Archive for November, 2010

Recently I’ve been reading up more on my interest in animation — finding artist or studio blogs, twitter feeds, etc… And here and there for the past few months many of them had been mentioning the “CTN Animation eXpo 2010”. Well, curiosity struck, and I did some searching, and discovered that the animation expo was in only it’s second year, and was going to be on a weekend in November in Burbank! (For the record, that’s really close to me — I’d actually even stayed in the hotel it was hosted at before)

Well, I checked in on it periodically, and watched as the panels got locked down and the list of awesome people and studios attending continued to climb…but wasn’t really sure I was going to go. I mean, obviously everyone who goes to Comic Con and the like aren’t directly involved in that profession. But this seemed like a smaller more career-oriented expo, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Cut to the Saturday evening of expo weekend…when I decide that on SUNDAY I’m going to go to CTN!

I’m really glad I decided to go — it was a really fun, intimate expo with a lot of really cool stuff! Allow me to explain:

One of the first things I found when arriving at the expo was this guy:


They had an actor surrounded by chairs for sketching! It shouldn’t really be surprising at an animation expo, but I thought it was a really cool hands-on aspect.

Later in the day he looked like this:


I actually got to the expo JUST in time to stand in the back of the room for the Untangling the Look of Tangled panel. Lucky me because it was a really great panel — including Art Director Dave Goetz and Supervising Animator Clay Kaytis, it was all about how they created the look of Tangled by referencing classic Disney films (like Cinderella and Pinocchio) and Disneyland, art direction for Rapunzel, and how they made all that hair (technically speaking). There were some great video clips of Glen Keane giving people notes on their shots — the faces he makes while drawing mimic the drawings and are HILARIOUS.


The Tangled Panel

I didn’t have as much luck getting into the Story Begins panel featuring story artists from different studios, but I managed to squeeze into the overflow viewing room for a few minutes at least to get some insight into how story artists collaborate with the writers, and the storyboarding process 🙂

After that it was time to wander! I wanted to check out the How to Train Your Dragon panel, but knew I didn’t stand a chance with the line… there were plenty of booths to look at though — so many artists had set ups showcasing a variety of projects. My favorite was the booth for Peck N Paw and the Black Mirror — a book made by the visual development artists at Disney. Basically they got the title as a jumping off point, and each person interpreted a story. Victoria Ying was at the booth, and she had some gorgeous sketches out for sale (unfortunately, I’m a little broke and kind of out of wall space). You can check out her art on her blog though!

One whole room of booths was dubbed “Opportunity Alley” and showcased schools and studios. Animation Mentor was there, which made me think of my friend Kellie! The studios were also critiquing peoples’ portfolios, which was really neat. I, of course, had to go say hi to the Disney Feature Animation booth while I was there 😉

As I was heading out, there was a big crowd by the Demo Area. They had some model sculptors, and someone working on some CG projects on a computer. At the traditional animation desk though, was Eric Goldberg! I geek-ily recognize him from some documentaries and Disney DVD bonus features, but for those of you who are not quite as nerdy, he animated the Genie in Aladdin and Louis in Princess and the Frog (among others).


He was working on Rabbit, from Winnie the Pooh

All in all, it was a really fun and pretty informative day. I’m so glad I spur-of-the-moment decided to go, and I’ll definitely be showing up next year!

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And by that I mean that, thanks to the glorious folks at D23, I found myself at the Walt Disney Studios a few weekends back walking through the animation building and trying to sneak into a sneak peak of Tangled. I’m mostly kidding on that last part.

The tour had two main parts — a knowledgable guide took us around the lot, and then let us loose for a few minutes near the end in the Archives, under the watchful eye of the recently retired chief archivist Dave Smith. I’ve been on the lot a few times before, and everyone who knows me would not be surprised that I knew a few of the stories they told, but it was a really fun tour all around.

We started out at Pluto’s Corner:


Near the front of the lot were some buildings that they had actually brought with them from their old location — they actually carefully tore down each building and then rebuilt the same buildings on the new lot. When I was younger I used to think it’d be cool if you could just take your house with you when you moved…and it seems Disney had the same idea!

We then went down to where the Animation building, and Ink & Paint buildings are. No pictures were allowed inside the  buildings, but the walls are lined with art from their animated films with plaques that explain the film process. There’s also a somewhat-secret passage (just in the fact that they don’t really use it anymore) that connects the Animation building with the Ink & Paint building underground. It was made so that the clear cels wouldn’t get dust on them, or rained on.


We also walked by the ginormous sound stages, and the small piece of “backlot” (the area that looks like building fronts) that remains from years past. There used to be a neighborhood street, as well as the whole town where Zorro was set.

Next up we headed to the Archives — the place where Disney records all of their film/park/you-name-it history, and stores memorabilia they deem necessary to preserving the legacy. They actually have huge warehouses elsewhere (the room we were in was MUCH too small for parts of the plane from the LOST set!) but they did have some cool things lying about:


Me, in the Archives

The  main room is mostly filled with books, and clay models for the animated characters. They brought out this shiny gem for us to see though:


I'd like to thank the Academy...

And Dave Smith was there to answer any questions anyone might have. He essentially came up with the idea of the Archives and started them from scratch when he was younger (in the mid60s)


After the Archives, we spent some time in Legends Plaza outside of the 7 Dwarfs building (aka the Team Disney Building aka The Place that Michael Eisner Built):


This definitely rivaled the Warner Brothers Studio tour I did with my mom when I first moved out here. Unlike that tour though, Disney doesn’t usually do studio tours, so it was an extra special experience. I’m slowly making my way around all the studio lots 🙂

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Cover of "Miracle on 34th Street (Special...

Cover via Amazon

I hope everyone is enjoying their food-coma-hangover and wasn’t too crazed with Black Friday madness today!!

This was the 2nd year in a row that I’ve been on the West Coast for Thanksgiving, while my family is on the East Coast. I’m not necessarily attributing my horrible 24hour stomach bug last year on Thanksgiving solely on the fact that I cooked a giant Thanksgiving feast for myself last year…but my brain considers it enough of a coincidence that some tradition finagling went on this year.

Like every year though, the morning started off with The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I feel like this is probably a parade best saved for TV (vs the Rose Parade that I want to see in person) because of the ginormous floats. This is also how I stay current on the Broadway slate — since the NBC telecast spends much of the first hour showcasing musical numbers in front of Macy’s. Did anyone else see that John Lassister was one of the balloon wranglers for the Buzz balloon this year? So cool!

Another tradition I have is that Thanksgiving is the official start of Christmas movies/music. And the best way to start that off is with a viewing of Miracle on 34th Street! After a couple of years absent from TV (thanks, American Dog Show…) both the 1947 AND the 1994 versions were on yesterday. This Christmas movie is a great jumping off point because the movie itself starts on Thanksgiving at the Macy’s Day Parade, and then goes all the way up to Christmas. I’m partial to the 1947 version, but the 1994 version is pretty good as far as remakes go. It’s also just really hard for me to dislike a Christmas movie.

Dinner this year was the Big. Change. as far as traditions go…


Spot the Photopass guy...and Santa!


I went to the Grand Californian hotel at Disneyland for a delicious Thanksgiving feast! Granted, there aren’t leftovers for days (the only time of year that I really do a lot of leftovers, actually) but there was SO.MUCH.FOOD. and tons of people and even a Disney Channel starlet spotting that was pretty cool. All the desert were adorably miniature and I left with so much food in my stomach that I wasn’t even cold for a good 5-10 minutes 😉


The Storytellers Cafe


I’m thankful for a lot this year — it’s been busy and fun and I’m seeing my family soon! and one of the things I’m thankful for is definitely the opportunity to take part in a little Holiday Magic at one of my favorite places.


Gorgeous lobby tree


Today I got to sleep in (!!) and after a slowish morning decided to head out and brave the Black Friday crowds to get a couple of things on the ol’ Christmas List. Luckily heading out at around 2 meant that I bypassed most of the people who’d been up since 4 AM (or earlier…eek!)

I hope everyone else had a great holiday too, and is now blaring Christmas music to their hearts content, officially judgement-free. I know I am!

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