Monday, January 31, 2011

Touring AM with Jay and Victoria

One of my jobs at Animation Mentor is hosting various Q&As and webinars for students, alumni, and prospective students. The last group requires a special webinar as accurately describing an online school where professional animators teach animation and critique students' animation can be a difficult task. A few months ago we recorded one of my Q&As on the subject, so if you are interested in seeing me discuss exactly what we do at my company then your wish is granted:


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Head of the House - polish!

My animation short "Head of the House" is coming along. After "finishing" it a few years ago (more like shoving it under the bed out of disgust) I reopened it with fresh eyes and new animation knowledge. After a few (spread out) months of focus on specific shots, I finally have a coherent clip of polished shots!

Currently I am working on the middle of the short on arguably the hardest shots of the piece. Here is the most recent update:

And here is the original "finished" piece from years ago. Not a single key from below is retained above, I have completely recreated the each shot from scratch.

Finally, here is the original animatic for the short:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Mouse called Tron

After 7 years I finally replaced my mouse on my computer. While my old mouse continued to work, it finally passed the point of no return: no amount a cleaning supplies could remove the finger oil from the mouse. I had literally worn away all the paint and plastic covering of mouse and was brushing against the endo-skeleton, at which point the oils began to build up into their own coating.

Moving on, it was time to get a new mouse. And luckily, the perfect mouse for me just arrived on the market. Meet Tron: The Mouse:

Not only does it glow (and shut itself off at night)...

But it also creates fascinating glow trails as you scroll across the mouse pad! I sometime find myself moving the mouse cursor to out-of-the-way areas on the screen just to create cool new patterns on the pad. I am not ashamed to admit I have written my name in cursive once or twice this way.

And as an added bonus, it makes the Tron bike noises from Tron Legacy when you start the computer. At this rate, I may have to spring for the matching Tron keyboard and call it a set.

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Salt and Pepper

In January, I grew out a beard for a combination of artistic prank reasons (the product of which to be posted in April), a gentlemen's agreement, and a Hanukkah gift to a friend who wanted to see someone at the company in mutton chops (if only for a day, and no picture to be posted for that one).

While trimming the beard to keep it somewhat presentable I made a startling discovery:

How cool is that!? Here is a close up:

Oh noes! I am teh old! :P

Or more accurately (at least to my mental state), I am now "distinguished". Bring it on, Father Time!

Monday, January 24, 2011

50's advice from the fitness godfather

Today I learned about a man who changed the world and inspired people to take the same the same steps in improving both their physical and mental health as I have taken over the past few years. Yet this man gave his advice to a national audience over 50 years ago and spent a lifetime changing peoples' lives. Sadly, I am only discovering this man due to his untimely death at the young age of 96: Jack LaLanne.

Here are just a few of his numerous accomplishments: starting the first public gyms in America (now Bally Total Fitness), inventing leg exercise machines and pulley weight machines, hosting a fitness show for 34 years, performing 1,000 pull ups and 1000 jumping jacks in just over an hour, creating a vegetable juicer line still sold today, performing over 1,000 push ups in 23 minutes, swimming in handcuffs while towing 70 rowboats with people for over a mile... at age 70. This man could do straight-body finger pushups at age 90, a feat I just tried at a relatively fit age of 29 which nearly resulted in breaking all my fingers (I won't even attempt the one-handed version he did at age 50).

Even with all these amazing feats, what surprises me most is how his life advice from his 50's TV fitness show is still applicable today. This man knew what he wanted in life and chose to share his secrets to achieving happiness and longevity to everyone. And the fact that he happily lived to the age of 96 shows that there may be some merit to his teachings. Here are a few of my new-favorite inspiring videos:

Life needs incentives

Stop being so tired

The effect of bad habits

Why people are unhappy

And more can be found here

Add color, update the outfits, and change the hair and these videos could be mistaken for current day "self-help" programming. The maladies he mentions, from obesity (from empty calories and man-made foods) to general happiness due to modern luxuries, still apply today. Even his primary rule of nutrition "if man made it, don't eat it" is the basis of many of today's popular diets (and the organic movement).

Thanks to constant technological improvements, scientific discoveries, and general generational gaps, I grew up with the (often erroneous) assumption that the older an advice on health (or self-help, finances, etc ) is usually wrong and I should only read the newest book with the newest advice. It is videos like these that remind me how little has changed throughout the years and that some advice is timeless.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Get Out - 2011 Polish

After two false starts at the end of last year (sadly, due to waiting for a event that kept on being postponed) I am back in an animation class to work on new and old work alike. At the beginning of the class I showed my current reel and expected a lot of notes on my perpetual-work-in-progress short. While that did occur, I also got a lot of notes on my "finaled" dialogue shot "Get Out" from 2009. Thus, I returned to "Get Out" to polish it even more, and see things that my oh-so-naive eyes of 2009 completely missed.

Here is the newest polish:

And for reference, here is my "final" shot from the end of 2009

As is true polish, the changes may so small enough that you don't see them at first, but as a whole improve the entire shot:

  • Added a preparation breath prior to the dialogue
  • moved lip sync to hit the accents better
  • added nicer arcs to hands before "plague" and the jump "why to me?"
  • eyebrows are used more
  • Eyes are consistent throughout the shot, the old shot had him looking at 3 completely different "people" during the tirade
  • took out the staggered "Pixar blink" before the silent "whaaa?" (I have a Dreamworks mentor this time, it was the first thing he axed)
  • subtle hip and lower body movements throughout to keep him alive
  • subtle camera change at the end to keep him from hitting the side of the video window

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The best laid plans... (of 2010)

'Tis 2011 and my blog has been far more barren than I had planned. I would like to say "life got in the way" but I also know that I could have posted more if I had prioritized it higher. In retrospect, my biggest downfall was reaching my year-long goal of a "healthy, talented Jay" for my 10 year reunions. After traveling and spending two weeks with my old high school friends I found it hard to motivate myself to return to my strenuous routine when I returned. I still worked on each of my stated goals, but instead of doing all six of them every day I would do only 1-3. And the most affected, and public, of these goals was posting to this blog. My "upcoming posts" admin page has 20+ partially finished posts each waiting on me to finish an earlier, time-sensitive post before I can publish them in chronological order. I must overcome that desire for accurate chronological posts and instead post when I have a topic that needs to be written.

Regardless, I have no more excuses and plenty of motivating factors to encourage me to return to my goal-accomplishing habits of old: I'm taking another animation class (yay for daily animation); I've organized a gym team at work (exercise, woot!); I've moved and now have a 1.5 hour round trip commute (dedicated time for audiobooks and family phone calls); and most importantly (and unexpectedly) I've moved in with a wonderful someone who has similar goals and the mutual desire to help the other reach their goals. Most of all, I'm looking forward to 2011 and seeing this poor little blog have some life again!