Yay! I finally got to go to SIGGRAPH. It's the convention that everybody tells me that I have to go to, particularly for VFX because it's more about the technical side to the industry.Read More
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CTN, the Creative Talent Network Animation Expo, has finally come and gone. Unfortunately this year I wasn't able to do daily posts from the convention center as their wifi isn't working as usual and I had unfortunately used up my entire data plan already. For the next couple of days I will be posting my experience at the convention this year. It will be most likely a two or three part post so stay tuned!
I left for CTN on Wednesday evening in order to be there with adequate amount of time on Thursday as this year I am a volunteer and on Thursday night we have the volunteer orientation. Arriving Thursday morning I was put right to work where I helped exhibitors check in. It was a pretty hectic process as the badges had a very strange ordering system that made them very hard to sort through and find at times for people when they arrived. There were also many issues where we couldn't find the correct badge for the exhibitor so we had to make a badge on the spot. While hectic and most likely frustrating for the exhibitors to see us all in disarray, things went well enough and we got people what they needed. I didn't really expect being able to go, it would be nice if I was able to, but I grabbed a ticket for a screening of Turbo at the Dreamworks studio. I was too busy helping people check in to go. Not too entirely disappointed in missing the movie. I mainly wanted to go in order to see the Dreamworks studio as I had never been there yet.
Friday, day one of CTN. Unfortunately I did not have much to say here. I worked the entire day at the help desk where I answered questions, gave directions, and attempted to resolve the many many many issues and displeasures that cropped up. There was really one main panel that I had wanted to go to and was quite saddened that I didn't get to go and it was a behind the scenes of Frozen panel, "The Making of Frozen: The Filmmakers of Frozen Moderated by Darrin Butters". I was hoping to slip away for forty-five minutes to see the panel but quite literally at that time I had so many people come up to the desk with questions and issues that I could not get out. While being able to see some behind the scenes things of creating a shot in Frozen, what I really wanted to see and learn about was apparently the panel briefly showed/talked about how Disney created a whole new snow system, called Matterhorn, for the movie.
After working the entire day, starting since 8am, I finally left the desk to get some food and to quickly walk around the exhibit hall a bit before things close down for the day. This was probably the best part of being a volunteer. Since I helped check-in people the day before and was at the help desk all day there were people who knew me by face. I'm typically a somewhat shy person but this let me be able to easily strike up a conversation with them. I wasn't so much networking but really just making friends and that in itself felt very rewarding. I would like to thank Rudy Waldstein for driving me and others down to CTN and getting me connected, Aileen Acayan for being an amazing volunteer coordinator, Margarita Sweet, the exhibit floor manager, for putting up with me and all my questions as I had no idea what was going on amidst the chaos of the first day.