Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Wolf Among Us (Has Fabulous Hair)

Well guys, I shipped my first game last week. The Wolf Among Us is now out in the world! People are playing it! Reviewers are praising it! Now everyone knows what I've been talking about with Bigby's fantastic 'do!

I'm so honored and proud to be a part of The Wolf Among Us team and am thrilled that folks are enjoying it. If you're curious as to what all the hubbub is about, you can check out reviews on IGNCBRThe TelegraphGame Informer, and PC Gamer among many others. So go! Enjoy the game!

In other news, The Treehouse has another new episode up! We talked to my lovely college roommate Noopur (who's awesome blog you can read here) and discussed a number of things, including her budding career in speech pathology, her time as a pageant queen, and what TV she's watching these days. It's a good one!

I hope you enjoy these various things I helped make, internet. Yay making things!

Monday, September 9, 2013

All Sorts of Updates!

I  know, I know. It's been far too long. Have you been wondering what I'm up to? THEN YOU ARE IN LUCK. This post is full of a million updates. Ready yo-self. 

Firstly, I got a promotion! No longer am I a wee intern, but a full fledged, real life, flesh-and-bone video game animator. I just moved into a new apartment in San Francisco and I absolutely love it here. There is so much to do all the time and even the fog is growing on me. Plus this is what I get to look at when I go on runs, which isn't so bad: 

Yes. I am that person who takes pictures on a run.

In other work news, I've moved onto the team for the Walking Dead sequel, which you can read more about here. Very exciting stuff, keep your eyes peeled and your ears open.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a few new links up at the top of the site. It's because I've been doing things! One of those things is a podcast with two of my very best friends, Katie Rose and Hillary, who are twins and also the best people. They live in LA so it's a long distance podcast but it's just as fun as a regular one, I promise. Our most recent guest was the lovely Chloe Dykstra, who you man know from Heroes of Cosplay or one of her awesome YouTube shows. You can listen to the podcast here or in this very fancy web player. LOOK HOW FANCY:

Feel free to subscribe on iTunes or check the link at the top of this site periodically, the most recent episode will be embedded there for your listening pleasure. 

And speaking of listening pleasure, you may have noticed yet another new link up top called "music." Because I like also like playing guitar and singing and sometimes a microphone is on while those things are happening. So if you want to put that in your ears, it's now super easy. Look how easy!

WOO. See? I told you, a million updates. That's all for now, please come back soon for more posts full of video games/animation/podcasts/music/me yelling in all caps.

Thanks for stopping by, lovelies. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Hey there, lovely people. I'm back! See? I haven't forgotten about the blog. I definitely did not forget that it existed until 20 minutes ago, when I remembered my promise to write again soon. Nope. That is for sure not what happened. 

I've been at Telltale for nearly a month now, and it has been freaking awesome so far (it also feels like it's only been about three days.) I'm working on the The Wolf Among Us, which is based on the Fables series of comics by Bill Willingham. 

Wolves love smoking. Bet you didn't know that.
I had read, and very much enjoyed, some of the series before I started at Telltale, so to get to work on this game is really, really cool. The premise is that a bunch of the characters from myths and fairy tales have been exiled from their homeworld and now live in New York in a secret community known as Fabletown. The game follows Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of the Fabletown who had once upon a time been the Big Bad Wolf, terrorizing pigs and red headed girls everywhere. I'm really excited about the game and still in disbelief that I'm actually working on it. If you're curious, you can read a bit more about it here. Go, revel in Bigby's ruggedness.

On top of all that, I get to work with a bunch of awesomely talented people and I get to animate all day AND at lunch I can strike up a conversation about how happy I am that Storm is bringing her mohawk back and everyone knows what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is, my nerdy little heart is full to bursting and I may have inherited my mother's lucky streak after all.

Keep an eye out for more news on the game, because trust me, you're gonna want to play this thing. And check back here soon for more updates from me, probably about Storm's mohawk again. See you soon.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Things Are Happening!

Oooooh, hey guess what? On Friday, I got some very, very exciting news: I found out that I landed an internship at Telltale Games! After I got off the phone, I ran around for a full five minutes like a crazy person. Then I celebrated by making myself an extra garlicky pepperoni pizza for lunch. It was delicious.

Starting at the end of this month, I'll be working as an Animation Intern at Telltale Games in San Rafael. So not only do I get to move back to my beloved Bay Area, I get to work at a video game studio that is doing some very exciting and unique work. They are best known for The Walking Dead, an adventure game released last year to much commercial and critical success (it's awesome, you should play it. It's the kind of game that stresses you out but in a good way). They've also made games based on Back to the Future, Sam and Max, Monkey Island, and are currently developing a game based on the Fables comic book series. All very exciting things that are right up my alley!

But this comes with a bit of a curveball. Since I have to move and get myself settled into a new job in the next month, I decided to take a leave of absence from Animation Mentor this term. I was really enjoying Nick's class so I am pretty bummed I have to put AM off for now but I am planning to come back for the upcoming summer or fall term and hopefully take Nick's class if he's still teaching Intro to Acting. With such a great teacher and awesome classmates, I wish I could stay on this term without my head exploding but I just don't think that's possible.

I will keep blogging when I can so check back every so often for updates! See you soon.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Week1: Airport Panic

Hey look it's another Week 1! Are you ready for some shot planning? Hope so because that's what you're getting.

So for our first shot this term we've been assigned a pantomime shot. We have to animate some kind of change from one emotion to another, all through body language. Nick stressed to us that we should really be viewing this as an exercise in animating a thought process, not just getting a sad character's body language to look right (though that is also important). The audience should be able to see a "gear change" in the character's head when you watch this shot.

So after lots of brainstorming, I came up with the idea of my character running late for her flight. She runs up to the departure board, clearly panicked and scrambling to make it on time. She looks up at the departure board, searching for her flight, and sees that it's on time, meaning she'll miss it. But then, the flight status updates, and it's delayed. Her panic changes to relief, she's gonna make the flight after all.

And if you're wondering whether this idea was inspired by my trip to Boston, which took me to several different airports on several different flights, you are correct! I'm not a stranger to the feelings of stressed-out air travel. After I nailed down my shot idea, I shot some video reference and pieced together the best bits:


Yay awkward acting! Hehe. Once I got my reference together, I thumbnailed out some poses based on my ref, which you can see here:

I do wish we'd had two planning pages instead of one for this assignment, but I was able to get the major storytelling poses up there at least. We were also supposed to create two poses illustrating our two acting beats and turn them in with our reference and planning page. This was extra fun (and useful) because AM gave us new rigs to use this term! I'd like to introduce Stella, who is feeling panicked and relieved in the following pictures, respectively:

While I am gonna miss our old pal Stewie, I really, really like the new rigs. In addition to Stella, we got Stan, a cartoony Hulk type, and Sloan, a dog rig. These three are part of the new set of Tribe rigs, more of which are on the way soon. Exciting!

As far as Nick's notes on my shot, he was very pleased with my video reference. He felt it was a very genuine bit of acting (see, that year of drama in high school tooootally paid off) but he instructed me to leave out the "relieved" bit and just have her miss the flight altogether. Instead of going from "panicked" to "relieved", have her go from "hopeful" as she runs up to the board, thinking she might still make it, to "frustrated" when she realizes she has missed it. My reference was already sort of reading that way to him upon viewing it for the first time anyways. Plus, this will allow me to pull the camera in a little closer on Stella since the viewer no longer needs to read the words on the departure board, they just need to see that it's there.

I think Nick's instructions to simplify are going to help my shot a lot and it's going to be a lot of fun to animate. I was having a hard time getting the relief to read well anyways and I think the premise was maybe a touch too complicated. So, with that, I am going to start blocking my shot in for Week 2. Come back in a few days to check it out! See you then, lovelies.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let the Acting Begin!

My "I'm excited even though I have no idea what
 I'm doing!" face
So! After the little mini-break between terms, Class 4 has begun. On Tuesday I had my first Q&A with Nick Bruno, a supervising animator at Blue Sky Studios, where he's worked on  Horton Hears a Who!, the Ice Age series, Rio, and is currently on Rio 2. Nick has a reputation at AM for being pretty tough on his students, and from meeting him in Q&A on Tuesday, I can see he's going to live up to it.

My first impression of him is that he's very no-nonsense and is not one to sugarcoat, which I find refreshing. I think that's just what I need right now in my education. Like Marlon did in his first Q&A, Nick laid out the rules. He is going to be a tough grader and he expects us all to step up to the challenge. As fun as AM can be, we are all here to learn and Nick expects us to come to class prepared with questions and not make excuses for late/unfinished work. He's not here to be our buddy, he's here to make us better animators. He assured that although there may be times when we'll be very, very frustrated with him, we will all leave Class 4 better than when we started.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a liiiiittle scared after that first Q&A. Starting to learn acting is scary by itself, but having one of the toughest AM teachers on top of it is even scarier. But I think a healthy dose of fear is actually a good thing. And as Robyn pointed out in her Lady Animators interview, that terrified feel of "I don't know what I'm doing oh god" never really goes away, so I'd better get used to it now, right? Ha.

I hope you're as excited as I am for this term, readers! I'll be back soon with my work from Week 1 so stay tuned. See you then!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Class 3: Complete. Halfway, ya'll.

YOU GUYS. I've finished Class 3. Do you know what that means? It's means I am halfway done with AM, which is BANANAS. These three quarters FLEW by. Feels like a week ago I was animating a bouncing ball for Class 1. Insanity! As you know, when each class ends we put together a progress reel of our work done at AM so far. Here is my reel from Class 3:

To be honest, I still don't love my swinging shot. But Mike was happy with my final shots for our sequence, and I had a fantastic time overall this term. Mike was an awesome mentor, wonderfully knowledgable and always  helpful. Not to mention he was always willing to go over our allotted Q&A time to do demos and answer questions, which was awesome of him! With two young kids at home, that is no small feat. So thanks to Mike and my classmates for making it an amazing term, can't wait to get going with Class 4! See you in a few days, readers! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Week 11 means Finaled Shots AH!

Can you believe it? Class 3 is wrapping up and my three shots have been finaled. Insanity! I spent most of my time in Week 11 polishing my swinging shot and adding in all the little bitty details. Mike gave me some great feedback and after my crit on Monday I went back in and tweaked a few more things and then called it all done! Here are my final shots:

I had a really great time in Class 3 and am so glad I got to have Mike as a mentor. He is a really great teacher and super nice guy! I hope you enjoyed it too, readers. I also put together my progress reel, which I will post a bit later, along with some more cohesive thoughts on my experience this term. See you then, readers!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weeks 9 + 10! It's a Two-fer!

I KNOW. I'm way late. So late that I have to do a double-post. We're putting Weeks 9 and 10 together so GET READY. Here goes:

So last week I dove into the polish phase for my shots and began detailing out all the little things. The third shot needed the most work but by the end of Week 9 I was feeling good about where I was with two weeks left to continue polishing. Take a look:

Overall I was feeling good, though I see lots of things I still need to work on, mainly on my third shot, as usual. Mike gave me an "auto final" for my first two shots, which was very exciting. In the DreamWorks world, an "auto final" means that you just have a few small tweaks to make to finish the shot, and once a director gives you that, you can make the tweaks and send it on down the pipe. At that point, the director trusts you to make the necessary changes and doesn't need to see the shot again. So that was encouraging! He gave me lots of great notes on the third shot so that was where I focused most of my time the following week.

Though, I had very little time last week to animate. I took a trip with my sister to help her run her booth at AWP, an annual writing conference that takes place in a different city every year. This year, that city was Boston. My sister runs Nouvella, an independent publishing house that publishes small, beautiful novellas by up-and-coming authors. Which you should read because they are amazing. I'm not just saying that because she's my sister, I promise. They are great!

So, I went to help her table BUT I got stranded in various parts of the country on the way there and on the way back. I flew from Sacramento to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas to Boston on Wednesday (left at four thirty in the morning, got to Boston around midnight). Then on the way back I went from Boston to Atlanta, got stuck in Atlanta overnight, then finally got back home to Sacramento on Sunday morning. So many states! So little free wifi!

Moral of the story is: I didn't animate as much as I should have last week. I got the bulk of my work done on Sunday and spent nearly all my time working on my third shot. Things are looking better, but BOY am I thankful I have another week to sort this out:

Mike had more notes for my third shot, most of which were polish-y things about the timing and spacing of the swings. I'm having a really hard time nailing the feel and weight of the swings, even at this late stage. Hopefully I can get it looking and feeling better by the time the week is through. The other two shots just need a bit more attention before I can truly call them final. Overall I'm feeling good about it and I absolutely can't believe that this term will be done in two weeks. Banantown.

That's all for now lovelies, I hope it wasn't too much for one post. I'll be back next week with my final animation (ah!), keep your eyes peeled!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Week 8: Blocking Plus

Late again! I know, I know. I will be better! I got distracted by the Oscars on Sunday and then spent a full three days thinking about the sheer perfection that was Jennifer Lawrence and Adele and Michelle Obama. But I'm back! Let's get down to business.

So for Week 8 we are into blocking plus, which means we are out of stepped, which means this is the scariest and most stressful part of my workflow. It's gotten significantly less scary since I started AM but it's still unsettling to see your work splined for the first time and worry that all the good things you put into your blocking have been lost to Maya's unfortunate inbetweens. And while this week was a bit rougher than the past few, I think I've got the bones of what I want in there now and can start cleaning up and polishing. See for yourself:

Mike gave me Blocking Plus approval and had a few notes on what to focus on as I begin polishing, namely some spacing issues with Stewie's limbs as he swings around. But all in all, I feel as though I am in a good place and am moving forward, which is always nice. Now I really need to get down into the detail of each shot and start polishing all the little things. Come back next week and see how I did!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Week 7: Final Blocking!

Okay, so I lost all the points I built up last week for being on time with my post. I am late this week, I know I know! Slacker. Heh.

Since we're late, we'd better get right to it! This week we're in final blocking for my three shots. Everything's still in stepped, but I cleaned things up and tried to get as specific as I could with my poses. I've got a pose on at least every fourth frame, which is a blocking technique I picked up from Marlon last term and has worked well for me so far. Take a look!

That third shot has been giving me trouble. Getting it to what you see there was tough. NEWS FLASH: Swinging is hard to animate. Overall Mike was happy with it, with just a few minor notes on the hand shot and some body language notes on the the third one (MOAR TENSION!) Other than that, I'm free to spline ahead and get into Blocking Plus next week. So if my brain hasn't leaked out of my ears by then because all the goodness that you see in stepped mode has disappeared, I'll see you then, readers.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Week 6: Rough Blocking!

Oh hello! Look how on time I am this week, you guys. Super on top of it.

So, for this week, we continued working on our shots, heading into rough blocking. I am very happy that we get to split up our blocking over two weeks, so that we can address notes in the coming week without having to worry about going out of stepped just yet. Take a look!

Still pretty messy but I like how it's shaping up, especially across the cuts. Looking at it now I think I might have put too much overlap on his body when he's swinging in the third shot, but it's always easier to reign it in than push it further, so I pushed it more than I normally would have. We'll see what Mike thinks of it tomorrow!

Aaaand Lady Animators has a few new interviews up if you want to take a look! Most recently I spoke with Amelia Lorenz, an animator at JibJab and all around lovely person. Okay lovelies, that's all for this week. See you next time!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Week 5: Moar Layout! And Also Some Planning!

I know we're already well into Week 6 but I had to take a few days to get over the Niners Superbowl loss. I've decided to just focus on the fact that Spring Training is starting and the Giants will soon be back on my television. 

So for Week 5, we had to do shoot reference, do planning sketches, and do rough character placement for our shots in the sequence. I had a biiiit of extra work since I have three shots instead of two like most of my class, but it wasn't too bad and my extra close up of Stewie's hand is actually a lot of fun.

My three shots are fairly straightforward. The first being where Stewie is climbing up the cliff face, the second is the close of his hand slipping, and the third is him dangling from the cliff and looking down. I cobbled together some video reference from clips I found on YouTube so that I could start drawing. For the dangling shot, one of my classmates kindly shot reference for me, thanks Michael! Take a look!

I am very glad I was able to find good reference because there is no way I would have be able to shoot any of this myself. I can't even do a pull-up. Zero upper body strength over here.

So, once I got my reference together, I got to drawing. I knew I wanted to exaggerate the poses a lot for this and make it as dynamic as possible. Actual rock climbing is really slow and controlled, but I wanted to give Stewie a little more energy, even a bit of recklessness, and I tried to convey that in my drawings. Here, have some thumbnails:

So now it was time to dive into Maya. Another of my classmates made an awesome Tarzan mod and spear for Stewie, so that is what will be used in our sequence (thanks Brock!). I can't even really call this blocking since it is still so, so rough, but the general ideas and groundwork is there for my three shots:

Mike had a few minor notes, including some small camera changes and having Stewie's hand enter frame in my second shot, but his main note, really for all of us, was to be specific about the way that Stewie moves. If he's like Tarzan, he should have a very unique style of movement and locomotion that we all need to agree on and really communicate in each of our shots. So, as I start blocking, there is a lot of work to be done, but I'm excited to get to it! See you next week with some blocking, readers!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 4: An Adventure in Rough Layout

Well hey there. Are we already 1/3 of the way through this term? What? Huh? Whoa.

So, this week things are a bit different than what we're used to. Since my group of five is going to be working on an entire sequence together, this week each of us is supposed to come up with an idea for the sequence and pitch it to the class. Last week my group met up and threw around some ideas for the sequence, one of which was "Tarzan Stewie."Of our three ideas, that was my favorite so I decided to run with it. My idea developed into Stewie as a hunter, chasing after a bird, climbing a cliff, and trying unsuccessfully to spear the bird in mid-air. Here is a video of me awkwardly explaining it!

The other half of our assignment was to do a playblast of the top view camera for the whole sequence but, I felt like I should do some story boards and rough layout in addition so that the idea was more fleshed out. That way, we could see the actual shots we would be animating, see how the pacing of the sequence felt, and see if it all made sense visually. So, I put together some boards in photoshop and jumped into Maya for some layout. I have very little experience doing story boards or layout (AKA I have no idea what I'm doing) but this was still fun to do. Take a looksee!

Turns out Stewie is not so handy with a spear, but he can climb a cliff like it's nobody's business. Also, I should definitely stick to animation because story boarding and rough layout are hard.

From here, it's up to Mike to decide which one of the five pitches we're going to use (nervous!) I'll be back next week with real, live, in-sequence shots to show you, so come back then and see the collaboration truly beginning! See you then, readers!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 3: Polishy Polish

Hey there, readers! Are you still so pumped from the Niners win on Sunday that you're just raring to jump in? ME TOO. Let's do it.

This week, we were supposed to finish our shot that we blocked in last week, meaning we were on a bit of a tighter schedule that we were used to from last term. And despite all the football, I managed to get this shot to a point that I liked by the time my deadline hit. Mike's notes were really helpful and just by adding his suggestions to my blocking I got the shot to a place I liked much better than what I turned in last week. I trucked along and polished the thing up and this is what I ended up with:

Mike's biggest note on it was that I could still push it farther by making the jump higher and exaggerating the ups and downs in the runs. But overall, he said it was a big improvement over last week, though in future, don't be afraid to go broad. Extreme spacing, timing, and posing isn't something that I naturally gravitate towards, but I think Mike is right in that I should explore the "cartoony" side of things and not be afraid to really push what I've already laid down. Maybe during the break between terms I will revisit this shot and apply Mike's notes and see what happens. But for next week, we'll be coming up with ideas for our sequences, filming pitches, and doing a previs pass. New and exciting things are coming your way, readers! See you next week.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 2: Ninja Training

Greetings, lovely readers! Here we are already in Week 2, which means I've begun blocking my first shot of class three. If you remember, Stewie has taken it upon himself to learn parkour and is doing a wall-flip in this shot. I even dressed him up like a ninja in training! Take a look:

I had a very busy week but I think the blocking is looking fairly good. I didn't get to clean it up as much as I would have liked but I think if I put in the time next week, it'll turn out well. We'll see what notes Mike has in crit tonight but hopefully he's happy with the flip itself, that was one of his major notes last week. Welp, have a good week, lovelies and see you next time!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Week 1! So it begins.

Well hello lovely people. Are you ready to dive back in? I certainly am. Let's get to it!

So for Week 1, it's all about planning. For the first three weeks of this term, we're working on our own personal shot to get used to the way things work this term. I wanted to do something challenging for this shot, so I looked all over YouTube for some cool physical actions I could animate. I found this one parkour-er (?) who dresses up like the main character from Assassin's Creed and runs around jumping off of things, flipping over stuff, and just generally being awesome. So, I decided to animate a flip from one of his videos, which you can see here:

As you can see, I also did a draw-over of my reference, which is my new favorite planning tool after having so much success with it last term! I didn't get as fancy with the color-coding but I hope you don't mind. 

Next, I put together a few pages of planning drawings, largely using my draw-over as a starting point. I wish I could have put more drawings in, but I started to run out of room! 

Mike had a few notes for me to keep in mind going into the shot, mainly to take out the camera movement, to really push the antics and compressions, and to maybe stage a few poses differently (namely the landing pose) so that Stewie's big head doesn't ruin the pose. Overall he said I'm in a good place to move forward, though I picked a very difficult shot. Flips are hard! But I'm excited for the challenge and can't wait to start blocking this thing in!

That's all for this week, folks. Come back next week for some actual animation, whoo! See you soon.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I'm baaaaack...

Class Three has officially started! New year, new class! Boom!

Remember when I said I was gonna post a pic of my face at the start of every term? I wasn't lying, see? I am so excited for this term, ya'll! And for good reason.

I had my first Q&A with Mike Stern and he seems like he's going to be a fantastic mentor! One thing he mentioned in the Q&A that I was particularly excited for was that he is a tough grader. Tough as in an A = you should be working in the industry right now. I've talked about my distaste for kid gloves in the past and I really am glad that Mike doesn't feel the need to sugar coat things for us.

Since I'm in the Class 3 Collaboration Pilot, our syllabus is a bit different than the regular Class 3 curriculum, though we are still getting the same lectures as everybody else. The main difference is the "collaborative" element of the class, meaning that we'll be working on a set of shots that link up with one another, almost liking making a short film. A short film about advanced body mechanics, starring Stewie!

Since we are the first class of AMers to be doing this collaborative curriculum, there will undoubtedly be a few hitches along the way but I am so, so excited to get back in the swing of things and start collaborating my butt off. Keep an eye for my homework post for Week 1, coming up soon! See you then, lovelies.

P.S. - Yesterday I posted up a new interview on Lady Animators with Jennifer Harlow, a DreamWorks animator and CalArts alum who just finished up work on "The Croods"! Click on over and read all about it!