Wow, am I loving this thing. I got kicked off the labtop because my boyfriend wants to take it to his new job at Sony. So I switched boxes and things aren't working exactly as they were before. After some technical difficulties I am back in the zone hopefully. Rebecca haelped me instal the new version of the GPT. This new version kicks butt, it has the eraser mode and a new layers option. It has been a breeze to use and I am getting much better at roughing out some drawings. I wrongly started blocking my model on Wednesday without using the GPT first to get aproval from my mentor, WRONG!! I'll never do that again. All the time I spent posing was worthless since in the GPT test I ended up figuring out that those poses weren't going to work. It is so much easier to find that out now. I will never again skip this much important step. Yet another lesson in the importance of planning BEFORE touching the 3d model.
Speaking of technical difficulties, Our 2nd Q and A with Jason had a few buggie issues. It seems that Jason's computer was overheated and crashed twice during our session. Jason was trying to show us an example in Flipbook of how he would go about a dialogue shot. I think mostly the main point is to find the GOLDEN poses in your animation as related to the mood and accents of the audio. There should only be one or two golden story telling poses, and don't be afraid to hold those poses and work within them. Mosre notes on this to come in the Jason Ryan Wisdom Blog.
Well I decided to tape some more reference and went a little nuts. I tried out different staging scenarios and in the end the original idea I had seems the best and most clear for the personality. I am still going to have the little kitten now he will be in screen bottom right.
Blocking is due on Sunday, so soon, I have to get cracking!
So much thought and preparation goes into an acting performance. As we move away from the basic body mechanics of movement and into the performance of acting it has made me think more deeply about defining a character. What is a character? And how do you get one? Well for now the answer alludes me. Now that I have selected the audio clip I will be animating to for the next 5 weeks, I have begun to think about the kind of character I want to portray in this animation. I did some test reference last week, but that for me was just the beginning, I mostly used this to narrow down my choices, using the reference capture as a way to guage if the clip was usable or not. If nothing came to mind or the capture ended up boring I felt that the animation would too and scrapped that idea. I chose the Queen of Sheba clip for this project and now have to decide what kind of character performance Bishop will give, blocking is due Sunday. I spent yesterday and today pulling reference movies to look at performances and characters to insipre me. Some movies I chose to look at were Elizabeth, The Imprtance of Being Earnest, Casino, Cleopatra. I still want to look at some more like Willy Wonka, The Godfather and Silence of the Lambs. And I know what you are thinking, how could this list of totally unrelated movies help you in any way? Are you out of your mind lady? Well, no, I just have a theory that if I do my homework and come up with a unique character that I have come to know that it will show in the animation. Here's to hoping it works.
So I have been having a hard time with this audio assignment. Once I got going I found it hard to narrow down my choices. I didn't want to use any clips from the internet for fear of them being overused. It also said in the class 3 syllabus that part of the assignment was for us to learn to decipher a good usable audio clip from the boring dribble that is out there. I rented about a dozen movies, everything from Raising Arizona to A Streetcar Named Desire, hoping to find that one perfect audio clip.
I went through all the movies this week and ended up ripping about 30 clips. I narrowed and narrowed until I got down to 10, then 6 now finally 3 that I am really comfortable with. There were so many others that I really liked as well but decided that they might not work as well with our new rig Bishop who has pretty limited facial controls, easing us into facial animation, he only has an up and down controller for the eyebrows. But I think it is a great transition from the blank stare of Stewie.
Now I have been taping reference of myself acting out these lines. So far it's not going too well and that helped me narrow down from the previous 6 choices I had before. I have come up with scenarios for all 3 of these clips and will hand in the ideas, the reference captures, thumbnails along with the audio.
Well, it's finally done and rendered. I decided to leave out the heavy push assignment since I was very unhappy with the way it turned out, I needed to spend way more time on it or start over. But Acting 1 has started and I need to move on and put old projects to rest. Rest in peace old projects. Special thanks to my mentor Derek Friesenborg, he rocked, totally zuazua!
That's right, Rebecca is officially passing the torch to me for Class 3 Acting 1. Rebecca has done such a great job keeping up with her Jason Ryan blog and helping us all to get a peak inside this awesome class. So don't fear, more Jason Ryan goodness is on the way.
This week I don't know if Jason will show us anything since we are supposed to have a getting to know you session with him and the other students in our class. I can't wait to "meet" everyone, which in AM speak means seeing everyone on their webcams. I am sure everyone will be super excited and full of energy since we are all pumped up to get the opportunity to be in Jason's class. This is going to rock!!
AUDIO CLIPPING: This week's first assignment for the brand new Acting 1 class is to research and rip 3 audio clips from a movie or tv show. I have been racking my brain trying to think of movies or actors that may have interesting dialogue. And I have come up with entirely too many movies to watch in a lifetime let alone a single week. O well, I've already scanned a few favorites and am eagerly awaiting the next shipment of netflix. This is going to be fun!! I can't wait to use Bishop's muppet style mouth, that reminds me go rent "Muppets Take Manhattan"
It's official, I am now a licensed California State Driver!! After a few fun filled hours at the Sant Monica DMV office this afternoon, eye exams and written tests later, I found myself with the need for speed, California style!
And I am thrilled!!!! I have been following Jason's class since last semester thanks to my friend Rebecca showing us through her blog all the great examples that Jason has been showing in the class Q and A's. I am so excited to have him assigned to me as my NEW MENTOR!!! Jason has been working at Disney for a while and is currently supervising animator on Chicken Little. His enthusiasm for animation is contagious and I can't wait to get into our first acting course! This is going to be awesome!!
Since we have a break from HW I thought it would be a good time to catch up on some of the reading I haven't gotten a chance to keep up on.
I just finished Acting for Animators by Ed Hooks, foreword by Brad Bird, this was a great book that really spelled out the basics us animators need to know to begin to get our heads around the art of acting. I especially liked the parts about character center, what parts of the body the character leads with, and the chapter about associating your character with an animal that demonstrates a similar personality. Another major breakthrough I learned is that your character should always be playing an action in persuit of an objective, ALWAYS, they should never be doing nothing. Even in Toy Story when the people are in the room, the toys aren't doing "nothing" they are trying with every effore to keep still so as not to spill the beans. I can't wait to move on to Acting in Animation, a look at 12 animated films, by Ed Hooks.
Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation, by AM's own Wayne Gilbert. I so enjoyed the class on Force that Wayne taught to the Body Mechanics class, it was one of my favorites so far. He is really a genius when it comes to conveying believeable weight and force in a character. This book is laid out in a very clear and easy to understand way. Also reading Force, The Key to Capturing Life Through Drawing, by Michael Mattesi.
I just started a book called Unmasking the Face by Paul Ekman, I haven't gotten too far yet but this book is about understanding the facial expressions that convery emotion. Of course there is no way to scientifically nail down all this stuff but this book goes through much of the different types of emotions as well as covering of emotions, pretending NOT to feel certain emotions. Another book on this subject is Manwatching by Desmond Morris, this is a huge, time tested book on the subject with many great pictures.
Ongoing Reading: Still trying to get through The Illusion of Life, and The Animator's Survival Kit.
Just for fun: Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami
So the vacation from AM has started. I spent some of the weekend trying to finalize the emotion test singer assignment. That was going ok. My boyfriend is going to light and render my cold water, single idea assignment since he wants to practice his maya for his new job. I totally trust him to do it esp since I would probably just leave the default lighting if it wasn't for him. :)
A Sunday afternoon in Venice Beach... I woke up kind of early and emailed all moring, I also searched craigslist since I am going to buy a used VCR to finally watch my Desmond Morris the Human Animal VHS Set. After Marko woke up (noon, mind you) we rode our bikes over tot he Brickhouse where it was impossible to get a table. Then we went to Venzia cafe near the beach. The sun was hot and they made belgium waffles for us even though it was past breakfast, thanks!! Then we walked our bikes along the beach and bought a toy for squishy, which she hates. I thought she might like it because it resembles Tailor but it makes a weird mechanical noise that disinterests her. The I got a "custom fit" toe ring, then I picked out a Froggie kite for us to fly. We rode our bikes all the way to Santa Monica to find the perfect kite flying spot. We parked our kites in our favorite bike rack, the only one that works with two bike and only one lock. The we laid down in the sand and unravelled Froggie. He went so high it was amazing, then we took Froggie by the water and he loved it, he was so happy to be FREE! And as I was winding Froggie back up all I could think of as his flimsy limbs cascaded in the wind was..."overlap"
Well we just had our last Q and A w Derek, and I sam so sad about it. I don't want to let Derek go, he's been such a great mentor. He always has something to talk about at the QNA related to our lectures that week, and was giving us the extra mini Q and A crits which totally helped me a lot. And those Ecritiques were the bomb! Derek always gave really long involved crits and very detailed. He always finds a ton of mistakes I never noticed even though I must have looked at it a million times. Even if I thought I might have done a good job, Derek finds all the tiny parts that I had overlooked and it ends up making my animation way better.
Derek went over each students strengths and weaknesses and things we can improve upon in the coming semesters. For me he told me that I may get overzealous with my planning and preparation stages. I think the reason I do this is trying to procrastinate on starting the project cause I never can decide on an idea. Another problem I have been having is changing things in the middle. For now that's OK since we are in school but in the future I won't have the time to be able to overhaul things in the middle, so I need to just stick with my idea and make it work. I also need to be able to narrow down and choose my project in a more concise manner.
Another important thing I need to work on is remembering to include all the basics that I have been learning all along. It's so easy to get caught up with all the new lessons we are learning and miss the important principles that really make a shot polished and clear. For instance on the emotion project I learned a great big lesson about how important breakdowns are, then the entire project became about the breakdowns for me and I ended up overlooking some other important principles. In animation there is so much to keep track of and staying on top of all of it is something I surely need to work on. We are building slowly up block by block with all these principles.
Derek also told me I can improve on my reference capture. He said it's really easy to get over aware and end up over miming your actions while you are taping them. He said a good way to avoid this is to practice the action a lot with the camera off, practice until it becomes natural.
So all in all it was a great semester, I feel like I made a lot of progress and learned a lot. Every week there were big breakthroughs. I feel like I have improved and hopefully that will continue into the next term.
This semester is almost coming to a close, I am so sad to know that I've already gotten my last E Critique from Derek, and tomorrow is going to be the last time for us to see the face of the day, Derek's way of signing off after the Q and A. I have had so much fun this term, I have learned so much in such a short time, and can feel the improvements with each progressive project. All the other students have been improving wildly as well, it's so inspiring to see all the new projects they come up with.
We finally get a week off after the hectic schedule we've all been living by. We went right into Class 2 without a break between semesters, that was hard, but we were all able to push through it and give the assignments our all. It's hard not to get amped up and excited when you get to see those amazing lectures every week and all the great animations that are being produced. Some students excelled so much and I found a few new favorites.
I am going to miss the AM BBQ this weekend up in Berkeley. I can't afford a plane ticket there right now and don't think I can take another long driving trip so soon after Las Vegas, it's a shame too cause I really wanted to see all the San Fran AM crew. O well, there will be other parties I guess.
This week off I have a ton of things I want to do. I would really like to catch up on all the reading and movie watching I have been slacking off on due to lack of time. I am also going to try to get outdoors, get to the beach for some relaxation. I have to audit the acting class I'm interested in taking at the Carter Thor Studio, and I will keep going to my gesture drawing class for 1 more month. Besides attempting to fix up my animations from this semester and to render them out so I can finally put them to rest, then I can rest. Some students are doing some extra projects during the break, this sounds like a smart move but I don't know if that will be possible for me.
Hi everyone, I'm back from my Vegas vacation. This time around was jam packed with fun and excitement. My boyfriend Marko and I drove to Vegas early Friday morning. We left kind of early so the traffic wasn't bad, boy does it get hot in that desert. We checked in at the beautiful Bellagio, our room was so beautiful with huge windows and a strip and fountain view. The Bellagio has these amazing water shows in the huge lake outside their hotel. Then we had a couples massage in the spa which was so relaxing, we both almost fell asleep. Then it was off to see the O show, it was my 4th time seeing it and Marko's 1st time. It was brilliant as usual. Dinner was at Fix, also in Bellagio. Saturday after room service breakfast we went down to the pools. The pools at Bellagio are wonderful, we swam and suntanned all day. Later that night we headed out to the Hard Rock for dinner at Simon, then some gambling at the craps and blackjack tables, and we won! Sunday was another pool day and it was very hot out there. We went to "The Hotel" which is a new hotel at Mandalay Bay. We had dinner at The Hotel's Mix which was the most amazing restaurant I've ever been to, the food and service was amazing and being 60 stories up, they had the most beautiful view of the strip. The new Circ du Soliel show KA was next, it was pretty good, but not as good as O, we ran into my friend Inna at the KA show, she was only in town for a short while so we weren't able to hang out with her too long. Monday we relaxed, walked around at the Venetian and took a romantic gondola ride in the canals. Then the excitement never stopped as we hopped in a helicopter for a trip to the Grand Canyon, this was one of the most spectacular things I had ever experienced, so beautiful and amazing being around all those ancient rock formations.
On the animation side of things, it was great to take a break from my computer but I have to say that Vegas has some of the best opportunities for people watching, there are so many different types of characters all trying to look this way or that. It's so fun to just watch all the interesting personalities go by. When I got back, I had forgot how much I miss the whole AM group. There is so much to catch up on in the forums, I feel like it's been ages but it's only been a few short days that I've been away. We don't have any more assignments due for this term, the only thing left is the last Q and A session which I have with Derek on Thursday. In this Q and A session Derek will probably give us an overview of how we did in this term and what we need to work on to make it to feature animation one day. I am so sad for this term to end, there is still some work to do on like fixing some parts of the animations I had been working on, but I am also so excited for next term. Bobby told us in the news that the Acting 1 class will only have 2 assignments, allowing us to really love and polish up our shots, this is great news. And the new version of Stewie that we will be using just became available, I am so excited to check him out, I heard he has a mouth, eyeballs and more fingers!!
Alright so maybe Las Vegas isn't the animation capitol of the world or anything, but that's not going to stop me from going there this weekend for a much needed break. We leave tomorrow, a 5 hour drive from LA. I have to hand in my assignments early, but thats ok since Derek gave me another mid week mini crit at the Q and A. We'll see how the real crit goes when I get back next week.