Friday, August 18, 2017

"Laughing Matters" Art Show

I'm excited to announce that this weekend my animation "Flexibly Indecisive" is going to be shown at the Studio Gallery at the 6th Street Playhouse as part of their 50th anniversary production of "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown."  The gallery show is called Laughing Matters and is with the Wine Country Arts Council.

What's fun is that the Charles M. Schulz Museum is in Santa Rosa (his hometown) and the Museum is helping celebrate with some special activities as well.  This includes an exhibit on the 50th anniversary that will also been shown in the Studio Gallery concurrently with the show.

This combines so many things I love - theater, comics, Charlie Brown, and art/animation - I'm very excited to be a part of it all!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Heather Plays The Game Of Thrones

Soooo excited to share some of the work Heather did for the Game Of Thrones episode this weekend!  We are huge fans - so it was unbelievably exciting to see not only her shots but her name in the credits as well.  Congrats Heather and all the Rodeo FX team!

Monday, August 7, 2017

FLASHBACK: PDI/DreamWorks Siggraph Interview

The annual Siggraph convention was this past week, and as I saw posts from lots of friends and former co-workers who were there I realized it has been 10 years since I last attended...

I'm often asked about how I got the job at DreamWorks.  Well it starts at Siggraph 2007 with one of my worst interviews ever. I had just graduated from the Academy of Art University that summer (literally turning in our thesis mere weeks before).  Heather stayed behind to keep working for a gig at Matte World Digital.  A bunch of us from the graduating class all planned to head down to San Diego and hit the convention floor - schmoozing with every recruiting booth we could manage.

Look at us - freshly graduated, slightly desperate, excited folks venturing forth into the "real world" for the first time.  They recruiting booths were busy and the convention floor hectic.  Luckily, I had a friend in Adam Ely who was already at PDI/DreamWorks in Redwood City.  He talked to one of the head recruiters, Debra O'Keefe, about me and I was able to get an interview during Siggraph.  DreamWorks wasn't officially taking reels/applications, but they had a giant interview suite built up on a balcony of the convention hall.

Excited and nervous I walk up to the interview suite and sign in - I even get a swag bag (with a shrek journal and Flushed Away dvd).  I was trying to become an effects artist at the time, so I interviewed with the FX Supe of Madagascar 2 along with one of the fx leads.  It was...a disaster.  The FX Supe - who would eventually turn out to sit behind me for about a year - liked to be blunt and kept asking about all the problems with my student reel.  For about half their questions I had no answer and admitted as much.  By the time I left (swag bag in hand) I called up Heather and just had to laugh.  "It was horrible" I told her on my cell phone from the second floor balcony, "There's no way I'm getting hired there"

About a month after Siggraph, I get a call that DreamWorks would like to do a followup interview at their PDI campus.  I'm beyond excited and terrified at the same time - I stayed up late the night before googling the answers (level-sets!) to everything I failed to answer in my first interview about effects work.  But I wasn't that nervous - I figured the interview couldn't go any worse than the first one.  So they day comes and I drive the hour south to Redwood City and arrive at the very silicon-valley style campus.  

I sit down for my interviews with Justin Onstine, Jono Gibbs, and Kevin Vassey (all who would eventually become my boss).  The first question comes from Justin who asks "So, why do you want to be a Crowds Artist?"

Crowds?  At no point did I realize this was an interview for crowds - I thought I was still going for an effects TD role.  Now crowds...I didn't even know there was a job just creating digital crowds.  And crowds work I knew - I had lucked into doing some crowds work for element fx, which led me to implementing crowds into our thesis.  I even wrote a MEL crowd script.  So I had a LOT of ideas and insight into crowds work.  It was a fantastic interview and within a week I was accepting a contract at PDI/DreamWorks.  

So you never know where life will take you.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Figure Drawing Workshop

Today I taught my first class/workshop in the new Art + Design building...and it was for Figure Drawing!  Jennifer Snyder put together the Art Teacher Professional Development Day up at APSU and I was able to jump in and help lead the drawing workshop today.  It was great to get the chance to draw again - it's easy to get so lost in doing digital art that you don't take the time to do some longer life drawing.

I was lucky enough to sit on on some amazing figure drawing workshops back at DreamWorks.  They were held over lunchtime and when I decided to make the leap to becoming an Animator I started attending - and it was intimidating as hell at first.  Everyone was nice and welcoming...but the amount of talent in that room was staggering.  It was out of my comfort zone, really pushed me, and I learned so much.

Most of the sessions were lead by Karl Gnass - who everyone should check out and is just an amazing talent and teacher.  He's taught figure drawing at DreamWorks and Disney for decades.  Gesture drawing was led by Dave Pimentel who was a great story artist that went on to becoming the Story Lead on Moana over at Disney.  It was great going back and remembering what I learned from these sessions and lead one of my own!

And it has cemented my decision that this semester my animation students are going to be doing LOTS more drawing homework :)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Shot In Racing Legends Promo Image

Looks like PortAventura World finally updated the Racing Legends portion of their WEBSITE - and the image they picked for the promo shot is one of the ones I worked on!

This is the start of the Rome section, which another animator had initially taken a pass at.  After client reviews there was extensive notes and I basically reworked the entire animation.  It became faster (and therefore a bit shorter) and more action packed.  I actually spent the most time on this section of the ride.  It was really fun to get in there and add in the "wow" factor.  I'm really excited to see the final renders of it - the assets and lighting teams really made this look amazing!

Here's a closer look at just the promo image:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bournemouth/UK Trip

Bournemouth hotel by the sea
I had an amazing opportunity last month to visit Bournemouth in England, and travel around a great deal of the U.K. as well.  My University wanted to send me to visit with a potential study abroad/exchange school - and it's just a few months away from Heather and I's 10th anniversary, so we made a 10 day trip out of it!

First and foremost was to travel to Bournemouth, a wonderful town on the southern coast of England. I spent some time at Arts University Bournemouth and met some great colleagues and see how their programs are structured.  It was the last week of their "student show" so I got to see a lot of the amazing work their students produce there.  Having backgrounds in art, film, theatre, and animation myself it was really great seeing how much collaboration goes on there!

Of course, if you're on the south coast, you have to do some day trips to Stonehenge, Salisbury (where I found a centuries old pub), New Forest, and the Jurassic Coast.  In fact, I seem to have found lots of centuries old pubs.

Part I matinee and Part II evening show
London was the next stop.  We got to meet up with our old college friends Bryon and Tiffany, who just moved to London with their daughter.  We only had time for a quick run through the National Gallery because we managed to get last minute tickets to the two part (i.e. all day) production of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child on the West End.  It was amazing and I could have gone back the very next day to watch it all over again.

With Buckbeak

Keeping with the Harry Potter theme, we visited the Warner Bros Studio tour of the sets and props from the films.  It was great to spend the day looking at all the craftsmanship that went into every single aspect of these films.  

Glencoe, Scotland
And if you've come this far, why not take a scenic 5 hour train ride up to Scotland!  Our flights meant we spent most of the time in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but we did get a 12 hour tour up into the Highlands to see Glencoe and Loch Ness.

Loch Ness.  Not pictured: Nessie
It was an amazing 10 days.  England and Scotland were just wonderful.  We already have a to-do list for a future visit.  I was impressed with AUB and Bournemouth in general, so hopefully there will also be an opportunity to return there as well!