Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year of Exploring Possibilities.

This year of 2014 had me exploring multiple different disciplines related to animation. I began the year with far too much on my plate (two novels started, a graphic novel needing monumental amounts of work, a possible small business making and selling custom lamps made out of found items, learning about animation, trying to figure out a plan for getting a real job). It took me a while to streamline and get anything done.

But anyway, here's a timeline of my process of wandering into the wilderness only to return to where I'd started from...

  • January - Focus: Learning
Started binging on podcasts related to animation. I was also reading about story-boarding and becoming very overwhelmed. I was still trying to decide what I wanted to do about lamp making.

  • February - Focus: ?
I sent off my script for Fading Cloud to a friend's sister to get feedback. Continued studying animation. Head constantly exploding. Trying to do too many things. Started to realize I need to streamline.

  • March - Focus: Animating
March was a big ramp-up in my focus toward animation. A lot of other projects got pushed to the side. I got a trial version of some professional 2D animating software and did my bouncing ball animation and experimenting with a few other things. My friend Evan Mayfield (who worked at Disney Toon Studios for four years) give me a one-day crash course on 3D animation in Maya. I started trying to figure out how to animate in 3ds Max. I even started building a plan for putting together an animation film reel.

For animation practice, I reproduced the frames from a flip-book for the Miyazaki film Ponyo

  • April - Focus: Planning 
I sadly realized that a film reel would take a monumental amount of time. I went into even deeper planning for what I needed to do in order to move forward. I considered buying a video tutorial package from the company that made the 2D animation software I was experimenting with. I was still also working on Fading Cloud. By this time I had decided I should finish my novel Antediluvian Blues novel, because it was the project that was the furthest along toward being finished of all my projects.

The end of April was very important, because I made some decisions that locked in what I would be working on for the next four months. I found out about two important opportunities: 1) Writing contests to get into studio TV writing workshops and 2) classes at the Animation Guild.

  • May - Focus: Screenwriting
May was this little pocket of writing in the midst of a year of drawing. I decided to enter the NBC Writers on the Verge and the Warner Bros Writing Workshop contests, which are both fall-time internships. Spent every free moment of May working on a spec script (example episode script) for The Walking Dead. I didn't make it in (thousands apply, about a dozen get in), but it was good practice writing on a deadline.

  • June through August - Focus: Storyboarding
For the entirely of the summer, I took an insanely intense storyboarding class at the Animation Guild. Spent about 120+ hours outside of class planning and drawing and going completely insane. I had two or three mental breakdowns, broke my Wacom tablet and had to buy another one, and pulled of feats of story artwork I had no idea I was capable of.
Sample of one of the storyboards I did for the class at the Guild.

  • September through October - Focus: Drawing/Inking (Fading Cloud)
I decided to dedicate some time to working on my own projects, since I hadn't had any time to work on them in the last four months. Figured out some technical details with Fading Cloud, almost got a rhythm going, but thing still moved slowly.

Sample inking page from Fading Cloud.

  • November - Focus: Character Art and Storyboarding
Now, this was the month to get ready for CTN-X, the big animation conference that takes place in Burbank. I wanted to get some more character art ready and some storyboards ready for portfolio critiques, so that took up most of my time.

  • December - Focus: Writing (new screenplay, webseries script, Antediluvian Blues)
CTN out of the way, I wanted to finally finish the novel that I'd been casually dating for almost 4 years. I also wanted to do some more isometric (flat) art (like schematics, diagrams, maps, etc), because someone I met at CTN said that was the most impressive stuff I have (and it's probably my favorite type of artwork to do).

But then, I sat down with a friend of mine, Jeff Turley, who's already well established in the industry, and he told me that I really need to pick one thing to work on. That I should dedicate a year, one year, to focusing entirely on just one thing.

So, I picked writing, and started writing like a madman. I wrote the first half of a feature screenplay, two episodes of a webseries, and finished off the first draft of Antediluvian Blues.

Antediluvian Blues, as revision begins.

So, after all that, I came to the point of saying that I need to take time away from drawing (at least as a point of focus) for the year 2015. I'm going to dedicate this new year to writing. I'll get a few feature screenplays knocked out, write a few TV specs, get Antediluvian Blues self-published, and maybe start another novel.

No way of knowing what else the future will hold, but 2014 definitely gave me a lot of breathing room to feel things out and see what works. And, at the end of it, I came out realizing that the only thing that I absolutely can NOT live without... writing.

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