Monday, March 27, 2006

Animation Birthday

Today is the one year anniversary of when Animation Mentor opened it's doors for business. I can remember it like it was yesterday. So much has changed in a year it's so incredible to think about it. I had stumbled upon the Animation Mentor website about a year and a half ago. I was determined to learn animation but so far up until that point all my attempts had failed. Through grad school, internships, night classes, none of my efforts had gotten me any closer to my dream. After all that I still didn't know the basic fundamentals of animation or even where to begin.

I had applied to Sheridan a few years before, at the time the best traditional animation school, I didn't get in and cried so hard, now looking back it was probably a blessing in disguise, I was available when AM opened. I remember waiting eagerly as the time was coming up for AM to open, I remember calling Francis at least weekly to see ask "can I apply yet?". Then it happened, they announced the school was opening and ready to take submissions, it all happened so fast, I filled out my application and barely got it in on time, then the calls to Francis and Rosie began again, this time I was asking "did I make it in the school?"

I had no idea how many people they would accept and after so many disappointments in my previous attempts to learn animation, I didn't want this opportunity to slip past me. I just knew from the teaser trailer on the website that their philosophy and approach was going to work for me and I was instantly hooked. It didn't matter that no one knew what the heck I was talking about when I blabbed on about this internet school and how it was going to change animation forever, I 'm pretty sure most people thought I was nuts and didn't take me seriously, but I just knew it was something very special.

I was working a full time job in NYC at the time when AM opened, it was pretty crazy timing because I had just started the full time job about a month before and had also signed up for improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade not knowing that AM would happen on top of all these things. My job at the time wasn't rewarding, I wasn't learning anything about animation or any art for that matter, most of the stuff I had to do was technical which is not my fortay, and I didn't see any room to grow as an artist. After AM began I was overwhelmed, it was hard, the hardest school I've ever been to, maybe it was so hard because I was such a complete noobie to animation, or maybe it was hard because I could sense what was riding on my progress, all my animation goals, my entire future depended on my performance at this school, and the way I saw it, it was my absolute last chance to make something of myself.

After so many failures in my attempts to become a working animator, I didn't want to mess this opportunity up. So I made a tough choice and quit my job to do AM full time. I had to do it, I had no choice, I could see that I was messing up my chance by not having enough time to work on my homework, which left me frustrated and upset that I wasn't making progress. The answer was simple, just try harder, which meant spending more time on my assignments. That was the best decision I could have made to help myself, and my work began to improve.

By class 2 I had moved to LA and was deep into the obsession of AM, so much to do, so many friends, so many resources. It was awesome having so many new experiences and meeting so many people. Siggraph was a major turning point, and I had the time of my life hanging out with my internet friends. After Siggraph I was even more determined to improve, I still wasn't meeting the high expectations I wanted to achieve. So I tried even harder. The healthy competition atmosphere of AM really motivates you, there are all these amazing students, most who have much more experience than me, and when I finally felt like I was keeping up and not falling by the waste side anymore, it was a major achievement for me. I mean here I am with all these students with so much more talent and experience than me, and I'm actually holding my own, it was empowering. And in turn, it made me want to try even harder.

By class 3 we had gotten into acting, and a lot of the time I felt over my head. I was satisfied with my assignments but always knew I could do better, I knew my lack of experience was a hindrance, I was holding my own but there's no way you can make up for years and years of animation practice in a few short months. I had a long way to go. I kept focused on my assignments and got a surprise a few weeks into class 3, it was Walt Disney Feature Animation, they were offering me a position as assistant animator on Meet the Robinsons. Is this really happening? This is crazy! I couldn't believe I was so lucky. I have only AM to thank, because without them I would still be trying to figure out how to animate a bouncing ball believably.

I finished class 3 while working full time, it was a struggle but totally worth it, I wouldn't have felt right if I didn't put the effort into finishing my assignments. I wasn't able to register for class 4 because of the workload and I have been working on animation tests here in my spare time. I have been working here for 5 months so far, and every day is better than the last. I am learning so much from the amazing talent here, and it's been really fun getting to work on this movie. And that's a year, what a year.

Hey AM, I'm one year old today too because of you.



At 7:56 PM, Blogger Aja B. said...

Wow Anthea, it really has been a heck of a ride so far, hasn't it? Your experience has been such a great inspiration. We all want to be like Anthea when we grow up! :-D

Man, I know I've said it a dozen times already, but we sure do miss having you and Reb in class! I sure hope Disney is treating you well, cause they're darn lucky to have you! I can't wait to see your dialogue tests once the film comes out and you can show them (I hope!).

Sure wish I could head out there to hang out with y'all again soon, or heck, just live in that beautiful shaky state again! :-D

Take care, and keep posting!


At 9:41 PM, Blogger feveloso said...

Hey Anthea, this is a beautiful story, very inspirational! Your attitude is awesome, girl, you're gonna go far!

At 5:15 AM, Blogger Benjamin De Schrijver said...

Hooray!! Your life sure turned around this past year!

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Sara Wade said...

Anthea! That is such a wonderful and inspiring post. I too feel so thankful to have AM. I am not a working animator yet - but I feel I am loving animation more than ever - especially after this past quarter. I think that we are truly lucky to have found what it is we love more than anything - and then on top of it to have found and started on the path to achieve those dreams. Even though I am not there yet - your story inspires me and gives me confidence that with enough hard work - we can all make our animation dreams come true. Here's to the future! :-D

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Mau said...

Very nice post. Proves that hard work and taking chances works!


At 4:47 PM, Blogger anthea said...

hi aja! i think you are doing just fine missy, I see your assignments, they are rocking the house!! and the fact that you continue to do test animations on your breaks proves to me that you have the determination devotion areas covered!

hi fernanda!! how have you been? i miss seeing your animations in school, do you have a blog or something where I can see what you have been up to?

hi ben, yeah it has been a complete 180 in the last year, from a job where i wasn't an artist, doing menial tasks that didn't nurture the artist in me, to this amazing job that i am thankful for every day. i am very lucky.

hi sara! i truly believe that anyone can become an animator, all it takes is practice and dedication. sometimes i think that most animation students aren't trying very hard, maybe they don't have the added pressure i had on myself of feeling like this was my last chance to learn animation. opportunity had passed me by so many times before and i was always plagued with the thoughts that maybe i didn't try as hard as i could have. and that regret is the worst feeling, ulimately blaming yourself for that job you didn't get or whatever. i didn't want to feel that way anymore, i think some people haven't experienced that yet and in turn makkes them not as motivated. you have to continue to keep trying, and try harder when the going gets tough. animation is a lifelong journey, it's not something you can learn in a short amount of time. but if you are putting in the blood sweat and tears, something will hopefully click and you will begin to improve. chances are your first job will be because of your potential of growth, so as long as we all keep improving and keep stiving, i think we're on the right track.

hi mau, yes taking chances is always tough. it is hard to know what is right for you or your future, that's also why it's hard sometimes for me to give advice, i tend to be an all or nothing kind of person. i believe that if your job or situation isn't working, and if it's not allowing you to grow as an animator, changes need to be made immediatley in order for you to get the most out of this opportunity. from my previous attempts at making a career for myself, i learned that you don't get many chances and giving it your all is key.

At 5:30 PM, Blogger feveloso said...

Anthea, yes, as a matter of fact I just got a blog while leaving the comment here, haha :)! I was signing up so I could leave the comment and all of a sudden, oh! that means I have a blog now! so easy...should have done that can check it out here:

Cheers, and I cant wait to see the movie and the test you've been doing!

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Justin Weg said...

Hey Anthea!
Congratulations! I miss seeing all of your great AM work but am so happy for you and all that you have achieved. Congratulations on all of your successes and good luck in the future my fellow New Yorker.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger anthea said...

hi fernanda!! thanks for the update on your blog info, it's about time!! I'm so excited to see what you're up to.I will take a look at your animations and add your blog to my links. i don't think I can view the animations from here at work cause linux doesn't work w the latest codec quicktime has.

hey justin!! how are things in nyc? cold as heck I'm guessing. How's curious going?

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Wingman said...

Wow, glad that someone with not much prior experience in animation could make it to Disney. And you can see without contacts, now. I'm glad good things still happen.
I really liked your animation with the little owl and would have loved to see your class 4 animations and your short film.

Andreas Hoffmann

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Sean MacNeil said...

Hey Anthea! This is a great post, i really enjoyed reading it. Are you having fun picking the brains of the masters over there at the mouse house? : )


At 4:43 PM, Blogger anthea said...

hi andreas! it was a huge lucky break for me, i am so greatful for the opportunity. i think many companies want to hire people who are excited about animation and filled with enthusiasm, in some cases they are willing to overlook not having a stacked resume. if they think you may have potential to learn that is super important. i am very bummed that i am missing all the AM fun, it seems like everyone is doing so well in class 4 and learning a ton. maybe i'll be able to make it back one day.

hi sean, yeah it has been so unbelievably great to get to talk to all these amazign animators. what's even better is that they are totally open and willing to help aspiring animators like myself. it is an environment that nurtures creativity.

At 1:12 AM, Blogger Sean MacNeil said...

That's great to hear Anthea. i'm really happy that things are going so well for you.

With each month that passes, more and more AMer's are getting better at bringing characters to life. It's so great to see! Hopefully, sometime soon, we'll get a chance to join in all the fun you're having. i can't wait 'till that day comes. Woohoo!!

-from another aspiring animator. : )

P.S. You're missed at AM.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger anthea said...

aw that's so sweet sean! i have no doubt in my mind that many many AM students will be able to get their dreams jobs, and I think it will probably happen sooner than you think. So many students are putting out really amazing work, I am blown away by all the class 4 stuff! you can be sure that companies are taking notice. I can't wait to see what you guys do in the short film class. good luck!

At 11:02 PM, Blogger Wayne said...

Wow, it really has been an amazing year for you!!

I found your blog today via the AM monthly newsletter... I knew the AM community was big but I didn't realize it was THAT big! :)

At 9:19 AM, Blogger anthea said...

hi wayne! that's great that you are finding the AM blog list through the newsletters. It's amazing because even though there seem to be soo many blogs, almost 100 i think, there are many more students than that who don't have blogs. so when you get into the school as a student, there are even more people and resources waiting for you on the inside.

the AM forum is the best forum I have ever been a part of. there is always someone there to answer your technical problem questions or to give you a crit when you need it. a trick i learned is to finish and upload an early pass of my assignment on wednesday night or a night during the week, when i would wake up the next morning, a few crits were already there waiting for me, since my european AM mates had been up while I was sleeping, and they were busy leaving crits. the worldwide culture is one of the best parts of AM.

At 12:04 AM, Blogger Rosendo said...

"Increiblemente Inspirador Anthea" or in other words "I feel super Inspired"(my english is not good sorry)< i just printed out and put in in the wall board, this is the kind of experiences that are so amazings, woooooo.

Gracias Anthea for share your experience with us, dont have more words, excelente.

Buena Suerte

Panama city, Panama Central America

At 5:43 PM, Blogger anthea said...

hi rosendo, that means so much to me that you found my story inspirational. best of luck in your animation career as well.


Post a Comment

<< Home