Monday, September 12, 2016

CTN 2016 Preview


Well, this year has gone by RIDICULOUSLY fast. My last post was in March, so let's see...the remainder of spring and summer went to fabricating puppets for OniSan. A rare non-newsletter update can be seen on Raul's blog where he talks about the 3D printed parts that I had him help me with. I'm still chugging right along on that - progress to be featured this year at CTN.

In August Kubo and the Two Strings came to theaters - my first movie credit! I've been rolled over to the next film, presently still an RPQA. All the tiny faces!

The Costume Collaboration I spoke of last time is going strong. You can find out more about it now online through the Talking Threads Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo. We're really excited to launch The Story We Wear at CTN this year with a panel on Costume Design in Alternative Industries.

Hoping to see you all at CTN this year! :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Collaborations and Complications


A quick doodle of me, Raul and Tito. 

My part on Kubo and The Two Strings is now complete. What started as a three month temp position stretched into a year's worth of crazy fun times - wrapping up with my department's Academy Award win! I have now rolled directly onto the next film.

I had to take a week off though right at the end of January due to sciatica. For those of you not familiar with it...please continue avoiding it if you can. Take care of your body. Hydrate with water. Be mindful of what you eat. Don't skimp on stretch breaks. Stand as much as you sit and sit with good posture. Yoga and hiking are awesome. You do have time for these kinds of things. This might sound a little lecture-y, but seriously SCIATICA IS EVIL. 

Post-CTN I was approached by fellow Oatley Academy students to participate in a unique collaboration opportunity. Jessie Kate Patterson, Maria Kercher, Blythe Russo, and Gwyn Conaway Bennison are my partners in crime for this crazy costume adventure! I look forward to sharing more about that project later. ;)

Another thing greatly occupying my mind of late is a different kind of collaboration. Last year Raul Ramos proposed on my birthday and of course I said yes. After debating it we've set our ideal date a year from now and are in planning mode. My dress has been purchased. Venues are narrowed down for tours and will be hopefully booked by the end of the month. And the invite list is more or less finished...provided people stop dying. :(

We have also been discussing the issue of "co-branding." This would obviously apply to the big event, but include other events where we display or attend as a unit - such as our shared table at CTN. With our different areas of interest and specialty, it would visually make sense of us together as a unit. If we showing separately then we wouldn't need to pack everything along - we'd still have our own self-branded things. Raul's been working especially hard to streamline his presentation lately. But mine is another matter entirely.

This upcoming status change brings the chance to really do some necessary tweaking - starting with my name. For as long as I could write, my name has been a problem. When small I never dreamed of the various details involved with fancy weddings and such...I dreamed of ditching my needlessly complicated name for something simple or at least less likely to be butchered by everyone and their "standardized" software. But now that I've gotten traction - my first movie credit for one - should I change it? The arguments for and against are sometimes heated and I'm not looking externally for answers - this is definitely a personal decision I trust others to respect once I've made it - but it is certainly something I've been struggling with more than I thought I ever would.

Can we just fast forward to the part when I get to leave for the honeymoon please??

Monday, December 7, 2015

Post CTN 2015 and Does Anyone Remember...?


Well, CTN 2015 is over. It was a bit of a whirlwind this year...which is probably telling in that I am just now realizing it's over and writing this blog post about it.

Day One - Thursday
Our plane down to Burbank left very early on Thursday morning. Raul and I were able to check into our hotel room shortly after arrival which was nice. Then instead of the normal OA Day festivities, we opted to check out the La Brea Tar Pits. What can I say? I promised the man prehistoric dead things. Veronica and Desiree (Lovely ladies I work with) came with us and introduced us to Korean BBQ. When back at the Marriott we went over to the Main Hall, got our badges and started setting up. We sat between Meg Park and Brynn Metheney at T123 - and they were great neighbors. :)

Day Two - Friday
We finished setting up and the Hall opened at 12.30. Traffic was noticeably higher than it was the year prior and the air conditioning was a blessing. I talked to many amazing people - I think I might have been the only Stop Motion person with a table. I wasn't selling anything again, but I hope I can in 2016. Raul sold out of sketchbooks. He sold prints and a few sculptures too. We both collected emails for our newsletters - to keep everyone updated of progress and when new things became available. I didn't buy as much this year. I think this may be due to the fact that many people I regularly bought from decided to go to Designer Con this year - unfortunately the same weekend.



Day Three - Saturday
I got out and attended a panel that fellow Laikan Toby Froud gave on bringing puppets to life. He had puppets from his short Lessons Learned with him and they were absolutely gorgeous. It was a fantastic talk and I got the chance to chat more with him later that day when he was walking around the hall and passed my table. I was unfortunately not able to attend the Laika panel that Brian, Steve and Georgina gave. I spent time at the fire pits that evening to catch up with OA friends.

Day Four - Sunday
This day was calmer in comparison to the last two, which was nice because we almost lost our voices. The hall closed a bit earlier and while we were packing up they had champagne (which neither Raul or I drank) and cake (which both Raul and I ate). The disappointment of this day was that we could not immediately renew our table for next year. I like having things in place as soon as I can so that was a bit irritating. We had dinner with our friends Katherine and Owen which was great since we hadn't seen much of them since moving away.

Day Five - Monday
We flew back early that morning and picked up Tito from the vet/boarding. He seemed happy to see us in the waiting room. But as soon as we got him in the car he started in on us - barking incessantly until we all went to sleep that night. He even refused french fries! Unfortunately since then he's been sick. I don't think we'll board him again. Raul and I followed up with as many people as we could that day and napped intermittently.

It's such a rush - we're already stoked for this next year!! :D



So...straight up, does anyone remember fondly those holiday specials that come on year after year?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town?
The Year Without a Santa Claus?
Jack Frost?


They were my favorite. I didn't even know it was Christmas most of the time until I saw those. (They seem to show them earlier and earlier each year) Until I was running around singing at the top of my lungs about how people called me Heat Miser. I was too much. Those were the days.

Rankin and Bass made many movies (Not all in stop motion - fans of The Last Unicorn or the animated Hobbit?) and shows (ThunderCats GO!) but the most influential to me where those stop motion features. I was always in awe of the magic in them.

So now that the holidays are in full swing, I'll be relaxing with my buddy Nostalgia as I watch those specials again - trying to say Burgermeister Meisterburger as fast as I can. 

Happy Holidays everyone!! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Surviving the Holidays





So pretty soon here we'll be in Holiday season once more. I know nobody likes thinking about it - especially this early - but what happens when it's the middle of November and a big deadline is looming and you've been so distracted with planning planes tickets home for Thanksgiving that you forget that your book needs to be at the printers last week?

Ouch.

Well, the best way I know of avoiding this scenario is planning ahead and setting boundaries.

The biggest part of planning ahead for me is knowing that I will be less productive during this season. Colder winter weather always brings me down, so I anticipate a few more free hours than normal just keeping positive. I do this by hanging out with friends more, by allowing myself more time on tasks and by just having some ME Time.

I make it a point NOT to work on holidays, like any other job. This more or less solves my problems for the second point - setting boundaries. Since I avoid working on holidays this lets me hang out when others also have more time off. (Of course this is easier said than done sometimes)

That's all nice sounding, but what happens when you're already THERE? When it's already the 11th hour and stuff needs to start magically getting done??

This my friends, is when we prioritize and out source.

First apologize to everyone around you. Next, look at the things you need to do or have done first. Focus on one thing at a time to decrease the overwhelm. Shut off Facebook and Twitter. You don't need to be reminded about everyone else having a great time skiing when printers are waiting.
If it's something you don't need to do - consider asking for help. There is absolutely no shame in collaborating or admitting you are human. Be reasonable. If it's a MASSIVE thing, scale it back into something that is manageable. Quality over quantity is a real thing. I know I'd rather see one awesome thing than a wave of boring, badly constructed things.

Lastly, don't hurt yourself for "failing." Failure is a good thing - refer to my PD1 audition on Youtube - you learn a lot more from it than from what you do right. Ask questions and have an extra sugar cookie - because YOU are going to keep doing awesome things. :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Wanderlust: Gathering Inspiration & Reference while Traveling

Sometimes a thorough house cleaning isn't enough to get those creative juices flowing. About every five years or so I get an itch - the travel bug!

2007: I head to Japan with my camera and a blank journal. Man, do I wish that I had taken more pictures. I do, however, bring home many brochures from the places I went.



2010: I venture to New Zealand again armed with camera, blank journal, and rolls of tape. You can never take enough pictures. And it also helped budgeting to save receipts along with train ticket stubs.























Moral of the Story: Always bring a camera and extra batteries/charger. Also recommended is a blank journal or a sketchbook to take notes, scribble, etc. If you like doing this digitally - remember your charger! You never know what will inspire or aid in your next project, so start building your visual library now!! 

Who else has felt the itch of the travel bug? How do you appease it? How do you plan for trips and how do you save those memories?

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Life of Cut Paper

In which I ponder = coherently or not = the connections and nuances of my favorite art forms:

When I think about stop motion animation as a type of performance art, I am of course going to starting drawing some interesting comparisons: Various forms of Japanese theater influenced OniSan, including the puppet-based Bunraku.

Bunraku dates back to the late 1600s - in Osaka - and is a combination of musicians, chanters and puppeteers. That's not too far off of how we consume stop motion today - with a soundtrack, voice actor narration and animators.

Of course we see everyone on stage during a Bunraku performance, but to varying degrees we ignore their presence. For the Boxtrolls end titles we get to see Travis Knight animating in lightening speed as the characters wax philosophical about the nature of freewill - the reverse of the original intent to keep the puppeteers hidden.

Bunraku puppets utilize three actors that must be in perfect coordination for the performance. Some stop motion puppets can be acted by several different animators - but they all have to work together to make that character believable as one person.

The puppets themselves in Bunraku can be very simple and very elaborate. Some of my favorites are those beautiful ladies that have face mechanisms which reveal them to be scary demons. A particularly interesting trick they use on many female heads is a pin on the corner of their mouth - so they can bite their sleeve.

Stop motion puppets are getting more and more advanced, with tricks like Neil's belly-mover in ParaNorman or the watch-like facial mechanics in Corpse Bride. I was very impressed with the glow of the Boxtrolls' eyes - when you snap the faceplate off it breaks the circuit and the eyes dim, but when you snap the faceplate back on the circuit completes and Ta Da! Glowing eyes!!

What other connections do you see? How do your favorite mediums compare or contrast? 

Monday, June 8, 2015

End of 2nd Quarter: Never Too Late To Start Something



My host father told me that it takes 9 repetitions of a new word for a child to understand it, while it takes 36 repetitions of the same word for an adult to comprehend. At least, I think that’s what he said. My Japanese wasn’t great at the time. But what I understood from this was that it is far easier to learn new things when you are young than when you are older.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new things or that you shouldn’t try to learn new things when you’re older. It’s just more challenging. And I applaud those who take that challenge.

I’ve passed a quarter century now and there are times when I feel old. Just typing out quarter century makes me feel it. It’s easy to forget how young that really is when all around you your peers start settling down and having kids. Kids who are your little brother’s age and younger are getting hired in management above you and trying to explain to you how to use the new iPhone. There it is again, that feeling of being ancient. I wish that could mean I could apply to assisted living. I would love some assistance with my chores.

But that feeling doesn’t mean you’re behind, that you haven’t accomplished anything. Even if you only have one major breakthrough each year - that’s only what 25? Year one you learned to sit up. That’s big. Year two and you can talk. MASSIVE. Those years keep passing and seem shorter since 1 year out of 6 takes ages but 1 out of 12 flies, by 24 you start forgetting people’s birthdays and leaving your keys in the fridge, so finishing one painting comes just as monumental. Did this painting finally make sense of light and color for you? That’s like learning to talk. WAY TO GO!! Seriously. I am super proud of you! Didn’t reach a goal? Don’t give up, just gain some perspective and try again. Watch this video: http://vimeo.com/84022735 Now watch it again. You’re welcome.

So. Do you feel like you’re too old to start a new project? To pursue your dream? Just because the year’s half gone? Give yourself permission to change the thought from I can’t, maybe later to I CAN AND NOW!

What do you want to start? What do you want to learn?