It's a uniquely challenging experience to explore character animation from two extremes at the same time. I'm talking about the wide chasm between intricately noodled Animation Mentor projects (student work) and the demands of television production deadlines (professional work).
The "Team Umizoomi" work at Curious Pictures that I've been at for two months is now done. I contributed character animation to the two specials for Season Two, and it was a very satisfying experience. I worked alongside lead animator Katherine Vargas, a generous artist whose expert eye helped me nudge each shot to a fine polish. The word we were getting from the DIGI department and the animation director was that everyone was very pleased with how the cg characters were playing. Ask any little ones in your family to keep an eye out for the two-part episode titled "The King of Numbers". My shots involved a pirate, a crocodile, a flying dragon, and runaway mine carts.
Meanwhile, I am more than halfway through the Animation Mentor program where I am currently being mentored by Kenny Roy. We're in the fourth term "Intro to Acting". I'm in the polishing phase of a shot where Stewie is waxing his car.
So, how has it been a challenge to be doing both? Let me give you some numbers:
At Curious, I worked for 36 days on 43 shots totaling about 5,515 frames.
At Animation Mentor during the same time period, I was working on two shots, 250 frames apiece.
Quite a difference in how much time you have to design and develop a shot. It was a challenge to figure out how to adapt the luxurious time we have with AM shots to the time constraints of production.
I reached out to my predecessor at Curious, Jane Nechayevsky (who has gone on to work at Sony Imageworks in Culver City... go Jane!), and I asked her advice. Essentially it was to take about ten minutes to thumbnail your idea, then take the plunge and dive in. No time for arc tracking, just do it by eye. After all the careful planning we do at AM, I felt a bit disoriented. But after awhile, it got to feel like musical improvisation. And it was looking good.
I wondered how the one way of working would affect the other, and I am now confidant that the strengths of each approach add up to being able to deliver quality work faster. I can't post any of the Team Umizoomi work until it airs, and no one knows when that will be. I'll get my latest AM work up here soon. Now I'm packing up to go to the Chiller Convention and do my best Nekron snarl.