help out with a children's book and a logo for a blog. I've been wanting to do a music video for a friend's band. I have a few ideas laying about but have not really found the time to dedicate to any of these projects.

Right now, the most important thing for me is to get my reel up and running. Once I have that done then I can focus on these other projects. I will need to become adamant about this. Create a schedule and block out some serious time for development, pre-production if you will. I know what I want to do. If I can make this happen, it's going to be a very fun and animated year!

Cinema in 2010