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MFA Thesis – Excerpt 18

Nor can any of these packages, costing thousands of dollars, handle as many steps in the production pipeline. Furthermore, none of them alone can produce an entire film. In addition, proprietary software suites are not available for open alterations to the code and are not fully adaptable to production needs despite the ability to add features with the proprietary languages some of them have, like MEL for Maya.

Buying proprietary software like Maya, 3dsMax, Cinema4D, Modo, ZBrush and others is, in the words of Bob Young, former CEO of open source software company RedHat, like buying a “car with the hood welded shut.” One cannot alter the source of the proprietary software as is possible with open source software. Because of this and the easy availability of the software itself, open source is having the unintended effect of democratizing industries where socioeconomics keep disadvantaged groups, i.e. poor families, from accessing better education, training or employment opportunities. In the VFX industry, for example, protectionism among the established studios influences employed artists to believe that open source software is unprofessional. That notion, in turn, denies artists not employed by established studios the chance of ever belonging to the artistic “elite” because they cannot afford the accepted industry standard software like Maya, Cinema4D and so on.

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 17

“The open source software industry has proven exponentially more effective in creating integrated robust programs than a host of proprietary software suites. One strong example is Blender 3D, which covers multiple production steps in film and video, and which is being used to produce the 3D animated digital short film Traces. The open source software Audacity is being used to produce the film’s audio phase.

A film, especially a digital 3D animated film, is composed of many phases and processes. Entire studios, like Pixar and Dreamworks are divided into departments where screenwriting, storyboarding, audio recording, character design, environment design (layout), visual development (colors and looks), character modeling, prop modeling, environmental modeling, rigging, texturing, lighting, scene composition and many other tasks are delegated. Most studios need multiple pieces of software for these steps including Maya, Modo, Cinema4D, Lightwave, ZBrush, Mudbox, Mari, Nuke and Fusion. Blender 3D provides an entire production house or studio in a single software, free of charge. Blender 3D is also multi-platform: available in Macintosh, Linux, Unix and Windows, and can be run from a flash drive! None of the proprietary 3D production software suites mentioned above can claim that.”

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 16

“In the summer of 2015, I participated in the Boundary Crossings Institute. This occasioned the creation of my first conceptually driven animation. At the gallery opening, I overheard a great conversation between a “mixed” couple regarding immigration. I was both pleased and surprised that my work prompted this discussion.

Originally, I wanted to create a short film [before finishing the MFA program] with high quality rendering and animation. Technology allows for such an endeavor to be accomplished by a single artist. I am now concentrating on a single scene out of the 13 minute short film I scripted, complete with audio, VFX, texturing and painting. Once the MFA program is finished, I will go into full production to create the 13 minute pilot and script 12 more episodes for future production.”

From that experience with the Boundary Crossings I realized that the power of animation to make people think of social issues was stronger than I anticipated. So I set out to re-direct my short film to cause just that.

Below you can see one of the vehicles for the short film (in process). It is meant to be a vehicle for security forces. Not so much a “military” or police force, but a security/safety one. After all, it is supposed to be a dysfunctional “utopia” story.

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 15

“I was confronted with the idea of conceptual animation in the fine arts at PNCA. Coming from the commercial side of animation, I felt the necessity to change my goal to accommodate more conceptual elements into my animation project. I found the prospect unappealing and unconsciously resisted the change. I eventually realized that I was concerned by the prospect of loosing my voice to the spontaneous and accidental nature I perceived as the base of the abstractions presented in the examples of fine art animations to which I was exposed. I learned that the feeling of unease I had was due to the questioning of the tropes I was accustomed to in the commercial arts, and the strict control of the visuals required to deliver the message. It is at this juncture that I realized that conceptual animation does not require that the work be nonrepresentational or even accidental. Method and technique can be conceptual, but so can subject matter and theme. With this realization, my vision of Traces changed from a Disney-like film into an almost fully abstract animation and back to a representational artwork that became a tool to fight insidious social indoctrination.”

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 14

“The past two years [MFA program years] were filled by explorations that helped me find my voice. I started revisiting skills in traditional sculpture, and used those skills to redesign and find my characters. At first, I was falling into the tropes of Hollywood and Disney that I was trying to leave behind. Then, with the guidance and mentoring of Caitlin Kunkel, I turned the 120 page script into a 13 page short film script. And—for the first time in 20 plus years—the story had a title: Traces.”

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 13

“Years passed, and the story grew to 120 pages of convoluted themes and subplots, which was not producible. In 2012, I decided to go back to school. I registered in an online MFA in 3D Modeling program at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco (AAU). After two years of the program, it was evident that my voice was not being developed. At AAU, my characters were too much of the Hollywood type, with exaggerated body proportions like stereotypical superheroes and highly sexualized male and female forms. Creature design and creation were required for the program, but were too fantastical and irrelevant to the story.”

MFA Thesis – Excerpt 12

“During my BFA studies in communication design, I started writing a comic book to illustrate and produce as a project after graduation. My Pratt Institute training focused me on Disney-like stories and visual works,… In these early concept drawings, my voice was not coming across in my visual designs and the story kept getting more complicated. Over the years, the story never passed the concept stage as I had little training in storytelling, but could have easily illustrated a story written by someone else.”