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Month: April 2010

I’ll officially study animation soon!

Today I got accepted to Animation Mentor! (Not sure how often anyone ever really gets rejected.)

Anyway, I’m really excited and I can’t wait to start, though I’ll have to wait about 2 months, since the next session doesn’t start until the end of June. But, in that time, I can learn more about Maya, the 3D software the classes use.

So, for better or for worse, I’ll probably blather about animation a bit more for at least the next year and a half.

I don’t know how apparent it is from this blog, but I’ve always been interested in animation; it’s one of the reasons I’ve been wanting to learn to draw. And, of course, I’ve always been interested in the art of film making. But I always thought I’d have to learn drawing skills slowly over time to get ever find a way into the industry, so it was just one of my many pipe dreams. Then I suddenly came across Animation Mentor, and … ooohh! … looks like it could very well be a way in! If not a direct path to working on feature films at a studio, it could at least lead me to full time job doing something I actually like the idea of doing (and being able to do): animating. Gah, it just feels so good to be able to type it: I’m going to study animation. Ha ha ha!

After spending 4 years in college majoring in Computer Science, the prospects looked grim. I was interested in Computer Science because I wanted to design video games. Well, Computer Science actually has nothing to do with video game design, at least not around here. When I started looking at available jobs, it was mostly boring looking programming jobs (I once told someone that I wanted to help design the games, not merely program what someone else told me to, and the guy went off on how wrong my attitude was) or IT tech support. Now having discovered Animation Mentor, I’m a bit glad I didn’t get any of those jobs. (Though, of course, I’m glad somebody out there is interested in them and will take them! I met a guy in college who was immensely interested in the inner workings of RAM. I found the topic to be the epitome of mundane, but I’m glad some people out there are worrying about it or I wouldn’t have all the things RAM makes possible.)

I did a few job interviews, but I’m sure they could tell how uninterested I truly was. I once interviewed for a military contractor programmer position, and they asked “So what interests you about radar?” and I almost burst laughing… “Um… it kind of looks like a little TV screen?” The job description didn’t say anything about radar. Which, by the way, is another huge complaint: some programming jobs out there have the worst, most vague job descriptions I can imagine. They say things like: “You will implement and analyze systems for integration with current modules. Will work closely with supervisors and coworkers to provide up-to-date support for vital systems.” What the–?

I once asked some people what was more important in job searching: a good portfolio, or good grades? They answered that both were important. Lazy and wrong answer. If you’re looking for the kind of job in which you can send a portfolio, a portfolio is always more important; it shows what you can actually do. I guess people are afraid to admit (or just can’t understand) that the entire structure of college (and high school for that matter) is pointless for many career paths. But I’ll spare this blog yet another rant on that topic… (and actually you’ll want to ask the employer what’s more important, though I can’t imagine an employer being impressed with a portfolio, then dismissing it because of a bad grade)

Anyway, the structure of Animation Mentor looks very much like the way I think almost all education should be. Almost like an apprenticeship with a direct line of communication between the student and the pros working in the field the student wants to enter. (Rather than a student doing worksheets and writing essays for full time professors in a hodge podge of study areas.)

So… hopefully Animation Mentor won’t go bankrupt or a list of other bad things that could go wrong won’t.

The only thing that worries me now is the natural fear that I won’t be good enough. I do have the advantage of having only a part time job at the moment, so I should be able to dedicate a lot of time to this, but I don’t have a big drawing background, and just about no experience at all in this field, save for some little fooling around I’ve done now and then on my own. But this is definitely worth a try, and I’ve got plenty of interest. If I have to go back to trying to get a programming job, I guess I’ll have to delete this post, or edit it.

Applied to Animation Mentor

Last night, after convincing my parents to continue letting me live with them for the next year and a half while I go completely broke, I applied to Animation Mentor. I don’t know how long it will take to find out if I get accepted or not. I guess there’s always a chance they could say “no, this isn’t really for you, go away” (that would stink) or “you’re accepted, but we’re too full right now, come back in the fall.” Guess I’ll wait and see… it looks like a wonderful opportunity, though, so I really hope I get to do this…

Can I learn character animation?

I guess this is a taste of how uneventful my blog will be whenever I get a full time job. Besides going to work (and constantly tweeting how many hours I have left), I’ve been spending the rest of my time working on composing the underscoring for a documentary, which I mentioned last week, which I think is going well, though I wish I could do it a bit faster (while not sacrificing quality, of course). And, of course, I wish I could do it full time!

I did post a new YouTube video the other day. That’s one of the cues I wrote for the documentary.

Um… yeah… not really much else…

Oh, I have been looking into this online animation school: Animation Mentor. I came across it exploring animations on YouTube. (I was researching stop motion animation with the ambition of buying a camera and filming some shorts.) It looks extremely tempting; I would LOVE to learn to do the kind of character animation they teach. The thing is… it costs quite a bit (like, $18,000). It would basically be like going back to college. But still… gah, does it look tempting. It’s a definite maybe. I mean, I’d apply right away if it cost less, so it’s mostly a matter of financial support… and even if I applied, I might not get in… though I think I meet all the requirements (there aren’t many), I don’t know how selective they are, or if they might have a preference for people who have studied art, animation, and drawing longer than I have… after all, I majored in Computer Science! But of course, I never had an opportunity like this… anyway, it’s feeding my daydreams for the week.

Things that look good about it:

  • Taught by pros from the big studios, like ILM, Pixar, Blue Sky, etc. with actual online interaction with them.
  • Very focused on just character animation, not diluted with software specifics, or how to model things, or do lighting, etc.  Just character animation!
  • Few requirements.  I don’t have to submit a portfolio, like many art schools require.
  • Very nice looking showcase reels from previous students.  (Though some students’ reels don’t look as good as others (some on YouTube look pretty awful), the ones that make it to the showcase are pretty spiffy.)
  • Very good reviews online found by Googling around about it.
The things that make me hesitate:
  • Price… $18,000 *gulp*

Hey guess what?

Hey guess what I get to do this week?  I’m working on a score for a documentary!  I’ll post more info about it when I actually finish it, with some clips of my music of course.  I think it will be fun.  It’s not a huge-mega production, like a Michael Moore documentary, but it’s not a student wanting me to work just for experience either, so I think it’s rather nice opportunity.

Haven’t been working on much else.  I have been reading a biography of Walt Disney, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.  Pretty interesting book.  He seems like a guy I’d love to be like, but not to work with.  And with all he had going against him when he started out, it’s pretty amazing what became of his name.  I think he followed my business model for success: get lucky.

My album is finally out!

Though I think more people visit my YouTube page than my blog, I still have to blog it: my album is finally out!  It’s currently only available on my own site, at Hannifin Records.  I sent it to CD Baby right away, of course, but it will take them some time to get it up on their site and get it on iTunes, Amazon, etc.  It’ll probably get a bit more notice once it’s on CD Baby.  Anyway, I think the artwork came out really great, and it’s nice to see my own name on something professional looking.

So… I finally have a product!  Now perhaps I can put all that stuff I’ve read about in business books to use?  Yikes, I don’t even know where to start.

One thing I ask myself is: what do I do with my future music?  This is my first album; up until now I’ve just been uploading my music as MP3s to my site, giving it away for free.  Now I’m asking people to pay for it.  Will they?  Or will they not think it worth it considering all the other music out there that is free?  When I write a new piece, do I give it away like before, or save it for my second album?  What I’m thinking of doing is giving some of it away for free temporarily, until my second album is ready.  So I’ll have a constant flow of free music for people who like that.  Then it will be available on an album with other exclusive tracks.

Though maybe I’m just getting ahead of myself… this album took me almost almost 2 years (maybe 1.5 years; I can’t keep track of time these days).  It’ll probably be quite some time before my next album is ready.

YouTube removes my video for no reason

In other news, I decided to try out YouTube’s video promotion program to try to promote my album.  That might seem vain, and it is.  Selling an album of your own music is kinda vain, so I think if you’re trying to sell your own work you kinda have to get over being too self-conscious about it (while, of course, trying not to be “in-your-face” about it; you don’t want to turn into an annoying salesman who’s only interest in other people comes from seeing them as potential customers).  In away [“in away”?? I mean “Anyway” … that’s such an odd typo to make, I’m going to leave it and just add this comment], my video for my piece On the Edge of a Dream was my most popular video on YouTube that was on my album, so I decided to try to promote that.  So I signed it up to be promoted and YouTube said “disapproved” … and I said: “Huh?  Why?”  And it said that it couldn’t promote a video that nobody could watch.  And I said: “What?  People can watch it!  They just go here…” and I went to the video page.  And it was gone.  It said “This video has been removed due to violation of terms of service” (or something like that).  What?!  So I tried reuploading it, but they must’ve somehow blacklisted the video, and wouldn’t let me.  At first I was afraid my music had somehow gotten on some copyright checklist that YouTube banned from being uploaded.  (Which would’ve really angered me since I own the copyright!)  So I tried uploading a video with just the music track and it worked fine.  So I tried uploading a video with just the animation and no sound and it worked fine.  Then I tried both sound and animation together and … NO!  Didn’t work.  So I finally edited the video and cut off the credits and it worked!  It stinks to have lost all the comments and stuff from the original video, though, but at least the music is back up.  I still have no idea why it was removed.  It really didn’t violate any terms of service.  There’s something stupid somewhere in YouTube’s system, but I’m glad it finally let my reupload the video.  It was quite a headache though.

Well, I guess that’s it!  I hope you, yes you, had a happy Easter!