Monday, December 15, 2008

Last Night in San Pedro

House Warming Party for David and Roger

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A man about town

Couple updates on my various travels around this city.

The first biggie was dropping by the Science-Fiction bookstore in Glendale off Brand Ave to pay respects to the (now late) great Forrie Ackerman. I didn't really know who he was in terms of his contributions to the genre but he is probably as responsible for creating the last generation of sci-fi buffs to get into movies as much as Bradbury, Asimov or Harryhausen. His "Famous Monsters of Hollywood" magazine combed every inch of the universe for space men, evil creatures and damsels in their nefarious clutches. His 92nd birthday was back in November and the bookstore had a special party hosted by RAY BRADBURY who came and sat and signed books. I only wish I had been able to meet him a little sooner but at least I got to shake his hand and thank him on behalf of Dan. Greg and I signed the birthday card for 4E from Wolfgang Von Syffertitz!!! and friends.

A performance on the Theremin closed the proceedings. Perfect.

As Greg and I were wandering Brand I completely freaked out when I looked in a store window and realized I was standing outside of ROUGH DRAFT STUDIOS, makers of the forever fantastic FUTURAMA series!
I want that giant Bender statue in my bedroom. It will be mine.

The other thing that got me out of the house was news that good ol' Kenny-boy was going to be back in town, slinging paint at another car show. After that I got to hook up with him and Steve Boyett at my very first Derby Dolls Roller Derby Match. Two Words: Fucking Rocks! All the girls in my family need to see this in action.

This so up Julianne's alley and the Twins would get into it pretty quick and Bren needs something to vent at. Not just guys screaming at the hot girls slugging away at each other but the women with them were hot for it too. Tons of women were dressed up like Betty Page/Sandra Dee 40's wear, cats-eye glasses, seamed stockings and HEELS! Bands playing, an art show, cool vendors, and Gene Fucking Simmons taping an episode of his Family Jewels show. He and his daughter led a Star-Spangled Banner sing-along before the match with Gene on acoustic guitar. He sat right behind me in the upper deck press box.

This was the All-Star match with players from all over the league teaming up for a final match. The game is pretty easy to follow. Six players on each team per "Jam". Four from each are the blockers or "Pack" followed by two "Jammers" who try to break through the pack helped by their team members. After they break through they must race around to lap the pack and break through again and each blocker passed yields a point. All the while, the blockers are throwing elbows, hip checks, and anything else to stop the Jammers. It actually got close at the end with the L.A. Ri-ettes beating Santa's Little Helpers 71-68. It's kind of a cross between Hockey, Football and Full Contact Lingerie Shopping.

Ken's good friend Sandra, aka "Tara Armov", had invited all of us and Ken made a great trip out of the Car Show and the Derby. He even brought Sandra a Trixie Fink T-shirt he had designed for the show for her birthday.

Sandra has also been immortalized inside the rink as the Rink Rat. Awesome.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Riding Herd

Well I'm back at work in Burbank. Lead Layout Artist/DP/Set Designer for my studio's first Full Feature CG Film. And it's Union. That being said, I think I've landed in a production that I do not want my name attached to. Be careful what you wish for and all that. 4 "Directors", 2 of which are the producers who tend to make blanket statements like "Let's do this in 3D Stereo" without actually knowing if the overseas Animation crew has the tech to do stereo. Two months ago.

Every department needs one more person at least. I and a Modeler are the Layout department. 2 guys. The real directors are forced to send kluged storyboards to India in the hopes that the Animators will know what to do with them. No Kickoff. No discussion. No continuity, attention to character placement, or notice of set. Shots come back from India, I sit with the director and proceed to redo the entire sequence. The Animators, through no fault of their own, are "doing the boards" not "using the boards". Those characters are spot on in the right locations as the boards call for them but tend to miss the big picture in terms of character location from shot to shot. Or staging a CG movie like it was 2D. Communication is stalled out at the top and pleas are ignored.

I'm teaching the Modeler how to look at compositions and camera. I almost wish I could go to India and give the animators a lesson in rule-of-thirds and what slow-ins and outs are for. Maybe 25% of the movie is in animation right now without proper composing. There's no line producer. No coordinators except for one guy who does scanning and download organization and director tracking. The art direction was farmed out. My supervisor works three days a week. Oh, and before they hired me, their Layout team consisted of three modelers they imported from India and then told them to do camera. Like teaching a fish to ride a bicycle.

On the plus side, no one has given me a due date for any work. The directors listen to me and do what I tell them. I even convinced one of them to send top-down schematics along with their boards to illustrate how the set should be involved. Just trying to staunch the bleeding. I'm learning a lot. Faking it well. Pushing for what I can and letting go where I should.

"It is what it is."

"That's the process."