Saturday, November 29, 2008

More film festivals- including one I completely forgot about

When I was busy traveling around in Sept and Oct, I forgot that my film "Lost Robot" was screened at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival on Oct. 25. I couldn't attend, of course, but the festival did provide a learning experience. I found out how expensive and annoying it is to try and obtain a freakin' BETA tape version of my film. (That's right! Beta! Most of my young classmates aren't even old enough to remember Beta format. My family did have a Beta tape player in the '80s, from which my brother, Larry, and I would watch our tapes of "Animalympics" and "The NeverEnding Story.")

Oddly, I was also asked to be included in a film festival that I never even submitted to! Turns out some people from the MergingArts Short Short Story Film Festival saw "Lost Robot" at the Woods Hole Film Festival this summer, and wanted to include it in their program. (The festival features films 5 minutes and under from around the world that tell a story.) Anyway, it was shown today at Concord, NH. (I had completely forgotten about this festival until they emailed me about the showing.) It's nice that I had a mini pay-off from one film festival, but hey, you know what would be awesomer? How about a job offer?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ballpoint pen drawings

Here are some drawings that I did recently on a bus ride to work. I cursed the fact that I had forgotten my usual tools of trade (Faber-Castell Artist pens), and had to use a ballpoint pen that I found in my backpack. It felt weird to draw with a ballpoint pen; I don't think that I've really used one to draw with since high school! While some find these cheap pens unforgiving in the permeability of their lines, I actually found it kind of fun to be able to draw wispy lines of different shades. Those artists markers that I usually use lay out a deep, dark line that is quite unalterable.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I guess it's been awhile since I posted any of my goofy steno drawings. Here's a quick sketch that I did of my friends' dog, Bowie, while I was in Portland.

Side note: I don't know if it's my outdated scanner or me, but I am just terrible at scanning images. These look horrible!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sarah Vowell's "Bed and Breakfast"

You know what's weird? A few months ago, I uploaded a really crappy animation that I had done in school for a project. It was called the "Found Sound" project; we had to find an audio clip where a musician, artist, or writer is being interviewed, and then do an animation around it. Anyway, this is one of the last projects that I did on paper- I have since switched over 100% to Flash, of course.

Interestingly, this crappy animation is now my most viewed piece on my YouTube channel. At the time of this writing, there's been 2400 views. Which is sort of embarrassing, considering how ashamed I am of the spectacularly bad animation. An enthusiastic viewer wrote to me that "You are the best cartoon creating lady, ever!" Weird that it's received more hits and overall interest than my DP.

I wonder if Sarah Vowell has seen it...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Portland, OR - the Promised Land

After barely recovering from my trips to Ottawa and DC, it was off again to Portland, OR. I was there to see my friends Sue and Dan, and also to see Dan's premiere at the local Portland cinema. "On the Wing" is the documentary that Dan's been working on for the past year or so. Amazingly, he independently wrote, directed, and produced this film about the Chapman Swifts with no outside funding. It was extremely well done, and the film sold out on opening night! This prompted the theater's owner to add 2 weekend shows, and then an entire week's run. Fittingly, Dan and the theater donated the opening night's revenues to the Portland Audobon Society- just another example of the symbiotic relationship between local artists and the Portland community. I was just so pleased that all of the audiences (and local press) seemed to love the documentary, and that all of Dan's hard work had paid off.

For the remainder of my stay in Portland, I ate tons of good vegetarian food, smelled in the clean, rain-washed air, and looked in wonder at the thriving art scene that exists in the city. It's crazy to me that a city as large as Boston seems so bereft of an active art scene. I don't know if it's because it's gotten so expensive here that Boston has driven artists out, or if it's because Boston is somewhat of a transient city to begin with. Perhaps Portland, with it's smaller population and fierce spirit to celebrate "weirdness," is just set up better to embrace artists. The city is basically populated by down-to-earth liberals who embrace both creativity and practicality. Portland is the most environmentally "green" city that I have ever been in, anywhere in the world. All these characteristics made me realize what I'm missing out in Boston, and has prompted some serious consideration for me moving to the Left Coast next year.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Asians and Me in Washington, DC

Almost as soon as I got home from OIAF, it was time to unpack, repack, and then fly down to DC for the Asian Pacific American Film Festival! The skies poured down rain all weekend, but I still had a great time with my brothers Alan and Larry, and Alan's wife, Valerie (or, "Valan," as they refer to themselves). My degree project was shown in Friday night's short film showcase (fittingly named "Displace Must Be the Place"). Most of the films (mine was the only animated one) featured amusing and interesting views on the Asian-American experience. The final short, "The State of Sunshine," was a powerful film on the desperate lives of 2 illegal immigrants in America. It reminded me that even with little to no budget, perhaps the most important tool in a filmmaker's box is the story. After the showing was over, there was a short Q & A session with myself and the 2 other filmmakers who were in attendance. I was not prepared at all, and was nervous to speak in front of the audience. Overall, everybody from the festival was extremely welcoming and nice, and the audience had some nice feedback for me.

After the film festival, there was still time left in the weekend for some delicious food eating and Smithsonian museum touring. I was attacked by a pterodactyl in the Museum of Natural History.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ottawa International Animation Festival 08

Sorry for the delay in posts!  It's been a crazy month or so of non-stop traveling.  There were inhumanely long bus rides, passing out in airports from exhaustion and boredom, bad food and good food, and a whole lot of adventure and reuniting with friends.

First stop- Ottawa!  A large MassArt group went up to Ottawa this year.  So many students, in fact, that us alums got put on the SMFA and Art Institute bus.  As usual, we saw some amazing animation that you won't be able to see anywhere else.  I did, however, find one of our favorites online:

Casa de Maquinas - an amazingly complicated and beautiful animation of puppets and stop motion wizardry (and CG?  We originally thought that it was all CG, but the film's program listed it as "puppets").

We got to see our competitors in the school reel showcase, and we were all very impressed with the other students' work.  (Although, my friends and I were the least impressed with the RISD reel, and they ended up winning the competition.)  Kara's film got a great reception, and we were so proud of her.  On the Sunday night that we left Canada, it was announced by the festival that her film won the Undergraduate Student competition!  It's mind-boggling to think of how many films she beat out to win the prize.  I'm so happy that something so good came out of the dark events that she narrated in her film.

As usual, we were exhausted from watching endless hours of animation every day for 4 days straight, but it was inspiring and has helped to rekindle my desire to start a new film.

Monday, August 11, 2008

DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival

Hey, guess what? My DP, "Southern Exposure," got into a film festival! This is the first festival that my DP got into, so I'm pretty excited. Plus, my older brother, Alan, lives in Northern Virginia (aka NoVA), so I now have an excuse to go and visit him.

Additionally, it will be interesting to see the reaction from other Asian people to my film. While it was gratifying to have the MassArt audiences give me nice feedback to my film, let's face it- there were only a handful of Asian people in the crowd. I'm interested to see how people who may have experienced something similar to me will react to the film!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Steno Book Sketches

I decided to start posting some of the drawings that I do on a weekly basis. As with all art students, I recognize the importance of drawing every single day- outside of schoolwork and work work- just to make sure that all of your senses and skills remain intact. Of course, the problem is finding the time and energy for it. Unlike some precocious illustrators who I know, I don't sit down and do beautiful drawings every day. Rather, I mainly find the time to draw during the day when I'm waiting for or riding the subway (or, as we Bostonians call it, the "T"). So don't expect any wonderfully rendered illustrations; these are usually done quickly, with a shaky hand while the bus or subway jostles me to and fro.

You may notice that almost all of these sketches are done in a cheap and crappy steno book. There is a method behind my madness: for years, I would buy all of these nice sketchbooks with hardbound covers and thick, lush pages... and then never draw in them. I guess there's just this annoying tendency of mine to make them too "precious," and to not want to ruin them with my crap-ass drawings. So I threw aside the Moleskins and other nice sketchbooks that I owned, and went to Staples and bought a huge pack of these crap steno books. Now, I feel completely uninhibited in filling the pages with whatever stupid idea comes into my mind. So, sorry- there's going to be a lot of yellow colored posts coming here in the future.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Film Festivals

Film festivals are a pain in the ass to enter, as well as very expensive. Still, it's always a nice piece of news when you find out that you got into one. (And in my case, always unexpected.) My animation, "Lost Friend," will be playing at the Woods Hole Festival this week. It also recently got accepted into the Independents' Film Festival. Not too bad for a short film made with charcoal pencils and a memo pad. The only problem with "Lost Friend" is that recently, people have started to ask me if I "copied" the robot design from Wall-E. Le sigh. The answer, of course, is No! I made that film ~2 years before I had seen Wall-E. I don't take it too personally; after all, Pixar has been accused of ripping off their robot design from a certain other robot...

I just entered my DP into a bunch of festivals in the last week or so, so I'm hoping that that film will get me even further.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Animation for "What Is a Negro?"

Hey, Susan- why don't you stop yammering about stupid crap every week and actually post some animation that you've been working on?

Here's the rough of some of the work that I've done for the Herskovits film. What is a Negro, indeed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ottawa Int'l Animation Festival

I'm sorry, but were you aware that MASSART ANIMATION KICKS SOME BOO-TAY?! It was announced this week that our school's showreel has been one of the four reels selected for the School Showreel Competition in OIAF. A mere glance at how prestigious the other schools are, and the short duration of time that our program has even existed, makes this accomplishment even more amazing.

For those of you who aren't familiar with OIAF, let's just say that it's a big deal in the animation world. It's the only international animation film festival in North America. Last year was the first year that a MassArt submission was even accepted by OIAF. This year, my amazing friend, Kara, had her DP accepted, and now, our schoolreel is in the festival. This has been a big week for our scrappy little animation department! MassArt is the only publicly funded art school in the country, and sometimes, it shows. You should see our dept at school- things have improved quite a bit lately, but there's definitely an air of "let's just make do with what we have." Stuff is just duct taped and slapped together everywhere. It's crazy that we're in competition with the big boys, now!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Super Racist Animation

Did I mention that I've been asked to do these really racist animation sequences for the Herskovits documentary? It felt pretty weird having to troll the internet for racist stereotypes that I could use in my animatic. It reminded me of when I was working on my DP: I had to hit a couple of KKK sites (to see how they put the white robe on their horses), and I had to look for super racist portrayals of Chinese people. I guess things could be worse- I could be working at a T.G.I.Fridays.

BTW, that closeup of the black face was inspired by a racist toothpaste I used to see while living in Taiwan as a child. It was called "Darkie" toothpaste, and it featured an image of a smiling black man with a top hat. I believe that the makers of the toothpaste has since changed its name to "Darlie" toothpaste, but it still contains the racist image on it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I finally watched "Persepolis" on DVD last week. I thought that it was ok- I liked the graphic novels better, to be honest. What I thought was interesting was how in the DVD extras, they go to great pains to demonstrate how everything in the film was hand-drawn. As in, on paper. What? Why?! As I was watching the movie, I felt that they must have used a program like Flash to do the animation; the lines were so perfect, and the animation was super smooth. But no- they had tons of people doing pencil tests, tracing, erasing, inking, etc.

Ok, nobody is a bigger fan of the traditional style of animation than ME. I was raised on Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons, and my own animation program at MassArt is very focused on hand-drawn, traditional techniques. (Flash is considered a dirty word in the dept, and I never used it in my animations until Fall of my senior year.) However, Alex and Lindsay showed me how using a computer program like Flash is simply using a tool to help enhance your art and creativity. I love animation's fluid ability to help me tell the story that I want told... but it's so labor-intensive that it would take me forever to even get 30 seconds into the story if I drew everything out on paper. My DP contained 9798 frames, and even though I had a computer program "help" me, I still had to hand-draw every single one of those frames. Anyway, my point is simply that if the final, hand-drawn-on-paper animation is going to look like it's done on Flash, anyway, then why be a masochist and do it the old fashioned way? It reminds me a little bit of that Sony Bravia ad. I mean, here's a stop-motion animation that is mind-blowingly awesome (yes, that was all done with modeling clay, for realsies!), but... well, if they used CGI, would it really have looked that much different?

Don't misinterpret what I'm saying, though... some things remain sacred. If they ever did a CGI Wallace and Gromit, I'll vomit blood.

Friday, July 4, 2008

I ♥ Herskovits

Perhaps you've been wondering what I've been up to since graduating in May. Surprised that I haven't already packed up my stuff and moved out to California already? Well, first things first. People, I'm EXHAUSTED. Not just from working non-stop on my DP from Sept. - May this past school year (although that was enough to send me into nervous breakdown territory). But I've been working full-time at the pharmacy and going to school full-time (except for the last 2 semesters) during the 4 years of my MassArt experience. I am too tired right now to immediately start the job hunt/career launch at full throttle. This summer, I just want to hang out with Michael, drink some Sam Adam's Summer Ale, work at the pharmacy and save money, and catch up on my books and movies.

That's why it was a nice surprise that a freelance job fell into my lap last month. One of my teachers sent our class' DP DVD to a local film studio, Vital Pictures. They liked our work and hired Laura, Brian, and me to help make the animation sequences for their documentary, "Herskovits: A Jew At the Heart of Blackness." Laura and I are very excited at the opportunity. The type of animation that they want from us is more artsy than commercial, and they are very open to our creative input and opinions. Everybody at the studio is very nice and collaborative, so I am enjoying the job greatly. Here's a trailer for the film:

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Laura and I went to go see "Wall-E" yesterday. I'm always excited for a new Pixar movie, but I was particularly looking forward to seeing this one. I'm a semi-fan of sci-fi, and a big fan of robots. I was hoping that the film would be extremely kick-ass, since I was somewhat let down by "Cars." Needless to say, I was not disappointed. In fact, "Wall-E" is not just my favorite Pixar movie at the moment, it may be one of my favorite movies of all time. I'm sure there are people who will say that it's not the laugh-a-minute riot that "Finding Nemo" is, or that it has an overly simplistic storyline compared to, say, "The Incredibles." However, for an aspiring character animator like myself, I couldn't get over how amazingly well done the animation is. That the animators could breathe that much life into a tiny, animated robot is mind-boggling. You quickly forget that you're even watching a cartoon, and you start to just watch the film with the acceptance that Wall-E is real.

(As an added bonus for me, the end credits featured a new song by Peter Gabriel, one of my favorite musicians. He hasn't had a new song come out in awhile, so I was pretty excited.)

Friday, June 20, 2008


By the way, if you enjoyed or just want to hear the song used in the credits for my degree project in its entirety, you can download it here with Nate's blessing. The band who performed the vocals is The Little Tides, and Nate was going to do this official remix for them... but because they were recently dropped by their US distributor, Nate's remix may never see the light of day. So download away and enjoy it- I think that the music is really great and stands on its own, even without the vocals.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Even though the occasional cloud chased the sun, the weather held on what turned out to be a somewhat hot afternoon in front of MassArt. A New Orleans jazz band started it all off, and we heard some lovely speeches from the faculty and visiting artists. (Hilariously, almost all of the speeches mentioned the high probability that we would be broke/unemployed as professional artists.) I was so happy to see that some of my pharmacy interns (pictured here) showed up to wish me congratulations, too! When commencement ended, the faculty started to leave the stage, and they played the Who's "Baba O'Riley" (aka "the Teenage Wasteland" song) as we threw our caps in the air. As I stuffed my face with carrot cake at the reception afterwards, it was hard to imagine that it was finally all over. In fact, I still felt like I was going to be returning here in September, ready for another year of projects. I will truly miss my wonderful classmates in the animation department. Stay in touch, guys!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Portfolio Night - only Blueberry Beer made it better

Portfolio Night is a big night for the Communication Arts Dept (which encompasses Design, Illustration, and Animation). You basically spend a lot of sleepless nights and money polishing all your stuff, making DVDs, resumes, 2D illustration portfolio, and other self-promoting materials. After setting everything up, you sit at a table and awkwardly wait for potential employers to come in and gawk over your stuff. Unfortunately for the animation dept, virtually no one came in to talk to us (2 companies very briefly stopped by). Who knows why? Maybe it was just a lack of interest this year. Maybe it was the rain. All we knew is that it was a huge waste of time, and we disappointingly made zero contacts for all of our efforts. Everybody was exhausted- we went straight from the hellish conclusion of our DPs to the around-the-clock preparation for Portfolio Night. As we packed up at the end of the night (2 of my classmates suffered injuries while breaking down the projection room), we knew that only 1 thing could make everything okay: Boston Beer Works. As we shared drinks and food, most of us suddenly felt a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. It was finally all over- all that remained was graduation.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Wow, what a rollercoaster week this has been. Last Friday, I returned home at night, stressed out from a super crazy week at work. Plus, the final final final deadline for our DPs was on the following Monday. I brewed a huge pot of coffee and prepared to pull an all-nighter to finish my film. Around 1 am, I received an email from the faculty of our dept that my DP was not chosen for our school's main animation show, Squealing Pegs, but for the On Deck show (I think the title pretty much sums up THAT show). I hate to admit it, but it totally crushed my spirit. I have never worked so hard on something before in my life; I've gained weight, not seen my friends, and been stressed out and exhausted for 8 months straight. So it was hurtful that I couldn't be included with my other classmates' DPs in the main show.

Fast forward to Wednesday night. I was excited to see some of my friends' animations that would be in the program, but at that point, was pretty meh about my own. That's why I was so surprised that my film received such a warm response. In the end, the audience voted my DP as the show favorite, and it was selected to be re-played at Squealing Pegs! (As were 2 of my totally deserving classmates.)

And now, Friday night. My parents were in town to see my baby nephew, and were taken to the show by my brother and his wife. My parents have NEVER been supportive of anything art-related in my life. I was so surprised that they seemed to really enjoy my film, and were seemingly happier and prouder of me than when I graduated from pharmacy school! Afterwards, when I went to the gallery exhibit that lovely Laura spent so much time setting up, many people came up to me to offer their compliments. I was so touched when people told me that the final message of the film- to never do anything just for the money- caused some personal reflection on their own lives and the decisions that they've made. That my tiny film could have that kind of effect on people is truly the greatest compliment of all.

Of course, I have to add this totally racist observation: multiple times at the gallery exhibit, people cautiously approached me and asked, "Are you... Susan Chien?" Hello? Obvi! Do you see any other Asians here tonight?! :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What an empty life these kids have

I got my latest edition of the ongoing "The Complete Peanuts" collection from amazon today. I've been too busy with school to read any of them (9 volumes so far), but plan on going through and enjoying every single strip when I'm free from homework this summer. It's sad for me to think that my nephew, Michael, will grow up without all the wonderful art (yes, ART, I say!) that I grew up with. On Saturday mornings, I would sit and watch Looney Tunes for hours (I've come to realize that Chuck Jones had an immense influence on my animation, and even my personal sense of humor). And on Sundays, I used to sit and read the funnies thoroughly- mesmerized by the wonderful worlds of Charles Schulz and Bill Watterson. What will Michael have growing up? Goddamn "Da Bratz" cartoons and terrible CG bullshit series that last for 1 season? Sunday funnies with more ads than cartoons, and that effin' "Family Circus" that just won't die? Augh! When I babysit him, I'm going to quietly whisper "Snoopy" and "Calvin and Hobbes" to him.

By the way, if it's been awhile since you've watched an old Chuck Jones cartoon, do yourself a favor and watch Feed the Kitty. The dog's expression at 03:41 is priceless.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Coloring without colors

I'm down to the wire now with my DP. Last Friday was the Squealing Pegs deadline, and I had to hand in my finished, black and white version. Leland is giving me until this coming Mon to finish coloring in my DP. And when I say color, I mean color it in with whites and grays. I was sort of disappointed when my classmates shouted down my desire to color my DP in nice, vibrant colors. Both my portfolio teacher, Dave, and I felt that my animation reel is way too lacking in finished and colored work. I was excited to finally be doing some work in color! But my DP class really thought that it would look nicer in black and white. After slaving away last week on coloring in every frame, I'm about 80% done with the coloring, and I must admit that I'm starting to like the way the film looks. I had my departmental review this past Monday with animator Ruth Lingford, and when I mentioned that I may want to go back in and add shading and highlights, she laughed at me. "Life's too short" was her response; meaning, just move on. I suppose she's right.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I came home from the hospital this morning (visiting Michael; he's growing quickly into a little fattie!) and saw a box from UPS for me at my apt. I saw a familiar looking octopus taped to the top of the box. It's my business cards! Yay! I unpacked it carefully, and looked at a few of them in detail. Looks pretty good! Except... WTF MF?! I had to laugh at myself: I made a spelling error! Which is especially funny because nobody is more anal than ME about spelling. I guess it's because I used a really condensed font on the front of the card- it made it more difficult to see the mistake. Sigh, oh well. $50 down the drain and a week wasted. It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, because I got to tweak the colors and positioning of stuff on the card, now that I see what it looks like in print. But still... what a dumb ass I am.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


On one of the "Seinfeld" DVDs, Jerry Seinfeld talks about why all of the show's episodes are named "The _____" (e.g., "The Contest," "The Pony"). He said that he didn't want the writers wasting time by sitting around and thinking up clever titles every week. I wish I could do the same- I have never been very good at thinking up titles for my films. For my DP, I wrote down a handful of potential titles a few months ago (they all seemed stupid to me), and then promptly forgot about them. Fast forward a few months- now I have to think about it. We're supposed to be working on our film posters, and I still can't decide on what I want as the title. I had previously written down "Southern Exposure" (and one of my classmates even suggested it), due to the inspiration that the show "Northern Exposure" gave me to move to a small town. But I don't know- it seems a little too predictable. God. If anybody has any ideas, please let me know.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Delerium sets in

Is laughing hysterically at one of your own drawings as bad as laughing at your own joke? For some reason, I found this image to be soooo funny while I was working on my DP today. Ugh. I should get some sleep tonight. (And yes, there are lots of other racial stereotyping that will be seen in my DP.)

Uh... color?

Unbelievably, I think that I'll be able to finish all of my black and white animation by Monday's deadline. I'll probably need a few days after that to do the sound and editing, and then, I'll finally have a finished film that I can hand in. Now, the question is- should I go in and color this mofo afterwards? Digitally coloring 3000 frames isn't as painful as watercoloring (Laura) or pastel-coloring (Kara) 3000 frames, but it's still a huge pain in the ass. I think that I'm going to have to say, yes, I want to go back in and color everything afterwards. I think that this still from my DP perfectly sums up how I feel about that workload ahead of me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Business Cards - Final

Meh, nothing that exciting to post this week. I've had to work every night at the pharmacy this week, and my DP is due on Monday, so it's been maddeningly stressful to try and complete the film on time. Right now I'm probably about a week behind schedule, unfortunately. I can hopefully get all the animation done by Monday, but will need another week to do all the post-production crap.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

15 Drawings Per Second

I'm struggling to cross the finish line with my degree project. One of my interns at work asked me this week, "Which do you think is harder- pharmacy school or art school?" I had to mull that over. It's just different. Pharmacy school was definitely difficult- it was a constant, non-stop onslaught of insanely hard exams. But art school is more labor intensive. It's more like running a marathon, whereas pharmacy school was more like a series of sprints. Time-wise, I think that I spend more time on my projects now, than I did studying for exams in pharmacy school. That's because in pharmacy school, I didn't have to do absurd things like draw in squirrel anuses in a couple dozen frames.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Branding Materials - DVD and postcard

I'm trying to finish my branding materials this week. Here were my class-approved designs for my DVD cover, DVD insert, and postcard. Note that I, uh, didn't keep the otter in love with piñata theme. This otter, however, IS scared of the ocean. (And note that, yes: I, too, am scared of the ocean, which makes this whole ocean theme that I'm using even more ludicrous.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Welcome to the World, Baby Nephew

In the past few weeks, I've had a huge "distraction" in my life that prevented me from focusing on my projects. Well, maybe it'd be more accurate to say a teeny, tiny distraction. But now that baby Michael has arrived safely into the world (albeit 3 months early) and seems to be doing fine, it's time to get back to work.

I am pretty excited to have a little buddy to draw animals and robots with in the future.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Okay, admittedly this may be because I've had too many margaritas tonight, but a river otter in love with a piñata seems like an amazing idea for my branding materials right now. I'm pretty sure I will feel differently in the harsh light of morning.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Break - Coloring Stuff

That's right, it's Spring Break this week, and it's Girls Gone Wild as I, uh, tediously continue to bang out drawings for my DP, and now work on coloring in my PSA. Now that 3 + 1/2 years of art school has passed, and as I approach graduation, I can look back on my body of work and think... why the hell haven't I done any work in color?! Pretty much every single thing I have done is in black and white! The simple answer, of course, is: time. I just always run out of time at the end of my projects/semesters, and never have the time to color stuff in. Shit, even my DP is starting to look that way. Unfortunately, that makes a pretty bland little reel for me to have for potential employers. This week, I'm just trying to establish a color palette for my PSA (as seen above), and I'm struggling a bit due to my inexperience in working with color.

As a side note... when I look over my PSA again, I want to laugh at how "small" the project now seems, compared to my DP. Even though it has +500 frames in it.

I'm very excited that I received my Perry Bible Fellowship comic book today.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

An Irritable Uterus: An Inappropriate Animation Idea

There was a health emergency in the family over the weekend. My sister-in-law, Jeannie, was hospitalized here in Boston because she is having non-stop contractions. Problem is, that kid ain't due to arrive into the world until June. She's now being monitored around-the-clock by the medical staff, and confined to bedrest, all in the hopes that the baby will continue to marinade in her womb. Apparently, the problem is that she has an "irritable uterus." When I heard the doctor tell us this in her room, all I can of was how that would be an awesome animation to do.


So ridiculously behind on my DP right now.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Business Cards - Part 2 - WTF

Well, here is my second business card design. We had to make it completely different from our first design, so I thought to myself, "What's the opposite of marine animals?" The answer, of course, is toast. I also wanted to use a completely different color palette from what I would normally employ; I looked to the designs of Mary Blair for inspiration. She used ridiculously loud and bright colors, but made them go together incredibly well. For those of you who know me and my usual work- do I seem like someone who would come up with the idea to use both bright red and bright magenta? On the same freaking layout?! Anyway, this design was stamped as an Epic Fail by my class. Jimmy commented that the toast " so out there- even for you." I'm sort of disappointed- I wanted to design at least a half dozen other toast characters. (Sweeney Todd toast! Marching Band toast! Am I the only one who's finding these funny?)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Montage - Part 1 (Rough cut)

Still need to edit it later on, with some DP footage. And some of those snippets will have to be colored in. Hopefully.

Business Cards - Part 1

Here's the first draft of one of the 2 business cards that we have to design for Portfolio class. It initially seemed like a cute idea to me to have a pirate map on the back of the card with my contact info, but now I'm not so sure. The second card will look completely different; I'll design that later this week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Heart Typography

After a weekend of panic attacks, dissatisfied work, and misery, I decided to take a break from DP and reward myself with some typography lovin'. That's right- I love fonts. Dave spent about 4 hours going over typography this morning, in preparation for the production of our business cards/marketing materials. I'm sure some of my classmates wanted to stab themselves in the eye with their Wacom pen, but I loved it. I've always been really interested in fonts; I love how you can convey an idea or emotion just by the shape of letters, regardless of the actual written content. I'm just fooling around for now; I'm not necessarily going to keep either this color or content, but I kind of like the top left font. It's cartoony, but in a subtle way. In case I don't want to be subtle, there's the top right card. It screams "I'm an animator, damn it." Lastly, I'm considering doing a nautical theme for my business card- whales, treasure maps, and whatnot. So I found a a treasure map font, believe it or not. It's not that fun, but it would fit the theme, anyway.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


This drawing doesn't have that much to do with my DP except to say that I'm getting pretty tired of drawing myself, and it'd be a lot more amusing if I could draw myself as a "Little Sister" with a Big Daddy.
Speaking of "Bioshock"... here's a super cute video of a dad and his daughter dressed up like said duo.

Intro to Montage

Here's the short intro that I made to my animation montage. I might change the lettering/font for the titles in the near future. (They're just hand-scribbled right now.) I'm usually kind of a font freak, but because I recently had to wipe out my laptop, I lost all of the fonts that I had collected. And I'm not about to use frackin' Comic Sans or Times New Roman.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Reality Bites

Okay, I have 6 weeks before my DP is supposed to be completed. Tonight, I sat down with a notepad, my DP Flash file open, and a calculator. Turns out I have 22 scenes and- roughly- 2,933 frames to draw. That averages to about 489 frames a week. Tack on the fact that I have to rewrite the script, re-record the audio, and possibly hand-color every frame in watercolor... wow. I think that I just had a stoke. 3 and 1/2 years have passed without me saying this, but: "I think that I'd rather be back in pharmacy school right now."

However, I just watched Conan O'Brien sing George Michael's "Faith" on Late Night, and after laughing my ass off, I feel better. I'm easily swayed that way.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Ok, so we've been told that we have to make 2 posts a week. I don't know if I'm interesting enough to make 2 meaningful posts a week, but whatev.

I'm taking a step back with my DP. Leland thinks that I'm being a bit too anal in carefully animating out small scenes. He wants me to go and make an animatic for the entire film, so that we can make sure the movement and everything is ok. I sat down and tried to do it a dozen times on my computer, but kept blanking. So I took out a pen and some paper and hand-drew out a very rough storyboard (pen and paper! How novel). I used to make much more detailed, illustrative storyboards, but now I just make these super roughed out ones. It's more to establish camera angles and placement of characters.
In other news... I found out that my "Lost Friend" film has been accepted into the Boston Underground Film Festival. I'm pretty surprised, but was happy to hear that [at least] 2 other Massart kids got their work in. I'm more interested in getting our school's program recognized over any personal recognition that I may receive. I think that it will be more important in the long run.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Degree Project - Work in Progress

I'm doing my DP on my experiences living in a small, racist town in Virginia. Don't worry- it's not supposed to be serious. It'll be funny. Hopefully. Here's all that I have so far. Only 30 secs of the 3 minutes that I need. Gulp.

"The Cold Umbrella & the Warm Scarf"

This is a project I did for Character Animation. It's actually a combination of 2 assignments: 1) to draw an inanimate object expressing a feeling (in my case, it's cold) and 2) to show it's interaction with another inanimate object.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Here's an assignment we had for my Character Animation class. We had to animate a character with a handicap.

"Lost Friend"

Here's a collaborative piece between myself and a Berklee music student, Nate Donmoyer. We both like robots and techno, so how can you lose, really. Nate did such a great job with the music; I like this piece 5x more with his soundtrack.
This whole thing was done with charcoal pencils on a small CVS memo pad.

"Children's Literacy PSA"

Here's a PSA I did for children's literacy. The music is by Nate Donmoyer again. Some day, I'll color this thing. Maybe.

Walk Cycle Montage

Mandatory for every animator to learn.

"My Mini Epic"

For my Stop Motion final, I thought that it would be fun to stage a Lord of the Ring-esque battle scene with a tiny figure and a crappy paper boat.

Style Piece - Joanna Quinn

Here's one of the style pieces that I did for ANIM4. We had to try and produce some animation in the style of another animator. Here, I was trying to emulate Joanna Quinn (she does the "Charmin" commercials). Meh- not very successful.
A lot of animators like Joanna Quinn's style, because you can really see the artist's hand in the work. In this age of sterilized, computer generated animation, it's so nice to see the human touch on an animated piece.

Style Piece - "t.o.m."

Here's another style piece I did, after the British animation "t.o.m." It's supposed to have a painterly look to it, although it was all done digitally. The grainy video here makes it somewhat difficult to see what I was going after.

Style Piece - Jeff Scher

Jeff Scher is an animator who heavily utilizes rotoscoping, collage, and painting in his animation. My original plan was to do something much more elaborate, but I just ran out of time at the end of the semester. Hand painting each frame took way longer than I had anticipated.
If you want to see what my inspiration was, check out Jeff Scher's "L'Eau Life." It's a beautiful animation.

"Time Texture"

Our assignment was to go out, find a bunch of garbage (literally), and do an animation with it. The joke in class was that my titles are longer than the actual animation in this piece.

"Board As A Child"

This is an animation that we had to do in class about transitions. We had to take a bunch of objects with a shared theme (in this case, board games) and unite all of them through transitioning.

"In A Box"

Here's a stop-motion piece that I did for an assignment called "In A Box." That should be self-explanatory.

Life Drawing class - Final Project

Luckily, our class' nude model didn't find it creepy/perverted when I asked her if I could videotape a few seconds of her doing a simple action for my final project. I then drew out each frame of the video to make the animation. The second half is kind of fun because you get to see how many drawings it takes to make a short animation.

"Travelin' Thru"

This is one of my 2 final projects for an Adobe After Effects class that I took. They're both really cheesy, but they also took an immense amount of time to do. This one features the beloved stuffed animal of my brother's, "Chocolate."


This was my other final project for my After Effects class. It features the worst lip-syncing ever seen in animation history. The huge amount of time that it took me to do these [lame-o] projects made me realize just how difficult it is to do those computer-generated special effects you see in movies.