Animation Mentor Student Showcase Summer 2009!!!

Heya!!

Exciting news! The student showcase is out! You all must go look at it right now! There are some fantastic shots in there that won’t disappoint!

http://www.animationmentor.com/showcase09/

I happen to be a little more excited about the showcase than normal! If you happened to notice, I have a shot in it! My shot Respect (or Mommie Dearest as it has come to be known also as) was selected! I was shocked when I got the email saying I was selected. I couldn’t believe that they had chosen me! I was and still am deeply honoured that my work was chosen to be in the showcase and represent the school. For the last couple months it has been lurking in the back of my mind that I would see my work in amongst some of the most talented animators from Animation Mentor. Rachel, the highly gifted woman in charge of texturing/lighting/rendering, told me she was inspired to make it all noir and moody. I was thrilled because that was my plan for it. I wanted to have more severe lighting and use it to help tell the story as well. So I have been waiting on pins and needles to see her vision for it. I have to say, when I saw it I was taken aback. I couldn’t believe how amazing it looked! It exceeded my expectations tenfold. Her vision made my animation look far better than it is. She got the depth of field and light pouring in from the hallway look like I wanted and I didn’t even tell her a thing! My hat goes off to her and I am eternally grateful for her work. I also am eternally grateful to AM for choosing me to be apart of this. I am blown away and am finally finding words to express my gratitude.

What is also exciting is I have some friends that were chosen as well! Look for work by Stephanie Desforges and Tyler Philips! I love their work and they know that I am fans of theirs. I also peer buddied a few of the students so it was great to see their work up there as well! There are a lot of great shots up there and it’s one of my favourite showcases. Huge congrats to everyone who made it! Animation Mentor is one heck of a community and school and I wouldn’t be posting anything if it wasn’t for them. Love you all!

Watch it again!

~Spilly

May the force be with you…

Heya!

*edit – for those looking, the response is “and with you…”

It’s been awhile since I have posted! I will try to stay more on top of this! Life has been crazy hectic since the last time I posted so that is my excuse. I am actually writing this before I have to run off to a party for a friend that is marrying my best friend so I will try to be as concise and short winded as I can! So let’s  begin!

Life itself has been pretty darn interesting. I had some ups and downs through the last couple months, but I think I have made a breakthrough! I realize now what I don’t need in my life and I am making changes to cut away the dead wood and rebuild. These changes have affected things positively – especially my animation! I can sit down now and enjoy my work more cause I am not doubting myself all of the time. That carries over into other parts of my life. I am channeling my inner voice more and things are taking a spin for the better! I encourage all of you reading this to do it if you haven’t done so already! I have a great animator friend that was brilliant to let me talk it all out with him and I will be eternally grateful! AVALON!

Onto the animation! The more exciting thing in my life! I had a close call with a games company in Montreal. Missed it by that much! I was super excited to be considered and thank them and my friend that referred me a ton for everything! It was a total boost to my confidence and that was priceless. I got to do a couple tests in two days and that was fantastic! I loved the challenge and realized that I tend to work better under pressure. I have to work more on instinct and don’t have the time to tear it and myself apart. Lesson learned! I also decided to compete in this month’s 11 Second Club Competition. I am trying to fit it in with everything I have to do in the last little while, but I think it should come out ok! I will be posting it in my Current Project section after I submit it. I decided to do it how I wanted to do it since it was a challenge to see if I could merge these two different ideas together. I had taken a quiz on facebook to see what 9 Old Men animator I was like and Frank Thomas was who I resemble. I am greatly honoured and have a lot to live up to. He is one of my idols. Since he did such wonderful emotional moments I want to see if I can do the same. I already gravitate towards the emotional so this became a challenge. Work this comedic thought I had with an emotional moment. I don’t know if I have pulled it off, but I am certainly still going for it!

Once I have that done, I will start on my next piece. I am doing a pantomime shot that is just a simple gag. I have done a fair bit of dialogue shots in the last while so I figure it’s long overdue. It should be fun since I want to push exaggeration in my work. I want to have it done before the Animation Mentor graduation/job fair/bbq weekend in July so I might have my work cut out for me! I have two weddings in June in which I am involved in so it’s going to be hectic! I think I have simplified it to its essence so that should help out a lot. I am excited for it cause I want to use a rig I haven’t used before. I am so excited to start on it it’s ridiculous!

Animation Mentor. I mentioned that I was going and I think I need to babble about it again. Going there was one of the best decisions I ever made. I wouldn’t be sitting here talking excitedly about animation if it hadn’t been for them. Giving me the ability to do what I love to do is something I have a loss of words for. I have met some amazing people and I have the honour to call some of them my friend. Ecstatic is the closest word I can find to describe how I feel about going back down there in July to see almost all of them again. Last bbq they had chosen me to do an interview for the Student Testimonial video that they were compiling – I just found out that I made the cut! There I am, babbling with the hands flying about! I am touched that they chose me and so many of my friends. Look  for John, Sue, Kelley, Jules, Arnie and Teresa! And my laugh even makes an appearance! Check it out!

So cool to see them and their feelings! I am so pumped for everyone and I cannot wait to work with them one day! Now I have to leave otherwise I will be late! Never stop dreaming and doing what you love to do!

May the force be with you!

~Spilly

Time Marches On!

Heya!

It has been ages since I posted! I feel bad I haven’t sat down and shared the trials and tribulations before now! I am going to be better at this! A lot has happened since Halloween – nothing really groundshaking but something none the less! So off we go!

I have been fiddling with this last piece here and there for the last couple months. I did a fair bit over Christmas and at the beginning of January. I get two weeks off work during the holidays, so it was nice to relax and settle into it for a good couple bouts. Christmas was Christmas. Nothing really exciting takes place. My family has its own little plan that works and we tend to follow it without realizing it. I cooked a good turkey and the meal was awesome. New Years I spent with friends and had a blast! French toast was so amazing the next morning – for some reason there is nothing like starting a new year with french toast! Then I knuckled down with what time I could muster to get the shot ready for my reel. I had decided on Jan 4th that I was going to attend the job fair and graduation at Animation Mentor – on Jan 16th! I had less  than two weeks to pull everything off and I think I did a fairly good job of it! The reel still needs work and I am getting around again to fixing it!

So the job fair was cool! I got to meet some friends in person for the first time there! Kelley Freeman was worried that we might suddenly despise each other when we met but of course we didn’t! I wasn’t going to tell her I was going and just suprise her – she was a graduate – but I slipped the week of. I wanted to synch some of my travel plans with people so I let it out of the bag! There were a number of studios I hadn’t talked to before so I tried to hit all that I could in the time given. There were a lot of other students there so lineups were longer for some studios. I had talked to others before so I chose not to get in line. I have had the visa talk with them so I knew I wasn’t in contention. It’s a little frustrating at times when you know that its not you that’s stopping you from getting a job but a piece of paper really. And they are limiting the number of visas again this year. I have a way around it! TN NAFTA visa for the win! I will work down there one day! In the meantime I just keep sending out reels to studios feeling the pressure of the economy. Fun times.

Graduation was tons of fun! It was my second AM graduation – the first being mine. It was interesting seeing it from the audience perspective. There were a lot of proud friends and family in the crowd with the excited graduates. The guest speaker was great! He really got everyone inspired. I unfortunately missed the first portion of it cause I was volunteering. I was walking the VIP guests from the front entrance to the theater so the ushers could seat them. The event was on a pier in San Francisco so it was a fair bit of a walk! I got my cardio in that day for sure! Then after the ceremony there was a party thrown by AM. We got to mingle with everyone and enjoy wine, cheese and other goodies. It was great to talk with so many people. There was the most amazing sunset that night. Pictures couldn’t quite capture the beauty. It was breathtaking. In that moment I didn’t want to go home. We all went for supper and then out to the after party. Time moved too fast that day. So many people to talk to and so little time. Quite a few people landed positions with companies that weekend and it was awesome to see some friends take off in their careers. The night I landed there I found out my good friend Sue Houston landed a postition with Tippett! It was super exciting! She is super talented and I know she will go far! It definitely started the trip off right and just stayed a whirlwind after that!

I returned to the Great White North. There was actually a bit of a heatwave so the temp was actually rather nice! Winter came back full force after that with cold and snow. Mom had a health scare after that which threw us all for a loop. She came around at the beginning of February which is good. MS is a hell of a disease. That pretty much knocked the wind out of me. Then a friend of mine returned to work for a week. He is working as an editior for a local company and is potientally directing at the same place. He wants to be a director so things seem to be going well. Only thing is he was sick. And being a giving fellow he passed it to me and another coworker. So I’ve spent the last two weeks being dastardly sick. The virus was delightful enough to give me insomnia and migranes, so any attempts at being creative were at a nil. I was just too worn out and I was suprised that I was. Now I think I am over it. I can breathe again through my nose which is super exciting! I have some of my stamina back so I should be hitting maya again soon! I really want to finish off my piece, polish the other shot on my reel and get started on a new one! I have decided that even if I can’t find a job I am going to keep knocking out pieces I want to do. Why not! At the very least I will enjoy them and will keep practicing. Go animation!

So that has been the last couple months. Ups, downs and a renewed love of instrumental music. I have random jazz music playing and just rambling while I wait for the sandman. I think that’s what enticed me to write this. I just needed to get it out of my system cause I have been meaning  to for awhile. I feel like I am facing a better time and place in life now. I am emerging from sickness and the rut I have been in. I have accepted a lot of things and I am ready to move on. Henry David Thoreau said it best – Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

~Spilly

At it again!

Heya!

So I am back at it! After crazyness since getting back from Siggraph I am finally settling into the groove of hammering out a new shot. It’s been quite the battle so far I tell ya! I had started it back in early summer and I got a fair ways into it. Then it suddenly corrupted. Lost everything including the backups. I was able to pin it on a bad piece of geometry I converted to be compatible with maya. It isn’t the first time that has happened to me so apparently I didn’t learn my lesson the first time. This time I won’t make the same mistakes!

I am excited to be sinking my teeth into it again! I have wanted to do this particular piece for almost 3 years now. When I originally decided to tackle this piece I discovered I was horribly unknowledged in animation to do it justice. That was part of the reason I decided to go to Animation Mentor – I needed to do this dialogue shot.  Now that I have the info under my belt and some renewed confidence I am tackling it! Got my reference filmed and rough thumbs drawn. It feels great to be back into the mess of it all! It’s gonna be a long week and weekend of smacking it into maya but that’s half the fun. I got a clear image in my head of what I want so that makes everything so much easier and faster.  I have set a somewhat crazy deadline for this but I am confident I can make it.

I don’t want to give much away about it until I have my blocking done. What I will say its an emotionally charged piece that involves a woman acting like a diva. I have to confess – I love divas. There is something about them that has always fascinated me. I know I sound lame but I don’t care lol. They have this crazy talent and that’s really all we want from them. They are alive when they are using their talent and tend to fall apart when they aren’t. Their emotions are bubbling under the surface and they have distinctive ways of moving. To me, they are pure animation potential. They are like two people in one. For the most part everything is about them. That’s what I am trying to convey in this piece. It’s gonna be a real challenge to get all that into the character but I am up for it! I want to push my facial animation to the next level. I want her to be saying something and her eyes telling us that she is only thinking about herself. All about the subtext. *gets lost in thought*

I am not sure this rant is making sense to anyone but me. Pretend you are me to get the full impact of it lol. I will end off this post with a pic of my favourite animated diva. She is more femme fatale than she is diva but is still a diva.

"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way."

 

Jessica Rabbit was the best animated character in the movie in my opinion. She had all the mental qualities you expected from a femme fatale and a very commanding presence. When I first saw it, there came a point where I forgot she was a cartoon and believed her to be real. That fascinated me. Looking back on my work and style, I notice that my work is more like how she was animated rather than Roger. It all comes full circle.

I hope this piece ends up with a memorable performance by a memorable character. We’ll see! I will post pictures of it when I have something! Till then….ROCK ON!!

~Spilly

Grad and Siggraph!

There are no words I can find that can sum up the experience I had at them. I don’t think there is a word invented yet to encompass it all. It was a whirlwind trip and there was so many awesome moments that it totally blew my mind. I am still recovering from it! It was so amazing I probably won’t remember to jot the majority of it down, but I will give it a go!

Flew into Oakland and met up with the animator friends I was staying with. We stayed in SF and met up with friends for drinks the night before grad. Nice to start it off with just relaxing with friends. Then grad us upon us the next day. Oh my how awesome it was! We were all fancied up and brimming with excitement! Met a lot of people I was in class with and names I saw about the campus. Everyone was great to talk to and we had lots of fun during rehearsal. Then it was show time. The AM staff did an amazing job with everything and it really had a fantastic vibe to the whole thing. Never been to a grad like that before! Lots of laughs and inspirational speeches. Glen MacIntosh did a fantastic job as the guest speaker. Totally got me inspired to dive into my work more! The student choice awards were great. Most of my closest friends took home an award which made me super happy. I even won one myself! My friend Alexiss and I won Biggest Personality for Live Q&A for our classes! It was great to win something selected by my peers. I of course became a laughing mess and set off a lot of people. I am known for my laugh now. Suprisingly I was able to be somewhat coherent at the mic for my acceptance speech. It was awesome to have people cheering for me being myself!

 

Alexiss and me with our awards presented by Lucy Napier!

Alexiss and me with our awards presented by Lucy Napier!

We got to see the student showcase before they released it at Siggraph! So much awesome work in it! A couple of my friends got their work into it. I am so proud of them and the other students who were selected. A ton of work was put into their pieces and it’s fantastic to see them being rewarded in a way for their efforts. We then collected our diplomas and headed off to the grad party.

 

Me and Carlos with my diploma!

Me and Carlos with my diploma!

Lots of people to talk to! I literally walked 15 feet in the four hours I was there! Everyone kept coming up and talking, which was awesome. Got to meet some new people and just have a good time. I didn’t get to have anything to eat tho since the tables weren’t in the distance I covered lol. I gladly talked to people instead but it made people laugh. The lot of us then travelled to Boudin’s for supper. Big group of us and they were nice enough to stay open later for us to continue our good times. A few of us went to a bar to end the night. The place was packed and we had lots of fun. We even started doing the macarena to see if we could get the whole place doing it lol. Good times!

Then it was off to LA and Siggraph! Drove down with some friends and did a little sight seeing along the way. The three days of Siggraph were a blur! Sensory overload. Saw a ton of booths, caught some talks, met a load of people and walked miles. Immense fun. There was the AM party one night on the top floor of a business complex. Totally wicked! So many awesome people to talk to! Great night and good times! The AM staff did another fantastic job of planning awesome events that week. Their tribute to Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson was amazing. It was inspiring to hear people talk about them and their work. It got emotional at the end when we were watching a video of their work with clips of them talking. It’s amazing when you realize how much they affected animation as an art form and an industry. Truly amazing people.

Then to end the trip a dozen of us went to Disneyland! It was my first time there and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to go with! We had fun with shuttles getting there and then the magic happened. I revered to being a kid again and was in awe for the majority of the time. We rode pretty much everything we could fit in: the carousel, teacups, Matterhorn, Indiana Jones, Space Mountain twice, Big Thunder, haunted house and splash mountain. Totally wicked! I am becoming a coaster junky. I LOVED Space Mountain. I want to ride it for a day I swear. I laughed and cheered so hard the whole time. The fireworks and fantasmic were amazing. A friend of mine laughs cause he looked over at me and I was staring in awe with my mouth open. It was blowing my kiddy mind! It was the perfect way to end an amazing trip!

The gang at Disneyland with Walt!

The gang at Disneyland with Walt!

I am so glad I was able to go. The times were amazing and I really got to bond with some friends. I am honoured to know them and call them friends. I can’t wait to work with them one day and watch their careers prosper! Thanks so much Shawn, Carlos and Bobby for starting AM! Thanks to the staff for continuing to make it awesome! I LOVE ANIMATORS AND ANIMATION!!

*faints*

~Spilly

I am back…again!

Heya!

Wow! It’s been awhile since I blogged! I keep letting it slip, but from here on out I will be more diligent in posting. I promise!! A lot has happened since I last posted! Summer happened! I can’t believe how fast the last couple months went by. It seems like yesterday I was handing in my last assignment then woosh! September! Lemme summarize what happened: AM bbq, Graduation, Siggraph and work.

It’s been crazy! One trip after another and absolute fun on all of them. It was great to throw myself back into hanging with animators. They are a fantastic group of people and I don’t feel out of place with them. We have this understanding of each other and it really feels like a family. I’ll do posts about grad and siggraph in a bit to show off some pictures. For now I’ll talk about the bbq!

It was super cool! A friend of mine was awesome enough to let me stay with him again so I could finance the trips. We’ve become great friends and his girlfriend is hella rad and they are very welcoming to me. Great people. I’ll stop gushing and get onwards! AM had a job fair for alumni and current class 6 students before the open house the day before the bbq. It was so fantastic that they did that for us. Gave us a chance to mix with recruiters and possibly get hired. What we didn’t know was they showed them our work (those who were attending) so that the recruiters were prepared if they wanted to potentially interview someone. Luckily I didn’t know about that cause I was nervous enough as it was. It was my first time meeting recruiters and I was rather jittery lol. There was a lot of students/alumni that I knew there so it helped take the edge off. I talked to almost all of the companies there in the couple hours we were given. I knew the whole visa thing would be an issue for most smaller companies there so I wasn’t expecting much. I was suprised when one company was really responsive to me and the recruiter remembered my work! I was floored! He offered a reel review, which was awesome, and we had a good laugh together. I walked away feeling better about myself and my work. That’s a huge thing for me!

The open house was chaos! So many people kept coming up to me and saying hi. I knew more people this time going into it so it was great to see them in person. Laughed with the Stickam crew and the Utah crew a lot and had a fantastic time. Met a bunch of new people and some were new to the program. They found out I was a peer buddy and alumni tutor so they asked a TON of questions. I talked pretty much non stop from the beginning of the open house till we lights went down in the theater. We went to the opening of Wall-E together. The movie was amazing! The crowd was amazing! A completely amazing night! My ride back to my friend’s place was cool cause his friends (who were about to start the program) asked me another load of questions. We had a great conversation and I noticed it seemed to take longer to get there lol. Didn’t bother me cause I love chatting. My throat was so raspy the next morning! But I pulled it together for the bbq!

The bbq was fantastic! It was full of great people and great times! It was overcast and somewhat windy, but it was a great temp for me. I am used to cooler climate compared to SF Bay area so I was finally cooled off. Other people would say it was cold lol. I got to meet new and familiar faces and really just have a good time. It was nice to be recognized as well and just talk shop. And talk we did. I talked the whole day and laughed till my sides hurt. So many awesome people and so little time. Walked away with some great friends that I was sad to say goodbye to lol.

The AM Gang!

The AM Gang!

The rest of the time I was there I was shown the sights by my friend and his girlfriend. There was a cool exhibit by a Blue Sky story artist at a museum. It had the storyboards he worked on for Horton. Rather cool to see them in person. I am fascinated by artists and how they work. We also went to the boardwalk at Santa Cruz. I rode my first coaster there! His girlfriend and I rode the wooden coaster. It was interesting. The bouncing and feeling like you were riding a toothpick took a bit to get used to. After the first couple turns I let go and enjoyed myself. She might turn me into a coaster junky like herself yet!

The coaster I rode on the Boardwalk!

The coaster I rode on the Boardwalk!

I came back super excited and super tired! I was all fired up to get working on new shots and planning my changes to my short film. I had to work a bunch of overtime at work to cover my trip to grad/siggraph and make monies so it basically ate most of my free time up. But the trip to come was fantastic! I will write about it in another post!

Good to be back in action! Stay tuned and keep rocking!

~Spilly