Exhausted, and ready for action!

Having thought I was finished with my reel, I posted it and got some (much needed) feedback... so, I had to move some things around and re-work some of the animation on one of the shots. I'm getting close to re-finishing it. January 14th is rapidly approaching and the time for the career fair and graduation is right around the corner! The only thing that I'm waiting on is finishing the animation. Then I have to burn the DVDs and re-upload everything to the various web locations. I'll admit, I've been taking it easy for a few weeks, with the holidays and all... but I feel like it's been ages since I've animated or read one of my animation books. I've been watching plenty animation to keep me "fresh", but I'm going to start planning my next shot (gotta stay sharp!) real soon.

I just found a really cool networking site www.vfx-recruit.com. It's a free website to join, but they do have a possible upgrade that is about 25 dollars a year. They have some good job leads and it almost looks like Linked In.

So with that being said. 2009 was very hectic, but fruitful. I'm looking forward to a lot of changes in 2010 and can't wait to see all the animation that's coming out!! Happy New Year to all!!!!


Demo Reel Completed!

I completed my demo reel! CLICK HERE to view it.

It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off me! It was a lot of long hours and a lot of late nights/early mornings, but I feel really good in how it turned out! Maybe I'll post some of my older reels just for kicks, they are pretty painful to watch, but entertaining and it's great to see the progress that I've made over the years.

I'm planning on doing some subtle tweaking over the next month before the job fair in San Francisco in January, but the animation is pretty much done!

Enjoy. Till next time.


So close to the light at the end of the tunnel!

Well, another Saturday spent working on my demo reel and I feel as if I'm gaining significant progress! And, believe it or not, I'm feeling pretty good about my reel! There's a total of 6 shots and I just finished polishing the forth and fifth ones over the weekend! I spent a little over 10 hours on Saturday fine tuning 10 seconds of animation.

As all I have left to do know is print the artwork and cut it to size . Finish the final shot for my reel, get blank DVDs and render out the final product!! The Rhythm and Hues recruiter will be coming next Friday (December 4th) and I'll have a version (not fully rendered) to give to her! Exciting stuff! As soon as I have something I'll post it so you can see it too... I'm planning on having all the animation done by this weekend, then burning one copy for the Rhythm and Hues recruiter, then render all the shots over the next couple of weekends and it's time to start burning DVDs and and putting the entire package together and start sending them out....

Stay tuned! Till next time.


Feedback, feedback ,feedback....

Hey everyone! So since my completion of Animation Mentor I've been getting my short film complete and working on my demo reel. Also I have volunteered my time at Animation Mentor and became a Peer Buddy.... basically I get assigned 10 students and am responsible for going over the work that they post. It's really time consuming but it's a great thing to help out. One thing that is really tricky about being a Peer Buddy is the amount of feedback you have to leave for each student. What's so hard about that?? Well sometimes when I leave feedback I feel like I'm not really finding anything, or I'm being too critical, or I'm talking down to the student... all of these factors play a key role in feedback. If someone's shot is working and you notice something off, chances are they missed it and need the extra pair of eyes. One of the brilliant animators who graduated from AM, who recently got hired on at Disney, Malcon Peirce . He posted a really helpful blog on leaving feedback. I'm going refer to it often and is the reason I'm posting it....

How to give awesome Critiques!

So Giving feedback will not only help out the person you’re giving feedback to, It will help you learn also. This seems obvious, but when you break down somebody’s animation and really look at it on a micro-analytical level(yes i think i made that word up… and I like it) Your forcing yourself to think about every action and you end up rationalizing every move. for example, You learn why the weight is off, or how the animator got the weight just right. You can see clearly why the animator made certain decisions, maybe to make an idea read clearly, or even to confuse the audience. By doing these things your animation vocabulary will grow. Not talking about words and definitions, but methods, and or tricks that can take your animation to a higher level. So in my opinion, giving really solid feedback involves breaking down the animation and thinking about why the artist made decisions, and how did the artist accomplish ideas. This applies to all animation, Highly polished feature level, or somebody that is just starting out. You’re going to learn from both and I think it’s Vidal if you want to improve. So if somebody needs feedback on their shot I think it is important to consider a few things in order to give the best, and most beneficial advise to help the animator improve upon their shot.

1. How far along in the workflow is the animator.

- Obviously if something isn’t working. It isn’t working. BUT if somebody is in spline, you don’t want to give them feedback that would derail their shot if at all possible. Try and figure out possible solutions to the problem with the least about of backtracking possible. It may be easy to say “instead of having the character land on both feet.. maybe have him land on his hands, do a front flip, and then stand up on his feet” OBVIOUSLY I’m exaggerating. but you get the point. This comes into play big time in the studio. You will have tight deadlines, and no time (usually) to reanimate a shot. By finding a way to fix a problem without having to take 6 steps backwards is a good approach when giving feedback. Of course there will be times where the animator may have to reanimate a section, weather its because the animation just isn’t working and that’s the best solution, or if the director makes changes and needs you to take your shot in a different direction. Both will happen, but problem solving is a huge part of animation, and getting good at problem solving will make you a faster, better animator.

2. Will my ideas Plus the shot or just change it.

- Being artists, we all have great ideas, and approach challenges differently. This a good thing, it keeps out animation unique and keeps animation entertaining. But when giving somebody feedback try an avoid challenging the animators choices purely for sake of change. Really think before you suggest a possible idea that may be different from the one in the shot. Think about what all would need to be adjusted in the shot for this to work. Would the animator need to reanimate only a few frames, or would this cause a train wreck through out the shot. Think “will this idea plus the animation, and make the idea more clear?”, “is this change going to help make this animation more appealing?” Make sure you have solid reasoning for suggesting ideas. Keep in mind that this also plays a great deal in how far along in the workflow the animator is in. Obviously you can suggest as many ideas as you want, when the animator is brainstorming. That’s a fantastic thing to do! I know its helped my animation. Most of my ideas come from other animators adding better ideas upon my original idea. BUT when the animator is splining his shot, you don’t want to change anything unless its vital, or will make a drastic change for the better.

3. Performance VS Preference

- I think this is a big one. When looking at somebody’s work, No matter where they are in the pipeline, be careful not to give feedback one something just because you personally would do it a different way. This sort of feedback is good for brainstorming, early blocking stages, where maybe suggesting ideas is easier because the animator can tackle changes faster and easier. But remember that animation is art, and it is personal. Telling somebody that the idea, or joke isn’t funny just because it isnt what you would do is not helping anybody. Try and see the animators “vision” for the shot. Sure we all have different personalities, but trying to relate your ideas to the ideas of the animator is the best way to ensure a positive and helpful critique. Otherwise it just causes frustration and can confuse the animator.

4. “Just because” feedback is a waste of time.

- Giving feedback just to get your name on a person’s workspace is a waste of time, for yourself and for the person who needed feedback. Alot of times I see feedback on a persons workspace that says “looks good.” when maybe the animation is not at a level that it needs to be. THIS IS NOT HELPING THE ANIMATOR LEARN. Pointing out flaws and mistakes in animation doesn’t make a you a bad person. You will not be unliked if you give somebody feedback that will make a difference in the quality of animation. (a higher quality) I think some people are shy and are afraid of offending people., Well If you check out #’s 1, 2, 3, I can almost guarantee that you will not offend anybody, and they will appreciate the time you put in to critiquing their shot. Try and be personable when giving feedback. For example if somebody you have never met or have never seen work from, just leaves comments like this ” F58-90 fix arm, 25-25 fix weight, f 50 needs better pose, F 70 hand not reading”, that person can come across as arrogant and rude. If it is your first time giving feedback to an animator, Introduce yourself. Point out things that ARE working as well as things that could be more clear. and Follow the ideas I mentioned above. This Way your not going to offend anybody. Imagine if your in a studio, and its your first day.. and somebody comes up that you don’t know and gives you all sorts of notes and just leaves. They don’t introduce themselves, or say anything positive about the work. That would make most people feel pretty bad about themselves. So remember to be personable when critiquing somebody’s animation for the first time. Also Its important to respect higher level animators such as senior animators etc etc ( applies more in a studio environment more than AM) Try to avoid giving notes to somebody that has been working or animating far longer than you, unless they have a shot up for crit, or ask you. You dont want to be that guy that comes in and things he owns the place. This can make you seem aragent , even if your just trying to help.


-This is for bother the person giving and receiving feedback. Remember that when its all said and done… your make a cartoon. This is a fun job and should always be enjoyed. Even though there will be times where you hate animating (most likely this will occur on your 75′th hour of your week, when your trying to get a shot INTO spline that is due the next day, or when your going for final notes for your shot, and get reblocking notes) BUT in the end most changes are for the better, and when you see your shot after is gos through lighting and is projected on a 50 foot screen you’ll forget all the late nights of agony and defeat. haha .

So these are a few pointers I find helpful when giving feedback. I think if you think about these ideas, your critiques will be far more helpful to the animator and will be appreciated alot more. Also you will think more about why and how to solve problems, bring it full circle, and learning from the animation your critiquing. Of course animation is a hard thing to give feedback because so much is relative and most things can be done in many many different ways. Most questions i hear asked about animation is usually followed by “Well, It depends on the shot”… and this is very true. So think of this is a guide and not a rule book. thanks for checking this out!

I hope it helps!


Thanks for such a great post Malcon and best wishes at Disney!!


Making progress...

Well, I finished up the animation for my short film and began re-working the shots for my demo reel. I had set a final deadline for my short or I'd be polishing it for another 10 years. I'm trying to do the same with my reel, setting deadlines, and (trying to) stick to them. My plan is to finish all the animation render out playblasts, so at least I have something to upload and show. Then go back and set up the lighting and render them out over a weekend or two. I rendered a few test renders for my short and using Mental Ray each frame took between 45 minutes to an hour. So I still have some settings to tweak as well as the lights themselves. I'm getting closer with each week and more excited to get it all done!

Other than that we endured a 2 day blizzard and got 2 feet of snow. It's awesome if you don't have to leave the house... the roads are icy and dangerous. I'm curious what it's going to do for our Hallowe'en trick-or-treaters....

Stay tuned.


Student Showcase.

Here is the latest and greatest student showcase from Animation Mentor. Absolutely amazing work!

They've done it again....

Now that I've completed Animation Mentor, I'm even more overwhelmed with ALL of the 3D animation surrounding me, on the Internet, TV, commercials, movies and video games. One studio in particular, if you happen to mention 3D Animation, will be the top of everyones' list... The studio, of course, I am referring to is the one and only Pixar Animation Studios. That's right, they have, hands down, produced my favorite movies (not just animations) and short films since their conception. I can watch any Pixar movie at any time and be completely entertained for the duration of the film, then watch the shorts, and all the special features on each DVD... I'm completely blown away from not only their animation, but the style in each of their films, the originality they possess, the overall feel of each film, and how they have hidden Easter Eggs throughout each of their films (like putting in the Pizza Planet truck in every movie).

If you look at Pixar's later films: Wall-E, Up and even Ratatouille, they take on a more serious feel (still fun, don't get me wrong), where if you look at Monster's Inc., Finding Nemo and Cars, they have a more comical/fun tone. Now in said comical movies there is still a serious message in the undertones of the movie, but they aren't as apparent. One thing that Pixar strives for is the story, that's their number one focus no matter what. Originally Toy Story 2 was going to be a 'straight to DVD' movie, and John Lasseter took a step back and said that its not Pixar's style. So they put some more money and time into the story and made it 'theater-worthy'. And look at what a great movie it turned out to be! I'm usually not as concerned when hearing that Pixar is making sequels to their amazing movies, there's Cars 2 and Toy Story 3 on the way(although, parts of me loves when they have an original movie coming out) as I am when say there's another Shrek movie in the making (although, I'm pretty stoked about Shrek 4). Shrek 1 was great, Shrek 2 was sub par, and I still have yet to see the Third, from all the bad reviews I've heard... Without further ado, here is the trailer for the upcoming Toy Story 3, June 18th, 2010.... It looks like such a fun movie and you know the story is going to be great!! I'm planning on seeing Toy Story 1 and 2 in 3D this week, and can't wait to see TS3 in June. Enjoy it.

Toy Story 3 Trailer from d C on Vimeo.


Two New Blogs Added....

Alright, well since graduation I've been doing a little bit of work on my short film and demo reel. Mainly just artwork and putsy type work, in that process I did create two new blogs: one, my online portfolio site where my reel will reside CLICK HERE to see it. Second, I posted a new blog with my short film 'Fresh Out the Box' the entire process, from pitching the story to my mentor, the animatic, layout, blocking and animation. CLICK HERE to see it, it goes chronological from the latest stage to earliest.

Short film update, I have completed seven shots, only nine more to go!! Then the lighting, rendering, and put it all together and clean up/add some more sound effects.

Stay tuned!


Excited and motivated...

Well, the fall term at AM started today!! And I am super excited for all of my AM peeps. Starting a new class, meeting their new Mentor and all of the new classmates, re-uniting with old ones.... a new syllabus to peruse, new characters unveiled. It felt kind of weird, and strange to not be a part of it. I was thinking this morning, that a new term is beginning, then the excitement kicked in for a minute, it quickly dissipated when I realized I don't have a new class to start today. Its finally sinking in that I graduated, I'm done, I made it... Still a great feeling, now a little more nervous about being in the 'real animation world'. Being done sure feels nice, I'm really excited to start working on my reel and finishing up my short film... I've been working on little things here and there. Getting a lot of my demo reel artwork done, setting up a new website to view my online portfolio and relaxing with movies and spending time with my family.

So, I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm definitely enjoying being done with AM, relaxing, couching, etc and I realize that I have a lot of work ahead of me... being around all this animation is too motivating to just relax. I'm contemplating taking one more week of 'chillax' time, then start working again.... or get busy tonight! Animation is really hard, and taking time away from it can be exactly what you need. After being away from my short film for a couple weeks, then coming back to it; it's really amazing on how your perception changes, you catch different things, you come up with different/better ideas for the film and you're able to fix the problems that you having before with the animation..... it really is like a breath of fresh air.

We went a saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs last night and it was awesome. The style of the movie was great and original, the animation was awesome, very snappy, yet very 'squiggly' in the limbs, the effects were awesome with all the food falling from the sky, and the characters had tons of appeal. It was by far Sony's best animated feature yet. I recognized a few names in the credits, but I was surprised to see so many names under 'animation' in the credits as well as all the other departments.

One more quick thing. Now that I have access to the Alumni site, it further iterates my feelings on how truly amazing the school is. There's career services that helps you write resumes, cover letters and thank yous. Demo reel help, job boards, chats, forums, your own workspace to post your current reel.

Till then, keep on livin' 24 frames per second.


AM Alumnus Reporting for Duty!!

Well, it's officially official! I graduated from the greatest animation school on the planet! Lots of: sacrifice, hard work, loooong weekends, late nights/early mornings, lectures, notes, filming, drawing, chatting, forums, coffee, 5 hour energy shots, iTunes, key frames, posing, polishing, struggle, QnAs, feedback and animating!! What a life changing experience. I can't believe it's over, one more chapter done, and another one starting!

It's a great feeling to be done, a major sense of accomplishment and pride... now time to relax for a few weeks! Margaritas and Jager tonight!

Till next time.


It's a final!!

Whew... that was a the longest/fastest 18 months of my life! But, I persevered and graduated from Animation Mentor (well, not officially till Friday at 1pm). I pretty much completed my short film. I want to go and add a bunch more to it, and could keep adding to it till I am 80 years old. I want to do an intro scene with the opening credits that I still might do, but then I have to build another set, an outdoor set... we'll see how time permits. I still have some final polish and one more once over to make sure that all the splines are smooth and everything is rocking! Then I get to light it, render it and put it together in post with sound effects...

All in all Animation Mentor has changed my life, I'm so glad that I went. I'm looking forward to relaxing for a few weeks, then hitting it hard again! Got to get that demo reel done by January!

My Mentor (Sean Sexton) last night for our last QnA showed us his student work and told us his animation story. It was an interesting one to say the least, but a great one none-the-less. Then he showed us his current reel.. Wow. He's an amazing animator. It really inspired me to work hard to get my reel as finely tuned as I can to get an amazing job doing character animation all day long! I probably wont get to a major studio out of the gates, or even work on motion pictures... but that's my goal for the next 5 years. I mentioned before that I have a connection to a pretty big studio out in California... I'm going to start there and see what happens!!

It's been an amazing journey with Animation Mentor, but this is only the beginning. I'm planning on posting the progress of my short film, once it's all finished to look back at the creation process of it and see the transformation... stay tuned.

Till then.


Whew, one week to go!

Man oh man... where did the time go!? Well, I have one week left at Animation Mentor and can't believe how fast the time went. Looking back I learned so much, and looking forward, I still have so much more to learn. I guess that's a good thing, it will keep me on my toes, fresh and inspired. Going to AM I have met so many wonderful and inspiring people I will never forget and hope that I never lose contact with! Even though I have accomplished a major goal by completing the program I am far from being ready to begin my quest as an animator. As far as the animation goes for my short film, it's pretty much complete. Now I have add some final touches/polishes. Light, render and then put it all together in post production with the audio. Then I'm going to begin construction on my demo reel. I pretty much have all the artwork done, I just have to get the content. I'm going to put between 5 and 8 shots so I have to go back to some older work and clean up and add some more polish. Then in January for graduation I should be set to go.... Wish me luck.


Moving right along...

Well, I'm halfway through my final class at AnimationMentor.com, and I can't believe it. How fast it went, how much I learned, how much I don't know about animation, how many great students and Mentors I've been lucky enough to come across. One chapter is closing and another opening I guess. It's still sad to think it's coming to an end so quick. Yet, I don't remember a time I wasn't in school. It's been a rough year and a half, learning/studying animation, learning how to be a dad..... needless to say, I'm completely exhausted.

As far as my short film goes, it's coming along nicely. I'm on pace to finish it up in the next month, being 38 days out I confident that I can finish it. Then the reel work begins... literally, my goal is to have my demo reel, resume, short film and website completed by December so I can start the job hunt come 2010!! Exciting I know. I did find out that a friend of mine here in Denver knows John Hughes (not the late great director/writer from the 80's). The president of Rhythm and Hues Studios.... So what a great contact that is, once I get my reel completed, he's definitely getting one.

I just finished blocking out the entire short film, 3 passes roughly and it's ready to moving on to splining. I've gotten some great feedback/ideas from my Mentor and other students. Very helpful and it's good to know that if I ever get into an Animation Studio that I'll get the same feedback from my director, supervisor and other animators each day. There are so many things that are overlooked when it's your scene, it's so nice to get other eyes on it. It's about a minute long now, with animation, that doesn't include credits. I'm still not sure how much I'm going to do for the intro credits.

I'll post my progress as soon as I can upload it to youTube. Till next time.


Some new movies...

That are getting me inspired and excited. I went and saw Up and Ice Age 3. Up was truly amazing, I can't wait to see it again! The story, animation, effects, environments, everything was mind numbing! IA3 was their best yet and the fact that 51 students, Mentors and alumni worked on it says a lot for Animation Mentor. Enjoy.

Here are a couple trailers for movies coming out that I can't wait to go and see:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:


Toy Story 3:

Despicable Me:

Slacking on my Blog...

Okay, so I'm already in week 5 and haven't posted any updates. It's moving right along and I graduate in under 60 days! Wow, I honestly can't believe how fast the time is flying by! I'm sort of sad that I'm not going to be a student at Animation Mentor no longer, but it sounds like you still get access to the site as an Alumni. So that's pretty cool. But, it will be nice to get my life back in order, spending more time with my awesome family and friends.

My mentor is awesome. Sean Sexton is his name and he's been animating at Dreamworks for some time now. He's worked on all the big-time movies they've produced over the past decade: Shrek I, II, and III, Bee Movie, Over the Hedge, Kung Fu Panda (by far their best movie yet), Sharks Tale, and Monster's vs. Aliens. He showed us some shots that he worked on in Over the Hedge and Monsters vs. Aliens. What an amazing animator. I couldn't imagine working at a company like Dreamworks or Pixar and animating these amazing shots everyday, all day!! That would be awesome.

My short film is coming along, I made some great progress and was ahead of the game coming into class 6, so I'm still confident that I'll finish up by week 12. There is still so much to go, but baby steps is the key. I converted it from blocking to linear this past week, trying a method that I've picked up since attending AM. Sean said that I should have more breakdowns before I convert the keyframes to linear. So I'm going to go back this week and go back to blocking, add some more breakdowns, then hopefully next week it will be ready to go to linear and I can start polishing the sucker! Then the plan is to start putting together my demo reel, art work,resume and website by December and start looking for work in 2010. Now that I'm in class 6 and graduation is right around the corner people are asking 'what next?'. I've thought about it and yes, I'd love to work at Pixar, Dreamworks or Blue Sky (any big time studio) but realistically I don't think that I'm ready... I know that I just want to animate, whether it be video games or movies. Spending a couple years in the video game industry would be great to learn more about physics and body mechanics. The thing about that is you don't get much experience in acting shots, and if you want to get into the big studios you have to be a strong actor (well, at least your characters do). So I'll have to keep up on that with the 11 Second Club contest each month. Still trying not to think about the future too much, focusing on the present. Finish up my short film to the best of my abilities, polish up my previous shots for my demo reel, and then I can worry about where I'm going.

It's a long journey, stressful at times, but a fun one none-the-less. I plan on posting my progress for my short film soon.....

Till next time.


On to Short Film Production!! Wooohoo.

Well, I made it through class 5 doing very well. My Mentor was great and I was glad to have gotten him. His name is Cal Brunker and he's an animator up in Toronto Canada at a studio called Red Rover. They mainly do commercials for TV. He had a lot of great ideas to make my short what it is today! I learned a lot in the class, but I feel like I haven't animated anything in a really long time. I do feel a bit rusty, but hopefully it's still fresh and I'll be fine. I was pleased with my grades this class, and based on those I feel like I really succeeded. I'm really excited to start blocking out my shots. Total of 16 shots, right around 1000 frames, so it's not too bad. The tricky part in actually finishing the animation by graduation in 3 months is the amount of animation that is done. When you're animating full characters in a scene it's going to take more time than if you're just animating the upper body, or just the face, etc. In my shot there's some full body acting/animating, but I'd say 65 percent is just portions of the body. So I think planning it out like that makes it more feasible to actually finish it in the time allotted, but also making it quality animation so that I can submit it to festivals if I want and have some strong pieces for my demo reel.

Here is my layout. I still have some minor changes to make based on my final critique from Cal.... and sound FX are still rough too.


It's been a crazy month...

May has come on gone, now on to June. We had Maddon's first Birthday, then my Brother and Sister-in-law both graduated from college, a BBQ and trip to Vegas..... Now, the year is almost half over.... OH, and I forgot to mention creating my 30 second short in the midst of all that. The good news is that I'm back in the computer. Setting up cameras, texturing my models, blocking out my character. So that's a nice change (not that I don't love drawing, but I don't want to get rusty).

It was a stressful weekend. We traveled to Vegas and brought the baby, which was a lot of work (mostly for my wife). I worked from my laptop, not a good idea trying to keep files straight, texture maps loaded, sound effects, etc... So needless to say I got my assignment done, but now I have to start over. My Maya skills are very novice so I had some referencing issues and because I referenced in my character I was unable to use the GUI picker for him, and having that tool is irreplaceable. So I went back and set everything up right, and for the most part it's a lot better now than it was before. So I guess it was a lesson learned the hard way, and now I'm pretty much back on schedule.

I had to do the layout for the first third of my short last week, I did just over 10 seconds, and am planning on doing to about 22 seconds this week. One thing that I'm noticing is that once it's in the computer the timing has to slow down a bit so everything reads correctly. I am planning on posting my animatic here when I think of it.... and should be better about recording my progress. Stay tuned.....


11 Second goal met... wow!

I finished another 11 Second Club competition. It was a great and unique competition. If you're not familiar with the 11 Second Club you can check it out at www.11secondclub.com. Basically they host a monthly animation competition that anyone who has the desire to animate can enter in any medium they choose, be it 2D, 3D, stop motion, flash, etc. I mentioned that this month was unique, for a good reason. Typically they post up a movie dialogue shot, some serious, some funny, some with 3 people conversing, 2 people conversing or just one person talking. So each month is different and fun. Well in April they decided to mix it up again and just do sound effects. At first everyone suspected that it was an April's fools day joke.... turns out it wasn't. It was brilliant, there was an amazing turn out 160 entries. Definitely the most amount of great animation I've seen.

I decided that I would go for it and enter, besides it's great practice and I need all the practice I can get. With animation it's easiest to practice if there's a deadline, that way you'll finish it (at least to a point where you could potentially put it on a demo reel). My goal for the month was to finish in the top 50. Typically I finish somewhere around the halfway point, or lower half, so needless to say it was a pretty ambitious goal. After going through the voting I was pretty intimidated. I kept thinking 'if I even get near top 50 I'll be happy, like I said there was some great animation and some fierce competition! How it works is they post a new audio file on the first of the month and you have till the end of the month to turn in the animation. Everyone who's a member to the site is able to vote. They arrange it so you're able to go through each animation, watch, vote and leave a comment if you want. Then after the 5th they tally up the votes based on the average score and then they rate them.....

I ended up coming in (tied with 2 other animations) at 48.... I was relieved that I made it. Anyway, without further delay here's the animation.

Oh, and my short film is coming along. I'm working on the story boards now, and realizing how tricky and complicated it is to be a director.... camera angles are super tricky to pull off!! I'll post my animatic next week once it's completed!

Maddon's first birthday is on Saturday... I can't believe how fast the past year has whizzzed by me... to think a year ago I was animating a simple pendulum.... Maddon and I have grown a lot in the past year...

Till then.


'Fresh out the Box'....

Well, I received feedback from my three story ideas from my Mentor (Cal Brunker, what a cool name, I know).... I was going between the new computer idea and the bored bus driver idea. My Mentor thought that the computer idea was better, and I have to concur. Thinking about doing to bus driver story would be really funny and fun to do, but technically I wouldn't be able to handle it. So I thought I'd go with the more simple of the two and run with it. I still have some work do in the middle to set up the gag... but I'll do that this week.

Here's the pre-production structure I submitted:
‘Fresh out the Box’ Pre-Pitch Structure:
a. Setting: opening shot is exterior of house, all the rest of the shots are interior in the man’s office.
b. Time of day: afternoon
c. Characters: There’s only one character, a middle aged man

Pitch Structure:
a. We open with an exterior shot of a house, the sky is blue and the sun is shining.
b. Until the door opens and the main (and only character) pops his head out, looks around with curiosity, he looks down and sees the box. He gets a surprised then excited look on his face, steps out, bends down, picks up the box and brings it in the house.
c. And then now we’re in his office showing his empty desk all cleaned and ready to put his new computer on.
d. And then he starts assembling the computer components onto the computer desk (shown with quick 1-2 second cuts).
e. And then he’s ready to turn on the computer. He presses the power button
f. And then nothing happens, he looks surprised, shocked and confused, he presses it again. Still nothing. He looks angry now with some frustration.
g. And then it shows him trying different methods of troubleshooting, looking at the owner’s manual, maybe on the phone with tech support, studying the front of the computer, lifts up the mouse, etc (there are going to be 5 or 6 different things he does, again all shown in quick 1-2 second cuts). Man is getting more and more frustrated with each shot.
h. Until finally he gives up by banging his head and fists on the desk. Meanwhile the camera is trucking back to reveal that the power cord isn’t plugged in, cut to a close up shot so there’s no confusion what to look at.
i. The moral/point of the story is sometimes the simplest explanation to the problem is the most obvious one, there’s no need to get so upset by it.

Here's some reference I'm going to use in the planning (not for the animation, just some the timing of shots used are what I'm looking for with mine):


Short Film ideas.

So I'm moving along (hopefully in the right direction) in pre-production of my 30 short film animation project, that will consume the next 6 months of my life. I had a slew of ideas that I've been gathering for years and had to trim a lot off the existing ones because of the duration of the film. I originally thought were going to be 1-2 minutes in length. Come to find out it's only supposed to be 30 seconds long. I posted five ideas and think that I have it narrowed down to 2... Because of my Maya abilities and lack of effects experience it's forcing me to get really creative in my story choice. One character, one set and limited effects.

Here are my two ideas that I'm leaning towards, probably going to go with the first one because it's a little more simple of an environment to create and work around.

1. 'Fresh out the Box': Intro credits play with the sounds of outside (mid day)ambient noise and a door bell ring. Fade out from black, exterior shot of a door step, on it is a computer box (Dell, HP, Apple). A middle aged man opens the door and pops his head out, looks around, then down to see the box. He opens the door in excitement and goes to pick up the box to bring into the house. The next shot is an interior shot of the man's desk, empty and shiny of course. He sets down his computer box and starts to assemble it on the desk, close up cuts showing him adjusted the monitor position, setting up the mouse and keyboard, etc. Finally it cuts a medium shot of him going to turn on the computer. He has an excited look on his face, when he pushes the power button, nothing happens... he sits there for a second and then his expression switches to shock. The next cut is him troubleshooting, getting more and more frustrated with each shot, reading the owner's manual, lifting the keyboard, etc... Until he gets so frustrated he bangs his head and fists down on the desk and lies there still, as if he's defeated. The camera is slowly trucking back to reveal that the computer's not plugged in, maybe even cut to a close up shot of the plug lying on the floor underneath the outlet. Cut to credits. Cut back from credits to a quick shot of the character super frustrated holding either the monitor or the keyboard over his head with his teeth gritting and eye twitching. Cut back to credits with the audio of a large crashing sound effect. The end.

2. 'Over Bored'. (still working on the story a bit). First shot mid morning, interior of a bus driver driving a bus. The bus driver has a very bored look on his face and in his every movement. Slow blinking and slow movements in general. Gets to a stop and there's no one there, he still goes through the action of opening the door waiting a second then closing the door to head back on his route. This goes on for a few more seconds to get the point across that he has a really monotonous job that he's really bored at. Finally he appears to get an idea (may even show a light bulb) and springs up. The next shot is him ramming all kinds of vehicles with the bus. (Now what I might do is have him see a bulldozer at one of the stops with the keys in the ignition and that's when he gets the idea and is ramming the cars with the bulldozer instead of the bus). Either way he's ramming the vehicles with something. The next shot is the same as the first shot, except now he look happy in his face and in his whole attitude. He gets to the stop (same as before) and now there a bunch of people waiting to get on the bus with disgruntled looks on their faces. Here I might have the people in casts and crutches and the camera pans back to reveal that it's a handicap bus..... cut to credits.

So there they are, a bit lengthy, but as the story develops in my head I like to get it down on paper....

I'm really excited to start production on this. Stay tuned as I'll be posting my progress as I go.

Till next time.


Class 5.... 6 more months left.

Wow, so I've officially been a student at Animation Mentor for one year now. I can't believe how much I've learned (and how much more I still have to go). I started my Pre-production to my short film last night and am a little intimidated by the whole thing. The two biggest things is going to be plan plan plan and keeping it simple. I feel like I already have a big head start because I'm always coming up with ideas and have about 25 in my journal. But I want to explore some more and come up with something awesome and original! The duration of the short is only 30 seconds (only, Ha!). Sounds easy right... wrong.

I have an idea using the Azary rig called 'Identity Theft', and one called 'Over Bored' (which has a clever play on words), and then 'Spring Time' is another one... I have to go through each idea I have and fine tune them. What I like and don't like about them...

Till next time.

I'll try and post more progress for my short film pre-production.


On to class 5.... Short Film Pre-production

Well, that's that, I made it through Advanced Acting with a recommendation to move on from my Mentor. I wasn't anticipating being held back, but you never know. It was a very tough class, but I persevered through it with a bunch of 14 hour homework Saturdays, 2 and a half hour lectures, tougher shots, facial comparisons, and endless critiques for my classmates. It was a really long class, between work, wife and baby. I really feel like my social life is on a timeout, which is fine. It's for a good cause. I know I say this every class, but here goes: I learned a lot, looking back at my older work, I can catch a whole bunch of issues with it and I want to go change it, so that must mean I'm learning. I still need more practice, and want to keep animating. Not sick of it or burnt out of animation. I'm burnt out, but from exhaustion. No thoughts of thinking that I made the wrong decision or am getting sick of animating.

Before starting AM and watching the testimonies of the students and how they always talked about the AM community and the awesome Mentors. That's not even the half on how truly amazing Animation Mentor is. Not to mention the endless amount of animation talent. I learned so much from my mentor, but I learned tons from the students and alumni stopping by giving feedback. Another thing that I found that was really helpful is leaving feedback for others. Maybe it's cause I'm finally getting the hang of animation, and know more what to look for and am thinking more like an animator, remember all the principles and mechanics of how the body moves.

Since there was only a two day break between classes, we decided to take a trip away from Maddon. No computer, no work, no packing lunches every night, no animation (just some animation books on the beach), no dog, no baby, no responsiblities, no rush hour, no waking up in the morning, no agenda. We're off to San Pancho Mexico. A small town just north of Puerto Vallarta. So I'm really excited to get away from it all.

Class five is starting on Monday when we get back. It's going to be a tough rebound, getting back in the swing of things, that I'm trying not to think about and live in the now. Getting back is going to be hitting the ground running, laundry, work, and school in full speed when the plane lands back in Denver. I have a lot of ideas brainstormed and I'm going to go through them and hopefully come up with some new ideas on the beach.... Here is my final shot for class 4. It's from the movie School of Rock (if you didn't recognize it). It still has some minor adjusting and some tweaks.


Class four coming to an end....

Holy moses, time sure is flying. Four classes down and two to go. I can't believe that I've been in school for a year now. Thinking back at how excited I was to start, getting ready for AM.... And now it's almost over. What a great class this was, really awesome kids in my class and my Mentor was truly amazing. So chill and real with an awesome eye for animation. I really feel like I made some good progress this class.

My next two classes are pre-production and production of making my very own short. I'm really excited. I have a bunch of ideas in the hopper and need to figure out which one is going to be the best story and realistic for me to do. I would definitely say that my Maya abilities are limited so that's going to hold me back a bit, but as long as I come up with a good story and the animation rocks, nobody will notice that I suck in Maya. We don't get much of a break between classes... they're over on Friday and start back up on Monday... 2 days!! Wow! I'm planning on turning in everything early cause my wife and I are going to Mexico. We're leaving the little guy at home and am really looking forward to relaxing on the beach, spending time with my lover-muffin.

Till next time,


Oh yeah... Animation Mentor....

Sometimes I forget that this blog is for my time spent at Animation Mentor.... the last few posts have dealt with animation and other nonsense. School is going good... and absolutely zooooming by right in front of my eyes. It's a crazy schedule I'm on. Usually my wife works nights from Weds to Sat, so that means I get Maddon all to myself, it's great but crazy. So on said days I go to work till 5 drive home get Maddon, feed him and play with him till about 7:15, then feed him again, give him a bath and put him to bed... luckily he's such a good little baby, no fussing and always fun to hang out with and play. He's really good at playing catching and he seems like he's always willing to share his toys with you. I don't know if that's something common in babies or unique to him. Either way it's adorable. Okay... Animation Mentor, stay focused... so what I was getting at is that once I put him to bed, make and eat dinner, make lunch for the next day and clean up after myself it's dang near 9 o'clock... I usually sit for an episode of Seinfeld or 30 minutes of animation to get motivation and then begins the homework. Last night I started about 830 and worked till about 130 in the morning. Usually with iTunes or some animated movie on in the background, then get up for work the next day and repeat... It's been really hectic and I feel like I have no life other than this... usually Saturday consist of juggling Maddon and homework, the homework portion is roughly 14 hours, but have gone as long as 16 hours (with various breaks).

I guess my whole point to this post is TIME MANAGEMENT. I knew going into Animation Mentor is was going to be a big sacrifice and a huge commitment on my part. Parts of me is completely fried, from learning animation, then applying what I learned and struggling with, the gaining some knowledge and climbing up the mountain. Reading a lot of posts (mostly on 11secondclub.com) so many people are worried about starting AM and having it just flow along with their life (whatever their current situation is). For them I just say, it's a lot of work. Especially with a full time job, baby, wife and house. Adding school to the mix, there really isn't time for much else. Yes, I still see friends, but not nearly as often as I'd like to. I haven't had a 'boy's night' in over a year, a vacation in over a year and half. I'm not complaining one bit... I'm just saying that it's been a big commitment and wouldn't trade it for the world!

I'm currently in week 9 of class four and can't believe it. I'm starting my short next class already! I'm really excited for that, but I know how I am and I'm a little nervous (I tend to go overboard on these projects). For instance when I attended the Art Institute for one class we had a final project for a character animation class that was supposed to be 30 seconds in duration... I ended up doing a 4:30 music video with like 6 sets, lighting, textures and multiple characters. It was a great experience but it was a bit much. I'm going to keep the short to about 90 seconds, no longer than 2 minutes.... that's pretty reasonable. I already have a bunch of ideas brainstormed that could be really good. I'm trying to make something original and entertaining... the goal of any animator!!

But, that's the future.. now for the present. I'm in the middle of a 2 person dialogue shot and it's challenging being responsible for bringing 2 characters to life (plus 2 background characters). I chose a line from School of Rock and it's turning out good. My workflow has definitely improved in clarity and speed. I've learned so much this class thanks to the awesome lectures and my awesome Mentor! I'll try and post progress on the shot when I get a free minute.

Till next time.... party like its 2099!!


2009 Can you smell the animation in the air?

Wooooowser! 2009 and it's an exciting time to be an animator! There are some really good lookin' movies coming out this year! I'm getting more and more excited about starting production on my short when I see this. I finally feel like I'm ready and confident enough to attempt it (as far as my animation skills are concerned)! I know it's going to be a massive challenge and a major struggle at some points, but that's how you learn and become better. I'm making good progress on my two person shot and feel like I'm going to have time to really polish it and put on my new demo reel.

Now, let's talk about some movies coming out this year that I'm getting excited for:
Pixar's new movie Up... the animators are saying that it's their best one yet... I know they always say that, but they seem to excel and get better and more defined each movie they make. Dreamworks has some fresh original animation coming out this year in Monsters Vs. Aliens, I'm really excited, I was starting to lose faith in their animation with all the Shrek sequels that weren't very entertaining, and then they totally redeemed themselves with Kung Fu Panda...
9 looks amazing, a unique world with an interesting style out of the ordinary! Another one I'm really excited for is Ice Age 3. The first one was great, the second one was nowhere close. I think I'm really excited to see this one because I actually know a bunch of people that worked on it. Students from Animation Mentor mostly, they took off from school to go and work on it. Lost and Found comes out this year... it's from a smaller studio called Studio AKA, a girl in my class from Brazil told me about it. It's a children's book, and like 9 the style is so magical and original, it looks like it really captures the essence of what you can do with 3D. I wish Maddon was older, because I would totally be going with him.

And last but not least is Planet 51. This one just looks like a fun movie, crazy interaction between aliens and humans on their planet! So overall it looks like a great year for animated movies! One that I don't know anything about and is an old children's book is Cloudy with Chance of Meatballs by Sony Animation. I'm looking forward to seeing some trailers on that one.

Till next time... keep on truckin'.


Finally.... the long wait is over.

I can watch movies they way they are intended! This has been years in the making. We finally got a new HDTV! We ended up going with the 50" plasma TV 720p. I didn't need or want the fancy 1080p TV so I went the less resolution and bigger picture, and it was a fantastic decision!So far I've watched: Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Cars, Bug's Life, Monster's Inc., The Incredibles and Horton Hears a Who! It's amazing how great the picture is! I did do some research and found out that plasma TVs are better if you watch a lot of movies. We definitely watch our share of movies, since we don't really go to movies anymore (because of the little guy)this was a wise purchase. I'm officially addicted to watching movies at home again!



So in the past year I've been completely enthralled in animation, learning it, doing it, watching it and studying it. I just have to say, lately it's completely blown my mind. I referring mostly to the movies that I've seen in the past year. The list is as follows: Bolt, Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda, Horton Hears a Who, Igor and now Coraline. All the movies were totally entertaining and the stories in each movie was great and compelling. And of course the animation was completely awesome in every way. It really does inspire me to keep on learning and practicing more animation. First, let's talk about the one movie of the year that didn't impress me.

Recently, I saw Madagascar 2, although there were some really funny lines and a couple of cool scenes (like the plane crash), the story and concepts are completely played out and it was almost like they didn't take the extra time and focus on the story. Granted they did their research and went on a giant safari in Africa, that showed in the movie, but they should have spent a lot more time on story development. I think one of the major things that Pixar excels in over any other studio (especially Dreamworks) is their environments. Especially the Madagascar franchise. Their environments are too realistic. I'm not sure exactly how Pixar does it, but if you look at Cars for instance, they do such a great job in making a photo-realistic environment that is exaggerated just enough to make it cartoony and magical. The environment in Madagascar 2 was too realistic, in the special features they were showing comparison images, from what they captured from the safari and the 3D scene from the movie, it looked exactly the same. Where's the magic in that, recreating a completely realistic environment that's in a 3D movie... what's the point? My opinion in 3D is this: you have the ability to do whatever you want and make things look whatever way you want them to, total control. So why not make the trees have a little more exaggerated personality, or the rocks... enough about Madagascar. One last thing, the animation was awesome again! I love the style of the quick and snappiness of it, really cool looking and fun to watch... moving on.

Trying to list these in order from my best to worse is pretty hard, they all had such great qualities and in my opinion were awesome in their own way... but here goes: Bolt, Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda, Horton, Coraline and finally Igor. Igor was decent, it was a good story and overall the style was cool, but it was lacking something, I'm not sure if it's empathy for the characters or the lack of compassion you feel for the situations throughout the movie. The first four listed are truly amazing movies; I will own them all when they become available and watch them over and over.
If you haven't seen any of the ones listed above, go and check them out....

This is getting way too long, my intention was to talk about the movies I fancied (I guess I'll save that for a later time)... so I'm going to leave you with a trailer from Coraline, which is the first 3D movie with 3D glasses I've seen in over 20 years. I forgot how fun it is.... and soo cool! Oh, plus this is the studio my current mentor is working at.....


Finally completed....

Or at least as much completed as it's going to be, for now.... By that I mean there's always something that I see, or someone else sees and points out that can be tweaked. It's true what they say, an artists work is never done. This definitely holds true in animation. This is the monologue shot that I've been working on since November 08. I was looking back at some of the early stages of the shot and didn't realize how many changes are made to these shots. From my planning/video reference to the early blocking of animation. This piece really transformed and I like the direction that it took. I think the big thing was the feedback that I got. With animation I'm always trying to be original and entertaining with the shots that make, all while trying to learn. It's a tricky situation, but challenging none-the-less. I got tons of feedback from my peers and from 2 different mentors that have different background and styles. That really made a difference in the shot. I was noticing (as well as other) that the shot looked like it was stop-motion as soon as I added the lip sync. My mentor (Greg Kyle) was saying that I need to go through and smooth out those tangents. I was really struggling with that so I asked him if I could send him my Maya file for him to look 'under the hood' and term used in animation to see what's going on in the graph editor. He did, looked at it and gave some good feedback and then fixed a small portion of it to show me what he was talking about, and holy crap just the 12 frames that he fixed made the world of difference to the shot. He then sent me back the Maya file that he worked so I could see what he did to it. I think that has been my biggest break through thus far. So I'm going to post my first blocking pass and the final so you can see what I'm talking about. It's amazing how much you learn with these assignments and how the school really does work.

First pass.

Final pass (at least for now).


Holy moly... slacker head!

Break is over... mixed in with a mini-break... Right now I'm between assignments... sort of. My first dialogue was a success, I think (I've gotten great feedback and responses to it). I feel I learned sooooo much from that assignment and want to keep going. My new Mentor is absolutely an amazing person! He's a Canuck through and through, and so real! He had mentioned that parts of my assignment looked 'choppy' almost like it was stop motion (so did Sean...) so I asked him for a bit of help. I sent him over my Maya file and he worked on about 22 frames and smoothed it out. I think that my problem was that I'm over animating, adding too many in-between/breakdowns. Like Mr. Williams says K.I.S.S... (keep it simple stupid), I need to make a giant poster that says that and hang it right behind my monitors at home! Soooo, back to my next assignment: it's doing a two person dialogue shot up to 15 seconds.... more characters and more time then before, I'm a little nervous, but I'm excited about what challenges I'm going to face (hopefully overcome)and persevere. So this week, I just have to polish up my monologue shot, and pick three possible dialogs for my next assignment, and one face pose.... pretty chill. So I'm taking full advantage of the calm before the storm (advice from my awesome Mentor).

Maddon's doing great, always smiling, laughing and babbling! It's so fricken cute!