This year, I was able to get a ride from my friend who got a table at a secondary exhibition area at CTNX, so I was there pretty much all day & every day for the entire event. I have been there a couple of times before and I had no idea how to navigate other than to walk around the floor and go to panels. This time, I had my lighting reel and some images of renders from my films, as well as whole bunch of business cards to give out. I also printed out some resumes, but it seems nobody was really interested in that, so I didn't need it. Just for a future reference.
We left really early and got there around 8-9 to pick up our badges and start preparing the tables. The new talent tables were sat up inside of a large tent right next to the convention center, and there were about 40 tables there. Most people at the tent were students or recent graduates and the technical and artistic level varied, but overall incredibly high and impressive. They seemed very professional, and some sold their books and prints as well as showed there portfolios and films with computer monitors and tablets.
-Demo Reel review of Animation
It was open critiques of animation reels sent in advance to Aniamtion Mentor, ReelFX and Disney people. Though I am not an animator, their honest and concise comments were very informative at the same time were kind of intimidating. Here are some points I've taken away from it.
-- Prepare different reels for companies depending on their styles of films
-- Make info page as simple, clean and easy to read as possible. Always put contact info
-- First shot is the most important. You can grab it or lose it. first 10 second can decide your fate.
-- Make it as short as you can make it.
-- Use references on your works
-- Reach out recruiters in linkedIn. Update them with your new work.
-- Update with stuff you like on Face Book, like films you saw. Don't bad-mouth online. It travels fast.
-- Entertain with your reel. Have rhythm, and arc to your piece.
-Independent Film Distribution
This was about a company called GKids. They distributes independent art animation films like "Secret of Kells" and "A Cat in Paris". They are small and efficient company. Their films are usually made with $5-15 million which is a fraction of cost of big studio animation. (Ex. Toy Story 3 cost about $200 million.) It is usually the case that companies lose money with theatrical release, but make it up with DVD and Network sales, but by being more thoughtful about their process, they are able to gain profit by theatrical release. They distribute Ghibri Animation now which is amazing.
I was very impressed by their selection of films and would very much like to support their effort to continue with their mission to deliver unique films that are not necessarily aimed for kids all the time.
-How to run a small studio from anywhere
A very interesting talk by a cloud based flash animation company called Timbuktoons.
Their challenges are lack of communication and collaboration, since their animators didn't really have time to talk to eachother besides giving notes. So they always try to create team environment by minimizing email usage and utilizing video or voice chatting. They need animators that are very responsible and more of self starters since they do not have much of a way to train them. Advantages are their ability to gather diverse talent with minimal cost. They are very flexible and productive with almost no overheads.
They gave some tips about utilizing online organization tools as well as social media. It is important to be protective of yourself to avoid danger. They called it "Hedgehog Concept". They stressed that we need to have a clear career goal and recommended we take personality test to better-understand ourselves.
- Creating a game from concept to finish
This was an insane mind-blowing and super- long panel from a creator of an award winning game called "Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet".
He went in depth in his production starting from the concept to the finish. There were unbelievable amount of talent and work that went into the project and I am still not sure how to process everything that happened there. It was pitch dark in the room, and we were focused on his PowerPoint presentation of his artworks, trailers and game-plays for about 2 hours. What I liked the most about the presentation was comparison between the screen captures of temp 3D work done by art director and his final touch-up of designs and revision notes. His meticulous sense of direction and style were just so overwhelming. He is a visionary and a successful director. His game looks exactly like his concept art!! If I get access to PC, I am definitely playing it.
Finds and Meetings
--Needs more theatrical and complex scenes.
--Add reference to your works
--More interior shots with GI
--Everything is too dark
The event was full of energy and talent. I was excited and overwhelmed all day. Things I 'd like to work on... I am really not good at projecting my voice at loud place, and I really don't know how to carry small talk conversation into personal connection. I still get very selfconscious about words and accents that I stutter a lot. Needs work on self-presentation and conversational skill.
It was most crowded of three days. The main floor was packed with people that it was really hard to move around. New talent area was still kind of vacant throughout the day. I think most people didn't know it and other people were not sure what it was. It rained all day and it was cold.
-Become Professional Student
Very inspiring talk by Tyler Carter, a super star vis-dev artist from BYU. I knew him from a while ago and the panel was one of the most unforgettable of all. It is not just what he said but his delivery was incredibly soothing and encouraging. I was really inspired. Here are some tips he gave.
--Try to use time in the best way you can. Always improve and move forward.
--Act not react. Be proactive about your classes and take advantage of resources.
--Organize yourself. Find peace. Always be ready to show work. Print things early.
--Publicity. Make yourself look important than you actually are.
--Stay original to who you are.
--reference reality, not other animation
--Keep work fresh. Produce new work every chance you can get
--Tell yourself that you are a pro. You will be if you believe it.
--Allow yourself to be selfish.
--Put time in your work. Find peace with it.
-DreamWorks "The Croods"
DWA artists and directors talked about how they approached the visual style of "The Croods", their upcoming film about a cave family. They showed many stunning vis-dev images and some footages of inspiration as well as their final render footage. I really liked the creature designs of the world, like the giant cat and little mousy elephants. I wonder how they are going to simplify the image when all the surrounding are full of colors and main characters are tan and brown, the colors that don't stand out. From the sequence they showed, I noticed that they were using mist and fog to desaturate surrounding so that characters don't get buried in the powerful environment. I am interested in how this movie will come together.
-Surviving in a Studio
This was another panel moderated by AnimationMentor about how to live in studio world once you get in. A lot of things are relevant to any positions in studios, so here are what I recall from the panel. I didn't take notes for some reason...
--Be nice to anybody and everybody. You never know your junior can become above you. It's a small world, and if you behave strangely or offensively, the news will travel faster than you think.
--In dailies, be quiet for the first month and observe the environment and etiquette. If you have notes, approach the artist personally after the dailies.
--Be confident but not cocky. When asking for advice, be appreciative but not so unsure of yourself.
--If your shots are taken away, don't take it personally. It happens to everybody.
--Observe speed of other people and learn to be in the flow.
--Meet the deadline as much as possible, but if you can't, communicate.
Finds and meetings
-Laika Portfolio Review
-Nickelodeon Artist program
-Cory Godbey Amazing nature creatures illustration. I got his book and a print!
Since it was the second day, I had more grasp of what the whole event was about, and was able to orient myself easily. I talked to more people than Friday and was able to talk longer. I communicated with some educators and companies that I found very interesting. It was hectic throughout the day, and it went by really quick, especially because I had many meetings and panels. I enjoyed talking to some friends I don't usually get to hang out as much. Party afterwards was great too. Still, socializing in this situation can be very awkwrd because it is the situation of "I know that they know that I know". I just had to let it go and enjoy the moment though.
Last day of the event. My agenda was to meet artists at their booths and not attend as many panels. It was a short day, but still very crowded on the main floor.
The panel of "Frankenweenie" with cast and crew. It was moderated by Charles Solomon. They talked about their production approach and process. What I found most intriguing is the fact that they used green screen and set extension a lot as well as VFX to save budget and produce high quality realistic images. It was encouraging to see that because I love stop-motion and would love to be involved in its productions with the skill-set I have.
-How to behave in recruiting
Panel by recruiters from Sony, Dream Works, Cartoon Network and Disney. The recruiters were all women. Here are some notes.
--Have a manner when approaching them. Don't be so aggressive.
--Update your status often. Communicate where you are, when you are available to work and such.
--Keep your references. Be good in school so your teachers can say nice things about you.
--Update blog often. Keep in touch.
--Submit your films to festivals. Attention from anywhere helps.
-- Network wherever and whenever you can.
--It helps to have both hard and soft copy of your portfolio. Some recruiters like one or the other better.
--Edit your work. Keep it as short as you can without losing your essence.
--Include your student film in separate or end of your portfolio.
--Make them laugh with your work. Laugh always helps.
Finds and Meetings
--create clear shapes. Push silhouette.
--Avoid hard edges that reveal CG-ness of the image
--Tell a story with lighting. Be conscious about where you want the viewers to look.
--Show reference images.
--Clarify your scene.
-Mike Lee -Insanely meticulous and precise pencil drawings. I love the quietness of his artwork.
-ToonBoom Harmony -I had no idea that you can import 3D scene and work on top of them. It can generate pretty nice effects and particle system based on your drawings. I am seriously considering to get it to use it for my project. John K was at the booth demonstrating his new animation work!!
The whole experience was extremely inspiring and encouraging. I learned so much that I was able to write this much stuff(I don't like to write so much) in such short time. I also noticed my progress and weakness I need to work on for next 7 months until my graduation. I have more clear direction to where I want to get to. I hope that I will be able to participate as either a professional or a new talent exhibitor next year.