CTNX 2015 Highlights

Abby Lee and Spencer Bingham exibiting at CTNX 2015

CTNX 2015 has come and gone, and it's time to show off the highlights from this year's animation party.

The very first thing my crew and I managed to do was get yelled at by Disney, and this picture was the cause of it. You see, when you pose next to a bunch of characters from Zootopia, you must never -ever- touch those figures. The recruiters were on us like furious bees.

Pissing off Disney recruiters 5 minutes into the Expo was a great way to start off. We couldn't stop laughing about it. Go us.

Spencer Bingham, Kati Prescott, Abby Lee, and Kiliegh Gallagher pose by Judy and Nick from Disney's Zootopia

At B58, we were super fortunate to be sitting right next to DigiPen, which is a leader in animation education, especially for the gaming industry.

The entire weekend, Richard Morgan and Jazno Francoeur were hard at work at a traditional animation table, collaborating on a shot involving character animation and traditional FX animation.

Since things were so slow in the hotter-than-hellfire tent, I spent a lot of time with these masters, learning as much as I could in the little time we had.

I spent a good deal of time talking to Richard about traditionally animated video games. I've been trying to get myself together and build all of the character assets for a 2D platform game, but I have been struggling with some of the transitions from sprite to sprite.

Richard gave me a demo on how to approach my quadrupedal character, and broke the movement down to that of a train. Figure out where the power is, and animate that first. The rest of the body will follow.

Then he proceeded to animate some keys of my character running on a cycle, and my jaw just dropped. He pushed out three drawings in less than five minutes, and the movement was perfect. I suppose that's what happens when you've been animating for as long as he has.

Richard Morgan and Jazno Francoeur of DigiPen collaborate on a traditionally animated shot.

I was particularly interested in speaking to Jazno about my difficulty with animating fire. I showed him my thumbnails for a shot I had struggled with. At one glance, the FX master asked me where I thought the source of the energy was coming from. As it turned out, I had been handling the concept of fire animation completely backwards. He sat down with me and showed me his approach to starting a shot of a growing flame.

It was unreal. Do check out Jazno's Tumblr Page. He's more than generous about teaching artists his techniques, and his work is beyond stunning. I felt truly humbled that he was so willing to give me an animation lesson.

I really do miss animation school.

Speaking of Animation School, got to see Kathleen Quaife, and one of my first CTN buddies, Mike Cedeno, who both paid us a visit. Kathleen was my FX animation instructor when I was in college. Class was hard, but she was awesome. Since the class was online, I actually met her in person at CTN a few years before. Spencer and I both took that class together, and is arguably one of the reasons why we're buddies.

I wish I knew the other lady's name. We call her the CTN Fairy, because she rolls around on roller blades, photobombing, and making sure all of the exhibitors have everything they need. And she hands out the CTN glasses. I definitely bought those from her this year.

Mike Cedeo, Kathleen Quaife and the CTN Fairy drop by B58 at CTNX 2015

One of the biggest highlights of the weekend was when Katy Hargrove came over to our booth to hang out. I first met her in person at CTN #1, and I have known about her for far longer. I think I had originally stumbled on one of her ZBrush timelapse videos, and got completely hooked on her work.

She's a creature designer too, and has some of the coolest handwriting I've ever seen. My favorites are her pen & ink. There's such a looseness to the drawings, but at the same time, so much structure.

When she bought one of my original pieces, it took a really huge part of me to keep it together. It's hard to do when you look up to another artist so much. But the truth is, we're both artists, and I managed to make something she really liked. It was so rad. I hope that one day we can just have some random monster drawing jam. Her work is just unreal.

Katy Hargrove picks up an original Alebrije drawing from Derpberd at CTNX 2015.

On the other side of our booth was Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. This was extremely significant to me, because EUP was actually my first college before I moved out to California to go to the Academy. I got to sit right next to my first animation instructor, Brad Pattullo and their head of animation department, Mike Genz. It was some epic catching up.

They have an oculus program in their animation department now---something I haven't seen yet in other animation schools. Such cool stuff. Such awesome people.

Edinboro Univeristy of Pennsylvania gathers for a group shot at CTNX 2015

The last stop of the CTN weekend was after the Expo had come to a close. One of my buddies was currently employed at Shadowmachine, the studio behind Bojack Horseman and Triptank. I got to meet everyone who was working that day, take a tour of the studio, and nerd out with some of the directors in their office.

And what an awesome studio. They have a circular studio lined with Cintiques, this prop room and work space for all of their stop motion assets, and happy dogs running around.

Abby Lee visits Shadowmachine, the studio behind the Netflix series Bojack Horseman

I was very pleased.

Purchases and business cards collected from CTNX 2015

And in closing, I always like to include a photo of "The Haul." When exhibiting, it's very difficult to get away from work and actually get to see other exhibitors. I only managed to pick up a few items this year, so I had to make them count.

As usual, CTN Animation Expo is the highlight weekend of the year. I can't wait until 2016. As of now, I don't think I'll be exhibiting for a while, but I'll be there, for sure.