Artist’s note: Wow, I totally look like a boy in these doodles.
Ahhh, such is the effect that good company and good food can have.
This marks the beginning of week two in L.A., and I’m still alive! My first week at Sony Pictures Animation is over. Boy, the start of the week was killer… but not really because SPA was so terrible. It was dealing with the rental car and navigating my way from Westwood to Culver City. I always left one destination wondering if I’d be able to find parking at the next… because, the legends are true, parking is nearly non-existent here.
Thursday evening rush hour.
But as it turns out L.A. has a pretty extensive bus system. So the rental car has been returned (I hope… I really never saw if the company retrieved it or not…), I’ve found a route that takes me from Westwood practically to the front of my building, and all is right with the world.
So, SPA has been pretty darn amazing. After a couple hours of the usual new employee business – paperwork, getting the ID badge, meeting the team, a quick tour – I was off and running. My work station was set up just before lunch and by the afternoon I was drawing. I wasn’t quite sure how a Cintiq worked before now… it’s not bad, let me tell you….
On Monday night I got sent home with homework: watch a movie. I’m living my dream.
I’m also getting to see a ton of production art. The hallways are lined with huge boards of pinned up storyboards, visual development art, and reference photos that the artists look to for inspiration. On Tuesday, I got to see my first dailies, for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It looks amazing, and I can’t wait to see the final product.
In the meantime, I’ve been thrown onto SPA’s latest movie, which is pretty early in the storyboard stage. The story team is small and super nice. They leave their office doors open and allow me to drag them away for feedback whenever I need it. I won’t lie, when I first started I had no clue what the heck I should be doing. But I did my best anyway, studying model sheets and sketching ideas to get to know the characters and the story. Jack comes by occasionally to give me the thumbs up, and say, “Hey, wanna see what I’m working on?”
Of course I do! So I’d go next door to his office… where he pretty much had the whole friggin’ movie boarded. Seriously, Jack?
Lesson #1: I have a lot to learn about being an artist.
I saw SPA’s talent at work in March, when they put on a storyboarding workshop for Ringling. We were blown away by how fast Jack could lay down a detailed storyboard panel, in dynamic perspective, full of action. In just a few seconds he whipped out a whole sequence of Spider-man (he boarded for Spider-man 2). These are guys who have been drawing 40 hours a week for 5+ years… and here’s little old me, who has drawn for fun up till now.
After seeing Jack’s work, I sat down at my desk, stared at the Cintiq screen, and thought: “I need to draw faster.”
And it actually helped. The next day my whole approach changed. I shrank the image window and forced myself to focus on full body gestures so I wouldn’t get caught up in details. I tried to get back to how I’d begun drawing at the end of last semester – after weeks of gesture classes and redrawing storyboards for thesis. By Friday I’d begun to loosen up.
Which was perfect timing, because we had a pitch meeting. My very first professional pitch.
I even had my own work to show to the producer. Oh crap.
But it helped that my team has been so friendly and accommodating. They are all pretty casual and have off-beat senses of humor (which you’ll all get to see when Cloudy hits the theaters). We’ve gone out to lunch a few times, and I get to talk to them away from work, on a more personal level.
Lesson #2: L.A. is totally worth visiting, just for the food.
Mmmm… Korean BBQ….
Between work and several excursions out with friends, I’ve eaten out nearly once a day and never at the same place. And almost always never at a national chain – some are places I’ve seen on TV or read about in news articles, but have never had access to.
But I’ve yet to try In-n-Out Burger. Maybe this week.