Andreas Deja

CTNx '14

Another overdue post! This one was primarily because I was putting off taking photos of all the artwork that I got.

I was almost not going to go to CTN this year just because I was so busy with projects and the inflated ticket prices. I ended up going due to wanting to see some people faces that I don't usually get to see so I e-mailed last minute and was able to still volunteer. I got to do the same job as last year, helping manage the exhibit floor, and was additionally selected as a lead! Not quite sure how good that is since other than being considered staff, and not just a volunteer, I was assigned more work hours and responsibilities but I still wasn't fed lunch which was somewhat disappointing as that meant I generally just didn't eat the whole day until dinner.

I didn't go to any panels this year. The main reason was that I didn't have the time. The other reason was that the whole volunteer and going to panels thing was a mess last year with 5 different people telling me 5 different answers. This year seems to have been just as confusing as I've had other volunteers say that they weren't even allowed to go to panels as volunteers and had to have a staff badge to be able to.

This is the first year that I actually brought my reel to show to people! I got some great feedback from Disney, BlueSky, and CineSite. Unfortunately due to the hours I was working I couldn't get to Sony, ReelFX, nor Nickelodeon.

Pixar actually had a table this year! They just had a small table in the outside tent but because they're Pixar, everyone was there and blocking the walkway which was kind of funny.

Last year I got a drawing of Scar from Andreas Deja only to realize halfway through while he was drawing I should have asked for Mushka, the tiger film that he is working on. He told me maybe next year so I was wondering if I would run into him and if he would possibly remember. I found him randomly signing posters of Mushka and was like "YES!". Even better is, of all the people I'm sure that Andreas meets, he actually remembered me from last year. There was a small line at the time and because of me the line suddenly grew to twice the size  Which was unfortunate for one guy because he always has those giant movie posters that he gets people to sign so he was waiting to be the last person.

My favorite exhibitor is Tori Davis, of ToriCat, and I met her last year. She is from the UK, awesome personality, amazing, and has awesome artwork. All them tigers and lions, but more importantly tigers! She knows people who owns a large cat sanctuary so she gets to go and play/draw with lions and tigers. Extremely jealous and hopefully I will get to do that one day. She didn't have any new artwork this year due to some health issues but when I asked if I could buy a board hanging in the back that she just had for decoration she said that I could have it at the end of the expo. The guy with us in the photo is Kirk Thatcher who worked on various muppet movies and is a judge of Jim Henson's Creature Shop show. He was just hanging out with Tori at her booth all CTN which was unexpected and awesome.

The one other person that I wish was at CTN this year was Chris Sanders. Other than being awesome and I love his work, I really wanted to purchase an Ogo plush and the Kiskaloo book. Hopefully next year?

When I buy artwork at CTN I limit myself to only things with tigers. Even so I bought way too much this year. There were two more pieces that I really wanted but since I had already spent so much and they were more on the expensive side, I couldn't really justify buying them. Buying all the artwork was worth it though. I like tigers...and supporting fellow artists. There were some additional artwork that I also would have liked, such as a piece from Brittney Lee, but there were no tigers so I had to stop myself.


CTNx '13 - Meet All the People and My Haul (Part 3)

One of the perks to being a volunteer is that your ticket is free. You can walk around the exhibit halls and attend the panels. Since that is $130 that will be refunded back to me I decided that I can afford to splurge a little and buy some artwork from the amazing artists at CTN. I bought a bit more than I planned but there were just so many tigers. I'm a big fan of tigers and I just could not resist. When I got off volunteering on Friday, after hearing people talk about how amazing the exhibit hall was and all the interesting booths, my first step was to see the exhibit hall. As I stepped in I immediately saw a booth with many drawings of tigers. I made a beeline for the booth and met the artist Tori Davis. I didn't know it at the time, I just loved her instantly for all the tigers, but she is a visual development artist with an amazing CV of having worked on Disney's Frankenweenie, Blue Sky's Rio, vis dev for Sony, background artist for Nickelodeon, and etc. She is awesome. We talked about tigers and big cats. Completely jealous that she knows a person who has a big cat sanctuary so Tori got to go and actually study the beautiful animals up close. Good thing I brought my tiger hat, just in case if I had a bad hair day and I didn't want to deal with it, so I wore it on Saturday and I showed it to her which led to us taking a few selfies.

toricat

I'm sorry if a fanboy a little (ok, a lot) over him but Bobby Chiu is one of my biggest inspirations. He was the one that inspired me to get into the animation industry while I was studying art at University of Washington. I thought I would go into visual development and/or matte painting. I didn't buy any prints from him last year as while his works from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland were great I wanted one of his personal works that had a full composition and story. While his prints are a bit more expensive, I saw that he was selling Big Bad Bunny Eater and I just had to buy it. Big Bad Bunny Eater is one of my favorite works of him as it is so amusing and clever, and my other favorite is Early Bloom. I wish I got to talk to him some more but I didn't really know what to say other than the standard "thank you for continuously inspiring me" as I had already asked a lot of questions last year. I promise to be more prepared next time!

bunnyeater

Over in the expanded tent area is where the new talent get to exhibit their works. Exhibiting this year is Cody Lyon and Finn from HOUND Illustration. Cody is an amazing artist, I love his drawings that he would post up on Facebook and the fun drawings that he would do while at Tea Time. I love Tigger from Winnie the Pooh so I just had to buy this drawing. If I can get him to do something Calvin and Hobbes I will be on that in a heartbeat.

by Hound Illustration

I had seen Gary Montablano's artwork at last year's CTN, most notably was that I saw large posters of tigers. This year I actually went up to greet him and we talked for awhile. It was great as he knew me by face as I had helped him for exhibitor check-ins. I loved the large black tiger as it sort of reminded me of the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin. The other poster I got had two tigers on it and it reminded me of one of my favorite novels, Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck, that features a white and a black tiger.

by Gary Montablano

The Daily Zoo, by Chris Ayers, is one of those big names that I know of and have looked at a few times but was unfortunately ill prepared to meet. I've loved his artwork and his animals always bring a smile to my face so I had to stop by and buy a print of Content Kitty. I wish I could have spoken to him some more but I wasn't sure what to say.

dailyzoo

Big fan of Andreas Deja. I was incredibly disappointed last year when I got cut off while waiting in line to talk to him and hopefully get a drawing as it was after an evening panel and it was getting to late into the night. Now back to the present, on Friday night my friend who was on closer relations with him introduced me to Andreas and even asked if he would do a drawing for me. Andreas was just walking out so he said that he would promise me a drawing the next day if I show up at the demo that he will be presenting. He remembered and was apparently looking for me during the demo. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to the demo and showed up near the end while he was answering questions. I went up and greeted him saying "Hi, sorry I missed your demo. Hopefully I can catch up with you later and talk with you some more and ask about how your film, Mushka, is doing." I was not expecting to get a drawing as I was too late and missed it, I just mainly wanted to greet and apologize. Instead, Andreas was like "I owe this guy a drawing. Can I draw something for him right now? I'm going to draw something for him right now." So amazing. I got a personal drawing of Scar. I was grinning like a fool as this completely made my day and all of CTN. While I love Scar, all things Lion King, as Andreas was finishing the drawing it dawned on me that instead of asking for Scar I should have asked him to draw me Mushka. Next year! I think I was trying to do a snarl/growl face in the picture but I was just smiling too much.

scar

I stopped by the Nickelodeon booth to ask some questions about their studio and production as I had met another volunteer who works as a texture artist for Nickelodeon. This was confusing as what I knew was that back when Nickelodeon came to talk at AAU about their internship program, what I thought I learned was that they were more of a preproduction studio and they sent their production to other countries. Turns out they outsource the animation but still keep the other areas of production in house. This lets me keep my options a bit more open which is nice.

At the CTN@nite event on Saturday evening, I met Chris Erickson. He is the creator of Hewie in the Cold, which I saw at AAU's Spring Show and loved. I got to see his demo reel and what was really impressive is that he did most everything by himself, from pre vis all the way down to final comp, instead of going into the large collaborative approach. He has graduated from the Academy and is now at Disney Animation's apprenticeship program! Talking with him has inspired me to go back and do more personal work and create short 30 second clips. I would love to do a scene from my Supernova story, a fly-through of the house to see of Reo sitting down and then going supernova. I've also been wanting to take my tiger  character and create a 3D model of him. I don't have a story though as his style is too different to be used in place in Tiger Tails.

I knew his work and knew his art but I never had a face to attach to the artist so I had missed who exactly Chris Sanders is. Thankfully my friends told me to check him out especially since he also has tigers. His tigers are adorable and reminded me a lot of the characteristics of Lilo and Stitch. I love Stitch, one of my favorite characters, he is adorable. While I loved all his sketchbooks I ended up buying #2 (I would have liked to buy all 6 but I had already spent so much money) due to a specific page in the book of his tiger character in various poses. Particularly the one with the tiger reading a newspaper and a bunny with a cup. After talking with Chris Erickson the night prior, I had been thinking of what sort of story or event that I could write for my tiger that would be interesting, cute, and endearing while still showing a depth of technical challenges and abilities. The tiger and the bunny reminded me of the alternate story to Tiger Tails that I had created which was about a lonely tiger and his best friend bunny trying to set him up on various dates that do not work. Once I saw that I knew I had to buy this specific sketchbook so I can look at it daily for inspiration.

Chris Sanders Sketchbook 2

Attendees got a nice tote bag this year which was cool. Last year it was just a yellow plastic bag with the CTN logo printed on it. One of my favorite things to do is to go around collecting buttons for my lanyard. I've got Blue Sky, Women in Animation, two buttons from Disney's Get a Horse, and a tiger pin from Tori. The adorable chameleon pin is from Azadae to help promote their kickstarter. Azadae is an animated series that follows a young girl and her friends through the everyday life of a child growing up in Tanzania and seeks to help educate and entertain young children by teaching themes like colors, math, science, and animals while integrating Tanzanian culture and geography.

lanyard

Unfortunately I didn't get to see Nick Pitera again this year. I expected as much since he had a concert in New York at the Carnegie Hall for a benefit to support Music for Hope on the Saturday of CTN. I wish I got a chance to meet the Bancroft brothers. Maybe I'll bring my Lion King DVD next year and ask them to sign it for me.

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CTNx '13 - The Panels (Part 2)

Since I had already worked all day on Thursday and Friday, I was told that I didn't have to work on Saturday if I didn't want to and can instead enjoy myself. My original scheduled time to work was Friday and Saturday evening so I decided that I will take the morning off on Saturday and still worked the afternoon. On Saturday I got to see the panel of Ted Thomas talking about his new documentary and Phil Tippett on the history of stop motion animation. On Sunday I saw Storytelling through Color by Jill Daniels and Lorelay Bove, a sneak peak of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and an interview of Jim Blinn. MC'd by Andreas Deja, Ted Thomas talked about and showed his new documentary Growing up with Nine Old Men. Ted Thomas is the son of Frank Thomas, one of the nine legendary animators and author of one of the must have books in the industry, Animation Survival Guide. Ted goes on a journey all across America to find and interview the other children of Les Clark, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, John Lounsbery, and Wolfgang Reitherman. While creativity was always nurtured and encouraged the children were never pressured to follow in their father's footsteps and only John Kimball actually went into animation while others split off to focus in other aspects and two went to become lawyers. Ted grew up knowing some of them well while others he have only just heard about but he describes the process of finding the others, interviewing them, and getting to know them and their childhood was like reestablishing a family.

Phil Tippett's panel mainly revolved around him talking about the history of animation from the stop motion standpoint. It is unfortunate that stop motion is expensive and fell out of favor but recently there has been a resurgence of the art form. It was interesting to hear about Phil's view on the current animation industry, saying that he dislikes CG due to it all being too homogenized due to the commercial standpoint. I can see where Phil is coming from with this view and which is why I like going to the Animation Show of Shows where animation from all over the world is collected and screened as there are many different things out there that people are making. The panel was closed with a screening of part one of his film, Mad God, that he has been working on. It was crazy and it was interesting. Mad God will have a total of four parts. Part one is still a work in progress and parts two and three are going into development.

Storytelling Through The Use of Color, presented by Jill Daniels and Lorelay Bove, talked a lot about color theory. Color is important as it is emotional power and anybody of any age responds to color. The key to using color is to keep in mind of balance and unity to create a plausible yet still beautiful and story driven world. There are four main palettes that are typically used: saturated vs. desaturated, analogous, complimentary, and monochromatic. Going back to balance and unity, not all colors have to be pushed to their extremes but instead also consider the composition as a whole. It is also better to go with simpler and more organized palettes as it those would be easier for the audience to remember. While using palettes that are lacking in vibrant colors, that are more desaturated, interest can be given to the composition by using a lot of textures. There is never a true right or wrong with color. Color can be instinctual but also choose them with discernment; ask why and how the color helps the story. They can also mean anything you want them to mean; pink doesn't have to be soft and fluffy but can mean evil as long as the artistic interpretation is set up from the beginning.

Getting a sneak peek of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, presented by Philippe Denis (head of vfx) and Jason Schleifer (head of character animation), was exciting. I didn't grow up with Peabody and Sherman and I never saw the cartoon so I didn't know what to expect of this movie. Seeing the sneak peek has me really excited for the movie as the few clips that I saw were both hilarious, beautiful, and interesting. While the movie will be done in 3D, Dreamworks has kept very much in tune with the original 2D series. They achieve the same style but in 3D by keeping the shapes in their graphic nature and being very geometrical. A step further from the graphic nature is applying the "wonk". Wonk is the skewing of the design of objects so they're not just straight solid objects but rather have tilts and exaggerations. A issue that arose though with wonk is that if it is not applied correctly, it can look gimmicky and compromises the scale of objects. In order to solve this issue, large scale objects, such as building, will have no wonk while detail objects, such as door handles, will have a lot of wonk. For the color palette Dreamworks also kept this similar to the original series, the color scheme tends to be monochromatic with accent colors. The texturing of everything in the movie seek to be stylized but simple and then a naturalistic shading is applied. Since the characters stylized proportions with large heads and thin limbs, a creative rig was used to test animation to figure out what worked and didn't. This allowed them to quickly change proportions and the rig to figure out what does work. Through such tests, the production team found that Sherman looked too skinny and doesn't reflect his age as well in 3D as he did in 2D. Sherman got fattened up a little bit and made slightly cuter. In order to get a clean silhouette, the front cowlick of Sherman was animated to always point in front. Extra limbs would be added in to get that fast cartoony motion blur movements. What was really great is due to the graphic nature of everything in the film and shapes and silhouettes are important, there are full documents created for animators on how to shape the head of the characters for fluidity in animation.

Jim Blinn. This was the big panel that I was so excited for. I initially didn't even notice this panel when going through the schedule. It was later on while on my way down to CTN that I saw the word "teapot" my thought was "oh, like the one that they always show with Renderman?" Then I saw the name Jim Blinn and thought "Blinn...that's an interesting name, sound familiar..." Then it all clicked together in my mind and I became extremely excited. This is the person who made the Blinn material and is one of the people who helped paved the way to make it possible to do what I do in CG. MC'd by Tad Guilo, the panel was an interview where I got to learn about Jim's past. Jim loved astronomy, inspired by Disney's Man in Space, and wanted that as his first career goal. He went to University of Michigan to study physics but quickly became entrapped by computers which led him to get a job programming for theses of graduate students. By doing so he got to play with the computer for the next four years while at UM and began experimenting with animation created from line drawing. After receiving both an undergraduate and graduate degree plus two years, Jim went to Utah, which was the technology mecca at the time, and got to experiment with the famous Martin Newell's Teapot. Through his experimentation and the Phong material, Jim made the first render with texture mapping and presented his Blinn material which is based off the torrance illumination model at SIGGRAPH. Further developing, Jim wanted more textural quality as everything previous was flatly painted on to the model. This led to the creation of the bump map! Since then Jim has created a CG Jupiter and moons for NASA's Voyager 2 fly-through, DNA replication animation for Cosmos, made the 50 episode series Mechanical Universe, and the series Project Mathematics. He is currently working for Microsoft calculating algebraic geometries. I wanted to personally thank him for his contribution to the industry and enabling me to do what I do today but unfortunately the panels were all running behind and so I had to leave the area before I got a chance to.

Andreas Deja - Mushka

Lion King is one of my favorite movies ever. However, I have always wanted a movie about tigers outside of The Tigger Movie. While not quite a full featured length movie, Andreas Deja is currently working on a short set in Russia involving a girl named Sarah and a tiger named Mushka. Recently, on his blog Deja Vu, Andreas has posted his concept sketches and a teaser of what he is working on. The drawings are fantastic and the tiger cub adorable.  An interesting style, Andreas is planning to use color pencil for color to retain a drawn look and to keep the hand of the artist in the animation instead of going with digital ink.  I love it, but of course, as is mentioned on his blog, there will need to be testing done and for the coloring to be carefully applied to reduce flickering between frames.

I am so envious that Andreas got to go see some tiger cubs at the LA zoo and sketch them. Unfortunately when I've went to the zoo for sketching, the tiger tends to be far off in the distance on a cliff and generally just lying around. Hopefully one day I will be able to get up close and personal with a real tiger!

I am extremely looking forward to seeing the final piece! [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWxtSESu5XY?rel=0]

CTNX '12 - Day 1

CTN is finally here and it is amazing being surrounded with so many awesome people with such great talent. I tried to go to bed at 11ish as I had to wake up at 1:30am to get ready and then head downtown to catch a bus at 4am. The ride was rough but we got here to the event location.

I started off the day with a kick off event lecture by Brenda Chapman, co-director of Brave. It was a great way to start off as her theme was passion, finding passion, applying passion, and just loving what you do.

Wandering around the artist panels I got to see a lot of amazing art, among those are Disney, Laika, and Riot, but the best part was that I was able to meet Bobby Chiu. Bobby Chou is a huge inspiration to me as it can be said that it was his work that got me started rolling down this path towards animation. His work was among those that made me love digital painting and creature design and made me think that I would like to go into visual development. While I have shifted towards texture painting and lighting, visual development and design is still something that I would like to develop a skillset for.

Next up on my amazing day was the appearance of Glen Keane doing a demo. Everyone was excited and when he came in it was this amazing sense of awe and respect. He animated Ariel swimming and drew and talked about designing Tarzan, Pocohontas, and the Beast. Glen Keane was awesome and hilarious. He started off saying that he hasn't done 2D animation in a long time and wasn't sure if was still able to do it. Clearly he can. He mentioned that Ariel's face and Tarzan's feet were based off his wife! Aoparently there was a lack of consensus on the size of Ariel's chest so Glen was able to tell who did what shots based on the size of the seashells. When asked what was the hardest character that he has to work on, Glen answered Pocohontas due to that she had a non-caucasian face, it was structured to be the opposite of the classic Disney face like Ariel, and that there were a lot of subtleties that would also be difficult to convey to other animators. I was so close to getting an autograph from him but unfortunately the crowd was too large and there was a character design lecture that I wanted to attend next.

Not to be outdone by Glen Keane, Andreas Deja gave a lecture on "the elements of charm and wonder". Andreas Deja is known for his villians such as Jafar and Scar. Even though the characters are the antagonists and you want to hate them, they have a charm that keeps you attracted and Andreas attributed a lot of this to the design and presence of the characters. A big surprise was hidden in the lecture that a surprise guest showed up. It was Lisa Davis, the voice actress of Anita from 101 Dalmations. She came and talked about her experience and afterwards I got a chance to talk to her and get an autograph! She is an awesome person who is extremely warm, kind, and approachable.

Things that I am looking forward to tomorrow include the talent behind Translyvania, creature design with Bobby Chiu, animation lecture with Mike Makarwicz, talent behind Rise of the Guardians, and the Glen Keane lecture. Big day tomorrow!

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