Friday, May 17, 2013

One Thing Every Day - Week 6

Monday April 29th
I did some drawing exercises. I really struggle with fluid line work, so I focused on trying to do stronger lines. I tend to scratch all over the page until I find the "line" I want. Then I go back over my sketch with a darker pencil.

Tuesday April 30th
Tuesdays are super long work days for me, so I ended up shooting reference in the living room after everyone went to sleep.

I am not a dancer, so it took lots of takes of me trying things out that looked fun, goofy, and a little over the top to fit the "Carlton Banks" character I was going for.

Wednesday May 1st
I taught class which is always a learning experience, but it doesn't count, so today I have nothing to share.

Thursday May 2nd
Another late night reference recording session. My poor wife has to see every version the next day and tell me which one she likes best. What a trooper.

Imagine being exposed to 14 different versions of this!

Friday May 3rd

Put together an edit of my reference from the last several days. I included it in an earlier post, but I'll drop it in here so you don't have to go find it. I actually have ideas that will change the start of the shot. I'll post that update soon.

Link for mobile readers

We held our second production meeting for the secret family project. The girls were successful in being as loud as possible and ended the meeting prematurely, so not much was accomplished, but it was good to get a few things discussed.

Saturday May 4th
Created some storyboards for my shot, and posted a lovely little blog about the initial steps in creating the shot. (click here to read the prior post)

Sunday May 5th
Began Redesigning my website and logo.

Monday, May 13, 2013

One Thing Every Day - Week 5

The weeks switch over in the middle of our drive home from California.

Monday April 22nd
Today we left El Paso to make the long journey across the state of Texas. Our drive was over 12 hours long. We were driving a completely different route than our drive to California, but we still found that Texas does rest stops right.

 These playgrounds are needed exercise for the kids on the long drive.

I think that dangerous animals love the rest stops in Texas as much as we do.

Tuesday April 23rd
I put in more than a full day of work, but took my wife and son out for a fun evening without the chaos of the girls. We watched the amazing musical, "Wicked."

I bought the soundtrack last summer, and was blown away by the songs. As a story exercise I wrote down what I thought was the entire story in an outline. I had my son read my outline on the drive home, after the play. I was amazed that I was 100% accurate.

I even shot reference for a potential shot I wanted to animate to the song, "Dancing Through Life." I acted out the scene very closely to the way they performed it in the play without ever seeing the show before. I'm glad I decided not to animate that shot because it would have not come across as a performance I created, but merely my interpretation of the original.

We thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Wednesday April 24th
Today I enjoyed watching a little of "Wreck-It-Ralph" with the kids. Sometimes I watch movies for fun, but today I took the opportunity to study the camera work and layout.

In this shot I am looking at composition. I feel this shot is a great example of framing.

If you black out the elements they are using to frame the two focal points you see they've created a diagonal with the wall behind Ralph and the floor behind the Surge Protector. These elements tie the two subjects together and also limit the area of interest on the screen so we know where we should be looking.

These elements also establish a flow between the two focal points, Ralph being the primary focal point, and the Surge Protector being the secondary. Notice how size and color create a natural level of importance in visual weight on the screen.

In the following shots we see Ralph framed slightly off center, to the left. Our eyes are naturally drawn to his eye mask, so when the camera cuts to the next shot we move our attention to the boy and girl in yellow. The movement of Frogger into frame grabs our focus next. Dig Dug begins digging for safety, and we digest that without looking at it since we are still looking to see what Frogger is going to do. Frogger then jumps toward the hole Dig Dug made further clarifying his action. The characters are framed with the design on the floor and the background characters. The use of color helps the three focal points stand out as well.

All of this happens quickly to create a sense of chaotic reaction to the "bad guy", but at the same time it all registers because it is controlled chaos.

Ralph continues eating his cherry and then Sonic delivers some important plot information in a very clever way. They are using a simple tracking camera, following Ralph through Game Central Station. This shot starts out with Sonic as the focal point in the background telling us that you should be safe and alert when outside your game. The focus transfers from Sonic to the Dig Dug baddies who walk in front of Ralph, which in-turn helps us transfer our focus on the foreground screen explaining if you die outside your game, you don't regenerate, and then they put a nice end button with Sonic saying "Game Over!"

What a cool way to show how characters travel outside their game, which fills in details about their world, and delivers needed plot information to the audience. It all serves the story.

Check out the T-Rex from "Meet the Robinsons" behind Ralph.

Thursday April 25th
Today was a super busy work day, and I have to admit I didn't do anything special to become a stronger storyteller. :(

Friday April 26th
I have been kicking around an idea that I have been wanting to get off the ground. I decided it would be fun to involve the whole family in the process of creating this project. I won't say too much about it in this post, but today we had our first production meeting during lunch.

We assigned our roles for the project, and ironed out the things we would need to do and tools we'd need to buy to get started.

I also read Chapter 8 of "A Challenge for the Actor" by Uta Hagen.

Saturday April 27th
Today I spent time writing for the project I mentioned above. It is fun putting new stories together.

I also read Chapter 9 of "A Challenge for the Actor" by Uta Hagen.

Sunday April 28th
Today I shot some reference for a shot that I plan to animate. This is fastest way for me to find a character. I feel like I came across some interesting ideas, but I am not completely happy with where the performance is yet. I'll be shooting more reference next week.

Anthony and Kyra like to help me with my reference, so here's Kyra standing in for the girl character in my shot.

 Mommy, what is wrong with daddy?

This was a good way to get back into gear. I think I could have done more, but with work and family duties I think this was a decent week.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tonymation Website Redesign

If you happened across my website over the last 3 years or so, I apologize. I hope the new design is more palatable.

If you haven't, well I'm going to offer my old site up for comparison against my better judgement. And, I am pretty sure this post would be rather boring if I didn't give visual confirmation that I really did a horrible job on the last version.

Old Design

New Design

I also added a nifty navigation bar at the top of this blog so you can access my website directly from there. Feel free to tell me how great or horrible you think I am at designing websites and logos.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

One Thing Every Day - Week 4

Week 2 in California

Monday April 15th
Body Acting critique class went well. Leslie was getting tired of finding things to do outside of the hotel room while I taught classes, but she never took my suggestion of posing as a homeless woman on a street corner to see how much money she could get.

The Croods Round Table
After my class, a quick lunch and other AnimSchool tasks, I packed up and made the hour long drive out to the Dreamworks Animation studio. I arrived 30 minutes before we were to begin recording, but my host was stuck in a meeting, so I didn't get to the room until a few minutes before the arranged start time. It doesn't take too long to set up, but my macbook could see I was in a hurry and decided it would "not recognize" my microphone. I was like, "Hey! You know this microphone. If you guys aren't on speaking terms you better make up fast."

So we started a little late, and one of my questions hijacked the conversation for nearly 30 minutes. The animators involved were very gracious with their time, but I was so nervous about sucking their Monday night away I could barely muster the courage to ask more questions. Of course I'll edit the podcast to make me sound like a silky smooth host.

Animators on Dreamworks animated film, "The Croods"
Top Row: Jennifer Harlow, David Couchariere, Hans Dastrup, Liron Topaz, Thomas Grummt
Bottom Row: Gabriele Pennacchioli, Line Andersen

Tuesday April 16th
Another long day of classes. Here's my class schedule using Pacific time.

Animating Characters 10:00 am - 12:45 pm
This class is supposed to end at noon, but it always runs long so I tend to have only 10-15 minutes before General Reviews.

General Reviews 1:00 pm -  3:00 pm
I have a decent break after General Reviews. I am usually pretty hungry since I am not able to eat lunch most Tuesdays. So I usually end up eating whatever is close to me. My wife has had to snatch the kids away from me a couple of times.

Character Evaluation 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
After this class I usually catch up on my emails and then call it a night. Typically I am in Texas and this class ends around 11pm.

Wednesday April 17th
I got some school business done early and then headed out to Dreamworks where I enjoyed lunch with my good friend Tyler Phillips. It was "bring your kid to work" day, and "How to Train Your Dragon" day all at the same time. I'm not sure how they pull that off, but the folks at Dreamworks have some special magic that helps them mix such an impossible combination. Only a few kids were eaten, so it was a rather successful event.

Tyler showed me the new updated proprietary software he is using, Primo. One feature that is by far my favorite, is the constant geometry caching the software does so you have the ability to scrub and play real-time without ever creating a playblast. Since it is actually caching the geo, you can move the camera while playing and still see your shot in real-time. This is going to pay huge dividends in time savings for their animation department.

I jumped over to the Disney studio for a brief visit and then headed back to Dreamworks to record the next round table podcast.

Rise of the Guardians Round Table
If you could bottle the energy and wit of this group, you'd have yourself an addictive drug that would make you millions until the government decides to deem it unhealthy, confiscate it all, and then throw you in jail to rot. But it would be fun while it lasted.

It was much easier to not look like a bumbling idiot at this podcast because I couldn't get these guys to stop talking and laughing. I just sat on the sidelines, laughed, and pretended I was as cool as them.

If you ever need to liven a party, call these guys.
Back: Jacob Gardner, JP Sans, Ben Wilis, Pierre Perifel, Gabe Hordos
Front: Tyler Phillips, Alexis Wanneroy

Thursday April 18th
We decided to head back to California Adventure to see if we could get another go on the Radiator Springs Racers, and catch a ride on Soarin'. We were disappointed on both counts. Let's sum up the ride situation here real quick:

Bug's Land
Filled with 4 kiddie rides that were operating with 10-20 minute lines.
Flik's Flyers
Francis' Ladybug Boogie
Heimlich's Chew Chew Train
Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies

Car's Land
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree - 25-40 minute wait
Luigi's Flying Tires - 45-55 minute wait
Radiator Springs Racers - over 110 minute wait.

Every Disneyland veteran knows you should dart over to the fastpass distibution machine for Radiator Springs Racers as soon as you enter the park. Unfortunately, the park was full of Disneyland veterans. The line for the fastpass machine had over an hour wait. It wrapped from Bug's Land, around through Buena Vista Street, down Hollywood Land, and ended in front of the Tower of Terror. If you know the park you quickly realize that you could free Scotland from Longshanks with that many people!

This line isn't for an attraction, but for a fastpass to an attraction!

I decided to rally the troops with a moving William Wallace-esque speech: "Son's of Disneyland. How many days sitting in a fastpass distribution line would you trade for one chance, JUST ONE!!! To stand up to the Disney park executives and say, you may take our rides, but you'll never take our churros!!!"

As I imagined the crowd cheering and running with me into battle, a cast member snapped me out of my smiling stupor and asked me if I had been on the ride before, and I responded that I had. She smiled and said, "Oh then you don't have to ride it again." Technically she was right, but I kind of paid money to, so the intended consolation was lost on me. The little kid inside my head that paid the exorbitant ticket prices for a family of five was throwing a full blown tantrum.

I wish I had the wits about me to take a photo of this madness, but the only thing that could keep me from crying was the Brioche French Toast at Flo's V8 Cafe. So off to Car's Land we strolled.

Golden State
Grizzly River Run - 20-45 minute wait
Soarin' Over California - Closed

Hollywood Pictures Backlot
Monsters, Inc. Sulley to the Rescue - 20-30 minute wait
Tower of Terror - 45-60 minute wait

Paradise Pier
California Screamin' - Closed
Golden Zephyr - Closed due to high winds
Goofy's Sky School - Closed off and on throughout the day
The Little Mermaid - 25-40 minute wait
Mickey's Fun Wheel - Closed for a medical emergency when we walked by
Silly Symphony Swings - Closed off and on throughout the day
Toy Story Midway Mania - Closed off and on throughout the day
Toy Story Midway Mania - When open the wait time was over 45 minutes.

So you can see our options were limited. We ended up riding Jumping Jellyfish about 50 times since there wasn't much else to do. It was a sad way to spend our last day at Disneyland.

Jumping Jellyfish

Weee! My feet on Jumping Jellyfish.
You can see the Golden Zephyr - Closed due to high winds.

 Okay daddy can we please go do something else now?
In the background you can see California Screamin' and 
the Silly Symphony Swings which are both closed.

Friday April 20th
When we woke up Leslie decided she wanted to go to the beach in Santa Monica. It dawned on me that Disney didn't have the market on magical dirt cornered. And Leslie was now somehow involved in this sandy scheme.

 I drove right up onto the pier. It was pretty cool.

A photo from the pier where I parked.

I had scheduled lunch at Disney with my long-time friend, Brian Menz. He walked with me around the campus as I shot pics and video. He was very gracious with his time, especially since they are in crunch mode on "Frozen" right now.

I finally remembered to take a picture!

I was getting photo updates from Leslie throughout the day. At least on this day I was also enjoying myself while they had a blast on the beach, instead of being cooped up in a room on a computer.

Anthony hanging out on the pier.

Leslie and Kaylie playing in... you guessed it, dirt!

Kyra wanted to flavor her dirt so she added sea salt.

 Yet another dirt overdose. And she swears she doesn't have a problem.

Afterwards I made one last stop at Dreamworks to hand out some thank you chocolate to everyone who participated in the podcasts. I can't be sure, but I swear I heard some of them say, "Oh chocolate, I was hoping it was dirt." I said my final goodbyes and made the long drive back to the beach to pick up the family.

The campus at Dreamworks is beautiful.

Kaylie was too ashamed to look me in the eye.

Saturday April 21st
Our last day in Riverside!
I held my 2 lectures for Animating Characters and Body Acting.

We had our last meal at Ruby's Auto Diner at the mall in Riverside. That place has fantastic burgers.

I'm gonna miss you Ruby

We drove out to the Burbank/Glendale area on our final evening in California. We cruised the neighborhoods imagining what it would be like to live there.

The entrance to the old Disney animation building.

Sunday April 22nd
We woke up before 7am, grabbed some muffins and got on the open road back to Texas. We drove for over 12 hours, including stops, and ended our day in El Paso, Texas. After unloading the family and the overnight necessities I grabbed some take-out from Red Lobster. We ate dinner, watched an episode of Restaurant Impossible and passed out.

Robert Irvine's show is an addiction the whole family enjoys.

We continue our journey home on the next post. Come back soon to see me get back on track when I settle into a normal routine again.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One Thing Every Day - Week 3

Hello from Riverside California!

Monday April 8th
I got my office set up in the room and put in a full day of work. I taught my Body Acting class for AnimSchool, and finished up a new picker for Scout, our dog character.

After class was over we headed out to have some lunch. We found this really cool restaurant called, Farrel's Ice Cream Parlour. It was themed out with turn of the century Americana. I liked the environment, but the food was bland and expensive. They weren't very busy, but it seemed like every 5 minutes they were banging a drum and singing happy birthday to somebody. Part of me wonders if they were just making up birthdays to have something to do.

After lunch, I finished up my work day and that evening we went to a local drive-in theater. I haven't been to one since I was a kid. The last movie I remember watching at a drive-in was the live-action Popeye movie (1980). It had to be a re-release because I can't possibly be that old. We took the whole family to see "The Croods". I wish we had one of these close to home. It was one of the most fun movie-going experiences we've had in years, and the first time we've all been able to go to the movies together without worrying about one of the girls chewing through a seat cushion.

 You have to wait for the sun to go down before the movie can start.

The concessions were reasonably priced and they had some really good mexican food that they actually cook right in front of your eyes. We spent under $20 for the whole family which basically fed us for the night. We enjoyed this theater food more than the burgers at Farrel's which cost us over twice as much

The Monsters University trailer looked great.

Tuesday April 9th
Tuesdays are my long days. I teach three classes for a total of 7 hours of class in one day. In between I worked on future lectures. I try to incorporate slides, videos, and live demonstrations into my lectures to better illustrate ideas, and to keep it interesting for my students with short attention spans. You know who you are!

Here's an example of one of my slides.

Wednesday April 10th 
We set aside certain days as vacation days during this trip. We spent the entire day at Disneyland.

It's been over 6 years since we've been to this park.

Kyra saw so many people driving around in little motorized carts, and for a short moment she thought she found her very own. She was ready to take Kaylie on leisurely tour of the park, but quickly discovered that Mr. Toad had forgot to fill the tank with gas.

Come on Kaylie let's go check out the churro stand!

Kaylie decided to fall asleep before the Tiki birds starting singing, so we both rested outside while Leslie, Kyra, and Anthony watched the show. It was a nice break.

Nobody holds me when I want a nap!

Sure play in the dirt, daddy only put a second mortgage on the house to bring you here.

My score on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters! Zurg has put a bounty on my head.

We don't like to wait in lines to see characters, so we scheduled a character meal at Goofy's Kitchen located in the Disneyland Hotel.

The meal was buffet style, and had a nice selection. I was happy with the food, but we spent nearly $200. I don't understand how Disney can feel justified in this price point for a buffet meal with a few characters walking around. I won't be doing this again unless we get the free dining plan included in a vacation package. Also, the server, who is only responsible for bringing us drinks, got an automatic 18% gratuity. I quickly realized that I shouldn't aspire to animate for Disney, but to wait tables instead!

 I felt completey justified when I picked Goofy's pocket.

We sat in traffic on the way home. It took nearly 2 hours to get back to the hotel. But at least we had hard-wired internet! : /

Thursday April 11th
Disneyland again!
I woke up with a sore back but the kids cracked the whip shouting, "Disneyland!", so we headed back to the costliest place... er I mean happiest place on earth.

Right from the start I knew we were in for trouble when I saw these storm troopers harassing an innocent girl. I would have helped her, but I didn't want to lose my place in line for Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters.

Kyra kept sticking her tongue out at the troopers which eventually scared them away.

Leslie and Anthony used nifty fastpasses I got for the Indian Jones Adventure ride and I took the girls to the nearest pile of dirt. Apparently there's something magical about the dirt in Disneyland.

After a long romp in the dirt, Kyra passed out. She kept mumbling gimme more dirt, which I thought was a little unusual.

Wake me up when you find a new pile of dirt.

We eventually made it to Toontown. I decided to go straight to City Hall to request an investigation on the contents of the magical Disneyland dirt, but they swore it was normal dirt. I guess even Disneyland isn't exempt from political cover-ups.

My only recourse was to take it to the big cheese himself. He gave me the silent treatment. This conspiracy must run deep if even Mickey is too afraid to talk about it.

On my way out the masses gathered, obviously there to support me on my quest to uncover the dirty truth about the shrouded soil. They literally erupted into applause as I perused the overly sanitized streets. If the Disney dirt was on the up and up, then why, suddenly was there none to be found!

Friday April 12th
Lunch at the Disney animation studios.
I joined several friends at the Disney Animation Studio for lunch on Friday. It was definitely fun to see all of my friends making another awesome movie (Frozen), but I was also there to shoot some video of our instructors for AnimSchool. These videos should be appearing on the school website soon.

The new animation building named after Roy E. Disney, Walt's nephew.

I wish I had more pictures to share, but I get so distracted with catching up with my friends that I literally have this one lonely photo as proof this day ever happened.

Saturday April 13th
AnimSchool, the beach, and friends!
Most of the day was spent teaching 2 classes and getting caught up on work, but the last fleeting hours of the day were spent at the Aliso beach park with our good friends, Jarrod and Laurell Showers. They brought along three tiny people they called their children.

This is Jarrod. He has a wife and 3 kids, but I'm too absent-minded to take pictures of people.

I hadn't eaten a meal at all that day and it was already dinner time. I ended up driving up and down the PCH for nearly an hour searching for food. I finally found Ruby's Auto Diner. I went in hoping there was a slight chance they served people. I was fully prepared to use my acting skills and fool them into thinking I was a Ford Mustang if they didn't.

When I got back to the beach with food for everyone I noticed this nosy pest eying my burger. I grabbed one of the kid's sand shovels just in case something went down.

Just moments after we finished eating, Leslie and I stopped for a quick photo on the beach. And wouldn't you know it, that little punk photo bombed me!

You win this round seagull... well played.

We stopped off at the Showers' house for some AnimSchool business. Jarrod needed some video for a little instruction piece he is making, so we decided to meet up at Disneyland the next day and shoot it.

Sunday April 14th
California Adventure!
We skipped breakfast at the hotel and sped to meet up with Florian Perret at California Adventure. He got 3 of us in with his Silver pass, and Brien Hindman gave us two passes so the entire family got into the park for free!

We rushed to get our fastpasses for  Radiator Springs Racers, and then settled down for breakfast at Flo's V8 Cafe. The Brioche French Toast was amazing! If happiness had a flavor it would taste like this.

Brioche French Toast
Baked and served with Salted Caramel Sauce and Bananas. $7.99

We scurried over to the Bug's Land and rode some rides and eventually met up with our good friends, the Showers. Jarrod was way too excited so the man in the dark glasses came over to put a stop to it.

 Excuse me sir, I'm gonna have to ask you to stop having fun until the ride has started.

We rode several rides, but then headed over to the Pier to have lunch and shoot the video for Jarrod.

After the video was complete Jarrod and family headed back home and we headed back to Cars Land. We met some celebrities as we walked the streets.

Kaylie swears that Red farted, but I just thought she was passing blame.

Time to use our fastpasses on Radiator Springs Racers!

Anthony and Kyra are ready to race!

Why am I shouting?!!

This is my new favorite Disney attraction. This includes all attractions across Disneyland and Walt Disney World. My hats off to the Imagineers that pulled off this themed land, and especially this attraction.

Leslie and Anthony got to use the last two fastpasses while I watched the girls. Kaylie passed out and Kyra photo bombed her while she slept.

I wasn't sure if Kaylie fell asleep, or was "put" to sleep.

I was so proud of her stealthy technique, I bought her some ice cream. Yum!


The next thing I know Red drives by, I hear what I thought was a horn blast, and suddenly Kyra's ice cream started melting. I began to wonder if Kaylie had been telling the truth all along!

What's happening daddy?

We tried to ride Soarin', but it was closed. I can't be sure, but I bet Red had something to do with it. So we decided to park hop over to the Magic Kingdom.

Leslie and Anthony decided to ride Pirates of the Caribbean so I got some snacks for me and the girls. Instead of eating the snacks they decided to play in the dirt with random children.

Hey kid you like dirt? Then chase me around this tree!

Kaylie dropped all pretense and showed her addiction to the Disney magic dust.

It's like candy!

Mmmm... i'm lick some is my favritish... 

And of course when she crashed and I told her what she did, she was ashamed.

I have ashamed.

This wasn't the only addictive substance Disney exposed my poor innocent children to.

 Quick while daddy's not looking!

To end the day we dined at Pinocchio's Village Haus. We were here nearly 7 years ago with Anthony.

And they're still looking for Monstro.

That about wraps up this week. Come back soon to see the second week of our vacation!