My medium of choice, my laptop computer, allows me to combine my three loves in this world: writing, animating, and programming. I love to write short stories, poems, essays, and would like to one day finish a novel. These stories often inspire my animations, which are primarily 3D animated using Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects. I often utilize my programming background as a tool to further develop my animations, mainly in C, C++, and MEL Script, Maya’s own scripting language. Combining these three fields has been both a challenge and an incredibly natural process. This process has evolved into works about narrative development, immersive storytelling, and technological developments to assist with the previous two.
Growing up with a father who has read more books than exist in my small town library and who reads daily while brushing his teeth has definitely instilled this in me: a passion for literature. It has become second nature for me to get lost in an entirely different world and only finding my way out once I have finished a story. I learned this obsessive passion from my mother, who always must finish a book within 48 hours of starting it. This drive to continue to explore is what I seek to achieve for the reader in my own writing. Storytelling has become a part of who I am, and I see stories in everything I observe. I create a story to accompany every work I create, no matter how simple the project. It is not always written down, but it is something I internalize, that grows and develops as the world itself develops.
The best example I can give of this development is through my animation process. Whether I am creating a character to experiment with a different technique or creating a short film, I often sketch several versions of that character, research people, animals, objects, or anything that it may be influenced by, and surround myself with these materials. I take notes not just on what that character looks like, but who it is and why it is the way it is. I build that character from the lowest possible level until I know everything I can. This way, when I finally begin modelling, I have a clear image of who I am creating.
As my research style may indicate, I am a procedurally oriented person. I enjoy making lists and outlining my plan of attack before I let my imagination totally run away from me. During my immersive process, I constantly outline the character over and over again. As a programmer, I have learned to hone this logical side in order to create efficient and well-documented code. I often find myself wondering during my animation processes if there is a way to automate what I am doing. Fairly often, there is. I develop programs to assist myself in these situations and provide all of my scripts in an open source form. I seek to share them with as many people as possible, in the hopes that others will expand on them and share their own experiences and ideas. I am a strong believer in cooperative collaboration and helping others wherever possible. Constant collaboration like this is the only way major animation companies succeed.
I am deeply inspired by professionals such as Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, Pixar, and Rankin-Bass. Each of these companies have become leaders in the fields of storytelling, animation, and technology. They have developed the best hardware and software for key aspects of animation such as rendering, motion capture, and camera rigging (especially for stop motion animation) and used it to enhance their already vivid narratives. They have all combined the three fields I am most interested in and their work has been extremely influential in my own. I seek to further combine these techniques in order to produce innovative and resourceful work.
In my own work, I often try to employ the same narrative and technological techniques these successful companies use, but with my own twists. Their abilities to personify non-human characters and create mythological beings is something I constantly strive for in my own work, and has served as a major influence in my most current project, Bubba and Bridgette, a 3d animation with hints of 2D, which tells the story of a small travel coffee mug named Bubba. The expressiveness of the small lamp in Pixar’s Luxo Jr. is reflective in Bubba’s movements. I diverge from Luxo, however, in that Bubba has a face, becoming a more humanoid character, whose expressions pull from many of Rankin-Bass’s stop motion films like Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July. I am fascinated by the different ways to make an inanimate object a living character, which is why I find Weta’s work so incredible. They are able to sculpt pieces for actors to wear as if they were prosthetic extensions of a human’s body, and transform people into fantastical beings, then further enhance the look digitally. I would like to explore techniques like this in the future and find ways to employ them in my own projects.
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