Saturday, March 28, 2015

California and CTNX! Part Tres!

Okay... so I'm a little late in posting this... But I've been in a very nostalgic mood today. And then I remembered that I'd never finished this little journal, so what better time than now!

If I remember correctly, I pretty much left off before the first day of the convention. Since it's been a while, I'll just wrap the entire convention into one blog post. Possibly because I can't remember every little detail about it now...

I was lucky enough to get inside the room where the keynote speech was happening that started the whole thing. Glen Keane gave a speech about passion for the craft, and about Duet. He's a great speaker and an amazing artist. Duet is also the kind of project that shows you what can happen when you just let an artist go at it no holds barred. It is the real epitome of a passion project, especially because of all the work that had to go into it. But it was well worth it. It's a beautiful short. I never realized how much more there was to Duet though. The short version that you can find on YouTube is only half of the short. Max, Glen's son, was also there with a camera rig attached to his phone. After watching the short with Glen's commentary, Max came up and showed us the other side to the story. Whenever the characters separated, there are two different things you can watch. It added so much to the heart of the story, it was really cool to see.

After that the festivities began! Like any convention, everyone does their own thing and goes to the booths and panels they want to. While I went to a bunch of them, I'll focus mostly on the ones I took pics of for this. I honestly didn't take that many surprisingly. Oh well, lessons learned for this year's convention! (I've already got my tickets and hotel room for this year! Let me know if you are going too!)

One of the panels I was most looking forward to was Genndy Tartakovsky. He's been one of the biggest names in animation to me since I started watching cartoons. Samurai Jack and Dexter's Lab are, to this day, two of my favorites. And his work on everything going on in 3D has been amazing. He's such a talented animator. Dream job would be to work for him someday! Anyway, his panel was great. We got to see the original pitch for Dexter's Lab, which eventually was turned into an episode of the show! He showed us a bunch of the art of Samurai Jack and it brought everyone back. Then he jumped forward to his time at Sony and Hotel T, even showing us a shot in progress from Hotel T 2! Then he went on to show of his concept art for Popeye and told us how Popeye is what got him interested in the field and his dream was to bring those characters back to the present.

As an aside to this recollection, I'm very sad over the more recent news that Genndy stepped aside from the Popeye project. When I read about that, I immediately recalled everything that Genndy had said about the show, and it was saddening to hear him having to give up on a dream project. It really stinks that there are things that would keep people driven like him from passion projects. I wish I had some way of getting on contact with him. =\

To cheer me up again, LOOK AT THESE AWESOME SHOES! A girl we met by the name of Renee Meunier made these Laika inspired shoes. I thought they were so cool. Found out that the company she worked for also worked on about half of the movie poster we'd seen the previous couple of days all around town at the bus stops and in windows. Crazy. That Laika Love though. Represent!

All of the major studios had their own booths set up of course. These guys were over at the Blue Sky table! They are so good! While I cannot presently remember the name of the amazing artist that sculpted these, and I can't seem to find the video she was featured in either, but she has so much talent! Look at these guys! Don't even ask for me to find pictures of the only maquette I've ever made... they will never see the light of day again...

I believe I'm essentially excited by art that I cannot do. More maquettes! These were found at the booth for the Dam Keeper short! One of the things I was hoping to do at CTN but didn't actually get to was watching this short. I'd heard that it was going to be playing there, and I've wanted to see it since I first heard about it! But I couldn't make it to the screening because of time conflicts. Damn. But the art of this short is amazing. Props to Dice and Tonka House for all their hard work and artistry! I will honestly say that I'm interested in this feature film!

A lot of amazing artists were there. Some of them I actually had heard of before! Haha. But some also were people that I'd thought it would be cool to meet in person sometime and talk to, and one of those was Chris Ayers. Chris was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005, and had to spend a lot of his time in the hospital for treatments. He's doing great now thankfully, but because of this we have the Daily Zoo. To help himself cope with everything during his hospital visits, he began a quest to sketch one animal a day for an entire year. And then he just kept on going. His character's are awesome, and I really enjoy the story behind them since it is something I can relate to on a bit deeper of a level than just the pretty pictures. He was a great guy to meet! I wish you all the best Chris!

Another artist that I was dying to meet was a guy by the name of Cameron Scott Davis. I came across Cameron one day while I was browsing through art. I believe I was on Deviantart, but I can't remember. Anyway, I came across a beautiful painting about a dreamscape and loved it. So I began to peruse for other work from the artist, and came across a Crowd Supply page for the promotion of a children's series, Sleepwalker. I love anything to do with dreams and nightmares, for all of you that haven't met me yet. I fell in love with everything about the project. I immediately backed it and went to Cameron's website. After reading his bio, I discovered he used to work for Dreamworks! But then he left to pursue his passion project. Sleepwalker is another example of what happens when art meets passion. Since it vibed so well with me, I decided to yolo and send Cameron an email. I just told him what an awesome idea the story was and how much I enjoyed the art of it, and that I was going to school for animation and wished him the best. To my utter surprise, I got a reply! He thanked me for the kind words and wished me luck as well. But then we continued to chat via email for a while. When I heard about him going to CTN, I emailed him again telling him I'd be there as well! Meeting him in person was awesome. Plus I got to see more work from the future volumes in the story. It's amazing. The ideas that have gone into Sleepwalker make me so excited to think about, they are just that interesting! Cameron even joked that I was like an unofficial spokesman for the books because I brought people over to meet him and kept touting them to family. I told him everything he was making was worth it, it's just that good! Seriously a cool guy, and I wish him the best as well. Can't wait to see more of Finnegan and his pals!

Cam and I! Yeah, we are on a first name basis.
Yay, got my book signed! =D
By the way, anyone reading this, judge me all you want. I know full well that these are books for younger kids, but the ideas in them definitely transcend younger ages. But not only that, one day when I have kids, I'll want books that I enjoy to be able to read for and with them. This series just does it all! XD

I love art.

One of the panels I was fortunate to get into was a chat with the minds behind the Animation Collaborative. Those three minds were Victor Navone, Royce Wesley, and Michal Makarawicz, all of Pixar. It was awesome to just have a chat with people working where you'd want to. They had just finished up on Inside Out the day before as well, so we talked about that for a time too. These guys were so cool and down to earth. It was also really neat to get to see people in person that you'd only ever seen on a computer before then. Victor is a pretty well known animator, and has done several lectures with Animation Mentor. He's interesting because of his animation process. He's one of the animators that animates almost exclusively from within the graph editor. A very interesting approach, because while I have nothing against the graph editor whatsoever, I find it difficult to use like he does. Michal also has a very interesting approach to animation, and his is based off of a layering method. I didn't get into his panel about animating eyes, but I'm sure I would've been able to comment more on his methods if I had. Victor's eye workshop was great though! And Royce actually was out and about chilling with the masses on the last night of the convention around where I was. Guys, animators at the big studios are just like us. WE ARE ALREADY ON OUR WAY THERE.

I got a pic with Michal! He touched me! *swoon*
Also I'd like to take the time to mention another person I got to meet because of this workshop! While we were in the panel, a lovely young animator raised her hand to ask about the movie Up. The guys were more than happy to discuss the film, but it was revealed that the young animator's name was Ellie, and as it just so happened, was married to a man named Carl. Everyone of course awwwed out loud at the revelation and laughed, but she was one of the few people to stay behind with Michal and chat after the panel was technically over. I started talking to her and we decided to all hang out for dinner. So we were going upstairs to put our stuff away and Ellie was staying right down the hall from us, when we started talking about a certain Tumblr account that had recently been started by an AM grad called The Animator's Life Blog. I had yet to put anything together, but then she told us that she was the one who'd made it. And then I had her cracking up because I, no joke, flipped out. It's such an awesome blog! It's so accurate and funny! And what were the chances that I'd get to meet her in person! Well at CTN, not bad. But in general, minimal. And I'm happy to say we are now great friends! She's awesome!

Another event that I was excited for was actually a book signing. With some of the creative heads that brought us Book of Life! YES! I loved the movie. One of the biggest reasons I love the movie though is because it reminds me of what I want from animation. One of the reasons I love animated shorts so much is because of the worlds that you can set them in. There doesn't have to be any rhyme or reason to it except for what it does for the story. Another reason I like dreams so much; a dreamscape is a world where anything goes. Buildings can be made out of candles, the ground can be made out of candy, skeletons can walk about and wave to you and ask how your day is going. I'm down. I realize how Book of Life that analogy is, but you should get the idea. Anything can go. And Book of Life brought that ideal to feature animation. Most of the animated features recently haven't really delved into exceptional worlds that we can't picture as "fitting into reality." Book of Life doesn't look like it's based in reality at all. And I told all of this to Jorge, the director of the movie as he was signing my art book from the film. I think that really made him happy to hear. He was so excited that the film had been so well received. I was too, for it's breaking the mold of the norm in a fantastic way. This is animation, there's no need to limit ourselves!!
Their sigs!
Steve and Joe were both animators on Book of Life, and I got reviews from both of them!
The creative heads behind the look and world of Book of Life! Jorge Guiterrez is on the end farthest from the camera. What an awesome guy.
It's along those same reasons that I'm excited for Inside Out to come out!

CTN was such an amazing place, jam packed with people you wanted to be. Animators from every studio manned the booths. But you could walk up to just about anyone and get your reel reviewed. It was awesome! I got awesome feedback from people at Reel FX, Disney, Blue Sky, and Animation Mentor! Came back with a lot of notes that I still need to get into my reel. I'll be working on that here shortly, in between my new shot and a short with my friends. But it was an amazing atmosphere of talent. I hope I was part sponge enough to soak up some of that skill. One of the people that reviewed my reel was none other than Shawn Kelly, one of the three founders of Animation Mentor! Shawn was such a great guy. I was so happy when he laughed after watching the pie shot on my reel. It makes me feel like I did something right! It was also a boost to hear that I have an eye for the art form from professionals. Now I just gotta get better! No more slacking dammit!

Another person that I got a reel review from was Steve Cunningham! For those that don't recall, Steve was my mentor for Advanced Body Mecahanics! Class 03 of AM! He was such an awesome mentor, and he was the same guy in person. Steve is just the coolest. Chelsea and I were so lucky that he went. And thankful! Steve, if you ever see this, you are the coolest, man.

While so much happened at the convention, the closing event was icing on the cake. We got to go to the actual Disney animation studio's theater to watch Big Hero and Feast! They even fed us cookies and awesome Apple Cider! Once we were all in there, Darrin Butters, one of the animators on Big Hero, introduced us to the studio and then to Patrick Osborne. Patrick was the creative mind behind Feast. He told us a brief history of the production, and showed a lot of concept work for the film. The coolest thing that he showed was the original concept video for the film. He talked about how he had to pitch the idea of telling a story through food to John Lassiter, and how he did it was by recording one second clips of all of his dinners for an entire year. Then he compiled them together into a video and had that as part of his pitch. It was actually pretty crazy to see. Every dinner is different. Some days he was out partying with people, other nights he was silent and alone; and still others were small get-togethers with laughing and chattering. All in all, it was a really cool little video that he'd made. Props Patrick!

At Disney!
Disney's own theater. Really cool to watch a movie where it was made!
Kimberly in front of the original Disney Animation Studio! All of the rooms are still intact!
Well, I did feel welcome!
Lookit them pretty faces!
Finally, the closing began with Darrin introducing another face of Big Hero, Paul Briggs. Paul was on the story team for the film, as well as acting in the roll of Little Yama. Paul and Darrin were really funny.  Great MC's! Big Hero is also a sweet film. Darrin actually told us a really cool tidbit, and that was that a lot of the animators had actually been turned into background characters in the film! Darrin told us to watch for when Baymax was following the Microbots and walking through the streets in front of cars. There's a red car that Baymax walked in front of. And the driver? Darrin! How awesome is that?

After the convention was officially over, we all went back to the hotel's outdoor lobby and chilled for a while and had some drinks. One of the best parts of CTN was getting to meet so many amazing people like me. I got to meet mentors and industry pros. I met people like Ellie, who started their own blogs or podcasts about animation and animators. I met "celebs" from AM like Tim Rudder, who's an amazing animator and a super friendly guy. And then I got to meet people I'd only ever chatted with online before, like Zeina, Kimberly, Lorenzo, Brad, Kathryn, and more. Some of my AM classmates are legitimately my best friends now. AM really does a lot for you!

CTN was one of the most fun experiences I've ever had. I can't wait to go again this year! Party in Cali!

Here are some links to people or things I've mentioned in the blog post today!

Glen Keane's Art Blog
Chris Ayer's Website  and his blog for The Daily Zoo
Cameron Scott Davis's Site and his website for the Sleepwalker Series
The Animation Collaborative Website
The Animator Life Tumblr and Ellie's Site
Darrin's Twitter
Jorge's Twitter
Patrick's Twitter
Paul's Twitter
Tim's Vimeo
Steve's Vimeo
Zeina's Vimeo
Kimberly's Vimeo
Kathryn's Twitter