Thursday, March 17, 2011

Success Survival tips #1

I get a lot of emails. Sometimes they are not all quick-times of animation, but honest questions. And they are not rare questions and a lot of professionals will answer them, but in like one paragraph. I know if I was to describe what I had to learn to get to where I am it would take longer than a paragraph. We all want to be big Redwood Trees but we all have to start of small like a seedlings. I know I did. So here is the email I wrote back. Hope it helps and gives insight to those who seek it. 

Hi Mark,

     There's only two things you got to think when thinking about getting into Pixar or any other place you might want to. 
      First, you have to make your work KICK ASS.. sorry for the lack of a better term, but you have to know animation inside out AND be able to perform and deliver. Even if it's not animation you must know your CRAFT and skill inside out and be able to do ANYTHING asked from you, or at least know what you would need to do to complete a difficult art piece. Some people stop there (Learning their talent inside out) but you also have to be creative, you have to be an artist with your animation/craft.That will hopefully come naturally but the hard part is getting good and honing your skills. That just takes time and dedication. Then all you have to do is combine your skills with your creativity and you're on your way to becoming a great artist.

      Second: You have to be or at least try to be a people person. I'm not saying you have to learn how to brown nose and such, but you must know how to just be a genuinely pleasant person to work with. Never burn any bridges, you never know who's help you might need in 3 years. YOU NEVER KNOW! So even if you don't like a peer or a teacher, never burn that bridge, just stay as an acquaintance or something where if you ever need to ask for a favor they do not have a reason to say no. That being said, do beware of fake people who are only nice to get themselves ahead. For example if they treat you like shit at first glance, but then they find out you are a very good animator or work someplace nice, all of a sudden they are your best friend and want to work with you. Pay those people no mind and try not to blend in with them, bc the actions of the people around you reflect on you. AND just watch out for people who are just nice because they KNOW they HAVE to be nice (like as if a douche bag read this post and says, 'Shit i gotta start being nice now') 


       And that's all you need to know. Everything else falls into place if you can nail these two pieces of advice. Opportunities will find YOU and you won't have to search around. With me, I learned fast, but I learned and pushed my self to get my skills to become second nature so I can animate and focus on my ideas and creativity. You need to focus on your weaknesses and make them stronger from someone who knows what they are doing, ASK FOR HELP when you need it. bc all that time spent trying to figure it out on your own could of been put to better use. Find out what you want to do or get better at and learn to do it.

       You are 17, i do not know your skill level and how much back ground you have on animation. hell im only 22 and I'm here. SO IT IS POSSIBLE. Here is one piece of advice that I wished a lot of people would of gotten when they first started...  
      Do not through all your marbles one ONE PIECE OF WORK. Do not think that a whole semester on 46 seconds of animation will guarantee you a spot or a job if you bust your ass on it. Do not put your faith on one film for two years. Sure quality is what matters, but you ARE assuming you are a genius and you will get it right the first time... you need to produce a lot of work so that you can fail on 2 pieces and LEARN from them. There are things you can only get through experience and that is perspective and how to plan and see time and gauge your limits and skills. And knowing those things will help you make your third, fourth eighth film the best. You need to complete more than one film so that after it's all said and done, you have a group of work to choose from and see your progression. Quality is good obviously, and quantity is just as valuable, especially in a very time consuming medium that animation is.

     So listen and learn, then get good, then get fast, so that all you have left is to further develop your mind as an artist

     Your life long dream should not be to WORK at your dream job, it should be to do what you love WELL. So start doing the steps you need to get that ball rolling.

-Regarding the question how is it to work at pixar?
      Working at pixar is like going to school, but they are paying you to go. You are free to create and develop yourself as an artist. You work with great people and you are always learning and motivated to push your work and make it better. 

      In a nut shell thats all it is. There is no magic, these people are human like you and me. Art doesn't magically happen. Just like you working on an assignment and that takes time and thought.. Thats the same as me working at pixar on my assignment. Except at pixar you better be able to knock it outa the park eventually once your start on it, not necessarily on the first try but eventually.

       So start collecting all your dedication, and get ready mentally to make hard decisions. Sometimes you will have to sacrifice a social life when something is due in 2 weeks and YOU KNOW that it's gnna take you 3 weeks wort of work to finish. Be prepared to not have all the answers and YOU WILL discouraged. Best of luck to you, and if you ever find your self stuck send me an email and I am always here to help you out. Send me your work or shoot me a question. Anytime. Learn form people and teach people what you learn. Matter of fact, if you see some one who is in your spot too, let them read this email. bc it might help them out if it helped you out. You learn more from helping other people learn than trying to learn by yourself. I guarantee it'll be worth your wild. 

Aim high Mark, 
-Daniel Gonzales

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Critique: Animation in Dancing

 (This was an email to a friend critiquing and trying to solve the problems in their animation assignment, enjoy and I hope it gives insight for those of you who seek it)

       So first I'll tell you how bad it is.. Then I'll tell you how bad it is specifically. all the while showing solutions and the thinking behind my decisions. Bc no body wants to read about someone JUST talking shit... ppl want their intellect stimulated.. along with a side of shit talking. haha

      Your animation is 75% there. But 25% kills the whole piece because I can see and feel some parts where it does not move physically realistic. But 75 percent of it does move right and that's not a bad thing :) Some parts are actually very nice.. and I could definitely see that some parts you either haven't touched or you do not know what decision to make and your just moving stuff for the sake of moving it...  
      Biggest flaw in your animation is: You move in diagonals and not arcs most of the time...

      -So about animation. Ima tear apart your root (which is the bottom of the torso, around the hips).
-From frames X13-X18  (X means frame in our lil animation world) 
      Your body is lifted in a way where it is not realistically possible. No way your toes can lift a body up. You must try to get the body over the LEG so that the balls of the feet and the body are more lined up. YOU get to chose whether thats the right foot you want to favor or the left. Your Frame X10 works just fine. but it's when you raise your body up you get unbalanced.. such as frame X14. So these drawings show one solution: stay over the screen right leg.

      The other solution would be to go immediately over the screen Left leg and then raise up. You would have to dip the body and already start moving to the Left around X11 so that at least by X15 you are above your Screen Left leg and are just raising straight up bc your weight is centred and the other leg is there helping as well. This might all be sounding confusing but all I am doing is describing arcs. Simple :)

-Frames X83-X87 
      looks like he's doing some chris angel magician floating shit. haha Maybe it's like that in your reference but this doesn't cut it visually here on a 2D screen with CG characters. In the next drawing is a solution.

-Frames X106-X110  
      You are fine... but then your root (body) slows down magically in mid air by X114 and then the next two frames after X114 you speed up again to land. no no no..  like a bouncing ball your spacing must reflect the physics of the movement. A ball does not slow down as it is past it's apex. If your slow down was meant to be 'hang time' well it comes too late. :P

( For those who do not know what the 'Bouncing Ball" reference is: it's all the tiny baby poo fundamentals of animation in one assignment called the "bouncing ball". always to be referenced for animation 101)

    Your other jumps that come after kind of do the same as they land the spacing gets a lil muddy just like the first. Remember the spacing is greatest before it lands. Just like a bouncing ball and we are just talking about your root. If this root's spacing and arcs is off, forget about getting good spacing/arcs on shoulders, head, arms, knees, you might be able to fake it and force good spacing on the rest of these body parts, but like i said, you would be forcing... and not letting it happen on it's own. Think of it like sex :)

-Frame X160-X163 
      You go straight up... then from frame X163 to X170 you do some levitation wizard shit. DIAGONALLY. so you go straight up with a diagonal, you know what your are giving me a triangle... no bueno.. gimmie some sort of sexy arc here. Here is a aLL in one example. Look at my arc of the line I drew. see how my root and head roughly follow it? and I even saw that you tried to do some overshoot at the end. Very nice, but it doesn't work because the movement before does not flow into it. Movement especially dance is like water, every arc and graceful movement must flow into the next, just a bunch of smooth slow in and ease outs with some sexy arcs slapped on for structure.


    -Next I will only talk about your head. it just needs to either lead or overlap correctly. always having some sort of arc.. Once your arcs on your root are set then you will be fine bc your head will be riding off those arcs. I'm only going to give you one example and I hope it is clear enough were you can apply it to the rest of the piece. Lets use the last Frames X160 to X17Oish... I will just draw it...

     This will never work with the root you have now. but it will work once you fix it. you see how the head is dragging as it comes up and as it goes down? and them comes up at the end? 

frames X90 -X99 
     Also is a place where your head kills me :(  I bet you graph editor has two knots. One around 90 and one around X99 and it is pretty linear diagonal. that will explain the evenness in it's movement (mechanical) pull out some handles to get me an ease in or an ease out. USE THOSE HANDLES WOMAN :) add some texture to that head move. Maybe starts fast and ends slow or vice versa! or something! Throw a dog a bone here. haha

     I hope this helps a little. Remember these are not the only way to do things and this is HOW I would try to fix them. There are other ways. My way is by no means the best way or the only way. 
     When you first come out of your blocking the root and the head should be your first priority. And it might not be enough to just get it smooth. SMOOTH from now on does not exist in your vocabulary. Smooth is replaced with arcs and ease ins and ease outs. :) all this info should be nothing new and be stuff you already know but are learning how to apply

     Best of luck and do share this with ------ and the others. they might really benefit from it. bc you guys should be really trying to help each other. It's WAAY easier to solve other peoples work than your own. 

-Daniel Gonzales

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

If you want to achieve greatness, then stop asking for permission

      “There is a visual conversation that takes place on the streets of urban environments. This conversation is dominated primarily by advertising and utilitarian signage and assumes  passive participation. Whether invited or not I am going to participate in this conversation.Public spaces were never intended to be coated from top to bottom with photos of consumer products. These spaces should, in some manner, reflect the culture that thrives in that space.” -A Street Artist

       As you know (and if you don't you are about to know) I truly believe to use art for it's fullest potential is to say something with it, and what better place to do it than right in front of the public eye. Before some of you start to roll your eyes and start to whine about how, 'I don't get art, I'm not artsy, I'm an entertainer, most of the stuff doesn't even make sense!, what does a spray bottle dressed as Cambel's Soup even meeeaaan????' I will agree with you SOME stuff is just general hash hosh and you shouldn't hurt yourself trying to overanalyze it. But that shouldn't take away from the art that actually has something to say. For example the photo above has a piece done by the artist that goes by BANKSY. Simple but just complicated enough to provoke a wee bit of thought. It won't change your life but might be enough to at least get you to feel something, and isn't that what we are ALL trying to do with our art? Whether it be with music, painting or even animation. ISN"T THAT THE POINT WH WE CREATE? ..To get our audience to feel or to think? '..No danny, I make it so people can smile and laugh....'

     No shit Einstein.. To Laugh is pretty much visual evidence that you are feeling something, and you have to comprehend what you are seeing in order to laugh at it. So even if you are a creator for commercial reasons you are still an artist

     We are all artist. and our motives for making our art, no matter how different they seem, still come from the same deep drive and urge to create. Some people might say some motives to create (like money) are un-honorable and do not count. (I agree, but the things that are created for money are still created with the same passion that comes from us when we make art) If you haven't watched 'EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP' I really recommend it, it was a contender for an oscar and it was the focus of many jokes during the show last weekend. It explore the example above in a way that hits hard by the end of the documentary.

      Even the smallest gestures of art can bring a spot to life. Even if it's not visually evident you will feel it just by looking at it. I walk through Oakland to my work every day, the art that is found through out this city is precious in it's own way. These are lil bits and signs of humanity show up among the cement desert of billboards and advertisement that yell at your face to buy.. I bet your city is similar, and screams out just like mine. People who do street art might be called vandals and punks, but they are just trying to make the space they live in reflect the voice that it hidden. Public space is usually dominated by companies and advertisements and thus ceases to be public when you cannot even express your art or self through these damn public space. 
       You do not have to be a brilliant artist like Bansky to have something to say or become Andy Warhol to create something that grabs attention. My buddy leaves his mark with Post-it-Notes every where he goes. Other artist use stencils or paint directly on walls. The most popular starting tool is to create stickers and slap them on public places. Remember that painting and spraying on public property is illegal. Never paint for the simple goal of vandalizing – It’s better to create than to destroy. Never paint over other artists work, and never paint racist and explicit images. be classy about this and don't act like your 12. Here is a wonderful Blog about the very stuff I am talking about. 
OAKTOWN ART BLOG: How to make a Stencil

If you like the idea of doing your own art for your city  or just want to make something that says something.. and do not know what to start brainstorming, here's a check list.

Do you have a message?
Do you want to make something pretty? or shocking?
Do you want to challenge the status quo?
Do you want the people who see it to have a certain experience?

         I do hope I've gotten you to think about this art form and hopefully it finds some use in your future work. Drawing is the medium that is most accessible for this type of art. but I am sure that animation, music, and writing have their own power to show in street art. Go be an artist, or at least start thinking like one. you'll make the world a better place.