Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The CTN Animation Expo, pt.II

Absolutely killer Kung Fu Panda maquettes sculpted by Damon Bard.
Oh, how I want one.

An artist shows her portfolio at the Blue Sky Studios table.

Very talented, way too young guy, Justin Gerard.


Kent Melton begins a maquette. Like a dope, I walked away
not realizing who he was.

Me, talking about Me, while Roger Allers politely
waits for Me to stop.

People watching me draw.
It was like something out of a fever dream.

Finally, a few minutes to post something on the CTN (Creative Talent Network) Animation Expo in Burbank,California. I must say, it was a tremendous event. I think everyone I met (and I met quite a few people there) expressed surprise and excitement at how well attended and well organized the whole shebang was. I do believe this thing has legs and will be even bigger next year.
More than one person described it as a distilled San Diego Comicon experience but just for animation geeks. Only the good stuff: various artists showing their latest work, including Craig Elliott, Andreas Deja , Kei Acedera and Bobby Chiu to name a few. Also on view were Damon Bard's Kung Fu Panda maquettes, translated so perfectly from Nicolas Marlet's flawless designs (do not get me started on how much I hate Marlet!)- more on that genius later. Mike Mignola was there with his wife Christine and their daughter. Mike had several masterworks for sale, one of which I scored. More on that guy later, too.
Beyond the work displayed by those artists and many more, was a seamless loop of drawing and painting demonstrations, both traditional (Craig Elliott) and digital (Justin Gerard) all staged on a platform near the center of the main room and viewable on large monitors all over the convention. You might be having a coffee outside the hall, look up and find yourself mesmerized by some dazzling display of draughtsmanship only to realize your coffee's gone cold while you sat there slackjawed. There were many panel discussions, (all of which I missed due to my own obligations that weekend), including a history of the maquette by the sculpting superhero, Kent Melton and a roundtable on character design including folks like Harald Seiperman and Greg Couch. Outside the main hall in the lounge area were ad hoc gatherings of artists sharing their sketchbooks with one another. In the same area were also displays of maquettes ranging from vintage Jiminy Crickets circa The Nine Old Men to finished painted models from Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland (designed by Kei Acedera and Bobby Chu). Beyond the sharing of ideas, techniques and general passion for the art of animation by both vets and newcomers, was the search for job opportunities, a central goal of CTN. Blue Sky Studios had a table set up and my Blue Sky pals, Sabrina de los Rios and Greg Couch spent much of the weekend going through countless portfolios, giving advice and taking business cards. Sony Animation was there and doing the same thing. I strongly suspect the other studios will follow suit next year.
The very kind Roger Allers, director of The Lion King, generously agreed to interview me on stage before an audience. Despite our jitters, confessed to each other only moments before going on, we had a great time and a lot of laughs.
For myself, I was especially delighted with the wonderful reception A Sketchy Past and the Duchess of Whimsy received. Every time I went to Stuart Ng's table someone was either perusing one of the books or had one in hand, ready for purchase. It was the debut for A Sketchy Past here in the U.S. and I could not have been happier with the response. Thank you to those of you who purchased it!
photos by Marianne Franco
And congratulations to Tina Price, for organizing such a successful weekend!


  1. yes, the CTN Animation Expo was an amazing event! too much good stuff - and at the same time - not enough. I'll be there next year.

  2. Looks like an awesome event, hopefully I'll get to check it out someday. Thanks for the pics and notes!! I can't wait to read A Sketchy Past!

  3. Sounds and looks like you had a great time my friend!! Wish I could have been there! Let's see that Mignola piece that you scored!

  4. Although I am still catching my breath from the expo, thank-you for being so kind each time we crossed paths. It truly made the event more wonderful.

  5. It was great seeing you again and sketching for each other! You were lucky to have some time to see what was going on! I was chained to that table... I hope you had enough fun to come back again. Lovin "Sketchy Past" it's the only book on my coffee table!

  6. Nice meeting you at the CTN opening booze bash, Peter. Welcome to the blog-o-verse!

  7. I just to say first off- Yikes! I look terrible in one of those pictures!

    But anyhow (ignoring that previous remark), I had a really great time at the CTN and I feel very privileged to have met and seen you draw. Thanks so much for making the trek to l.a. more than worth it!!

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