Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

I'm celebrating by watching videos of bunnies!

And since today doesn't count, Cleveland decided to be warm, and I decided to wear pants. WEIRD.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Some Videos Michaela Made

Last night I couldn't fall asleep because I was trying to decide how many colors could be determined aqua. Anyway, I updated my demo reel, so that's cool. And I included a floral rabbit because, let's face it, bunnies are awesome because they're practically jackalopes, which are super rad, and floral will alway be in, in my opinion. Anyway, the music is by The Avett Brothers, who, like jackalopes, are also super rad.

Formatted to Fit Your Screen

In case you don't live in the Great White North, aka, Cleveland 9 months out of the year, and in case you do but you were snowed in, or in case you do and you weren't but something came up, and you didn't make it to see 360° of Sight + Sound at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, my piece looked a little something like this. Except bigger, and rounder, and on the ceiling.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Their Ghosts Remain Between The Pages.

Here it is.

The footage I shot in one day. The frames I drew in 10 days. The frames I photographed for 17 hours. The 24 pads of tracing paper I received for my birthday and Christmas. The two complete sets of Micron pens I ran dry. The reason my hands and wrists were swollen. The breakthrough.

This is about Joanna Simmons, and her highschool sweetheart, Thomas Barnes. About the notes they hid in each others books, and the books she ended up writing. It's about their time together and their time apart.

It's about ghosts. About lingering pasts manifested in forms of nostalgia.

I like where this is going. I have received so much praise for this piece, by people I honestly respect, whose opinions I value so highly. This piece was accepted into the 66th annual Student Independent Exhibition, where the jurors indicated that it be in the video room alone. That alone was a big deal. And then it went on to win the Hal & Cyndy Goodwin Grand Prize Award. I honestly still feel a bit numb, like it hasn't really sunk in entirely. All of the sudden, I have this amazing piece, the result of endless hours and endless coffees, and I'm proud of it, and it's getting amazing feedback. I almost don't know how it happened.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Planetarium Project: 360° of Sight + Sound

Last night, a version of my rotoscope, formatted for a dome, was shown at the planetarium at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, along with 4 other super HD animations by some very talented CIA artists. And the music, by 5 composers at CIM, was heard in super surround sound. The first VIP showing was packed with important people, and I wore a super snazzy 1950s dress, and we ate about 7 different kinds of cheese surrounded by scenes of taxidermied wildlife and an ever preserved Balto. I received such wonderful feedback on my piece, and everyone is so proud that we were able to bring together these 3 institutions to create something amazing.

The animations were all completely different, more so than we were expecting. Bill Garvey's vector based, Saul Bass inspired style of a Planequarium was so fitting for the museum. Tami Liss collaged videos she filmed of shadow puppets she created herself. Romero Smith moved the audience through a 3d space filled with abstract shapes and bright colors. This was followed by an inverted version of my rotoscope, with vintage imagery in glowing lines. The show concluded with kaleidoscopic scenes by Vanesa Jeric that encapsulated the entire dome. And aside from starfish in Bill's piece, no astronomy was present.

Composers, you guys are amazing. The Cleveland Institute of Music really is full of talent. Your diverse styles are what took our animations to the next level. I don't know how you do it.

Chris, thank you so much for creating such eerily beautiful music. I would have never asked for this style, but when you decided to structure it like a ballet, I knew something great would happen. When I first listened to it I was amazed. I didn't know how to make work to live up to the complexities throughout the music. I contemplated narrative possibilities for so long, determined to find a way to create subtle suspense without allowing it to become too heavy. The more I listened to the music, the more I loved it. It has added so much to my piece, and I am forever grateful. And now there is a whole new style of music for me to consider when I need my next piece scored.

The Composers
Jesse Limbacher
Fabio Pires
Matt Smith
Lucas Strakowski
Chris Zajac

The Directors
Amanda Almon, CIA
Jason Davis, CMNH
Keith Fitch, CIM
Kasumi, CIA
Steve Kohn, CIM

And in case you were curious, here are a couple of articles about the show.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

At the Hop

I have a 10 page paper that was assigned one week ago. It was going to be due today, but thankfully my teacher's pretty rad and decided to cancel class & collect the papers on Thursday. Which is super awesome because I didn't have time (between SIE and Planetarium stuff) to work on it until Monday, and, well, yesterday I didn't really feel like writing at all. And I'm fortunately pretty awesome at saying some decent things for 10 pages when I'm in the mood, so why waste a day fighting it when I could realistically knock it out in 6 hours or less? Exactly. So during the class time today, instead of turning in my paper, I went to the planetarium for some more testing. I know it's now out of my hands (the event is Thursday!), but I still feel incredibly anxious and worried about indoor tornadoes and spontaneous combustion. So it's hard to focus and I still haven't finished my coffee, so I certainly can't start yet.
Anyway, all of this was to justify why I have been reading about rabbits all day. 
I'm sure you're aware, if you read my blog ever, that I have high hopes of one day owning a sheep named Beatrice. mostly so I could harvest her wool and make things (you know, it's an economic thing), but also because sheep are funny. But I also want a pet bunny. I had one as a kid and have wanted another ever since. I really considered getting one last year, but I knew that with school, I couldn't commit to cleaning its cage often enough. But guess what! Graduation is just around the corner (yikes?), which means I can have a pet rabbit and eat fresh vegetables, and give leftover vegetables to the rabbit!
I've been researching different breeds, and I definitely want a bigger one. They tend to live longer, plus aren't as fragile. I'd prefer one that's laid-back as opposed to cranky, and one that I can take for walks on a leash. Also, as part of my 10 year plan, I would like the have the rabbit taxidermied into a jackalope after it dies, because I think that would be hilarious, and I love jackalopes. So its ears must look nice with antlers. This brought me to Flemish Giants and Continental Giant rabbits. Flemish Giants can weigh about 20 pounds, and Continentals can be about 35 pounds, plus they're ears are beautiful! Of course, English Lops are always an option. They're only 10-14 pounds, and they are adorable! You'll recognize them as the rabbits with the super long ears (22" spans on average!). They just need enough space in their cage/hutch to hop around without stepping on their ears. However, they wouldn't look as nice with antlers.

Maybe I'll write my paper now. But if you feel like distracting me, please draw a picture of me with a rabbit of your choosing, or with a jackalope. I have long, tangled blonde hair and dark brown Buddy Holly glasses and wear a size 6 shoe. All drawings can be emailed to michaelalikescupcakes (at) gmail (dot) com and will be posted on this blog with your permission. And if I don't get any, I guess I'll have to take a break from writing and draw some myself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wanted to animate a deer.

So I did.

In other news, come to SIE!! The opening shindig is tomorrow from 6-9pm!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Student Independent Exhaustion 66

Here I am, 5am, at the library, not sleeping, making art with Debbie. I feel as though I haven't really rested in weeks, and that's pretty accurate. January had me in a frenzy, rotoscoping until my hands were swollen. And so far February has consisted of further preparation to show the rotoscope in the planetarium, and helping with SIE, CIA's Student Independent Exhibition. Debbie happens to be one of the chairs, so I've been filling in wherever she needs the extra help. There's a lot to be done, but I'm so glad to be involved.

A bit about SIE... The exhibition is completely student run. This year, the two chairs are Debbie Christensen and Ryan Camp, both seniors in Communication Design. They organize meetings and direct a committee to see to it that everything gets done. At the meetings, students suggest artists they would like to jury the show. We then write to our top three choices and hope that they can find the time to visit Cleveland. Last Monday and Tuesday, students dropped off their submissions, and on Thursday, our three jurors arrived. Stephanie Craig (who makes some of my favorite ceramic pieces and who is also super funny), Ben Grasso (who tries his hardest to refrain from constant pep talks and reading Wikipedia), and Brent Green (my favorite animator who tells the greatest stories and also loves Bob Dylan's Christmas album) spent an afternoon with students in studio visits, followed by dinner with the exhibition committee. On Friday, the jurors spent 12 hours deciding which work to include in the show. They couldn't stress how hard the process was. And when they took a break for lunch, we had a panel discussion for students (and the public) to hear their responses to questions like "What's the weirdest art supply you've ever bought?" and "How do you know when a piece is done?" and "Do you believe in ghosts?" (Debbie & I hosted the discussion and came up with the brilliant questions. Haha) After the jurying, we had a potluck extravaganza, and then they were free to go.

But let me just say, I couldn't imagine a better group of jurors. In all honesty. Not only do they all make amazing work, but they are all super fun to hang out with, they all got along, and they were all hilarious! Escorting to studio visits and leading the discussion I think gave me insight I wouldn't otherwise have gained. Did I mention it was super fun? And holy cow, I  have so many ideas now. Sometimes it's nice to hear pep talks. And it's nice to get feedback from people you respect so much.

At 6:30am (see--why bother sleeping?), Debbie & I will head over to the Gund, which they will be opening early, and meet a few students and a news crew. We're going to be featured on Kickin it with Kenny! Which I'm not too familiar with, but I heard he's a swell guy. Haha. So if you're in Cleveland and want a sneak peek at the exhibition which Debbie & Ryan curated so brilliantly, and which Stephanie, Ben, and Brent juried so thoughtfully, then you should turn on Channel 8 sometime before most people are awake (they'll be airing different segments every hour). And come to the opening on Friday! Y'all can see my rotoscope :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Instead of sleeping,

I'm writing. About no one and everyone and nothing and everything and forever and ever and never and not. About Eleanor Rigbies and people I don't know. And hopefully in the morning, I'll have a rough draft of my thesis paper.

The last several days have been amazing. Perfect snows and favorite people. Marvelous things are happening.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Golden Ponies & Floral Print Fabrics

It's a great day in Megastudio, and I've been as productive as I possibly can. Tomorrow, the SIE (Student Independent Exhibition) jurors arrive, and I get to escort Brent Green, my favorite animator, to studio visits with students. And of course I signed up for a visit, too! I met Brent a little over a year ago, when he came to CIA to show his feature length stop motion film Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then at the Cinematheque. He has given me endless inspiration, from honest statements at that last studio visit, and from his incredibly beautiful stories he animates.
The other jurors are Ben Grasso, a graduate of CIA who makes incredible paintings, and ceramicist Stephanie Craig, who features woodland creatures in her work! I'm really excited for the show--and almost too excited to do real work! So in between outlining my thesis paper and thinking about my next rotoscope (I want to do another because I'm insane?), I've painted some horses gold and start sewing something marvelous.

Oh muh darlinnn!

I thought I should make an animation. So I did.
And then I remembered that my Vimeo Plus account ended last month. I debated whether or not it was worth the $60 for a year's subscription (which it totally is, I'm just thrifty). And then I remembered that you only get 500MB a week with a regular account (compared to 5GB!), and even this little 49 second video is 800MB! And I'll definitely need to share my rotoscope with the world, so I'm back with Vimeo Plus. Worth it.
By the way, has anyone seen Vimeo's new design? At first, when I agreed to test out the new layout, I didn't like it. Until I scrolled down a bit and realized just how organized everything was. I'm a fan.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Today I felt like animating.

So I did.
I have never felt so free as I have lately. Even though my rotoscope (rendered & beautiful) could stand alone as my thesis piece (totally didn't see that coming!), I'm making more and more work. But having that breathing room means that I can pick up some twigs over lunch and tell a story after dinner. What a marvelous day! And now a marvelous night... I'm probably not sleeping. Sometimes it's better that way. I like feeling accomplished when the sun rises.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pink Glitter Everywhere

Making art.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Everything But The Frames!

I promised an update on my rotoscope, and that's exactly what you're getting. I don't want to show frames from the actual animation yet, as I still want to do more post-production, and my collaborator has yet to see it. But as of 4:45pm today, it is on a timeline, synced to music, and working. AND IT LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL. I'm really proud of myself. I'm not gonna lie, with such an experimental process to a traditional technique, a lot could go wrong, and the image could end up muddy. But it actually worked! Here's a bit of what my life has been like for the past two weeks.
First, I cleaned my studio. These are some things I made (enamel necklaces--side note: I am a beast at sawing copper; lockets made from photographs and thread; woven photographs; merit badges; paper chain; handmade negatives; 
This rectangle is the approximate format and size of my BFA projects. More about that another day.I completely organized my cabinet. Notice two things: one, the giant stack of frames to be traced on the top shelf, along with a sliver of my tracing paper collection; and two, the wide variety of materials I keep handy, aka, why I hate moving.Yes, those are the frames I need to trace. All the scenes were organized and tied together.

More art things. Things I'm thinking about. Things I consider organized enough. And a blue ribbon from Debbie.Look at how clean my desk is here! And how few library books I have checked out!And this is what it was like. A DVD playing, a lightbox, and a set of Micron pens.And as you can see, my desk didn't stay that clean. 
As I finished each scene, I tied the frames together, labeled them with the scene number, and pinned them to my wall.Each scene averaged about 130 pages. Some were as short as just 24 frames, and others were 230+.The animation was based off of that old photo you see in this image. The young lady's name is Joanna Simmons, or so I believe.And here you can see that the tracing paper supply has disappeared and has been replaced by all the original copies I traced.Hello, I'm Michaela, and I never ever seem to sleep. I'd rather accomplish something.This was partway through photographing the frames. You can see that my laptop also has anxiety. That's a good chunk of the frames I drew. I drew that many frames in 10 days. I amaze myself sometimes.This is my basic set up for photographing the frames. Don't worry, the coffee's just out of frame. (Dear Nicholas, please plan on building me a copystand like this one.)Hopefully this gives you an idea of my insanity. There's still work to do, and I still have to format it for the dome. But when I get an official flatscreen version, I'll be sure to share it with you.Sleep now? After making more art.