Category: animation

animation in hd with a.d.d.

I’ve been gone for a while. My computer messed up a few months ago and I prolonged getting it fixed out of the fear of the cost. I had just started to do well with saving my money and using any extra I had to pay down my student loans. And naturally when I’ve got a little extra in the bank, something breaks. But I knew I eventually had to get it fixed and I did and it actually wasn’t as expensive as I had anticipated.

Now that everything is up and running again, I want to get back into drawing and animating.

I bought this computer a little while after I graduated from college back in 2009. I wanted to continue learning about art and animation and so I had this machine custom built and bought an Adobe package and a Wacom Cintiq and spent a load of money on software and hardware to continue creating cartoons. Thousands of dollars spent and that desire to continue learning lasted approximately a month (and that’s being generous).

Animation is much harder than you’d think. It’s time consuming and requires a ton of concentration. And that’s just for traditional pencil on paper 2D animation. When you throw in computer animation, you have a whole host of new problems, including technical glitches, RAM and memory and other computer terms I know nothing about.

After an initial excitement period of having shiny new software, I got bogged down in the aspect ratios and compression details and also realized I had no one to help me be a better animator. In college, I had my professors and classmates to tell me when something wasn’t quite right. Even when I thought I’d done my best, someone would come along and point out a bad ease in or wonky arc. But, sitting here by myself, I could be creating crappy cartoons and not even realize it because I think it’s good. How would I grow? How could I get better when I was on my own?

Aside from my lame excuses, I was burned out on art and I didn’t think I was talented and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to pursue art anymore. By the time I’d graduated, my focus had shifted to writing and I wanted to explore that. I was confused. I was disillusioned. I was bummed. I was dead.

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zombie vomit bag

“I have heard it said love endures all things, now I know that it’s true, 
stronger than the grave, death can’t put it out, here I am, the walking dead, 
still next to you…”
-Showbread, George Romero will be at our Wedding

We decorated Valentine bags at work so everyone could put goodies in them.  Everyone decorated their bags with sticker hearts and puff paint, which is all well and good but I wanted to do something a bit different.

 I designed my bag around the Showbread song George Romero will be at our Wedding.  It’s about a zombie who vomits up a wedding ring and realizes he ate his wife.  He eventually finds her, zombified, and they stay together, despite them both being dead.  It’s about how love can overcome all things, even death.  It’s actually a really meaningful message beneath all the entrails. 

I wanted to draw a vomiting zombie on the bag but then I thought I’d put Photoshop to good use and designed the zombie dude in the program and printed him out.  I taped him to the bag, which gave a nice 3D effect.  And instead of just drawing vomit, I made it interactive so you can spin the vomit around.

 I also created a QR code which links to the song and on the back of the bag, I printed the song lyrics.  So you’ve got your physical, visual, and auditory interaction, which I thought was pretty neat.

 

Here’s what the bag looks like.

Here’s the back of the bag with the song lyrics.

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a vampire bites a zombie (and vice versa)

“Something deep in the human heart breaks at the thought of a life of mediocrity.”
-C.S. Lewis

I’ve battled with myself for years over my drawing and writing abilities and I can never seem to come to a satisfactory conclusion.  I might draw better than the people around here who can’t tell the difference between Picasso and a pickup truck and I might write better than the people around here who can’t .

I’m talented for my small town but as far as the world is concerned, I’m mediocre.  And that’s on a good day.  I will never change lives.  I will never write an epic or paint a masterpiece.  And because of that, it makes me wonder what the point of any of it is.  I’m not innovative or changing the landscape of art.  If anything, I’m just peddling more average content around that does not stir the heart or stimulate the head.

I realized why that is.  It’s because I am not an artist.  I am not a writer.

I’m not talented.  Just tortured.

Now, let me explain.

When I was a child, I drew everything all of the time.  I don’t know what attracted me to art, besides the fact that my sister also drew and I admired that and wanted to be like her.  But was she the sole reason or was there another force playing a part in me picking up a pencil?  I’m not sure I’ll ever know.  But whatever the cause, I was a tiny artist from the time I could carry a Crayola.

I continued to draw throughout my childhood.  Like most children at that age, I loved cartoons.  And because cartoons were art, I reasoned that I could create my own cartoons.  But I didn’t make up my own superheroes or anthropomorphic aliens and animals.  I copied the Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Bionic Six characters I saw on the screen (I was into Anime at the time).  I copied my sister’s Axl Rose art (she was into hair bands at the time).  I copied pictures from coloring books.  I copied a lot of stuff but never drew anything of my own.  I copied copied copied but never constructed conceived created anything from within myself.

I drew because it relaxed me.  And I received attention for it and that felt nice but I didn’t do it for anyone but myself.  In fact, people asked me to draw things for them all the time but I never thought I was good enough.  I liked my stuff but I knew what I could and could not accomplish and never felt I could accomplish what was asked of me.  I always feared I would disappoint them and the only thing I was known for, drawing, would disappear and I would fall into adolescent obscurity.

And when I did accept a request to draw something, I had to make it perfect.  This led to sever anxiety over my work and perfectionism took control of my art.  What once was an enjoyable hobby became a chore.  I could never translate the image from my head to the paper and it angered me.  But by that time, I was in too deep, too known as a good artist.  I even went to college for it.  I even got a degree for it.  I ruined my life pursuing something I wasn’t even sure I liked anymore.

And through that frustration, I wrote.  I didn’t have friends or family I could turn to so I turned to my journal.  I wrote to vent, to express the things I couldn’t say out loud.  Just like with my drawing, I did it for myself.  I eventually started writing online but only because it was much easier to keep up with my head when I typed everything out instead of writing it longhand.  And then I got a little bit of attention for that as well.  And then I found out that I enjoyed it.  And then the insecurity kicked in again because I didn’t think of myself as a writer.  I had no training.  I hadn’t even been doing it that long.

And really, just like with my drawing, I copied.  I copied down all the thoughts that were already swirling around in my head.  The words, the feelings, the passion and anger and joy and love and hurt were already present within myself and I just had to pluck them out like a stinger in my soul.  But when I tried to create a fictional story, everything fell to pieces.  I could copy my thoughts but couldn’t create a character or come up with good ideas for stories.  I kept hearing these writers say they had tons of ideas floating around in their heads, a limitless supply of gray matter gold.  I had nothing.  It wasn’t reassuring. 

I kept thinking about it, wondering what my purpose was, wondering if I could actually be good at two things, wondered if I was truly any good at either one of them.  Compared to people I knew at college and online, I saw that I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be.  And if I wasn’t good or if I couldn’t come up with something compelling, then why was I doing it at all?

I realized I did it because I had to, because I could only soothe my mind when I wrote down my thoughts.  Drawing did not soothe me so I retired it.  In fact, I haven’t drawn very much at all in the three years since I graduated from college.  Writing has taken over because it’s no longer about doing something for the joy of it.  It’s about finding something and doing it just to survive.  It’s about unloading the bad thoughts before they take over.  If I couldn’t write, I would be insane or dead now.

I came to the conclusion that I use art to express myself.  Of course, artists do as well.  All artists express themselves.  I use art as a tool.  But for true artists, they are the tool of art.  It’s beyond them.  It makes a difference.  For me, my words don’t go beyond my blog.  I have nothing radical to offer.  I am but a small piece of nothing shuffling toward The Great Void just like everyone else and I have no qualms about the fact that I will never turn heads or raise awareness along the way.  I used to have a problem with it but that was before I realized I wasn’t a true artist.

I keep seeing and reading these interviews with artists and singers and writers who say they always feel compelled to create.  They say they can’t be happy unless they dive into their craft on a daily basis.  They are always coming up with ideas, always stirring up material.  Their art swims through their veins and charges them like a battery to keep going, to keep creating.  They can turn anything into a story or song or picture.

I can’t.

Sure, I feel compelled, too, but differently.  Their compulsion is a product of their art.  My art is a product of my compulsion.  

As I said before, I’ve never been a creative person.  I can’t come up with an awesome design for your business card.  I can’t pull together a poster for your movie.  I don’t have these ideas floating around in my head.  I only have trauma burying itself deep down inside me and I’m constantly trying to dig it up and put it on paper.  For example, I’ve been working on my book for the past four years.  If I was a real writer, I would have finished it a long time ago along with two others by now, but the truth is, I’m always too tired and lazy.  True writers/artist are dedicated.

I’m not dedicated.  Just desperate.

I still like drawing to some degree.  When I know I can do it leisurely without pressure from my mother to put together a portfolio or without someone offering to pay me to do a portrait of their child, it’s fine.  But it’s also a slow process.  I think I attached myself to writing because it’s a quicker form of therapy.

Art feels limitless and limitless overwhelms me because I don’t know where to start.  But words are finite.  There’s a certain set of words and yes, the combination of words is limitless as well but the words themselves are all out there on the table for you to pick up and put together like an intricate puzzle.  It feels more defined, more controlled.  I’m all about control.

I’d love to be able to express myself with art but I never have.  I drew before I became crazy and I started writing to combat it when I did become crazy.  I often wondered if I could express myself through art but I don’t know where to begin.  What would I do?  What would it look like?

I often wonder what makes a writer.  If you write stories, are you a writer?  If you write in a journal, are you a writer?  If you write a column for your newspaper, are you a writer?  I’ve been following the blog of Jeff Goins, a writer who helps other writers hone their craft and publish their work.  You should Google him.  He wrote a simple post one day that declared you are a writer when you say you are.  Pretty simple, eh?  So, I’m a writer.  There.  Now I am one.  But, am I really?  I shrug at the idea because I don’t feel like one.

I know I’m the one holding me back.  I can say I’m a writer but I lack the conviction.  It’s safer to say that I write stuff without coming out and actually saying I’m a writer.  It’s the same with being an artist.  Oh, I draw pictures here and there but I’m no professional.  I don’t see myself as an artist.  Just a guy who can tap into certain mediums to convey a message or feeling.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  

Ideally, I’d love to one day have my own animated television show that I wrote myself.   I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of educating while entertaining.  I think I’ve learned a lot of life lessons from television and books.  It might sound lame but where else am I going to learn?  From my parents?  From classmates and coworkers?  I think not.  Many of them live under an umbrella of ignorance.  For me, I’d like to be able to set free others who feel as oppressed as I do, let them know they are not alone in their struggle with identity or talent.  I want to be a voice, a representation for those whose lives feel like they’ve fallen apart.  ‘Cause I know what it’s like.  I live it every day.  And it can be lonely to see other people getting on just fine while you wither away inside yourself.

Is it possible that I can do both?  Can writing and drawing work together in harmony and produce great work or will they ultimately destroy each other?  I keep reading these articles about writing that says to write every day.  You’ve got to continuously practice practice practice.  Practice does not make perfect but it makes you a heck of a lot better than you were.  And that same principle applies to drawing.  But can I make room for both in my life?  Or should I give up on one to become really good at the other?  And if I do, which one will I choose?  Where is my passion?

It’s an old flame vs. a new love.  It’s comfort vs. excitement.  It’s “I like” vs. “I hope.”

I just can’t seem to get anything off the ground.  I’ve been “working” on my book for nearly five years now and I always said I’d like to do my own independent animated YouTube video series.  I have a few ideas but I’ve never fleshed any of them out.  My mind is constantly spinning while my hands remain idle.  Where is the motivation I need to get going?  Where is the confidence?  Where is the drive, the part of me that was a little boy with big crayons and a bigger imagination?

Can I actually entertain and educate or will the vampire and zombie battle it out in my brain forever?

animation notes #1

I’m pretty baffled.

I’ve been inconsistently sitting down and trying to figure out how to use these animation programs.  The software came with five disks and no instructions.  Awesome.  So, I’ve been purchasing books and watching tutorials and reading message boards in hopes of figuring out how to work all of this stuff but nothing has totally helped me.  I can understand bits and pieces here and there and I can almost put all the information together into something cohesive and understandable but not quite.  I feel like I’m almost there but all the information I’ve read just kind of glosses over the basics and never really applies the instructions to actual animation.  It’s pretty frustrating.

As I’ve mentioned, everything I used in college has been upgraded at least twice in the year since I’ve graduated.  I don’t want to say everything I learned was obsolete but it’s definitely a lot slower of a process than what the new technology is capable of.  Unfortunately, I just don’t know how to use the new technology!  Just to give you a small lesson in animation, it takes approximately (depending on your frame rate) twenty-four frames to make one second of animation.  That’s twenty-four drawings.  Not only that but the drawings usually need to be cleaned up/inked and then filled in with color.  So, you’re basically creating a picture in three phases.  So, that equates to seventy-two images for one second of animation.  Now, image doing a two or three minute short animation.  It might not seem long but when you take into account the drawing, clean up and simple color fill (not including shading and/or highlighting), it can take weeks or months just to make that seemingly simple two minutes.  Drawing every frame by hand is called frame by frame animation.  That’s what I did for my senior film.

Well, there’s a new thing in Adobe Flash called symbols that can increase productivity.  You basically draw a shape that you want to animate, turn it into a symbol, and then you can work with that one shape instead of having to redraw it fifteen hundred times.  Sounds great but I don’t know how to do it.  I mean, I do, but it gets complicated when you try to organize your symbols into libraries and then you can do symbols inside of symbols and you can even do movie clips inside of symbols if I’m not mistaken.  It’s like a hierarchy of symbols and I don’t know how to construct it correctly.

So, I sit here and sort through my books and try to to go to the software website and look up stuff on YouTube but nothing really has what I’m looking after and I’m kind of stuck.  I suppose I could do frame by frame animation but it could take me forever to produce something.  But, I actually prefer frame by frame animation.  I like the idea of putting all of myself into animating.  I’ve always been a bigger fan of traditional 2D animation, where you put your pencil to paper and often times literally put your blood, sweat and tears into the thing.  I know I’ve often sweated over a deadline, got misty when frustrated and even gave myself a paper cut or two in the process.  You put your all into it.  I think it’s a bit more personal than 3D animation where you point and click.  Now, let me say, I am not against 3D animation at all.  In fact, I think it has come a long way and is amazing it its own way.  I would even like to do 3D animation in the future.  But, as of right now, I prefer 2D.  But, since it would be more economical for me to do my 2D on a computer, I’m not getting the full feel of traditional animation by paper.  Still, doing this frame by frame is as close as I can get and I’m okay with that.  It will just take forever.

One of the cons of frame by frame animation is the tendency to lose the shape of the character after a while.  You get so caught up in trying to move the thing that it might start to grow or shrink as you get far into animating.  With symbols, however, you don’t lose the shape because you’re working with the one image over several frames.  But, there’s a certain look to symbols that you might not be able to achieve with hand drawn animation. 

I guess I’ll just have to compromise.  I don’t have all the free time in the world to create a cartoon just however I want.  There are many things to consider.  I’d love to create an actual cartoon series that would run almost the same amount of length as a cartoon you’d see on television, which is about twenty-something minutes, sans commercials.  Imagine doing a twenty minute cartoon and doing around ten episodes of that cartoon.  That’s about fourteen thousand images right there.  No small feat.  I might finish by the time I’m thirty.  Plus, I’d have no time to work on other projects for myself or others.  I definitely don’t want to be doing that, though.  So, it seems symbols might speed up the process.  I just need to find out how to use them!  I might just have to do frame by frame for now until I can find out how to do the other because while I’m trying to learn one thing, I’m doing nothing.

I guess we’ll see what I can come up with…eventually.

tech(no logic)al

Because things can never be too easy for me, ya know?

Let’s just take it from the top, although I’ve already mentioned a few of my technological troubles before.  So, you know that I ordered the Wacom Cintiq a few months ago.  Well, actually, before we even get into that, I had to save up for the Wacom Cintiq, which took a few months.  Okay, so a few months of anticipation while I saved up.  Then, I ordered it.

$1,999.00.

But, it was on back order indefinitely.  I really had no other choice but to wait it out because there really is no other tablet monitor that’s as good as the Cintiq (that I know of).  So, I tried to do some research to find out what was taking so long on everything and there were some rumors here and there and nothing really substantial that I could really rely on.

Roughly two months of agonizing waiting later, it ships.  It gets here in two days and everything is all well and good.  Except, now I need all the software to animate with and an upgraded computer that would be able to handle it all.  I go ahead and order the software (Adobe Creative Suite 5: Production Premium) on Cyber Monday because it was the best deal I could get.

$1,650.00.

It actually shipped and arrived at my house in two days.  It was fine.  All I needed was to get my computer checked out.

So, I take my ancient Sony computer tower to a computer repair shop in town and I’m met by this ginger kid (don’t salivate, Katrina Storm, I think he’s underage).  I tell him my situation and ask if my computer could be upgraded to handle all the stuff I would need or if it would just be cheaper to buy a new one.  As soon as he opened up the tower, he chuckled and said the tower was no good and it would be cheaper to buy another.  He then offers to build one with the specific qualifications I would need.  Asking price?

Roughly $600.00.

He said he would need to order the parts for it and once they came in, he could assemble it in about two days.  The whole process would take about a week.  I tell him to hold off until I can conference with my mom.  Later that night, I talk to her and ask if I should go ahead or wait until I have more funds saved up.  I had just made two large purchases and wasn’t sure if I should proceed with another.  She told me to go ahead since I’d need it anyway.  She then offered to go to the computer repair place after she went grocery shopping (the place is right next to the grocery store) and tell them to go ahead and do it.

I come home from work the next day and Mom says she told them to go ahead.  Great.

A week later, she calls them while I’m at work and inquires about the progress.  They tell her they were waiting for our go ahead.  Uuuhhh.  We thought we had already done that.  So, she tells them again to go ahead and do it.  So, I was kind of irritated because I could have already had it by then but there was some kind of communication mix-up somewhere in the fold.  It worried me because this ginger kid, although seemingly intelligent, seemed slightly air-headed as well.  I wasn’t sure he’d do a great job assembling my computer.

And then Christmas came and I knew that would delay the process even longer.

Earlier this week, after I got off of work, Mom told me the computer repair people had called and said my computer was ready.  She went to pick it up the next day but they told her they would prefer if the ginger kid who built it would just deliver it to our home and set it up for us.  Okay, fine, whatever.  So, they made an appointment for him to deliver it the next day at 5:00.  I got off work at 4:00, so that worked out great.

Well, the next day, I get home at 4:30 and excitedly start straightening my room for the ginger kid to deliver my brand new baby.  I get a call from the computer people.  The ginger kid had an appointment in Enterprise and was running late and wouldn’t be able to make it to my house that night.  He got off at 5:00 every day and I was going to get off at 5:00 the next day as well so I assumed I wouldn’t be able to get it the next day either ’cause we’d both be at work and would get off at the same time.  The owner of the repair shop says the ginger kid will call me around 5:30 the next day and we’d take it from there.  Fine.

Pretty disappointed.  Pretty anxious.

So, the next day comes and I get off work and Mom says they called and for me to call the ginger kid back and he’d deliver the computer that night.  If I were able to glow, I would have.

I call him and tell him to come on over.  He says it would take about twenty minutes.  It took about forty-five because he got lost.

He hooked up the tower to the Cintiq and then installs Windows 7 for me as well as Firefox and some anti-virus software.  He also has to install a…wireless driver…I think it’s called?… so I can connect to the Internet.  I didn’t realize he would need to do that so when he asked if I still had the wireless CD for my current wireless device, I said I had no idea where it was.  He then tried to download one but when that didn’t work, he went back tot he shop and got another, which took about another twenty or so minutes.  He also helped me install all the Adobe programs.  The process took a little under three hours.  Fortunately, my irritation/unease about his abilities slowly wore off as we made small chit chat while he camped out underneath my desk, connecting wires and opening up the new computer tower to do this or that.  Turns out, he wasn’t too bad at all. 

Final price tag?

The roughly $600.00 turned into a bowel busting $735.00.

And while we are at it, let’s add in the cost of a new desk on which I would be animating: $180.00.

Grand total:  $4,564.00.

Certainly quite the investment, no?  The good part is I actually have about half of it paid off already.  All of that waiting around for my stuff to show up kind of worked in my favor because I was able to keep working and earning enough money to pay for all this crap.  It certainly wasn’t fun knowing how much all of this would cost.  I could have gotten braces for that kind of money or used it toward paying my student loans but what was done had to be done.  As I said, these programs and the Cintiq are top-notch and there really isn’t an equivalent.  And again, it’s an investment.

It’s just so weird sitting down and being able to animate again.  The first night I had everything set up, I was too tired to really do anything.  I spent all the next day playing around in the programs.  They had all been updated two or three times since I graduated so the layouts were quite different.  That coupled with my craptacular memory served to hinder my knowledge of the programs a bit but hopefully with more practice, I’ll get all the way to decent!

I’m not a patient person.  This whole setup has been close to a year in the making.  But, it’s here and I have it all and in a few more months and a giant hit to my banking account, it will all be paid off.  But, the really hard part is next.  Now that I have everything I’m going to need, I have to do something with it.  I have to start producing some awesome work to justify the price tag.  I didn’t get all this stuff for spits and giggles.  This is going to hopefully further my artistic expression and land me a good job.  That thought it quite scary.  All this time, I had to relay on other people to have this happen.  I had to wait for the Wacom company to get their stuff together and send me a Cintiq.  I had to wait for this ginger kid to build a computer for me.  But, now it’s in my hands.  There’s nowhere left to turn and no one to blame it on when things go off course.

It’s all on me now.

I’m scared.  Nervous.  Ready.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

I’m feeling so uncomfortable right now.

My new desk came in yesterday.  I spent all day today cleaning out my armoire and removing it so I could set up the desk.  I had to take out my gigante television and replaced it with my flat screen that I purchased for college.  I was trying to save room but it really just make me nervous because I like my old huge television and I don’t like the flat screen one as much.  And just to round out the transitions, I got rid of my small chair and upgraded to a bigger chair.

And then the grand finale:  I set up my Cintiq.  I was so scared I would crack it or drop it or something but I managed to set it up just fine.  Then, I powered up my dinosaur Windows computer because I wanted to at least play with the Cintiq although I didn’t have any programs.  There’s a neat free animation program called Pencil that I dabbled with on my laptop but I thought I’d be able to get more use out of it now that I could draw directly on the screen, even if it was still just practice.

I had to install the Cintiq in two stages:  setting it up as a display and then setting it up as a pen tablet.  It was pretty nerve wracking because I was worried I would screw something up, damage a driver or just have the whole production not even work.  But, turns out, it works just fine.  I’ve drawn on it a little bit.  I’m hesitant to get too into it, though, because I don’t want to scratch the screen with my pen.  I accidentally scratched the face of one of my characters from my senior film into one of the CIntiqs at college.  At least I left an impression there, eh?  So, I just don’t want to do that to mine.  The screen is so beautiful and perfect and I don’t want to ruin it.  Gosh, what a lovely piece of machinery.  I don’t think it is two grand lovely but lovely nonetheless.

But here’s where the discomfort comes in.

I hate hate hate change.  Many old readers of mine should know that by now.  I mean I really detest change.  I set up these routines so I can handle them emotionally, which creates a comfort zone.  When things change, it shatters that comfort zone and I feel like I’m going to break out in hives.  This is one of those times.  Everything looks so different and I don’t like it.  I know it will take some time to get used to everything but I don’t want to.  I have too much going on in my head without having to make room for a change of furniture.

I guess I just thought I’d be happier than this.

Of course, like I said, a part of it is getting used to everything.  The other part is I’m terrified to touch my Cintiq because I don’t want to ruin it.  It was so expensive so I want to make that baby last my lifetime (I’m guessing three more years, maximum).  And I don’t have the programs I need and the computer is kind of slow which does not help when it comes to fast-paced animating.  Waiting around for a laggy computer to catch up with your work kind of ruins the flow.

But the paranoia shoots up and I wonder if anything will make me happy.  I guess that’s weird to say.  I never expected receiving the Cintiq would make me happy.  I figured I’d be happy once I started producing some good work and people responded well to it.  And the Cintiq is the vehicle to get me there.  The thing itself won’t bring it.  I suppose I just though I’d be more psyched about it but I’m really just leaning on indifference.

Will anything excite me?

I’m still not so hard at work on my book.  I’ve written 12871 words, which is a couple of thousand more than my latest piece of fiction so I’m definitely stepping into uncharted territory here.  I feel short stories and novels are entirely two different beasts and I’m hopeful, yet terrified about writing this thing.  It could be great or could be a turd and anyone who knows anything about National Novel Writing Month will say it probably will be a turd.  But that takes the pressure off because it’s really just about writing.  Unfortunately, I’m about a good 12,000 words behind already.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish the novel on time, especially since I’m writing this entry instead of working on my book and I’ve been rearranging my room all day instead of working on my book and now I feel too exhausted to work on my book and I have to work for the next six days in a row and after I’m done with my shifts at work, I’m not so much in the mood to write as I am to run my car off a bridge.

But even if I don’t finish on time, I’m sure I’ll be close and I’ll have written more in one novel than all my short stories combined so I guess that’s commendable enough.

Not for Me

The other day, I geeked out because I found some animation software online for super cheap.  I was getting ready to sell my blood, sperm and a kidney to be able to pay for everything I would need to start animating again.  I’m talking thousands of dollars here.  So, when I found this software for a couple of hundred dollars, I made a sperm deposit right then and there.  The website looked pretty legitimate but I tried not to get too excited.  I Facebooked my roommates from college and asked if they thought it sounded like the real deal.  They know more about that stuff than I do.  If it was legit, that would have helped me out so much.  I’m already spending so much on a Cintiq, saving up all these months to be able to purchase one and it would feel deflating to have to then start all the way over to get some programs so I can actually use the Cintiq.

Because I haven’t animated in over a year, I’m basically going to have to start from scratch, which I don’t mind so much.  Obviously, I won’t be putting together any good material and getting a real job any time soon but at least I can get back into the swing of things and hopefully improve over the little bit of material I do have.  It feels so weird.  Not only have I not animated anything in a year but I haven’t even drawn a picture in a year.  I’ve never got that long without drawing.  I think I was just so burned out after school and needed a break.  Plus, I wanted to “focus” on my writing.  I’m always worried that the cliche about losing it if not using it is actually true.  Heck, I worried about losing it even while I was using it.  It’s also weird because I had an acquaintance from high school ask me to help her out with an art project and I had to delicately decline her offer.  I told her I had temporarily retired from art.  In actuality, I was so rusty I was worried I wouldn’t do a good job and she’d be disappointed in my work.  I just hope that I can get back into art and become confident enough to take on offers from people.  It would be great if I could supplement my menial income.

Couple of days later, I heard back from my roommates.  Turns out, the cheap animation software I discovered is sketchy.  I’m not sure it’s a total rip off but it’s not an authorized reseller and they only send discs and an activation key.  There’s no support or help if things go wonky.  I’m not entirely surprised but I am still a little deflated.  It’s okay, though, because I’m just going to keep working and saving up and I’ll feel better knowing I obtained the stuff through legitimate means and I can feel good about getting any kind of support in case things mess up.

With that being said, I tried to order the Cintiq last week.  It’s back ordered.  I also tried to order a nice desk to draw/write on but it too was back ordered.  Both won’t be available for several weeks.  If it’s not a lack of money getting in my way, it’s a lack of availability.  When will I catch a break?

I’ve been doing a lot of stuff.  I’ve been watching DVDs, reading and working on my book.  I’m keeping myself busy.  It’s a good thing because I’m still struggling with everything, with finances and feelings and I’m always so exhausted because it takes every ounce of strength I have just to make it through the day.  I keep reaching for goals, keep thinking ahead not only to avoid thinking about the present but also so I have something to look forward to, something to give me the strength to make it through hard days.  I have a vision of what I’d like to happen, how I’d like things to work out and I’m depending entirely on myself to make it happen.  This is dangerous.  If it doesn’t work out, I’ll only be reinforcing the hatred I have for myself.  If it does work, then hopefully it will lift me out of my darkness, even if slightly.

You know, I never really did figure out if I was alive or not.  I sort of just let it hang there, a non existent answer to a baffling dilemma.  But I know I’m not living.  I know there’s no life within me.  If there’s death, I don’t know.  But there’s no light, no love and nothing holding me back from the brink of breaking.  It’s a tad worrisome.  So, I just don’t think about it.  I’m just trying to think about the next paycheck, the next week, the next month ahead when I’ll hopefully have all my stuff together so I can start drawing and animating and creating new worlds with lines and colors and my hands, a world I can escape into where I can say I have control.  ‘Cause I realized a long time ago that this world is not for me.  I’m just afraid my creativity is just as broken as I am.

I pray that I’m mistaken, that I at least have that left.

I feel a bit weird doing this but I’m going to put a donate button on the right side of my page.  I don’t expect anything from anyone.  Times are still tough and people can’t just be handing their hard-earned money on jerks like me.  But, if anyone feels like donating a little something something, that would be fantastic.  Who knows, maybe a billionaire will stumble across my blog, see that I’m struggling, and drop a several hundred thousand dollars to help a brother out.  Oprah?  Oprah?   

Phase 2 Friday: Articulating Animation

Employment Exasperation III: A Journey’s End

They say you can’t avoid death and taxes but what they don’t tell you is that after you die, you still have to pay taxes.  The only thing more permanent than death is greed.

When I started this blog, I was a freshly dead college graduate looking for any kind of work just to get back into the fold of things.  I had to keep busy to keep from rotting.  I had put aside my dreams of becoming an animator for a more practical position, just to earn enough money to be able to continue practicing my animation skills until I was good enough to actually create a portfolio and demo reel to send off to animation companies.

I had really wanted to do office work and put in application after application for about three months straight, looking every single day online at different job websites for positions, checking the newspaper and even asking around.  Nothing ever came of it.  All the while, there was an available position lingering over my head, a job my mom pushed and pushed me to take.  I avoided it as long as possible because I did not want to work there.  It’s not a classy job.  It’s the job where you’ll find all the high school dropouts and pot heads.  But, it’s an easy job to get.  They’ll hire anyone.  But I was trying to find something better, something I could be proud of.  Unfortunately, nothing ever developed and I had to swallow my pride, give in, and apply.

I got it, big surprise.

I can’t talk about the job because I was specifically told not to and I don’t want to get into trouble/fired for “advertising” or even talking smack about the place or my fellow employees but I really want to.  I’ve only been working for a week and I already want to pull a Plath.  Is it possible to die twice?  Sometimes I’d like to find out.

I’m just pretty bitter because this is the first job I’ve ever taken that I didn’t want in the first place.  All of my other jobs have been desirable, at least at first.  I’d either grow to love or hate them but I hated this one from the start and it hasn’t failed to meet my rock bottom expectations.  But I have no choice.  It’s full-time and I’ll be getting benefits, which is quite necessary since my student loans are going to start being due in December (Happy birthday, you owe us 100,000 dollars!) and I need to start helping out with the family finances.  Plus, I keep hearing other people at the job talk about how much they love it.  I even know a girl that works there and told me “it’s really not that bad, I promise” and she says she loves what she does.  And I have other acquaintances that say they love their jobs and it’s like, “Great, throw it in my face that you like what you do while I have to sit here and suffer for eight hours a day.”  Simultaneously, I do recognize that I’m fortunate to have a job at all, regardless of whether I like it or not.  Still, it doesn’t make it any easier or make me feel any better.

I just keep trying to remind myself that I can’t just quit because I have bills to pay and I have animation software and equipment that I need to buy and even that causes concern for me because I work pretty crappy hours and I basically sleep all day until time to go to work and then I don’t get back home until 1 in the morning and I go straight to bed.  So, when I do get all of my equipment, when am I going to find the time and energy to animate?  I know, I know, make the time but it’s just not that practical when I’m either exhausted or emotionally wrecked, or oftentimes, both.

This will probably be the last time I speak about this.  Any rants or raves will have to go into my handwritten journal because of my paranoia of being caught on the internet.  I just wanted to bring it up because I kind of left my chronicled job hunt up in the air but now that I have a job, I can put this chapter of my afterlife to rest.

That is, until I can finally quit!  I just have to, you know, win the lottery or get hit by a school bus and then sue the bus driver, the school, all of the children on the bus, the city, and anyone else within a two mile radius.

Affection Rejection

This is my senior film that I did while I was in college. It’s definitely not amazing but it was my first legitimate film that I had to create all from scratch. So, all things considered, I don’t think it’s that bad. Plus, it has a good message and that’s what counts! Concept, design, story, animation and color all done by me. Music by Alex MacLeod.