Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Animated Thoughts: The Year in Review - 2011

This past year, I set three major life goals for myself within my chosen field of animation. Here's how they worked out.

1. Get Certified
I did not accomplish this goal for a couple of reasons:

In order to become an Adobe Certified Instructor, they require you to have either a State-issued teaching license or CompTia's CTT+ certification (Certified Technical Trainer). When I investigated the costs and requirements for CTT+ certification (and by extension, CTT+ classes/workshops), it became very clear that it was designed for people who are already instructors and just want to pass the (arguably diabolically difficult) test but not for people who want to learn how to become an instructor. Furthermore, when I contacted Adobe to learn what 'State-issued' teaching certifications they accepted, there wasn't anyone at Adobe who would respond to my phone calls and, after I tracked down an ACI in Ohio who gave me an e-mail address for her contact at Adobe, no one responded to my multiple e-mails. While on the one hand, I made a lot of progress towards that particular goal--gathering intel and finding source material to study--however, it ended up being one dead end after another. Very discouraging. While I might renew this goal for 2012, I'll probably approach it from a different direction.

2. Get Animated
I accomplished this goal. Twice even! Early in the year, I was invited to speak at my alma mater (the Rochester Institute of Technology) about my career in animation and they graciously allowed me to teach a two-hour workshop on producing a forensic animation using Flash. The workshop itself was a basic accident reconstruction which covered what intel and research goes into your average reconstruction as well as how you could apply said information to produce a forensic animation using Flash.

Later on in the year, I dipped into my experiences with the paint-on-glass animation style to write a short workshop which I then taught at the Grand Rapids Community Media Center through my work with ASIFA/Central. The results from this workshop can be viewed on my sister-site: getanimated.info.

3. Give something back
This was another goal that I can mark off as having accomplished. For starters, as previously mentioned, I presented and taught at R.I.T. early in the year as well as taught an animation workshop at the GRCMC. But additionally, I joined with many of my fellow alumni and donated money to R.I.T. (in my case, the bulk of my donations went to the Erik Timmerman memorial scholarship which provides funds for graduate students in R.I.T.'s animation program). Lastly, as the position was currently available, I stepped up and became the Membership Coordinator for ASIFA/Central.

So, two goals accomplished out of three. Not bad. But not enough to satisfy me. I think that the biggest mistake that I made was using a 'shotgun' approach to pursuing said goals. This year, I'm going to schedule and track my goals so that every month, there will be a task to accomplish which will bring me closer to attaining that particular goal.

Here are my goals for 2012:

1. Get Certified
I'm not ready to give up on this goal. So, before the end of the year, I'm setting myself the goal of passing one Adobe ACE exam (After Effects or Flash) and finishing the three books on technical training that CompTia recommended I read for their certification training exams. Even if I never take the CTT+ certification exam, the information contained in those books can only assist me as I apply them towards teaching animation.

2. Get Animated
This goal needs to be split into two parts. First, I'd like to review my previous workshop material, write a new class on animation, and pitch it to the East Lansing Recreational Center for the Fall/Winter 2012 season. Second, I plan to continue teaching animation workshops with ASIFA/Central. As I've been tinkering with the latest version of Dragonframe's stop-motion software lately, instead of only teaching animation techniques, I think it's time to start branching out into teaching some specific software applications and how those apps can mesh with traditional animation techniques.

3. Produce a film
Over the past fifteen years since graduating from R.I.T., I've spent most of my time working towards specific career goals and towards the overall goal of paying off my student loans so my career choices won't be limited by my debt. However, doing so has consumed an enormous amount of time. As this year I plan on paying off the last bit of my student loans, I'd like to start carving out time to produce a film of my own. I currently have several films scripted and storyboarded out, however, no actual animation work has started. It's time for me to pick one and finish it.

So, there you have it. In upcoming blog posts, I'll be talking about my goal setting/tracking structure as well as my progress towards said goals.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Animated Inspiration: The Christmas Card

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and an animated New Year (Monty Python style)!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Animated Inspiration: Simon's Cat "Fowl Play"

You know it's going to be a good day when you get to work and there's a new Simon's Cat waiting for you. Looks like we got an early Christmas gift from Simon Tofield: a hilarious animated short and a solid object lesson in character animation!

Looking at this short film, the timing in Simon Tofield's character animation keeps getting more and more solid. After watching the film through once, hit the replay button, then pay close attention to the motion of the cat from around :05 seconds to :20 seconds--where the cat shakes his head, notices the turkey and lunges up at the glass, then hides back down. The motion is smooth and expressive and the posing remains very clear and readable. It's the motion of Tofield's characters, coupled with the posing, that allow me to clearly read the cat's motives--even more than the actual staging of props in the film's initial setup. These key elements describe the cat's body language, which in turn allow us to subconsciously read beyond the cat's facial expressions and clearly see the motivation and thoughts behind his actions. As I proceed on my animator's journey, short films like "Simon's Cat" are valuable tools for training my eyes to look for the key elements in the motion of real-life animals, objects, and people before attempting to reproduce them in a visual medium.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Animated Quotes: Walt Disney

I'd like to celebrate the birthday of Walt Disney by reposting a quote that I posted earlier this year--quite possibly my favorite quote from Disney as it highlights the man's faith:

"Whatever success I have had in bringing clean, informative entertainment to people of all ages, I attribute in great part to my Congregational upbringing and lifelong habit of prayer."
- Walt Disney

Source: "Deeds rather than words", written by Walt Disney in 1963

The entire article can be read on the Started by a Mouse website.