Updated: May 6, 2020
Winter 2020 was an intense quarter. I saw a lot of growth and I'm excited to continue exploring my craft. My three goals for Winter 2020 was to work on 1) polishing skills, 2) storytelling poses, and 3) spacing. My class load was Performance through Dialogue and Preproduction at SCAD, and Body Mechanics at Animation Mentor. My professors and mentor helped me pinpoint problem areas in my workflow, so I was able to substantially speed up my work time.
SCAD's Performance through Dialogue class teaches character acting in dialogue shots. Not only did I practice lip sync, but I also heavily focused on the subtleties of facial expressions. Since my favorite facet of animation is facial work, the class was a pure joy for me. For the first half of the class, I used a frustrating rig with limited facial functions. So, I struggled with getting real pliability in the face. Halfway through the class, my professor Greg Azzopardi recommended the Neka rig to me. She's a free production quality rig for character acting from CharacterRigs.com. I absolutely loved working with her and she let me animate emotional facial performances. Her facial controls allow for much flexibility, and I can't recommend her enough. The link to download the Neka rig is here.
Animation Mentor (AM) emphasizes posing which helped me meet my goal of strengthening storytelling poses. Each quarter, AM requires us to keep a sketchbook and issues a weekly prompt. Many of my SCAD classes have also required this, so now it's pretty routine for me. You can find my sketchbooks here. My AM Body Mechanics class required to dynamic poses showcasing strong silhouette value and line of action every week. These strict requirements pushed my poses and creativity.
Body Mechanics was helpful because it forced me to slow down and simplify. The short scenes allowed me to focus on tracking the spacing and arcs on all my movements to get the cleanest results. While I'm still a work in progress, I can see that my skill and eye have grown a lot this quarter.
Preproductions at SCAD is the first unit of the senior capstone film. Since my degree focus is 3D character animation, I chose to animate on other student's films instead of directing my own. I had the honor of working on five films this quarter. Most of my work was blocking scenes or cleaning up spline work, but I was thankful to have the work nonetheless. Actually, working many hours on many different teams has taught me to streamline my workflow.
I had the honor to be the lead animator on the film Please Wait for the Next Available Angel. After COVID-19 forced SCAD to move to a virtual online experience, the film was put on hold. I really hope that I will be able to continue working on it outside of class this spring. I really believe in this unique film--it's being rendered real-time in Unreal Engine. It has been a fascinating and rewarding experience learning to cater a feature production pipeline to run in a game engine. The film made it to staging, and I think it looks really great so far!
Evan as SCAD moves to a virtual classroom experience and life in general remains in limbo, I'm still extremely grateful to be able to do what I love. Even in quarantine, I'm still able to bring life to characters from my own living room. This pandemic has taught me that animation truly is ubiquitous, which is why I feel so privileged to have fallen in love with this durable medium of expression.