Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Week at Shadow - Another DREAM accomplished!

Hey Guys,

I just finished my last day at Robot chicken this friday evening. {4 days of work and 6 shots for the show.} I worked on 3 different episodes in my time there and the PACE was FAST and FURIOUS!!! I learned so much about how it all works.....??

I have never worked in television before so that KIND of Pressure was completely foreign to me. I came home every day I worked there and was completely EXHAUSTED! There was no way I could stay up and work the evenings like I do at my CG job. The work is taxing on your body as well as your mind. MUCH Respect for all the guys in the trenches...... Its freakin HARD Work.......FUN but Hard!

so.....My experiance was Incredibly rewarding and I felt like I was on a adventure to a Whole new planet. I knew some of the language and we both liked the same food but It was culture shock in full effect. I worked on some Fun shots and Met alot of people who love stopmo animation as much as I do - I got to animate James bond in a couple of cool scenes. I also got my hands on the Justice League members for a shot which makes my comic book nerd hairs stand on end.... Ha! The Daily do was like this -
You Arrive at 9 oclock in da mornin....go find out what set and Stage you are working on.{Theres about 15 - 20 stages happening at once} You then look at the story boards for the assigned shot and watch the animatic. After you have a basic Idea of the scene you call for the Director to come over and give you the low down on what he or she wants in the scene. After Direction is given you set out planning the action on your x sheet. After marking the key moments you just JUMP right in...

START animation. The rest is pretty normal except for the QUOTA on your back. { 10-12seconds a day }The shots are marked by complexity -Simple- Normal and Complex--- I couldnt do it with out staying LATE...but I got better as every day went by...Faster - More effeciant in my choices and use of frames but It was a struggle. My first shot and day was pretty overwhelming but the director really liked it and that put my mind at ease. In fact the diretor like all of my shots which was nice.

so after finishing a shot - you go through a series of protocol to get your frames set up and a movie available. The call the director over and show him for approval. If Director approved ....they strike the set and on to the next scene. WOW....out of the fire and into another one.

Finisheing a shot was the big reward to the struggle of getting through it...It reminded me of the Magic this medium posesses. You almost dont have time to soak it in though with the speed of production.

Friday at 6:30 I had my first Weeklys - This is where we all gather around the tv with the whole company as well as Seth Green and Matt Senreich to watch the animation that was produced that week.This was really fun and a great gathering of laughter. After this the week was done and I am headed bak home to collapse on the couch.

So in closeing - I met some really cool people - I crossed off another DREAM - I clarified many things about the path I want to take in my life and in this medium - I also walked around with a HUGE Dorky smile the whole week!!



Kenneth Sipel said...

This is certainly a case where the word awesome doesn't really cut it. You're on top of the world to me, with the movie in post and TV work in the can. Congrats!!

Kenneth Sipel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan McCulloch said...

WOW, I would love to just pick your brain, as an independant going into a studio, what you think of the overall lifestyle of the job. Is this a cool career choice? Just a cool week project? Either way that all sounds pretty freakin awesome. Congrats.

Shelley Noble said...

Make some good stuff, Justin, your own, not that "entertainment?" Life's too valuable. How about starting your own production company? Hire people that you respond to. Broadcast it online. That's where things are moving anyway.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the sort of thing I want to do. Working in a studio at a fast clip, animating one shot after another without a break. I animate really fast. Laika was surprised I was done with my test five hours early. So I think I would be able to cut it as a professional animator.

If only I met 'the Chicken's prerequisites, though. 1 year of professional experience is something I just don't have...

jriggity said...

{Ken}- Thanks man!

{Ryan} - I would love to answer any questions you have. I figured a bunch out on this trip.

{Herself}- I am makeing my own stuff...and me and Shelly do have our own company.This was an adventure for me and a serious learning experiance.

{Pram} - Experiance -Neither did I Pram - its all about the Reel and quality of your work.

Also as far as experiance.....youve been animateing for like 100 years....thats experiance too.


Kelly said...

Pram said: "I animate really fast."

Justin said:" Experiance -Neither did I Pram - its all about the Reel and quality of your work."

It's not just about working fast. You must produce the highest quality of work that you can BUT in a very limited amount of time. This is where experience is key. You must know how to balance where to spend your time in a shot. And know when to put the pedal to the metal.

And again just to clarify; Justin may not have had stop motion experience on his resume, but over 10 years as a working professional animator did help him. Justin is already a seasoned pro, and a really nice guy to boot.

But honestly, He's right! It's all about the quality of work on your reel in this biz. And when I say quality I don't mean production quality, or even fancy puppets. It's solely based on the quality of your animation/movements and timing (NOT just smoothness)- once you can demonstrate those things most studios will at least give you a shot. Oh and it also helps to be a friendly, affable, and confident (yet humble) person. Justin is all of the above.

not at all to sound discouraging here! I understand you're hungry for professional experience. But again, most working animators will give you this same advice (and I'm sure Justin will agree):
You live within close proximity to THREE prominent stop motion studios: Laika, Laika House (commercial division), and Bent Image Lab. Find a way to just get your foot in the door. Take any job that they offer you! anything including sweeping floors! (which is actually how even Anthony Scott got his career started) Show them how hard you're willing to work. And once you're IN you'll be surrounded by it everyday, then you can absorb everything like a sponge.
Show them how much you want it, work your ass off for it. Stay late to practice animating if there's space available. Get your work critiqued by other animators and listen to what they have to say.
And if you can prove yourself to them, they will probably give you a shot when the time comes. And believe me when crunch time hits, as it always does on most projects, they will need all and any able bodied individuals to help.
I'm telling ya, it'll be so much more rewarding than working a crummy job waiting for things to happen.
Again, I am not trying to put you, or your animation skills down. I merely sympathize with your frustration. But remember this is a very VERY competitive industry. Soon even the Coraline animators will all be out there flooding the freelance job pool looking for work too. And with soo much stop motion work going on, there will always be a need for people with passion.
Anyhow, that's just my opinion. I just know that it worked for me when I was in a similar situation as yours. But again, (I know I sound like a broken record) if this is what you really want, try the above advice, as long as your willing to put in the hard work then I just don't see how you can fail, best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Justin- Haha, you've got THAT right! I think I might finally be improving, too.

I can't wait to see your shots on RC, man.

Kelly- Thanks for the advice! You're right, working a crappy job is not the way to go. I will do anything it takes to get into a studio. I know about the fierce competition, but that makes me more determined to go at it from another angle. I've been very lucky to get the kind of exposure I've gotten so far, so I'm going to try a different way in, and if that doesn't work, I'll get a part time temp job and keep working on the reel.

emmyymme said...

Congrats!! That's awesome your work there went well - such a huge goal to accomplish, I hope you're taking some time to sleep after all that!

Alonso said...

Super Awesome man, livin the life of a rockstar! :)

So they had set dresser's for you, you didn't have to put your own sets together?

Where you using traditional 2D xsheets (like here Did they read the track for you so you already knew what syllable falls on what frame? So you were marking out your Key Poses on the x-sheet, same as they do in The Illusion of Life?

If you got in at 9am, what time where you getting out? And what about the other animator's, when did they make it out.

You're an inspiration!

Tennessee Reid said...

Hey Buddy!

It was really great having you at the Chicken - both the energy you brought and the quality animation you created!!

Hope you can spare some more time for us in the future!

All the best to you and Shel !!

jriggity said...

{emmyymme} - yes I took time to sleep every night that week. Ha! I was trashed at the end of the day and couldnt stay up even if I wanted too.


Yep - they had had set dressers....and even animation set up the puppets on stage...and help with anything needed.

The x sheet were done and waiting for the animators....we just marked down where poses hit and offsets happen.

its exactly the same as a 2d animation. Just stop mo.

The other animators got out at about 7:00 pm. I was leaveing at 8-8:30. It was hard for me to move that fast.

{Tennesee} - Thanks alot man- I appreciate you being open to me and helping easing me into my first day .