Monday, November 26, 2012

CTN! Or, the best four days of my life so far.

OH MAAAAAN. Any of you that follow me on any kind of social media have already gotten a taste of this, but just take a moment to mentally prepare yourself anyways.

Okay, ready?


Ahem. Okay. I can't really put my incredible experience this last weekend into words but I am certainly going to try. I flew in on Wednesday so I could have a day to mentally prepare myself for the convention. Ha, no I'm joking, I actually just watched Game of Thrones with Hillary and Katie Rose (my lovely and gracious hosts), and we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking about which books from middle school were our favorites (Whirlygig, look it up). So, Wednesday was lovely and the con hadn't even started!

On Thursday, I started the day with chocolate pie and coffee (obviously) and then was off to tour Disney! They unfortunately don't let you take photos (though they took one of the tour group, which I will throw on here if I ever find it) but trust me when I say it was uh-mazing. The studio is incredible inside and they even let us sneak a peek at some concept art for Frozen, which is coming out next year! It looks very snowy and good and I can't wait to see it. We also saw lots of Wreck-It Ralph stuff, including small scale model of a set piece from Sugar Rush (the candy-based kart racing game from Wreck-It Ralph) that was made from actual candy. So. Cool.

So on Thursday night I was lucky enough to get into a Rise of the Guardians screening at DreamWorks, which was really cool! The little bit of the Glendale DreamWorks campus that I got to see was beautiful and the theater was really nice. And the film was fantastic! The animation in particular was incredible, so many great acting moments. And I snagged a picture afterwards!

And only one guy at the bar afterwards gave me
grief about my shirt!
So, in short, Thursday was awesome. It got me all excited for the start of CTN the next day, and let me tell you, things started off with a bang! Brenda Chapman gave the opening talk, which was fantastic. She talked about why she loves telling stories, how her parents influenced her, how she got her start at Disney (kind of a ridiculous story, you can read about it on her blog), and even touched the whole Brave issue a bit. I know CTN was recording all the lectures, so it may end up online somewhere and if so you should definitely check it out! After her talk, she did a little meet and greet in the lobby and I worked up the nerve to introduce myself. I mentioned Lady Animators to her and said I'd love to interview her (though she isn't an animator, I figured I can make an exception for her). I thanked her for telling the incredible stories she does and she was kind enough to take a photo.

I might look composed, but I was freaking out on the inside.

It was so amazing meeting her! She's a huge role model of mine and a great, great storyteller. And so began the first official hour of CTN. Not bad, right? I spent most of the rest of the day wandering the exhibit floor, talking to exhibitors, and drooling over all the pretty art. I did buy one actual gift in the form of a Harry Potter print by Peter Emmerich for Hillary and Katie Rose. The rest of my purchases though, all early Christmas presents for myself. These included a Korra print from Stevie Lewis of DreamWorks, a Catwoman print from Bobby Rubio of Pixar, and a Link bookmark from Jed Henry, whose amazing ukiyo-e Nintendo prints I had seen online.

Then on Friday night, AM and ReelFX hosted a networking party and I was lucky enough meet Glen Keane! I managed to keep myself from turning into a puddle of goo long enough to snag a picture with him and Mike Cedeno, another Disney veteran animator and a really nice guy.

Right before my brain exploded.
Like with Brenda Chapman, it took a lot of self control not just yell "THANK YOU FOR MAKING MY CHILDHOOD SO WONDERFUL" and then running off to hyperventilate in a corner of the hotel lobby. He was kind and lovely and I am so happy I got to meet him!

I also got to meet Marlon on Friday! Very exciting to meet him in real life. He said he usually doesn't make it to the conventions so it was cool to actually meet some of his students for once.

And thank you Loren for the awesome photobomb.

I don't have quite as many pictures from Saturday but it was just as awesome! I hung out with a bunch of awesome AM people and ate a surprisingly good Subway sandwich for lunch but the highlight of the night was Glen Keane's incredible talk. And that one girl who was in tears when he showed the pencil test of "Part of Your World" from the Little Mermaid? Me. Totally me.

And I got to meet my next term's mentor, Mike Stern, on Saturday as well! He's an animator at Dreamworks in Glendale and is an alum from the very first class at AM. He did a talk with Bobby Beck on life in a studio environment, which was fantastic. I signed up for the Class 3 pilot that Mike's teaching next term, which I'm super excited for! It's a Collaborative Advanced Body Mechanics class, so all the shots from all of us will link up, sort of like making a short film with Mike as our director. 

Class 3 here we coooome!

Sunday was lovely as well, with a big highlight being that I got to meet Ryan Woodward, the insanely talented animator behind "Thought of You" which I'm embedding because if you haven't watched it, you have no excuse now.

As you can see, the man is an incredible talent. So glad to have met him! He gave a lecture about the animated graphic novel app he just completed called "Bottom of the Ninth", which is awesome. Go buy it! A futuristic baseball story about a female pitcher who throws 112 mph? How do you not want to read that story, come on! Get yourself to the app store, pronto.

So on Sunday night, I hopped on a plane back home, but I really think I could have flown all the way back to Norcal without the plane, my weekend was that incredible. If you ever have the chance to go to CTN, animator or otherwise, GO. If you work in, appreciate, or even just like animation, you will be blown away by the talent and inspiration you'll find there. 


  1. a) You are the best.
    b) Game of Thrones is the best.
    c) Pie is the best.
    d) That Harry Potter picture is the best.
    e) This blog entry is THE BEST.
    f) You are the best AGAIN

  2. Also, Katie Rose used to dance with one of the girl dancers in Thought of You. Have you guys talked about this? It's actually the girl who we were looking at pictures of when you were visiting because she had just had a baby. SMALL WORLD.

    1. BUT YOU ARE THE BEST THOUGH! And NO we have not talked about it, that is amazing. How have we never talked about that? Weeeeeird.

  3. Janel it was fantastic to meet you at CTN!!!! How can you beet seeing Rise of the Guardians at Dreamworks to kick off the weekend! I look forward to seeing all the updates to your work and very jealous of your photo with Glen!
    Keep in touch!