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Todd Jacobsen CG Reel

  • Client: Self

  • Work Performed: Animation (Maya), Motion Graphics (Photoshop, After Effects), Sound Editing

  • Project Date: 2006

This is where I decided to learn how to learn a whole bunch of computer programs in one sitting. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth the effort. Toward the end of 2005, I (again) found myself with a bunch of time on my hands. So I obtained copies of Maya, Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere, Encore and ACID and set out to create a DVD portfolio I could duplicate en masse and send out to studios without a ton of worry about the materials not being returned. (Back in olden times, whenever an animation artist dropped their physical/paper portfolio off at a studio, there was a better-than-excellent chance it would get lost somewhere in a closet and the artist would be tasked with re-creating their entire portfolio from scratch. At this point, I reasoned that if I had a burnable DVD image, a Photoshop file of the DVD case artwork, and a bunch of blank discs and empty cases, I’d be set. And it worked for a while…until online portfolios became the norm. Oh, well.) Again, these are all of my very first experiments using any kind of digital imaging program. A far cry from paper and pencil, to be sure, but I had a ton of fun teaching myself how these programs worked…just me and my trusty 2003 Dell laptop. There weren’t many free Maya rigs to choose from in 2006, and only three had the elements I felt were necessary to teach myself how to animate on the computer. The “Generi” rig always gets a few rips for being, well, unappealing…but I have to give MAJOR props to its creator; it was exactly the right rig for learning how to digitally translate everything I’d been taught in hand-drawn animation. I’d always thought it would be a bit funny to have a fantasy-style gaming rig act with some very human emotions and a ridiculous payoff, and this interesting looking model proved to be darn near perfect. And while the “Bob” rig looked great, it had a few issues with its left arm movement, so I also gave myself a little crash course in rudimentary rigging. There were a few sets and props that needed constructing, so I taught myself how to build and shade with a combination of techniques I found on some websites and message boards. I used Maya’s native rendering capabilities to finish creating these little one-act movies, and I was pretty happy with how they turned out.

Photoshop and After Effects were lots of fun to learn as well. I’d always been a fan of graphic title sequences, and the combination of those two programs along with some imagination — and lifted references, wink wink — made for some really interesting results. (I get more comments on the titles in this reel than the animation, and I’m perfectly fine with that.)

Sony’s ACID program was made primarily for creating hip hop and drum tracks, but I found it incredibly useful for capturing sound, layering, splicing, adding reverb and effects, etc. The Spanish announcement in the second clip was recorded on my laptop in my friend’s living room, and sped up in ACID without losing the pitch of his voice. A seriously robust program, all packed in a fairly compact interface.

I learned how to create a self-loading, navigable DVD using Encore complete with menus and sub-menus, easy enough for anyone who could press a button to find their way around. I was pretty proud of this particular element of my journey…lots of IFTTT (“If This, Then That”).

While all of the things in this reel might look seriously dated by today’s standards, it holds a dear place in my heart as the 2006 springboard for combining my traditional experience with all the skills necessary to survive in today’s ever-changing job market. (RIP, 2003 Dell laptop…I’ll never forget you.)


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