Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Bloggering Time!

Hey World!

So it's settled. Wednesday's be my bloggin' day from here on out! I don't want to wait until January to make this resolution stick. I would have called it my December Resolution, but alas I've already missed last Wednesday, Dec 7th! ...My kid gotsed the pink eye last week and he couldn't go to daycare until he finished his round of meds, so he and mama -- that would be me ;) -- got an exTENDed-extended weekend! YAY!...kind of. It was unexpected and I greatly missed my kid-free studio, art supplies, and copious amounts of table space and uninterrupted time. But I still managed to stay creative. I always do!

At any rate, I'm back! And ready to recap my CTN eXperience!

It's been a few weeks since coming home from the CTN eXpo, AND I HAD A BLAST, btw! (Buckle up, this is going to be a long post!)

I took a lot of notes. A LOT of notes. 16 pages, double-sided. Photos, too. Over 600 images in 3 days. I think my shutter was a bit noisy during some panels, but I was "in it to win it" and just wanted to retain everything! (If any of you readers out there were in any of those same panels, I apologize if my incessant picture taking was annoying. Though, a few people have since been in touch with me saying it was "genius" that I recorded everything, and asking me to share some of those images with them, which of course I've been happy to do!) I'd say, that in itself makes it all worth it in the end!

I always like to let an event like this resonate with me for a while and let the highlights float to the surface in their own time. Some of these highlights are instantaneous, seeming to speak directly to me and wasting no time about it! But then some of these may be the messages and conversations that were repeated a few times in a few different places, as opposed to being just an isolated event. Or they may emerge as the little moments, the instances, that I relive the most.

I'm so happy I had the opportunity to attend. I believe it's the Law of Attraction that's in force in these memories -- those greetings, those handshakes, those conversations -- that the universe is giving me because I put myself in a postion to receive them. The right place at the right time! Case in point:

Right off the bat on Friday afternoon, the first panel I went to, entitled "Dream Jobs You Didn't Know Existed" by the amazing speaker/talent/businessman/author William C. Vaughan, pretty much sealed the deal for me. He answered the big question that had been weighing on me and my career. #1 on his list of "Seven Deadly Job Search Sins" was "Homesickness: the unwillingness to move/relocate". I instantly realized that this is where I'd been teetering forever. My eyes were immediately opened and the bar was set for the rest of the weekend.

I don't want my dream job to go unrealized my whole life. I've been tangled in the ideal of being a full-time mother, but I see now that I want to be a mama that my kid (and future kids) will be proud of, that they will have the priviledge of coming onto the studio lot everyday if they want to, to have lunch breaks with me, watch early screenings of new movies, and even land a few voice acting roles! "Even more than this, you've given me HUGE insight into expanding my already existing career, and so for this I thank you, Mr. Vaughan!" Find out more at about him, his books, and his career at

Next was a Spotlight on Sergio Pablos, an amazing character designer who's worked on Tarzan, Treasure Planet, Despicable Me, and Rio, to name a few. A seasoned vet with a thick Spanish accent, this guy had some grit to him!

I picked up some good cues from him, such as that it's still fine to work traditionally. This was reassuring to hear, as one of the other vibes I picked up over the course of the weekend was how important it is to keep current and to stay ahead of the technological curve. He says, "It's good to learn how others do things, but you've got to find your own way. Small studios have a hard time employing you if you can't jump to other departments, but big studios want you to specialize." (Also from what I'm hearing, there's kind of a shortage of raw talent our there, so coming from him, this was extremely validating!) When questioned by an audience member about the pressure to go digital, he replied, "If I'm going to go into a medium that's going to limit me, then I don't want to go there!"

What lovely sentiment! ;D

To find more about him and his current work, go to

Later that night was Creator Conversation with Florian Satzinger, a character designer from Austria. I stumbled onto his work almost accidently, but couldn't miss the chance to hear him talk in person!

His designs are fantastic and whimsical; very 'weight-y' and super fun to just let your eyes wander upon! (See more at his website at or read his blog:

He shared this really great trick on how to draw a character turnaround by building a box around your design, then finding anchor points so you can rotate it in perspective with more accuracy. Effing brilliant! This was really impressive when it was being drawn live right in front of us!

I ended the night by heading to a mixer hosted by Animation Mentor where I mingled with several friends and met even more talented folk!

Saturday was a long day, with 5 back-to-back panels. I woke up super early hoping to be first in line for a Character Design Portfolio Review, WHICH I WAS!! Unfortunately the candidates to be reviewed were already chosen in advance [insert descending slide whistle sound here]. Soooo, a little deceiving, but at least I got first dibs on seating! Lol! And to be entirely truthful, I learned A LOT by listening in on others' critiques.

Then came Creator Conversation with Carlos Grangel (, another Spanish character designer. I have to admit, I didn't know anything about him going into it, save that I liked his jpegs on the CTNX website. I'm so glad I signed up! This guy was a treat!

He drew for us.


I don't know why, but there's something so inspiring and revealing about watching other artists draw live in front of you. You get a glimpse into their thought process that you otherwise wouldn't get with just a still image. It's like the difference between watching 'the big game' vs reading the final scores in the newspaper the next day!

There was one bunk panel I went to midday, that kinda bummed me out. It was called A to Zbrush. I've been debating getting (back) into sculpture (I majored in sculpture back in fine art college) and thought it'd be a great crash course. But I didn't have a great seat, and could barely hear the guy. Not that it mattered. He didn't cover any basics of the software, he just noodled over this one sample file he had open, griping about "how he hates it when" artists leave out minute details, like the tragus and the anti-tragus of the ear. I think he was hungover. "Whatever, douche. I was going to pay $1000 to take your online course, but now you can suck it!" The end.

...Then there was THIS guy!...

He was set up in the atrium practically all weekend long, puddying away! I should have taken a seat front and center with HIM for an hour and a half instead!! Gorgeous work! A veteran of the biz as well! Kent Melton is his name.

He's also responsible for this little beauty, which I came *this close* to buying, but couldn't decide on which version hair color I wanted! So I was a good girl and decided to sleep on it and buy online later! This is Kent's sculpt of a Fred Moore design. I've been told my work is like Fred Moore reborn. This delights me beyond words! Now just imagine if I could sculpt one of my own designs! I believe I have some modelling clay around here somewhere!... I think a Laurie B! vinyl is in order, don't you??!

I had the pleasure of hearing Louie del Carmen speak about "Cultivating Your Artistic Personality". Louie is a personal friend of mine who's been up here to the Calgary Expo before, and who arranged for my first tour of DreamWorks, back in the day. He currently still works there as a story artist. I loved the title cards in his presentation!

Once again, I had the pleasure of watching over his shoulder in his office as he boarded some panels for Kung Fu Panda 2...which is just out on BluRay/DVD yesterday, and I can't believe I haven't even picked it up yet! For shame! ...I watched it 4 times on various flights this past summer and fall, and despite some meh reviews, I thought it was a spectacular movie that held its own, same as the first one! Good job, Louie!

I had an evening panel with legend James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. He was a really sweet man -- reminded me of a fun uncle -- and a very, very prolific artist. (

He spoke about his family and his sons a fair amount, which reinforced to me that permission to have a family and a fulfilling career. Lately he has been having a great time letting his son join him at work. And this put a smile in my heart, for obvious reasons!

Another day done, but not before heading to another mixer in the lobby/lounge! I met numerous fellow Canadians who've been working state-side for years, supporting their families, et al. Among my new aquaintances is storyboard artist Kris Pearn, who is a sweetheart! Not only is he Canadian, but he's also from a small farming community, like me! Reminds me of that line from Ratatouille, "Not just anyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere." He shared a lot of work visa info with me which cleared the air and eased my mind about that aspect of relocating for work, if need be. Good guy! "Thanks for the book, Kris!" xoxo

Sunday morning was the home stretch. I had been all panelled-out and hesitated to go to either of the 2 panels I had left as I'd barely spend any time in the exhibition hall. But alas I kept an open mind. And then along came Bill Perkins, decades-long art director and visual development artist with Disney.

This guy blew my mind...sideways.

The workshop was called "Creating Mood" and I thought it was just going to be a painterly how-to. Wrong. He covered art theories with such thorough analysis, I felt like I was watching the creation of the cosmos! There were words in there I never even heard before. I'm even at a loss for words to describe what this panel was like. Suffice to say I'm stupidly-glad I went! God willing, one day I'll partake in his many workshops:

The last panel was on the age-old debate over "2D: Dead or Alive" with Mike Nguyen. I thought nothing could top what I had just bared witness to, but I was wrong again. What Mr. Perkins had in intellect, Mr. Nguyen had in pure heart and soul. The real deal.

Mike in fact DID talk about the creation of the cosmos, the meaning of life, the higher power that lives within us, beckoning us to this beautiful medium called animation and what, really, is at the heart of why we do what we do. "The best things in life can't be told, because they transcend explanation."

What an inspiring way to cap off the CTNX!! ...And in answer to that age-old question, he in fact answered it within the first 5 minutes: "2D is not dead. Trends are moving away from traditional not because of the medium but because of the content."

Amen, bruthah!

Check out his sweet indy project at

"Mr. (Monk!) Nguyen, it was a divine pleasure spending an afternoon with you. I'm certain we will meet again someday."



keith said...

Excellent blog post Laurie! One of the best I have ever read. I really look forward to seeing some more of the pictures you took!

LB! said...

Thanks for reading, Keith! Give my love to your beautiful fam from moi! Miss you guys!