Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pixar Master Class

I was lucky enough to get to go to a Pixar Master Class last weekend at the University of Saskatchewan.  Pixar animator Andrew Gordon and story artist Mathew Luhn came all the way from California to do a 2 day intensive animation class.  It was super crazy awesome!

The first day we had Andrew who gave a lecture about animation starting from the basics to some more advanced topics like acting in animation, gestures, what to put on your demo reel and other awesome things.  He used a lot of examples from his own work at Pixar as well as some student work.  He also showed some video reference examples featuring Bobby Beck and Carlos Baena, two of the co-founders of Animation Mentor!  The video reference of Carlos was especially great because it was the reference that he had shot for Spanish Buzz from Toy Story 3 and was pretty hilarious.

The second day of the workshop was all about story.  Matt Luhn had started at Pixar as an animator on the first Toy Story and then decided that he really wanted to be in the story department instead.  He left for a couple of years and worked on other projects then came back to work in story on Toy Story 2.Matt told us some great stories about working on projects at Pixar and about growing up in San Francisco where his family owns a bunch of toy stores.  He also taught us a lot about story structure and ways to tell stories and to brainstorm ideas for stories.  I even got called up as a volunteer to help him tell part by part a story about a puppy named George who ran away.  Having to try and tell a story on the spot in front of a room full of about 80 or so people was definitely not an easy task for me and my 'deer in headlights' syndrome nearly took over.  It all turned out ok though, and it was actually pretty fun.  The story probably could have been a little better though, hahaha.

For lunch on the second day we got to eat in the Faculty Club at the University.  There was a buffet type thing and then for desert they had ordered a cake with Mike from Monsters Inc on it.  Andrew was cutting pieces of it for people and I ended up getting a piece with Mike's hip/mouth on it.  It was extra awesome because Andrew had been the lead animator on Mike for Monsters inc.

There was also a free public lecture that night at the Broadway theater where they talked about the process of making a short film.  This audience for this lecture was a bit more broad so it wasn't super technical but it was still fun!  Afterwards I brought up my Story of Pixar Animation book and they were both kind enough to sign it for me.  Matt even remembered my name from earlier in the day when he had called me up for the story exercise!

Andrew signed my book on the page that featured his famous Pixar Love Lounge which was a secret room that was connected to his office.  He's wearing the black robe in the picture and standing next to Pete Docter.

Matt drew me a picture of Woody! 

The weekend was pretty wonderful.  I learned so much from both Andrew and Matt and they were both great speakers as well as artists.  If they ever come back to Saskatoon with another Master Class I would definitely go again!

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