Mimsy's vet appointment went pretty much as expected. It's looking like the problem is from very bad teeth, so we scheduled her for a dental exam. She might need to get the teeth pulled, sadly, but not all of them. The doctor estimated two extractions, but we can't be sure until the exam is done. And the worst part of it is that the first dental opening they had isn't for another eight days, so all yesterday, I was really worried about Mimsy and oh no, is she in pain, is it getting worse? Aaaaahhhh! And I may have to go through that for a while.
Sometimes, the veterinarian is a little like that pessimist kid in Kindergarten Cop. You know, "Ugh, I have a headache..." "Maybe it's a tumor." "It's not a tumor!" Whenever we take the cats in, they suspect it might be cancer. That's probably a good thing to do, because then you can catch it early, but it does make for some heart-stopping moments. Yesterday, the doctor looked into Mimsy's mouth and explained that the drooling, especially because it's smelly drool, could either be caused by an infection or a tumor. Athena was confident that it's bad teeth, but I jumped at the word "tumor." I don't know if the doctor noticed it, but he immediately added, "I didn't see any tumors." But we did see some very bad teeth.
Anyway, we have a con report to copy and paste.
The Time Jumper panel was basically a panel to introduce a new collaborative project between Disney and Stan Lee. They described it as a brand new thing that nobody's ever done before, but it seems very much like a high-quality visual novel. Still, the art and story are interesting, and the way they do the effects and stuff was really fun, so if we ever decide we don't mind iTunes after all, we might check it out some more. But it was really fun to see Stan Lee at the panel. They introduced him first, then one of the voice actresses, the artist, and the writer, and every time a new person came out, Mr. Lee jumped enthusiastically out of his seat to greet them, and he had this big smile on his face the whole time. When they started showing the promotional footage, he said, "I can't see!" then moved to another seat so he could watch. When they got to the Q&A portion, there were a couple of questions that were basically like, "What's your secret to making such amazing comics, Mr. Lee?" and his answer was that he was always really blessed to have such talented people working on the projects with him, making them so much better than they were.
Let's see... the other important thing we learned from that panel is that when an artist says they didn't get too detailed with the historical backgrounds and stuff, it means they're too lazy to do the research.
After that panel, it was time to go find the room for the Drawn to Life: 20 Years of Disney Master Classes panel. I'll go into that in more detail later, but because it was in the same room as the Costume Design: TV panel, and we had learned very quickly that the surest way to get a seat was to go to the panel before the one you want, we went to that one, too. It was pretty cool. They had four costume designers, and they showed a bunch of clips from the TV shows they had designed costumes for. We learned that the woman who designed the costumes for Firefly actually got her start on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. That was a nice little fun fact. It was really interesting, though, because a lot of what they said about designing costumes is also helpful in translating. See, in order to design good costumes, they have to get into the heads of each and every character, and figure out what that character would like, what they think looks good, etc. With translating, you don't have to worry about fashion (which is very good for the likes of us--we are so estranged from anything relating to fashion sense), but you do have to get into all the characters' heads to figure out how they talk. So it's kind of like different aspects of the same thing, which was neat.
We also learned that sometimes the designers will go out and buy stuff from like Target or JC Penny, but they'll still do things to it to "design" it. Like maybe they'll trim something off or add something to it. One woman mentioned a guy character in one of her shows wearing a pair of boxers, and how they bought the boxers, but they still had to design it by sewing the fly closed (as a precautionary measure) and then washing it several times to make it look like he'd owned it for a couple of years.
There was talk about how they have to really do the research on why they chose a certain design, because sometimes the actor will have created a completely different concept of the character in their head and thus will refuse to wear the costume. The guy who designed costumes for Lost said one of the actors didn't want to wear a shirt he designed but eventually he convinced him, and then they made a figure of that character wearing that shirt.
There was also an interesting story where the designer on Firefly had been working as an assistant to another costume designer, and she looked at the designs he made and said, "How would you even make that?" and he answered, "I don't know. Isn't that somebody else's job?"
And that's all I remember for that panel, so now it's time for one of the awesomest panels at the convention! But I'm not sure how much of it I'll remember, because I was pretty awestruck by the whole thing. Basically, Don Hahn, a producer from Walt Disney Animation Studios, has put together a compilation of all the lectures of Walt Stanchfield, who taught all the new animators like Eric Goldberg and Glen Keane. He's not one of the really famous Disney animators, like Frank and Ollie, but all the animators took his class every day, and they all remember him fondly. They told all kinds of stories about him, like how he was always drawing or painting, and if he didn't have any paint, he'd use coffee or red wine, and how he was always about balancing actual life with work, and stuff.
The panel was moderating by Don Hahn, and the panelists included Eric Goldberg (lead animator on the Genie in Aladdin), Glen Keane (lead animator on Aladdin, Ariel, Pocahontas, the Beast, etc. etc.), Tom Sito (director) and Ruben Procopio (Disney sculptor). I confess we don't know as much about the latter two as we do about the former two. We clearly have some brushing up to do on our Disney knowledge. First they talked about Mr. Stanchfield and showed clips from his classes. They said he taught them not to be afraid of drawing--everybody has ten thousand bad drawings in them, and they might as well get them out sooner than later. He also encouraged them to draw with ink, because then you had to commit.
One of the quotes of Mr. Stanchfield's that Mr. Hahn brought up was "impression without expression equals depression." Basically, if you have an impression and you don't express it somehow, you'll end up depressed. Also, animation isn't about drawing a picture, it's about performing.
They showed some examples of Mr, Procopio's and Mr. Keane's work. The most awesome was a drawing of Tarzan that Glen Keane had done in the earlier stages of production. Before he started working on Tarzan, he took a year off from animation to study sculpture in Paris, and that helped him get a really good idea of proper muscle structure and everything, and he really wanted to apply that to Tarzan. He had seen some other drawings that people had done, trying to create the character of Tarzan, and they were all, like, standing in a superhero pose, and he said it was almost embarrassing because it was really obviously a naked guy in a loin cloth. But when he kept in mind that Tarzan is basically the link between apes and humans and drew him in that very animal pose, it started to really work and you hardly even noticed the whole guy-in-loincloth thing. It was true, too, because the really cool drawing they showed actually had Tarzan completely naked, but you almost didn't even notice it. It also had a lot of bare muscle, which was kind of hard for someone as squeamish as me to look at, but it was still really cool.
I think it was the talk of drawing the character like that that had Mr. Sito remembering how they would watch the dailies (from the context, we gather this is the reel of what had been animated the previous day, since I think they did it in the morning; again, our animation knowledge could use some work) and it was always really great when they would see a scene and everyone in the room would be like, "That's it. That's the character." For the Beast, it was when he was trying to coax Belle out of her room, and Cogsworth tells him to be polite, and he says please and she still says no and he points at the door like, "See!?" There was also talk of how it was interesting to walk in on Glen Keane when he was working because he had, like, become one with his desk.
Speaking of dailies, Eric Goldberg had recently been working on The Princess and the Frog, and he mentioned how Andreas Deja would slip some of Frank and Ollie's animation from Sleeping Beauty in with the Princess and the Frog dailies, and whenever it would come up, the whole room would be like, "Oh, man! We're not worthy! We're not worthy!"
(Speaking of The Princess and the Frog, Eric Goldberg said that they're really really happy to be able to do hand-drawn animation again, but they'll only be able to do more of it if The Princess and the Frog does really well, so everybody go out and see it. We would like to add that even if you hear bad things about it, go see it anyway, because they won't be able to make a better one if this one doesn't do well.)
All the artists talked about how there's never a point when it's not scary to start animating, They're always doing new things, so they never really get used to it. But it helps to just keep drawing and drawing, because when you start out you're like, "Oh man, what am I doing with my life?" but after an hour or so, you get into the Zone, and it all starts to work. That's why Mr. Procopio's father, who also worked for Disney, had taught him to warm up by drawing circles.
Incidentally, I'm calling everybody Mr. whatever, but Mr. Keane told the story of when he first met Disney Great Eric Larsen, and he said in his nervous squeaky voice, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Larsen." "No, call me Eric." "Okay, Mr. Larsen." "No, it's Eric." "Whatever you say, Mr. Larsen." Eventually, he realized that, while Mr. Larsen had been there for many many year and was an amazing animator, when it came down to it, they were all starting from scratch everyday, and they were all learning and growing together, so they really were all equals, and they really were all on a first name basis.
I think that about covers it for that panel itself. We had another panel we wanted to go to, but we went toward the front of the room on our way out, in case maybe we could say hi to these awesome Disney people. We didn't really get that chance, but there was an interesting incident. I was really super distracted as I was walking along, but Athena noticed a kind of big guy in a Hawaiian shirt in front of me. All she could see was the back of his head, but that head looked a lot like it could belong to John Lasseter. If only she had shoved me into him, we could have had this exchange, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry!" "That's okay." "Oh my goodness, you're John Lasseter!" But we don't know what we could have said after that, so maybe it's just as well.
After she pointed him out to me and I was able to say, "Yeah, I think it might be John Lasseter!" we ran off to our next panel, which we learned we really didn't need to run to, because we were less than impressed. It was the Best and Worst of Manga 2008/2009 panel, where a panel of manga critics gave their list of favorite titles. The panelists did realize that what critics like or don't like doesn't necessarily match what the readers in general like, but they still didn't seem to have made the connection that "like" and "don't like" do not necessarily equal "good" and "bad." So basically I think there was too much bias in the decision making based on personal preferences in story rather than actual storytelling/drawing skill.
Lest you think this analysis comes from a personal bias on our part, they put three titles (Name of the Flower, Gakuen Alice, and minima!) that we translate on the "best manga" lists and zero on "worst." But we do wonder what criteria they use to categorize manga. minima! was in the list of best josei titles, and those characters are in middle school. Why would a manga targeted at women in like their twenties star kids in middle school? And Name of the Flower, with a heroine who is in college as of chapter two, was in shojo. It didn't make a whole lot of sense. So it was basically just another example of the problems we have with anime/manga fans in general.
That panel was followed by Lost in Translation, a panel of manga translators answering the fans' questions. It was purely Q&A, which is just more evidence, as Athena points out, that translators translate because they can't come up with their own material. (We don't mean that in a derogatory way at all, as it's certainly a big part of why we translate.) It was kind of an interesting panel, but it was a little hard for us to sit through because almost every question that was asked had us like, "Oh! We have a good answer for that!" Someone asked about dealing with when they use other languages (happens all the time in Negima!), someone asked about spelling unusual names (Elemental Gelade, anyone?), someone asked about how prose translation quality is generally much worse than that of manga (oh Kieli...). I think actually we've covered almost everything that was asked in our column, because when I realized we had an answer for almost every question, I thought, "Oh! We can answer these in our column!" then I reviewed all the questions in my head and realized, oh wait, I already have.
And that was the last panel we went to that day. We went to the dealers' room one last time and then I think we hung out in the hotel? Yeah, that seems about right I think. And I've been typing for like two hours now. Wow. I think it's time for a break.
It is so nice to already have that ready, especially because our time is short today, as for some reason today is the day someone from church called and asked if we want a ride to the Relief Society activity. We're a bit reluctant about it, because we just started the Edgeworth game yesterday and it's fantastic and amazing, but we're going anyway! Watch us not shy away from social interaction! Ha!
Today I'm thankful for still having time for video games today, oh my gosh this game is all about Edgeworth, super awesome panels of Disney animators, standing thiiiiiis close to (somebody we think was probably) John Lasseter, and interesting panels in unexpected places.