Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snow Day

It was snowing this morning.  I have a short commute so the building was practically empty when I got in.   I went around and snapped some misc. pics!
This is the Chop Shop, the room I was talking about earlier where reel reviews are usually held.

The director , Carlos, in Sweatbox

My cube-mate, Joe.  Uh kinda.

Joe's cube mate, Me.  By Joe. 
There's a caricature war coming up in the department soon, so I guess we were, practicing?
Oh, Joe and I went to an Ikea in Brooklyn last weekend.  I got this overpriced chair and  massive desk for my workstation.  It's literally the first piece of real furniture at my apt.

Here's the other half of the room.
Yup.  January and still haven't unpacked completely.  Awesome.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Hey Bloggy-Sphere!

I'm about to show my first production shot to the director in sweatbox today.  I came in a little early to jot some notes and collect my thoughts.  A year from now I'll probably look back at this shot and cringe.

I'll let you know how it goes OK?  

Your friend,
-Bobby P

Post-sweatbox update :  Went pretty well!  To be more specific and vague at the same time,  my shot in layout was originally a smaller, more straight- foward shot to start me out on.  During briefings Carlos  acted out what he wanted to see.  Those ideas would no doubt make the shot longer.  Uh-oh, I was afraid to ask for more frames so I tried to stuff it all in to this quick shot and sure enough it looked way busy.   So the animation lead gave me the OK to add more frames to sell the ideas, I blocked those poses that indeed extended it's screen time, but thankfully Carlos liked it and gave me the OK to add more frames to make it work.  I'm making this movie more expensive!

Monday, January 25, 2010

First Impression

Today, during our weekly animation department meeting,  one of the shots they screened for the whole team was my very first animation test I did a few weeks ago.  It was the first time I had ever seen my stuff on the big screen.  Considering the company I was in, it was terrifying.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NY Jets

Currently the city has its Cinderella story in the NY Jets.

Unfortunately back at home, things didn't fare so well for my Hawks.

** Update 01-24......Nevermind!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Animating from the inside out

"In Finding Nemo I had a HUGE revelation and I called
this Animating from the INSIDE out. My character is not
just some spans of geometry.  My character has a heart, has
flesh, has a brain, thinks on their own, etc.  After I would
put my blocking in there shortly thereafter I would think,
'Okay, this character has ALWAYS done this, they have
always moved in this way, They are living this moment of
their life RIGHT NOW.'

I think this kind of thinking has happened over many years
of thinking and animating. But the sooner anyone can start
thinking about animation like this the sooner their animation
will become ALIVE and not just a series of movements."


 I found this gem on my good buddy, Jamaal's site. And
although it's obviously attributed to someone at Pixar, this
actually sounds like something Jamaal would say himself.
We both previously worked in Seattle and we'd always be
talking about art, trying to come up with all of these new ideas.
The dude is as passionate about this artform as anyone I know.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Shot

Thanks for your responses on the reel review post.  I'm glad people found it helpful!  Chris W had a good question in the comments section, but let me know if you have any more.

So back at work, today I was assigned my first production shots!  Oh man!

 Seq. 150!  Apologies for the over excitement , but my first shots in movies ?  It only happens once!  To celebrate I decided to spruce up my workspace a little.

Haha.  Not much I know,  but I really don't have that much desk space.  And Joe and I still aren't sure if we are allowed to put stuff up on the walls.  So just the essentials here. Pictured are a Chris Sanders figurine I got from SD Comic-Con, a Tarzan Maquette, the corner of a Princess & the Frog cell & Coraline popcorn bag via Asifa,  and a figure drawing sketchbook (every morning, a group of animators get together and take turns posing for each other.  I don't go nearly as much as I should.) 

And yes, I'm still doing the touristy things when we head out to NYC.  Last weekend I had my special someone visit from out of town so we went to see Central Park, Times Square, the top of the Empire State Building, went dancing in the Meat-Packing district, watched the Lion King,  and went ice skating at Rockefeller Center, which has a pretty magical-y  backdrop for ice skating, despite how terrible I am at it.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Demo Reel Reviews

When I was applying to the studios, I would always wonder what Demo Reel Reviews were like.

What do they talk about? How many people attend?  Was someone taking notes? How many do they look at at one sitting?  There are more than enough resources out there that address the golden demo reel do's and dont's ;  Keep it short, best stuff up front, cut the so-so work.  But even equipped with that knowledge, I know there's still a sense of vulnerability that comes with sending out your work. 

I've been able to sit in on quite a few reviews since being here,  so here are some things I've seen that I'd like to share to students wondering the same thing.  It seems like after the holidays, a new wave of demos are being sent out, and hopefully this helps.  I'm sure every studio is different, but here's how they go down at Blue Sky, and I'm betting there are lots of similarities.


-In an average week, there are maybe 2 reel reviews.  The attendance varies , usually hovering around 8-12  animators, and one Animation PA loading about 6-10 reels per review.  It's usually in this small theater room called the "Chop Shop".  But your work will be projected on a pretty big screen.

-Any animator can come to these reviews,  if the majority of the room likes it, it gets forwarded to the supervising animators.  If the supervisors like it, they will contact the candidate.

-There actually isn't much discussion or deliberation that goes on in these things.  It's usually either a yay or nay.  And no one is taking down notes to give feedback to the candidate. (which is something I always wondered about =). )  

-Since I've been here,  candidates are considered for 3 different positions.  Staff Animator, Junior, or Temps.

-Most animators don't look at reviews as a chore, but are pretty genuinely excited about finding new talent.  They WANT to see awesome!  They want to be inspired like everyone else. 

-Fancy packaging and labels.  I don't even see them.  Everyone gathers into a dark room and watches it on a big screen.  The Anim  PA is in the back, opens and plays the DVDs one after another.

-Fancy titles don't impress.  Ironically, animators are really impatient and hate sitting through shiny animated logos, they just wanna get to the work.  Hell, there's even a running joke that the fancier the titles, the worse the actual animation will be.

-The "best stuff up front" thing is no joke.  I've seen demo reels get shot down 5 seconds into the first shot.
Someone will immediately speak out "NOPE." and the rest of the room will tend to agree.

-By contrast, the reels that impress the room usually get watched again.  Like I say,  animators want to be inspired.

-  I hear "He/She should've cut that one.." alot, so get picky about what you show.

-The type of test that seems to say the most about a candidate is the dialogue.

-Great ideas impress.  " This one's a little rough, but He/She's got some great ideas..." 

- Now, the above said,  make sure you've polished your mechanics!  A slight IK pop will jump right out and ruin your chances. 

-No one really seems to mind cursing, but sex gags never get a laugh.

-  I see AM's Bishop alot, likewise with AAU's Norman.  It's certainly not a deal-breaker.  But if you want your stuff to stand out,  modify them a bit if you can.

-People are on the fence seeing 2D animation for a 3D position.  Usually the 2D we see is pretty weak.  But I have seen some beautiful work come in and even the stronger 2D candidates will be contacted being asked to see some 3D samples.

-If you've applied before, be sure that your reel has enough new work on it.  You have to show that you're progressing.  Sending the same reel with just one new shot won't show that. I learned that one the hard way.

-Every session has a few reels that don't play (Usually they are data DVD's).  The PA sometimes accomodates, but the reel ends up being played on a small laptop screen with the room crowded around it struggling to see.  Make sure your stuff gets on the big screen!

-The whole review usually lasts around 15-20 minutes.  But I've been at some that were much faster.

So Good luck !  Hope this helps.  Get out and knock us on our asses!

New York Times article

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Back here in NY from Seattle ...Happy 2010!