How To Train Your Dragon 2 Review

Thanks to Tea Time Animation, I got some passes to see an early screening of How To Train Your Dragon 2! This may have been my number one anticipated movie this year and I was not disappointed. The movie was a lot of fun and perfect in time for Father's Day. Spoilers ahead! I'm personally one of those people who don't mind spoilers and sometimes even likes them as they give me something to look forward to. Instead of thinking that the movie is completely ruined, I go "hey, that's awesome, I really want to see such and such part for myself!"

There seems to be quite a few main plot points going on around this sequel. One of them that I picked out is that the movie is about Hiccup growing up and becoming an adult and learning about the responsibilities that he will have to shoulder, namely being an adult and a leader means that he must protect those he holds dear. Another is that you win friends and their loyalty through trust and respect, not fear and domination. The third one I would say is that everyone, although different and in this case dragons and humans, can live in harmony and peace.

The main selling point of this movie would be the dragons and they were magnificent. We get the ones from the first movie along with some great new ones such as Valka's Stormcutter dragon, Cloudjumper, and the alpha Bewilderbeast dragons. Loved the animation on them and how they heavily referenced real animals and really showcases well Toothless and Cloudjumper's personalities. Toothless was interesting in that it feels that his personality changed. In the first movie he was more panther and cat like as he's more wary and just getting to know Hiccup but now Toothless is more doglike and playful. Meanwhile Cloudjumper seems to be referencing cats and owls and is a lot more regal and is not having any of Toothless' shenanigans. The human characters I'm not quite as sure of. There are times where I felt they were a bit over animated with lots of gesturing and head movements while talking. What made it very interesting though is that the movie points it out itself and makes fun of it through Astrid's teasing of Hiccup on how he talks.

Since we already have an established romance aspect of Hiccup and Astrid from the first movie, this time around we have a more comedic approach to it through Snotlout and Fishlegs fighting over Ruffnut who then in turn crushes on Eret. The dynamic between the crazy four way romancing was hilarious and had the entire theater laughing, particularly the parts where Ruffnut attempts to flirt with Eret and we get closeups of Eret's bulging biceps.

There were some plot points that didn't quite make as much sense. Toothless has an entire contraption on him to make the tail work so that he could fly properly and in the first movie we see Hiccup going through a lot of experimentation and training to get it right. Hiccup even makes the claim that Toothless can't fly properly without a rider so when Drago decides to commandeer Toothless I would think that it would not work since Dragon wouldn't know how to make all the mechanisms function correctly. Nope, Drago somehow flies Toothless perfectly and gets to Berk without any issues. Drago has a dragon hiding underwater and through Fishleg we are set up to expect some amazing dragon such as a Leviathorgan. Unfortunately when the dragon is revealed, it is just another Bewilderbeast. At least since it was able to survive submerged deep underwater I would have expected it to look slightly different other than coloring and have different abilities but unfortunately no, it was just a dark version of the while Bewilderbeast with the same ice breath powers. While on the subject of the Bewilderbeasts, I wish that there would have been more to the Bewilderbeasts' battle. Instead there were just a lot of bashing up against each other as if they were two rhinos. I expected at least a couple of ice breathes to the face! Toothless getting a second set of dorsal fins was somewhat interesting but slightly weird that Toothless seems to have never known about them. They're on his body and seemingly an integral part of how he moves and flies. It would be like a person never knowing that he/she has knees and walked around back and forth without ever bending them.

Loved the texture work. The dragons' scales were especially spectacular with all the little nuances of different amounts here and there, more prominent ones in certain areas, the coloring, and spikes in all the right areas. The hair work is amazing once again and I especially liked Stoic's beard with all the different layers and striations.

I didn't know until the credits but Eret is voiced by Kit Harrington, or more popularly known as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones. If I were to watch the movie again, all that would go through my mind when Eret argues with Hiccup over dragons now would be "You know nothing Eret son of Eret".

It'll be interesting to see what DreamWorks comes up after this as I expect more sequels to come. I really hope that the series doesn't get overworked and leads to its death. It is quite unfortunately that DreamWorks has apparently decided not only to ceased to create original works but has also cut funding in their animation division with focus on putting out sequels that they can depend on to sell well. Personally I don't want to see any sequels past three and a series shouldn't have more than two spinoffs. Once its at that point then its overkill and when I see another title that comes out trying to milk that series I just roll my eyes and put it in a corner to be further considered at a later time. Here's to hope for the next few originals that DreamWorks had already planned and in development to do well to show that people do want and like new things so that more can come our way!.

DreamWorks Outreach Program

Stopping at AAU while on her global journey to reach out to various schools, we have Tiffany Feeney, DreamWorks' manager of university relations, come spend an evening with us to talk about DreamWorks' Outreach Program and what recruiters like and want to see on applications. There's a little bit of everything for everyone in different departments and it is at all their locations, Glendale, Redwook City, and Bangalore. The Outreach program generally takes 40 to 60 people so get those resumes, cover letters, and reels ready! While there is no exact deadline listed, Tiffany recommends to have your applications sent by the end of March. Story It is important to have original stories to show your creativity so be sure to include 2-3 of your own works! Stories should have a beginning, middle and end; do not do "To be continued" as it shows nothing of your capabilities and ends up killing your portfolio. There should be 10 to 40 boards per project. For story artists, there is a program called the Story Initiative where you must send in a physical copy of your portfolio, along with resume and cover letter by March 21st. For those chosen, a story test will be given of a script containing DreamWorks property and you will have to draw 100 boards in a certain amount of time.

Visual Development Visual development are artist who design characters, sets, environments, and props. As an entry level position, you will be designing the sets, environments, and props, while character designers are positions that are promoted into after showing adequate skill and knowledge of the pipeline. Often the character designers are also the art director. It is important to demonstrate how you think through showing thumbnails. Think also about light and color and the story behind everything you design. A good design doesn't just stop at how it looks but also consider how it lends itself to animation and the pipeline procedure through turntables and  shader packets.

Modeling While it may look nice to have your model beautifully textured and surfaced, that should be the last thing for you to consider as a modeler. It is perfectly fine, and even encouraged, to have a plain lambert gray shaded model so that whoever is reviewing your reel can see the topology and the joints. Have strong organic models, such as trees and rocks, on your reel as they are difficult in their own way to model well. Beautiful cathedrals can look impressive but modelers know that they aren't all that hard to model as cathedrals aren't really all that complex; once you model one buttress you just duplicate it over and over again. When even modeling items such as environment assets or simple props, give the object a character; not only characters have individuality. Once again, consider the pipeline and don't over detail. It may look fancy to sculpt in all the weaves and folds on a piece of fabric but that becomes unusable in production as fabric usually goes through dynamics and smaller details are done through surfacing.

Character TD All you elusive riggers, show those deformation systems of skin wrinkles and cloth movements along with standard joint based skeletons. Have bipeds, quadruped, and facial rigs.

Surfacer Even though you may be trying to specifically enter in to the CG animation side of the industry, it is good to show realistic texturing and surfacing. Try to match an object to a live action plate and what recruiters always enjoy seeing is food that looks so real that they get hungry and want a piece.

Previs/Layout Show off that film background with some amazing camera work and some set dressing and composition techniques. A lot of times what separates a student film from looking professional are those static locked cameras so getting in there with some adjustments to camera and lenses to make your film look more dynamic.

Character Animator Give your characters a performance and personality while focusing on acting and physical movement. While lip syncing is good to show, you don't need it on everything, instead try having a character off screen or to the side and show a second character emoting in reaction to the dialogue.

Character Effects Hair, cloth, and fur, oh my! Since there weren't any people present who were interested in this particular area, Tiffany didn't delve too much into this area.

Crowds Crowd artists are the ones who populate scenes that contains 6 or more non-main characters. Crowd artists will mainly animate in cycles and also use mocap.

Lighting It is suggested to take a recognizable object and be able to sell it well with lighting so pay attention to the world around you. Lighting tends to intersect a lot with surfacing so there are the same suggestions of matching to a live action plate and showcasing food is always a crowd pleaser. DreamWorks' entry level lighting position is called Lighting TA (technical assistant) and lighting TAs are the CG supervisor's right hand wo/man and are responsible for setting up shots and light rigs to be passed on to lighters to polish, render, and composite.

Matte Painting Demonstrate atmosphere and space in sets, worlds, and extensions.

Effects Cloth, fluid, and physics. Like the story artists, effects also has a challenge called the FX Challenge for you to send your reel to.

Technical Director For those of you who are good at problem solving, programming, scripting, and can fix everything to make the lives for the rest of us in production easier. ___________________________________________________________________________________

For those who haven't seen it yet, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is finally out in theatres. For those who have, those who joined us at the early press screening, go see it again! What we missed out on in the press screening is the short that goes before the movie. It is a 4 minute short introducing us to DreamWorks' next movie, after How to Train A Dragon 2, Home, that is slated to be released later this year in November.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman Panel

Following the previous post where I got to go to a special press screening of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, yesterday was when the director Rob Minkoff and the producers Alex Schwartz and Denise Cascino came to talk about Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Unfortunately I was a few minutes late as I had a last minute meeting so I missed out on getting a drawing from Rob. I feel bad for being late, particularly that now I'm on the board for Tea Time and also they skipped meeting the Dali Lama who was apparently arriving at their hotel to come to give a panel to us. That's dedication! There was some great questions/topics and it was a very enjoyable evening. The process of creating the film The movie was 12 years in the making. Tiffany Ward first brought the concept to Classic Media where it was seen by Jason Clark. Jason and Rob took the idea and pitched it to Walden Media where they bought it and wanted to go forward with the movie. Unfortunately some legal issues arose and a year later Walden Media unfortunately says that they are only able to give 50% of the funding and that another backer and distributor will need to be found. The idea was then pitched to Jeffery Katzenberg at Dreamworks who also gave a resounding yes but didn't want the involvement of Walden Media. Dreamworks wanted to take it all and produce it or none at all. Scripts were written. Initially the story had an antagonist who was a mole named Little Jimmy, and there was going to be the eight wonders of the world be stolen. With the release of Despicable Me, that story line had to be scrapped and it was with a meeting with writers Jeffrey Ventimilia and Joshua Sternin that the movie changed direction. Instead of Little Jimmy, the little girl character named Penny came to be to show and help further the relationship and development of Sherman.

Approach to creating story They really liked the idea of being able to go to multiple time periods and with the promise of what animation can do and offer, they really wanted to showcase that ability. From there, how a movie starts and boils down to is the relationship of the characters with each other or to certain things or ideas. Start with a question and as the plot progresses, always return back to thinking what is the journey of the characters and their relationships and always old on to that core and how the story is told.

If there was any pushback from fans that held up production There weren't any major issues from production, rather as so many people were also fans, everyone felt responsible to get the movie right.

Tiffany Ward's contribution As the daughter of the original creator, Jay Ward, Tiffany was described as the "godmother of production". Not only being the executive producer in ensuring the movie being true to the original, Tiffany made sure everyone was motivated and excited about creating the film.

Ty Burrell as Peabody's voice actor Since Mr. Peabody is already an existing character, when finding a new voice actor to play Mr. Peabody, a particular type of voice and acting is required. A mimic isn't good enough as sounding alike doesn't quite go the distance. Instead life and character needs to be given and not just an impersonation. Initially Steven Colbert and Robert Downey Jr. were considered. Steven Colbert loved Mr. Peabody and Sherman and said he would love to voice any character in the movie except Mr. Peabody as unfortunately he did not time in his schedule to play the main character. RDJ was unfortunately busy making Avengers. Ty Burrell was brought in and after working with him for a couple weeks the voice of Mr. Peabody was found!

Development of the bullying scene The bullying scene is really dark and serious. Even more so now as bullying is an important issue that is occurring in schools today. When the scene was first scripted there was some pushback saying that it was too dark and negative but it was felt and decided that they were on the right side of the issue. A great quote that comes into play by Mr. Peabody and further proves itself further down the plot is "All great relationships start with conflict and then evolves into something greater".

Transition from 2D to 3D The original Peabody and Sherman started back in 1959 and it had very minimal budget. To keep costs low, not only was the show even produced in Mexico but the artists used house paint  to paint on cels so that the cels could be erased and reused. Also, part of the influencing style of the original cartoon was that it was created for TV and with the limited technology, the art required to have heavy outlines for things to be visible. The movie sought to approach with the same aesthetic sensibility of being graphic, designed, and flat. There was at one point when Mr. Peabody was designed with square glasses, to make him more modern and trendy and to contrast Sherman's roundness, but that was quickly veto'd as the round glasses were signature of the time back when Peabody and Sherman aired.

Limited animation of original cartoons While some may feel that to be true to the original classic cartoons, the same or similar limited animation is required; also in a way decreasing the appeal of watching a movie with such limitations in theaters. However, the limit was due to the budget and technology back then, not because artists back then wanted the animation to look exactly that way. Back then they had a limited budget so there was limited animation but now with a high budget it would make sense to have high animation. In fact, Jay Ward even wanted better animation if it was possible. Even more so as a movie about time traveling, in a way it makes sense for them to change for the different time periods. The original 2D and the current CG versions are the same but different, like looking at a mirror.

Balance between the adult and children audiences While there may be some lines to be drawn between adult and children audiences in terms of humor, what they sought to do instead is to make the comedy universally funny and able to encompass both age groups. It's not so much of there is this, this, and this to do while there is that, that, and that to not do but rather to just fine what they thought is funny and hope that everyone else will find it funny also. Rob has even asked this same question about comedy to Chuck Jones before and the reply was to find ways to make yourself laugh and others may laugh also. Going to far would probably have been what the original opening to the movie was planned to be. While the movie currently begins, after the prologue, in the midst of Peabody and Sherman's adventures in France with the French Revolution, it was initially script of the two being in Germany dressed up as Nazis, completely with Peabody disguised with a Hitler stache, as they attempt to steal the war plans and change the future.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman Review

In preparation for director Rob Minkoff and, daughter of the original creator, Tiffany Ward's arrival to give a talk about the Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie on February 21st, Tea Time was invited to view a special press screening of Mr. Peabody and Sherman yesterday, February 13th; 3 weeks before the movie's actual release! As I've never seen the original, Peabody's Improbable History, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect but was hyped for the movie after attending to a panel about the movie at CTNx. We even got limited edition Mr. Peabody themed 3D glasses!

Mr. Peabody is an incredibly intelligent dog who won the right, through legal law, to adopt a human infant boy, Sherman, as his son. Inspired by Sherman, Mr. Peabody built a machine called the WABAC to take Sherman on travels through time and teach him not only history but important life lessons. Now that Sherman is growing up, Mr. Peabody has to deal with the issues of being a father, trusting, and letting go through the adventures and mishaps that occur while attempting to solve the paradox created by Sherman and Penny when they traveled back in time.

I loved this movie. While I have some friends who would disagree, I liked this movie more than The Lego Movie. I laughed and I cried. I felt the characters to be endearing and relatable. I found the puns funny and having co-directed The Lion King, Rob Minkoff knew how to hit those beats to make heartstrings twinge as Mr. Peabody and Sherman attempt to resolve their issues. While there may be some issues of the story that takes a bit of a stretch of imagination, such as everyone speaking the same language, even in Egypt and Italy, they tend to be common occurrences in cartoons and thus I did not mind them. One small stretch that may have been a little too far is how Agamemnon says "Don't tase me bro" as if he knew what a taser is. One small point that was confusing to me was exactly when the WABAC was built. Mr. Peabody mentioned that he built the WABAC after being inspired by Sherman however in Mr. Peabody's memory sequence we see Mr. Peabody traveling back in time to William Shakespeare's and even ancient Egyptian time on the Nile (great reference back to Dreamwork's Prince of Egypt movie) while Sherman was still an infant. Otherwise, for a time traveling movie that can have many plot holes and inconsistencies, I felt that the story was decently strong.

While there were quite a number of butt jokes I quite liked the comedy element of the movie. I found the puns to be witty and quite funny. They were also very well integrated into the dialogue which is an issue that I had with Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs 2. In Meatballs 2 the puns just kept coming one after another as the characters kept on shouting them and it was quite dull and the "THERE'S A LEEK IN THE BOAT" joke wasn't even funny in the movie as it was completely out of place unlike the trailer when you think that they are in danger while going down rapids.

I really like the textures and materials in this movie. They were simple yet detailed. Simple in that they refer back to the original hand drawn cartoon yet detailed to give the world feasible plausibility and richness. The wood grain was intricately painted,  the skin textures while simple had a great and beautiful amount of subsurface, and while Mr. Peabody may just look white, he in fact has detailed hair covering him. Also, while having had a dog, the details and specularity on Mr. Peabody's nose was perfect. I also want their shader/material for the sand used in Egypt as I am currently working on look dev for a beach.

The lighting was also really nice. There were subtle color adjustments for mood shifts that matched very well. Interestingly there is a segment in the movie as Mr. Peabody reflects upon his memory of Sherman growing up and during the segment the lighting/materials were "faked" as there were specularities, particularly eye specs. It was beautiful with a nice sepia tone but it was a similar method in turning everything to surface shaders and using an occlusion pass to create shadows.

While there have been movies where I have said "amazing in 3D, totally worth the extra ticket price", I unfortunately did not feel quite so for this movie. The movie tended to be very character focused and towards the front of the screen so there isn't often large expanses of land going back in space where the stereoscopic 3D can really shine. Instead there was a lot of fingers or swords point straight at/out at the screen which felt somewhat gimmicky and I didn't particularly care for.

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

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.

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!

The Croods Review

March has finally come and there was a great lineup of movies that I wanted to see. I haven't gone to the theaters since Les Miserables so I was looking forward to something worth going out for. In March we got "Jack the Giant Slayer", "Oz: The Great and Powerful", and "The Croods". Unfortunately the reviews for Jack and Oz turned out to be terrible so that was quite a disappointment, especially Oz as I was looking forward to something fun like Wicked. Now The Croods, by Dreamworks, has finally been released, and I have been looking forward to this for quite some time. When I first saw it, my reaction was "ugh, dirty grimy ugly people and how can you make a story about cavepeople interesting", but after seeing some artwork at CTN-X I got really excited as the environments and creature designs were beautiful.

The movie turned out better than I expected. It was good but I probably still like How to Train Your Dragon and Rise of the Guardians better. For one thing, the themes and storytelling was very similar to How to Train Your Dragon. It starts out with a first person narrative that talks about Eep's, the main female character in the tiger skin, life and so jumps back in time, then the movie starts through their journey, and then the movie ends again with another first person narrative about everything that has changed and what everybody has learned. They even all got pet animals similar to how everyone in Dragon got their own pet. I wish the movie could have been more serious or have had more depth. The movie was filled with gag after gag after gag. While I did laugh and cry at some of them it did make each shot scene very short lived. Additionally, the ending was also botched. Even worse, it was botched at one of the most critical emotional scenes. Towards the end when the The Croods were all blowing their seashells, crying out to Grug, the father, Thunk, the son, also had his seashell. This is wrong as he lost his seashell earlier when his crocodile dog thing, Douglas, fell off the tree. Later when Grug picked up Douglas while escaping the crumbling of the world behind him, Douglas even had the seashell in his mouth. Therefore there was no way for Thunk to have his seashell at the time when they were all crying out to Grug.

The animation was interesting due to how animal-like they treated the human character and how human-like they treated the animal characters. Additionally, the characters also moved extremely fast and a bit spazzy. In fact, with the extreme comedy of both the animation and gags, the movie reminds me more of the Tex Avery Loony Tunes style of animation. It would be interesting if Dreamworks starts moving towards animation purely as pushing animation and comedy which was what was developed at Warner Bros. With Tex Avery instead of the path of Disney and Pixar where it is more about realism and drama.

I was somewhat disappointed in the creatures. Not in the designs but the usage of them. The creatures were not populated throughout the world, there are no creatures hanging around in the back or birds flying across the sky. The world is actually dead and the creatures only show up in shots when they are needed and pretty much as a gag. Then they go away and aren't seen again until they might be needed.

While I didn't get to see it in 3D, I would highly recommend doing so as the movie is about environments and 3D would enhance that experience.

Be sure to stay till after the credits! You are treated to three adorable mouseaphants playing their nose trumpets to a song.