Make A List & Check It Twice


No I’m not talking about your Christmas list. What I am talking about is 10 things you should try To-Do everyday. Okay, let be a little more clear. This to-do list I’m talking about is a list that you’ll make everyday when you get to work or, if you’re like me, when you’re working on your skills or updating your demo reel. Before my start at my new career I was never a list person. I kept everything in my head and tried to keep up. Doing that didn’t work for me. I had start making list to help me finish assignments and I’ve made a few to keep track of what I’m working on. I’ll admit now that making a list and then crossing things off feels good. It makes me feel productive. The consistent productivity has this wonderful byproduct of accomplishing more. I heard this saying somewhere when I started AAU:

You don’t wait to do the work until you get the dream job – you do the work in order to get the dream job.

Everyday when I get to work (my job is different from my VFX work) I make a list of ten things I’ll try to do every workday. There are days when I won’t get them all done, but I always do my best to deliver. It has proven effective for me on numerous times. The ten things are:

1. Read something related to my industry.
2. Read something related to eLearning/software development.
3. Send at least two emails to touch base with professional network contacts and/or old colleagues.
4. Empty my Inboxes from my email accounts and social network accounts.
5. I check in with my colleagues to offer help on what they are working on.
6. Watch a video on the latest techniques that apply to my work
7. Review my top three goals for my skills that are focused on growth.
8. Identify and execute one task to support each of my top three goals.
9. Post at least five valuable pieces of content on all my major social networks and media accounts.
10. Take a full minute to appreciate what you have and how far you’ve come.

This list definitely could be longer but you have to take into account that if you make a long list many of your task are less likely to get done. While at work I get way more done then just the 10 items I write on my list, but these are the ten that I know I can do with consistency. Time and time again tells me so. Of course you don’t have to make a list of ten you can make a list with any amount on it, just remember the goal at hand is to accomplish as many as you can without rushing. Take your time. If you only start out crossing off one or two that’s fine. One or two still counts for productivity. Keep at your list and you’ll build your performance and soon will be crossing off your entire list.

When it comes to working on animation and VFX task I create a very similar list. I designed this list to work both ways. I love what I do at URS. Creating eLearning content for numerous clients is rewarding. Plus I know that by increasing my skills I can take what I’ve learned at URS and apply it else where in this field. With the growth of Higher Education and the demand for it online having this skill set is a must. This is the list I use while at home working on my Animation and VFX jobs and skill building:

1. Read something related to the Animation & VFX industry.
2. Read something related to software development.
3. Send at least two emails to touch base with professional network contacts and/or old colleagues.
4. Empty my Inboxes from my email accounts and social network accounts.
5. I check in with my network contacts to offer help on what they are working on.
6. Watch a video or tutorial on the latest techniques that apply to my work.
7. Review my top three goals for my skills that are focused on growth.
8. Identify and execute one task to support each of my top three goals.
9. Post at least five valuable pieces of field related information on all my major social networks and media accounts.
10. Take a full minute to appreciate what you have and how far you’ve come.

April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?


Opportunities. That’s right this May has brought me just a few opportunities but being small doesn’t mean that they wont bring bigger ones. I know it’s been quite some time since I have posted anything but with working full time and studying full time at the Academy has made me a bit busy. So what has May brought me, well over the the 15 weeks of my Spring semester I made a lot of new contacts for my professional network. I connected with many of my classmates because their talent was awesome plus being on the same track as many of them I know I’ll have future classes or could even collaborate with them on a future projects. While in school, I connected with Music Video Director Scott Hansen. Scott recently moved back to the area and opened a new studio. I reached out to Scott about my interest in working with him creating VFX’s for his videos. I’m currently waiting for my first assignment.

Since school as ended opportunities have come forth. I’ve recently started working with my church as their Social Media Specialist and as their online Webcast Director. Carpenter’s House Ministries is the name of the church and until recently had very little online presence. Since I’ve taken over in some areas, their Facebook as tripled in likes and the users it reaches. However, the weekly Webcast is still hurting on the viewer side. I’m finding it difficult finding the right groups and areas to announce our cast. So far we have very little viewers each week. But I haven’t given up, I am going to work hard to grow our viewers.

I’m still waiting to hear on a few things and people that I have reached out to. Once I hear word about some other opportunities I will let you all know.

Thanks,
– Nathan

Local Food Ministry


CHM_Logo_001

So at the church I attend, which is run by most of my family members on my aunt’s side, they have a Food Ministry. By partnering with the local food bank and Operation Blessing, we are able to offer a once monthly distribution giving people with our local community an opportunity to save, serve and connect. Savings is simple, everyone wants to save money and everyone has to eat. Serving and connecting with your community can be difficult at times. We truly believe that food ministry is an awesome and effective way for you to serve and connect with your community. Our heart is ministry, feeding people is the bonus.

What I recently did as my final project for my Editing Concepts class at AAU was film the volunteers of our food ministry has they setup for this past Christmas’ food distribution. I wanted to show the people how much work goes into preparing for a distribution along with what it means to the Church. If you would like to take a look at my documentary you can find it here:

It’s a New Year


schools i'm attending

schools I’m attending

That’s right, and we are only 9 days into that new year and already things are looking good. After almost a year (I think) I finally got back on here. Time and time again I told myself, “You really should blog more” and time and time again I never listened to myself. Well a lot has happened in the past year. I started college at The Academy of Art University in which I am studying for my MFA in Animation & Visual Effects. After my first semester I switched tracks from 3D Modeling to VFX.
And since I’ve made that switch things are starting to make sense. I’m heading into my third semester in February. This past fall semester I finally made the choice for my career path. I want to be a Compositor. I really think it’s the best fit for me and for my passion. It will still allow me to work with 3D models but I get the added benefit of working with live footage. To this date I am really happy with the decision I made.

So what’s in store for me now… We’ll lets see. In the next week or two I will be starting the January semester at FXPHD. I have always wanted to take classes there and my research into it the past couple of weeks have really been beneficial. I am slightly worried that the work load will be a lot since my Spring semester at AAU starts Feb. 4th but I think that will the right planning and determination that I’ll be able to handle it. I think that because I am really trying to make something of myself for me and my family. In the mean time I am working on my training for Compositing, 3D modeling and After Effects with the help of Digital Tutors and a few other very helpful sources. I am also attempting to finish a few of the many unfinished pieces of art that I’m working on. One includes the WIP of the Jungle that I was working on last year for Regent University’s animated feature, The Best Gift, which is currently in post production I believe.

In the coming days I will be posting finished pieces of work from my last three semesters. Some of the pieces are good and a few could use a bit more tweaking.

– Nathan

schools i'm attending

schools I’m attending

Monday


I mentioned in my last post that I was back in school studying for my MFA. One of the classes that I am currently taking is Fine Art Sculpture – Figure Modeling. I have to admit that before I started this class I was scared. Really scared. I was asking myself “How the hell am I going to take a sculpture class online”, “Don’t you need to be in a class room to get the full effect?” Well I have to admit that it has been a pretty good class. Yes, I still wish I as in a class setting where it was hands on with everyone so I could get instant feedback but all in all I am happy with how the class is going.

Provided for me are videos of how to approach the current assignment. Our professor leaves us audio feedback on our assignment along with an edit of our photographs that we submit. You get everything that you would get if you were in a classroom. However, I am the type that likes ‘hands on’ learning. I need to see it done in front of me and have it explained what I did wrong while I am making it.

Anyway I wanted to share with you some of my work that I’ve done so far. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Thursday


It has been way to long since the last time I shared anything with you. Where do I begin. I’ll start off by letting you know that I am now back in school. This time I am studying to earn my Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) degree online at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. My MFA will be in Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) with a focus on 3D Modeling. The true beauty of it is that my job is paying for me! Earning your MFA online is different. I am a very hands on person and I feel that I learn better in a class room setting where the Instructor/Professor is showing me the right way to do something. Now don’t get me wrong you can still learn a lot from taking online classes, it’s just that some classes, like a sculpture class, you would probably benefit more if you were in the class room.

Right now I am 4 weeks into my first semester at AAU and I am loving every minute of it. I haven’t connected with any of my classmates yet but its still early. This semester I am taking two classes, Figure Modeling (Sculpture) and History of VFX. Both classes are pretty sweet and my fellow classmates are producing and posting really good work. AAU is turning out to be the best school choice I’ve ever made. My current track will have be graduating in the summer of 2015. I’m thinking more like Christmas 2015. After graduation I don’t know what I’ll do. My hopes while at AAU is to become a really good in Character and Scene modeling along with Character Rigging. Since Regent I’ve had a love for rigging. I was becoming good at it in 2007-2008 but some girl trouble during school and then the birth of my son I took a step away and haven’t done anything with rigging since. Until recently I have found my love for it. But our relationship is nothing like it was before. I have forgot how difficult and tricky she can be and the amount of work that you have to put into her. So while taking classes I am back studying at my own pace how to become a Technical Director.

I do have some plans that with determination and the right amount of will power I can bring them to life. Of course I would love to work for a studio making games, films, TV, etc but that’s what every student in 3D wants. Could I become better than them and get that job, sure I could with a little sweat, blood and tears, yes. But with that comes moving 700 to 3000 miles away. I don’t think I can do that now. In 2007 while at Regent sure I could but now having a family and plans to have another child and most of our family living near us it makes it really hard to move away. That is why I have made the decision to stay here and be a freelance artist and/or start my own little studio making children’s books, games, and TV shows. Having a 3yr old changes your perspective on a lot of things. So on that note I leave you but I will return soon.

After every assignment I will share with you my work and all my feedback I get from my Professor and fellow classmates. Along with those post I will start posting images of my recent work. This summer an animated film that I have been doing a lot of work on will be in theaters (local and Regent Univ). It will also hit festivals throughout the US and I think even a few out of state. I’ll let you know about that when I find out more. Stay tuned.

-Nate

2011


In just under two days 2011 will come to a close. This year has not really been my year due to a lot of up’s and down’s, medical problems, a death in the family and also a close call with layoffs at work. I remember the start of the year and I vaguely remember what my “New Year” resolutions were going to be. We all make them in hopes of sticking to them, but how many of us really do? I didn’t and because of that does that make 2011 a waste of a year? No, not at all.

I say that because I did accomplish many things. In February I hit the one (1) year mark of my new job at URS. Which was good because I really didn’t think I was going to make it. Then in May I hit a milestone. I turned 30. YA!!! Not really. Turning 30 really sucked for me. I looked at my life and besides having an awesome wife and son I didn’t really have anything else besides two degrees and a job. Honestly the job is the best part especially in today’s world. Jobs are really hard to come by. I used to tell myself that when I turn 30 I wanted to have a nice car, a nice house, a super duper awesome job, and a family. We’ll I have the family part but that’s really it. But looking at in now and everything that happened this year I’m really glad with what I have. If I did have a house I’d probably would have to foreclose on it, the nice car would of been repo’d and then I’d be left with nothing. All thanks to today’s economy, which I honestly don’t want to get into.

Moving on, I did have a couple of great opportunities with some awesome places. The first was I landed a test with Naughty Dog. That’s right the guys and gals who created the Uncharted Series. I was granted a modeling test and was given about 80hrs to complete it. I can say that it didn’t work out. I did the challenge in 5weeks and still to this day haven’t received any feedback or the dreadful “At this time…” letter. I thought I did okay on it. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t dreadful. About two weeks after the test ended I looked at the test again and I saw a lot of areas that I could have done better on. The biggest hurdle was nerves. This was the first time I ever had a opportunity at that “Super Duper” job. But I let my nerves and in experience get the best of me. I tell my self now that next time I wont let that happen. I’ve taken steps to help calm my nerves and steps at approaching things better.

My next opportunity just recently ended. A friend from twitter, tweeted, about an opening withing Sony Imageworks. We’ll when I read that I jumped all over it! LOL! Within a week I heard back by email about a position and was asked if I was interested. Of course my reply was YES! So within days I received a challenge. Now this job was different. It was not a 3D job, it focused more on the production side of things. Which I was glad to start. Hey it opened a door and that’s all that mattered. This test would be the death of me. It was going to test me on my ability to do LINUX/UNIX programming. Now I haven’t done programming for years but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I wanted this. I told my self this is what you have been working for. It’s time to show them what you got. So I accepted it and started right away. First by taking a crash course in Bash scripting, well more of a nose dive. In the end I was given 3 chances and end the end received that “At this time…” letter. It was heart breaking. I really felt that I delivered on what they were asking. I honestly don’t know what I did wrong. It could have been the time I took on responding but I had good reason. My grandmother passed away at 81 while I was in the middle of testing. Which was hard on me and I did loose focus for bit. But I was pretty sure that on my third attempt I had the correct answers. Guess not.

Taking a step back, At the end of the summer I decided that I wanted to go back to school. I’ve always loved learning and I have felt that ever since graduating from Regent that I would go back and get my MFA. Well I am proud to announce that I did just that and I am a proud student of the Academy of Art in San Francisco!
I am studying to get my MFA in Animation and VFX with the emphases on Modeling. I am really excited about getting back into it and learning. I’ve been doing a lot of studying in my spare time and am ready for the new school year. I also am very nervous. It has been a while since I’ve had to manage time for school work and projects so I am starting out small by taking only two classes this semester. When the semester starts I will be starting a new blog well not a new blog but I will be vblogging about my progress at the Academy. For those of you who may not know what vblogging is its video blogging. Each week when I have to submit my work and make post online I will also be making a video blog about my work that week. All of my videos will be uploaded to my youtube channel. I will post the link at the beginning of the semester. All of my finished class work that includes sculptures, art work and 3D models I will be creating turn table videos for those and will post those on my vimeo channel.

So that about sums up 2011 for me. It’s been a good year. I looking forward to 2012 and it’s ups and downs but I now that 2012 will be a really good year for me. Of course I will keep you updated on the progress of 2012 as a “New Year” resolution for me is to get back on the horse and start making post on a regular basis. So I hope 2011 was good for you as it was for me and I wish you a very SAFE holiday and a NEW YEAR. See you in 2012.

-Nathan