Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The pixar screening at SVA 2011

Pixar speaker, our SVA alumni, Andrew Dayton

For those interested in pixar, this is the list of colleges they work with:

Getting into those colleges means you have more network with Pixar, more chance.
But unless you are the top of your class, chances are you won't get hired right away, try somewhere else for more experiences first.

Random facts and stuff i learned from this screening... for those who couldn't go.

A bit about Andrew:

Andrew, a SVA alumni 10-12years ago.  First person from SVA to enter Pixar with a cold reel and no recommendation. worked on Toy Story 3 as technical director for 2.5 year, and got moved to other projects. Now he's working on teaching at several colleges while still participating in Pixar productions. Two kids, and his oldest son is 4, (who loves Cars) and another one coming.

Pipeline: The basic pipeline is about the same as other feature studios such as blue sky, dreamworks.. etc, but Pixar has some extra details to their work. They have their own rigging system which is their industry trade secret, claimed to be the most advanced rigging system in the world of animation.
A SVA alumni Chris, who's now their rigger, said he can't go back to Maya rigging anymore after rigging with Pixar's system. (So they are not rigging with anything we know about)

I'm really curious about the system but I don't know the proper name, Andrew didn't cover it too much, their cloth simulation has also advanced, but I only got to see tests renders, where Andy bends and clothing moves on him more realistically. I will try to find more online later. (Their policy is no filming the screen, no pictures to show you here)

Edit: Marionette is likely what Pixar is using to rig according to feedback comment.

They also have a department called "Set dressing" which I am not familiar, usually "Layout" department takes care of placement of items on the shot as well, but Pixar has a dedicated team just for set dressing. It's a separated step from simply layout, modeling, shading and lighting. It's people making decisions on how to tell the story best with the set, and how to frame it.

Pixar is still expanding, a new building is about finished in April. The building is tall enough to see the whole city. (sounds cool enough, another random fact)

TS3's whole production time line is 4 years. Only a few crew members such as director and producer might stay the whole 4 years, most others get to work on the project for the period they are needed, for about 6 months to 1 year. (as usual)
Pixar's salary does not different from other studios, but they do huge bonuses, Steve Jobs' style, such as 10 months bonuses after a movie is done, to everyone in the studio, including the lunch lady. ;) 

Pixar is certainly at its golden age right now, much like Disney in the old days. They are the attraction of every good talent out there, working at Pixar is now the dream job of many.

On the scale of 1-10 of wanting to get in, you need to have 12 to get into Pixar, and have someone at Pixar helping you out. Andrew got in with a cold reel, which is something he's still proud of to this day. It's worth praising. He's now SVA student's link to Pixar.

Andrew's advice on thesis/demo:
keep it short but add story/personality to it - make the watchers feel something
Use camera to tell a story will make your thesis stand out

A student asked if they hire any scripters, the answer was scripters won't get hired. They only hire advanced programmers from Ivy Ledge colleges.

So are the art side, they get about 1000 reels per month, and only hire best of the best. A grade ones, other ones go into B grade pile.

(This reminds me of Disney, that has A grade animators, B grade animators, and C grade animators. A grade handles all the best shots, B grade handles medium level shots, C grade does props, background characters and side stuff, once you get into this "caste" you don't really get to move around too much unless you work extra hard to change that grade. That seems to be how it works in any pipeline.)

I don't know if Pixar people need to lobby for the films they want to work on like Disney people do, that's something to find out.

Andrew is working on a new title, which he can't speak much about, but it has something to do with Scottish.


SyFyGuy said...

Pixar;s rigging system is generally called "Marionette." My guess is that it's not radically different than Maya in function, but it basically has easy access to every customized script any Rigging TD has written for it and they all have nice clean, intuitive GUIs for all of the individual complex rig components.

Christine Y. Chong said...

thanks for the info, i knew someone's bond to know that. XD