Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tea Time and the AAU ShowReel.

It appears there was a bit of a misunderstanding regarding Tea Time Animation's involvement with the facilitation and compilation of the AAU Animation Showreel. The following letter was drafted in response to concerns from the online department. We hope you find it useful in determining Tea Time's responsibilities and the ways in which you can get connected with your animation community.


I'm Lana Bachynski, Tea Time Co-Founder and Senior Board Member. I can assure you that nothing goes through Tea Time without my knowledge of it -- particularly not anything of this magnitude! Please allow me to shed a little light on this misunderstanding.

The Showreel, worthy as it is, is most certainly NOT in direct affiliation with Tea Time. Our board members have done our best to relay information and answer questions when asked, but we are in no way responsible for the collection of work, the accessibility of resources, or the selection of work to be shown in the final product. Tea Time is simply a network to help broadcast opportunities such as this on a larger scale.

While it is regretful that there has been much confusion around this subject for the students and instructors alike - and we are very thankful to all those currently helping to resolve the issue in a mutually satisfying way - frankly, it is an insult to us - and to me, personally - that you would take information handed to you and use it to speak poorly of Tea Time’s initiative towards online students – Particularly because we pride ourselves as being one of, if not the only community, that actively reaches out to the online student body in ways far beyond the casual group on Facebook.

Since day one, Tea Time has made sure to take comprehensive notes of guest speakers, in-club lectures or demos, and events we host or attend, posting them to our blog (, so that those who cannot be in attendance might still be able to glean something that benefits them. Over the last year, we have expanded upon this – specifically with the hopes of creating a stronger bond with the online community. Our website ( features a structured forum for giving/receiving feedback on work; sharing industry news and job openings; space to ask technical questions and get support; and a growing resource library of tutorials, rigs and props available for free use.

Furthermore, because we know it gets tiresome to just have to read a bunch of notes, we have started to bring everything Tea Time directly to the online community. Our weekly meetings are streamed live every week from our dedicated site (, and, when possible, we have begun to live stream some of our Guest Speaker events as Webinars with Watch Later capabilities ( Tea Time has even launched a secondary chapter in Pittsburgh, PA, that we openly invite online students in that region to join, or, if they are so inspired, to begin their own local chapters with our full and direct support.

Finally, I should like to point out to you that Tea Time Animation is an Alumni/Student run organization. While we are largely affiliated with and greatly supported by the Academy, Tea Time is not directly maintained by any AAU faculty or personnel, which means Chris Armstrong is not the authority figure whose word you should hold to in future matters regarding Tea Time. I am.
I would be happy to answer any further questions or concerns you may have about ways the online student body can get involved. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me through our e-mail,; or our twitter, @TeaTimeAnimates, or our Instagram, @TeaTimeAnimation.

Happy Animating!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A 2K Day and an Evening with Paul Lee

I am very excited to tell you that we are ramping up for an amazing month of events this November. Unfortunately, that ramp was a little steep so you're getting a bit of a delayed write up from our fantastic 2K Games day on October 17th.

This summer, we were proud to have had a number of Tea Timers on a short term contract with 2K games working NBA 2K14. Lucky for us, they were happy to come back and share their experiences with the rest of us! They joined us for club, becoming the opening act for Paul Lee, their animation supervisor, who joined us for a delightful Q&A.

First, we covered file referencing. You may already be familiar with referencing assets - such as your set or rigged characters - but how about a method that makes your scene file even lighter and letting you animate despite ever-changing rigs / weights? We learned that there is a relatively easy method that isn't utilized very often! Simply separate out an additional rig to animate on. You will have 2 files to reference, one that is only the skeleton joints and the rig controls and the other is the mesh and skeleton joints. Orient constrain all the parts of the animation rig, except the hip which needs to be point constrained, to the original. This way, you, as an animator, can continue working and not have to worry about the character or animation not transferring while the art team is still developing the character, the modelers still modeling, or the riggers still creating the controls and weight paints.

Following this, we discussed animation layers; that third tab at the bottom of the Channel Box. Layers are extremely powerful. Just as in Photoshop, you can build up animation on top of each other in layers without affecting anything else underneath. You can easily take a vanilla walk cycle to a character walk cycle in almost no time. Layers are particularly amazing when having to edit a complex animation. They allow you to add on top of what was already animated or to do some minor tweaks and edit some poses just to try things out, without worrying about ruining your keys and splines. Each layer can also be toggled to be on and off, so if you don't like what you see, just disable the layer to hide the extra animation -- it will instantly revert to what it looked like before without having to go through and figuring out which keys you need to delete. Like buffer curves on a broader scale!

To wrap up the night, Paul shared some of his experiences with us. When asked about his number one piece of advice, his biggest suggestion was to always find ways to keep improving yourself. As a student or anyone interested in animation that is just starting out, learn your skills and other disciplines well enough to be self sufficient and then push yourself to doing those tasks more efficiently. While there has been fear of outsourcing and people losing their jobs, Paul has expressed not to worry about it too much. Other than issues of having to manage resources and schedules, outsourcing is just another part of the equation and there will always be a need to have key people in house. Instead of worrying about the things that are out of your control, take the time to be the better, and you'll do better stepping into the industry.

A big thank you to all those who stayed on a Friday night to enjoy the evening with Paul Lee -- we hope you found the talk helpful and informative -- and obviously all of our gratitude to Mr. Lee, himself -- and all of our 2K Tea Timers -- for sharing with us.

Happy Animating!

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Twitter: @TeaTimeAnimates
Instagram: @TeaTimeAnimation