Monday, May 30, 2011

End of First Year at CalArts

The last day of school was May 20th, but because film time was so crazy, there were a lot of things to take care of after school ended.
Cleaning the apartment, getting a haircut, etc :P
But I have finished my first year at CalArts and I couldn't be happier!
I'm super excited to start my second year at CalArts because it's been a while since I've stayed at a school for more than a year. Kind of a sad thought, but it took some time to finally find myself and get my butt over to CalArts.
And since that part is over, I'll be using this summer to discover myself as an artist even more!

I wanted to do a review of my second semester at CalArts and my first year as a whole.

- 2D Animation:
This class is really special to me because it made me realize I'm not animation-stupid and that it is a newfound passion of mine. My awesome teacher, Scott Wright, unfortunately will not be returning to CalArts next year. But I'm so lucky to be part of the freshmen class that he taught. He made the class that much more awesome and we'll miss him. We didn't have a lot of homework in this class because of films, but we did animation reference exercises in class which were a lot of fun. And we also did some in-class animation tests which were really good too because they made realize where my weak spots were as an animator. I sometimes forget that I've only been animating for barely a year, so I have to be patient and realize that animation is a process of growing and practice! I've been animating on paper the entire time I was in this class, so I need to start learning how to animate on the computer!

- Digital Methods:
This class was really helpful when it came to film problems. Our teacher, Fran Krause, had answers for everything. Not much to say about this class because it was more of a film-help class. But it was still really resourceful and helpful. We had a group project that was due at the end of the semester. I will post my portion on vimeo when I get all my files organized. We didn't get a lot of time to work on it so mine turned out as a colored animatic. The group project is actually a really fun and cool idea, but there was no time to work on it!

- CG Foundation:
CG Foundation got a little intense this semester in terms of the work we did in class. We went over rigging and all this crazy stuff. Of course we didn't go too in depth but it was awesome to finally put a skeleton in our models that we worked on during the first semester. I've uploaded screenshots of my robot-character that I modeled and rigged in the class. The robot is based off of a book that I have that has all these cool robot designs in.

I wanted to follow along with my teacher's rigging demo in class, so the rig is a bit strange and meant for a more organic character. But it's still pretty cool :)
I don't know if rigging is for me, but it's super interesting and I appreciate it so much more.
I learned so much from this class. It's a lot to learn in such a small period of time but we still managed to do a lot of work. Our CG Foundation teacher, Andrew Bac, is an awesome Maya teacher. I wouldn't mind having him again next year!

- Perspective:
This class was one of my favorites because it's my first real perspective class. My teacher was Dan Hansen and he made the class really fun and easy to learn. He also made the homework assignments for this class really fun because they were pretty open-ended. We could draw whatever we wanted as long as we followed a few guidelines. I posted up some of the assignments that I really enjoyed drawing. I'm thinking this summer, I want to try to paint 2 or 3 of them to practice painting in photoshop to really finish up the drawing. My film was done all in paper and pencil so I didn't give photoshop and flash much of a chance :P
I have some catching up to do!

- Story:
One thing I can say about this class is that I wish we did more. We watched The King's Speech during one class, and then during the next class, we discussed the story structure of it and I liked it. I wish we did more of that. I really enjoy having Jennifer Skelly as my story teacher but when she teaches the class with her husband David Skelly, they totally kick ass together! That day they both taught the class, we screened our films and they would critique them and help us come up with solutions that wouldn't take much time to fix. I really enjoyed that one class that they taught together because they make such a great team. This class was a little more laid back because of film time, so I'm looking forward to next year's story class.

- Contemporary Black Poetry:
This was my critical studies class. And this class demanded a lot of work, but I managed to finish everything and turn it in time. So it was still flexible and doable at the same time. I actually enjoyed this class as well because my teacher had us thinking about our own majors and applying it to the poetry we read to think about our metier in a different way. And it worked! I actually did some analyzing of the character animation program and I discovered little things about it and myself that helped me realize that animation could be my true passion. We were also required to do a "final project" for the class. The final was pretty open-ended and my teacher wanted us to present something that somehow related to poetry. I can definitely say that poetry can be really resourceful when it comes to story ideas. I might have a second year film idea because of this class! There's actually a lot to say about this class, and I don't want to ramble. So I'll just say that this class was very inspirational and poetry has become one of my story resources/inspiration.

- Life Drawing:
Nothing really new with life drawing. As always, it's a good practice class and we've had some awesome models. Life drawing at CalArts is kind of a controversy and some changes need to be made. It's always just been a good practice class, but it needs to be more than that. One word: anatomy.

- CG Character Animation:
Another one of my favorite classes. My teacher, Robert Domingo, is an awesome animator and teacher. To have him teach us our first year animation class is a real treat. I've mentioned this before, but this class is Thursday nights from 7pm to 10pm. He makes the class really fun and bearable. I often lose track of time in that class. I've learned so much from Robert; him and the class are also the other things that are pushing me toward the animation career path. We had a total of 4 shots that we had to do over the semester. I've really enjoyed working on each shot; cleaning up the curves and everything :P I'm really looking forward to our future CG classes, but I'm sad that Robert only teaches first years. First years are so lucky! CG animation is definitely something I need to work on over the summer because I want to be good at what I love doing.

My first year at CalArts was freakin awesome!
Even film time was an awesome experience because everyone is in on it.
Making a film was extremely brutal. It really was. And when I look back on it, I feel so accomplished because school-wise, it's the hardest thing I've ever done!
And I know that it can only get better from here.
Summer will be a nice time to focus on me and myself as artist. But sometimes, I can't stop thinking about second year and how awesome it's going to be!
I want to be around my talented classmates and friends again. They were truly my energy and inspiration. It really is such a special experience to grow together with these people.
I won't ramble on much longer because this post is already long :P
I'll just end this post with saying that CalArts character animation kicks butt!


  1. asdfsad I never comment, but I love your blog! These posts about your experiences with calarts are really insightful.

  2. Thanks!
    I'm glad these posts were of some help to you!
    I know that when I was applying for CalArts, it certainly helped me when I read other peoples' experiences.
    Thanks again!