Read Old Friends: A Contemplation On Past Projects, a blog post where I ramble about some of my animation process as it relates to past projects, including (but not limited to) animations I made when I was REALLY tiny.
Also, if you want to look at the various storyboarding and visdev work I did on these projects beyond what's just right here on this page (which I do so very highly recommend), give the button right below this little wisp of text a sweet, loving caress. Do it! You know you want to! (Remember to watch my animations too, though.)
Grégor Gogginsky: A Journey in Really, Really Traditional Animation
One of my classes at USC, Intro to the Art of Movement, gave me and my classmates an entirely new perspective on animation. Our professor, a very seasoned and overall incredible Disney animator, had us do all our assignments the really old fashioned way: pencils on paper punched through onto pegs over lightboxes, the way the old greats learned the art of animation. It was hard to not have to rely on technology (other than the downshooters, of course) to create movement, but ultimately enriching. The class, with its emphasis on creating believable and immersive character performance, unlocked all these things inside me that I never realized I had before, and now I honestly can say I know how to not only make something move, but give it life, intention, emotion, and personality.
We were asked to create characters, so I created this guy:
Grégor Gogginsky, a one-eyed bunny dude who owns an intergalactic library/bookstore chain and ambitiously plans to dominate the market with his ruthless desire to succeed and his cutthroat business practices. He is widely known for his success in both his business and for his influence as a highbrow critic. He struggles to overcome his inner insecurities, such as his troubled history as a persecuted refugee from his home planet secret, or, EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, his secret obsession with the "Crylight" series, which includes (in)famous titles such as "New Swoon", "Breaking Brawn", and "Nurples" and deals with a romance between a parasite that feeds on the body fluids of organic lifeforms and a normal, non-parasitic lifeform who is bland yet somehow irresistible. If his readership found out he liked such novels, his career as a critic would be done for..... Yet the lull of his guilty pleasure keeps him hungry for more, more, more and he's stuck in a cycle of shame and addiction that he cannot escape.
I made two main projects for the class with Grégor: A pantomime test and a dialogue test.
An Error At Home Plate (Group Project)
I teamed up with my pals/fellow animation students Effren Villanueva (Spicybagel), Marcus Emery (MaeDae), and Alex Garza to create this short for our final in our first-semester freshman animation class at The University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. It was a fun, challenging project, and it taught me so much about what it's like to work on an animation with other people. Though it isn't always easy to work with other people and there were plenty of rough patches, I can feel the power of collaboration deeply now. Whatever one can do solo, it's always multiplied through collaboration.
Fun fact! You can find me and my teammates cameoing in one of the crowd shots!
Me: Character design (most), the pitcher's animator, backgrounds and all non-character art, storyboards
Marcus: Compositing/FX, editing, inbetweening, coloring/animation cleanup, sound
Effren: The batter's animator, crowd art, rough storyboards
Alex: Animation/character design for the outfielders and the mascot
Rafstraumur (Currently a W.I.P.)
This is a short work-in-progress segment of the animation project I have been working on this year. The song I'm using is "Rafstraumur" by Sigur Ros (probably my most favorite band in the universe), off their album Kveikur.
Though I intentionally left much of the story loose enough for it to be subjective, the meaning I have put into it personally as its creator is a metaphor for awakening from the egoic rush of society and taking the time to step back and really experience life. The story opens with a weasel/meerkat-like creature encountering a train in a previously timeless and vast forest, then follows a passenger on the train, a character who I’ve dubbed “Miri Kid.” Miri Kid rides in the confined compartments of that train, ripping through the golden-yellow-beige landscape, traveling relentlessly forward, then (in unfinished parts) gets off at a rest stop in a purpley city and, along with a friend they meet, decides to just stay and let the train travel on, leaving the two of them behind. It's a plot that's really close to my heart and taps on my own experience. My intent is to convey that story visually with the music as a rhythmic/melodic backbone on which to hang my images and their movements and timing, using varying color schemes in different environments and characters to create personality and mood. Each object can have symbolic significance, and in the fashion of my previous project, Stormforest, I often entertain myself by attaching different meanings to them, like I'm working through a puzzle. I painstakingly added detail and visual effects to help viewers enter a different world.
One of my favorite animations from this project so far is the conductor of the train doing her sassy little off-kilter hand wave. I remember nearly wetting myself with laughter one time when I posted a rough version of it on Facebook and my mom commented, describing it as a "hand twerk," not really knowing what twerking actually is. It was also very satisfying to link it up with the wide shot preceding it that had some other train workers in the frame and get the zoom-in and fade-out transitions to work just right to make the two clips flow smoothly together into one and create a fluid advancement in the story.
2014 Animation Reel
This older reel shows snippets of several of my older animated shorts, from Stormforest and Brimstones to early developmental stuff from Rafstraumur. Many of the shorts featured in it can be found on this page.
Brimstones (below) was a pretty ambitious project I did for my Honors World Literature class during my sophomore year of high school. My teacher had given us a fairly simple assignment: Satan wants to conquer the Kingdom of Heaven, but he's hopelessly confused and needs some expert advice. Write a script or make a short video where two characters or historical figures from our reading, as well as one wildcard character who could be anyone you want, real or fictional, instruct him on the monumental task and give their life experiences.
I did both options. I wrote the script first (where I described Satan as looking like a crusty Edward Cullen for some arbitrary reason), did some extensive storyboards, and then started on animation. It took months and months, but my teacher mas merciful, thankfully. The final edit of the short film wasn't ever really finished, but I finished all the actual animation and video-clip-making, and I have all the recorded voices (including the vocal talents of my dad as Satan, his friend Eli as Pizarro, and my pal Paige as Ellie Redshire and Cortes) and sound effects ready, with a couple minor complications, so when I get around to it I'll finish editing it and piecing it together. I currently plan on re-editing it with my newer software (I didn't have After Effects or my current skills before) I actually have a ton of ambitions around this peculiar story. It started out kind of joke-like, just a small thing, but then it quickly expanded inside my head into a thought provoking, colorful story that I'll continue to develop for a long time, even after I finish editing this specific project together. Here's the first part of it for now...
I do definitely hope to put together the rest of this short series. I put together some of the animations that would appear later on in the story for my animation reel... SPOILER ALERT.
Here are some raw frames and elements from the project that haven't been edited together, but show the direction it's headed in and the artistic elements that haven't been able to be shown in Part One:
This short, in order to fit the five minute time constraints for the PTSA Reflections competition, had to be edited to be shorter in one version. The first video, below, is the slightly lengthier original version, and I highly reccomend watching that one first. The one below that one is the edited version. Both have slightly different feels, but overall convey a similar message.
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Tell-Tale Heart (below) was yet another project for my lit class, this time in 8th grade. I did it relatively quickly compared to my later projects, too-- only a week of animation with few storyboards. It was a pretty disorganized project, but it was fun, and my class kept asking to play it over and over again. I also permanently inherited the purple cat's haunting laughter; it stuck with me, kinda, and sticks with me to this day, for better and for worse. Now, let's pretend I didn't misspell Edgar Allan Poe's middle name in the beginning titles...
Film, animation, and storytelling has been calling to me my entire life. If there's anything I know for certain, it's that this is what I want to spend my life doing; Making engaging animations that bewitch the consciousness. I create the art for my solo projects frame by frame, using programs like Adobe Photoshop Elements or Corel Painter. Then, using Anime Studio, Adobe After Effects, or Pinnacle Studio, I lace together the animations, edit the videos, and build the final project. I make sure to use just the right sound effects, and I strive to get it as perfect as I can make it at the moment. I've often impressed my family and peers. People tell me that my composition and animation effects are startling and very effective at conveying an artistic vision.