Whoopsie daisy. It has been like…a year and a half since I’ve written on this blog. So much has changed. So let’s fill in the gaps and then maybe I will be able to update this more regularly…

Where I last left off, in terms of life on this blog, not just scripting, I had just come down from a really rocking August 2012, where I got married, and got kept at Disney. So that was pretty rad. It lead me to my first project at the studio which was the short “Get a Horse”.  I was one of the Character TD’s on it and my job was rigging. I wound up rigging about 6 of the 15 or so characters including Clarabelle Cow, Jazkat, Old Goat, Piggle, Slowjoe, and Oswald. That was a lot of fun. Shorts at Disney are fun because it’s a smaller tight knit group operating while a bigger production operates. You feel like a indie studio or something like that. It was fun. And for a first project, working on an Academy Award Nominated project is pretty damn good. It’s hard to beat….but then I got my second project…

I worked on this small unknown entity called “FROZEN”. You probably haven’t heard of it. Around December of 2012, I was working on both Frozen and finishing up some rigs on Get a Horse. Unlike Get a Horse I was assigned to be doing “Technical Animation” or “Tech anim”. I had only done a few tech anim publicity shots at the end of Wreck-it Ralph, so this was an interesting and fun challenge that is quite different from Rigging.

Our department, the Character TD department has 3 main disciplines, which I think is really cool because it allows you to grow and expand in different areas. The first is rigging which a lot of people know about. Then there is simulation setup or sim rigging. This means building cloth rigs that can be simulated later on. These rigs pertain to the clothing and hair of characters. Both the rigging and sim setup is considered to be “front end” in terms of production pipeline. These are assets, that then get consumed in the “back end” of production which is usually working on the actual shots in the film. The 3rd discipline is a back end side of things, and that’s Tech Anim. Tech Anim takes the animation given to us from the animation department, and then we apply the simulation rigs to the animation, run simulations, clean up the simulations/animations, and animate if necessary. It’s a cool job, really.

So yeah, FROZEN was my first real dive into tech anim, and what a trial by fire. Not only did FROZEN have the most simulation of any show(every character, crowds included) had at least clothing, and some both clothing and hair. In addition to the sheer amount of clothing, the TYPE of clothing and hair was quite complicated. Lots of layers(Vest over shirt and over dress which is over petticoat which is over pants). Long ponytails that had to blow in the wind. Gloves. MY GOD THE GLOVES! NOT THE GLOVES! It seemed like every other shot someone was putting on or taking of their damn gloves. While it might not seem like much, it’s a major pain to simulate that.

The schedule was pretty tough towards the end, I worked on it from like December until late August. I think we did about…I dunno, 14 weeks of OT? Not really that bad, thankfully. Sadly there was like an 8 week stretch, and that starts to wear on you. But overall I think they handled it pretty well. So how do you surpass your first project getting nominated for an Oscar? Well, by having your second one actually win one. It’s pretty amazing to think about how I worked on the first Walt Disney Animation Studios film to win an Oscar(and how crazy is it that there werent any already? Aladdin, Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast? LION KING!? COME ON!). I’m so proud of that. I’m proud of the success of it. I’m proud of it all.

I’m also proud of my perfomance. For very little experience in tech anim, working alongside people with years of experience, I was able to complete 80 shots in the film. I think it was the most in the department which feels nice. But that doesn’t take into account complexity of shots or anything like that. The whole team busted their asses, and we all helped each other out which is a great part of the job, the team.

 

After FROZEN, I was on down time for a while. Just worked on some scripts and training and stuff before being assigned to my next position which is another rigging position. Turns out I may in fact miss out entirely on the next film, Big Hero 6(which looks great. I’m trying not to hear much about it because I’d like to see it fresh just like everyone else does). I’ve instead moved to rigging on the film after Big Hero 6, which is called Zootopia. It’s a lot of fun. I can’t wait for people to see it.

Outside of work, in the near 18 months since I last wrote, I have had a child. A little guy named Bennett Butler Bays(3 B’s just like me). He was born to us January 31st, and he is awesome. Babies are amazing things to watch and behold. Seeing how he grows, and comprehends more and more each day is wild to me.  It definitely changes your life, but it is for a good way. Suddenly it’s pretty clear to me what’s really important.

I think that’s about it. Now maybe I will update the website and post more frequently.

~Bret

 

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