Friday, September 16, 2011

( Orientation Week - Day 4 | Sept 9th )

Okay, so Friday was a pretty amazing day. There was a Theater portfolio display for all design and production students and faculty, so I was able to look at some really amazing sets that some of the theater students did !!

I spoke to a really nice guy named Drew Foster who's a theater student who also built an unbelievably amazing set, and they also have lights built in it !!!! So here are some photos of the sets he did ! ( All credits goes to Drew Foster for allowing me to take pictures of his amazing sets. Thanks, Drew ! )

I was really excited at the gallery because I've always been a huge fan of broadway shows and theaters and I really value the rich storytelling, colors and set designs they have in most of them, at least the popular ones. I've always wanted to see the making of their shows backstage but I've never had the chance ! So this is the closest that I've been to so far ! It's really amazing how these were all done, alone.

Anyway, I was so caught up with all the amazing works the theater students put up and I forgotten about the International Student group activity that Penelope Weston, our International Student Advisor had planned out ! I went to the restroom and shortly after I came out I bumped into a few other international students who were playing some treasure hunt game so I tagged along with them. Didn't really know what they're looking for though, but it seemed like they were having lots of fun so yeah, I just went along with them. Our team lost in the end but everybody got a CalArts pencil which is really cool. This is probably gonna sound weird, but CalArts is pretty much like a BRAND to me now. Just seeing the word 'CalArts' makes me excited! I'm even planning to get my CalArts mug, sweater, jacket, water bottle and some other stuff. I guess the excitement since the day I received my acceptance letter hasn't quite settle down yet.

The rest of the day went pretty well. Everybody had free pizzas at 7 pm at Mom's cafe, which is located on the ground floor at Chouinard Hall. Shortly after the pizza, me and most of the character animation BFA-1 students headed to the Bijou theater for the Edwards Scissorhands screening which started at 8 pm. It's pretty amazing how they value old movies here and most of the students who went for the movie were film and video students ! There are a lot of Tim Burton fans over here at CalArts and everyone here knows what a CalArts legend he is. Anyway, I had some classmates who even went into the theater with makeups on and had plastic knives and forks taped to their fingers. Here are some photos from the screening !

CalArts's very own movie theater !

Some of the girls from my class, pretty cool.

The movie starts !!

Watching Edward Scissorhands again really reminded me of why I wanted to make films so much. It was the moment when Kim (Winona Ryder) danced under the snow with Danny Elfman's "Ice Dance" music playing in the background. It was that beautiful, magical moment that really informed me of how a movie can take control of your emotions and affect you as a person ! Oh, the power of storytelling ! It really makes me wanna cry watching it. At the end of the show, everybody clapped and cheered and again commended the film. Some of the students stayed for Sleepy Hollow though, which started about 10 or 15 minutes later, but I went right back to my dorm because Edward Scissorhands was a lot to take in emotionally, and I wanted to keep that last thought I had from the movie till I go to bed.

So yeah, that was my Friday night. The last day of the weekday before class starts on Monday !

Monday, September 12, 2011

( Orientation Week - Day 3 | Sept 8th )

So I've been really busy for the past few days since school started and I have SO MUCH to tell ! Moving back to the orientation week , we had a Film/Video school Facilities Tour on Thursday from 10-11am, and then we had a New Student Orientation for the school of film and video, in which we all gathered at the Bijou theater at 1pm. After a short introduction to the school of film and video, the whole Character Animation BFA-1 students were led to their respective halls for another round of introduction to the major. So we all gathered up in the "Palace". Yeah, that's what it's called. Pretty cool right ? Thought so too when I saw the sign outside the room. Anyway, we got our instructors and faculties of the Character Animation department introduced to us and they are all filled with awesome people. We have Steve Brown and Jon Gomez as our life drawing instructor, Leo J. Hobaica for Color & Design, Dan Hansen the director of Character Animation department at CalArts, Maija burnett the associate director, Martha Baxton the senior administrative director and other cool people as well !

Oh and before I forget, we also got a tour around the animation department from a Character Animation BFA-2 student, Amanda Candler ! The animation department looked really cool and it's just like what I've seen in the photos! The cubes are all over the second and third floor and the coolest thing was that they have little streets they named after some well-known people in the animation industry in almost every aisle in the 2nd and 3rd floor where those cubes are ! There's also a bunch of cubes that are located in a lodge outside at Clark's field ! Here's where there'll be a lot of single cubes left since most of the single cubes in the main building will be occupied by the upperclassmen. I definitely want a single cube of my own so I can work in peace. Not that I want to close myself off people but I really do need a lot of concentration at work. I get distracted really easy so I'm really trying to avoid that !

Anyway it was a cool day and more to come !!

( Orientation Week - Day 2 | Sept 7th )

So it was my second day at CalArts and we had an International Students Breakfast Orientation at Langley Hall as early as 8.30 am and over here, I finally got to meet Penelope Weston !! She's the international student advisor who of course, worked so hard to get me and all the other international students to come to CalArts, and she's such a nice lady.

After the orientation, we had a writing placement exam for all the BFA and Graduate students for whom english is a second language, so I had to take the exam. We were told to write an essay on why did we choose to come to CalArts and who or what inspired us to be an artist, so I just wrote away and it was fun writing about stuff like this ! Most of the time, I find out more about myself when writing about my own life's story, and it's really crazy because things that I don't usually notice of myself starts unraveling as I write more. It's kinda like a subconscious thing where you know it but you don't realize it until somebody points it out and slap you on the face.

After the exam, we were told to expect an email on the following day or two from Hilary Darling who teaches language arts for the School Of Critical Studies. It's gonna be an email regarding the decision on whether or not we have to take an extra English class depending on the level of our written english .Few days later, as expected, I received an email from Hilary and thankfully I didn't have to take an English class ! Which was good because I can focus more on my own classes and take another critical study class.

Then there was this library orientation and tour from 11 am to 12 noon, and then we headed to the Modular Theater at 1 pm for the BFA's first year experience talk by Leo F. Hobaica Jr, who's the assistant dean of CalArts, a character animation faculty member, and also our teacher for Color & Design.

The talk that Leo F. Hobaica gave was MIND BLOWING !! It was really inspiring and it was all about "NOW". Leo was repetitively saying that if there's a time for anything, it is NOW, and that how much money our parents have had to pay to get us here, and every minute we're spending right here at this moment must be spent wisely, and it is NOW that we start spending it wisely. It was pretty repetitive but cool at the same time, because Leo's whole point was basically all about giving your very best at this very moment and not to worry too much about the future. He also told everyone who was in the hall, to speak their name out loud all at the same time on the count of 3. So he counted, "1..2...3!" and everybody said their name out loud together. You can pretty much imagine how it sounded like. All different names coming together at once. It was like jiberish, but cooler, cuz it contained everybody's name in it. Again, Leo's main point was that nobody could live alone, and he told us about the 3 people that we should really thank in life. First, your parents, second, your teacher, and the third, who's yourself. He was saying how everybody needed each other and he told us that we wouldn't be able to say everybody's name at once if we tried. It has to come in a whole with everybody together as one. When everybody connects, that's where the magic happens.

Leo is really an amazing amazing guy and I can't wait to sit in his first class !

Sunday, September 11, 2011

( Orientation Week Day 1 | Sept 6th )


Before the taxi came to pick me up at the hotel at 7.30 am, I spoke to a parent of a CalArts theater student who's a BFA-1, and they happened to be staying in the same hotel for the past few days as well ! We had some really good time chatting while having breakfast, and she was so nice she even offered me a ride to CalArts and asked if I could call off the taxi service ! But I told her I couldn't since the booking was made on the previous night and I thanked her. She was really nice and we talked a little bit more and not long after that my taxi came so I had to leave.

I arrived at CalArts at about 8 am, and the check in starts at 9 am, so I had to wait a little while before I can get my room key and start moving my stuff up.

Everything went pretty smoothly and everyone seemed so nice to each other. It was really exciting to see all the new students loading up the cart with their baggages and carrying them all up to their room. There was a lot of "Hi" and "Byes" when I was walking through the Hallways in the dorm and I even met some familiar people whom I've met on Animatedbuzz before this, so I was pretty much on the lookout for familiar faces haha ! It was pretty cool because on one second, everybody seemed so far away from each other, and then suddenly everyone's all gathered here in one place, so it's pretty amazing !

For new students ! Yeap that's me !!

The RA (Resident Assistant) on duty

Another RA on duty.

Move-in day was pretty chill and it wasn't so much of a hassle like I thought it'd be. They had carts over there which was really wonderful ! After bringing all my stuff up into my room, I just walked around the dorm and the campus, waiting for my roommate Robert to arrive, which he did after a while, and there was the self-introduction thingy and we started unpacking and rearranging stuffs around our room. The room is really pretty good for 2 people, and it really wasn't small at all ! I'll post some pictures of it soon !

So after me and Robert were done with the room, we went to the campus and on our way to the Character Animation department (we were lost), we met some new Character Animation BFA-1 students who knew the way there, and minutes later we met Jamie who's also a Malaysian and who also, surprisingly lived in the same residential area where I lived in. Didn't know that till 3 days later though. Anyways, we all hung out together outside the cafeteria for an hour or two and then we headed to the President's New Student Reception which was held at the Main Gallery. They put on a show from an experimental animation student and it was really cool !!

All in all, it was a great day I had fun meeting new people and we had lots of great talks on movies and the animation industry.

Oh and another cool thing that I discovered was that my RA Ashli, shares a same birthday as I which is on September 6th !!

So it was a really cool birthday !! Although initially, my birthday should've ended a day before since I was born in Malaysia, which is about a day ahead, but oh well. It just feels more "correct" to have all these cool stuff fall on my birthday right ?

The Arrival & A Little Exploration ! ( Sep 3rd - Sep 5th )

Here's a brief update on what happened for the past week.

My family and friends sent me off at the airport on the 3rd, and I remember it being an emotional moment few minutes before I entered the gates. It was hard to say goodbye to them but I saw this moment coming the day I started applying to CalArts. So I hugged them goodbye and entered the gates. I boarded the plane and arrived at LAX on the 3rd at 8pm, and headed right away to a hotel which was about 5 minutes drive away from CalArts. I had 3 awesome nights of stay over there and the room was really good for $99 per night.

Got my Mac set up there so I could keep working on my stuff.

My 3 days of stay over there were spent working on preparations on getting to CalArts, reading mails & gifts left for me by my family and friends and also doing a little bit of exploration around town. The best part has to be on Sep 5th, which was the day I visited CalArts for the first time. It was labor day so nobody was around except for some new or returning students who drove there with all their stuffs to prepare for the move in on the following day. I walked around the campus and it was just like a dream come true ! All along I've only been seeing pictures of it and now I'm finally here ! It's just unbelievable ! I roamed around the empty campus, walked outside where they have this really beautiful green field where you can sit on them and draw. At least that was the first thought that came to my mind. Then I also went to the dorm, but it was locked though, so I couldn't get in. It's pretty neat from the way it looked outside though. I got to peek at the pool and I also saw two students swimming there who said Hi to me. They seem pretty nice. Then I sat down on the field and started drawing part of the building, and I left shortly after that because a bee was buzzing around me.

Gonna give my best here !!!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011


Hi ! I'm finally starting up my own CalArts blog after settling down here in California for my first week !

I'll be keeping this blog running through the entire 4 years of my life at CalArts and I know it's gonna be an amazing 4 years !

Before I start, here's a short story of what happened before I got here, to CalArts:

I graduated with a digital animation diploma at the age of 21 and got a job at a visual effects studio as a matchmove artist right after my graduation, which I thought was pretty cool. I've never been interested in visual effects particularly, but I thought it's good for me to at least know how things work behind the big screen, and see where I'll end up later on. Life was good and I had loads of fun working on cool hollywood films.

After working as a matchmover for about 10 months, I learned a lot about production and made a lot of new friends, but then I realized I wasn't drawing as much as before. I was cutting down a lot on my drawing hours even during the weekends. Whenever I tried drawing something, it barely came up, and even if it did, it wasn't any good. I felt like I was losing myself, and the artist I once used to be was decaying day by day. It felt almost like my life as an artist was gonna end right there. I was at the ledge and a leap could've ended the artist in me. So I figured I'd better start doing something to put myself back on my feet. I started carrying a little sketchbook with me everywhere I go so I could sketch everywhere. I sketched during lunch break, afterwork hours and also sometimes in the office when I'm waiting for my shot to get approved.

This went on for some time and then one day, I suddenly thought of CalArts. Months ago, I picked up a book called " THE PIXAR TOUCH: THE MAKING OF A COMPANY " by the author David A. Price, and CalArts was being mentioned repetitively inside the book, so I figured I should finally do a google on CalArts, which I did, and that's where the fun part starts.

Like many other applicants who applied to CalArts, I've never had much faith in getting in because it's so competitive. Getting into CalArts wasn't an easy job and many hours of crazy work went into the process of application, portfolio and to finally get there in person.

Being accepted into CalArts has to be one of my most treasured opportunity up-to-date in my life today, and it was an opportunity that was created by the hands of so many people that I unfortunately can't list them all down. To name a few of them, they're my friends and lecturer from college and work who gave me strength to keep moving forward, Mario who's the creator of Animatedbuzz, Mike Krummhoefener from Pixar who inspired me to fight for my dream, David A. Price who's the author of the book who led me here, my sweet family members who gave me their never-ending encouragements and supports, and finally of course, my lovely Dad who's paying so much for the fees so I can have the chance to live a dream of my own, which was something he didn't have when he was young.

Now coming back to the present, I'll be updating this blog frequently to document my 4 years of life as a student over here at CalArts. I'll be flooding this blog with pictures of events, friends, places, assignments and everything CalArts.

CalArts is indeed an awesome place to be and I'll be having loads of fun over here, no doubt. At the same time, I'll never forget how hard it was to take myself all the way here with the help of so many wonderful people whom I'm missing back home. The purpose of me being here today still strongly remains with me, and I know that nothing I get over here should be taken for granted. As long as I keep that purpose close to me, I know I won't be far from achieving my dreams.

Now let me end this first post with a quote from Mark Twain.

"Twenty years from now, you will be more dissapointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Alright, CalArts ~