Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oct 31 - Nov 1, and all about my first day at Oktobor!

“I’m an Animator now!”

Nov 1.

Well.  What a great day.  I have to say.  It couldn’t have gone better.  Lets start with the beginning of the day.

So I woke up around 7am, a little later than I wanted, but I was tired.  Got my things together for work, and then got dressed for my first Auckland run.  I decided rather than toting around a map and trying to figure my way somewhere I had never been, to head out in the direction of Mission Bay instead, and see how far I could make it.  Walked from the hotel out to the end of the road, and hopped on the bike path along the coast.  Talk about a great run.  Just about 5 miles.  Didn’t quite make it to Mission Bay, but that’s ok.

Maybe a mile into the run, I had this awesome moment of clarity.  I was running up a hill, in the bright sunshine, perfect weather, feeling great, headed toward where the path meets the water and follows the coast… and I just thought to myself:  wow.  I am in another country, and I am starting to make a life here.  One that I could like.  I haven’t even settled in anywhere yet, or started my job really, but it was just such a GOOD feeling.  I know, I’m kind of alone in a big city, very far away from home, and with little communication to those at home at the moment, but man, really…  I was just thinking… I’m proud of myself for doing this.  For really, ACTUALLY achieving a few goals that I have had, all in one go.

I wanted to become an Animator.  Really become an Animator.  Check. 
I wanted to travel to somewhere really cool.  Check.
I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, and prove that I can do something with my life.  Check.
I wanted to prove to myself that I can take an opportunity even when it seems scary.  Check. 

I mean really, how many people get to do this?  Not many.  And I was HANDED the opportunity, I didn’t even really go out and seek it to be honest.  It was a total fluke that I applied to the job in the first place.  Thinking to myself, “they’ll never hire me, I’m all the way from the States.  That’s way too far.”  WRONG. 

It was just such a cool moment.  And the first time that I have really, genuinely been happy with the decision I have made.  And there was no basis for the sudden happyness.  I think that a few things just finally clicked, and now I can really be happy about this.  So many things are not even set in stone yet: my place to live, how I like my job, whether or not I’m GOOD at my job, if I can make FRIENDS here…  But really, I don’t care.  I’m here, and I took the leap, and I am going to work my ass off here and prove that I deserved to come, even if it means working extra hours, or struggling for a bit.

Anyway, after this wonderful run, I took my time getting ready for work, and walked over to the studio with Matt and Carla.  We went in late, around 11am because we were told our computers and whatnot wouldn’t be ready til then.  Unfortunately (well, fortunately in a way) for us, nothing was prepared because there had been some miscommunication with the finishing of our office.  Oh well.  So we spent the afternoon watching examples of good shows and bad shows, getting acquainted with the Penguins themselves as characters, paying attention to little nuances (like how poppy their movements are, how they waddle, how squashy or stretchy to make them, etc), and learning really just about the show in general.  We went through the Layout Pass, the Primary Animation Pass, and the Secondary Animation Pass, and learned what is expected in each.  The coolest part about this in a way for the Animators is: we literally have to stick exactly to the Layout Pass in terms of posing for our Primary Animation Pass.  This means, that the main poses are given to us, and we get to be creative and work within those poses to give the characters life.  Frustrating, but also good, especially starting out.

It is going to be a lot of Animation in a short time, that is for sure.  But if I can stay on top of my game, I think I will be ok really.  Its cool too, cause they’re set up like a studio should be:  You open your file through a task manager, and everything opens already with cameras, lights, characters where they should be, Layout already in place, and it creates a whole file system.  There’s more to it, but I can’t explain it here very well.  But the main part:  I have to do NOTHING in terms of setting up my scene.

“Wait, you mean, I just have to Animate?!”  Yup.  That’s it.  That IS my job.  Amazing.  I have made it!  Well, at least in one aspect.  Now I get to prove myself.  Great.  Haha.  Anyway, it was nice, we got to take our time, and we got a small handle on some of their in-studio software setup (they use Maya 2008 since the show was locked down in that version, which is NICE since I am familiar with it, but of course they had some slightly different things in their pipeline to learn).  And we use all of the Nickelodeon Animation tools, which is pretty neat! 

I have been assigned 7 shots so far.  A bit scary, but hopefully I can get a handle on it.  I have two segments essentially, that are 3 – 4 shots in each one.  One involves Skipper the Penguin and Bert the Elephant, which is kind of cool.  Another involves Maurice the Lemur, and Private the Penguin.  Not sure I can give more information than that, since its obviously not released yet, but that’s all you need to know for now!  So, unfortunately we didn’t have a ready office or any machines set up to actually begin animation and start learning the rigs, but that will all be for tomorrow.  * deep breath * Ready to dive in, head first.

So, after work, Ngaire and Chris had invited me for dinner.  I walked up the street to the New World grocery store, and met her.  We walked out to Kingsland where they live, and let me tell you, it is a little bit of a walk, but a nice walk.  I think its great that she walks to work that distance (over a mile).  I will be doing the same, but I will be closer.  Anyway, I got to their place, which is very very nice, they live underneath of a home owned by a man and his partner.  They have a beautiful back yard that is maintained by the owner, and she said its been great!  It’s small, but spacious.  Great for a couple.  Just like a small apartment.  And when I say small this time, I mean small like at home.  Not small like what I had seen downtown, which was like two people sharing a closet.  Yeesh.  Anyway, very cute place that they live.  They made dinner for all of us, and we had a great time!  They are so nice.  I am SO glad that Joanna set me up with them when I moved.  Ngaire was telling me about all these different places I have to go, and mentioned that I should come to her “hen party,” the NZ equivalent of a Bachelorette party (odd that its called a hen party, isn’t it?  The men’s is still Bachelor Party, sorry).  She is doing it out at some of the wineries further north it sounds like.  Very, very excited about that, and I will DEFINITELY go.

We had a great dinner and were talking and joking around, and then they took me out to get ice cream, and up to the top of Mt Eden!!  It was GORGEOUS, and of course dark since it was after dinner.  We could see the city all lit up.  Amazing.  To all of you who have been to JMU and been to the top of Reddish Knob, that’s what the top of Mt Eden reminded me of.  WAY high up, with a little paved parking lot at the top.  Not quite as high as Reddish, but much more city and bright lights to see.  Beautiful.  Mt. Eden, to those who don’t know, is one of the 14 volcanoes in Auckland.  Obviously all of them are dormant, but it’s so neat to stand at the top of one, and look out, and see the rest, hanging out in the middle of a city!  You could tell which ones were volcanoes because there were no lights on them.  Just big black masses in the dark.  Cool!  I will be running out there during the day time sometime (maybe later this week?), and I will be sure to take my camera for some photos.  Unfortunately I didn’t have it for today (yes, for the second day since I’ve been here, I failed at taking my daily photo!  I promise to be better).

Anyway, now I am back in the room, and about to head to sleep for a much more intense work day tomorrow.  Another late start, going in about 11am again, which is great, but its going to be a tad overwhelming I have a feeling.

Well, here goes nothing!


“Halloween on the beach”

Oct 31st

Well, Happy Halloween!  One of my favorite holidays, that I didn’t really get to celebrate this year.  Except of course for the pumpkins that Kyle and I carved before I left.  It would have been hard to celebrate anyway considering I don’t really know many people here.  Interestingly enough though, I spent part of my Halloween on the beach this morning!  Haha.  Went and showed Carla and Matt Mission Beach, which was fun.  The weather was perfect, if a little chilly.  We got there early, being here has made me an early riser for sure, which I hope I can continue with, but that was nice considering few people were there, and the tide was out.  So you know what that means:  Seashells. 

Carla and I wandered around the sand for a while, picking up lots of neat seashells.  Love doing that.  A lot of them were these HUGE scallop shells, which is pretty neat.  Cant say Ive found much of that anywhere else.  We were talking about how funny it was to be celebrating Halloween in the warm weather, on a beach no less.  Especially the fact that Christmas will be around when some of their longest days of summer are.  Maybe I can celebrate part of Christmas on the beach too : -). 

There was a Marathon going on there too, along the bike trail, so we stopped to check out some of it.  Pretty cool!  Glad to be done with mine.  Anxious to start triathlon training though.. yet it’s a little hard to do without a bike or a pool to swim in.  I will have to start looking into that.  Tomorrow morning I am going to get up and go run.  See if I can make my way over to the Auckland Domain, which is a big scenic park.  Dunno how far of a run that will be, but considering I haven’t run since the Marathon, Im sure anything will be good with these hills.  I need to start losing weight.  I think I’ve started putting it on from being stressed out, saying all the “good-byes” at home, and eating out a lot.  Not a fan.  I hate that its so easy to fall into that.  I miss how I was when I was training hard core for Tri.  I really want to do this 4-race series going on… just not sure I’ll have a bike.  Eh, who knows, I’ll figure out something.  My goal is to walk all over the city as much as possible too, and not use the bus systems unless I have to.  Looking forward to that for sure.

Anyway, the rest of the day was kind of slow.  Matt, Carla and I wandered to the building they have chosen to live in, but weren’t able to see their room since its still rented by someone else.  The lobby and little café areas are ritzy for sure, which is cool.  I really hope that works out for them.  I showed them Albert Park too, which I love.  Showed them the “Look Sharp” store, which is going to be amazing for cheap shopping, and then we wandered up the street to a big Indian festival that’s going on.  Mom and I had gone to it yesterday to wander through, so I thought they might be interested in checking it out.  Haha, I don’t think it was quite their thing, but it was interesting for sure.  I enjoyed it.  Its called the Diwali festival.  Apparently the “Festival of Lights” for them?  That’s what the woman handing out the schedules said anyway.  There was supposed to be a fireworks display at 9 tonight, but we were all wiped by the time it came around.  Me included. 

We stopped and had dinner at the Occidental.  We’ve been there a few times, the food is really good.  I have a frequent card there, which accumulates 3% of every bill, and apparently I have already accumulated $18 on it!!  Crazy!  I mean, we’ve eaten there a few times, but only maybe 3 or 4.  Haha.  Well that was well worth it!  I gotta stop eating out though.  Its hard when I want to be out and socialize, but I want to eat better.  I end up choosing the socializing instead. 

It’s lonely here a bit.  I realized I’m not good (right now) at being by myself much.  Being self-motivated to decide what I want to do with my time is hard.  My Gemini qualities sabotage me quite a bit in that respect.  I have a lot of trouble making up my own mind.  Hopefully I can get better about it, and start venturing out on my own more.  Be more confident about things.  I will have to, especially if Kyle can’t come over here.  Theres just something about wanting to share experiences with someone though… I don’t know, that’s always been something that is important to me.  Well, I guess we will see.  It all starts with a morning run tomorrow.  Hopefully this goes over well!

Tomorrow I start my first day at work.  Wicked nervous.  Matt’s right though, there’s nothing I can do about it at this point, but take a deep breath and dive in.  So funny how this is exactly what I had wanted, a job that I wanted, doing what I was studying.  But now that I have it, I’m terrified that I won’t be able to keep up.  I really hope I can.

Anyway, tired now, so off to bed.  Hopefully tonight will be quieter than last night. 


  1. Katie,

    I can't tell you how proud and excited I am for you! I know I've said that but everytime I read your blog I get this full, happy feeling inside of me. My wonderful niece is living in New Zealand, doing something exciting, set up to have amazing experiences and developing a whole new level of confidence along the way. We miss you (alot) but we couldn't be happier for you!! Much love, Aunt Mary

  2. Katie - It is rather exciting to be living your dream and taking risks! How great for you! I can't wait to become a blog follower! It's crazy when you can look at your life and be so perfectly content doing something you love :)


  3. Oh hunny...Stop with the worries! I will be there! :-)

  4. I'm so glad your enjoying your time there. It's scary to be placed such a new situation outside your comfort zone and far from your old support networks - but its also one of the most liberating feelings; you really can do just about anything if you have the gumption to take that first leap of faith. It's like standing on top of a bridge for bungee jumping - the hardest thing is to jump, once you do that you just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

    I know you'll do great at your job. It's what all that hard work before was leading up too! Have a great first week of November! It's spring time, I love it.