Monday, December 9, 2019

Animation 3 - Short Film

In Animation 3 this semester, we took a vote what students most wanted to take on over the next 15 weeks.  Overwhelmingly they wanted to create a short create a short film we did.  Student each pitched 1 rough ideas, of which one they went ahead and fully storyboarded. Then we voted on a class which idea we thought was the most creative, interesting, and doable in our short timeframe.

So today we premiered that short during the class Final.  Thirteen students spent almost exactly two months to create the minute long short you see above!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Art + Design Open House

Last night Art + Design held it's first ever "Open House" event to conclude the end of the semester.  It was great seeing all the work produced over the last 15 weeks all at once.  For us Anim/VFX folk, I created a new reel of the semesters work and we had a few of the 3D prints sitting out in the hallway.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Creators Society Leadership

I'm proud to have been voted as the Chief of the Associates Branch of The Creators Society.  I'm excited to be a part of this amazing group of professionals and excited to see where the next year takes us.  Learn more (and join) at The Creators Society website HERE

Monday, November 25, 2019

3D Printing time in Digital 3D Class

In Digital 3D class we've spent all semester designing and building "Helper Bots" in Maya.  This week we started printing them out on the school's MakerBots.  After the tedious months of getting past modeling, textures/UVs, and rigging - it's really rewarding to see and hold these prints.  A tangible result and gratification after all that time just getting it into existence.

We also have a new larger MakerBot Replicator+  that makes awesomely bigger this guy in the photo below!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Heather Frozen II Interview

Heather was interviewed about her work on Frozen II (which comes out today!) for this press release from APSU.  Check out the full article HERE

What was your experience working on “Frozen II” with Disney?I worked at Disney years ago on “Big Hero 6,” a little bit of “Zootopia,” “Moana” and some other projects. After that, we moved to Clarksville. All my friends that are still there are really great artists and a really fun collaborative environment, so when I got the opportunity to go back for a couple months, I was like, “We can go to Disneyland all summer and work on a movie and hang out with my friends? Heck, yeah! I want to do that! That sounds great!”  The first big thing was going back to Disney and seeing how much things had changed. The whole building has transformed, the people are reinvigorated. Seeing the familiar faces was nice. But every team on every movie is different, but for me, getting to meet and work with the art directors is always thrilling. When you’re working remotely, it can be very isolating, you don’t have any colleagues to work with, you don’t have anybody to go have coffee with. So just getting to be around all these people is really exciting. Everybody there gets along incredibly well. Getting to see the movie ahead of time is always exciting because you don’t just see the movie, you’re seeing it as a work in progress. The versions of the movie I’ve gotten to see are part storyboard, part rough animatic, part completely finished. Even the last version I saw is not the last version of the movie. I can’t wait to see the final product because I’ve had the songs stuck in my head since June, but I can’t sing them out loud! Even if I’m humming a tune to myself, nobody’s going to know what’s going on. It’ll be nice for the rest of the world to see it. 
How is matte painting different when working on a live action film vs an animated film? Fundamentally they’re similar. With live action you always have a plate. You always have a reference to real life. The goal is to make it as photoreal as possible. That can be quite easy with all the photographic references. You know what that target is right away. With animated movies, the target is always different. The style changes on every movie and even on every sequence. While you want it to look real, it’s also very stylized. Everything has to fit the style of the world. You have to have very strong painting skills in addition to being able to do a bunch of generalist work. With animated movies, it’s trickier to fit matte painting into the schedule and find reference for what you’re making. 
Does there ever come a point where you can be picky about the projects you take on?Since I’ve moved here and decided to only freelance, I have been able to pick and choose whichever jobs I’m interested in. But more importantly than the jobs is that I get to pick my colleagues or the companies I work with. I choose the companies that are easiest to work with and the most friendly as opposed to working with another company with a cooler project. At this point in my career I have enough cool titles and shots that I’m not worried about building my reel. I’ve already led teams. I’ve helped companies build their departments. Now I just want to have a good working relationship with my colleagues. 
Is there a dream project for you?Not really. Everybody used to want to work on “Star Wars” or “Avatar” or “Harry Potter,” and I got a chance to work on all of those. Part of the problem is, if you love a franchise, working on it is like seeing behind the curtain. Then you have all these different memories that changes the movie for you. There’s not a whole lot I would choose over my family now. The whole reason we moved here was that we chose family over fame.  
What are you up to now?Now I’ve got my own office at home. I work on a lot of different projects. I don’t get as much feature film work now. I get a lot of commercials and game cinematics. I got to work on “Game of Thrones” and “Lemony Snicket’s” series on Netflix. I get to help companies train their matte painters. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work for a company that does all the park shows that use projections at Disney World. 
Are you teaching or doing any mentoring?I had been teaching online at CG Spectrum and a class through Pluralsight. I also taught electronic imaging here at Austin Peay when we first moved here. That was really fun. I was just really excited to teach people. I still have hundreds of students that I have taught in the past that keep in contact letting me know if that they got a job interview or asking to use me as a reference. It’s really exciting to see your students successful. 
What is your opinion on what the animation department is doing here at Austin Peay?I think it’s really exciting that students have a place to go that isn’t too far from home. I had to go five hours away when I was going to school to get something even close to what I wanted to do. But now students have so many opportunities so much earlier in life. With any education, it’s all about the effort you put in. If you put in the work, you can go anywhere and do whatever you want. Everything we do online is something that has been designed by artists. There’s so much to do out there. It would be very difficult to design some web pages without animation knowledge. What’s great about Austin Peay is how much students get to dabble in everything.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

New Animation Club

One of the new Animation + Visual Effects majors has decided to start a new Animation Club here at APSU!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Animax Visit

Last night Heather and I had an amazing opportunity to go visit Animax Designs here in Nashville.  The meeting was set up by a former student of mine, Henry Kiltpatrick, who works there now.  They are working on some super amazing stuff, of which almost nothing I can talk about - but they have announced recent work includes the T-Rex from Jurassic World Live and creating Hagrid and the Screwt for the new Harry Potter attraction at Universal Orlando.

We met some awesome people and saw some incredible things. Pretty great to have a place like this in our backyard...

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

New Week, New Senior Show

This week features Allison Stutts showcasing her graphic novel.  The show is up in the Student Gallery all week.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Art + Design at Night

Just a cool shot of our Art + Design building after leaving the Senior Show Openings this week...

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

New Senior Shows Opening

We have two new Senior Show openings this week in the Student Gallery.  Stephanie Knight has some amazing photo collages and Jonathan Bruns has copies of his graphic novel to read!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

JAFF MoCap Workshop

We had a great time showing off our Motion Capture system for a Jackson Alley Film Festival Workshop this Friday. I always love seeing Theatre Professor Talon Beeson in action - and it was fun to cover this from both the performance and tech side of things.

Friday, October 11, 2019

24 Hour Press Followup

The APSU public relations team did a great followup article with the teams about their experience with the 24 Hour Animation Contest!  Check it out HERE

Ten Austin Peay students had 24 hours to create the best possible 30-second animated film they could working off nothing more than a contest prompt and the knowledge they’ve earned from the university’s emerging animation program.
As it turns out, the students – who broke into two teams of five – didn’t need the time allotted to them by the 24 Hours Animation Contest for Students, an international competition that last year included more than 200 teams and about 50 colleges. 
One Austin Peay State University team needed only 23 hours to finish its hand-drawn movie (two-dimensional animation), a task that required team members to create more than 700 drawings then scurry across campus for recording equipment to capture the film’s dialogue.
The other team accomplished its three-dimensional, computer-generated movie in 21 hours, which required team members needing more than five hours just to create the characters, let alone the 12 hours to give the characters’ movement (not counting the time needed to capture real humans modeling character movement). 
“Our group was very happy with the final result of our work,” Claire Layne, who led the team that created the 2D movie (embedded above), said. “Everyone worked extremely hard on each task. Strong communication among our group was a pivotal part of our success, and the experience brought us closer as a team.”
Peyton VanHook, who led the 3D team (video embedded below), agreed: “It was a great experience. We really hit our stride. A big part of what we did was develop all the pieces that needed to come together.”
‘Developing all the pieces’ on little sleep
The common key to success for both teams was just that: “developing all the pieces” or “working hard on each task.”
All the teams in the competition had to create movies based on the question, “What does family mean to you?” They had 24 hours to create a 30-second movie from scratch, beginning when the prompt was announced at around 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4.
Using VanHook’s team as an example, the student animators started by spending about 30 minutes coming up with a concept. One of the students then broke off to create the character models, a task that took five to six hours. During that time, her teammates focused on creating the story. Other tasks included refining the storyboard and filming a reference video to capture human movement to apply to the characters. 
After all that came 12 hours of animation – making the characters move within the story.
“We didn’t even get started animating moving stuff until 1:30 in the morning because we had to make sure all the pieces were ready to go,” VanHook said.
Layne’s team used hand-drawn animation in its movie, a process that requires about 24 drawings in each second of the movie. Her team also decided to add dialogue to the movie, and those voices came from the team members themselves, using a sound studio on campus.
“The time crunch was a challenge since we realized that we were going to use dialogue for our short,” she said.
VanHook added, “None of us got much sleep.”
Layne’s team included Catelyn DaSilva, Jonathan Bruns, Nicholas Stiers and Jeremy Vega. VanHook’s team included Myles Johnson, Savannah Debord, Kayleigh Baird and Paul Gibson.
‘Mimics’ crunch time in professional animation
This year is the third time Austin Peay students have participated in the October contest, which parallels life as a professional animator – especially the days leading up to a project deadline.
“It really mimics a little bit of when you’re in a studio setting and you’re in crunch time and you need to get a shot out by Friday,” Scott Raymond, associate professor in Art + Design, said. “You’ll do what you have to do, pull the crazy 80-hour workweeks to get things done.” 
Raymond has the experience to know; he worked on such films as “Trolls,” “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Home” before joining APSU’s Art + Design department. 
The contest also reinforces teamwork, he said. 
“You realize, ‘We’re all in it together,’” Raymond said. “Animation tends to be a solo adventure, but that’s not indicative about how it is in the real world. In the real world, you’re part of a team and you can’t do it all.”
The contest awards five teams with prizes from industry sponsors and includes judges who are industry professionals. This year’s sponsors include DreamWorks Animation, the Cartoon Network, Blue Sky Studios and Sony Pictures Animation. The contest is an event by Animation Educators Forum, a subset of the animation industry group ASIFA-Hollywood. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Green Screen Time Again!

Always one of my favorite assignments of the year!  Today in Visual Effects 1, we did a class demo using the green screen and lighting equipment.  We were matching the lighting on a shot from the movie "Paul" to eventually replace Simon Pegg with one of us.  The students will spend the next week or two in small groups checking out the same equipment and shooting their own footage.  A great change of pace to get off the computer screen for a little bit!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

24 Hour Videos

With the judging complete, we can now post the videos each team made.  Check them out below!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

24 Hours Competition 2019

3D team storyboarding

Once again we braved staying up all night and all day for the 24 Hour Animation Competition for Students!  This year we had two teams - one taking on a 3D short and the other going 2D.  It was a great time, both teams finished their shorts and we even went home a bit early. Very proud of these teams, it was a great group of students that pulled off another competition and showing everyone what APSU can do!

2D team story meeting

Jeremy drawing inspiration from...a shoe 
Questionable movie choices at dawn
The motivation board
3D Team - Maya Mia 
2D Team - The Keyframers

Friday, October 4, 2019

24 Hour Animation Preview Press

Check out this great article following our teams as they compete in the 24 Hour Animation Contest for Students again this year!  The full article is HERE

Ten Austin Peay students will muster all they’ve learned from the university’s emerging animation program when they test their skills in an international 24-hour movie-making contest Oct. 4-5. 
The 24 Hours Animation Contest for Students tasks students with creating a 30-second animated film from scratch. Before the 24 hours is up, the teams must submit a YouTube link of their completed film to a panel of industry professionals. 
“It’s so fulfilling to go from nothing to a completed animation with a completed story in 24 hours,” said animation and computer science senior Peyton VanHook, who will serve as leader of one of the two five-member teams.
The task is large, said the other team lead, animation junior Claire Layne. Animators need to create 24 high-level drawings for each second of a two-dimensional film. That’s at least 720 drawings for a 30-second film, not including coming up with the story concept and polishing the product. 
“It definitely takes every second,” VanHook said. “It’s always fun trying to balance what you want it to be against the amount of time you actually have to get it done.”
And that comes with little (or no) sleep and working through the dawn.
“You think, ‘I’ve stayed up for 24 hours before, it shouldn’t be a big deal,’” said Scott Raymond, an associated professor of animation in APSU’s Art + Design department. “But trying to do it in this very focused way with this deadline looming, it’s a pretty intense 24 hours.” 
‘Mimics’ crunch time in professional animation
This year is the third time Austin Peay State University students have participated in the October contest, which starts Friday night, when organizers unveil the year’s theme during a livestreamed video.
“Every year there’s the same trajectory of excitement and momentum,” Raymond said. “In the middle of the night, you start seeing how much there is to do and how much time is left and there’s a bit of a lull. Then by morning, everybody starts to rally again. But those last two hours are rough.”
The contest parallels life as a professional animator, especially the days leading up to a project deadline, he said.
“It really mimics a little bit of when you’re in a studio setting and you’re in crunch time and you need to get a shot out by Friday,” Raymond said. “You’ll do what you have to do, pull the crazy 80-hour workweeks to get things done.” 
‘You see them become a mini-studio’
The contest also reinforces teamwork, he said.
“You realize, ‘We’re all in it together,’” Raymond said. “Animation tends to be a solo adventure, but that’s not indicative about how it is in the real world. In the real world, you’re part of a team and you can’t do it all.”
During the 24 Hours Animation Contest, “you can see (the students) become a mini-studio,” he added.
Austin Peay’s teams will take on two mediums of animation. Layne’s team will create a film using two-dimensional (hand-drawn) animation. VanHook’s team will use three-dimensional (computer-generated) animation. 
“The 2D animation is something I’ve always felt more confident about because I’ve drawn all my life,” Layne said.
Animation industry supports, judges contest 
Last year, 219 teams from 49 colleges and nine countries submitted films to the contest. The films are judged on such criteria as storytelling, art direction and creativity.
The contest awards five teams with prizes from industry sponsors. This year’s sponsors include DreamWorks Animation, the Cartoon Network, Blue Sky Studios and Sony Pictures Animation. The contest is an event by Animation Educators Forum, a subset of the animation industry group ASIFA-Hollywood.
Last year’s judges included Delia Gosman, a story artist who worked on such movies as “Rango,” “Storks” and “Smallfoot” and John Musker, an animation director who worked on such movies as “Moana,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin.”
Catelyn DaSilva, Jonathan Bruns, Nicholas Stiers and Jeremy Vega are on Layne's team.
Myles Johnson, Savannah Debord, Kayleigh Baird and Paul Gibson are on VanHook's team.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Animated Senior Shows

Currently in the Art+Design Student Gallery are the first two Senior Shows of the year, and they both happen to feature animation!  Matthias Lea and Megan Hohman have some impressive work showcased, and I couldn't be prouder of both of them!

You can watch Matthias' full short below:

Monday, September 30, 2019

Fall Senior Capstone Projects

The Art+Design senior shows begin this week!  This semester we have a bunch of animation students presenting works - starting today with Matthias Lea presenting an animated short film and Megan Hohman showcasing dynamic looping animation integrated into a comic format. 

Check out the press release HERE

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Full Racing Legends Ride Video

You can now check out the full Racing Legends ride video from Tau Films.  Really fun getting to see the final rendered result! I helped out with the cars/cameras for the opening sequence, the ride around Rome, and the final Future Track.

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Creators Society

I'm excited to join The Creators Society! I've heard about it through it's founder Eric Miller, who I worked with at DreamWorks and on his Bink webseries pilot. It's grown like crazy over the years. I had hoped to make it to one of their monthly gatherings during our summer in L.A., but sadly the timing never worked out. I even overheard attendees at the CTN Storyboard Workshop I attended talk about going to The Creators Society monthly gatherings, it's getting that big and noticed. I'm excited to be a part of the group and expand it's influence out here to the middle of the country a little bit :)

Monday, August 26, 2019

Animation + Visual Effects Vimeo

Just a reminder to check out our Animation + Visual Effects Vimeo page HERE. I've just updated it with the announcement of our new BFA concentration and student work from last Spring.

Monday, August 19, 2019

BFA Animation + Visual Effects

As we officially start the Fall semester I'm so excited to announce our big news - APSU Art+Design is now offering a new BFA concentration in Animation + Visual Effects!

I've been working towards this since coming to APSU in 2015. You can read more about the program HERE and see our latest reel of student work below!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

SIGGRAPH 2019 Student Work Online

The SIGGRAPH 2019 Faculty Submitted Student Work Exhibit is now online! Check out the link HERE. The following images are accompanied by the assignment sheets - contributing to a huge resource of projects/assignments for other schools to see. There's a lot of hard work in these projects and I'm very proud of all the students accomplished!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Heather and Disney Bagel Friday

Friday is free bagel day at Disney Feature Animation.  So each Friday, Disney Animation posts an employee's bagel recipe.  This Friday they feature Heather's!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

APSU Student Work at SIGGRAPH 2019

Some Austin Peay student work from animation and visual effects was chosen to be shown at this years SIGGRAPH conference in LA. APSU joins a list of 34 other schools who's student projects were chosen to be screened all conference long at the Education Committee Booth.  Soon after the conference it will be made available on the website for other educators to view and be inspired from.

You can find the press release HERE

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Crowds Dept Meetup

Today is our last day hanging out for the summer in California, and I was so excited to see a bunch of the old DreamWorks Crowds Dept come out for a last minute lunch at one of our old hangouts. In the last five years, this team is now part Disney and part DreamWorks - and one of the first times many of us have seen each other since the era of Dragons 2! When people ask if I miss DreamWorks or living in L.A., I really don't. But I miss getting to spend my days with these guys.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Disney Animation Studio Visits

We had lots of funny visiting Heather at work as much as possible this summer! We had lunch at the lighting departments "Snuggly Duckling" bar (from Tangled) to the commissary at the ABC Building to coffee on the main old Disney Lot. And lots of shopping at the Disney Employee Store. And LOTS of playing the Wreck-It Ralph arcade machine!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Disney Animation BBQ

In the time Heather previous was at Disney, we never were able to make it to the annual Family BBQ. The first year she was on maternity leave, and we left for Tennessee about a week before it was held the second year. But finally we made it! We had lots of fun, the kids lost their minds getting to see a sneak peak of Frozen 2, and I found out that Lewis and I together have GREAT taste in Hawaiian shirts.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Eric Miller Animation 5 Years

Today marks Eric Miller Animation Studios 5th anniversary. It was very nice to see my name included in the social media posts. It's also fun to see this pose of Bink that I created several years ago pop up again! 

Eric's company was one of my first big freelance gigs after leaving DreamWorks, and was one of the most satisfying projects I've done. It also gave me confidence that I could be successful and enjoy this new teaching/freelancing life I had chose. I can't wait to see what Eric accomplishes in the next 5 years...