Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011, Make A Wish!

Unbelievably, in less than 3 days, we will be living in the year 2011.

This year had several ups and several downs, but stirring in just enough of the right ingredients seems to keep things going strong. We have been in a holding pattern for quite some time, with freelance opportunities and side projects here and there, but our patience has paid off and now I have at least 6 months of employment to look forward to with SpeakeasyFX! Season 2 of "Abby's Flying Fairy School" begins!!!

The last two weeks were spent as a layout supervisor there, putting together layouts and assisting in composition and creative direction for the first episode. It's fantastic to be back. Not everyone has returned yet, but we're only days away from full production and I am super excited that I'll be returning as an animator as of January 3, and get to see all my SEFX friends again.

Since the studio was closed this week (for Christmas through New Years), I've been taking it easy at home, cleaning and making turkey-egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches to freeze for myself during the workweek. Despite the massive snowstorm that hit the northeast, I did get to travel "home" to Wisconsin (and back, without incident!) to see most of my family. We arrived on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and stayed through Monday, visiting my dad's mother and some family, as well as mostly my mom's side (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins), went to church for vigil mass and Holy Family Sunday, and enjoyed tons of excellent home cooking and bakery, games like Apples to Apples, and quality family time. Now that I'm back in New Jersey, my attention is back to getting to work on another Sesame Street project, which everyone asked about over the holidays and triggered further excitement!

This year has been tough, though. I've learned that if I want to be happy in this line of work, I have to prepare for more seamless transitions between jobs. I absolutely love animating in a creative studio of folks, all working together toward something bigger than a project I'm merely kicking around at home. It's taken me a while to decide that if you are a project hire, it isn't disloyal to spot new opportunities and take them. If I am willing to do that, I am being loyal to myself, and frankly it makes me feel more saught after, which is rewarding when it happens. Until a place puts you on staff, you have to keep the ball in play at all times, sending reels out and applying places where you feel you can make a positive difference in the product, and also to be happy and make others happy during production.

January is a great time to get hired, and it is also a good time to develop and finish side projects, deciding whether they are reel-worthy, and put that development cycle on a continuous loop, rather than to expect so much from a single project. You shouldn't be developing for a reel, you have to develop the talent. Gotta take the blinders off and make broad improvements.

That said, may it be a Happy New Year to all -- a year of relentless strength, proactive perseverance, marked improvement, open-mindedness, calculation, and confidence. And be happy!!!!!

Naveen and I opening gifts at our apartment in NJ.

Making breakfast sandwiches with Pillsbury Grands, turkey, egg, and cheese.

The Milwaukee airport, Christmas 2010.

The storm that skipped over the midwest but walloped the east coast.

Naveen and I on Christmas Eve 2010. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Happy Holidays!!!

The holidays are here!!!!!

I am super excited.. and I haven't even gotten my flights yet to go home yet. It's been a crazy time lately, wondering what the future holds for us. But as of Monday I'll be back on at SpeakeasyFX putting together layouts for a new season of "Abby's Flying Fairy School" for Sesame Street! I am so excited. I wish we could put together a Christmas special for next year. I've always wanted to work on one... like Disney's Prep & Landing, a relatively new ABC holiday special. Last night they aired a short called "Operation Secret Santa," which I caught this morning on YouTube. It's a SUPER cute new holiday Disney series, featuring Betty White as Mrs. Claus, Dave Foley as one of the elves, among others.. well done!!! Check it out.

Watch on YouTube

Official Prep & Landing Disney Site

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Story Telling... something I sincerely want to get better at. A handful of friends and family tell me that they already like my storytelling, but I tend to be long-winded, full of details that may or may not be necessary or critical to my audience -- the kinds of stuff people might skim over in a book that they're cramming in a hurry to get to the end. Being concise is not a strong suit of mine.

One thing you learn in animation is to tell stories -- not just through the animated expression of the character, but also through composition, lighting, texturing, aspects of your set and props, etc.

If someone were to animate me, in my life right now, they may put together a jovial essence with a lot of hinted backstory of struggle and hard work in my facial expressions and how I hold myself when I'm sitting at my computer desk, playing Angry Birds on my Droid, reading books on Autism and stars and religion and fuzzy Muppets. Gradually, they could tell a bigger story by modeling a fantastic array of clutter on my desk, consisting of power cords, pencils I used in the fourth grade, handmade felt flowers from Nepal, several external hard drives, travel receipts, honeymoon vacation brochures, Tylenol Cold medicine, coupons, bank statements, demo reels, pads of paper with scribbled dates, recipes, and wannabe-Matt-Groening-slash-Jhonen-Vasquez-style sketches of myself and my husband.

Then you add more story-telling layers. Many items are covered in a thin layer of dust and/or cat hair. Papers are generally a bit crinkled throughout with worn looking edges from getting thrown in and out of travel bags or my ever-stuffed purse. The honeymoon brochures have those transparent circle seals, which are yet unbroken. In the looming shadow behind my flatscreen monitors are my demo reels from this past year as well as blank dvds for new reels. Also back there is my webcam, which I used to use daily when my husband and I had to live 800 miles apart (but now he's at the desk beside me, tinkering away at his work as well).

All those details add so much to that crazy ol' Laura character with the goofy-serious face, hunched camel neck, and famed librarian hairstyle... typing away thoughtfully at her machine.