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.

Maleficent Review

It was quite interesting leading up to this movie. First I was excited for it since it's one of Disney's most beloved villains but then I was disappointed since the reviews on it were the general consensus that Angelina Jolie played an amazing Maleficent but the rest of the movie didn't really live up to par. Seeing those reviews I had initially decided that I was going to pass or hold off on watching Maleficent in the theaters. However, my interests peaked back up again as even though the movie still stays at a 50%-60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is making well over two times in box office as compared to X-Men: Days of Future Past which holds a 92% rating. On top of the box office, having friends that I know who have actually went to see the movie all have come back with great reviews. Thanks to another invite by the VES, I got to go see a screening of Maleficient at Pixar last Saturday!

Some have said to go into movies with zero expectations so that you wouldn't be disappointed and can only be impressed. However, I think that's silly since if you don't have any expectations then why go see the movie at all?At that point you are just throwing money at a screen hoping for something that might entertain you for a fleeting hour and a half without any real interest. Having read and watched various reviews, I went in already knowing what to expect. That Jolie is going to be spectacular and that the story isn't truly "canon" to the original Disney version that everyone grew up loving. When I came out of the movie I had found that I enjoyed myself quite a lot.

The story follows as Maleficent is the guardian of a place called the Moor where all the fairyfolk live. She falls in love with Stefen who then betrays her due to greed and desire to be king. Maleficent seeks revenge and curses Sefen's daughter, Aurora. Herein lies the biggest issue that I have with the story. Maleficent is super passive aggressive when she shows up once again in front of Stefen. Stefen betrayed her and cut off her most prized wings. Even without her wings, Maleficent is still a force to be reckoned with as she still has all her magic. Instead of going on a raging warpath to seek revenge upon Stefen which is what she wanted, Maleficent instead decides to sit back and mope for at least almost a year until a baby is born.

Since I already knew that the story was going to be different, it's not just the same story told through a different perspective like Wicked, I knew that the ending was going to be different and I didn't mind the change. However I can see why some people were all up in an uproar over it initially. Part of the reason is that it is so unexpected because the movie was making little references here and there back to the Disney classic, such as only having three fairies come to bless Aurora (the original story had twelve fairies with the thirteenth being left out), the whole line about not being able to fly or use magic, and making a mess out of trying to take care of a human child. I did feel that the "true love's kiss" coming from Maleficent herself instead of Prince Philip was slightly corny and jumping on the bandwagon. It has been done twice already in the TV show Once Upon A Time, also owned by Disney, and Frozen has already established the whole "you don't need a man to save you". When the initial kiss failed and Maleficent came to kiss Aurora on the forehead I already knew what was going to happen and started to roll my eyes. While the not needing a man to whisk you away aspect isn't necessary, I wished the movie could have done something different than the same tropes that have been shown repeatedly.

One part that I did not really like in the movie was during the final battle, after getting her wings back, Maleficent changed into a strange skin tight leather looking outfit. It is plausible that she could be wearing that under her cloak/robes but that was never set up at all. One minute she is wearing her robed look, then shes hit, and then the next shot is of her without her robe on. Another factor that I disliked about it is that it ruins and changes Maleficent's silhouette as it's part of her signature look to make her look mysterious and imposing. The other factor that I disliked the skintight leather outfit was that it was completely out of left field compared to everything else that Maleficent had worn throughout the movie. If you look at Maleficent's wardrobe, all her clothes were seemingly made naturally, either from animal skin and feathers or from tree bark or other plants.

Angelina Jolie, as said, was magnificent. She had the look, stature, and personality of what we expected Maleficent to be. I particularly loved the eyes as they were truly captivating and always had a perfect specular highlight brightening them up. Unfortunately the other characters tend to fall short. No fault to the actors, I felt that the shortcomings tended to come more from the script. While Maleficent had rich and provocative lines to deliver, other characters seem to exist to move the story along. The characters seem to be created specifically to fill a certain role and we don't see any development, thought, or other sides to a character for them to be interesting and want to be connected with. The king is evil, the three fairies are incompetent, and Aurora is cute and pleasing as blessed to be.

I loved the CG elements in the movie, particularly all the creatures. My favorite being the water sprite/nymph things that are greenish blue with the red streamers trailing behind them as they dance across the water. They remind me kind of like a leafy sea dragon. I wish the movie would have been more specific with what the creatures are as they were only addressed in passing if at all. Mostly they were just referred to under an umbrella term of fairies. Although the three red, green, and blue flower fairies that came to bless Aurora were called pixies at one point but then never mentioned by that term again. Maleficent is also a fairy but clearly different from the others.

41st Annie Awards

The Annie Awards are awards for accomplishments in animation. Animation across both animated and live action feature film, television/broadcast, shorts, and games. The 41st Annie Awards happened last night, Saturday, February 1st, and for those of us who couldn't be there in person, the awards ceremony was streamed live on their website www.annieawards.org.Congratulations to all the winners! I really wish that I could have watched the entire ceremony but unfortunately it started while I was still at school working in the labs and I had to leave part way through as it was getting late and I wanted to go home, especially since I hadn't even eaten dinner yet. I left partway through Phil Tippett's acceptance speech and did not get home until the end where I saw Frozen winning the category for best animated feature. PRODUCTION CATEGORIES Best Animated Feature Frozen – Walt Disney Animation Studios Best Animated Special Production Chipotle Scarecrow – Moonbot Studios Best Animated Short Subject Get A Horse! – Walt Disney Animation Studios Best Animated TV/Broadcast Commercial Despicable Me 2 – Cinemark – Universal Pictures Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Preschool Children Disney Sofia the First – Disney Television Animation Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Children’s Audience Adventure Time – Cartoon Network Studios Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production Futurama – 20th Century Fox Television Best Animated Video Game The Last of Us – Naughty Dog Best Student Film Wedding Cake – Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT CATEGORIES Animated Effects in an Animated Production Jeff Budsberg, Andre Le Blanc, Louis Flores, Jason Mayer – The Croods – DreamWorks Animation Animated Effects in a Live Action Production Michael Balog, Ryan Hopkins, Patrick Conran, Florian Witzel – Pacific Rim – Industrial Light & Magic Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production Kureha Yokoo – Toy Story OF TERROR! – Pixar Animation Studios Character Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Jakob Jensen – The Croods – DreamWorks Animation Character Animation in a Live Action Production Jeff Capogreco, Jedrzej Wojtowicz, Kevin Estey, Alessandro Bonora, Gino Acevedo – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Gollum – Weta Digital Character Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Paul Rudish – Disney Mickey Mouse – Disney Television Animation Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Carter Goodrich, Takao Noguchi, Shane Prigmore – The Croods – DreamWorks Animation Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Angus MacLane – Toy Story OF TERROR! – Pixar Animation Studios Directing in an Animated Feature Production Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee – Frozen – Walt Disney Animation Studios Music in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Christopher Willis – Disney Mickey Mouse – Disney Television Animation Music in an Animated Feature Production Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, Christophe Beck – Frozen – Walt Disney Animation Studios Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Angela Sung, William Niu, Christine Bian, Emily Tetri, Frederic Stewart – The Legend of Korra – Nickelodeon Animation Studio Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Michael Giaimo, Lisa Keene, David Womersley – Frozen – Walt Disney Animation Studios Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Daniel Chong – Toy Story of TERROR! – Pixar Animation Studios Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Dean Kelly – Monsters University – Pixar Animation Studios Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Tom Kenny as the voice of Ice King – Adventure Time – Cartoon Network Studios Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Josh Gad as the voice of Olaf – Frozen
 – Walt Disney Animation Studios Writing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Lewis Morton – Futurama – 20th Century Fox Television Writing in an Animated Feature Production Miyazaki Hayao – The Wind Rises – The Walt Disney Studios Editorial in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Illya Owens – Disney Mickey Mouse – Disney Television Animation Editorial in an Animated Feature Production Greg Snyder, Gregory Amundson, Steve Bloom – Monsters University – Pixar Animation Studios

JURIED AWARDS Winsor McCay Award – Katsuhiro Otomo, Steven Spielberg, and Phil Tippett June Foray – Alice Davis Certificate of Merit – I Know That Voice Ub Iwerks —DZED Systems for Dragonframe stop-motion animation software Special Achievement Award — The CTN animation Expo

Frozen Review

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I got over my cold right on time for it and what's just as exciting is finally the release of Frozen! It's been quite a while since I've went to the theaters as I skipped Turbo, Planes, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Freebirds. I have been eagerly waiting for this movie to be released and haven't been able to see any early screenings of it either, at ILM or CTN. I don't care about some people saying the characters look too homogenized, looking too much like Rapunzel from Tangled, or how they dislike the sidekick character, Olaf. This movie is completely for me. Frozen has two princesses and lots of singing which is, even though I still loved it, something that I found sadly missing from Wreck-it-Ralph. After the official release, there's even been a review with a headline, that I quickly glanced at,  saying that Frozen is the new best movie since Lion King. This is a tall, tall, order to make as Lion King is my favorite Disney movie. While Lion King doesn't lose its spot, I loved Frozen. I've cried many times throughout the movie and, while For the First Time is easier to sing, Let It Go is my favorite song.

First off is trailers! Animal Logic is making another movie, The Polar Bears, and it features the polar bears from Coca-Cola. I don't know. It looks cute with polar bears and it seems like a standard happy family movie but at the same time it may fall into the trap of making a giant hour long advertisement for Coca-Cola. The Nut Job, by ToonBox Entertainment and Red Rover International, is something new but unfortunately doesn't really spark my interest with squirrels and rats trying to break into a nut shop. I was kind of iffy on The Lego Movie before but seeing this new trailer made it look pretty good. The movie is directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and it really comes across with all the hilarious gags.

The short that comes before Frozen is Mickey Mouse in Get a Horse. I had already seen Get a Horse previously at Animation Show of Shows but it was unfortunately just in 2D. 3D does make it better, it was more visually appealing as the characters play with the different levels of space. Not only is there the 3D foreground space of the theater and the 2D space of the projected movie screen but there is another 3D space behind the screen which further suggests the authenticity of the characters and the world that they inhabit, recalling back to my days from DxArts.

Frozen is based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen. Loosely. Which I love. Just like with Princess and the Frog and Tangled, I love seeing how Disney can take a classic story and put a new twist on it that is exciting, intriguing, and appealing. Instead of a girl traveling to snowy lands to save her kidnapped brother from the snow queen, Anna and Elsa are sisters and Elsa, who becomes the snow queen, is frightened of her powers and ends up running away after an incident to protect those she cares for from herself. Anna must journey to find her sister and resolve the issue, casting Arendelle into eternal winter, accidentally caused by Elsa.

Since the trailers, people have been giving a lot of grief over the snowman sidekick character, Olaf. Many complaints were that he was annoying and doesn't contribute in a significant way other than to provide comedic relief. In the movie, while he does provide comedic relief, I actually find Olaf coming across as very endearing. This is partially built upon by the history he has between Elsa and Anna as Olaf is the snowman that Elsa built for Anna in their childhood, while they were still friends and Anna hadn't had her memory wiped.

I love Elsa, she is fierce. I do wish she had more screen time. Her character cinched it for me when she sang Let It Go. The sequence was beautiful and the song really hit home as she sang about how she had to keep herself hidden all the years past and become the normal girl everyone expects of her. She's had enough hiding herself and it's time to open up and be proud of who she is. One confusion I do have though is her issue of being unable to control her powers. She looked like she was able to control them perfectly well as she creates a bridge of ice and an entire palace. It's only when there are other people around does it suddenly become "Oh no, stay away from me, I can't control it!" However, I'll attribute this more to that Elsa isn't so much as can't control her powers as she has too much powers and it is bursting out of her, especially after being stoppled for so many years.

There is one point with the story that I take issue with though and that is the romance angle. It was great that Hans isn't who he really seems to be and of course Anna can't just up and marry a guy on the first day they meet but turning around and saying she's in love with Kristoff also felt like a stretch. Through their journey together there was a sense of camaraderie but I would not say feelings were developed. The love angle was more so pushed at the last minute between Olaf and Sven as they attempt to push Anna and Kristoff together in necessity of true love's kiss.

The snow dynamics was amazing and beautiful. I believe Disney is calling it Matterhorn, which they presented at SIGGRAPH. There were multiple scenes where the characters would be covered in snow and I wondered if they had to create separate rigs that are covered in snow or if they just used the snow particles and stuck it to the characters.

For animation, the one shot that struck me the most is during Elsa's coronation. She had to take her gloves off to pick up the scepter and an orb(?), but her gloves are what she wears to keep her powers at bay. As she takes off her gloves you can see the little tremors in her hands which was beautiful and says so much.

The lighting is beautiful throughout the film. I wish a color script or a render script is somewhere for me to gaze upon. The movie starts out strong with a beautiful sunset back lighting the mountain men as they sing Frozen Heart and harvest blocks of ice. Following the beautiful and almost painterly tones and style of the world, the lighting was typically kept soft. While the land was covered in snow and ice, to keep the movie going sad and cold, a lot of vibrant blues and warm purples were used. It wasn't until when Elsa was captured and locked up did the world turn a stark and gray only to have that shadow be cast away when the protagonists emerge victorious.

I love staying through the credits, not only to support the artists, look for names of people that I know, and to stay for the often ending clip. I found Kira Lehtomaki (animator), Robert Showalter (lighter), and Dawn Rivera-Ernster (director of talent development). While reading through the credits there was also a fun little disclaimer. In the movie, Kristoff made the statement that all men eat their own boogers. The disclaimer said that Kristoff's views were his own and does not reflect upon Disney. When I got up to leave the theater I noticed that I was the only one left. Everyone else missed the ending clip with Marshmallow coming on screen to put on Elsa's tiara. They missed out!

AAU Fall Festival - Disney Art Director Armand Serrano

Hosted by the visual development department of AAU, Armand Serrano, who has worked on films such as Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, Surf's Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Hotel Transylvania.armandArmand Serrano grew up in Manila, Philippines. While there are those people who tell stories of how they have loved animation since they were children, drawing everyday, and wanted to be in animation, Armand never actually intended to be in animation; he majored in civil engineering. Upon graduation, Armand needed a job and so he applied at the Hanna Barbera Philippines studio which was hiring character animators to train. He began as an inbetweener and worked on TV animation on shows such as Yogi Bear, Tom & Jerry, and Captain Planet. After leaving Fil-Cartoons, the Hanna Barbera affiliated studio, Armand went to become the layout supervisor of Marvel's Philippine based studio and worked on the Fantastic Four and X-Men TV shows. In 1996, Armand and his family moved to Los Angeles to further his career and then ended up in Disney's Florida based studio to work on four movies, one of which was Mulan. After the Florida studio closed down, Armand went to work at Sony. His is now currently back at Disney. He didn't work on Frozen as the movie was already wrapping up but he has worked on Big Hero 6 and is now working on Zootopia.

Armand describes visual development and design evolution as design is a process upon which the artist continuously builds and explores. To begin design, dynamic research is very important. Dynamic research is being active while researching, you are not just sitting in front of a computer scrolling through images on Google but rather are sketching and thinking while looking at reference. The purpose of thumbnails are to be simple and to get a point across, don't be intimidated by a studio setting and think that they have to all be detailed and refined. When designing, it is important to think about the needs and the wants. Wants are the things that are nice to have but are not necessary, however they should support the needs. The needs are what is necessary to have no matter what and are based on story and art direction.

Hotel Transylvania was a movie that went through development over a long period of time, long enough for the movie to go through five different drafts. During the first two drafts, Armand designed the hotel lobby. Without given a lot of direction at first, the first concept was that the hotel is carved from rock, out of the side of a mountain and everything inside is organic and symmetrical. The second concept was designed to be more of a castle and so there were a lot more asymmetrical and magical elements. It is important while designing to not hold back, push the design to the limit and then if it's too far then it can always be pulled back. Through the different drafts the story changes and thus the design also changes and evolves. While the final lobby is not the lobby that Armand initially designed it is not as if all his work was considered useless and done for naught. It is the build up and evolution that led the design to the final point. One cannot get to point C without going through point A and B first; the final design doesn't just appear. It is important to consider that your art is work being sold to the company and director so they have the choice of what to do with it.

When designing it is important to think outside of the box. Do something different than what others have done before, break out of the norm. Armand showed a painting that he did of vikings going to battle. Through his reference he saw that everyone painted such a scene to be dark so instead he painted a scene of vikings going to battle in bright sunshine. It is important when thinking of design to ask why and then why not.

Visual Development isn't just about designing a character or environment but also about designing a moment. Moments are a particular period of importance, influence, or significance in a shot that will then be used to define and establish a sequence and is used to show mood and tone. The important part of creating a moment is to put it in context and again to consider the needs vs wants in support of the story. To do so is to give the environment history and story. Without history and story, an environment is just an architectural drawing. When creating the history, nothing is wrong and nothing is right, it depends on the story that you want to tell. Adding characters may help establish the story and give the moment a different feeling and also consider the composition in terms of camera and shot framing as you are designing for film.

To end the night, Armand gives some tips to those of us who are seeking to enter the industry. There is not a clear cut that differentiates between professionals versus amateurs. It isn't so much about skill level but rather the differentiation is between experience and attitude. While working in a pipeline, it isn't so much about the individual but rather about the end product so instead of looking to hire genius artists, people would rather look for those who are a team player, have a good attitude, and are teachable. While you must have a certain amount of skill being a draftsman, being able to draw well isn't all it is about. Just going through the internet one can find plenty of people who are a good draftsman but what instead should be shown is content and originality. It is important to see what kind of ideas that you as a person can bring to the table.

Disney Animation Inspire Day 2013

I got to go to Inspire Days last year and it was amazing. I was waiting for it to happen again this year but as February passed, when it happened last year when I went, I was disappointed that it seems to not be happening again this year. That is until I saw this application thing being posted up and I was all excited. Inspire Day is an amazing day at the Disney Animation studio where you get a tour of the studio, a special lecture, some reel reviews, have lunch with the employees, and get sneak peeks about Disney's next upcoming film. Eric Goldberg came to give us a lecture on appeal and I got to see early artwork and animation tests for Wreck-it-Ralph, some of their amazing proprietary software and an early screening of Paperman. More importantly, after going to Inspire Day, in my mind Disney Animation has become a studio that I would love to work at. Before that point, Disney in my mind mainly consisted of their 2D animated movies and their live action movies; Tangled had already come out but I didn't know where Disney was going to go after that. Going to Inspire Day let me see the path that Disney was going and all the really awesome cool things that they are doing and further developing. It does happen in a somewhat awkward time right in the middle of a semester/quarter but it is worth it and since you're down there take an extra day off and have fun at Disneyland!

2D to 3D animation

With the transition of 3D animation by Disney, starting with Bolt and then Tangled, Wreck-it-Ralph, and soon to come Frozen, sometimes I hear a comment that somewhat amuses me. People would say that they wish Disney would go back to the traditional 2D animation. Disney did to try and go back for a bit with Princess and the Frog but the movie didn't do quite as well in the box office as they would have liked. While, yes, there is something beautiful in the old 2D animated feature films produce by Disney, 2D animation is extremely difficult. I would probably say it ranks, in my mind, as one of the hardest thing to do as 2D animators need to have insanely strong drawing skills, being able to draw anything in any pose and in any perspective along with having to keep the drawing sold and the form consistent throughout all the frames. Along with the technical difficulties there exists the fact that 2D animation is less cost effective than 3D animation.

The very first issue that prominently shows up in 2D animation is the differentiation between the actual animation and the background plates. Such as in the early Disney movies, and even in current Japanese anime today. The backgrounds are extremely detailed and beautifully painted in watercolor while the animation is done on cels. The issue with cels is , through the ink and paint department the lines and color are done as flat solids, a clearly different quality than the backgrounds. With the evolution of technology and the transition to digital ink and paint, the process has evolved so that the rendering has been able to become more detailed, with shadows and lights, but it still lacks the high refined detail of texturing that can be seen in 3D animation with things such as fabric weave. It would be ridiculous to expect precise fabric weave, complex patterns, or wood grain to be kept consistent and all kept track of through both animation and ink and paint. Such was a problem in 101 Dalmatians where there were a 101 dogs each with their own individual spots. To resolve the problem, Ub Iwerks created a Xerox process where the drawings from the animators are directly scanned in and finaled, cutting out the process of the ink and paint department having to re-track down each of the spots.

Disney has actually been experimenting with 3D pretty early on. Another factor that 2D animation could not easily do were dynamic camera movements through environments. The backgrounds tend to be one large matte painting that can pan either up/down and right and left, but full on rotations and fly-throughs would be extremely difficult. While John Lasseter was at Disney, a short 3D animation test was done to show the ability for dynamic backgrounds but unfortunately the company wasn't quite ready to embrace the new technology as it was encroaching into the field of the established 2D animators. 3D was further developed later one though. Surprisingly it makes an appearance in Beauty and the Beast. In the Be Our Guest song sequence, the dancing plates and utensils in the back are actually done in 3D. Then in Aladdin, there was a full character in 3D. As it would have been difficult to consistently keep the pattern of the character as it moves, changes shapes, and flies about, Carpet was created in 3D. Next up is the integration of 3D in a key emotional sequence and that is the wildebeest stampede in Lion King.

Now Disney Animation has moved fully into 3D animated films and unfortunately has seen the departure of their 2D animators. Paperman was an amazing collaboration of 2D animation and 3D animation and I'm still hoping to see if Disney will one day bring back 2D animators and do a film in that style.

Slew of Trailers!

There has been so many trailers of animated movies being posted on the internet this week and it is so exciting as I am looking forward to them!

I was so excited when I saw this. Laika has released the trailer for their new movie, set to come out September 26, 2014! It has taken me forever to watch puppet animated movies such as Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride as they were creepy and not something that I was particularly interested in at the time before I got into the animation field and my perception of stop motion animation was extremely choppy. I did finally watch those movies and fell in love along with being amazed at how fluid the animation was. I loved Paranorman, and even more so when Laika came to give a talk at AAU about the movie and the VFX, so I have been looking forward to the new movie that Laika had under production but was being very secretive about until now. The trailer is beautiful with the textures, animation, and lighting and adorable but sad and then cute and happy all at the the same time.


Frozen has an actual trailer now! It is in Japanese though which is a bit strange that it got released there first but still, so exciting!


Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs 2 has a new trailer out! I love the animation style of Sony as it is hilarious and amazing. Look at those limbs of the characters, they're all jiggly and wiggly without any bones.


Turbo has their third official trailer out. What I find most interesting is the difference of this third trailer to the first one as the render has changed. I remembered that there was a lot of subsurface scatter on the snails in the very first trailer and there's not as much now in this third trailer. I wonder what the animation would be like though, particularly since I loved the animation of the snail and slug in Blue Sky's Epic.



With March coming to an end, many summer internship deadlines are looming close. I hope you have your resumes and reels ready!Laika has some great opportunities listed and they don't have an exact deadline for their internships, but rather it depends on the volume and quality that they get, so get your work in fast! I don't know if it is my love for their recent film, Paranorman, or missing the Northwest, but I am looking forward quite a bit, hoping to be accepted, to this internship Pixar unfortunately does not seem to be looking for any technical artist interns. There's a listing for animation and art (the description seems like it means visual development) but there is nothing for texture artists and lighters. Sad face.

Blue Sky internship, Acorn Academy, is due April 12th. They're a bit out away from California, all the way over in Connecticut, but would still be a great opportunity. They do require two letter of recommendations though so it might be somewhat awkward to ask for one this late as it is usually proper to ask for letters at least 1 or 2 months in advance.

Disney's internship is right after on April 16th and they have lots of great opportunities! Look dev, layout, lighting, producing, rigging, both 2D and 3D animation, vis dev, modeling, effects, TD, and story. I will be looking to apply for the look development internship and maybe also lighting.

Dreamworks unfortunately has no summer internships available at either their Glendale or Redwood location.

Bright Ideas Design (頑石創意), for any international students is the Taiwan company that made Katz Fun and made their name creating an animated scroll depicting the life and culture of ancient China for the Taiwan National Palace Museum. Unfortunately when I asked, they are not offering any internships in the animation department but they are looking for interns to help at an event at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. The internship lasts from July 4th to September 30th and is unpaid.

These are just some of the big names that I know of and that everybody applies to. There are plenty of small studios that are still great opportunities. As I don't know a lot of them, please contact me, or leave a reply and I would love to learn more about them! If there are companies out there that you would also be interested in but nothing specific is listed on their website, don't be afraid to e-mail then and ask! There's no harm in asking and at worst they say they don't have anything but you get to make a contact with someone in the industry.

If the application involves an interview process, here are 7 questions you should ask in any interview, courtesy of Jessica Dickinson Goodman. Hopefully most of these questions will be answered as part of the introduction of the internship, so you would only have to ask a couple of them. Number 4, 5, and 6 seem to stand out the most to me and I will definitely be sure to keep them in mind.

  1. What is the best project you’ve seen an intern complete?
  2. How are conflicts resolved on your team?
  3. What is the approval process for new ideas?
  4. What are last term’s interns doing now?
  5. What skills do you expect me to have coming in?
  6. What skills could I expect to leave with?
  7. What project do you think I would spend my most time on?

Get working and good luck on your applications!

Animation Notes from Ollie Johnston

Here are some very excellent notes by Ollie Johnston written down by Glen Keane. They are a great source of inspiration. Even though the notes were originally meant for hand-drawn animation, they still apply and are applicable towards computer animation. 1. Don't illustrate words or mechanical movements. Illustrate ideas. 2. Squash and stretch entire body for attitudes. 3. If possible, make definite changes from one attitude to another in timing and expression. 4. What is the character thinking? 5. It is the thought and circumstances behind the action that will make the action interesting. (example: A man walks up to a mailbox, drops in his letter and walks away. OR A man desperately in love with a girl far away carefully mails a letter in which he has poured his heart out.) 6. When drawing dialogue, go for phrasing. (simplify the dialogue into pictures of the dominating vowel and consonant sounds, especially in fast dialogue.) 7. Lift the body attitude 4 frames before dialogue modulation (but use identical timing on mouth as on X sheet). 8. Change of expression and major dialogue sounds are a point of interest. Do them, if at all possible, within a pose. If the head moves too much you won't see the changes. 9. Don't move anything unless it's for a purpose. 10. Concentrate on drawing clear, not clean. 11. Don't be careless. 12. Everything has a function. Don't draw without knowing why.13. The facial expression should not be contradicted by the body. The entire pose should express the thought. 14. Get the best picture in your drawing by thumbnails and exploring all avenues. 15. Analyze a character in a specific pose for the best areas to show stretch and squash. Keep these areas simple. 16. Picture in your head what it is you're drawing. 17. Think in terms of drawing the whole character, not just the head or eyes, etc. Keep a balanced relation of one part of the drawing to the other. 18. Stage for most effective drawing. 19. Draw a profile of the drawing you're working on every once in a while. A profile is easier on which to show the proper proportions of the face. 20. Usually the break in the eyebrow relates to the highpoint of the eye. 21. The eye is pulled by the eyebrow muscles. 22. Get a plastic quality in face - cheeks, mouth, and eyes. 23. Attain a flow through the body rhythm in your drawing. 24. Simple animated shapes. 25. The audience has a difficult time reading the first 6-8 frames in a scene. 26. Does the added action in a scene contribute to the main idea in that scene? Will it help sell it or confuse it? 27. Don't animate for the sake of animation but think what the charater is thinking and what the scene needs to fit into the sequence. 28. Actions can be eliminated and staging "cheated" if it simplifies the picture you are trying to show and is not disturbing to the audience. 29. Spend half your time planning your scene and the other half animating. 30. How to animate a scene of a four-legged character acting and walking: Work out the acting patterns first with the stretch and squash in the body, neck, and head; then go back in and animate the legs. Finally, adjust the up and down motion on the body according to the legs.