Had an incredible Q and A last night with Mark Pudleiner. He said some really inspiring things that any artist can relate to. How many creative things have you started that never were finished? When Mark asked us this generic question last night, I truthfully answered, “Probably about 90% of my stuff.” Basically what he was trying to show is that, every creative person, whether it be a writer, painter, animator, director, editor, all have these doubts in themselves, because we are out most critical eye. As artists, we are always trying to out-do ourselves and push our stuff to the limits to get the best results. He wanted us to realize that these doubts about the quality of our work is all very natural and normal. As an artist, it really does help to hear these things. Sometimes art can be a very lonely thing, even in such a collaborative field like animation. Luckily for me, I’ve got this incredible community of people who are all in the same place I am. Each one of the students at Animation Mentor have a passion to create this illusion of life, and every single one of them is on this same journey I am on trying to find out where we fit in this incredible expressive art form.

After such a great Q and A, I finally cracked open my copy of “The Illusion of Life” by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. I’ve been on this animation path for so long, I figured it’s about time I read the book that most people in the field consider to be the “bible” of the art form. The way they talk about animation is beautiful. After reading only one chapter, I’ve already got tons of pages in my notebook with quotes. I can’t wait to finish it.

On that note, I turned in my last version of my first shot for my Advanced Body Mechanics class. It definitely still needs a lot of work, but Mark told me in my eCritique that the shot made some incredible leaps and bounds from where it was, and according to him good progress like this is a great success, even if the shot isn’t perfect. So I wanted to share it with you all!

Last week, I also turned in some planning for my next shot. I haven’t started the blocking yet in Maya, but the last couple of days I’ve been studying my video reference and trying to do some extra sketching. I’m hoping this extra preparedness will help my shot start off nice a solid, so I won’t have to work backwards too much like I feel like I have done in most of my shots.

In other news, I finally downloaded the software for my printer/scanner! (Yay!) This means I’m going to be scanning in some fun old pictures (after I’m done with my AM assignments, of course!). I scanned one in earlier today for a test. Here it is, submitted for your approval!

Snap shot from my Totnastics days.

As you can see, I have always had balance and poise! haha

Happy Animating!

Week 2 of Class 3 at Animation Mentor has come to an end, and I just turned in my assignment. Lucky for you, I’ve uploaded it to YouTube for the WORLD to see (or at least the seven or eight of you that read this blog, hehe). I really like my mentor this term, although he is quite zany. At least the Q and A’s are very unpredictable and fun. He seems to know what he’s talking about (and he should after his repertoire of films!), so I’m totally stoked to see what he can teach me. He already had me thinking a ton about weight distribution and other very key aspects of body mechanics just by looking at my planning sketches and video reference. I think this is why my blocking turned out so well, and why I’m so excited to post it!

FYI – For this class, we will be doing another three short animations which we will work on for four weeks each. We were allowed to choose a theme which all of our shots could either relate to or by strong together to create a sort of short, this choice is called an AnimJam. My theme is Mining Stewie. I’m enjoying it. Especially because most themes are more sports oriented, so I’m having fun doing something a little different. The size of Stewie’s head is the only thing proving to be a problem. It’s very hard to swing your arms up over your head when your head is about twice larger than it really should be. I think I got myself around that problem pretty well though.

I think I could still push the poses to be a bit more extreme, but I’m really happy with it! Plus, once I put it into spline next week it’s going to turn into a complete disaster, so I wanted everybody to see it before it becomes a total hot mess. Enjoy!

I watched Julie and Julia today. Naturally, I felt terribly for neglecting my blog and so, here I am, updating.

Class 2 is all wrapped up and tonight is my first Q and A for Class 3: Advanced Body Mechanics. I am going to miss my Class 2 Mentor and classmates. Having a mentor from Australia just makes Q and A’s so exciting, we always had the most fun talking about animating. This term my Mentor is Mark Pudliener, and I am SO pumped about this. He started his animation career working on some of my personal childhood favorites: The Care Bears Movie, An American Tail, The Land Before Time (the original, before they made about a hundred more), and All Dogs Go to Heaven! And also spent tons of time working at Disney, on Hunchback, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and he even working on my favorite sequence from Fantasia 2000 “Rhapsody in Blue,” as well as another favorite Disney film, Meet the Robinsons. Basically what I’m trying to say is my mentor for this term worked on a majority of the movies that made me fall in love with children’s animated features. I have so much pressure to do well this term to impress this guy who has worked with some of the best animators in the industry, but it’s good pressure. Just don’t expect me to be very social for the next three months…

Other than AM excitement, my life has been basically normal. My week off was great. Relaxing, but now I’m very spoiled, and it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things. I went into the city to see “La Cage Au Folles” with some friends. I was very disappointed when it didn’t live up to the amazingness that originated from the musical, The Birdcage, but I suppose I shouldn’t have expected Kelsey Grammar to really be able to live up to Robin Williams. Douglas Hodge, winner of the Tony for Best Lead Actor in a Musical, was missing from our cast, so really the whole chemistry of the show felt very off. I will say it was a DREAM to see Robin de Jesus (of CAMP fame) playing the part of the maid. He was hilarious and incredible, and almost as wonderful as Hank Azaria, and it was especially entertaining to see so many beautiful lady-men dancing around the stage. They were all fabulous, and so cute when we waited at the stage door. Yes, we waited at the stage door. And waited. And waited for Master Kelsey Grammar. About an hour after waiting and waiting, I finally threw my hands up saying, “You know, he wasn’t even good enough to make us wait this long to see him!” to which my dear friends replied, “Seriously, when he comes out, he’d better be Kristen Chenoweth or something!”

That’s all for now. More frequent posts will happen. I promise. I know all three of you reading want some new posts!

I’m back from a week in Orlando, and as most Orlando vacations go, I’m in desperate need of a vacation from my vacation. A trip to the Walt Disney World Resort is always totally magical, but very exhausting. We got to stay in my FAVORITE resort, the Polynesian. I always feel like I’m home when I go to stay at the Polynesian. It just has a completely different and wonderful atmosphere than the rest of the on-property hotels. Can you really beat a 24-hour yummy quick service place like Captain Cook’s right in the hotel, or a view of Cinderella’s castle while taking a dip in the pool, not to mention being right on the resort monorail line.

Also, I got in the rest of my hours for the year at Kilimanjaro Safaris! I’ve clocked in exactly 41.5 hours for 2010, which means I get my little 2011 sticker as well as all the wonderful discounts that come with it for all of next year! It’s always so weird going back to work, especially because I know maybe two people that are still working there. Also, did you know that drivers are supposed to STOP on the ride path now? Yup. Ten different times for 5 seconds each. My first day I had no idea of this (because as long as you were there within the last six months, nobody feels the need to tell you anything), and was basically on the butt of every truck in front of me. The next day I came in and finally saw the sign explaining that trucks were now supposed to stop, and I spent the next two days at work completely mortified that I had to stop my truck. Old habits sure do die hard.

The rest of the trip was very magical. One plus of going to Disney with my aunts is that you’re always at the parks by park open. I saw the welcome show at the Magic Kingdom, and practically started crying when all the characters cam riding out on the train (including Tiana and Naveen!! Eeee!!). I also got to experience Captain EO as a more sophisticated adult, since the last time I saw it I was probably about two years old, and it was absolutely marvelous. Seeing MJ preform while he was still so young was incredible. Not to mention he had an awesome t-shirt on, that I somehow resisted buying, but will most likely own if I move down to Orlando.

Although Captain EO was life-changing, there were two even more magical moments. The first was at the Living Seas, where we were lucky enough to meet Leslie. She brought us up to the top of the tanks at the Living Seas Aquarium. It was totally awesome. I love being in backstage areas. Even as a cast member, I get seriously geeked out about being places that guests are not allowed. The second happened on our first day. We had taken the bus from the Polynesian to Hollywood Studios only for me to realize that I had completely forgotten my Main Gate pass. Total bummer. I felt so awful and I was so stressed out about having to wait for a bus to come get me from Studios and then wait for another bus to come back to the Polynesian to bring me back. By that point, we would have definitely missed our breakfast reservations. Then Maria came along, she was this saint in a Transportation role in charge of deploying buses. When she couldn’t get a bus to come pick us up to bring us back to the Polynesian, she told us all to pile into her van and she was going to bring us back to our hotel to get my pass. She was a complete life-saver. And this my friends is why Disney is so incredible. No other place has guest service like that. Especially no other theme park.

I got to experience Summer Nightastic as well. This was quite fun, although none of it was really new, just a bunch of old shows and parades from past night shows. Like the fireworks from the Pirate and Princess parties and the Main Street Electrical Light Parade. I especially enjoyed watching the parade. I think I liked Eliot the dragon the best! I took video of the whole thing, I will have to post it! I’m glad they will be keeping that parade around for longer than just the summer. I like it very much and think that kids these days really should learn who these characters are.

Anyway, now I am home, wishing I was still living in a world of fantasy, but there are more important things to worry about. Like getting caught up and back on schedule with Animation Mentor. I missed last week’s Q and A as well as a Toy Story 3 Q and A. Total bummer. But life goes on. I’ve got lots of work to do this week for class, like watching last week’s lecture. And on top of that it’s like crazy birthday week with my brother’s birthday, my sister’s birthday, and one of my best friends from college’s birthday. Crazy, crazy week.

Oh, and by the way, I fianlly found me on of those Mickey Key Lime Pies. Nevermind that they didn’t actually have a little Mickey Mouse made out of whipped cream, but it just wasn’t as yummy and satisfying as I would have hoped. Le sigh. I guess I’m just a cupcake and chocolate mousse kind of girl.

Here I am, for yet another post of wonderfully inspiring things that I’ve come across since I last stopped in here. But first, AM update!!!

I am currently in Week 5 of Class 2, and have finished my first of three shots for this week! I’m pretty happy with it, although there are a few revisions that I’m planning on doing. Nevertheless, I will share it with you today! I’m pretty proud of how far my animation has come already, and I’ve only just begun! My mentor for this class is wonderful! He always brings some wonderful little clips to class for us to watch and totally geek out over, showing us how beautiful the arcs are and how much planning goes into shots. Next week, he wants us all to bring two questions with us to our Q and A since he says he won’t have any fun clips for us. I must start thinking of some things to ask him… Any ideas?

Anyway, here is the final shot that I turned in. (Although, like I said I will be doing a few updates on it!)

Next is some really exciting news that AM came out with while at SIGGRAPH. For those of you who do not know. SIGGRAPH is an annual convention for computer graphic people to totally geek out on awesome new and exciting things in the computer graphics world, including animation! AM announced an improved version of Bishop. Bishop is AM’s flagship character that has been used by students and alumni of AM since 2005, and now Bishop 2.0 is an even BETTER version of what AM has made. It can best be described in this video:

Pretty sweet huh? Oh, and if you don’t know what 71 tredecillion is, it’s this: 71 times 10 to the 43rd power, or 710,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Wow.

I let myself take a break the other day, and I actually just sat by the pool, read, and daydreamed. It was pretty magical. While I did this, I was thinking about one of my newest most favorite books, The Art of the Disney Princess. This is a book full of tons of interpretations of Disney princesses created by Disney artists. It’s amazing. There is one in there by Eli Trinh that I especially like. It’s a very graphic piece of just Princess Aurora’s hair. Thinking about this piece got me thinking of how nice all of the princesses’ hair dos are, and I though of how cool it would be to do a graphic installation of a representation of every princess hair do from Disney. Genius. The beginning is a very good place to start, so here is the first that I did:

Can you guess which Disney Princess this is?

I’m proud of her, but I am planning to do a revision or two, and I still have to do the other girls as well…

I have a few other things to share, but I don’t want to go all sensory overload. So, that’s all for now!

Happy Animating!

I just watched my critique from last week and my lecture for Week 4. There is always always always room for improvement. My work is seriously lacking in weight and timing. I need a LOT more practice. Ad all these animators on these lectures just make it seem so easy. Le sigh. I’ve just got to stay motivated and keep moving forward. All this talent comes from practice and experience, and really, I’m only about four months into my animation journey. These guys have been working for 10+ years. It won’t happen overnight. I just can’t get too frustrated. My first shot for this class is still going to be awesome.

My heart strings have been getting pulled more so than usual, especially in the area of Florida. Don’t ask me why. I guess after living there for five years, you sort of grow attached to a place without even realizing it. Right after waking up and having these thoughts, I realize that I’m actually going home to Orlando in just under three weeks! AND what’s even better is this article that Disney Blogs posted on Facebook right after this:

For the summer, they have NEW Mickey Key Lime Pie treats! YUMMMO!!! I can’t wait to get one of my own in a few weeks. I hope they are as yummy as they are cute! Of course this doesn’t help with me also obsessing over wanting to go back to the Florida Keys desperately…

Mickey Key Lime Pie!!

I’ve got tons of work to do this week. I’ve got to finish my first shot as well as start planning out my next shot. For now, I’m just gonna turn on some Glee and jam out whilst I get ready for work. And YOU can enjoy this terribly awesome article I found about Sharpie art!

Happy Tuesday everyone! 🙂

I’m aliiiiiiive! Hello all! I haven’t updated since right before I was going to see Toy Story 3. It was AMAZING, and I already went and saw it again. I cannot even handle how awesome Pixar is. Next I need to see Despicable Me and I very much would like to see Inception. I hear wonderful things about both.

Class 2 at Animation Mentor is already in full swing. The class is called Psychology of Body Mechanics and my mentor is Shaun Freeman from Austrailia, of the new animated TMNT movie fame. (I know, total geek out, eeeeeeeeeh!!) He is really awesome, and super helpful. He’s really great at explaining questions, he’s full of really good examples. I’m loving this class too, everyone in it is super talented. It’s a little intimidating, but it’s just making me want to put in the extra effort to get my stuff to look just as good. I’m already doing much better in getting my work done earlier so that I can get tons of critiques. And I’m trying my best to spend a lot of time giving other students critiques too. The way this class works is within the 12 weeks we do only three assignments, so each of the three shots that we do gets four weeks of attention. So I’m really hoping my stuff comes out really baller! I’m going to attach the video of my first assignment. Today was the Week 3 version, so the final version will be due next week. This means that’s it’s still a bit rough, but hopefully will be perfected soon.

This post was a bit thrown together, so I apologize. But I wanted to leave you with something truly inspirational. For those who have seen this, I’m sure you will enjoy it again.

Go out and get inspired! (Or stay in and watch inspiring/hysterical videos on the internet!) Happy animating!

What a glorious last couple of days I’ve had.

This is Week 12 of Basic Foundations, Class 1, at Animation Mentor. The last three months have gone by SO FAST. I can’t even believe it. I’ve had such a great time and I’ve learned SO much! I cannot wait to begin Class 2, the Psychology of Body Mechanics. So fancy! I did well in this first class. I got all my assignments in on time, some better than others. I need to submit a progress reel of everything I’ve done by tomorrow at noon. I will eventually put it up here, but I’d like to get a lot of revisions done on my work before I do. And that’s what my week off is for! My goal for my next class: Become even MORE of a hermit (if it is even humanly possible). I spent about 10-15 hours every week on average on my work during Class 1. My assignments turned out good, and there were definitely a few that some students were impressed by, but I know my stuff could have been a hundred times better if I had just spent more time doing them! So, the goal is to try and hit at least 25 hours of work every week. I really want to squeeze EVERYTHING I can out of this class!!

Yesterday, Chuck and I did a tour de Bellport. We drove out to visit his grandfather and my aunt, who coincidentally live about six blocks away from each other. Small world. We got lunch at this place called Spicy’s. Now this place is basically a tiny hole in the wall, with a HUGE cardboard chicken on front beckoning you to come on in and have some fried chicken. It’s right next to the railroad and on the wrong side of them, if you catch my drift. The boyfriend SWEARS by their collard greens, so in we went to buy us some chicken with “spicy” sauce. Now, the sauce wasn’t at all spicy, but it sure was yummy. After 23 years of driving by the place I sure am glad I finally stopped in. Next time we go, I am gettin’ the wings!!

We met up with his grandfather, a self-proclaimed “hustler”, and heard some interesting stories about his dancing days in the Navy and meeting Frank Sinatra in a club. Old people sure are great and full of wisdom. Haha.

Today is an altogether INCREDIBLE day because it is the eve of the US opening of Toy Story 3!!! It has been 11 years since the last Toy Story, and tonight at midnight I will be going to see the third installment of this beloved trilogy in IMAX 3D. I think I just wet myself. For real.

Our plan tonight is to stop by Buffalo Wild Wings and then head over to this movie. This make me think of all those nights at B-Dubs with my CP friends, and about when we saw At World’s End at midnight the day before a bunch of them left the program. I miss them.

Anyway, I’m sure I will be back soon with a raving review of the amazingness that is Toy Story 3. For now I’m just gonna hang out with one of the big guys himself until it’s time to get moving!

Chillin' with Buzz. It's ok to be jealous.

You may or may not know that I am absolutely in love with all things Disney. So much so, that I even took a semester off from school in 2007 to do an “internship” there (aka Disney paid me next to nothing to work 30+ hours a week). That sounds crappy, you say? Hell to the no. These seven months were some of the best of my life! Working all day and then going into the parks at night to play with all your friends. Watching fireworks almost every night. Being amongst the last of the public to ride Back to the Future at Universal Studios. FINALLY celebrating my birthday in the happiest place on earth! Winning a “free” cruise to the Bahamas. Becoming best friends with a waiter at Friday’s and convincing his manager you were married to get free drinks. I made some of my most favorite memories while on the Disney College Program. I feel like everyone should do it. As miserable as it can be, the amazing experience that comes out of it far outweighs the drama and long hours of work.

Why am I so sickeningly reminiscent all of a sudden? Well, while on my program, I worked at the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I drove an oversized truck and gave tours of our African reserve. In the reserve were zebras, elephants, lions, cheetahs, and giraffes. We had a super tall male giraffe named Asante, which is Swahili for “thanks.” And today he passed away from a serious neck injury. So so so sad 😦

If you want to read more, here is the link: Giraffe dies with broken neck

So this got me thinking of all the wonderful times I had while on my program, and I wanted to share some of them with you!

Here I am with my ill-fitting khakis costume and my truck!

Jambo everybody! Are you ready for a safari?

Just hanging out on show in costume!

Breakfast at Ohana, Ohana means family

Bryly and Kitty ❤

My hubby and I with our friends from Fridays!

Blue Man Group with some of my favs, Ry Ry, Jaclyn and Erin!

Ry Ry, my bestest friend on the program, we did everything together!

We were the second to last group of guests to ride Back to the Future before it closed!

Ry Ry and I on our cruise to the Bahamas!

We even jumped on hotel beds! haha

With the girls at graduation!

Hope you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane with me. I wish I could go back every day and be with my friends again working at safaris, but I know, just like Walt said, we have to keep moving forward and learn new things. I have been so blessed to have so many incredible and life-changing experiences, and I can’t wait to have so many more!

Love to all my safari friends. Kwaherini Asante, you will be missed out on the savannah. See you in two weeks.

Work is taking over my life. So much so, that not only am I neglecting my blogging, but I am also neglecting my ever-important web-browsing time. I am slowly slipping into that person I feared I would become while at AM. I am becoming a certified hermit, only letting myself into the sunlight to go to work and catch a few rays by the pool for an hour or two every week. So sad. Whatever happened to summers when you were a kid? Bike rides around the block, every day by the pool/beach, endless vacations because you didn’t have to worry about getting time off. Nope, in real life, you realize that things don’t come so easy, aka, I have to give up my social life in order to do what I really want to do: animate.

I’m so ready to move out to the west coast, but I feel like there is so much I still need to do before I go. I need to save more money, and more importantly I need to get further along in AM. If I move out to California and get a job in film or animation, I won’t have any time to really devote to AM like my job now allows me to do. The down side is that I’m stuck in a job that is fine, but that’s all it is, just fine. I want to love work. I want to WANT to get up in the morning and go to work. I think I’m just really bummed because I feel like so many people are jsut heading out to Cali right now. Why do I have to be sensible? Why can’t I just get my butt out there with them? When do I get my chance???

It sounds sort of depressing, and I guess in a lot of ways it is, but it’s the sacrifice I have to make. All these incredible animators have come before me, and now I’ve got the chance to learn from them and hear what they have to say, and they all say the same thing. They all basically locked themselves away for a year or two without any outside life and devoted themselves to their work. I never really wanted to be a workaholic, but I always knew that once I found something I really loved, I would be doomed to become one. And it’s happening. I’m thinking about my animation all the time. About my next assignment, about finishing my first class, about when I will have time to get more work done. And I’m really looking forward to the day when I can just do art all the time, and get paid to do it, and not have to worry about waking up at the crack of dawn to make a bunch of spoiled brats their coffee.

All this hard work will pay off in the end, and in the mean time, I’m just enjoying the little things. Like summer barbecues! Memorial Day was this past Monday. Summer means every weekend having a bunch of beer, burgers, hot dogs, steak and great friends over to sit by the pool and get drunk with. How can you not love that? I let myself not worry about animation at all this past Monday. It was refreshing to take a day off.

One of the only other pleasures in life that I still allow myself is the viewing of Glee. This show really is genius. It appeals to everyone, even straight men! (They just have to be man enough to watch it once to understand how truly great it is!) This week’s episode was complete craziness, but wonderful all the same. So sad to see the show go for a few months after the season finale. Cannot wait for the full season to be out on DVD so I can get my hands on it 🙂

Anyway, I’ve babbled long enough. Bless you for making it to the end without any fun pictures or videos to help you through it. Hope your week is going well!

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