Other Places to Find Me

As the month of October comes to an end, I can’t help but realize how quiet I have been on this site. My last post was about SIGGRAPH was in August! While I post pretty frequently on social media, that’s of course not the same as a full on post. But with work on my thesis film taking up all of my time–to the point that I am even behind on my vlog series on YouTube that documents it–I thought I’d briefly mention some other places to find me. And maybe to remind myself that while I can’t do as many of the things I want while in my final year of my MFA, that I still occasionally get to do and see wonderful things. 

Cartoon Brew!

I wrote a post over at Cartoon Brew! While the post is about an event that already passed, I still wanted to document it here on Animation Complex as a small milestone for me and my love of writing about animation. Something, as I already complained about, don’t get to do as much. So this opportunity was even more of a treasure to have come in such a creatively controlled year.

To write this post, I got to interview two of the women who put on the event, and it was such a fun conversation for me just as a person let alone a interviewer with a goal in mind. 

Simply Robotix!

One of my dear friends, Monique, runs an animation blog called Simply Robotix. We met when we both worked as PA’s in Blue Sky Studios story department, and bonded over our love of animation, writing, and wanting to DO MORE. I am so, so blessed to have her friendship, and to have someone who is so supportive of me. I think there are times when people’s overlapping interests create friction between them, but that has never been the case. I want our sites to grow big and old together.

She interviewed me earlier this month, which you can read about here

Two other things of hers I am excited about is her recent recap of Nickelodeon’s visit to SVA (which where I am working for my MFA and where she earned her BFA). I wasn’t able to attend the event, but her post more than covers things. Second is her Diverse Toons series, which is a panel series that’s being hosted in various places in NYC. You can read a recap of a past on hosted at SVA featuring Blue Sky artists here. A new series featuring all women (and all friends of mine!) is being held November 10th, so be sure to follow her for updates!

Action Film Autopsy Podcast

One of the first things I do when I move to a new town is get a library card and check out the kinds of classes and events the community there gets up to. A few years ago I moved to a new town and saw that there was a podcasting class. Despite already knowing the basics of it, I decided to go, figuring I’d meet interesting people and be motivated to start a new project. I never did that podcast (yet) but during that class, I built this entire site, detailing my progress to the class week by week. So I’ll always be grateful for that class.

The teacher, Mike, became a friend of mine, as did his wife Kai and another classmate who is BFFs with them, Ric. Ric is a writer who’s done it all. And the next thing he wanted to do was a podcast. 

The Action Film Autopsy is a podcast dedicated to dissecting and discussing action films. Most episodes are amazing interviews with people who work in the industry–stunt coordinators, fight choreographers, etc. The podcast updates every other week, but he has a recap episode every couple months that are just film reviews, and I’ve been guest-hosting those with him for a while now. The podcast recently passed the 50 episode mark, and it’s been fun watching it grow and seeing Ric enjoy himself making it. And of course, getting to argue and debate on some episodes. Take a look through the back catalog and give it a listen! It’s also now on iTunes if that helps. 

Ferdinand Bonus Features!

Another small one that I wanted to document on here for the sake of a MILESTONE! Look, Mom–I’m in a DVD! 

Channeling my inner Mike Wazowski

The bonus features and I go way, way back. These were a large part of my early learning about film and animation and figuring out the path that I wanted for my career. I used to want the job (not knowing if it was a job or not) of making the bonus features, because I wanted others to learn about the behind-the-scenes. You could argue that that’s what I want this site to be, now that I’m over analyzing myself.

A co-worker sent this out a little while ago–the video is unlisted so I didn’t know it was posted online! I’ve seen this feature before as it’s on the Ferdinand Blu-ray, but now you all can see it.

I’m in there for a blip, a shot of me laughing, but the day we filmed this was so surreal and funny that I want to share. It was a roller coaster ride working on Ferdinand, which I detailed in a post, and this video just serves as a fun little reminder, almost like home movies.

Newsletter/Mailing List

Lastly, I’m going to be starting an email list so that anyone who wants to keep up to date with my posts can be notified. It won’t be anything too crazy. Probably a little email once every couple weeks or once a month even as school gets crazier. So if you are interested please sign up with the form here.

Thanks for reading!

-Jen

My Experience with SIGGRAPH

As my various social media feeds update, I am continually reminded that another year is going by where I am not at SIGGRAPH. While the friends I’ve made from SIGGRAPH salt the wound with their photos of the beautiful waterfront Vancouver convention center, I am reminded that it’s my five year anniversary attending my first conference, and thusly, I want to share my experience with SIGGRAPH. It properly changed my life, and I am forever grateful to it and the people who give it life.

What’s a SIGGRAPH?

SIGGRAPH is a terrible acronym that stands for Special Interest Group in Computer GRAPHics. It’s–as stated–a special interest group from the larger organization ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) which is a giant computer club, a professional association if you want to get technical. SIGGRAPH focuses on computer graphics within that larger field. What started out largely as a very technical, academic conference for researchers has become a massive convention for students, professionals (technical, artistic and everyone in between), academics, and hobbyists alike. So how did I find it?

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Ferdinand

Blue Sky Studios’ latest film, Ferdinand, based on the 1936 children’s book The Story of Ferdinand came out December 15th of last year. And today, we learned that it was nominated for an Academy Award! It’s not the first to be nominated, but it’s the first in a while. Ferd is Blue Sky Studios’ twelfth film, and the third one that I’ve worked on. This is the film at Blue Sky that I am most proud of having contributed to, mainly because it’s the one that I definitely contributed the most to, and because of who specifically on the film I was able to support. On Ferdinand, I worked in two departments as a production assistant (PA) where I helped manage those departments day-to-days. This won’t be a full post-mortem, or cover all of my feelings and thoughts, as I am 1) not allowed to discuss certain things 2) don’t feel that it’s my place to discuss certain things, but this is just my own little celebratory post.

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animation articles

Link Roundup #1

There’s a lot of interesting writing about animation on the Internet, and not all of it is easy to find. So what is this link roundup? This first of many will contain articles, videos, and the like that I’ve stumbled across that I think animation fans would enjoy. For now, this won’t be a weekly or consistent series, but rather something I’ll post when I’ve accumulated a decent amount, or found something I just HAVE to share, like this first one:

“The Night Begins to Shine” from Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go! initially felt like a slap in the face for me, as the original Cartoon Network cartoon it’s based off of is SUCH a solid show. But TTG has definitely grown on me, thanks in a large part to its nonstop DC Comics Easter eggs and aforementioned song. NPR recently published an article about how this song went from a sound library to a chart topping single. I’ve been obsessed with “The Night Begins to Shine” ever since I happened to catch the debut of the episode it’s in (“40%, 40%, 20%“) this song for a while, sharing it with people and genuinely liking the song. Below I’ve linked the song by the original artist imposed over the music video that was made to go with the Fallout Boy cover:

Now, go listen to the covers done by Fallout Boy and Ceelo Green. Then top it off with a 1-hour loop of the song. You’re welcome.

TIME Magazine spotlights Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Time Magazine has a new called “Firsts: Women Who Are Changing the World” where they spotlight women across various fields and walks of life who were pioneers in some way. We have firsts for athletes, politicians and…animation. The sad part about this however, as Cartoon Brew aptly puts it,  is that Kung Fu Panda 2 director Jennifer Yuh Nelson was the first…and still ONLY woman to direct a major American feature animated film on her own (as in she didn’t have a co-director, like, say Brenda Chapman did on both The Prince of Egypt and technically Brave).

Jennifer Yuh Nelson Kung Fu Panda

Jennifer Yuh Nelson via The Mary Sue

Cartoon Brew already did cover this, but I felt that it was worth another mention. Also the comment sections on these articles are always a little disappointing. But comments like that fuel the fire.

Story Artist Adam Cootes Shares His Career Path

Full disclosure: I work with Adam at Blue Sky Studios, where he’s Head of Story on one of our upcoming projects. I happened to be perusing Twitter when I saw an article from Animation Magazine simply called “How I Landed a Career in Animation” and clicked on it. My eyes skipped the intro and jumped straight in only to notice how familiar it sounded. Looking at the photo I realized that it was someone who sits a few desks away from me! Adam’s story is an absolutely fascinating one. It’s interesting too to read about people who didn’t go the typical film school route, or people who started a bit later than most. Actually inspiring read.

Cuphead’s Animation Process talk at GDC

I have been waiting for Cuphead for forever. This amazing platformer is styled like oldschool 1930s rubberhose cartoons. On top of that, the 2D animation is done traditionally, which, like, sincere kudos to Studio MDHR. Check out the trailer, watch this awesome 30-minute talk below, and pray that Cuphead is actually, finally coming out this month:

Female Animators Redrawing gender lines in LA MAg

The article, “These Female Animators are Redrawing an Industry’s Gender Lines” discusses the disparity between the increasing number of women attending animation schools like CalArts (which is heavily mentioned in this) to how few (comparatively) are working in the industry and/or holding higher positions. (I think some of the commenters from the Cartoon Brew Jennifer Yuh Nelson article should read this, TBH.) It’s worth a read to inform yourself about common issues that exist in the film/animation industry.

Spike & Mike Doc Campaign Revived on IndieGoGo

I posted about a crowdfunding campaign to fund a documentary about the Spike and Mike Animation Festival in a previous post, but between then and now the campaign was cancelled in leu of a new campaign structure. Rather than all-or-nothing, the creators are utilizing Flexible Funding, which will let them keep whatever they raise. A smart move for a cool project whose initial goal was maybe a little too ambitious for such a niche within a niche as an animation documentary. But I am all about this so I’m happy to see it get some help. The campaign only has 3 days left, so support it on IndieGoGo ASAP! 

Paragon Sakuga Facebook Group

Not that you need any more clutter in your Facebook feed, but I’d love for you to check out the Paragon Sakuga group, especially if you are a fan of anime, 2D animation, effects animation, or animation process (blocking, clean-up, etc.). Or all of these, of course!

Here’s an example of a recent post:

Why Cartoon Characters wear Gloves

Vox is a news company that constantly impresses me with the range, depth, and production quality of their work. Every video they produce is a mini-masterclass in motion graphics and editing. I highly suggest scouring their backlog for the various pieces they’ve done about animation/film/art. This one is my favorite, obviously:

Crash Course Computer Science: 3D graphics

While this is episode 27 of an ongoing computer science series, I wanted to single this one out in particular as it gets into some background info about computer graphics. Crash Course as a whole is amazing, and I definitely recommend you also check out Crash Course Film History & Production, and Video Games (among others). I’ve also previously profiled the animation/mograph studio that works on Crash Course, Thought Cafe!