Sunday, August 22, 2010

Friday's Studio Tours

I was particularly excited about what we where going to see today. After researching online Dreamworks and seeing their campus grounds I knew this company seemed to be the entire package. We would also be visiting Disney Studios. I was looking forward to this one as well. Given I probably wouldn't have chosen this career path if it wasn't for Disney. They where a big inspiration to me at a young age.
We grabbed a quick breakfast of a coffee and a bagel and headed to Dreamworks. Even their gate seemed impressive from first glance.
We make it through the gate and the first thing I see is a Starbucks!! They have their own starbucks.

We haven't even gone through the gate and you already see fountains, stoned walkways, and all kinds of plants. As soon as we begun our tour through the doors your greeted by a few Oscars in a glass case along with a giant or life size version of Po.

I love Kung Fu Panda. I was super excited. Our tour guide had told us they did quite a bit of motion capture for the fight scenes. Though it was still just used for reference. Everything was still animated. But just proves my point about Motion Capture. Die hard old fashion animators don't believe in it. But for scene's like that where in that movie, you can't expect an animator to be able to act that out. If anything, that little extra bit of research they did made for more believable fight scenes. I really thought I was watching kung fu.
We walked around through a few court yards and saw a room where the artists get down to the basics of lighting, drawing, and animation. They also learn from other areas in the pipeline as well. We would later see a chart of their entire pipeline. We continued through some cubes to what they call is their secret room. Apparently in the beginning some some the employees created a room just an open area on the other side if the wall. They cut a hole in the wall. They would have little parties in there that the owners didn't know about until one day. I can't remember if they got fired, but they did get in trouble. lol After that we made our way to have lunch with the animators and artists of Dreamworks. I thought how awesome is that to have lunch inside the walls of the studio as if I already worked there. I don't even know how many people get the privilege to do that, but I didn't care. I enjoyed every bit of it. I talked with our tour guide at lunch about internships and what they look for. Though he said a lot of their artists did animation mentor its not a requirement. Case in point, a Scad alumni who works there doing animation told me he didn't do animation mentor. Just a lot of long hours in the lab and a friend in the industry that gave him useful feedback. Granted, I felt the need to track these people down I've meet so far on facebook to keep that contact. Me and Ben have been chatting and he said he would look at my work and give me feedback on it. :)After lunch we went to the screening room just to see their process in doing lighting and animation on a shot. But that where speaking to us where Scad grads. One of whom I'm friends with now on facebook. I also friended the other grad that was sitting there but didn't speak. He's a lighter at Dreamworks now. Our conversation starter was how we have similar last names. Though I poked fun on how he's missing on f, and he said I had one too many. lol
I had also made a point of going to the gift shop before the end of our tour to get some souvenirs. You can't find anything Dreamworks animation studio online, so I got quite a few things. Along with some Shrek McDonalds toys they where handing out at lunch. After that it was time to head to Disney.
As we pulled up to Disney we had to get out as many pictures because after that they wont allow you to have a camera pass the door.

As soon as we got to the gate they where taking IDs for copies and signatures for if we decided to take anything we saw there and publicize it. But at any rate the studio seemed pretty quite to me. We saw a room where the animators brush up on their life drawing skills. They bring in live models on site. I thought that was pretty cool. I got to see John Lasseter's office. They had a lot of preproduction art work on the walls for the films they are working on right now. We made it down to a lower level where we could see the Disney time line. It basically went through all the films that Disney produced. This stretched down the hall. After receiving a few gifts our day had ended aside from grabbing dinner and getting ready for some more touristy things in the morning.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thursday's Studio Tours and Alumni Dinner

We began our day with breakfast. We had three different studios we we’re going to visit that day, Motion Theory, Rhythm & Hues, and Method. This would also follow an awesome dinner with both Scad alumni and industry professionals.
Upon our visit to Motion Theory, I noticed a similar work environment to Psyop. They are both smaller companies that specialize in commercials and other projects like music videos. One popular music video that they created was Katy Perry’s California Girls. Having two hundred CG shots the company had a time crunch to complete this video. It’s now up for a few nominations.
The space for the artists for the most part was open which allowed for communication between the employees. There was also a basket ball court.

As soon as we approached the doors to Rhythm and Hues you notice a door for both pet and owner. I thought how awesome. It makes since to have your pet when you work long hours and have to deal with stressful situations at times. We walked to the building for the screening room. There we came across a few Scad Alumni, which apparently there are quite a few working at Rhythm. Close to 200 Scad Alumni work at Rhythm and Hues to be exact. They told us the best way to get our foot in the door is to get into the apprenticeship program there. After we talked with the alumnus and viewing some audio for their latest film we made it to the screening room. Rhythm definitely has an impressive demo reel. Effects and animation for a number of big films some of which the Incredible Hulk and Superman Returns. Right now they are work on two films which I can’t mention here. I promised not to. Both have CG characters in live action environments. Rhythm uses Maya for modeling. We were able to talk with one of the modelers and get to see some of the models they have made. High polygon models for film that is are to be close to photorealistic as possible. All the detailing is done in Z-brush and a high poly obj was outputted from that. Rhythm does not use displacements since their system doesn’t like it. Though having such a heavy model one would think it would crash the system. Most of the companies that we visited run Lenox since it’s a more stable operating system.
We would later end our tours with Method Studio. This studio struck me as more business corporate than anything else. The environment was very organized and clean. Most of the offices were in rooms rather than in open space. They seemed very serious about what they do. They had a Flames workstation. This workstation to purchase is a million dollars. This studio also produces commercials and music videos, but the environment seemed very different from Motion Theory or Psyope. After reviewing their demo reel and getting a copy of it, we left Method to get ready for our Alumnus/Industry dinner.
After walking around the open mall and doing a little break dancing with the street performers, we walked over to the restaurant. We had a reservation at a really nice Asian restaurant. We ate dinner with some professionals from Disney, Dreamworks, and Sony Pictures. We weren’t allowed to sit next to any fellow Scad trip attendees but next to the invited guests. I sat next to a guy by the name of Al who works at Sony Pictures. I asked him a few questions about how they did Alice and Wonderland. Another guy who sat across from us that worked at Disney also worked on Avatar and is now working on Tangled. I later decided to move around the table and talk with a few other people at the end of the table. One guy gave me a word of advice, “get the job first, then the t-shirt.” It was an awesome way to end the night. I feel more confident in talking with professionals now. I hope to continue to build upon this for the future when I’m out looking for a job.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday @ Siggraph.

Wednesday started like tuesday did. Breakfast then Siggraph. This was our last day going to the convention. I was going to talk to as many people as I could and get as much free stuff as my bag could hold. lol After going to a couple of panels, spending more money at the book store on a dvd tutorial we left to go back to the job fair. This time Microsoft was going to interview us and review our reels. I was pretty nervous about this one. Though our interviewer seemed even more nervous. I received valuable feedback on my reel. Some a little bit different then from Psyop. But basically focusing my reel more. After our interview everyone wanted to see the "How to Train Your Dragon" panel. I felt it was important to stay in the job fair a bit longer and try to network. I ended up handing my information to Frame Store, Digital Domain, IGT, and a few other companies. From there I left to find the rest of the group at the Dreamworks panel. I waited till they came out. We had some time before the next panel. We soon would try one last trip to the job fair. I wanted to give some support to the undergrads nervous to talk to industry folks. As soon as we walked in a few Scad Alumni stopped us and talked with us over an hour. Both of which work for Rhythm and Hues. They where giving us a ton of advice. Specialize in one thing but know a lot of other things as well. They gave us their business cards and said they where willing to help us any way they could. Having such a huge support system from the Alumni at Scad has made me feel I've made the right decision in going for MFA. Its a higher quality of education that I didn't receive from my undergrad. Scad seemed to be pretty big in LA. There are a lot of alumni working in a lot of different studios.
Towards the end of the day we headed to the Animation Mentor after party. We had hoped to network but it wasn't at all that we expected. Everyone had their own clicks. We felt out of place and decided to leave. It wasn't a huge loss. Not to many professionals where there. Mostly students from the program. At this point we we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next day. :)