See what I did there? A cute little Christmas pun? Except this has nothing to do with Christmas since I'm so totally behind on getting into the holidays because I've been so wrapped up with the rapidly-ending school semester. It's odd because officially my last day of school is next Wed., but my Life Drawing and Painting classes are essentially over. Yesterday was the last day of actual drawing, and today the last day for painting (although the studio will be open tomorrow if we need to finish anything up). We had to turn in our portfolios and sketchbooks for life drawing, which is always more difficult and time-consuming than I think it will be. I'll do a post on that soon.
We have critiques Monday and Tuesday, where we sit around and either have to critique our own work or a classmate's - the teacher changes it up. Critique is always fun to see everyone's work throughout the semester, and how much everyone has improved. But everyone is at different levels, so sometimes it's difficult to say much about another student's work. I hate critiquing my own in front of the class, but I constantly am doing it in my head anyway, so at least I know what I like and dislike about my pieces already! It's odd to think that I won't be drawing or painting for a number of weeks now, though. I'd love to actually keep working in my sketchbook, but it's hard to make myself do that.
The biggest project that's been keeping me up nights (literally working late into the night, and always dreaming about it!) has been this gumball challenge for Character Animation. We work in 3D (Maya, specifically), but learn 3D and traditional animation techniques and principles. We have a weekly videoconference with various industry pros (with other schools on as well), and this challenge was specifically put to us by Eric, a Disney director and animator, at the beginning of the semester. Yeah, it's kind of crazy to work on a piece for that long, but we have another assignment as well that's due next Tuesday (which got shoved to the side for this one). We showed Eric our first passes in October. He gave us great feedback, and today we showed him our finished pieces. There were a lot fewer of us presenting this time around, but the 3 of us from my class all presented mainly finished pieces! I was up late tweaking some things, and didn't get them all done, but they were relatively small.
I am happy to say, though, that Eric really liked my piece. And not just in the "I'm being nice" way. The coolest thing happened. In the middle of me being nervous to show, my teacher pressed play on my piece (which had grown from 10 seconds to 21!), and I got to see both my piece play on our local TV, and see Eric's reactions on the projection screen. Here's the kicker. He was really into my story. I mean, he laid out very specific rules for what we should do - character enters with one emotion and leaves with a different one after putting money into a gumball machine and not getting a gumball or their money back. But I could see his face change at my key points, and he was following the emotions of my character! He even giggled at one point! And it hit me that this is exactly why people do this, despite the long hours and crazy schedules. Because that was a huge reward. It's why rock stars love singing to an audience. It's why actors and comedians love live audiences. He wasn't faking or being nice, he was really enjoying it. And that, my friends, made my day, my semester, my whole time in school so far. An amazing animator and director actually enjoyed my piece!
Now, I'm not kidding myself that it's fantastic animation. There are still a lot of things that I need to tweak. But he told me I had great storytelling skills, and that's a huge compliment! Needless to say, I don't remember much else after that. Good thing they recorded the videoconference so that I can go back and hear what his critique was, and what I can fix. But that was a huge thrill and relief, all in one!
After the conference ended, I was going to go home and revel in my victory. But I had left painting class early to get to the videoconference, so I decided to go back to the studio and see if I could perhaps get some good work - and maybe finish! - my Pink Umbrella painting. After 2 and a half more hours there, I declared it was time to go home and get something to eat since I had only had snack food and caffeine since 8am, and 4pm had swiftly arrived! Dizziness was not my friend to this painting anymore! I took a picture of it, but it's just not the same as in person. There are a few more things I could do, but I think I will leave those for vacation time, and see what my teacher has to say about it Tuesday. In the meantime, here's how I left things today - mainly finished.
I present Pink Umbrella (remember, this is on a 24"x30" canvas, so it is not small!).As always, I love to hear what you guys think! And no, Mark, this is not going up in the bathroom! It is amazing how much different it looks in person, though.
Tuesday night my final 2-person dialogue animation is due (which is my main hurdle at this point), plus I have 3 sections on my History of Animation online class to finish by Sunday, and a take-home Compositing final due Wednesday night. So yeah, I have my work cut out for me still. But these 3 huge projects off my mind are a huge relief! I still can't believe how close Christmas is - I've barely started thinking about it!