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Scenes from a week at Animation Mentor—4:36 PM

I've been remiss in updating you all about what's been going on at school. It's been really fun, but there have been a lot of headaches (literal ones, not metaphorical ones) so my already sluggish onebee posting schedule has slowed to a stop.

First of all, I met my awesome mentor for my first term, Brian Menz. One of the things I worried about was, if my mentor is not from Pixar, will I have to delete some old onebee posts where I said terribly mean things about his work? Not Brian! Out of maybe three or four non-Pixar animated releases I've adored in recent years, he's worked on two! And he's a super nice guy and excellent mentor to boot.

Also, I met all my classmates, who are upbeat and creative and very fun to share an hour a week with (plus countless additional "virtual" hours, commenting on each other's work and sharing ideas via forum posts, etc.). I worried a little that an online school would mean a lesser education without that face-to-face interaction, but really it seems better. You strip away all that boring stuff like walking across the quad, and just focus on what matters.

Our first real assignment was to learn how to observe poses and movement, so that we can translate those things into an animated character. We had to sketch some people around us, then choose a sketch and pose an animated character the same way. I didn't have any great options for places to sit and sketch people without looking like a creep, so I tried hanging out at the beach and at the grocery store and just sneaking quick sketches when I could. A few interesting poses resulted.

From those, with the help of my classmates' suggestions and my training in the principles of animation, I refined one pose with a character named Stu, which is provided by Animation Mentor. They throw us right in the deep end with a very complex character with many nuanced controls, so I had a great time digging into the intricacies of his various movements.

In the end, Brian would've liked Stu to be facing more directly at the camera. As would I, frankly, but when I moved him that way, he looked really off balance, and I was running short on time, so I couldn't start the pose all over. (This week, I am starting way earlier!) But a lot of the aspects I worked on very carefully – such as the angles of his arms, the emphasis on balance, avoiding "twinning," and building a strong silhouette – were noticed and commented upon favorably, so I felt great about that.

Coming up next, a bouncing ball. (A bouncing ball is to animation what "Hello, world!" is to programming.) And, Stu in a pose that says "Excitement!" It will probably be the first pose out of these options:

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