For What Project are you
I am the most grateful and proud to have worked on is the Magic Carpet for Aladdin. No one had ever done anything like that before. After already creating CG at Disney for 4 years I was given the freedom to explore and design the entire process for the Magic Carpet based on the tools available at the time. In short the process went from rough animation done traditionally on paper, approved in sweatbox, transferred as background images into Power Animator, (the predecessor to Maya), then Key Frame the spline mesh for the extremes and breakdowns, fix the inbetweens, (the inbetweens and graphs were so uncontrollable then) approve wireframe animation, (on 3/4 video tape. No showtool yet), hiddlenline removal print every frame on paper with cross hairs for registration, Cleanup tassles from traditional roughs on separate level, traditional efx draws tones and shadows, approve final clean up pencil test, CG 2K renders body of carpet (after special code to evenly spread the texture verticies to eliminate horrid stretching), everything else painted digitally in ink and paint with it all coming together in digital compositing. It was a time consuming trail blazing team effort with long hours and lots of headaches.
The tools were nothing compared to what we have today and the result was magnificent and a real team effort. (Involved 4 different departments before even getting to ink and paint) When a private screening of Aladdin was shown to Chuck Jones he said to the directors "What team of clean up artists did you find in Taiwan to draw the pattern on that carpet." Over 4000 feet of film and no one could even tell it was CG because it truly was, "the best of both worlds". Do you know what the difference between a rug and a carpet is? Carpets are magic.
I am grateful to animation community this year : after I gave my desperate call for donations. I got an amazing wave of support - - more than 100 small contributions and in the end it totaled in $2000 - the exact amount I needed to finish my new animated short "Birth".
Is that amazing or what?
Got a couple of things for you. One is not a project but fits the theme.
First for the project one:
When I first got into this industry I was looking to become an animator. The work I sought was always animation. As the industry changed I found that some of the other skills I learned at CalArts began to be called upon, such as layout and storyboarding. No other place did these become more useful than at Warner Bros. Animation. It was there that I was able to utilize all of my learned skills and eventually moved into a Director position and then to Producer and finally, Supervising Producer on "Animaniacs" and "Pinky and the Brain". Though often criticized as being writer heavy shows, everyone working on them knew that if the visuals didn't hold up to the high standards that Warners was know for in the Looney Tunes days, the shows would not last.
Now for the related one:
Back in the mid 1980's when I was a single buck living carefree and without any family around here in CA, I found myself facing another Thanksgiving with no plans. During that time I had been taking a character design class at a small school in Van Nuys, that was being taught by Mike Giaimo. Part of the fun of this class were the other students who , like me, worked in the industry and just wanted to further their skill set. One of those people was Sue Kroyer. During this time several of us would often get together and hang out. I got to know Bill, Sue's husband, pretty well then too.
Well, on that particular Thanksgiving they were planning on being at home and invited me to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast with them and their two wonderful (and huge) dogs. It was a great time and one that I will never forget. I'm Thankful for Sue and Bill who were willing to open up their home and hearts to me that year.
[Oh and incidentally Bill and I ended up having a long discussion about creating technology that would allow animators and all artists on a production to draw directly on their monitors and do the entire production digitally. This was long before Cyntiq's or Windows, and the Mac was still a little showbox sized black and white computer.]
Yes, my current job at ZooKazoo.com! I see so many people around me out of work, so many friends looking around and not finding anything. I am glad for a job that not only gives me a paycheck, but is fun and new and challenging everyday. I'm learning Flash, animating, art directing, designing, conceiving games, learning "Virtual World" structure, etc. I'm just having fun.
I'm really glad that I got the chance to work on Aladdin. It opened up a door for me. My first time to do solo storyboarding. It was fun and I liked working with Ron Clements and John Musker. Many of my friends were also working in development at the same time; Darrell Rooney, Eric Goldberg, Ed Gombert. Good memories.
I'm grateful to be able to work on my own self-published books about Mandy, and grateful to Playboy for giving me a whole new career as a gag cartoonist, and grateful that they pay well and quickly. And I'm grateful my wife supports and helps me with those, too. And I'm grateful to have had the chance to produce, direct, design and animate the Cookie-Crisp spots for many years - like doing 30 second Tex Avery cartoons. And grateful to the late Jack Zander for giving me a great job when I was a virtually untried animator-wannabe. And to lots of others, from my Mom and Dad to teachers and other employers and friends, who helped me along the way. And to the two Walts - Disney and Kelly - who inspired me to be a cartoonist in the first place.
I am thankful for having worked as an animator, designer, director and storyboard artist when I started out, and to have chosen a second career in animation education.
I had a discussion with another animator once about the state of the industry (I prefer 'art' but what do I know.) I preferred the animation business when it was small, not 'sexy', and had lower pay but steadier work with more rational deadlines. You could live well on the salary then, the studios were union, and there were studios, and unions, in several areas of the country so you weren't required to live in Los Angeles to find work. Projects were fun and interesting and the producers were usually people who came up through the industry and knew a lot about their subject. (such as Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, Jack Zander, and Bill Melendez.)
The other animator loved the higher salaries. Sure, we all like to make money, but the good times in animation are cyclical.
Actually since animation is now a booming business, there is a lot more opportunity than there was when I was starting out. Animation is used in many venues...you're not restricted to just TV series, commercials, and features any more. Gaming is bigger than features and in many ways resembles the smaller studios I listed here, with full time in house employment being one of the benefits. Commercials are now a much a smaller part of the field; television specials have vanished and series work is back to its highly seasonal aspect; Feature animation has metastized, with six or more animated features produced in a year when formerly only Disney mastered this difficult area. If you compare animation employment with other artists' employment, animators work more and can make a living at what they love doing (unlike many other artists who must have day jobs.) That is a good thing.
I enjoy passing along the knowledge that my teachers entrusted to me. I can now pick and choose the animated projects I want to work on, rather than take what is available. And the students' work is in many cases more imaginative than the manufactured product provided by commercial animation.
My students working in gaming write me that the conditions are pretty good there; very reminiscent of the smaller studios I started out with. It's good to see animation thriving, and I'm pleased to help others learn the art.
I'm so grateful to have worked in a fairytale time of plenty, when everyone who wanted to work in
animation could find full employment at cool, exciting studios in L.A, working under one roof, with multi-talented cronies, and have health benefits to boot. I'm thankful to have been able to meet people who continue to influence me and others with their considerable talents.
Animation is the most fantastic profession and I'm grateful I got a chance to be in this biz.