The last, but not least, day in San Fran we started by visiting the Cartoon Art Museum. This…was…awesome! They had original art from a multitude of movies and comics, and even the set of ParaNorman!!! It was a small museum, but definitely worth the visit. To see actual original art help solidified to me how real cartoons and comics are as art.
Afterwards we went to Emeryville and went to the Ikea for lunch, then to Pixar!!! We had to split up the tour, but we to see the lobby and a whole second floor gallery of the creation of Brave. To see how the film movie came into creation and get to talk to Edwin was awesome and educational! Also, this by far is the largest studio we visited, and to see how it all was put together was so interesting. The feel the difference between Pixar and Dreamworks first place was great experience. Pixar was more open and welcoming feeling, and Dreamworks was more closed and secretative. Pixar even had people riding around on scooters!
After Pixar we had free time, so Mar, Ryan and I decided to go to SFMoma. I overall am not a conteporary art person, but there were a few interesting things there. I saw a Picasso and a Chuck Close, and there was this giant painting in a hallway of mushrooms and the like. The giant painting I enjoyed because of the clean lines and forms, where it looked like a cartoon, however it was a centerpiece in a hall of SFMoma.
Wrapping up the trip was sad, but also timely. I was getting tired and ready to go home (even though I got stuck an extra day in San Fran, got to fly first class, and spend a night in Minneapolis due to the blizzard in Iowa 😦 ). I also was filled in inspiration to create, and it helped solidify my goal of wanting to move to the West Coast. Now I know that all these jobs do exist, that these people are living the dreams they set out to achieve. I know too that I can get to that point, I will just have to work hard to achieve it. I also know if I keep trying, I will achieve it. That is the theme of all the stories those who we talked to, Stupid Fun Club, Double Fine, Disney Playdom, Pixar, and even Walt Disney story! Just keep trying even after you fail, and as long as it is your passion, eventually success will come to you.
Monday morning we caught a train to Palo Alto to visit Disney Playdom. This visit was fantastic! We got free food and water bottles, and had a tour of the whole office. We got to talk to Art Directors and Programmers and even HR gave us tips to how to get a job! We had to sign a NDA so I probably shouldn’t divulge details, but overall it was an enlightening experience. Disney Playdom was actually a startup that was purchased by Disney after it grew to considerable size. They mostly develop social facebook games, such as Sorority Life, and it was interesting to see the behind the scenes of it.
After Playdom, we had lunch in Redwood City, then went to Dreamworks. We were very excited for this, and it was awesome to get there. We got to see very little of the building and just watched some videos instead of actually getting to talk directly to any artists or actual workers. It was still interesting to see the area and get a feel of the campus they work on. It was a considerably the largest company we have seen by this point, so to see the difference between a smaller startup and a larger studio like Dreamworks was interesting.
That evening we got to talk one on one with an Art Director at Disney, and he gave all us artists reviews of their portfolios. It was so great to hear direct feedback, especially at this point in my education. I have a better idea of where to go now for the next year and half of school.
Sunday started out by going to Chinatown to peruse shops and eat Dim Sum. It was a lot of delicious food! We then walked to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, where we watched street performers to study how there acts attract people and how others do not. There were many men spray painted and pretending to be robots, which was interesting at first, but I realized soon that this was a common schtick people used, and quickly became uninteresting.
The two performers who drew crowds were a couple of people on unicycles juggling and the like, and a artist who was spray painting paintings on the street. I think they both pulled crowds because they were loud, showy, and original compared to what was around. This can be applied to both animation and games because they are a form of entertainment also, and if thought about, loud flashy games or animations do attract attention.
At Fisherman’s Wharf was the Musee Mechanique, which was this amazing place that had interactive machines dating back to the first interactive machines. All were workable and you could play them, and they had histories written along with it. This progressed to more modern arcade machines, giving the visitor a full understanding of the development. In old machines you could see the basis for newer mechanics, loud, flashy, and interactive. One could control a puppet to dance, watch monkeys play music, or talk to a fortune teller. It was very rudimentary compared to todays game standards, but still interesting all the same.
After the Musee, we went to Ghiradelli Square then to the Palace of Fine Arts. We just walked around the outside, but that is all one really needs. It was beautiful and another source of inspiration for possible future paintings. To see such grand architecture in America was breath taking. The last time I have seen a building so beautiful was in Europe.
Then we proceed to trek to the Golden Gate Bridge, along the way it started to rain. This did not deter Dave, Ryan, and I to get to the first tower of the bridge, even though we got soaked in the process. Afterwards we went to back to the Hostel to get dry, then to a British Pub where I had my first Shepard’s Pie. It was the perfect meal to end a long day.
Dim Sum in Chinatown
View of Trans American building in Chinatown
View of Coit Tower
Seagulls at Pier 39
Dancing guys at Arcade Museum
Old Ms. Pacman game at arcade museum, personal favorite
Ice King at the Palace of Fine Arts
Palace of Fine Arts
Golden Gate Bridge by night
We made it out to the first pillar of the Golden Gate in rain!
My first Humble Pie to warm me up after being soaked on the Golden Gate Bridge
Saturday morning we started with the Walt Disney Museum. We explored around the area there, then went in when it opened at 10a. LucasArts was located out on the campus, and there was a statue to Yoda, and to commemorate Muybridge.
The Walt Disney Family Museum was very informational and fun. They had a special exhibit for stop motion animation, which even include the original wire frames for Jack Skeleton and Gumby!
The rest of the Museum was about Walt Disney the person, his life and career. I never knew his story, and it was inspirational. He taught himself how to animate, and then went on to pioneer animation principles still used to today. My favorite part of the museum is where you could control a rough of a hand drawn animation from Snow White frame by frame, going forward or backward if you would like, and speed it up and slow it down. I wish there were more resources like that available for study. It helped me understand how they composed the animations, and the principles to make the animation flow.
After the Walt Disney Museum we trudged through the rain to a bus stop to go to the Science Museum. We walked up a hill/mountain an there was a lot of neat things to see. Once to the area with the Science Museum, we stopped by the tower by the art museum. I had a wonderful view of the city, and I took a lot of images. That view will surely be inspiration for future paintings for me.
The Science Museum was full of awesome exhibits. We went to the planetarium to watch a show about earthquakes and in another theater watched a 3D animation of dinosaurs. While watching these I realized animation does not just need to be for fun cartoons, but also to teach and help the masses understand the world around them. We can not film dinosaurs, or how earthquakes work under the crust, but using scientific data, artists can render what it looks like. I knew this, but never realized it before.
Also at the Science Museum there was a rainforest and an aquarium. Both were full of interesting critters and life, therefore full of inspiration. I even had two butterflies land on me!
We started it by going to Berkeley to tour Stupid Fun Club, a business started by Will Wright, and it creates games and interactive products. They were focusing on creating items that could be controlled by smartphones and tablets. I could not take pictures of many of the things, but we got to talk to them for a long time about their projects and the industry in San Fran. Our tour guide was Mike Winter, and he came to visit the University of Iowa last spring.
Afterwards we went to IGN, a media outlet for video games. Their studios in San Fran were amazing, for they had so much video game memorabilia and knowledge, it was like going through a game museum. Each conference room was decorated like a different video game, and everyone’s cubicles had an amazing amount of objects and story behind it.
After our tour of IGN, we had to a break, so Casey Lynch, our tour guide, showed us an amazing burrito place and we went to a park by SFMOMA until our next meeting at Double Fine productions. There were many opportunities for photos there, and much inspirational material.
After the break we went to Double Fine productions, an independent game studio. We talked to artists and and managers there to find out about the development of games and the difference between independent game studios and larger ones. We had to sign an NDA, so I can not probably divulge too much, but overall I learned a lot and it was amazing it see a real game studio.
Afterwards we had dinner as a group with a person from Pixar and an independent animator, which was an fun q&a session that offered much insight also.
Another day filled with much networking and learning, but overall it was great to see these studios exist, hear the stories of how everyone got to where they were, and see how they work.
Stupid Fun Club in Berkley
With Mike Winter at SFP
Vault room IGN
Power armor at IGN
Every console in a collection at IGN
Zelda Room at IGN
Just Dance in Ubisoft lobby with Peter, Dave, and Ryan
Day 2 San Fran – We woke up and partook in the free pancake breakfast that the hostel offered. It was a bucket with batter in it, and pretty amazing. After which we navigated the bus system and went to the Legion of Honor. There were so many amazing images there, I learned so much about painting and composition. It was mind blowing. I studied the paint techniques and compositions of Rembrandt, Bougereau, Monet, and Stanhope. There were rooms filled with Northern Renaissance paintings. I have been to many museums in my travels, but the Legion was full of awe. Seeing these paintings up close really helped me understand how to further my paintings and concept art work.
There were original Muybridge photographs and other photographs that study the movement of the body through time. Muybridge was interesting because his work was the precursors to animation and cinema, and helped artists understand the motion of movement through time.
After the Legion of Honor we went to Grace Cathedral. This was inspirational and massive. I took many photos of the interior for future reference in my artworks. The view from up on the hill it was on was beautiful also. All of the amazing landscapes was overwhelming in many ways.
That evening we went to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. We watched people and saw a beautiful view of the city at night. It was a amazing day full of learning about art, painting specifically, and inspiration from the city in general.
I knew San Fran was going to be a magical place because the local walgreens was full of tasty snacks.
Hostel bunk beds
Union Square at night, the hustle and bustle
The White Horse, atmosphere reference
The White Horse, lighting reference.
Day One in San Fransisco –
After a whole semester of waiting and a pretty uneventful flight, I arrived in San Fran. I waited around the Airport for Mar, and we went to check into the hostel.
After everyone who was coming early arrived, we went exploring to orientate ourselves in the city. We went to Piraat Pizza, walked through Union Square, and went to a Pub near our hostel. There were so many sites to see and coming from relatively calm Iowa, it was sensory overload.
Instantly though I felt inspired, all the life and activity, I knew I would have many adventures and learn a lot in the days to come.