At this time 11 years ago, I was a ghost. An apparition. Friends would swear they'd seen me, perhaps at the dining hall or by the mail room, but always out of the corner of their eye, and they could never prove it. Late at night, they might swap stories about such sightings, about their brief glimpse of a spectre resembling someone they once knew.
It was my final semester of college, and I spent half my waking hours in the art building working on pieces for the art majors' senior show. The other half I was holed up in a computer lab, completing my other senior project: a 3 min 15 sec computer animation. With no time to spare for food or socializing, I lost 20 pounds and 30 friends.1
Three minutes may not seem like much to you, but you've never been an animator.2 For comparison, it took 8 people to complete Pixar's short Luxo Jr., which is 2 min 18 sec long and only contains 6 items on-screen (2 lamps, 2 balls, an electrical outlet, and the floor). Admittedly, Luxo was made 14 years earlier and is far superior, but I was doing everything myself, with 100+ 3D models, 80+ textures, 30+ lights, 4 cameras, and a total of 5,850 frames of animation.3
Back in 2000, it took 2-3 minutes to render a single frame. If I was lucky and no one else was using the computers, I could run 4 of them overnight and get about 800 frames rendered. The next morning I'd pick out all the mistakes (e.g. motion, lighting, timing, executive producer credit), then make adjustments and run the machines again that night.
Rinse, spit, repeat.
There are still plenty of mistakes in this. Close to fifty, at last count.4 For years, I told myself I'd go back and fix everything, but life and laziness always intervened. I finally stopped deluding myself a couple months ago — for one thing, I no longer have access to the software — and got a local video place to copy the animation from Beta tape7 to DVD.
The picture quality isn't great, but for the first time in 11 years, I have a digital copy. Thus, I've finally released it into the wild (a.k.a. the Tube of You). And since the Academy just awarded the Oscar for best animated short last night, I thought it fitting to share mine with you now.
Behold! The Hunt, the greatest computer animation ever made (by me):
Also, if you're interested, here's a list of all the Easter eggs I included in the animation.
1 Neither of these is true.
2 Or have you? If so, disregard that blanket statement. Instead, read this blanket statement: "I like blankets."
3 Okay, that's not entirely true. I didn't do everything. My friend Jared Castiglione was gracious enough to record two sound effects for me.
4 Don't try to count. Really.5
5 By the way, when I tried to get a job in computer animation after college, everyone loved the video. Creative directors, Human Resources, graphic designers, even CEOs. Everyone, in fact, except the animators. All they saw were the mistakes.6
6 Yet it was good enough to be shown at Temple University's NextFrame Film Festival. The site provides no proof of this, of course, since the 2000-2001 year is the only one without an archive page. Like I said, 11 years ago I was a ghost.
7 Yep, you read that right. Beta.