But first.. UPDATES!
I wanted to share with you some pictures from some of the guest lectures we’ve had recently. Our teachers Dave Kuhn (also Chair of Animation) and Dave Pruiksma (a.k.a. “The Daves”) are awesome for being able to organize these events and opportunities for us to meet pros in the business. The guest speakers are always a blast.
Stephen Chiodo’s visit was really neat. Just to recap really quickly on what he does, he runs a stop motion animation studio in Burbank (Chiodo Brothers Productions, Inc.) with his brothers Charles and Edward. To name a few of the films he’s worked on– Tim Burton’s Vincent, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Killer Clowns from Outer Space, Team America: World Police, Elf, I Go Pogo, and many others.
I’ll link to some examples of his work to give you more of an idea:
While working on Vincent, Tim Burton would actually send Stephen strongly-gestured drawings of the key poses that he wanted the character to hit, and Stephen would then try to match that as best he could with the puppet.
Most people are familiar with ELF:
Stephen chuckled to us about a lesson he learned while working on this movie. While exploring character designs for “Mr. Narwhal,” every design kept getting the thumbs down from the director. Finally, he figured he’d try just copying the little doodle that the director had handed him as a springboard for exploration. And the director loved it, and that’s the design you see in the film. “Sometimes you find that the director actually already knows exactly what he wants.”
Click here if you dare for a clip from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure that everyone at the lecture seemed to recall as a source of many childhood nightmares.
Stephen was so cool that he even brought several of his puppets for us to actually PLAY with!
So I can safely say everyone had a ball that night!
(Thanks Dave P. for letting me swipe your photos, by the way! )
And THEN, we could hardly contain our excitement for the Chris Sanders show and visit!!
You’re probably familiar with Chris’ work. He is the director and creator of Lilo and Stitch as well as co-directed How to Train Your Dragon. If you’re familiar with the character Stitch, I’m sure you can see Chris’ influence on the dragon Toothless as well.
Chris also contributed to the character, story, and production design of films such as Beauty & the Beast, The Lion King, and Mulan. He is responsible for the design of this iconic sequence.
This event was particularly special because not only was there an entire show full of Chris’ ORIGINAL ART (as in, not mere photocopies, but original pieces with underdrawings and all), but Chris came in to speak with us one-on-one and answer our personal questions. This was a pretty big deal. To say that in the animation industry that Chris Sanders is a bit of a celebrity is frankly, an understatement. When you meet someone this big, you kind of have to ground yourself in reality for a moment and try not to get carried away. But Chris exceeded all expectations. He was genuine, down-to-earth, and just a really nice guy. We all left with the warm fuzzies.
Chris had these words of wisdom for me: If you have a story idea, write it down. Write everything down. If you want something to become a reality, it needs to start somewhere, and by letting it float in your head, it won’t be going anywhere soon.
He was also quite humble when I inquired to him how he comes up with such appealing designs. Chris’ unique style has a lot to do with his use of soft curves and round shapes, and these qualities are very pleasant to the eye. He responded with modesty, “Well I really admire Glen Keane for being able to incorporate really nice straights into his work!” It was ironic that we all envied his beautiful work, but he humbly felt that sometimes his shapes appeared “mushy.” He then encouraged us again by saying, “People say to me, ‘Oh, what a beautiful drawing!’ and I say, ‘Yes, yes it is beautiful!’ and then secretly I burn all the hundreds of bad drawings that it took me to get to that drawing..!”
Both Chris and Stephen were two of the nicest guys you can meet, and incredibly-talented. I know I speak for all of LCAD when I say, we would really love to have them back again.
And noowwwww…! I shall flood you with art!
As the silly animators that we are, my friends and I all have our own little stories and characters, and we decided to break the fourth wall with them and have them hang out with each other. We decided that they all just met on the internet, since that seems to be a commonplace reality nowadays, and they befriended each other and decided to (hold your applause) go on a vacation to Hawaii together.
Quick disclaimer: While this is a fun exercise that helps us get to know our characters better, it is by no means anything that we are trying to impress people with. It’s something we have fun with, like a bunch of kindergarteners playing with Barbie dolls. That being said, let me leave you with this gif of Glen Keane taking reference footage for The Little Mermaid.
These are my characters Ko and Pan. They’re a couple of fifteen-year-olds with superpowers. No big deal. She has fire powers, and he has what is essentially the force, but it looks like pixie dust. Basically, he can pick things up with his mind.
She has… maturity problems. She is lazy, demanding, a bit of a glutton, and prone to violence, but she is fiercely loyal to her friends and exuberantly and proactively initiates their outrageous social gatherings. As her best friend forever, Pan tends to balance her out with his cool head and keep her in check, a conscience of sorts. Though his patience can wear thin with her too.
These are my friend Tamara Go’s characters Carl and Dude. She’s actually in the process of writing a buddy comedy comic titled Cans of Beans, and they are the stars. Carl is an insecure, nineteen-year-old convenience store clerk who tries to keep people at a distance by feigning creepiness, acting nerdily seductive. Carl’s insecurity stems from many things: his sexual orientation, the fact that he’s a werewolf (again, no big deal, right?), and his peach fuzz that refuses to be shaved. However, his antics don’t work well on his new college roommate, Dude Brosmith (real name, check the birth certificate), who is just too [surfer dude] cool to be phased by Carl’s weirdness. When Carl comes to terms with the fact that he’s not going to shake Dude anytime soon, the two become good friends.
Oh and Ko adopts Carl as her gay best friend, whether he likes it or not.
Welcome to the girls’ room, Carl.
Some of Rebecca Morel’s characters:
Riley is a snotty seventeen-year-old high school student. She’s always got some sort of quip with everyone. However, she must have a good heart, because she takes care of Monty, a sweet monster who can type but not talk. He would be a normal human if a curse hadn’t been put on his family that causes him to attack people if his mouth isn’t sewn shut. Last time I’ll say this:
Rebecca’s character Gerda is a sixteen-year-old psychic, but not in the sense that she can see the future. She can spot other supernatural beings, as well as read people’s auras, which gives her insight about the goodness of others’ intentions. Personality-wise, she is calm, logical, even-tempered, and a bit sarcastic. But can you blame her? She’s surrounded by morons. She’s constantly keeping a watchful eye over another werewolf in the group, Rebecca’s character Colby.
Colby’s a personal favorite of mine, not gonna lie. He is handsome, outgoing, and befittingly, a dog. I mean, he IS a werewolf, but he also has the personality traits of a dog, but in a good way. He’s eager-to-please, fun-loving, and will avoid conflict at all costs. He’s a little bit older than Gerda, the two being best friends. However, he’s constantly trying her patience. They have a similar dynamic to Ko and Pan, though slightly different. While Ko annoys Pan when she’s being difficult, he is often happy to engage with her in her odd endeavors. Colby’s endeavors tend to put Gerda off in general, but she grudgingly goes along with them. When Ko and Colby first met, his charm immediately drew her to him, and she developed an obnoxious school girl crush on him. They went on a “date,” but the only one taking it seriously was Ko. By default, Pan and Gerda ended up hanging out, sympathizing with each other on the idiocies of their best friends.
However, Ko outgrew that phase when she realized Colby only saw her as a little sister. The two remained close though, as they are both excitable, high-energy personalities. Since they continued to constantly hang out, their friends still misinterpreted the relationship as having romantic undertones.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, everyone mentioned in pairs are basically destined to be together. The characters don’t have a choice. We wrote it this way. I hope karma doesn’t kick me in the butt some day for letting a poor sweet kid like Pan end up with a monster like Ko. OH WELL HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
The following are sequences my friends and I drew out revolving around this premise: Tamara’s character JONATHAN stupidly spiked Pan’s Starbursts drink with ABSYNTHE. Pan, who can’t resist the lure of Starbursts and thinks the drink is virgin, happily indulges.
Pan, not being quite a normal human, had an extremely adverse reaction to it. Ko gets scared. Everyone freaks out.
Jonathan offers more brilliant advice: Pan should channel this nervous energy into something creative because that’s what JONATHAN does. I keep saying JONATHAN like that because at this point in the game, everyone is mad at him. They decide to therefore throw a karaoke party. We are brilliant writers up for an Oscar; I thank you.
Ko’s song to Pan at least wakes him up, but he’s still pretty out of it.
Of course Riley has to follow up by being… Riley..
And then Carl and Dude share bromantic moment. I’ll leave this link here so you can play the song along while you read:
And then Colby feels bad that Ko is so stressed out about all this, so he invites her to dance, not realizing it will backfire with both of their love interests. (I really do recommend listening to the song and following along if you can. By the way, the A-Ha! Take on Me music video is a textbook example of rotoscope! Just in case you were interested.)
Aaaaand OF COURSE he’s shirtless.. They’re in Hawaii; he just got back from the beach. Pfft, sure THAT MUST BE IT. XD
And then I said, “UGH I can’t convey this panel-to-panel– MUST DO FULL ON STORY REEL!” and with those words I said goodbye to Thanksgiving break.
And then a whole bunch of stuff happened in between, which I may or may not get to in a follow-up post. For Christmas, our characters all were secret santas for each other, and that was a whole other project in itself. Like I said, I might post those later.
Real quick, this is what I did with my Christmas break. Here’s the context:
-Ko ran away, but had promised Carl beforehand that she would make his New Years perfect by recreating the floating lights scene from Tangled for him.
-Ko has difficulty controlling her fire powers and the ability to kill people by kissing them.
-Before this point, no one knew Ko also has healing powers and the ability to make plants grow.
-While she was away, she left gifts for people but said they were from Santa, one of them being Pan’s jacket.
PHEW! There you go.