Monday, November 5, 2007

Tutoring w/ Stephen Gregory

So tonight was my first meet-up with Stephen Gregory for our tutoring program. So without further ado, we'll get into some of the things I took away from tonights meeting.

One of the things that he sees, seperating the great from the so-so animation reels is the thought process. The feeling that this person actually sat down to think about what the character is doing, and why they're doing it. That "quality/spark/x-factor(whatever you wanna call it)" is intangible when you see it , and its hard to describe, but you can see when it's there. Animation, now, more than ever, is so accessible, and there are lots of people who can just learn to move a character well. Learning to break down who the character is, any why they make the choices they make, is the harder part.

Another is giving the people reviewing reels, something they've never seen before. Between school classes, submitted reels, etc., they see it all, and everyone is essentially doing the same thing. What catches their attention is something they've never seen before.

Short films give insight to who candidates are on a personal level, which can leave a lasting impression if done well. They give you a sense what someone's about, the stories they want to tell, qualities that are important to them. Stephen actually likes seeing great films. On the other hand, most student films are pretty bad.

That said, great animation can get you an interview, but at Pixar (although not necessarily every other studio), 60- 70% of the time, what gets people hired is they're personality, and what they bring to the table, what gaps they fill in the team, are they someone who could work well with the team. What makes them unique.

And now! His comments on my present reel (which you can find to the linked on the right-hand toolbar):

The opening baseball bit:
-Too many ideas, think about simplifying. It seems like you're rushing through the thing to hit every single idea.
-Timing is too even (this goes for most of the reel)
-Overall, Need to work on finish, polish on the animation. (i.e. that bit where the batter is bouncing back and forth, there's a lot of lost animation that could be incorporated in that section.) I've actually heard this feedback from several feature pros before.

I asked him what he thought about the acting on my reel, as that was the area I most wanted to improve/learn about. He thought it was normal, so-so, it was what it was. Which to me, meant it's not anything to write home about, not stand out. Which is great to hear! Because to me, just the mechanics of animation is so much to think about, I feel like I'm in the dark when it comes to acting for animation. I badgered on for specifics, but he remarked that we'll talk more about that later. One thing at a time.

It looks like I'll hit two assignments during my session with Stephen, the first being a simple, character driven, physical action. With emphasis on polish, taking the animation to a finished level, and on the front end, asking those pertinent questions. Who the character is and how s/he feel about what s/he's doing, essentially. Character's internal dialogue, and limiting your choices for acting based on the specifics of who the character is.

All of these points so were jotted down quickly, or are coming from my shotty memory, so I apologize for the lack of cohesiveness.
Here are the other tutorees taking this program!
Dan Forgione
Dave Vasquez
Adam Gard
Sandra Murta
Jim Levasseur


Adam Kaszycki said...

Ahhhhhhh YEAH!!! Thanks for posting the recap...makes me even MORE excited for my session tonight...if that's even possible.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing Bobby!Some wonderful notes. Stephen was my first teacher at AM. He rocks sox!

Bobby Pontillas said...

Yup no problem guys!

Dennis DeMercer said...

NICE! Great notes, great ideas... thanks for sharin'!

Anonymous said...

I was just checking in and was going to ask when or how the tutoring was going....and then I see your post. Its sounds like its going to be awesome. Its great that you're so excited about it. I hope it turns into great things for you.


Anonymous said...

Please keep posting your learning and progress.

Its very enlightning even from a second hand perspective!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bobby,

Like Sheldon I checked your blog to see how the tutoring was going and saw the stuff you posted. Fantastic to read.

I didn't get chosen by Stephen, fingers crossed I get in next time around.



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