Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Office : Accountants

I was watching this last night and it had me in stitches! 

I'm not sure if it makes sense out of context. But basically the 3 office accountants are trying to figure out where & how $3000 went missing.  Give it a look-see.  

Right?!  Oscar's reaction to Kevin's line at the 1:00 is PERFECT. It is so, damned, funny and I had to figure out why. It's pretty much nothing, like literally a "non-reaction". But the pause, blink, and "OK" is so perfectly timed.  So much with so little.

John Kahrs

So former Pixar and current Disney animator , John Kahrs, is directing a short film here at Disney.  I can't say much but it looks bloody amazing.  I've never seen anything like it.

I mention it here because I think it's inspiring that a big studio like Disney is experimenting and moving forward with new looks and techniques in this medium.

Which is how I feel about the film I am working on now.  It is so wonderfully different and refreshing.

Christmasy Disneyland

Super pretty right!?  
BTW, if you guys are ever at Disneyland, you GOTTA check out "World of Color" .  It's a show at California Adventure and it is AMAAAAZING.

Disney Open House

Last week we had an industry open house here at the studio.  Lots of folks from DW's, Sony, Pixar, and more.  Man I've never met so much talent in one building.  Art student geek out  Bobby was definitely in full effect!

Brian McDonald

Last week, Brian McDonald, screenwriter and author of Invisible Ink, gave a talk on the Power of Storytelling (or a title something along those lines :)  

Brian is from my neck of the woods in Seattle , WA.  A professor at the Uni of Wash,  I've followed his wonderful Invisible Ink blog for a few years now.  I can't remember how I found it, but I always come away super inspired.  He obviously has topics on story and film, but also how you approach and think about your craft.  They really encouraged me when I was building my reel through Animation Mentor.

La Luna w/ Enrico Casarosa

A couple of weeks ago we had a screening of Pixar's newest short film , La Luna, hosted by director Enrico Casarosa, w/ a "making-of" and Q & A after.  I've followed Enrico's work for a while now, so it was great to finally meet him and talk about his charming little film.  Probably the most personal, and as Svetla put it, poetic short that Pixar has made so far.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sir Ector study

Wasn't the biggest fan of his animation, but man, what a killer design.  
Lots of contrasts in shape sizes; massive barrel torso , tiny cranium.  Such wonderful combinations of straights and curves.   It's interesting to see the graphic cheats he did when turning such graphic shapes.  Oh Milt, your subtleties are lost on me. 

I also like when Milt went through a phase where he liked to put a roll of fat sagging over someone's knees.   What an awesome/random thing to emphasize.  Knee fat.
Pushing those ideas

First Dailies!

I showed my first-pass blocking to our director for the first time yesterday!  I think it went well.  He's a funny dude and a great collaborator.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Annie Awards

Two of the amazing character animators I had the good fortune to work with on Rio were nominated for Annie Awards today! I'm so proud of them!

password: education

Patrik was my "pod lead" on the show.  Pod leads came around everyday and helped with your shots before you showed Galen, the supervising animator.  I learned tons under Patrik, and whatever level of polish or quality of acting ideas in my Rio shots owe so much to working directly with him.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Today's terrible Milt study.  Anita from 101 Dalmatians

Bert Klein interview

Check out this great interview with a new friend of mine, animator Bert Klein!
At our first day of the studio, Bert gave us a warm welcome and introduced us to all of the 2D animators (read:  the flippin' rockstars) still at the studio.  He's a super nice dude and always encouraging us to come over and stop by just to talk .

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dec 1st

Hey again you guys! had a great first day of the last month of the year!
I'm making good progress on my first chunk of shots on Ralph,  I got to talk shop and have my design portfolio reviewed by one of the character design supervisors here, sat in on an animation meeting w/ Mark Henn giving a quick talk on the importance of silhouette in animation, and finally found a new apartment!  Which was a great way to end the day.  I'll be moving to Silverlake this weekend.

Since the resources are there, after lunchtime I've been trying to make a habit to look up the Animation Research Library and do a quick design study on anything I find interesting.  Yesterday I did a terrible sketch of Roger from 101 Dalmatians. Oh.  So bad.  Today's lunch study sketch was a mildly-less-worse copy of Milt's.  Edgar the Butler from Aristocats. 
I've also been reading a book on Ronald Searle, whose work I've never really payed much attention to, but am starting to find more and more fascinating.  The influence on 101 Dalmatians is evident, as is the influence Pablo Picasso , in turn, had on Searle.

At a hidden staircase

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The ARL (and a bit of rambling)

Okay so, I still haven't actually been to the Animation Research Library yet as it's off-site. But Disney, for a while, has been scanning in everything from the library, and digitizing them so that we can check them out in high-res here from our desktops. It's pretty insane how much you have at your fingertips. You search for example, "Marc Davis", and scenes from every movie he's worked on come up. If I'm not careful I could spend all day looking up this stuff!

As expected, I've been looking at a lot of Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, Mark Henn, Glen Keane. A good representation of Disney animation over recent years, and whose work I love. What's interesting to me is looking at much the acting in these films has evolved over the years, mirroring the evolution of performances in live action films. I love Milt Kahl as much as the next animator, and no doubt the graphic appeal is second-to-none, but studying him is tricky because a lot of his acting choices just wouldn't feel right by today's standards. That was then, this is now. I'll even go so far as to say that some of the work done in the early 90's might feel out-of-place today. You need to know (or I need to tell myself) what to look for when studying this stuff; clarity in posing, economy of poses, simplicity, and apply that to what I find entertaining today. Especially nowadays, I feel like some of the entertainment or the funniest gags , are put over because the movement is super simplified, or barely moving at all, but maybe that's just a taste thing.

Obviously I have no way of knowing this, but with someone like Milt today, if he were approaching a scene, I feel like he would, not in any way, move the character around as busily as he did in the Rescuers.
Anyway, this post didn't really go anywhere , and there were no conclusions, but hey what else is new on this blog!
From Andreas Deja's site.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On inspiration

The crazy thing about being here at Disney is that you are always meeting and running into people whose work you've admired for years.  Artists whose work has help shape your own aesthetics in your formative years.  In my two short weeks here already I've met so many animators, concept artists, story folks, directors, whose work I've looked up to for most of my career, and now they're your colleagues, working right along beside you.  Superstars, in my eyes!  One day you're watching these guys talk on DVD's, the next day you're going to animation meetings with them. It's pretty surreal actually, and I hope I remain excited & passionate than become jaded & resigned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Word to the wise

Heard this tonight and I think it's important for anyone trying to break into the industry to know:

" Success doesn't always go to the best artist, and it doesn't go to the best hustler, but it always goes to the stubborn.
You've just got to have a thick skin, and not take no for an answer. If you get turned down from places, and get disappointments, you've just got to let it roll off and keep going."

-Tom Sito

Pretty straightforward, and we all get discouraged when faced with rejection. That's all fine & natural. But the last thing you want to do is stop trying. Back in 2009, in the span of one year, I was passed on by every film studio, like literally every single one of them. Some even twice! Whew that was a lot if rejection. Hurt like hell for sure, but it happened so much that eventually I became numb to it. And I guess that gave me a thick skin. Rejection is a test to see how bad you want it. And what Tom says is right on; keep going , keep taking classes , doing your own tests. Be fearless, trust your tastes. Good things will happen and you'll be glad you didn't quit.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

First week down!

And it was amazing . The team on Ralph is extremely talented & extremely helpful. A few highlights this week:

- Walking around the old Disney lot, seeing the old animation building.
- Seeing a screening of Wreck-it Ralph.
-Meeting all of the 2D animators, whose work I grew up with, and later inspired me to get into animation.
- Got my first assignment on the show.
-Diggin in the Disney Archives.
- Had my first Lasseter encounter.

And much more, was a pretty memorable week !

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I'm about to start my first assignment this morning, so last night, while I was doing some initial brainstorming about my character, I decided to jot down some notes to remind myself of what I should be striving for. They're sort of "thinking out loud", so they're all over the place, but there you go.
Animation & Philosophy
( Time to break some lazy habits)

- Personality, all mechanics serve the character's personality. Who is this character. How is he/she unique & different. Push specificity.

-Ollie Johnston's old adage- " What is the character doing, and why does he feel that way."

-Entertainment. Why should the audience care. Can they relate ? Is this reminiscent of something they've experienced before ? Or Is it surprising & unexpected ?

-Sincerity , How does the character feel, how do you want the audience to feel. Empathize with your character, relate to him/her.

-Research, study. Become the authority on the subject. Caricature should have it's roots in real life.

- Backstory. What happened to the character before this that lead him/her to be this way. How does this fit into the bigger picture ?

- Forward motion. What does the character want, big or small. Ambitious characters are interesting.

- Planning. Taking real time to sit and think about the shot, clarify your vision of what the end result will look like. Don't lose time stumbling in the dark .

-Pursuit of perfection, make sure you are proud of everything that leaves your desk.
"The scene is done when it's perfect." - Marc Davis

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CTN Expo

Is practically in my backyard this year ! Or rather I'm in it's backyard. Lookin forward to it! Let's get our animation nerd on .

For those interested , some of the Disney animators will be doin' reel reviews there .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Second day

So yesterday was the orientation and a general tour of the studio lot, but today was our first day in the actual animation building. It's such a creative environment. Just very inspiring and I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

First day

Probably the most Dewey-eyed Monday I've had in a while. Svetla and I attended an all-day orientation with other new hires from all parts of the company. Besides the standard HR particulars, we got to walk around the Disney lot . Pretty amazing. Especially walking into the original animation building where all of the classics were drawn. Really gives an appreciation for the history of place. You're walking down the hall covered in art from these films. Mary Blair, Marc Davis, Walt Peregoy, Glen Keane, Bill Peet and lots more are all represented on these walls. It's that same, proud-to-be-an-artist feeling you get when you're in galleries. And you're reminded , Oh right, this is why I even wanted to do this in the first place.
Here are some of the things we saw today.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Commute buddy

Awesome ! First day of work tomorrow and I already have a commute buddy. Svetla starts tomorrow as an animator as well. She's got talent in 3D animation as well as illustration! See for yourself ! :


We checked out Puss & Boots today which I had heard good things about. It was hysterical and I actually enjoyed it better than the Shrek movies, which I'm not typically a fan of. Humpty's design left a little to be desired but what are you gonna do , he's an egg. Animation was really impressive and story entertaining. Lots of laugh out loud moments. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear the Rodrigo Y Gabriela tracks. Great taste, Good fit. Congrats DW's!

Oh man. I start Disney tomorrow . Svetla told me today that, in her interview , the leads said they were going to try and out-do the animation in Tangled. Which, in the spirit of progression,makes sense.

But, oh man.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Landed in LA

I finally landed in Burbank last night ! I picked up my rental car, and checked into my temp apt where I'll be staying for a month before I find a place !

This morning I spent the day getting groceries and familiarizing myself with the area. So different than NY or Seattle . There are movie/ record / TV studios everywhere . Warner Bros & Disney are right next to each other !