Sunday, November 13, 2005

false boundaries

So frustrating. We're trying to make a movie here and damn it, the semester's going to end before we're done. Shoehorning an animated production into an academic schedule is trying enough, now we're facing the problem of trying to rekindle a crew for the spring to get this show finished.

So we're going out. But we're not going out soft. We've set three very challenging but definitely achievable goals for the end of term:

1) Finish all the animation for Operator. This will amount to every animator finishing about two shots a week for the next month. This is about twice our current pace.

2) Finish the destruction of the tower sequence (u7) in FX. This is all the cracking glass and water and other nonsense. It's about 24 shots, maybe 20 or so have complicated FX in them.

3) Finish a trailer to show in Hampshire's "end of semester screening."

This work is testing me as a director, not to mention as a teacher. There's little room left for "try this out and let's take a look" kind of stuff -- now we have to have focused work towards a known goal or else we won't hit our deadlines. That lack of breathing room means that folks need to know the technological stuff cold, because we can't afford big steps backwards due to error. So the handoffs have to be much more carefully done now and it means many more small meetings where we go over approaches before they're tested for real. I think this is a change for the better, but it's exhausting for me to keep up with what amounts to about a dozen or so different subprojects going on at once.

Friday, October 7, 2005


So it was my reappointment meeting today, where the school of Cognitive Science got together, looked at the file I've been assembling, and voted on whether or not to recommend me for reappointment to a four-year contract at Hampshire.

There's a bit of falsity in that last sentence. I basically was done with the file in July, and it was up to everyone else to write letters to the file for the past few months. So I wasn't doing much of anything except crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

I was shocked by the letters I received, both in number and in content. I'm indebetted to all who contributed.

The funny thing about today was that I was so much more interested in being back in the lab, working with the team on the CS334 film, than I was in dealing with the reappointment. So when I was excused from the room so the school members could deliberate I was pleased, and I was a little sad when they came to retrieve me after only a few minutes of discussion. We're at a critical point in the production (animation dailies began in earnest today) and there was much to discuss. It's a pretty exciting time in that classroom.

Anyway, I was happy that they voted in support of my continuing at Hampshire, and also happy for the process to be over (at least for now). I'm extremely lucky to be in an environment that supports my work and approach to teaching, and I'm glad that it wasn't a huge disruption to get through the whole thing. Again, though, without the comments from students, alums, and colleagues all over, I would have had a very different experience today. So I head to bed thinking about how I might thank everyone for going out of their way to put in a good word for me.

Monday, September 19, 2005

pressure is building

I'm only sleeping through the night because of a back-of-the-envelope calculation from the other day:

270 seconds of character animation in the film (roughly), spread out over 9 weeks means 30 seconds per week. We've got four full-time student animators (5 secs/week each, assumed). That's 20 of the 30 seconds we need each week. Then I hope we can count on our alumni support and beyond for the other 10 seconds a week.

In other words, it seems feasable. However, schedule slippage will kill us. And there are a hell of a lot of what I'd call "hard" character shots on the film, so it wil kill us too if we somehow can't cut our teeth on the easier work.

So now I'm just hoping to get real shots into layout ASAP. There is a great deal of artwork coming through, which means modeling will be busy this week. That's good. If we can layout with proxies and get the real models in after they're done we'll actually be getting somewhere.

113 shots to do as of today.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

long and scary

Class begins Thursday.

Chris (Bishop) and I have worked hard, especially in the last month, on creating the storyreel for Uprising. As of last night, it was running at 8 minutes long, which is WAY TOO LONG for a class project. I think some serious pruning at the head might reduce it to 6 minutes, which is still long but feels at least possible.

My goal is to screen the reel to the class during the second class meeting, a week from today.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

back from Texas

The best saying of the weekend was from a Texan who (in response to questions about Bush's Crawford ranch), said about the president:

"He's all hat and no cattle."

(this one was passed on to me by Steve Weisler)


I may have finally completed the first draft of my next animated short, tenatively titled "Uprising," which will be produced by my Computer Animation III class at Hampshire in the Fall. I'm nervous about the size and scope of this project given the 3-month production schedule, so I'll probably write a lot about it here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Opening Day

After a long day with my 11-month old daughter, I decided to start a blog. Reasons why will come in time.