Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Annie Awards Jury

Today ASIFA announced it's list of nominees for it's annual Annie Awards.  I'm very proud to have served on the jury for this years Best Student Film category.  The jury narrowed it down to five shorts to be voted on by the whole ASIFA professional membership.  So many amazing and strong films - it's incredible to see the work being created by students today.

You should check out the nominated films.  Many have trailers and making-of blogs you can find online.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

CTNx Conference Weekend

The artists booths in the giant (and not waterproof) tent

This weekend I was able to attend my first CTN Animation Expo conference back in Burbank.  It was my first time going back to visit since we left California 16 months ago.  The conference was a lot of fun - about half the conference was panels and speakers and the other half was a big artist floor where people had tables selling their arts (alongside studio recruiting booths).  I got the chance to talk to artists like Brittany Lee, Goro Fujita, Bobby Chiu, and The Bancroft Brothers.  It was a last minute trip, so I wasn't able to get into the big panels, but was still able to hear Ian McCraig, the ASIFA-Animation Educators forum with Tom Sito, and even our friend Shannon Thomas.

The best part was being able to catch up once more with friends and co-workers that I haven't seen for over a year.  That's the toughest part about leaving California was leaving a decade of amazing friends behind.  So it was wonderful to see everyone.  I even had the chance to meet my old mentor from college Tad!

The ol' crew meeting up for drinks

Floyd Norman live demo
Tad!  It's Tad!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Heather & Lemony Snicket

It's been a while since I've had a post about Heather, but man has she been busy with the freelance life.  Feature films, video games, theme parks, VR, and now a new category - Netflix TV.  She got to spend several weeks helping out with several matte paintings for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Her painting shows up a few times in this trailer that was just released today!

Pretty excited to see the show as a whole.  Before the film version came out years ago we both binged on the book series - and this looks spot on in tone and performances.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

FLASHBACK: Zombie Prom & Skywalker Ranch

Today I ran across THIS article in Variety, about a full-length feature film version of Zombie Prom being developed.  Which is the first news of Zombie Prom in a loooong time, ever since I worked on the proof-of-concept short back in 2006.

The guy in charge of wrangling the vfx for the short was David Manos Morris, who I was introduced to by my current boss at the time Marjolaine Tremblay at elementFX.  They were old friends and co-workers from ILM.  David was putting together volunteers to work on the film, and it was that stage of my career where you have to take a leap or two to start getting work experience.  Plus, David is a huge musical theater nerd and we were going to trade early versions of some musicals we geeked out over.  Fair enough.  I did only a couple of shots - one matte painting and comp of Johnny driving up to the nuclear power plant and extending a shot of balloons for a wipe transition effect.

The best part was attending the screening.  David used his contacts as ILM to secure the big screening room at Skywalker Ranch for the night.  Ever since I was little and had the George Lucas: The Creative Impulse book, I had known about the Ranch.  The secluded pastoral patch of land nestled around wine country that was Lucas' artist enclave.  The place where pre and post production on everything from Star Wars to ET to Indiana Jones happened.

Heather and I dressed up nice and headed across the Golden Gate Bridge for Skywalker Ranch, ironically located on Lucas Road.  It's just as stunning as you would think.  Heck, even the parking lot is next to the vineyard - which is the only point I was willing to take a quick photo, less I seem too starstruck.  The main building and screening room were also gorgeous - an arts and crafts style comfy environment that felt just perfect.  It was a unique night and a great chance to experience Skywalker Ranch.

The Skywalker Ranch parking lot vineyard

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trolls Opening Weekend!!!

It's here!  The last film I will have worked on at DreamWorks (well, unless they resurrect B.O.O. or Me & My Shadow...which is likely and a possibility).  It will be for sure the last DreamWorks film I'll be credited on (see below!)

I can't wait to see the finished film.  My two boys are going crazy to see it after listening to the soundtrack for the last month or so (including it on constant repeat on a two day drive to Nebraska). And DreamWorks seems to have FINALLY figured out marketing for one of their movies.  So we've been eating Trolls cookies and gummies, playing with Troll dolls, reading Trolls books...you name it.

Hopefully it'll have a nice weekend and some solid legs.  I'm sure Dr. Strange (which you may have heard of) will take first place - but I feel like this damn little optimistic movie is just what the world needs right now.

Friday, November 4, 2016

APSU (Future) Animation Lab

The future home of the Animation Lab
Chair Barry Jones showing off site of conference room

The Art + Design faculty today got to do a walkthrough of our new building still under construction.  It was great to finally get a sense of the place - now that it has sheetrock walls up!  The other great development is that I'm getting my very own space for an Animation Lab.  It'll be a dedicated space with our Mac workstations, some Oculus machines, a huge teaching station and monitor, and hopefully some leftover space so we can set up placed to film reference, etc.  Pretty excited.  The completion date is still set for Feb, so fingers crossed we can move over in the spring!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Trolls Breakdown of A Scene

This is really great!  This was one of my favorite scenes in Trolls (back in the storyboard form I last saw it in).  It was hilarious and was a great exposition of character for Poppy, and set the tone of the movie in general.  Hopeless optimism.  So I love that the directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn break the sequence down for the NY Times.

I talk in class all the time about how things that work in storyboards don't always translate into CG animation.  It's an idea I first heard from Mike Mitchell back on Shrek 4.  Then I had scene it personally with moments that were hilarious in boards, and just fall flat or feel a bit gruesome in the more tangible world of CG. Bits like Mort throwing up cake in Madagascar 2 was always a big laugh in boards - and it just felt wrong in CG.  Well - imagine the insane freak-flag-fly world of Trolls.  It all worked wonderfully in the story reels.  But I had my doubts how it would translate - one that things wouldn't get "softened" by the executives over the course of production, and two that that'd have to stylize the hell of out it to pull it off.  It looks successful in all the clips I've seen so far.  I'm just so happy that this weird little movie was able to stay weird.