It occurred to me last night, as I was polishing my You've Got Mail animation (Meg Ryan's character denying being in love with someone online) that I am back in my element. Class 5 ended on Friday at noon Pacific Time, and as always it was a rush to finish watching lectures and copying workspace comments and buddy lists, etc. Seems like there's always something more to do in the last minute. As for class 5, I did learn a lot about story, which is SO important - yet I really missed animation, and by Saturday night I dove back into Maya and worked on my character's hands and arms, mostly tweaking arcs and poses to be more interesting.
I have a lot of work to do before SIGGRAPH. I think I may actually get to go this year, for the fifth time. I'll be going alone and possibly staying with two girls from my online class. Most likely I'll be holding the Exhibits Plus pass, or possibly Conference Select. So much planning and so little time. But I'm really excited and want to make the most of it - I don't know when I'll get to go again.
Aside from getting my resume updated and website back up and running (jeesh that has fallen on the backburner, sorry), I also want to get a new reel together in the next couple weeks. I think I've said this before, but it's RIDICULOUS how bad my first reel was. I hope that I can drop a new one off in various places so they can see how much I've improved. Larry, a guy I used to work with, was the person to point that out to me last fall: I mentioned how embarrassingly bad my first reel was (and that had only been done a year prior to that point), and he regarded that as a sign of vast improvement. And he's totally right - being embarrassed about your past work is a good sign that you're a lot better now, and that's what matters.
Obviously I won't have my short film done yet for this reel - that is due for completion in October (with polishing through December or longer, probably). Graduation from Animation Mentor will most likely take place the first week in January 2008 (although I'll be done with classes months earlier). What will be on my reel includes several animation tests while I've been at Animation Mentor. I doubt I'll include anything from my 2005 reel... it's so bad... Maybe the butterfly one, since that still holds up okay for an insect rig. Everything else is pretty awful, though! Even that macarena dude.. I don't think I even want to try to fix it.. I'd just want to start over, knowing what I know now. Purdue was great for learning the technical stuff and getting accustomed to Maya, but I really didn't dive into animation like I have been with this Animation Mentor program (and they have Maya training if you need it, by the way).
The biggest thing I have to improve now is workflow and timing. I know I still love animation (seeing how I was getting back into it last night until about.. well let's just say I was closing my eyes for sleep around 5:30am)!!! I'm really looking forward to this last class. I wonder what mentor I'll see next. They've all been great so far. I feel bad that I didn't work better with Ricardo this term, but I think it's because most of the time I had to be working on story and animatics, and that crazy layout process, I really wanted to be doing something else (and by that, I mean polishing real character animation). I think I was getting frustrated because I didn't feel like I was improving at my craft - but story is so important, and there were some really great lectures this term.
So, that all said, I'm going to dive back into Maya. We have 1 week off, and I'd like to polish up the YGM piece as well as another from America's Sweethearts that I was doing in class 4 (where Byron Allen is talking to Eddie and Gwen about being a couple again). If I get them looking decent, I'm submitting them to the AM Summer Showcase, and hopefully I'll get in. It would be great exposure. I think most of those people really get watched - and get the jobs! So... off I go!