‘ Roads? Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads. ’ Category

Lessons Learned…

1 response, Apr 24, 2012

So funny thing about that payphone project. As I said, I worked most of the weekend on it and really put some time into it, and I was pretty pleased with the resulting renders. They looked nice and shiny and all of that neat stuff. However, when I showed it around to some artist friends and posted it on some game art forums, the reaction was universally negative, in a few instances, strongly so. It was kind of a day of getting kicked in the artistic junk. Nothing humbles you like getting kicked in the artistic junk. So I’m not gonna take it down or anything. It’s currently up on my portfolio as I feel it’s at least an indication that I can do some high-poly modeling, but I’m working now on a project that I’ll be able to replace it with.

Hours you spend on a project do not inherently earn it artistic or design value. I had to fight back that all-too familiar novice artist feeling that “Well, I spent x number of hours and worked hard on it, so it’s good!” Sometimes you produce crap stuff, and sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. So goes the learning. Don’t let your effort blind you to the process of getting better and roll with the critiques: they are more valuable than any amount of praise.

Also, on the subject of critiques, get them often and get them early. Maybe if I had shopped my sketches around more, I would’ve been posting a genuinely good piece.

These are my lessons (hopefully) learned this week, and you know what? If I remember them, it was a productive weekend after all. :)

Internship II: This Time It’s Local

No response, May 05, 2011

I can finally announce to the 3 people who follow my terribly neglected blog that I’ve been picked up for another summer internship! That’s 2 summers in a row! My secret plan is to remain a student for as long as I can in order to amass up 3 years industry experience in summer student internships. That way I never have to compete for employment on a professional level!

Ok, so maybe that wont work.

This summer I’ll be staying put right here in Utah and I’ll be working at Disney Interactive Studios, Salt Lake City, otherwise known as “Avalanche” (that’s their internal name and was their name before Disney picked them up). Click on the logo above (or here) to get an idea of what they’re all about. As soon as find out and can tell you what I’m working on, I will, but you should be able to get a good idea of what they do from their website. I’m proud to be a part of the Disney machine at least for a few short months.

The art team there is phenomenal, and I’ll be sure to link some of their personal blogs throughout the summer, but for now, take a gander at the art team art blog where they try to come up with a new weekly theme at LEAST once every other month!

Another summer gaming adventure awaits!

Portfolio MADNESS!

1 response, Feb 09, 2011

Well, another year’s gone by, and that means I’ve long ago fallen out of love with my portfolio. So I made a new one! There are a couple of placeholder slots on there, and plenty of things to fix up and finish, but all should be pristine by month’s end, and then it’s onward to MORE AND NEVER ENDING PROJECTS!

Check out my portfolio by clicking in the button in the upper left of this blog!

More new stuff to come.


1 response, Sep 24, 2010

That’s my new number. It’s the number of credits I have left to graduate.

So! SOE!
SOE was an adventure, let me tell you. I’ll spare the details of how I lived in a room in a house full of Asian college students, rode a bike to work and back (5 miles both ways, and I had to go through a valley each way, so yes, it WAS uphill both ways), spent the weekends in south Orange County with my friends and family from my younger years, and saw Paige for a couple days every 2 or 3 weeks.

Instead, I’ll remind you WHY I was doing all of that stuff. I was a 3D art and production intern on the character art team for Everquest 2, which is regarded is the 2nd-largest MMO game next to World of Warcraft. I worked under a great mentor on a fantastic art team. I was constantly and consistently impressed (for whatever that’s worth, I’m still just a student) by the quality and speed that these guys produced. Frankly, one of the biggest things I learned over the summer was that I need to be much, much faster. I tend to take my time designing and building whereas these guys produced really quality work in hours instead of days. It was humbling. Then again, I think that’s part of the value of an internship.

I was on the character art team, so I spent all of my time dealing with things that pertain to the sentient life of Everquest 2, particularly the characters. I made a couple handfuls of player cloaks. Some of these were meant for their in-game store where people spend real money on in-game items to deck out their character. One of them was given away as swag for those who attended SOE’s fan convention “Fan Faire”. Additionally, I did some slight redesigns and retexures of a weapon set that is destined for the an area in the next EQ2 expansion. This was all about taking a group of existing weapons, adding my own design, color, and touch to them in order to make them completely new.

Finally, my largest project at SOE was designing and building a boss character for a raid in the upcoming expansion. She was so much fun to work with and I hope she turns out nicely. I have yet to follow up on if she imported into the engine all right or not.

Most of my work is still under NDA, so I can’t post anything just yet. Once the expansion finally drops in February-ish, though, I’ll be posting an SOE reel with everything in there. Until then, just know that it was a fantastic experience for me. I learned that I need to learn to paint in a BAD way. I also learned that I need to better polishing the skills I already have in order to get faster at producing within my comfort zone. I also learned that pushing beyond my comfort zones is ok and even necessary even in day-to-day projects. I also learned how to cope with assignments that are beyond my skill set. I learned that I need to be a generalist. The better you can do other people’s jobs in addition to your own, the better off you’ll be. I learned more things specific to modeling, texturing, and designing than I had in the 6 months previous.

I think the most important thing I learned, though, is that I really really enjoy working in this industry. I’ve never had a job that I’ve actually loved doing, and heaven knows that SOE wasn’t always a party to work at for work is a lot of work, even if you enjoy it as a whole. Every other job I’ve ever had, though, has quickly disintegrated into a drudge after a few weeks’ time. Working on games, I never even sensed an inkling that that would be the case. I loved doing it, and with luck, I’ll love doing it for a long, long time.

As for now, I’ve got school to finish and lots of stuff to post up. I’m swinging into my last few semesters and shooting for a December 2011 graduation. I’ll end up with 2 degrees: BFA in Animation and a degree in the Russian Language. Until then, I’ll continue to work my personal projects into my school assignments, and I need to get going editing and supplementing my reel, so expect to see new work in the close future. Better work. Faster work.

Thanks to everyone who helped make my summer of 2010 possible. There were many of you, and you know who you are.

Soe I Got An Internship…

4 responses, May 18, 2010

Clever puns aside, I was offered an internship this summer!

I applied to Sony Online Entertainment, a MMORPG developer in San Diego, a couple weeks ago. A friend of mine who had been talking with them about internships suggested I apply as he had been offered a position somewhere else, so I went ahead and applied. The day after I applied, the SOE hits started pouring in on my portfolio, and they continued into the next day. It’s always nice when a place you apply to actually looks at your application as several places I’ve applied to still haven’t bothered, so I counted myself lucky that they were even looking. The next day I got a call. In the middle of a 3-mile run.

I had a nice phone interview with Dave Brown, head character artist on the Everquest 2 team as I stood in the middle of a deserted, windy road in the middle of nowhere on the borders of Provo and Springville. I had to catch my breath between answers as I had just ran a mile and a half. Interviews with video game developers are always awesome because one of the questions posed is always “So, what video games have you been playing lately?” Then I get rattle off a bunch of titles to show that I do actually like playing games and am currently involved in playing games so that they know if they walk into my office and say things like “Ok, so this character, we want him to kind of have that Team Fortress 2 feel, but with a little more Starcraft style in there, but not too much Oblivion…” and I’ll know what they are talking about. At the very least, it’s a very powerful mental vindication for the gamer.

So the interview went well, and he said they were interested but he used the dreaded “Ambiguous Interview Wrap-up Language” and mentioned getting in touch with some other people and they’ll let me know etc. So I optimistically hung up and Paige and I continued running.

About 5 minutes later, Joe Shoopack called me up. Joe is a BYU Illustration alumni from 1985 or so, and is very active in trying to recruit BYU students and graduates. As he called, I ducked behind a parked car in some lone office parking lot to shield the conversation from the wind, and once again breathed behind my hand between comments. He clarified some things about housing out in San Diego, and then said that they liked me in the interview and said that they would hopefully be getting in touch with me in a day or two. I took the follow-up call 5 minutes after the interview as a good sign.

A few more days of waiting, and I was indeed contacted! I’ll be starting bright and early on June 14th at SOE San Diego, whose offices are not too far away from the San Diego Mormon Temple, where I will be working full-time for 10 weeks. I’m assuming since I was interviewed by their lead character artist that I’ll be working on characters, but I’m not sure. I at least know for sure that I’ll be on the Everquest 2 team. Everquest is one of the original massively-multiplayer online roleplaying games. The most well-known game in this awkwardly-worded genre is World of Warcraft. So tons of people all playing together acting as elves and knights and mages and the like killing monsters and running quests to level up and get more powerful stuff and all that kind of thing. From what I’ve heard, SOE internships are actual hands-on positions, that is I wont be stuck in some training program under the tutelage of a mentor, but I’ll actually be working on the actual game actually. This is more unusual than you’d think, so I’m excited to possibly get real game credit.

So that’s that! San Diego, here I come. Now just to find suitable lodgings and transportation, for one can hardly live in souther California without a car… Which brings us to the REAL point of this post:

Anyone have suitable lodgings and transportation in San Diego they want to rent out to me?

Mobile Pond

No response, May 12, 2010

Just a note, I installed a great WordPress Mobile plugin called WPtouch, so anyone visiting on their phone should get a much more readable version of The Pond. Enjoy!

Something interesting…

3 responses, Apr 21, 2010

So cramming this maquette for finals has brought something to my attention that I always kind of knew and experienced to a certain degree, but as of yet never as potent as on this project. This post is particularly for those who have artists or creative types in their lives and have some kind of desire to better understand the way they think.

The vast majority of the work on the Kangaroo was done after the hour of 10 o’clock at night. This was not planned or scheduled. For a couple days, I had other work to cobble together earlier in the night, but this has been my primary project for the past few days, but I always ended up really getting down to work once Paige and the animals were already asleep. I got to thinking about this really earlier today when Paige and I were planning on going running, but she called her mom “real quick” to talk about something “real quick” and ended up talking for over an hour. Someone with a math project or a paper due the next day, would probably have waited 10 or 15 minutes and then just started chiseling away at their work in the meantime, but looking back, I think all I did while waiting was general emailing, blog-checking, and the like. When Paige was done, I said, “Hey! Cool! Let’s do this, I got stuff to do later,” and she was all of a sudden concerned that she had wasted my time and asked whether or not I had been working that whole time. I told her that I hadn’t. I hadn’t been working on the maquette because I knew that at any moment, I would be interrupted.

Artists cannot stand this, and this is part of the disconnect that inevitably happens in traditional office situations between suits and creatives. The suits need to do suity-type things like have meetings. They love meetings. More than the actual meetings, though, they love to plan meetings, schedule them, give out assignments, and put them in their smartphones. Artists loathe meetings because artists literally never take anything away from them. You could have a 3-hour meeting and everyone in the company would leave pumped and/or informed and/or energized except for the artists unless they had drawn some really neat caricatures in their sketchbooks or something. Meetings are utterly lost on artists and we only attend because the suits hint at scary things happening if they don’t go.

What’s worse than actually attending meetings for artists, though, is scheduling them. If you employ any number of artists and you schedule a meeting for 11am, your artists will produce next to no work for an entire half of the day. They will arrive at work at 8 or 9 or whenever, and remember with disappointment that there is a meeting at 11. They will then open their art-programs, and check the emails, blogs, each other, and maybe organize some files or look at their recent work until the meeting time because there is no time between 9 and 11 to enter, engage with, and exit the creative process. The meeting will last an hour, and then the artists will all go to lunch together to discuss how stupid the meeting was as well as how awesome Looney Tunes are. They will then return to work at 1pm, and possibly get some work done. A 1-hour meeting destroys most of their work day. Suits do not understand this, and as soon as they hear about it, they start to resent and rail against it.

The mere idea that a distraction or interruption is coming is an interruption. Creative types have to engage in their work often times in very specific and personal ways, that it blocks out much of the world around them. Some need music to engage. Others need movies or shows to engage. Some need complete silence. Some engage better at home, others outside. Some cannot stand to create at a desk that is too tall, too short, too shallow or on computers with one too little monitors, too small of monitors, or not the right mouse or tablet. Some require active conversation to produce their best work. Others need OTHER PEOPLE engaging in active conversation around them to work best. Call it their “muse” if you want to be melodramatic, but if you, they, or someone else wants them to produce their own work, they MUST be allowed to construct around themselves the environment they NEED.

This is why many studios and developers allow their art teams to decorate their cubicles and workstations as they see fit. In most of the animation departments at Pixar, there are empty rooms where artists can go in and literally build whatever they want to work in. Houses, stone castles, tropical tiki bars, caves, whatever. Movies that win Oscars and made not by people in cube farms in shirts and ties, but by kids in shorts and t-shirts, working in blanket forts. This is why work dress codes make me laugh on the outside and weep on the inside. You are really going to force your creative team to wear ties when they will never ever interface with “customers” or clients simply because that’s what your 200-level business class told you was “professional”?

So Paige was only slightly baffled at my seeming time-wasting, but only a little as she kinda knows the drill by now, but it was a weird question to me. Why wasn’t I working? Because an hour isn’t long enough to engage in a project like this. An hour is long enough to doodle in a sketchbook, maybe. But to make effective and acceptable progress on a major project? Not even close. So the next time your artist-spouse pleads with you to take $90 and go see 3 movies at the theater with the kids, or make you jealous because while you’re at work all day, they’re at home with movies playing all day, remember that artists need what artists need, and nothing ever EVER. “just takes [them] 15 minutes” as so many deadbeat clients insist.

So… Busy…

1 response, Mar 09, 2010

This is only a day-and-a-half’s worth. It was much worse over the weekend. I’ll have some actual substance to post tomorrow and later this week, but suffice it to say my main contribution to the senior film is almost done. I’ll be helping out with everything else down the line, for sure, but this will be what I point at and say “That’s what I did!” when I show it to people.

Let the merchandising begin!

No response, Feb 11, 2010


Design is mine and is in no way officially affiliated with BYU or the BYU Animation program (even though I am).

Portfolio site updated!

No response, Feb 05, 2010

I updated my portfolio site with some higher-resolution stills of some stuff on my demo reel. Go check it out using the link in the upper left!

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