Friday, December 13, 2013

PIXAR - Production Management Intern - Spring 2014

Photo courtesy of

Due to some of our even more connected connections - and of course the magic of the world wide interweb - a little birdie has told us that PIXAR is hoping to begin reviewing resumes for a Production Management Intern as early as this Monday, December 16th. Opportunity is limited to current students only (sorry, grads), and the start date would be sometime in January.

Please visit our forums for full details on required skills and abilities.

Interested candidates can apply at

Good luck, and Happy Animating.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Salt

I am beyond proud to share with you today (after waiting for so long with such bated breath) the final product of the unbelievably cinematic mind of my dear friend Marta Dymek. The Salt is a music video for the San Francisco local band There's Talk, and it features elaborate costumes; beautiful, sweeping landscapes and forests; and some lovely visual effects done by some of our own. Congratulations to Marta and the rest of her team for their success. 

Don't forget to join the conversation at
Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch with us at
Twitter: @TeaTimeAnimates
Instagram: @TeaTimeAnimation

Monday, December 9, 2013

An Afternoon with Neth Nom

In amongst the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks, Tea Time had the pleasure of welcoming the talented Neth Nom to our Friday meeting. To a full house, Neth delivered an incredibly insightful - albeit moderately intimidating - lecture on the state of the industry, getting the most out of school, landing your first job, and what the future might hold for the next generation of graduates. With the fall semester coming to a close, and another batch of students walking the commencement road, I give you this summary of what he had to say.

Planning your Career as an Animator
with Neth Nom

Look around. 

Look at all the faces around you; your friends, acquaintances, perhaps people you haven't met yet. (for the sake of our online crew - think about where you're delegating your time to. Who else is reading this article?) What's the one thing you all have in common? You've all got a leg up on so many of your peers. And why? Because you're taking the time to invest in a community. This community. The community that could, one day, easily be your future.

Contrary to popular belief, your career doesn't start your senior year - not even your junior year! It starts the moment you walk through the doors (or sign in online) to your first class in your first year of university. Do you know what classes you're taking next semester? Sure, that's easy. But what about the semester after that? How about the semester after that? No? Perhaps it's about time that you start. School is an investment - depending on the school you attend, it a HUGE investment - and so you should be getting the most out of the money you're putting in. A big part of that is planning ahead. Not sure what path to take? Well, that's where this community comes in!

A huge part of this industry comes from the company you keep. It's no secret, I'm sure, that an individual almost needs a referral to get a second glance these days - but where do you get them? By starting to build those relationships now. Attend talks; befriend, talk to and ask questions of the most talented person in your classes; Join a community (i.e. Tea Time) to find those people with like minds and together, immerse yourself in the culture of animation. It's time to develop a genuine interest in the field you are preparing yourself for.

Frame through shots from your favorite animated films; get together and animate as a group - not all on the same shot, per se, but simply keeping each other in check; you should be as familiar with animation as some people are of sports -- You should know names and shots like they were athletes and successful plays! This is your future, don't phone it in.


Let's take a look at what an average student's day looks like. A typical 24 hours.

As you can see, it appears to be a pretty balanced life. There's some time in there for a social life, a little "me" time to watch some TV. For those who enjoy a little cash flow, feel free to swap out those for "job". It's a nice, comfortable pace.  

Unfortunately, with the competitive nature of the animation industry (particularly after a large amount of layoffs across the board), comfortable students are going to get no where. There are people with years of experience out there right now looking for the same jobs as you; you've got a lot of ground to cover. 

Now let's take a look at what your schedule should look like.

For a student hoping to make the most of their time while they are in school, this is an ideal schedule.

I know it looks intimidating, but in reality, it's not that much work. You just have to ask yourself what's more important: The newest episode of Family Guy (RIP, Brian) or achieving your goals? The more you sacrifice now, the greater the reward will be later when you set yourself up for opportunity.

"But what will I even animate for twelve hours? I only get x number of assignments per week, there is only so much I can do before I need feedback from my teacher."

We've heard these arguments time and time again and you are wrong. You can animate all the time because not every piece needs to be a piece for your reel. It is so important to keep this in mind. You should treat your work like a sketchbook, just like any artist would. Practice animating just a sphere, just a limb, but steer clear of the whole body. For those of you with those long months off - use your intersessions wisely! Take this time to bust out exercises, you don't have to wait for a teacher to practice.


Just as important as planning your day, is planning your coursework throughout your degree. It may be hard to know what you want to do up front, but the sooner you lock on to something, put your head down and get to work, the sooner your begin tallying the hours of practice.

Many schools give away free books of course listings, and they can also be found online, but don't blindly sign up for anything. This is where your community comes in. Find people that you trust in years ahead of you and talk to them. What classes did they take? What path would they recommend? Which professor is better for classes x, y, or z? Again, places like Tea Time are perfect for these sorts of questions. Online students - don't hesitate to use the forums to get in touch with your on-site peers! Many of us have met your teachers in person and help guide you towards the most ideal instructors. Take the initiative to sculpt your education in to what you need it to be.

Most importantly, however, is this word of warning: Taking more than one animation class a semester is a recipe for disaster. We've all heard the phrase "quality over quantity", and it couldn't be truer now. Taking more than one animation class (okay, maybe you can press it to two) immediately begins dividing your attention in ways that will not enhance your ability. Not only are you receiving two sets of opinions on the same subject, but you'll have double the amount of animation homework (i.e. weight-bearing work) to complete each week. This leaves no wiggle room for any "sketchbook" exercises, or personal exploration in animation and you'll get burnt out. Fast.

It's important to stock the rest of your schedule with strong foundation classes to enhance and sharpen your eye for animation, not dull it out. Take classes that will make you be a better animator, not just classes where you are animating.

Never forget: This is your career! School is just a tool, a resource for you on your path to success. Take ownership of your own life; be proactive; talk to those who came before you. Show good work ethics in the class, because your peers can vouch for you later. Reach out to your peers, learn from each other, and most importantly, don't be afraid to ask for help!


The likelihood of getting a job straight out of school these days is pretty slim.
Please consider the following chart:

This chart represents the unfortunate fact of industry saturation. On the left, we have a list of on- campus students and an approximate number of how many graduate per year, while on the right we have the approximate number of actual, available internships (from the big 5) there's a pretty remarkable disparity here -- particularly when you add in online schools, like Animation Mentor, who have 300 students graduate a year. This disparity is caused by the layoffs, declining ticket sales/movie going, and, of course, simply the amount of interest in the art form.

So what is a graduate to do? First things first - maintain a community of animators, and don't stop animating. If you maintain connection with your community, you'll be in the first to know of new job opportunities, and also more likely to have someone who could recommend you. Plus, your friends and colleagues will keep you motivated to keep working, providing the feedback you'll need and the encouragement to continue.

Beyond that, it's time to be honest: is it the industry, or your reel? Reconsider your options - perhaps feature work just isn't right for you! But that doesn't mean you have no place. There are apps, startups, games, commercials - so many venues to vent your desire to animate, try to find one that works for you.

First Job!

With enough focus and dedication, it will come. Hooray, but don't think that your work is over yet. Just as important is getting your first job, is holding onto it for a while.

Don't expect the studio to give you any special treatment - you are new, and you will probably get stuck doing fixes or small 'nothing' shots you can do with your eyes closed after all the practice you put in through school - but it's important not to let yourself feel just that -- "stuck". Put so much love into even the simplest of shots. Knock it out of the park; if the shot is so easy, it's the perfect time to show them what you can do.

Just like in school, you should be planning ahead here, too. Set a 5 year goal! What is it you really want to do? Lead? Direct? Figure it out and then spend every day working towards getting there.

Take advantage of the studio's resources - make sure to look after yourself. The studio's highest priority is the studio, and generally this means they have absolutely no qualms letting go of under-achieving underlings. It's important to build a network here, too. Also like in school, surround yourself with those you can learn from and look up to. Though it's important to hunker down and get work done, don't forget to connect! Figure out how it is you want to be perceived - mingle! Don't let your colleagues fill in the blanks for you. Remember, these are the people who, given the opportunity, can vouch for you when it matters most.

Finally, not all jobs last forever. Keep track of your contract - particularly when it's supposed to end. If you know you're not coming back, never wait until the contract ends to apply for a job. Companies are big machines and it often takes a while to get anything done. It's too easy to get stuck with dwindling funds and months of unemployment.

A Final Word

It's not magic.

There is no 'big secret' to success except hard work, initiative, drive and more hard work. It sounds grueling, but don't be intimidated! This is good. News. It means with a little bit of effort, that your goals, your dreams of working in animation are always within your reach.


Thanks again, Mendel, Neth.
Happy Animating.

Don't forget to join the conversation at
Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch with us at
Twitter: @TeaTimeAnimates
Instagram: @TeaTimeAnimation

Sunday, December 8, 2013

'Reel Talk' Webinar with Reel Feedback

Good morning and happy Monday! I certainly hope everyone had as lovely a weekend as we did.


Well that probably means you missed the 'Reel Talk' Webinar hosted by the charming Hans Brekke of Reel Feedback and moderated by Tea Time's own Lana Bachynski. If you happened to have missed out on the live showing, don't worry, we've got you covered. Please enjoy 'Reel Talk' in full, below, and keep your eyes peeled for another session coming up in the new year!

That being said - you don't have to wait. Did you know you can get amazing feedback on your work straight from professionals at your favourite companies any day of the year? Go to for more information.

Don't forget to join the conversation at
Questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch with us at
Twitter: @TeaTimeAnimates
Instagram: @TeaTimeAnimation

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Question Collection

Hello everyone!

"Reel Talk" host Reel Feedback is asking students everywhere to submit questions they would like answered during their upcoming online summit this Saturday, December 7th @ 4pm PST. Submit questions by asking them here, or e-mailing them to us at

You can find full info about the talk - including speaker line-up and where to find the link on the day of - here:

Happy Animating!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

800 members!

Holy schmokes -- Tea Time Animation has officially reached 800 members!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to each and every one of you for making Tea Time the bountiful and caring community that it is has become:

To those of you who have dedicated your time to share your wisdom with our group,  your guidance and your advice is invaluable.

To those of you who have supported us behind the scenes, booking meeting spaces, organizing activities, standing up for this group as leaders, and fighting to keep us alive, we most certainly couldn't be here without you.

To the club goers, you are the heart and soul of this community. The life and love and enthusiasm and camaraderie that you bring with you every week is the reason we even exist!

And last, but most certainly not least, those of you who take a little time every day to join us online - talking on facebook, reading this blog, and helping those seeking aid on the forums - we're sorry that you can't be with us in person, but your dedication to join us, regardless of distance, means so much to us all.

It is so important - now more than ever, it seems - that we have support and encouragement for each other as artists; to share and to celebrate in both the struggle and the joy of what it means to be an animator in the 21st century.

It isn't always easy out there - students and professionals alike - so thank you, everyone. Let's keep this fire burning!

Happy animating, and we'll see you Friday.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tea Time: What are we all about?

What are we? Who are we? Why do we exist? 
Find out for yourself by listening to this recording of our online informational session here! 

(Thank you, Melinda. Somehow, I only just discovered this.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Being Insecure

As a warm up for the post-Neth Nom lecture post, I thought I would share this tasty tidbit of TEDx enthusiasm from Riot Games' Animator Tomáš Jech. (Thanks, Alicia Schaffer.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

An Intimate Evening with Glen McIntosh

This past week, Tea Time was proud to be involved in the Fall Festival 2013 and managed to weasel our way into hosting three of the 5 lectures planned for the week.

With the amazing and endless support of Becky Johnson, we were thrilled to have an intimate Inside the Actor's Studio style of evening with the great Glen McIntosh, directing animator at ILM (Jurassic Park III, Star Wars: Episode I, II and III, Transformers, and Battleship and many more). The event was MC'd by Tea Time’s own Frank-Joseph Frelier and gave us some insight into Glen’s life in production.


In the bright stage lights of the 620 Theater, Glen takes his seat at a table for two set front and center of the unusually small crowd gathered for the event ahead. While I had been looking forward to the Monster Mash panel all week (to say Glen's a bit of a dinosaur buff would be a vast understatement), nothing could have prepared me for what Mr. McIntosh had in store for his audience that evening; Charming, witty, incredibly informative and laugh-out-loud funny - with a pinch of some fantastic original artwork to boot - it's needless to say he surprised me.

Before going on to study traditional animation at Sheridan College, Glen initially majored in Film Studies. He got his first "Aha!" moment after taking a figure drawing course between the plethora of film history classes and the rest was history; Glen had found his calling.

After school, he moved out to Ireland and started out at the Sullivan Bluth Studios as an in-betweener and fix animator. He was thrilled - he loved the grittier feel of Secret of Nimh and couldn't wait to get his hands dirty with some Don Bluth goodness - until he was thrown onto Thumbelina and Anastasia: By no means a bad thing, but cute, cartoon bugs was not what he had initially hoped for.

During his time in Ireland, his second "Aha!" moment struck him with the release of Jurassic Park. He immediately fell in love, and was inspired to traverse into the realm of 3D. Much to the envy of all the students in the crowd, Glen jumped straight from working on Anastasia, directly onto Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. "When I arrived at ILM I didn't even know how to turn the computer ON," Glen says, "I'm sure the woman helping me set up thought I was joking, but I told her 'no, seriously, I'm not sure how, and I want to make sure if I'm going to do this, then I better know how to do this.'" and thus he jumped in head first and started learning all the new technical aspects from the ground up. One of the largest hurdles Glen found in his transition from 2D to 3D was that 3D animation could not be cheated as much as in 2D animation. Traditional animation gives you a lot of leeway in poses. It's easy to throw in a smear frame here or there, and poses could hide certain elements of animation (an arm behind the body is an arm you don't have to worry about).  Meanwhile, in a 3D character, a pose has to look good from every angle. If poses are cheated - such as an arm intersecting the body - the pose may look fine from the view of the camera, but it may cause issues further down the pipeline during cloth/water simulations and lighting.

One of the things Glen is quite known for is his work as the Raptor lead in Jurassic Park III. Despite his phenomenal work, Glen tells us that he was pulled off of Star Wars Episode II and it felt terrible. "At the time we were seeing all of these amazing concepts for the arena and it sort of hurt to think that I wouldn't get a chance to be a part of this incredible space-gladiator sort of battle." In the end, however, he was satisfied with the decision as it lead to his chance to take on a larger role. "Being a lead of any sort wasn't something I actively pursued, I was just really enthusiastic," He tells us. "And I happen to love dinosaurs more than anything." It was simply nice to be able to be more immersed in something he was already so passionate about. One of the biggest perks about being a Directing Animator is the amount of time Glen gets to spend on set. He spent some time regaling us with stories about the set of Battleship and his brief time as both an 'acting coach' for Rihanna and a stunt double for...a stunt double.

When it comes to setting up a shot, Glen told us a bit about his animation process - particularly the importance of knowing the capabilities of your rig. When he first gets a rig, Glen makes sure that he tries out specific actions (and asks his team to do so as well) which the rigger may not have taken into account.  "By doing your homework before you even begin, the rig has a chance to be kicked back to rigger and changed making your life easier!" Glen also mentioned that as an animator - just like an actor - it's pretty easy to get type cast and it's important to avoid becoming pigeonholed into a single role. "While working on animation, don’t just become the robot person or the dinosaur person; Broaden the spectrum of your work! Take a look at your real an try to break it up into binaries such as male vs female, comedy vs dramatic, cartoony vs realistic, organic vs inorganic."

One of the most unique pieces of information Glen gave to us had to do with some of his interactions with the film directors.  "It is important to show directors only the animation in which they will be critiquing." He tells us. "While it may look cool to turn on all the textures or use some cards to show splashes or explosions, if the director sees something that already looks so far along, they get the impression that their opinion doesn't matter and you've carried on with making the film without them." Glen and his team switched to using simple geometry as placeholders for simulated actions - plus it gave them a more straightforward evaluation.

Frank-Joseph ended the night with a fun final question: What are three movies that you feel are so important (or at least important to you) that you think everyone should go out and watch them?

Jaws was easily the first movie that came to mind: While there were inconsistency issues from shot to shot due to the technicalities of being shot out in open ocean, the acting and music and the story of the movie is so powerful, that as an audience, we don't really notice. The two other movies weren’t any particular titles but Glen recommends anything from Stanley Kubrik, (Full Metal Jacket, The Shining), and anything Steven Spielburg, (notably War of the Worlds).

All in all, the evening was a smashing success, ending with some show and tell from Glen's personal portfolio (he still works traditionally! Markers and ink; no Wacom). A big thank you to everyone who made it out.

Tea Time Animation 'Monster Mash' Panel
Fall Festival 2013
Guest Post by Andy Wu
Edited by Lana Bachynski

Monday, October 28, 2013

Heading to CTN '13 in Style

Tea Time animation is now taking orders for the Fall '13 Tea Shirts! 

Shirts will be in chocolate brown, Men's and Women's sizes, $15 a piece. Pay in cash (in club) or via Paypal ( at any time!

If you're Paying via Paypal, please add $1.00 for Paypal surcharges. If you're not local to the Bay Area, please add a few dollars for shipping, and make sure to include your shipping address along with your shirt size.

To order, e-mail with your preferred payment method and shirt size. Please note - all cash payments must be in OUR hands before we will submit your order.

Happy Animating!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Save the Date: ILM Animator Pete Kelly

And the date is tomorrow! Our apologies. We've been facebooking and tweeting about it, but I forgot to post the update on here.

Tomorrow, October 18th, at 7:00 pm in the 79 New Montgomery Theater, San Francisco, ILM Animator Peter Kelly will be joining us for an EXCLUSIVE lecture on his work on Pacific Rim (complete with some tasty clips graciously provided by ILM PR). Join the facebook event (linked below) for full details.

Be there with Tea Time Merch for priority seating.
Doors at 6:30.

See you there, and Happy Animating!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mike Makarewicz Reader's Digest Style: Part III - Acting and Performance

Last week, Tea Time had the pleasure of welcoming Pixar Directing Animator / Animation Collaborative founder Michal Makarewicz to our stage for a third time -- as per usual, it was a humbling and inspiring experience. Though it wouldn't do to give away every little secret Michal graciously shared with us (you'll have to join us next time), I've done my best to translate any relevant information from my frantically scrawled notes here for the online community to enjoy (bear with me, it was a very visual lecture). Looking for more? Please feel free to join us at

Although our audience only had but a day's notice to change and/or cancel plans and/or skip class to attend our event due to unforeseen complications with AAU (Did you go to your Townhall Meeting this week?), ~150 of us piled into the theatre for the chance to hear some Pixar-grade insight into one of animation's most intimidating topics: Acting and Performance. He began with some comprehensive advice from Sir Ian McKellen:

Helpful, no? Well on the one hand - of course not. We have obviously learned nothing here. However, on the other hand, is there really any better way to sum up what it takes to be an actor? Any better way to dictate what it means to create a beautiful performance? Can you teach someone how to pretend? If so, how do we even begin to approach the subject?

"Well, as an animator, we can usually start with the principles," Michal continues, "in which case I generally see three important things to consider: 

One is POSING. I can then go through all of the principles and find which ones I apply to posing i.e: Pose to pose vs. straight ahead, squash and stretch, solid drawing (posing), exaggeration, appeal, staging, etc...

The next is MOTION. I can do the same thing here; find which principles directly apply to the actual movement of the character - They may overlap i.e. Followthrough and overlap, straight ahead vs. Layered, slow in/slow out, squash and stretch, secondary action, etc...

But over all, none of this will really matter. Obviously it will to a point, but it's the third category that will make or break a piece: CHOICES." If we make good choices, this is what will draw in the audience, make them believe in and connect with our characters. If we make poor choices, however, this is the exact same thing that will pull the audience away from us. When the characters make decisions that invoke thoughts like, "Oh, please, no one would ever do that" or "What? but..why?" in our viewers, we lose them."

"So, how is it we know what choices to make?" Michal asks. The answer is easy - we simply have to know our characters. Here's what Mike deems important to him when he begins a shot:

He considers his dialogue, he considers his characters, and then he considers this list. Why? Because it helps to eliminate choices! If you're able to whittle out the things your character would never do, it becomes easier to see the things they would. "We can't just move stuff,"he tells us, "our whole job [as an animator] is to bring soul to our work."...that being said, we also can't over do it.

As an animator, we should be invisible; we don't want the audience to think about the animation at all - not even in a good way! (i.e "what beautiful animation.") If the viewer sees the animator through the work, that animator is too involved. Remember: those acting choices are coming from within the character. It's not the animator moving a puppet around, it's internal motivation.

Do LESS as an animator - if you have a dialogue shot and you can get away with 3 main ideas - good! 2? Great! Stop trying to hold the audience's hand, you're overacting.

"The two most common mistakes I see in young animators are A) not thinking it through, and B) showing off. You need to move something, but you don't need to move EVERYTHING. There doesn't have to be a new pose for every word - And chill out on the eyebrows. "

First things first, we can take a macro look at the piece before we begin - what do we have: A character, and a shot. WHO is the character? What is the PURPOSE of the shot? HOW will the character fulfill it's purpose?

Let's start off with the shot - what is the context?
          --> Where is your character in relation to the main story? (what is their history?)

What is the dialogue?
          --> Mood? (what is the energy level?)
          --> Is the character saying what he's thinking?
          --> What IS he thinking?

What is the length?
          --> What is there time for? (enough time for thought process?)

Now, the Character -- who are they?
         --> List the main adjectives that define this person
         --> "You know my mother, she's just going to..."
         --> What are the ingredients? You should be able to identify this person! List actors, family, friends, anyone that resembles the character psychologically that can help you understand.

When you draw from films with great actors, or documentaries or - heaven forbid - even your real life experiences, your audience will feel closer to the characters, and can, therefore, help you fill in some of those blanks. Remember: you don't have to SHOW everything, emotions are closer in real life. If you depict them more accurately as opposed to so exaggerated, the audience will connect and insert pieces of themselves - things they recognize and identify with - into your characters, creating an even stronger connection.

If you know your character inside and out, it's easier for you to make appropriate, relatable decisions for them. Put your thinking cap on! What drives them: Their head? Heart? Stomach? Get inside their head. Take Remi and his brother Emile from Ratatouille. Remi is lead by his heart, meanwhile Emile is constantly thinking about filling his belly. 
Or, perhaps, Star Trek's Spock, Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy:

Spock is lead by his head; very analytical, Captain Kirk is always lead by his heart, and McCoy, well, not exactly lead by his belly, but he is a nice balance of all of the above.

It's important to think about their history: What have they experienced? What do they want and what are they willing to do to get it? Remember: Every character wants something, even if it's just a glass of water.

Moving into animation, it's important to remember that we should be "communicating without complicating"(Ollie Johnston). Moving the character does NOT equal entertainment. Feeling equals entertainment; you have to find the truth within your shot. What is the subtext of your dialogue?

It's important to have an answer to all of these questions that you may develop something relatable. Let's look at what makes a hero vs. what makes a villain. Both are characters who are fighting for something that they believe in (This working with the notion that rarely is it that we come across a villain who is evil simply for the sake of being evil), both are characters who clearly think that what they are doing is 'right' - so how is it we identify one as the hero? It's by how much we can relate to the actions that character. One character is designed to make the audience say "I wish I were more like him", while the other character is designed that to make the audience say "I would never do that!" or "who could do something like that?!"  

Often enough, history has a profound affect on the decisions our characters will choose to make. The pain from the past makes the choices of today. Consider the following clip from the film Groundhog Day. On the off chance you've never seen the movie, A) you should change that, and B) it's about a man (Bill Murray) who, for some reason, manages to get stuck living the same day over and over again. The clip shows a particularly uncomfortable meeting he is forced to endure day after day with an old 'buddy' from high school. As he lives this day over and over and over again, we can see how his history starts to affect the choices he makes in dealing with this situation each day. 

Unfortunately, Mike was obligated to speed through the last leg of his lecture, so my notes aren't quite comprehensive enough (or legible enough) to post here, but there is one, final subject that we touched upon that I found exceedingly important: Body Language.

"If your voice is saying something, but your body is contradicting it, the truth is always in the body".

Body language is such an important part of communicating ideas, and yet we so rarely get to really see that in an animation. If your character is too busy poignantly over-acting out each word with hand gestures and other motions that do nothing but re-say what we can already hear like gibberish ASL, that character will never have the opportunity to really speak to the audience in a resounding and worthwhile manor. Consider the following;


Despite the fact that we have absolutely no facial expressions or dialogue or really any of the usual tells of human emotion, we still know exactly what is going through little Darth's brain every step of the way. The trials, the frustration of the sandwich, the urgency to get to the car but, most potently of all, the absolute THRILL he has when he thinks that he makes the car rev at him. His body language is unmistakable, and as a result, supremely endearing.


Like what you read? There's far more where all this came from over at the Animation Collaborative. Check out their wide variety of classes including 2D animation and Demo / Lecture classes over at

Curious about any of the concepts or looking to ask a few questions? Please join our community over at to get the answers you seek.

Happy animating!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chris Landreth and Theodore Ushev at ILM

SIGGRAPH and ASIFA are hosting an evening with Directors Chris Landreth and Theodore Ushev.

The event is this upcoming Friday, September 27 at 7:00pm.
Registration is free! Don't miss out on this amazing opportunity.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

University 101: Buzzfeed style.

The new year has started, classes are swingin' and the freshman are rolling in wide-eyed and - honestly? - looking ready for a froshing. But we are kind souls at Tea Time, and thus, rather than some cruel brand of initiation, we covered our top 5 easiest ways to get lost in the woodwork of AAU (or any school, really), and how to avoid becoming part of the jaw-dropping, %70 drop-out rate.

 A quick note: while this article is dedicated to our many newer members, don't glaze over just because you've been here for a while. You just mind find that this comes in handy regardless of your seniority at your respective institutions.

First things first - I'm going to get all of my "mom"-ing out of the way. AAU is an open enrollment institution. This is both a great and an unfortunate thing. On one hand, we're giving opportunities to students who wouldn't have a post-secondary education otherwise. Yeah, so what - you didn't like math in high school - not everyone does. Here is your chance to still thrive as an artist! However, this is generally regarded as the exception to the rule. Sitting on our other hand is the unbelievable mass of schlubs and burn-outs who couldn't care less about their education; Those who only came to AAU show mom and dad a paper that says "accepted" without having to give more than ten minutes of their time to the process; Those who chose this school not because of a passion or a desire, but because, "I don't know, paintings fun, and overall pretty easy, right?"; Those who will spend more time faking an injury to get their medical marijuana card than they will on shading that cube for their Analysis of Form class.

BEWARE OF THESE PEOPLE. Don't get me wrong, partying is fun -- and you definitely SHOULD do so -- but the people you should party with are the people who will party hard, get trashed, then wake up at 6am hungover (or still drunk) to make sure they get their homework done on time and done well. Our industry is a social one; don't close yourself off and sit in your room alone, covered in charcoal. That's why our number one rule is:

1. Experience your education, but not at the cost of your education. 

Make those memories, have those crazy stories to tell your children when they get old enough, but make sure you're doing it with the pride of having actually completed your education. (or only dropped out because of an amazing opportunity that made you a bajillion dollars or made your life feel otherwise fulfilled.)

2. Sculpt your education. Remember: You are PAYING for this.

This is a product you are choosing to purchase - thus, you should be getting what you deserve out of it! Your advisors, and yes, many of your teachers will try to tell you what classes you can or can not take. While it's important to listen to those who may know better, always take it with a grain of salt, and always ALWAYS get a second (or third, or fourth) opinion. While you will need to take classes x, y, z to graduate, remember that classes A-W can be pretty darn interchangeable. There are so many new classes that come and go just for a semester with better teachers, and generally a better group of students that you'll be surrounded by who will push you further, make you a better student, and most likely a better person overall -- Deep, I know -- but it's true! Keep your eyes and ears out, and if you didn't hear any thing - ASK. With all of our alums and upperclassmen, Tea Time is a great place to start.

3. Never forget, you are PAYING for this.

Actually, correction - you have PAID for everything. Upfront. And your school has NO problem keeping all your money. That means that every time you blow off class for whatever reason, every time you aren't going to a workshop, or reaping every free resource you have that your tuition gets you (i.e. going to the gym, campus clubs, school events, going to the labs) you are just waving goodbye to that money. This also applies to classes. While it's important to take control of your classes, this should not translate to take "easy A's". It SHOULD mean, take classes that are the most pertinent towards a future career, and though they might be tough, ones that will actually benefit you in the long run. Though it sounds amazing to try and swap Clothed Figure Drawing with Underwater Basket-Weaving (thanks Frank), be realistic. Push yourself. Thank me later.

4. Work in the Labs

Though nothing might compare to the peaceful solitude of sitting alone in your room, lights dimmed, headphones plugged in and blasting Skrillex while you gaze, zombified into to your 24'' double monitors, it's actually important to, you know, meet people. How many times have we all heard that getting into the industry is about meeting people? Great - I'm still going to tell you again. Getting into this industry is, like, 90% of the time due to meeting someone who graciously puts your resume at the top of the stack. I also have to be amazing, but you really do need to make some friends. The lab is one of the best places to do this; you never know who you're going to meet. Plus, if you have any questions about maya or your assignment or a good sandwich shop (the Toaster Oven on 2nd, if you're wondering), rather than sifting endlessly through some online forums, you can just...ask. So even if your home computer is way faster and way better, it won't kill you to come in once or twice a week, and we'd love your company.

5. Stay Healthy

I'm not actually sure if we covered this in club, but I can't stress the importance of this enough. Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI's) are a very real problem. They will kill your career faster than partying with schlubs ever could, and they will do so permanently. Take breaks, drink lots of water (because then you'll have to pee and you'll HAVE to get up and take a break) and make sure you go to the gym! The Freshman 15 is also very real. This isn't highschool. There is no gym class forcing your lazy butt out of a desk to do some jumping jacks. If you are in the dorms, do not give in the the all you can eat Lucky Charms (god knows I did). Work it out.

Finally, and most importantly, make sure to stay sane - brain health! If you're doing it right, school should feel just like a great workout. You should feel exhausted by the end of it. You should be using every mental muscle you have so that by the end of it, your reel or portfolio has the most kick-ass beach body people can't help but stare. It's NOT easy - make sure you have people to whine with (and to wine with), to relax with, to crunch with, and above all else make sure you have people to revel in the joy and the sacrifice that is your career as a student. (A good place to look is Friday at 3:30pm in room 349.)

Good luck everyone.
Happy animating.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

We are LIVE, Ladies and Gentlemen.

At long last, Tea Time is officially official! Come say hello.

We are also officially tweeting: @teatimeanimates
and instagramming: @teatimeanimation

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mike Makarewicz - Friday, Sept 13th


Due to lack of a suitable meeting space, our event has been temporarily postponed. Our sincerest apologies, but keep your eyes out for updates! THE SHOW WILL GO ON.

Questions? E-mail for details.


That's right, folks! Our first guest lecturer of the fall semester is none other than the Animation Collaborator, himself - Mike Makarewicz! Keep a watchful eye here for the location, and we'll see you Friday!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome to Fall 2013!

Happy Fall '13 Semester, Tea Time! A shot of New Montgomery in the Morning. 

Welcome back everyone! Yes, the summer-that-actually-feels-like-winter has finally blown through, and the fall-that-actually-feels-like-summer is finally upon us! As per usual, with the dawning of the new semester comes many new ways to get involved with your animation community.

While there is much to reveal - and it will all make it up to the blog - why not hear about it first hand at Tea Time's first official meeting of the Fall semester! You know the drill...

3:30 pm in room 349 
180 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA, 94105

Did you submit an application for the Tea Time Board? 

You'll be happy to know that we spent the summer reviewing all applications. Please keep your eyes peeled for an e-mail looking to schedule an interview. 

That's all for now, folks! Looking forward to seeing all of your lovely, smiling faces at the meeting tomorrow -- particularly if you've never been to one before.

See you there!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Now Accepting Applications, Fall '13

As another one of our leaders has up and gone out into the fabled 'real world' (AKA graduated), Tea Time Animation is now accepting applications to fill the open spot in our leadership board.

If you're interested in playing a bigger role in your animation community, please send your reel and cover letter to Please don't hesitate to ask us any questions you may have before submitting.

For those of you who have already submitted, thank you for your patience! We will begin conducting interviews mid-August.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

500 members: Breaking the Silence, a letter.

Dear Tea Time,

It has been an unacceptably long time since I've managed to have a moment to spare for our blog -- forgive me, Tea Time is going through a change of hands as some of us (namely, the person writing this) are graduating and getting out into the proverbial "real world".

It is, however, time to get our online base up to speed as Tea Time Animation has just, officially reached 500 members!

We are so excited to have reached such an exciting milestone, and we have you to thank! Let's keep this ball rolling, bigger, better things are on their way!

Tea Time is 100% IN SESSION this summer, convening in room 420 of 180 NM every Friday (other than this holiday weekend, July 5th) at 3:30pm, so be sure to pop in to get feedback over a hot beverage or two.

Also, make sure to keep your eyes on the blog -- We have SO much in store coming up in the fall and we will make sure to keep you updated on every, single thing right here.

Much love from your Tea Time Board,


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

No Words

"Every animator is feeling sullen today. Take a moment and reflect, then use it tomorrow to make something amazing, frame by frame." - Nate Walpole

Although we're super backed up with posts, here (don't worry, they're coming!) we can't help but to take a minute to honor the great Ray Harryhausen. There are no words to express the gratitude I'm sure we all feel towards the unbelievable gift he gave to the animation community that was his life and his career.

Thank you for paving the way for the rest of us, and congratulations on having lived such a long and extraordinary life.

(PS: Jason and the Argonauts changed mine forever.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tea Time Animation Online Informational


No plans for tomorrow night? Then please feel free to join us for Tea Time's first Online Informational Event!   Click the following link tomorrow, Tuesday April 2nd anytime between 5pm-6pm to meet the team, ask some questions, and learn how to be involved in our growing community!

See you there!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tea Time and the Walt Disney Family Museum!

At long last, here is the official invite! Busses will be departing 620 Sutter Street @ 5:30pm sharp. 
Scan the QR code or follow this case-sensitive link to RSVP:

Unfortunately the seats for the 3D department are already COMPLETELY SOLD OUT.

The seats for the Visual Development/Illustration departments are now SOLD OUT.
The seats for the 2D department are now SOLD OUT.

We are starting a waiting list, please e-mail to be added. As for Stop Motion, sign up fast!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

PIXAR classes - Fall '13

Just in case you hadn't noticed the plethora of advertising already present around campus...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Villain's Masquerade

Hey everyone! The AAU comic club is having a sweet Super Hero themed costume carnival next weekend called the 'Villian's Masquerade'. Get all the info and RSVP here!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Borderlands Animation Collaborative!

The Borderlands Animation project class is now listed for the summer semester under the following name: 


David Latour be teaching the class with Chris Armstrong. You don't have to take the class to pick up shots for borderlands animation, but only folks enrolled in the class will be guaranteed to get work. This class does not have a portfolio requirement but it will require that the instructors see your ten second reel in our first module to help determine how to divide up the initial shots.

This will be a great opportunity to work on a popular franchise in a collaborative learning environment. Space is limited, so sign up right away!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

An Adventure to The Croods

This Friday, after some critique and a brief lecture on the composition of a demo reel, Tea Time made it's way over to the Metreon for a showing of The Croods!

Long time Tea Timer Jonathan Marshall made this beautiful video to commemorate the occasion. Enjoy!

Tea Time Movie Night from Jonathan Marshall on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thank you, Free Gold Watch!

A big thank you to Free Gold Watch for our beautiful, soft, brand new T-shirts! Here are a few glamour shots of Tea Time this past Friday modeling the merchandise.

If you haven't picked your shirt up yet, be sure to come to this week's meeting! If you didn't get a shirt, let us know! We will be doing a second run shortly.

The Gang


The Gang...lookin' tough!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Word on Reference

Although some might argue that there are the exceptionally gifted out there who don't need to look at reference before they begin an animation -- the only reason they got that way is from studying it so hard in the first place!

So, with that in mind where do you go for reference?
Here are a few of the most popular reference sources on the internet:

-- YouTube
-- Vimeo
-- BBC Motion Gallery
-- Rhino Horse

And of couse, you can always film it yourself! Even HD video recorders are super affordable now, and with cellphones, Macbooks/webcams, a camera is never far away! That being said, there is a time and place to take such a hands-on approach. It's great to shoot your own reference if you're looking for something specific -- i.e. a bit of acting along with a specific piece of dialogue. Here are a few situations where it wouldn't be quite so ideal.

-- Animal behavior reference
-- Accidents (crashes, tripping/falling, etc...)
-- If you're bad at acting!

No matter how much reference you shoot, you will never be an animal (sorry, Andy Serkis), you will almost never realistically force yourself to fall and/or get hit by a car, and, if you have a hard time getting into character, you will never make your acting worthwhile and all your reference becomes moot.

What are you looking for?

In reference, one of the things we so often lose sight of, is the fact that it is, well, for reference! Too many young animators start relying too heavily on their reference files, and their acting becomes rigid and lackluster -- like it's being rotoscoped instead of polished and refined by a trained eye.

So, what are you looking for in animation reference?

-- Strong poses
-- General timing
-- Observed behavior/secondary actions (i.e. hair swaying, blinks)
-- Basic mechanics (i.e. weight shift)

In watching your reference, it's great to take notes, or do draw overs based upon poses or ideas you find really strong within it, and then move along to your animation. Then, as opposed to having your reference open to stare and and/or copy, only look back at it when you need to remember something. i.e. "Where did that foot plant again?" Or "Does the back paw touch down before or after the front paw picks up?"

What am I supposed to do if the character I'm animating doesn't exist in the real world?

Well,  fictional or not, all characters (the good ones, at least) are still rooted in reality. Thus, you would assess your character based upon things you know. i.e. "Well, it sort of looks like it has a fish for a head, but then a crab or a scorpion for the body!" Easy! Go find fish to reference for the motion of the face, and crab and scorpion reference to help you understand the mechanics of the body!

A word of caution:

Although reference can be really helpful in nailing some basic timing, and, when we get stuck on something, to count frames, but you may want to double check and make sure that your reference footage plays back in the correct frame rate. While most animation is in 24 fps, most video from hand-held devices plays back in 30 fps, so your frame counts will NOT be accurate.

We would suggest using Adobe Media Encoder (or After Effects, or whatever you know best, really) to re-interpret the footage at the correct frame rate. You can find a tutorial in their help guide!

Many thanks to Cody and Frank for the delightful lecture.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jim Sidel - Reader's Digest Style

Recently, Tea Time had the pleasure of hosting AAU's own Jim Sidel for a discussion on the importance of Brevity and Subtext. Here's a little bit on what he had to say:

A Rube Goldberg machine

Brevity -- An Economy of Language

But far beneath this wondrous world upon the surface, another and still stranger world met our eyes as we gazed over the side. For, suspended in those watery vaults, floated the forms of the nursing mothers of the whales, and those that by their enormous girth seemed shortly to become mothers. The lake, as I have hinted, was to a considerable depth extremely transparent; and as human infants while suckling will calmly and fixedly gaze away from the breast, as if leading two different lives at the same time; and while yet drawing mortal nourishment, be still spiritually feasting upon some earthly reminiscence; -- even so did the young of these whales seem looking up towards us, but not at us, as if we were but a bit of gulfweed in their newborn sight.

--Herman Melville, Moby Dick, (the Grand Armada)

Now, generally, one might not expect a discussion on brevity to begin with an excerpt from Moby Dick. That entire paragraph is only three sentences -- doesn't appear to be very economical, does it?


Brevity is not about being short, per se, so much as it is about reducing a sentence or idea down to what is absolutely necessary without losing any meaning. If you re-examine the excerpt, you will notice that, although it is long, each word carries it's own, particular meaning and thus is necessary in communicating the idea Melville so wishes to communicate.

Another Rube Goldberg machine with explanation.

Occam's Razor:
       Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
or: "Thou shalt not multiply extra entities unnecessarily"

Developed by Logician, Philosopher and physicist William of Ockham (c. 1285 - 1349), Occam's Razor is a tool that refers to the act of shaving away unnecessary assumptions to get to the simplest explanation. Or: "The simplest explanation is the most likely"

To test Occam's Theory, suppose you come home and discover that your dog has escaped fro the kennel and has chewed large chunks out of the couch.

Theory Number 1: You forgot to latch the kennel door, and the dog pressed against it and opened it, and then the dog was free to run around the inside of the house.

Theory Number 2: Some unknown person skilled at picking locks managed to disable your front door, then came inside the house, set the dog free from the kennel, then snuck out again covering up any sign of his presence and then relocked the front-door, leaving the dog free inside to run amok in the house.

Which is True?

Well, the explanation of Theory #1 only requires only two entities (you and the dog) and two actions (you forgetting to lock the kennel door, and the dog pressing against the door)

The explanation of Theory #2, on the other hand, requires three entities (you, the dog and the lock-picking intruder) and several actions (picking the lock, entering, releasing the dog, hiding evidence, re-locking the front door). It also requires us to come up with some sort of plausible motivation for the intruder, a motivation that is, to us, entirely unclear.


An underlying an often distinct theme in a piece of writing or conversation. Otherwise -- the intent of a character that is not actually being spoken. See what sort of subtext you can find in the following clip:

All characters are based in their desires. In fact -- a character is nothing without them. For example, a talking rat is not a character, it is simply a noun, but a talking rat that wants to be a chef is a character. 

A character shouldn't speak unless it's achieving more than one objective. Otherwise you get stuck with dry back and forth or, characters like the appropriately named "Basil Exposition" who's sole purpose is to move the story along.

Dialogue should:

- Characterize
- Move the story forward
- Show relationships

Good dialogue also: 

- Contains a subtext
- Is alive with action 
- Reflects setting

These two literary ideas are particularly important for those students out there writing a thesis short film.   Are you wasting your breath on a scene that isn't even contributing to your main story? Try using Occam's Razor on your work. How does it hold up?

Do your characters have desire as the fire behind their ambition? Do the want something, and if so, to what lengths would they go in order to claim their prize? As Kurt Vonnegut famously said:

"Every character should want something, 
                       even if it's just a glass of water."

For the undergrads, finding subtext -- even just in our exercises -- will help us to create interesting pieces for our reel, while considering brevity in our actions will help us to create believable performances. 

"Strunk and White's: The Elements of Style" 
Frank Conroy, from his book, "The Dog Barks but The Caravan Rolls on."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blue Sky PAID Internship Postings!

Internship applications close April 12th, 2013! Don't miss this opportunity. Click here for all the details.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tea Time Animation* and 2K Games!

Over the course of the next semesters, 2K Games will be partnering with AAU to produce animated shorts centered around the Borderlands 2 franchise -- starting with a storyboard contest!

2K will be providing just about everything besides a pen and paper; For those interested in storyboarding, there will be a selection of various story lines for you to storyboard so you don't really even need to know the current lore. They will also be supplying students with all assets -- environments, props, rigged models, etc... -- so even if you choose not to be a part of the storyboard competition, there are still opportunities for you to work with professional-grade material!

If that doesn't entice you enough, top prize for the storyboard contest (other than seeing your vision come to life with the aid of current professionals, of course) is an internship with 2K Games! (Perhaps more than one?)

Am I getting your attention yet? Well then come to the informational panel Thursday, March 7th at 7:30pm in the 79 New Montgomery theater.

Don't miss this amazing opportunity, and don't hesitate to e-mail us at for more information.

*Contest limited to registered AAU students only

Monday, March 4, 2013

Guest Lecture with Jim Sidel

A Tea Time guest lecture on the importance of brevity and subtext with

Jim Sidel
540 Powell street, room 130
Tuesday, March 5 @ 7:00 pm

(with prizes)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Brief Psychology of Head Turns

This Friday, Tea Time had the pleasure of sitting down and letting our very own Rene Salazar step up and deliver a brief, informative lecture on the psychology of head turns. Here's what he had to say:

If we consider the way a head rotates as with the rotation tool in Maya, there are three major axis to pivot upon: x, y, and z. While working, these may just seem like a means to an end -- i.e. I wanted his head turned to the left, so I rotated on the y -- but if we take a moment to consider the meaning conveyed behind each rotation, we can really start using this tool to our advantage to strengthen the posing of our characters.

"Meaning," you say? Why Body Language, of course!

While we, as a species have the luxury of language, only about 40% of communication is what we say mand how we say it. 60% of what we are trying to convey to each other is communicated through body language. While words are important,  communication is also, largely, the transfer of emotion, and one of the easiest way to convey emotion, is through our bodies! Body language in general is a much larger topic, though, so today we'll just focus on head turning.

First things first, Rotate X (like saying "yes" -- up and down).

At either end of this rotation spectrum lies emotions representing Great Glory or Great Tragedy or something vs. nothing.

i.e. Rotating the spine to face upwards through the x-axis opens up the body creating a feeling of hope or triumph -- or "something!" Rotating the spine to curl in on itself, facing the body down through x-axis, closes the character off, creating a feeling of loss or seclusion -- or "nothing."

Next, we have Rotate Y (like saying "no" -- left to right).

This rotation plane conveys awareness. Is asks questions like "Who's there?", "What's there?"

i.e. Picture someone in the military entering the room gun first -- the first thing they do is search along that plane for "who" and/or "what. OR it could be something as simple as rotating the eyes back and forth, it's much more sly, but still conveying the same idea.

Finally, Rotate Z (like a pendulum -- tilting back and forth)

This rotation plane is representative of "Aww" and "huh?"

i.e. If you find yourself looking at cute baby puppy you might find yourself tilting your head to the side and saying "Awwwww!" Meanwhile, if that puppy happens to look back at you, it might tilt its head to the side and think "huh?"

In addition to all the rotation planes, translating the head can help to emphasize the emotions you're trying to convey.

Translating Forward represents attraction or intrigue, while Translating Backwards represents repulsion or disgust.

Rene Salazar
Tea Time Animation
Spring '13

Have your own idea for a lecture? Don't hesitate to e-mail us at to book a talk.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Newer, Cheaper T-Shirts!

This is the last week to place your order for the new Tea Time T-shirts! Comment here, e-mail us or make a note in the Facebook group with your name, desired design and shirt size to order. We accept cash, cheque, and Paypal (Search

Shirts are $15 each.