A fun little story I have is how I worked with the same guy for nine and a half years over a twelve year period. That guy is
. It's been a great time, we've helped each other with career moves, followed each other around the globe to different studios, debated religion and philosophy, discovered musical genres, and shared in a lot of fun office-space caliber adventures, too numerous to list here. We both went the same school, interned at the same engineering shop, taught classes at the same school, and worked at 3 different feature animation studios together. Animation is a small field, but even given that I would say our long collaboration is somewhat rare.
1. Art Institute of Portland, Portland, OR.
We both started taking classes at the
Art Institute of Portland
when we were in our early twenties, in 2003. We only took one class together, but I had a general awareness of who he was since he was one of "those guys" that was really great at doing 3D work. This is one of the best things about going to school, the environment of friendly competition. It was planted pretty firmly in our minds that our peers were our future competitors for jobs, which is true to some extent. But what wasn't mentioned was how a good friend can help you make connections and let you know about opportunities that you might otherwise miss. (Don't shy away from making friends, kids!)
They got my money... a whole lot of it!
2. Reality Engineering, Vancouver, WA.
By 2004 Jason had landed a job as a 3d generalist at
, a small media shop that specialized in engineering, medical and dental visualization. Thanks to our growing friendship, Jason recommended me for a paid internship, and for the first time in my life I had a job that compensated me for things I had in my brain. A pretty big change from waiting tables for the last ten years. We had a lot of fun working here- the owners were very friendly and casual, and it led to quite a few pranks. I also learned a lot more about my craft by being around professionals- much more so than I would if I had simply gone to school.
Super accurate 3D work, just missing all the blood...
3. Laika, Portland, OR.
In 2005 we both graduated from the Art Institute, and I landed a job at
that October. Jason was able to land a job early in 2006, and for a time we were both modelers in the Digital Design Group. The DDG was an experimental group within the studio which was responsible for translating 2D concepts directly in to short 3D animated sequences. It was really fun! We mostly worked on content for the studio's CG film, "
Jack and Ben
", a story about two bluebirds who have an adventure crossing America. Unfortunately, the project got canned, and that group doesn't exist anymore as the studio has moved to stop motion features only. Working at Laika at that time was pretty incredible for newbies like Jason and myself. There was a star struck feeling about working for a movie company.
Always loved their old logo
4. Teaching at the Art Institute of Portland, Portland OR.
Around the 2005-2007 time frame Jason and I both taught classes part-time at the same school we had graduated from. You might wonder to yourself if that is a wise decision for a school to make... Hiring it's own graduates. I also wonder. But it probably has more to do with the relative lack of qualified people in the Portland area at the time, compared with say, LA. Teaching is a wonderful thing to do, if anything just to learn more about human nature and how to properly communicate with people. If you ever have the opportunity I highly recommend it.
Our alma mater, exterior. Oh man they got so much of my money!
5. Animal Logic, Sydney, Australia
In 2008 we both accepted modeling positions (within three or so months of each other) at
in Sydney, to work on the film '
The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
'. Well, the movie is sort of a dud story-wise, but the visuals are truly outstanding. Jason mostly modeled birds on this film, and I mostly modeled trees. I can't begin tell you how cool it was to live and work in Australia, and it's way off topic so I'll skip it for now. But I may blog about it in the future. Well OK, I will at least mention that there was this one time a
(warning: do not click if you fear spiders!) literally chased our wives down the streets of downtown Sydney. Those suckers are
. It's a moment they don't care too much to be reminded of. :)
Owls... Owls, everywhere...
6. DreamWorks Animation, Los Angeles, CA.
By far the longest period that I worked with Jason was at
, clocking in at just about six years. We were both hired (again within a few months of each other) to work on an edgy film (by Dreamworks standards) titled '
Rise of the Guardians
'. It was our first experience working for a
, although apparently it has something of a cult following, or so I've heard.
Easily the most impressive work place I've had the pleasure of working at.
7. PDI/DreamWorks Animation, Redwood City, CA
At roughly the same time (again), in 2010, we both transferred up to PDI/Dreamworks, where we are now. We've worked on many films between us here, including
Puss in Boots
Peabody and Sherman
. We both got super interested in fitness during this time. I credit Jason specifically for getting me interested in running- one day he casually invited me to run 4 miles with him during lunch, to which I agreed, not really understanding what it would mean. I had never run more than a quarter mile before that in my life. My body was a wreck for a week afterwards, but it started the ball rolling on what would eventually lead up to me running the SF half marathon in 2012 (1:51 time!). Jason ran his in 2011.
The '1800 building'
8. .. to be continued?
Unfortunately, all things must end and it appears that our long co-working streak may be over.
PDI is closing down
, and I'll be relocating in a few months to Denmark to start
work at Lego
. It's been a great run, and who knows, maybe it will pick up again somewhere down the road! Here's to you, Jason.
Jason on the left, and that's me on the right. Taken Feb. 2015