Oh look, I still have a blog… *blows off a large cloud of dust*

Um, hi blog. You may not remember me. It’s Carolyn – the person who’s supposed to be updating you on a regular basis…. yeah. Sorry I haven’t been around recently. I sort of got into this pattern where I would be working on all these things like building puppets and designing sets, all the while taking pictures of the process so I could go on to write awesome blog posts about what I was doing. The problem was that in order to get all those things done, I often didn’t have time at the end of the week to update your bloggyness. So…I would put it off and think, “that’s ok – I still have to attach the feet/tweak the design/adjust the hemline of the pants pattern. I’ll just wait until that’s finished and update the blog later next week.”

But you see, by the time I had finished that first item I was working on,  I was usually also in the middle of the next one, so I’d put off the update again to finish that next part, and so on and so forth. And with each passing week the amount of stuff I had to blog about just kept getting bigger and bigger, and I knew it would require more and more time to catch up on everything. So I just kept working on all those parts and pieces of the project I was blogging about, and well… now it’s been two months.

Sorry blog.

So here’s what I’m going to try this time. From now on, I need to just post about what I’ve gotten done. It doesn’t matter what that is or if it’s complete. I just need to keep a record of what I’m accomplishing week to week. If something’s half finished well then I’ll just have to write about the rest of it when it’s complete. Now, as I said way back at the beginning of this blog endeavour, I’ve never been good at this sort of thing. I would start and leave behind journals all the time when I was younger. It’s always something I felt would be useful and good, but I would always tend to find other things that were higher up on my list of THINGS THAT MUST GET DONE, and before you knew it – a year had passed between entries. (Seriously, you should see my live journal. I had a whole gag going on there where a group of sarcastic villagers in my head who would make mock the going-ons in my life. But it soon got to the point where there we’re such long intervals between my entries that they moved out and I assume are now living in someone else’s head. They took the dog too.) So the second part of this, to help it not drop lower on my to-do list because of the time involved in putting together a post such as this – that I will also set a time limit for myself. Once a week I will post to this blog – but each entry cannot take more than an hour to write. Once I hit that time limit, I gotta wrap it up – and anything unsaid will either have to stay that way of work itself into the next week’s entry. Hopefully this will help to keep me a little more on track.

So a quick catch up as to where I am at with my thesis/life. This week is the beginning of week 4 out of 10 on RIT’s quarter system calendar. Next fall we will be switching to semesters so the stress of the week to week will likely be less condensed.

In staying true to my ability to never be able to devote enough time to my thesis alone, I am also taking a 4 credit Project Management course, which has so far been requiring a solid 20 hours of effort a week with ~100 pages of reading, a quiz, 2-3 pages worth of answers to material review questions, required discussion post readings and replies, and a portion of a group project due every week. It’s a ton of work, but I think it’s actually a very worthwhile topic for people in creative professions to look into. Since our work is of a liberal arts major and the techniques and skills we need take a lot of time and effort to develop – most programs don’t include any courses to help us consider how to make a living off our work. A huge part of the reason that RIT was at the top of my list for animation programs was because built into the curriculum was a Business of Animation requirement. I am now taking project management on top of that because I know it is an area I myself could use some help in. I tend to underestimate the amount of time a task will take – and often spend far too much time trying to perfect every detail of every step. I am hoping that by learning about  how projects are managed and how to learn to make decisions about trade-offs between the schedule, the cost, and the end quality of the work – that I can better learn to manage myself – and perhaps start gaining some of the skills that I might need if I ever work for myself as a freelancer or start a small studio with a group of fellow animators. So while it takes away a lot of time from Posthaste, I do feel that it is very worthwhile and I am already trying to implement some of the concepts that we’re discussing in class – to my current class/thesis/heath/life balance.

The thesis work continues to progress slowly but surely. I did make the puppet armatures for Randy my main character. At the moment I have not attached any extremities to the bodies so I can get the costuming on more easily once it is designed. I also designed and built an armature for the female character at the end who distracts Randy from his letter-bearing task. I have named her Babs. (Mostly because I felt I shouldn’t just keep calling her “Boobs”) Her construction is based on the template I used for Randy but with very exaggerated hips and breasts capable of secondary motion. Spending my weekend  sanding down two tiny wooden breast pieces did lead to an amusing series of picture messages and facebook posts for my friends and family to enjoy. Because, despite the stress (both physical and emotional) I do love what I do.

In addition to finishing those armatures, I began the process of covering my test puppets (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) with polyurethane foam (like the kind you use to stuff cushions) and began designing and testing clothing patterns for their costumes. I’ve gotten the patterns for Dewey’s shop girl outfit done, and am close to being finished with Huey’s jeans and long sleeved shirt. He still needs a bubble-vest to go over it, and then I need to design the clothes for Louie – who I plan to have well used khaki’s, a button down work-shirt, a windbreaker, and a baseball cap. The fabrics for all the puppets has been purchased at this point – so it really comes down to the designing and creation.

At the end of the last quarter I also finally got the new idea for my story-line that I had been looking for. Back when I first put together my animatic in the fall – I was working against a deadline (as is almost always the case) and when I couldn’t figure out that great solution to make the story come together the way I wanted it to in time, I was left using some fairly standard comedy cliches to keep the story moving forward. It didn’t move forward all that well (oh look he tripped again) but at least it moved. Around week 7 or 8 of the last quarter I came up with a concept I thought would work much better, which I hope will make the piece more visually interesting in areas by introducing a second stop-motion technique (cut paper style) and combining some of the amusing antics of my distract-able main character. I think this new story concept is a little more engaging and make the piece more fun, and hopefully it will save me a little bit of time in the production process down the line. (I hope) To that end, starting in the first week of this quarter, I began working on some set design concepts and a new animatic to test out the new story.

This animatic I am working on in more detail, including more complete walk cycles to help me get a better sense of the timing, and filling out the detail on the backgrounds and action some more. because it’s more detailed, it’s taking me longer to bring it together. I have also come to finally accept that fact that I just don’t enjoy the storyboard and animatic phase of projects as much as the script development, fabrication, and animation stages. I know I can do them, and I need to do them, but my dislike of the task causes it to drag on and on as my motivation for the work fades. After a week and a half of fighting myself to get through the animatic, I started getting back to the fabrication and only working for an hour or two on the animatic on the days set aside for thesis work (with my other commitments it comes out to about 3 days a week overall). It means completion of the animatic will take longer, but knowing that I only have to work on it in short bursts – has allowed me to be more focused during that time – and I get to reward myself with the more fun building work afterwards.

Right now, I’ve gotten about 1/3 of the new animatic completed – not including the time after the drawing is done to sync up and new scratch track. In the meantime, I’ve tested and settled on a method for designing the shoe caps that will fit over the hex-nut toe’s of the puppets’ feet and am now working on producing those for the 4 Randy puppets, and the Babs puppet. This week I also plan to start testing methods for covering the various hard armatures I designed for Huey, Dewey, and Louie – and will use the results of those tests to build hands for my two main characters, probably sometime next week.

And so there you have my general work requirements for this quarter. My hour is up, so no pics or spell-checking for this entry. Hopefully I’ll have time for some pics in my next post. I plan to try and have my updates done on Friday so I can wrap up the week’s work at the end of the week, which will line up with my final quarter due date at the end of week 10.

Sorry to have been gone so long blogosphere. I will keep trying to get better at this as I go. Wish me luck!

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