Today was a day that a little piece of everything that I love in life somehow magically, well maybe not so magically because my professors are all amazing people and help us set up these great experiences, came true. We started the morning by attending a show taping of Doctor Phil. It was a great chance for us to see how live tapings work, beyond just what we see on TV. The pages work so hard at getting the audience set before the show by providing them with music and entertainment such as giveaways. They work really hard to prepare you for anything, including telling you whether or not you’re going to be on the opening shot. A page came up and told our row to be extra excited because we were going to be the opening shot for a show and it was very exciting. On top of all of that, we had the chance to look around and notice what the camera people were doing and how they moved around, the wrangler did a great job keeping up with all the cords during the show. Overall I would say that I really enjoyed the chance to see that show live. It was very emotional but well worth it.
The major thing that happened today was that we had the pleasure to talk to Scott Williams, a writer of NCIS, and have a tour of the set. Being a HUGE fan of NCIS, I enjoyed seeing where everything was taking place. We talked to him a little about writing and how they tend to shoot the episodes in order and usually shoot them shortly after they are written. We had a reminder about how many edits scripts go through and how they are color coated with a list of what they mean in relation to when the edits were done. We also talked about how the sets were made for camera men to be able to work around them, nothing being to cramped or crowded and if they were they are able to take out walls to get the shots that they need. I would rate this day a 10 out of 10 on the scale for how happy I was by the end of it. We got to see almost all the usual rooms, including Abby’s Lab, the interrogation room, the room where they skype people in Iraq, the conference room, the main room where their desks are, I had the chance to sit in Ziva and Tony’s desks. It was just something that I really loved and am so grateful that we had the chance to do.
My on going fight with my sickness came to a closer end as I was well enough to attend a guest speaker session at the Ramada. We set up with our notepads and a few of us with cameras to gather up some information from people who have been working in the industry.
One of the most important things that I gathered from all of our guest speakers today was that the industry is really small and it is about who you know that can get you to your next job. Susan Dukow and Pan Jaeckle both spoke to us first, giving us some knowledge about production supervising and coordinating. They are the people who you have to give your resume to and if they don’t think you deserve to be on a set or find something wrong with your resume you don’t set foot onto one. They basically do everything from looking to hire people to helping with location management and tracking what equipment needs to be on set.
Our next speaker who really instilled the importance of people you know to get you your first job or even a job after you have been working awhile is Karen Winchell. She is the CBS Manager of Guest Relations and spoke to us about their Page program. The page program is a paid internship that lasts up to 18 months. It is the people who help escort people to their seats during show tapping for sitcoms. If they don’t need to be there they can be assigned to other places like a mail room. What the Page program offers is a chance to meet other people in the industry and to build relations with people so that you can ask them for help or guidance in the future. The Page program isn’t something to make a career out of but something to help you get your foot in the door. If people like you enough they will ask you to work for them.
Lastly Eve Honthaner, a production manager, supervisor, and coodinator, spoke to us about how to make connections with other people to maintain a job. She told us about the reality of the film industry and how important it is for us to be able to connect with others. She wrote a production handbook along with another book titled Hollywood Drive. She teaches a class at USC where she does several different things to get her students ready for the outside world of the film industry. For example how to make business cards that don’t have small print that you can’t read but still are interesting enough that people wont throw them away. She taught us a mini lesson on how to market ourselves and to be able to pitch ourselves. I am still trying to figure out a better one so I wont share what I came up with just yet. I found her lecture to be very interesting and fun, she let us toss a ball of yarn around to show how similarities connect us, it was really neat!
I think though, out of everything that I learned today, that it really comes down to the connections you make with people and being able to use your social skills to ask to get jobs from your friends you make along the way.
After a very fast week we concluded our last day in San Francisco. We had to be checked out of our hotel by 11 and played tetris as our teacher helped us figure out the best way to fit over 20 suitcases and carry-ons into the vans. What better way to spend the last few hours of our day here in SanFran than to go to the Golden Gate state park for one last group picture.
We still had a little time to explore afterwords so we had a chance to go see the Yoda statue in front of the new Industrial Light and Magic studio. With that done we headed to the airport to catch our last flight just in time too. We got through security and made it onto our flight without too much of a problem this time. We even made it to Los Angeles on time! So for now, goodbye SanFran and hello Los Angeles!
Pictures from yesterday’s adventures! :) Enjoy!
Today was the first of our Cultural Days. It was a little break from all the lectures we have been attending but by no means was a vacation. It was an opportunity for us to go out into San Francisco and shoot some photos or video for our demo reals or other recreational purposes.
We spent the first part of our day taking pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge… it was great to be able to take picture like the ones that we find on post cards and some of us even got some time-lapses of it. It was somewhat early when we went and the sun was quite low so it was hard to get a shot that wasn’t over-exposed but after some configuring on our cameras we got some great shots.
After going to the Golden Gate Bridge we stopped for a short lunch break In and Out, which is a fast food place here in California. I really enjoyed my food, I do have to say it was way better than McDonald’s or Burger King and was reasonably priced, which is always a perk.
Our trip continued as we moved to head toward the beach. We went up pretty high first and all the way up we all had our cameras sticking out windows trying to get some nice shots. We even stopped a few times to take some pictures. The view was amazing. The beach was even better though, it was after all my first time seeing to ocean, we had several photos taken and stayed there until the sun went down. It was a little cold to go and enjoy the water but a few of us, including myself, braved the colder temperatures to be able to say that we went into the pacific ocean.
I would love to start my blog off by telling you about an amazing experience about the Star Wars Studio ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) but my day started with a lovely lecture and visit to the Disney Family Museum and 2 guest lectures from an employee and former employee of ILM. Anthony Shafer started his presentation with his demo real, which broke down the animation from Pirates of the Caribbean, Davy Jones and several other visual effects that he worked on. He took us through the breakdown of Davy Jones, showing us how the animators use the white dots on the actors face to match the expressions such as an eyebrow raise. Then he put the raw footage next to the finished product to show us how accurate they can be. It was something that I never thought about. I am interested in learning more about this technology. It is something that takes a lot of work, but is fun at the same time. Our last guest speaker took questions from our class. He was also a modeler, like two people that we met on our second day of lectures. He talked about how important anatomy was to animation and how models shouldn’t always be in a stand up pose. It is important to bring a lot of personality to them. One of the most important things that I took out of his lecture is that school is important, but projects that you do outside of school are more important. I think that it is very important to always have little side projects that you are not assigned in a class. You always learn more by experimenting and overcoming challenges in your own work that you may not learn doing a class project. That is not to say class projects are not important, but they shouldn’t be the only thing that you do.
Our lectures were followed by a short visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum. There were many interactive exhibits. The exhibit that stuck with me the most was the wall of all the animations that were drawn after Walt Disney died. Many of the animations were of his characters crying and one animation was of Walt looking down on them and encouraging them to keep moving forward. This almost made me cry. I remember in our class leading up to this trip we watched a documentary on Walt Disney and I realized what an inspirational person he is.
We were very fortunate to be invited to visit the old ILM studio where Star Wars was made and get a tour of the studio. I think what I took most out of this experience, besides being awed over how amazing the building and history of it was, is that I still have much to learn when it comes to the industry. Listening to the speakers talk and learning more departments I never knew about made me crave knowledge. I am very thankful for this experience!
January 4th meant that today we went to Sony to take a tour and listen to some guest speakers. The day started somewhat latter than normal, we didn’t have the tour until 1pm so that gave me some time to catch up on some well needed rest before departing for the best day of my trip so far!
I never really thought about the gaming industry before. I thought it was all animation and motion graphics and I can’t draw to save my life to the point when my teacher asks for a story board I get a little stressed out trying to make things look somewhat like what they are supposed to be… but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that wasn’t all that they had to offer in a gaming company such as Sony job wise and there are several different jobs that come together to help get the games we love out for people to buy.
Our tour started with Margie Lee-Johnson giving us a little background on different departments in Sony Computer Entertainment America, like the human research department and the research and development department. What I found most useful out of the little lecture at the start was about 1st party, 2nd party and 3rd party. 1st party being Sony owned and make games only for Sony, 2nd part being that they make games for Sony that will only be released on their platform but can work on things for other companies too, and lastly 3rd party that makes games that are not only for Sony. I always wondered why some games wouldn’t come out for PlayStation but now I understand that some just have certain contracts.
Our next part of the tour taught our group about sound and they split us into smaller groups to show us a bit of sound design. I found it to be very interesting. I had a bit of a sound fetish when I was back at school, running around with an H2 mic trying to build a somewhat large sound library with my friend Sarah, but still it had nothing on the sound work that we were taught about. There were so many sounds that goes into making just one noise for a game and some physics to go with it too. We don’t think much about how sound can make us realize how much something weighs until that sound is wrong or missing.
Another part of the tour that I found quite interesting was when we were looking at a bit of editing and learning that some of the programs that we use back at my little school in New York are used in Sony as well. It makes me want to learn more about Final Cut Pro, even though I have a basic understanding of it, it would be beneficial to learn more about it. I may have to play around in it more when I get back to school just to familiarize myself with it more.
On top of going on the tour we got to hear from Jessica Moore who taught us so much about how to get an internship and educated us on some of the little mistakes that people make when they work on their resumes. It was all such vital information for us to know when we are going out and applying for these opportunities. It was just something that was very appreciated and I will take a lot from that lecture in my notes and work on improving my networking skills. Like many of the speakers that we talk to say, it’s a small industry. People know people and communication is important. Just don’t stalk anyone. Overall a very educational and positive experience.
Later that evening we headed over to a fellow classmate’s Aunt and Uncle’s house to learn more about what they do being former employees of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). We all had a lovely dinner of pizza and chocolate chip cookies but more importantly got to look at another side of animation.
Her Aunt even brought two modelers to speak with us that evening as well. We learned about how they create 3D models mostly on the computer, however, sometimes they do clay busts. They use these to be able to make sure their animation is consistent throughout the creative process. I couldn’t help but to make the connection that Pixar uses a similar method when it comes to their animation. He also talked to us a little bit about the smaller companies that developed off of ILM, like light stream and the advantages and disadvantages of working for a smaller studios that hire at most 22 people a project versus larger studios like ILM. It came down to mostly how smaller companies help you learn more and give you a little more creative input into a project than larger studios. The only thing with that is you’re more likely not to work on blockbuster hits.
The night went by quickly and just as fast as it started it ended and we are back in our extended stay ready to continue our adventure tomorrow.