Thanks, CalArts!

Proudly sporting a degree in Character Animation. Booyaaah!

There’s me eagerly anticipating graduation! I like that at CalArts we can wear whatever we want for graduation… kinda like how we can do whatever we want academically whilst attending (taking all sortsa fun classes across departments, I mean; stylistically, too).  There was a girl on stilts, a mermaid, and the guy in front of me had a party favor hat. We even had fireworks this year! No butterflies were consumed by bats (those who attended last year will remember this).

I thought it would be nice to do a little review of the last 4 years to see just how much of an impact this place has had on me:

  • 14 films (over 23 minutes of animation)
  • I built a pink, fluffy, interactive cat
  • Played in two gamelan ensembles
  • Jumped from two stories onto bouncy castle
  • Two films played at the Producers’ Shows
  • Other work screened for Music Tech and Theatre
  • Grown a true appreciation for homemade food
  • I opened my EYES to this crazy world!
  • I feel like a lil’ alien observing a foreign planet everywhere  I go
  • (That means I now take observation to a level I didn’t know existed)
  • My appreciation for creativity/art has exploded into a happily-varied bookcase
  • I LEARNED HOW TO THINK– or approach projects with the large and tiny details all equally in mind.

I must say that watching Can We Be Happy Now on a ginormous screen framed by two large Mr. Oscar statues was definitely a highlight that I would have never dreamt of when I got that acceptance letter way back when.

Things I learned at CalArts…

  • It’s possible to live a ramen-free college life
  • Design sensibilities can apply to any medium
  • Coffee, when saved for crunch time, can power one for three days straight
  • Expect at least a weeks’ worth of technical difficulties for large projects
  • Never run Arduino’s Serial Monitor without a delay (or you get a brick)
  • Snuggies for the win
  • Not to spill tea on a keyboard (during crunch time especially)
  • Don’t leave your car alone (or its battery dies)
  • Frozen Yogurt and fudgesicles make lovely meals
  • Don’t open a fridge that isn’t yours
  • Hugs make everything better
  • Bounce and share ideas
  • Open *all* the doors
  • yoooooou caaannnn doooooeeeeeeeit!

It’s bizarre– I was just going through my old blog entries from the beginning of CalArts and I don’t think my opinion of the place has really changed much. It is a very exciting place to be, there are lots of opportunities and you will always be surrounded by the most incredibly talented people and teachers. No regrets– that place was fantastic! I’m looking forward to working with everyone now that we’re “out in the world”, or I guess that could be rephrased as “not being required to attend classes”.

I wasn’t taught how to draw as much as how to think– how to design, how to consider story, how all the elements of a film need to compliment each other; how to people-watch, what details to take away… In the end I feel the acute observational skills obtained through attempting to improve my animation has given me the pleasure of enjoying everyone’s little mannerisms, paying attention to what makes their character… Some things I would have viewed in a negative light before CalArts I now have learned to laugh at. Laughing’s good, right?! I do lots of it (along with tea-drinking) and feel great. And way more mentally-satisfied artistically than I did four years ago.

Going into CalArts,  I didn’t expect quite the diversity I found. It was really easy to get stuck in one mindset, but once you shake yourself free of the cubicles and get out to see a show, you really feel refreshed… Even Friday-night lectures left me that way. I found it was important to not take it for granted and often remember how special a place it was, that all these people were there, together. Working, sharing, eating, drawing, not sleeping… It was a lot of fun!

I feel like that’s me– a happy little Tahnee-plant! (See, it’s black and white striped, that’s the identifying feature). I feel that I’ve learned how to learn. I clearly see where I could improve or discover new aspects of art/filmmaking, and practice what I discover and then keep growing and growing. Each one of those little branches is perhaps waiting to blossom into a full tree trunk… I feel that I’ve been left with a lot of opportunities and know what to do to keep improving. This is all very exciting! I got a really solid planter with good soil and got off to a nice start when in school, and now I’ve got the whole rest of my life to turn into a huge, whimsical, animated happy tree.

Hopefully I can drop little inspiration-seeds into other planters and make more happy animation trees grow!

And I think that’s a nice note to end on for this blog post!

CalArts Character Animation show 2012!

Soooo much amazing artwork! Such amazing friends! So many caricatures were drawn! The gallery opening last night was a blast and the art’s been lovely all week. Will definitely need to come next year (and the year after, and the year after that). This year I made 15 ink drawings on scrolls, which will be uploaded within the coming weeks 😀

Countdown, Round 2

As of this moment, there are exactly 51162 minutes left until films are due!
That’s merely 35 days!

This time last year I was much further along– then again, I didn’t have an extra minute worth of animation, either! I’d say that this time around, I’ve completed more by this time than I had at this time last year. I have all but 4 scenes animated; all dialogue’s recorded, all the frames are cleaned up and I’m currently in the process of timing them out and figuring out the compositing. After this comes a smattering of coloring and layouts! eek! I have good faith that I can get it all done– under one condition: That I don’t sleep!
May the caffeine commence!

Tales from the Cube!

So I figured I’d inform the blogosphere about current cube life.

My film this year (which shall remain a secret as to surprise said blogosphere come late April) has 51 scenes… including full-color and dialog! Yippee! (Not yippee that there are only 130 days to do all this! AAAAAAAAAGHHH!!!) I figure I can do 5 scenes a week and have a month saved up for post production (translation: technical difficulties). I’m really excited about this year’s film, but still… That April 26th deadline is scaaaaryyy! (just for comparison, last year’s film, VALUE BLiND, had 19 scenes and it took me an entire 2.5 months from start to finish– and I completed a week before films were due, hooray for avoiding crunch time!) This year’s film has 32 more scenes and an extra minute of animation! But, this marks the last week of my third semester at CalArts! I can’t believe how quickly this semester passed! And I’m sure it’ll only get quicker!

Anyway, here are some shots of my cube in its current state of filmness.


Completed scenes are hanging out on the left side, field guide in the middle and a life drawing on the right.


Progress of a scene that got completely redone!


Scenes to-do and notes on the work-in-progress scene… Along with a mini candy cane! 😀

One Year Down, Three to Go!

CalArts, you are awesome.
Besides being an excellent work environment with excellent people to be inspired/work with/goof off with, there were all sorts of shows I made it to… Peter’s Shadow (puppetry/theatre), Lost World (Theatre), Pure Grit (Theatre/Puppetry), the World Music Festival (Javanese Gamelan, African and Indian music… involving a robotic Indian set of drums), the Balinesian music performance (involving a robot that played gamelan– yes, robots are taking over the music department! Aaah!) two dance performances, the Open and Producers’ Shows, and probably a few other things I missed (those are just performances from the past month or so)!
I am proud of this:
Granted, that’s with all the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s and up… but STILL! 11 full minutes of pencil tests… yay 😀

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It’s DONE!!!

WHEW! After countless hours and weekends of work (okay, so the weekends are much more countable than the hours)– crunch time has come and gone and once again, the world is silent.


Okay, okay– so by that, I mean a regular, non-CalArts status of noise will be flowing through the cubes. Countless workaholic sleepy animators are currently slumbering away in their beds (AND RIGHTFULLY SO!)

I turned in my film at approximately 11:57 PM on Saturday, the 18th. Right before that I got my final soundtrack mixed (but certainly not mixed-up)– all that went without a hitch and I’ll be the 13th film in the Open Show!  (That’s within the first 25 minutes, so…. show up at 2 PM on Saturday the 25th– yes, this Saturday– before things get TOO wild and crazy– and you’ll catch its premiere)! 😀

I would like to encourage you to compare my storyboards with some final screen captures. I’m amazed at how “refined” it turned out 🙂

Though I finished a couple of nights ago, I couldn’t resist but peek in on the smelly Mac labs two hours before the deadline today at 5 PM. Smelly? Why but OF COURSE! When you cram two dozen animators into a warm room filled with computers for 3+ days straight, it’ll get to the point of knocking you over if you’re not prepared for it. I’m quite surprised Matthew didn’t go in there and attack the air with his can of Lysol, like he did when someone cracked open one of the moldy refrigerators last semester.


All that matters is: the Open Show deadline hit; complaints were filed about the servers going a-wonk; the deadline was stretched an hour and some people made it, and others didn’t. In the end, I think we all learned a lot– if not by making our own film, then by helping with other’s. (I got to animate some bats for Jushtin, which was cool). Celebrating with sushi was the perfect way to celebrate… And now people are wandering around, reminiscent of zombies, wondering: What do we do next?! Our films are done and turned in!

Fortunately I’ve got designs, illustrations and visdev in progress for a children’s book I wrote. My current goal is to get a deal with a publisher, then work on my book over summer! (Just a hint– it’s about color theory).

I’m really pleased with VALUE BLiND, the film I turned in this year. (I suppose I had time to slap together a 2nd film, but by the time I HAD time to make it two weeks ago, I felt that what I did in VALUE BLiND was satisfactory enough for my first year at CalArts!)

Here’s to an AMAZING Open Show on Saturday! Congradulations to all who made it, and to those who didn’t– you still had AMAZING work, and I hope to see your films sometime… soon 😀