Monday, December 31, 2007

Animator's New Year 2008 resolutions

Animators are constantly thinking of their next goal, depending on what stage of their careers they are at, they are reminding themselves what they would like to achieve.

How can you do this? Can you plan your goals as any other animation project/shot where you do thumbnails, blocking and polish?

--What if? WHAT IF you accomplish them? How will this change your life?

Here are the top 10 resolutions ranging from Junior Animators to Senior Animators:

1.- Make a new Demo Reel
2.- Work on a Feature Film
3.- Work from home
4.- Make an Animated Short Film
5.- Get a job at a major Animation Studio (Pixar, PDI, Blue Sky)
6.- Enroll at Animation Mentor
7.- Transition from a 2D to a 3D medium
8.- Open your own Animation Studio
9.- Create your own Animated Feature Film
10.- Write an Animation Book

This mix of resolutions portrays very positive goals, while the Junior Animators want to enter the Animation Industry to spend all their creative energy in an "executing position", the Senior Animators have fullfilled a lot of their goals and are ready to move on to Animation related "thinking positions".

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Animator Element: Rolando Perez-Palacios

Why did you choose Vancouver for your Animation Education?

I was looking for a Classical Animation Program; I wanted to learn the Animation Principles. My best option was the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (Vanarts) because of personal references and an intensive year was great for me. I also was interested in attending Sheridan College but it was a 3-year program, that implied more time and more money to spend. That is why I ended up at Vancouver, it was an amazing experience. I found this city very cultural, fun to live in and friendly!

Was it difficult to get a Work Visa?

After my graduation at Vanarts I was living in Vancouver because my wife was studying too. I gathered all my papers (Vanarts Diploma, personal papers, BA degree in Graphic Design Communication, etc.) and applied for a Work permit. About three months later I got it in the mail!

Before you went back to Mexico City, you had a couple of offers from animation studios based in Vancouver, why didn't you accept them?

The original plan was to study and return to Mexico City, I already had 3D work experience and some industry contacts there, I wanted to take my new Classical Animation skills and apply them to Computer Animation. It was great to come back to Mexico City and return to the industry after being a student again. I got an offer from a well known studio to work on TV commercials for one year and then I had an offer to work in a Featured Film!

But I’ll never discard the opportunity to go back to Vancouver to work and live there.

Working on a Feature Film is an Animator's dream, now you are working on one. How's that going?

Feature Films were a totally a new world for me, in the past I’ve heard things and read different experiences from a lot of people. Now that I am working on a movie I realize it’s a great experience to be part of a big team, very intense but very different from working for Television.

The movie its a 3D Animated Featured Film, I work as an Animator. Sometimes things are unsure in the sense that there are a lot of things to know and to research, you really need to know that what you are doing fits with the style and needs of the show, you often ask for Director’s feedback. We’re already in production and in every frame I try to put all my work and education experience, including tips and advise from more experienced animators and friends.

I have learned a lot since I’ve been here; I hope to learn more because I really want to bring life to the characters I animate.
We always have to keep in mind that this is a team effort; every shot is a mix of everyone’s talent and work. The best advice I can give to anyone is to be honest, work hard, enjoy every frame you work on, and above all; always keep a good attitude!

What does your wife think about all the hours you put into your work?

My wife has been a great support in my profession. She’s a Graphic Designer too and also in the film industry, she is aware of the hours you sometimes need to invest in your work.

A lot of times I spend hours at work and then come back home to work over night. Sometimes is necessary but I don’t want to get used to it, because I am trying to balance work and family, meet deadlines at work, but also spend time with my wife and family, relax during the weekend and charge my batteries for the upcoming week.

Rolando Perez-Palacios is the definition of persistence; at an early age he knew he wanted to attend a Classical Animation Program in Canada. For seven years he financially organized his life to study in Canada. In August 2005 he Graduated with Honors from one of the best Classical Animation Schools in North America.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The hardest project

A typical day in Vancouver BC will be from 9am to 5pm, --How weird is that? Every other studio that I worked on in other countries (USA, France, Israel, Mexico) have a way more busy schedule, usually you won't leave the studio until you finish your daily tasks.

How can Vancouver get away with that? This is called the "West Coast Culture" of Canada, people want to be outside the office rather than working all day, enjoying their families, hobbies, social life, etc.

---Yes there is; and its amazing all the things you can do outside the office, I promise.

The king of busy and long days in my experience has been Los Angeles California. A typical day will be from 9am to 9pm, a short day (that usually doesn't happen) is from 9am to 6pm. Its not surprising to see people working a 100 hours week; this is truly testing human capabilities that raises the following question, how long can you keep on working in this industry before you get burned out? or... When you see the IMDB profile from any of your heroes, you can't help but asking yourself how did he put up with so much work for all those years?

Indeed long hours and busy days are part of the whole film industry, and it doesn't seem it will change any time soon. Fortunately for Vancouverians that only happens during "crunch time" but still it is shocking to know that your work will be occupying ninety percent of you daily lives.

The hardest project we are constantly facing is to keep a balanced life, without work we would go crazy, too much work will have the same effect.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On Set Previs Artist

It is very common for Animators to do previsualization work, although they are not attracted to it. Animators prefer to have full animation shots that they can take to a polishing stage.

That is changing right now, there is an evolved position from the old days that might get some attention from today's Animators. During the old Disney days they would bring a Story board artist along to the meetings to draw in a "real time" fashion whatever the Director would ask him, for instance, a medium shot from a character seen from a full front angle, draw!!, then from a long angle, draw!!, then from a 3/4 angle, draw!! until the director said, Voila! that's is what I want.

Now a days this is called "On set previs", where the studio will send an animator to the Set to work for the Director as he is shooting some other scenes. The animator will have a fully loaded laptop with a 3D application and all the assets already built by the studio, he is just in charge of bringing life to the shot. This could mean animating characters or cameras.

This is a very exciting position to be in, starting from the stress of what it means to be driving a 3D application in real time as somebody watches over your shoulder giving you instructions on what he/she wants to see. If you are doing previs work for a large production you'll get to work with big name Directors and see Actors delivering their lines.

Previs for live action films is coming more and more popular, it is a powerful tool for the Directors, they can have 3D characters fully choreographed for an entire sequence, then they'll set their cameras to portray the feeling they want to achieve.

This generates 2 points of view:
1)Directors don't know what they want, they are supposed to have the whole sequence in a storyboard format and go over it a hundred times before they release it for production. This new tool is just making them lazy, they don't want to think and maybe they don't want to plan ahead. What would Alfred Hitchcock about this?. Planning, we need planning!

2)Previs is a powerful tool, it allows the Directors to explore every single possibility, yes... every single possibility. They can push the real world limitations, lets say for instance; by creating wild camera movements that defy real world physics to be later recreated with live cameras. It is not about being lazy, it is about finding break grounding tools and produce never seen before footage for a more demanding audience.

Most likely you'll be experiencing on both sides at one point in your career, and you will get to see that both opinions hold truth.

The previs for Blades of Glory required about 7 animators getting the entire choreography as a whole for the three figure skating competitions, no cuts at all. Later the Directios will pick and choose their camera angles based on what the digital actors were doing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Vancouver Winter Season is coming

When the Computer Graphics Industry in Vancouver wake up in the morning and see this:

They immediately think of this:

One of the things that make Vancouver so attractive is its scenery. Vancouver its a 4 season city, you can be in any type of environment within 30 mins.

Typically Vancouver based studios organize trips for their employees, this is where you get to see your co-workers without their wacom tablet and get to hit them with a gigantic snowball. Winter activities make memorable experiences among animators, in particular when they break a leg or injured their necks.

Vancouver Animated News by Mario Pochat