Monday, November 24, 2008

Some perspective

I felt really bad for not posting any of my work. I have been really busy, and I feel that my work is not the best.

To begin with, here are just a couple of perspective assignments:

This was a one-point perspective assignment at the beginning of the year. The requirements was to have a scene where the character touches an object. I did a Saloon!

This one was fairly recent. The assignment involved stairs and a chase scene. A huge guinea pig chasing me is like a dream come true!

This is the most recent perspective homework. The first one I did in color! The window ellipse still needs to be fixed, but otherwise it was successful.

I will upload my SD card soon with life drawing pictures, my silhouette project, and of course my animation assignments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Friend's 48 hour animation

Sorry folks...this is not my animation. My animation is still tightly hidden on the pencil test machine. My friend Carlos kicked ass on his first 48 hour film and put it up on Youtube.. He completed it right after he got out of the hospital. (Shaking fist!)

This is the competition and talent here at CalArts, which is awesome and scary at the same time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November November

Finally, it is November and the infamous CalArts Halloween party came and went. I had fun dressing up a little bit as a guinea pig. I had bunny ears crumpled down and Michael painted an awesome nose on me.

The night before I had an all niter doing a pitch for story. My group did a parody of Snow White as Snow Grimson. Basically, Snow White gets manipulated into killing maidens after Prince Charming cheats on her. Again, it was a long night.

The Halloween Party was a drunk and drug fest. A lot of crazy costumes and naked people. I'm beginning to see a trend here at CalArts. People do crazy things and nobody gets in trouble. Just recently we had a screening of 48 hour films for this year's theme hair. My favorite shorts this year were Jeff Liu, Carlos Romero, and Henry Yu films. During the screening, someone barfed all over the stairwell near Keane Street where my cube is. Our janitor wasn't going to come in until Monday. Me, Carlos, and Ashley grabbed cleaning supplies and bonded together while cleaning up barf. I feel proud that I cleaned it up...just a weird feeling like slaying a dragon :p
I just hope this doesn't happen again.

Class wise everything is great. I'm improving each week. My artistic caliber is not as high as my classmates, but at least I'm improving. I'm thinking Wednesday before Thanksgiving I'll scan my most recent work. I hate not showing any of my art on this blog.

The big assignment I'm looking forward to at the end of the semester is my mini animation as me as a six-year old. My activity will be using chopsticks.

Our recent guest lecturer was Don Hahn who is the producer for Disney animation. He showed us the final feature film is always revised. Elton John's original Circle of Life sounded like pop music, but was revised to the African soul song of today. Hahn is also publishing Walt Stanchfield's lecture notes on gesture drawings for animation. It's a must buy and will come out this May in two volumes.

I'm going to try to see Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios this Wednesday. I'm willing to skip my critical studies class to see his lecture. I want to be an independent short animator, and it would be great to meet such an influential person in this department.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Last time on...

Last time on Ellen's blog....

On Columbus Day/Indigenous People's Day, I went to see Sita Sings the Blues at Redcat with some great upperclassman. The film was really interesting with the three storylines surrounded Ranma and Sita. I love how Nina Paley combined her own life with this myth. The animation is limited in its movement, but I really can't blame her since she made the whole movie by herself!
The best part of the night was a surprise encounter.

While we were waiting for the film to start, I looked back and thought I saw Craig McCracken (creator of Powerpuff Girls and Foster's) and Lauren Faust (worked on Iron Giant and Foster's). I learned about CalArts through an interview with Craig - on I think a PPG dvd. After the movie was over, he was standing off to the side. I nervously went up to him and shook his hand. All I could was that I was from CalArts. I didn't ask for a picture because I found out there is a unspoken code in L.A. to not be a fangirl. To tap off the night, we ate ramen in Little Tokyo. It was really good and had huge portions. This always reminds me of Tampopo. :D

My CalArts friend is now out of the hospital. He finally got out after two weeks! Now he is catching up and kicking ass.

We finally did Hobaica's silouhette project where we cut five scenes with exacto knives. A lot of people went all out with tiny miniscule details on balcony columns. I liked how mine turned out. It is not the best, but I had a lot of fun doing it.

I'm still struggling on storyboards. Now our teacher is allowing us to add cuts and angles to the scene. I must keep at it!

Trad. Animation is still magical. My timing is really slow still, but I still get excited when things move.

Our recent visiting artist was Mandrews aka Mark Andrews. He was the head of story on The Incredibles and Ratatouille. He is an extreme and funny man. He showed us the majestic qualities of the triangle and talked about what movies suck. I learned all good storyboard artists watch bad movies to learn why do these scenes fail and how to fix them. Michael Giacchino (wrote music scores for Lost, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille) tagged along for the lecture! It was a great lecture and I think he comes every year!

Sadly, I didn't do the 48 hour lockdown, where you animate a film with the picked word and make it in 48 hours. You do post production for one week and then turn it in. The word this year is "hair." I really wanted to do a dancing guinea pig, but the homework was too much for me. I promise you people, I will animate a dancing piggie someday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hourglass...sand is leaking

I have no idea how Jennifer Harlow updates her blog so frequently. She is a time management goddess!

I think I have been avoiding my blog because of the task of uploading and resizing I have decided to use this as a journal for the rest of the semester. I'll post pics once winter break comes along.

CalArts has been a whirlwind of busy late nights and work, work, work. This is wonderful but it has been really hard to keep in touch with my family and friends back in Colorado. I think I'll save all the sharing when I see them during break. You do give up four years to this place. A trade that is really worth it because I fee like I'm improving everyday.

My favorite class so far is Dan Hansen's Perspective and Traditional animation with Mike Nguyen. Perspective with characters is a lot of fun compared to the classical perspective taught in art school. I feel I'm improving the most in this class. Mike's animation class is great! I really want to intern with him over the summer to help with cleanup on My Little World. I asked him about this, but he bashfully said that I probably wanted to work at Disney or Pixar instead. He's too humble ;) He's also working on a really cool project with Robert Duncan called Land of Zi. It's a children show that teaches kids how to write Chinese characters. They're trying to find a distributor. Man, I would love to work on this show. I have the most fun animating. I still want to become an independent animator, but I do want to work at companies at the beginning to get more experience.

Speaking about career choices, I'm beginning to think I'm not going to head down the job of story or design. The idea of pitching just gets scarier. I don't have a tough skin. The process is not as spontaneous. You have to go through so many revisions and even the best version may be left on the cutting room floor. Character design is something I need to work on. For so long, I tried to capture realism in my drawings and accurate proportions. Now it is the complete opposite. You have to exaggerate and vary shapes in a character. I need to keep pushing it. Its very uncomfortable for me.

On another note, we had some great visiting artists already. One was Ben Balistreri who worked on Danny Phantom and Foster's. He gave us good advice and tricks on character turns and designs. Then, we had Lisa Keene who is the Art Director for Enchanted and Rapunzel. She showed how she morphed photo references into her layouts. Last night, Jeff Snow visited and talked about storyboarding. He worked on Tarzan and Over the Hedge.

We already had a health incident with one of my good friends. From what I hear, it is quite common for students to visit the hospital for carpal tunnel, pneumonia, and back problems because of stress. I have been visiting him at the hospital during my free time. I can't get any work done if I don't visit. He'll be out soon thankfully. :D My health has been normal. I had my first all niter this week for my Story for Animators class. I'm terrible at sitting down and writing on the computer. I saw the sun rise, which was really beautiful.

That's everything so far in a tiny nutshell. I've met some really amazing students here, and I can already tell I found some additional life-long friends.

Up ahead for me: I'm going to see Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues on Monday night. And work my butt off. :p

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Favorites of 2008 Producer's Show

Last Duel of a Lost Era

Paranormal Roommates


Everyone Dies in 90 seconds

(This song is addictive.)


The Airship Danger

Rubber Woes

Dead Meat

Damned Cute

Extreme update!

CalArts is really wonderful and is like a dream. I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and be back home lol. Valencia is very hot and CalArts sits on top of a hill. Suposedly, the CalArts area is the basis of the Edward Scissorhands movie. Weird lol!

My dorm is really big and has lovely storage. I'm thankfully on the quiet hall. People are known to run through the halls screaming (acting majors lol). My roommate named Disa is super sweet and is a very good match. The window looks out to the pool, which is clothing optional o.o I got to visit Santa Monica as a field trip and finally got to see the ocean for the first time. There were a variety of stores and I finally got to eat a British meat pie!

Very interesting people go to CalArts and are extremely nice. The animation room or The Palace has cubicles on top where we need to work. The cube sign up sheet was actually up at 6:30 pm the day before sign up. I was doing laundry at the time and didn't know. I came in at 7 am the next day because I wanted to sleep in my bed. Everyone else camped out in the halls for no reason. I guess for tradition :p I got number 39 lol out of 49 or something. Luckily, I got a cube #3 in the main building. I'm on Keane St. and Dejas Rue :p (Animator street signs around the cubes). I'm sharing with 3 other people.

My desk is a bizzare story.... It has graffiti and paintings on it. Your allowed to paint the walls and desk in your cube. Mine had unicorns painted on it with Lisa Frank and the cabinet....someone drew men's privates in it. o.0 I later found out that a junior named Henry had this cube. His classmates played a prank on him over winter break and painted horrible things in his cube. The funny coincidence is last year no one got the desk, but I got it this year. Henry's last name is Yu lol. He is now my long lost brother lol!

I have Dan Hansen as my Perspective teacher. He started on the Rescuers. My traditional animation class was awesome. My teacher Mike Nguyen was so enthusiastic. He started to show us how to flip in the last part of the class when he finally mentioned he was the Supervising Animator on the IRON GIANT! Everybody gasped! So I have to learn how to flip with his Hogarth walk cycle. I love CalArts!!!!!

Side note:
I've found out about some websites for those who can't make it to CalArts or are interested.

Mike Nguyen

Chong Suk Lee (My storyboard teacher)

Chris Meeks

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My Schedule

This is just for future you get to see how much stuff I'm taking!

BP –Basic Perspective Mondays: 9am-noon
IDP –Intro to Digital Perspective Tuesday: 9am-noon
C&D1 –Color & Design 1 Tuesday: 1pm- 4pm
BA –Beginning Animation Tuesday: 7pm-10pm
Doubles- Doubles, in art and culture Wednesday: 10am-1pm
BSD –Beginning Story Development Wednesday: 7pm-10pm
BLD –Beginning Life Drawing Thursday: 9am-4pm
BCGIA –Beginning CGI Animation Thursday: 7pm-10pm
SFA –Story for Animators Friday: 1pm-3pm

Holy crap lol! I start tomorrow ^^ and will battle for a cubicle on Tuesday. Freshman get the leftovers and since our class has 44 people (reguar is 25), space will be limited.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

CalArts arrival

I arrived safely at Calarts in lovely Valencia. It has been really hot, but the scenery is so beautiful. The students are really friendly, and I think Ron Perlman's son is attending CalArts.

Chouinard, my dorm, is way bigger than I expected. The rooms are huge. I regret not taking some of my dvds. The pool here is clothing optional lol.

I'll put up a better report with pictures. This week has been pretty busy.

Here's a Pictures for Sad Children by John Campbell that I simply love!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ASIFA-Colorado workshop animation

I didn't realize they posted this on Youtube. I did this during the Starz Film Festival during a workshop.This was done before I did Check the Label. I started with a guinea pig animation then gave it to another participant. The next person animated my pig as being blown up o.0

My drawings are at 1:10 with the dancing leaf, 1:13 with my piggie, and 2:14 with the flower head.

I didn't get to see this compiled together until now. I had to go see the screening of Persepolis ;)

Monday, August 25, 2008

From Olympics to the DNC

These past two weeks I have been staying up watching the Olympics. Normally, I never watched the Olympics. I think I ignored the last one in Athens.
I felt so much pride and excitement that it was taking place in Beijing. My whole family and a lot of other Asian cultures seem to be excited and celebrating as well. We rooted for China and gasped at the beautiful venues for the Olympic Village. World Records were breaking with the help of the Water Cube's design. China finally showed off, which is wonderful since people associate China with lead paint and pollution.

Now the spotlight is on Denver!

The pic above is me on the light rail Saturday. Media trailers were covering everything.

I'm a little sad the Democratic National Convention had to happen the last week I'm in Denver. Roads are closed off and the media is going crazy. Most of my friends who live in Denver are hiding in their apartments. Protestors are at their footstep. Where the convention is held, The Pepsi Center, is right across from university I went to. I can't believe their using the campus as a security checkpoint :p

Well, I leave Colorado this Friday on a road trip to CalArts. I feel nostalgic and sad that I'm leaving such wonderful friends and my beautiful home I grew up in. I'm leaving behind my precious baby Xiao Bao. I hope to gain new experiences and develop into a better artist and person. It's an exciting transition. California here I come!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Cul de Sac

Hmm...I don't dress my guinea pig like a cowboy.....all the time.

Any comic with a main character as a guinea pig gets extra points.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Much easier than Photoshop and is free!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Oh yeah I have a blog...

I finally graduated with a BFA in Drawing. Sort of bittersweet since I have four more years at CalArts. I have been looking for a summer job. It is an odd situation when you have a college degree that pretty much doesn't matter at all in the job market. Oh well, I enjoyed my stay at CU Denver.

I'm posting the ever popular guinea pig portraits! My teacher John Hull just kept telling me "more" guinea pigs. My whole independent study was just that....guinea pigs :D Out of that great experience I created my comic zine Fight or Flight. My study was during a painting class where I did portraits of my friends.

Richard and Nancy

The paint guru Lisa!

My friend Sean with his many acrylic jars...
As a farewell gift to John Hull, he was moving to Charleston, I made him a guinea pig. Lots of inside jokes in this piece.

The newest of the drawing is my guinea pig portrait I gave to the Flight of the Conchords when they played at the Ellie Caulkins. True bliss I have to say because I got to give it to them.

The very sweet and tall Jemaine Clement!

The also very tall and sweet Bret.

And because I am thesis art...the one with the pandas can be found at my new deviantart account. I mainly got one because all the CalArts peeps update that thing like crazy. I think when I probably post my thesis art on this blog, I will discuss that I hope people don't consider my art "furry art." I just think people as guinea pigs is silly and fun.

Thanks for reading ^^

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Check the Label

Finally uploaded my animation on Youtube! Originally it was going to be a 12 second project, but ended up 1 minute and 40 seconds.

The film is playing on a plasma at my thesis art show and at the Starz Film Center.
I entered it in our school competition "Digital Visions" and won Best Animation! :D

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thesis Postcard

My fancy postcard!

Come if you can to my thesis reception and see my work!

CalArts it is!

I finally made my decision. I'm going to CalArts Fall 2008. My scholarship appeal didn't go so well. Money is tight for education and everything right now. CalArts has no more money to give. I just have to be happy with my $1000 scholarship.

So I thought to myself since the apocolypse is coming, loans shouldn't be too much of a worry :p My parents practically gave me the ultimatum of DO NOT FAIL! MAKE MONEY! I'm really lucky to receive help from them.

To save money ramen will become the ultimate food lol. This is a pastel work from Denver local Riva Sweetrocket Comfort Foods.

I will be leaving my precious guinea pig at home. No pets allowed and he practically lives like a king in my home. My parents are setting up a webcam for me to help ease the seperation anxiety.

My dream has finally come true to go to CalArts! :D

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Great Pause

I mainly have just been running around the past few weeks. I got to go to Kansas City to visit KCAI over spring break. Really nice town although everything closes at 7pm. The school was quite nice. I regret not going to this school for my first bachelor. They have a different working space for each year you attend. Plus, the school is situated near the Nelson-Atkins Museum and the Kemper Comtemporary Museum.

So in the end surprisingly...I got into all of the schools I applied. I recieved a mere $1000 of scholarship from CalArts -.-
USC MFA program hasn't sent my award money yet. KCAI gave me a $15,000 transfer scholarship o.o. I'm shamefully using it as leverage to get more money from CalArts. I appealed my scholarship in hopes for more money.

I've been debating which school to attend. In my heart, CalArts is the place I want to go. All the faculty from USC and KCAI seem to have come from CalArts lol.
My brain is the basic problem. If I go to CalArts...I'll be eternally poor ($47,500 a year for everything) and no MFA degree. I applied to Character because I like what is coming out of there and the department is legendary.

I have to make my decision soon. Wahhh!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I got into CalArts! I slowly opened the mailbox today and there it was. The flamboyant envelope of acceptance lol! I screamed when I saw it.

I'm in a daze. It really hasn't sinked in yet. Unless USC offers me a ton of money, I'm going to CalArts this fall.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Peek-a-boo Mailbox

The application waiting game is making me crazy lately. It has been reported through forums that the envelopes are out! I think I won't know about KCAI or USC until April since the deadline was February. I get a mild heart jolt every time I open the mailbox. I don't want to get anymore generic envelopes from the schools. My hands start shaking only just to find out the letter was about financial aid. >< I really want Xiao Bao to be my letter opener.

I need to post my portfolio pics on flickr asap.

Thesis work has been fine. I think everybody is on the same boat with holes and slowly sinking into the abyss that is the sea :p I have about 6 or 7 seconds of animation done. Hooray!

Of course as soon as I find out about CalArts, I'll spam everyone with the news! Good or bad!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Project after project

I started animating for my independent study last week. I did a pencil sketch, then ink, and then ink wash for one second of the entire piece. Three times I had to work on this. I met with my teacher, and she said I needed to get two seconds done by next week 0.0.

The short is going to be 12 seconds. So fast for soo much work. It seems like I'll be animating in Photoshop CS3 (amazingly they have an animation feature). I'm starting to panic a bit. I have to do final pieces for my thesis as well.

For now, I know how this guy feels:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Hourly Comic Day

I participated in Hourly Comic Day created by the awesome John Campbell. I had to create a comic every hour I was awake. Kind of like a diary. It was a really fun event and less daunting than the 24 hour challenge.

Blogger is giving me trouble with the pictures. You can read them better here:
If you were wondering, what the party was in the comic. I was at the book signing of The 24 Hour Comics People party that I participated in. Whoo hoo! The Squids did great readings of their work. I couldn't read mine due to my sore throat. The book will be available online soon!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My thesis

I started my last semester at CU Denver this week. Everything has been scary and exciting at the same time. I have to come up with a proposal in the next week explaining my concept and necessary gallery schematics. It's faster than I expected.

Choosing the topic of my thesis is daunting. A lot of my colleagues want me to incorporate guinea pigs in my show. I feel like I have already accomplished this with the comic book. I need something with a serious concept.

I've been avoiding topics about being American Born Chinese in my artwork. It is a hard subject to tackle with personally, and it does not help that my art is influenced by Japanese ink drawings. The style and concept just don't connect. I'm more comfortable in incorporating the subject of anxiety in my art than my ethnic background.

A lot of ideas pop into my head when I think about the topic, so I know it's a good one. It seems many people with multiple ethnic backgrounds have problems with fitting in like I do. Not understanding the language. Neither Chinese or American. I haven't decided if I'm emotionally ready to give my all to this topic.

I always wondered why Amnesty International's Universal Declaration of Human Rights said:

Everyone has the right to a nationality.
No one shall be arbitrarily
deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

I didn't understand how someone can change their nationality. I now see nationality is based on your influences. If you feel at home with a certain culture, it's fine to become a part of it.

I guess I'll give it a shot.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

2008 kick-start

Yes...that's a guinea pig buffet....

It's been pretty hectic the last couple of days, but I finally sent the portfolio to CalArts. Whoo hoo! The due date was Jan 4th (a paticularly bad time to ship things) but it made it there safe and sound.
All I have left to do is send image discs to Kansas City and USC. CalArts is the only brutal one that wants the real thing XD. I'll post my whole portfolio once the Feb 15th due date passes by. I'm a little unsure if anybody would steal anything from me. Although that would be flattering lol.
For USC, they need me to take the GRE for the MFA program. Nobody ever told me about this lol...kinda was a footnote to the whole process. Important note to anyone getting a Masters: you'll probably have to take this test even though it has math...which my degree only required one class. I'm digging up the old high school math.
Now the all important worry time about getting in. I may not get into CalArts, which is alright with me. I may not like animation...really have not had much practice with this. However, I do love to create comics. It's an unknown for what is in store for 2008.
What I do know is in 2008:
  • I graduate :D
  • I have my BFA thesis show...with cheese and crackers
  • I have an independent study on animation. I have to make 15 sec of hand drawn goodness. The faculty will look at me in bewilderment because we have a computer animation program lol.

Things that should have happen:

  • Getting my comic bookbound...I will get this done Rarrrr!

Everybody have a great 2008!