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Archive for the ‘Artistic News’ Category
This blog was originally started to keep track of my progress through Animation Mentor and my progression as both an artist and an animator. I’ve since graduated from AM and its been a good NINE MONTHS since my grad back in January of this year. I finished the program around September of 09 and I have nothing but good things to say about the program. All my mentors were there to chip and mold me into a better animator and I have nothing but praise for each and everyone.
Special thanks to Bobby, Carlos and Shawn. My classmates and my mentors:
Class 1. Martin Hopkins
Class 2. David Breaux
Class 3. Nick Bruno
Class 4. Jason Martinsen
Class 5. Jed Diffenderfer
Class 6. Greg Whittaker
It’s a special thank you to all the men and women who comprise AM mostly because after freelancing for 6 years in Los Angeles I have finally landed a gig at Sony Pictures Imageworks. I tell a lot of people that before AM I had been rejected from Sony on numerous occasions. But each lesson, critique, encouraging moment from classmates, inspiring clip from a peer, video lecture and finished assignment all added up to my overall improvement. I still feel like I have a lot more to learn, but I definitely feel more confident and poised when I receive my shots now than I ever did in the past.
From here on out I’m going to utilize this blog as a progression of my animation career along with an intended return to more 2d projects. If time permits I’d definitely like to delve more into digital painting and sketching a ton more. Also keep a look at my attempt to finish my AM student film along with a few new clips to continually progress.
So it’s been a long while since I’ve put up any posts concerning new personal work since Animation Mentor. But since I’ve graduated I’ve been itching to take on a new shot with acting and lip sync.
The clip I chose comes from ’40 year old virgin’ and has Steve Carrell saying the following line:
‘ You know the thing about relationships. Is. That. They. Make one person go. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. And the other person go. What ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! And then the other person goes. blah blah blah blah blah.”
The last few months I’ve been working at a company called yU+co trying to breathe some life into some characters. I lucked out and got to animate the teenage mutant ninja turtles! It was a fun experience being a lead animator with such a great crew.
There’s plenty of applause to go around, but first and foremost, its definitely hats off to Garson Yu and yU+co for securing this project and allowing all of us creatives to be as imaginative as we could be. The production team of Gordon Bellamy and Dan Mascarelli were top notch in taking care of us artists and making sure we hit our milestones. Working with our intial braintrust of director Jim Sonzero and fight choreographer Reuben Langdon was both inspirational and very educational. Just observing their thought processes on motion, camera, action, and narrative was worth being on the project for. Our CG supe was also fun to work for, Stephen Fedasz, or the ” Fedaszzler” as we would call him. Definitely a good guy to have around to pull stuff together at the zero hour of a project but still keep things relatively sane.
Our modeling team was great and was headed up by the ever so talented and hard working Nghia Lam. It was fun to have such robust environments to animate within so thanks Josh, and of course Kye Wan’s one and two.
Big shout out to the Eric Smith and Stephen Delala for all the awesome lighting work they did. Stephen was also our rigger and overall generalist problem solver, definitely couldn’t have done it without him. And last but not least, a big huge congratulations to our small animation team of Alessandro Ceglia, Conner LaBella and myself. It was great to work with such inciteful, talented and self motivated animators. There wasn’t a moment where I felt we couldn’t meet our various milestones and deadlines, and not only that, meeting the deadlines with animation that was appealing and entertaining.
Our last minute addition of Steve Viola was also great. A very talented overall artist who made both the intro and ending title sequences come to life. Not only did he have little time to do it all, he finished it and ended up helping on other aspects of the commercial as well.
Very memorable project indeed.
I’m a bit on the fence on this topic because I know how it can feel like to be attached to a piece of work for such a long time. 7 years is pretty nuts to not have a film come outta story phase. I’m just glad that hes now the Animation Director. It just might be that age old problem with corporations.
One story that rings in my head was a nurse who had become a supervising nurse and enjoying the new salary bump and perks that go with the job. However she admitted to really missing just contact with the patients and how shes grown so far away from that now that she has management duties. Perhaps Keane can have a few shackles taken off his limbs and just concentrate on making this his artistic masterpiece. Look dev looks great, and I’m sure a legion of animators would follow him to the ends of the earth under his guidance.
Lasseter has employed the shakedown before. And its seemed to work. I mean thats the point of growth right? It ain’t pretty all the time, but sometimes the end result could be all worthwhile.
Speaking of Lasseter. Here is something I saw posted.. AGES ago. Here it is copied and pasted from an interview.
1. Never come up with just one idea. “Regardless of whether you want to write a book, design a piece of furniture or make an animated movie: At the beginning, don’t start with just one idea – it should be three.
“The reason is simple. If a producer comes to me with a proposal for a new project, then usually he has mulled over this particular idea for a very long time. That limits him. My answer always reads: ‘Come again when you have three ideas, and I don’t mean one good and two bad. I want three really good ideas, of which you cannot decide the best. You must be able to defend all three before me. Then we’ll decide which one you’ll realise.’
“The problem with creative people is that they often focus their whole attention on one idea. So, right at the beginning of a project, you unnecessarily limit your options. Every creative person should try that out. You will be surprised how this requirement suddenly forces you to think about things you hadn’t even considered before. Through this detachment, you suddenly gain new perspectives. And believe me, there are always three good ideas. At least.”
My comment: Being forced to produce at least three quality ideas allows a creator to detach from the first solution – and helps gain new perspectives and find additional solutions. When you work on any creative project, develop at least three good solutions. Leonardo da Vinci applied the same principle in his work, for example in his anatomical drawings, by sketching parts of the human body from at least three different perspectives. At Thinkergy, we’ve integrated this principle into our method, too. In Stage D (Development) of our X-IDEA Creative Process, every participant needs to develop at least three meaningful solutions. Only then can you start having choices.
2. Remember the first laugh. “A big problem in the creative process is related to the enhancement of your ideas,” cautions Mr Lasseter. “Revising, retouching, refining is very important, but it carries a danger.
“If you have a story, a joke, a thought, which you write down, it loses its effect over time. It wears itself out. When you hear a joke for the second time you still laugh heartily, on the third or fourth occasion already less so, and when you hear it the hundredth time, you hate it.
“I say to my authors: ‘Take notice of the first laugh, write it down if necessary.’ This may at times be bothersome, but it is important. Many times, good things got lost because people could not remember anymore how it felt when they heard the idea for the first time.”
My comment: In a brainstorming session, highlight an idea that makes you (and other brainstormers in your team) laugh spontaneously (e.g. by adding an asterisk behind the idea or by underlining it). Then, capture all the very funny ideas on a separate note that you keep handy for review in later stages of the creative process. As already noted by David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising”: “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
3. Quality is a great business plan. Period. “There is a crucial rule: no compromises. No compromises on quality – regardless of production constraints, cost constraints, or a deadline. If you get a better idea, and this means that you have to start again from scratch, then that’s what you have to do.
“In any creative industry, quality is the sole business plan that prevails in the long run. Many managers fail to understand that, but the spectators understand it. The process is only finished once the creative professional in charge says it’s finished. That does not mean that there isn’t to be any pressure – there’s pressure all the time anyway – but the individual creator always needs to have the last word.”
My comment: Don’t rush an innovation project toward premature implementation or final closure. Great creative work follows its own time. Trust the intuitive judgment of the creative team member in charge of the creative task. If the solution does not feel right, don’t implement or launch it yet. The right solution needs to be beautiful, as Richard Buckminster Fuller advocates: “When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”
In two weeks’ time, we will continue this article with the remaining four creative principles of Pixar. Then, John Lasseter will share with you the secrets of his successful creative leadership approach and talk about innovation-friendly cultural factors at Pixar.
4. It’s the team, stupid. “One of the most popular questions is always whether groups are more creative than individuals. My answer: In most cases, it’s the team – provided you follow certain rules”, says Mr Lasseter. “As a manager, it is my task to abolish hierarchies. It doesn’t matter at all who has the idea; that’s a very important rule for us. The group must be honest, direct, and endeavour to sincerely help the creative individual. But in the end, nothing that the group says is binding”.
My comment: Make sure that everyone in your company understands that innovation is a team sport. Complement your most creative brains with a complementing team of pragmatic implementers, and encourage creatives to push through a controversial idea if it intuitively feels right. “I’ve learned to trust our gut. If it feels right, we just go with it,” notes Mr Lasseter.
5. Fun invokes creativity, not competition. “There is this idea that you put two people, who cannot stand each other, into a room, hoping that all this negative energy leads to a creative result. I disagree. Co-operation, confidence and fun – that is the way”, says Mr Lasseter. He emphasises the complex managerial challenge to successfully motivate creative employees, and to create a climate conducive for creativity. “Creative people must believe that all others support them in making a great movie. They need to believe that all people involved understand what they talk about. Creative people are easily bored, moody, a bit difficult to handle. You have to make it fun for them, care for them. Creative people only produce really good work if you creatively challenge them. They have to like what they’re working on. They have to be damn proud of the fact that they’re a part of a particular project. That is again the task of the manager. Each time, you have to give them creative challenges. That’s difficult, but nobody said it is easy to lead creative people.”
My comment: An innovation-friendly culture is at the heart of the world’s leading innovation firms such as Pixar, Google, Apple, and so on. Among other cultural dimensions, organisational factors such as trust and mutual care, a playful and relaxing work environment, and challenging creative work projects drive these companies to innovation success and excellence. Countless studies have investigated the connection between motivation and creativity, and they all arrived at the same conclusion: Creative professionals are motivated intrinsically, not extrinsically. This means that managers cannot simply use financial incentives or similar extrinsic motivators to “bribe” creative people into producing great creative achievements. The popular shortcut of the extrinsic carrot-or-stick approach does not work with creative employees. Creative professionals only produce awesome creations if you provide them with creative challenges that they perceive as inspiring, enthusing, meaningful and rather difficult to achieve.
6. Creative output always reflects the person on top. “Poor managers harm the creative process,” as John Lasseter knows from personal experience. After landing his dream job as animator at the Disney Animation Studios in the late seventies, his outspoken individuality and creative extravaganzas quickly made him enemies among mediocre middle managers at Disney. Within a few years, Mr Lasseter became a victim of internal politics and got fired.
Committed to go his own way, Mr Lasseter became one of the founders of Pixar in 1986. Twenty years later, following Pixar’s acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, Mr Lasseter returned in triumph as chief creative officer of both animation studios.
“Laughter, being crazy, freaking out, behaving in ridiculous manner are hard work. A manager who spreads his bad mood and who forbids his employees to have fun impairs their creativity, and thus harms the enterprise. I would fire him. Animated movies are not least a bang-hard business. I cannot risk so much money, only because a manager indulging in his bad mood harms my business.”
My comment: A fish always rots from the head, as they say. A creative team or an innovation project should be led by a creative leader who is visionary, participative, action-oriented, positive, inspirational and leads by giving example.
7. Surround yourself with creative people whom you trust. Being an accomplished creative leader, John Lasseter gives some direct advice to junior creative leaders in progress. “Bring only those new members into your creative team, whom you consider to be at least as talented as you. If they also have a pleasant and nice character – even better.
Most managers don’t follow this approach, as they are insecure. Insecurity and creativity do not get along with each other well. Most managers surround themselves with yes-men, and in result, the audiences get bad films to see,” explains Mr Lasseter.
My comment: Put an authentic creative leader to spearhead a creative team or innovation effort. How can you identify such a person? Authentic creative leaders such as John Lasseter or his role model Walt Disney lead by example. They walk their talk. Their subordinates trust and respect them because they can demonstrate their skills and abilities.
Creative people intuitively feel if the track record and experience of their leader is genuine – or is just a facade. Truly authentic creative leaders hire only the best people into their team. They dislike yes-men and want creative talents who challenge the existing process, the other team members and – most importantly – themselves. In that way, they ensure that their team, the organisation and their own personality continue to grow.