Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope 2010 is a better year full of conducting guinea pigs!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Iron Giant Reunion

 I was anticipating the film in 1999 by looking at their movie website. At the time, I was excited about anything that was a non-Disney animated feature. I'm not sure why this was the case, but I'm guessing it is because I was sick of musicals. I remember I saw the Iron Giant on August 7th, 1999. I still have the movie ticket stub. I knew right then I had watched an instant classic.

I can't believe it has been ten years since this movie has come out. I re-watched the movie right before going to the reunion lecture, and it is still just as funny, fresh, and beautiful as the day I saw it (which is sadly not the case for Anastasia).

I wrote down notes during the lecture which was being held at the Stephen J. Ross Theater at the Warner Bros. Studio Lot down in Burbank. I was really sad a lot of my fellow CalArts friends couldn't get tickets. Here is a summary of the lecture:

In the beginning, Brad Bird was working on a project called Ray Gun, which was supposedly an action and sci-fi animated movie. When Turner merged with Time Warner, the project was dropped. This movie was supposedly supremely awesome. Warner Bros. instead gave Brad Bird an optional to do a movie based on pre-existing stories they owned. One of them was Ted Hughes's book, The Iron Man. Brad pitched to the executives a question: "What if a gun had a soul and didn't want to be a gun?" They liked the idea, but there were several more obstacles he had to face.

Pete Townshend from The Who already was heavily involved in the project and even wrote an album The Iron Man: The Musical. Yes, the Iron Giant was going to be a musical. Brad finally had to tell Pete that he was dropped from the project. A musical would not fit a movie about a town in 1957 full of innocence and paranoia. Warner Bros. finally green-lit the project one day after Brad was going to leave the studio.

The movie had about 48 million dollars for the entire budget. At the time, they made elaborate story reels using after effects to get scenes approved faster. The color palette of the film was inspired by Thomas Benton and Grant Wood. They had a warm autumn palette that went to cool colors for the end of the film. One interesting fact for the flashlight scene in the forest is the layout team had to make a night and day version. When he flashes his light, the day layout would appear.

From the start, Brad Bird knew the Giant would be CG. The problem they had to overcome is to make the computer less perfect. They used the beta version of Maya and created line textures to mimic the wobble in the line that traditional animation has. When they were animating, they had to take out frames from Maya to make the Giant feel like he's on 2 frames per image. Based on who was the focus in the scene the traditional animation would either be done first or last. When Hogarth is in contact with the Giant's hands, one of the animators actually drew the hand in the animation to connect the two together. Usually they would get printouts of the CG and animate over it like a layout. This is why scenes with the hands and Hogarth have so much warmth. They don't feel like separate mediums.

Fun tidbits:

Four Calarts students got the chance to animating some scenes and do rough animation. Shane Prigmore, Pete Sohn, Eddie Rosas and Andy Schuler were the students. They got the chance because they asked Brad Bird to lunch and, he remembered them from that meeting. Shane wrote about it here.

Ted Turner cried when he saw the movie.

Brad put Eli Marienthal's (voice of Hogarth) feet in a bucket of ice cold water for the swimming scene.

Hogarth Hughes's last name is a tribute to Ted Hughes.

Brad always intended the Giant to be alive at the end, which makes sense. He set up the Giant's ability to repair himself at the beginning.

One idea that was cut from the movie was Kent dancing to Pat Boone's version of Little Richard's Tutti Frutti. He was suppose to be dancing and confrontational in front of Hogarth. Brad wanted to keep this scene because he knew it would be great to see Teddy Newton animate it.

A feeling I got from the lecture was everybody who worked on the film loved working on it. Even if their work was down, they still came in to try to help make the movie work. This such a rare feeling in the entertainment industry or in any job. You can really feel it in this movie.

Well, that's it. It's amazing how much thing have changed in ten years. My first year animation teacher is Mike Nguyen who was a supervising animator on the movie. I never dreamed I could meet people who worked on this amazing film. I had a wonderful time at the lecture and for five seconds I met Brad Bird.

Monday, October 12, 2009

24 Hour Comic Challenge and more stuff

It's been a while. I'm back at Calarts with all the pressure and stress that comes with it.

I managed to take part in the 24 Hour Comic Day challenge this year. I went to the event that was being held at Brave New World in Newhall, CA. We started at 12pm, and I roughly finished around 9am.

I put The Treachery of the Eye up on Comicspace. I thought up the story based on the distortion of sight after someone has cataract surgery. I thought this would be a great movie idea, but I later found out that there is already a movie like this called At First Sight. Plus, Osamu Tezuka has done a much better rendition of visual agnosia in the 6th volume of the Phoenix. Oh well, I might as well do it as a comic for the challenge.

My Calarts schedule this year has been like this:
FC200A02INT TRADITIONAL ANIMATION (L-Z)Perkovac, Gary2.00T 7pm to 10pmA216
FC201A02INTERMEDIATE CGI ANIMATION (L-Z)Jones, Mike2.00Th 7pm to 10pmA108
FC205A02INTRODUCTION TO SOUND DESIGN (L-Z)Huff, Ben.50M 9am to 12 NoonA108
FC210A02DRAWING FROM REAL TO REEL (L-Z)Gomez, Jon2.00F 9am to 4pmPALACE
FC270-02BASIC ANIMATION LAYOUT (L-Z)Hansen, Dan2.00F 4pm to 7pmA217
FC377HISTORY OF CHARACTER ANIMATIONFurniss, Maureen3.00W 9am to 12 NoonBIJOU
T 820TRANSFORMING TEXT I: PUPPET THEATREGeiser, Janie2.50T 12:40pm to 3pmBB#2

I think I overloaded myself again. All the classes have been interesting and will hopefully help me out with my film this year.

I'm going to the CTN Animation Expo and if everything works out, I will have my portfolio ready by then. I have a sister blog up now just for my portfolio.

Thanks for reading. I hope to post more often this year.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Hello there! It's been a while.

I really had fun using india ink and pen nibs today. I usually avoided nibs because I had the problem of splattering on the page. I think my hand is steadier since the last time I used nibs (middle school). I shaded the image with good old sumi ink.

Summer has been a wonderful vacation away from CalArts. I still have the horrible habit of staying up late lol. I go back in less than a month. I'm really thankful that I get to go back again.

Shark Week is this week and I have been doing the shark challenge that Kristin Campbell started. I'll post the results at the end of this week.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Favorite films this year!!!

I was really proud of the shorts this year. I wanted to make a list of the films I enjoyed. Nine freshman got into the Producer's Show this now you know why I was so damn nervous this whole year lol.

LIFELINE by Andres Salaff

Madame Babette by Marcos Cohen

Ad Astra by Elle Michalka

Who's Hungry? by David Ochs

Leonardo's Chase by Carlos Romero

The Thirsty Gargoyle by Sabrina Cortugno

A Werewolf Film by Noel Belknap

Study Hall by Jeff Liu

I got your nose by Skyler Page

Captured by Jennifer Harlow

Kiss Cam by Benett Kim

l'elevatore by Janine Chang

Value Blind by Tahnee Gehm

Tight Robots by Nick Desimone and Clay Fessier (I'm one of the Asian animators.)

Beautiful Night by Kristina Mikhail

This one time by Nelson Boles

This one time... from nelson boles on Vimeo.

There are definitely more that are not online yet including mine hehe.
What a great year!

Friday, May 01, 2009

A test of courage

April 20th has rolled on by and things are finally winding down for my first year at CalArts. Making a film here is a lot different than last year. The three days before films were due was the most excruciating, heartbreaking, and amazing experience. You sit in a Mac Lab for 15 hours straight with other upperclassman. As you struggle to compose your animation, you gain a strong will to keep going.

For the lack of a better comparison, making a film is like war. Everyone comes into the battle together, but not everybody makes it out. It is a bittersweet experience. I hope technical difficulties and low morale will be less next year.

My film Remember When played at the Open Show. It was a fun evening to see everyone's films. I didn't get into the Producer's Show because there were so many great films, and my film was unfinished. I'll post links to my favorite shorts this year after The Producer's Show.

I will post my film when it is completely finished.

Here's a screen shot to keep you happy lol.

Oh and yes our group won first place for PSAid contest :D

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

PSA Entries and film update.

For Hobaica's Color and Design II class, we entered a Public Service Announcement contest to promote that "Cash is Best" when donating for international disasters. I think the judges will pick the top five and have the public vote for the winner.

Vote for whatever PSA you like the best. Thank you and I hope you enjoy them!

Both PSAs are up for viewing. Please post links to them and share them wherever you can as part of the voting is influenced by the number of views and comments.



Right now, I'm in crunch time. I've never had so many all-nighters in my life. The process of making your own short film is an amazing learning experience. It is exhilarating and painful at the same time. April 20th is the due date for the Open Show and qualifying for the Producer's show. I know right now my film will not be as complete as I want it to. Clean-up is a long process and I want to give a little extra to the performance of my characters. I'm a little depressed it won't be shiny complete by the Open Show, but I will work on this over the summer and polish it up for festivals in the fall.

I must be a choo choo train and climb up that mountain. :D

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Animating time!

I have a lot to recap since the last post.

Our department received a visit with Dead Man's Bones to collaborate on a music project with them. I hope I will be able to because their music is really beautiful and soulful. I want to work on this during the summer after my short is done.

The James Baxter lectures were great. I'm sad I missed the last one because he explained how to animate four-legged animals. And I think everyone at the lecture will remember this line at 1:59.


Shane Prigmore and Shannon Tindle gave a character design lecture. Everybody had to do the characters Fagin, Oliver, and Dodger from Oliver Twist.

For Dodger, I wanted his sleeves to barely be able to roll up. He uses clothes pins to snap them up. I tried to model him after James Cagney.

My Fagin was the least successful. They suggested he was closer in mannerism to Dodger. I need to make him more grotesque.

They said my Oliver was the most successful although the patches may look like a pattern. I wanted Oliver from the start to be emaciated. I looked up starving children with their rib cages exposed.

Both Shane and Shannon were character designers on Coraline. Their designs were translated beautifully in the film. I went to the panel at Nucleus Gallery. I didn't get to see much because it was so crowded, but I did get to meet the artists. I'm embarrassed they posted pics on the gallery's website. I'm in some of them with my friends lol.

I'm finally animating my short. Ahhhhhh!!!! I'm beginning to realize I love animating, but I'm really slow at it. My short will be around a 1:12. I want to avoid the 90 second mark so I can have more time to polish the film.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Hourly Comic 2009

Thank you for this event John Campbell!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Semester 2

The second semester has started out a little bit more relaxing. I have less classes that involve late nights of essay writing. All of my classes are geared toward my finished film. The big deadline is April 20th. I'm excited and very anxious at the same time. My goal is to have a finished short that I enjoy. I'm not concerned about the Producer's Show. I want to enter my film into film festivals. My film idea so far is about a father and son going to a playground. The dad is too big and clumsy for monkey bars, slide, and the animal seat ride. I felt this way when I visited my elementary playground.I was so intimidated by the monkey bars, but now I easily touch the ground. I'm saving my guinea pig for another time.

Our first lecture this year was Mark Osbourne! He was the director for Kung Fu Panda. What I did not know until the day before was that he also created the short More.

He made the short using CalArts facilities during one summer. I remember watching this film on the internet. It is a surreal feeling to meet the man who made such a memorable and beautiful short. He directed Kung Fu Panda in order to fund his upcoming film, which is awesome.

The second lecture that I saw was James Baxter. He most recently did the animated part of Enchanted and the incredible opening to Kung Fu Panda. The fourth year animation class invited him over to do a four-part lecture series. For the lecture, he is animating Gisele talking to a rabbit while doing a turn. It's amazing to see how he plans the scene and acting so it is believable.

Also this Thursday, if you are in Valencia. The Character Animation Department is having their art show. I put four pieces up. The art is quite breathtaking and inventive. Please come by if you can!