serenade to miette

during the end credits of tiny nomad, i was planning to have all my previous film characters wave at the screen, with a little header saying “goodbye calarts!”  I started on it a while back, but never actually got around to finishing it.

1st year - Serenade to Miette:
2nd year - Crayon Dragon:
3rd year - Wolfsong:
4th year - Tiny Nomad:

I have to admit, I got a bit emotional drawing some of these characters again - its a huge nostalgia trip. I remember drawing my 1st year characters and suddenly I remembered one day I was so confused why I drew a set of legs, and it took me a very long time to remember what they were for. I’ll miss the scent of red bulls, whiskey and some vendor machine food, great great stuff. I’ll even miss having meaningless arguments with friends and classmates during film crunch time.

And when finishing a film comes, its the greatest thing ever. When we turn in our student films, there’s literally no work to do. It’s like you win your life back, and it makes you appreciate the benefits of life more. Some of us suffer from post film trauma, in which our daily habits are screwed, having the urge to “work” on “something”, and maybe having panic attacks now and then. Some actually finish way beyond the deadline, so they were enjoying life while some of us who haven’t finished were still working our asses off.

I’ll definitely miss my days at Calarts, and I think my calarts experiences have been the best. Its a school, so of course it has its problems. 

Its funny how some people see calarts as the best animation school, or the disney esque school, or the whatever cream of the crop school. Some people loved their experience, some people hated it, and some people dropped out. From what its worth, its the student that shapes his/her experiences at a school. One student can work side by side with another classmate on their film, another could goof off, another could work alone, and yes there are students who blame the school for not “teaching” them enough, or students complaining other students for ruining their calarts experience.

However, I am now officially a graduate of calarts, and the next chapter of my life begins with my first day at Dreamworks. Thanks for giving me a chance to be a part of an excellent community.

A couple of F.A.Q.s I have to share!

Here are some frequently asked questions I get about the films, so I decided to put them into one post! I’ve been asked more than twice about these - so here we go.

What software did you use for your films?
For my first year film Serenade to Miette (2011) I did all the animation traditionally on paper with graphite pencils. I scanned all the frames into Photoshop, and made sure each frame were alpha channeled (meaning some parts were hollow/transparent, and some were fills). I would then import each frame into the video layers in Photoshop, and color the scans on a separate video layer. All this is done in ones, and is then remapped into twos or threes (depending on the timing I planned out for each shot) when imported into Adobe After Effects.

For Crayon Dragon (2012), I decided to do the rough animation, cleanup and coloring all in Adobe Flash. This was better for me because of the instant playback (instead of animating traditionally where you have to constantly shoot your tests).

Wolfsong (2013) was done via Tvpaint, animated and colored!

The backgrounds for all the films were done in Adobe Photoshop. Both the animation and backgrounds (The comping process) were all done in After Effects. The shots are rendered individually and imported into Final Cut Pro, where the whole film is rendered with sound and music

Do people help you on your films?

Nope, I usually need total control over my stuff sadly. The only help I usually get is amazing music score, great sound design and talented voice acting. It happens a lot at cal arts and it’s actually a super smart thing to do. I do realize that some people get lots of help and usually take most of the credits to themselves rather than to their peers which I personally don’t think is morally right.

I should ask for more help - its a smart thing to do! I think with me, I work in a specific way so showing my peers on how I want them to work with me might be as time consuming. I should give it a shot though!

What is cal arts like?
This one is always the toughest for me to answer because my opinions and thoughts about the school change every time. Some things are good, some things are bad - but the only thing I realize that cal arts offers that many schools don’t is the yearly film thing and the incredible talent that comes around the animation department itself! I can’t say its a school for everyone that wants to get into animation since there are other schools that are better at things like 2D Animation, CG, Character Design, etc. What I can tell you about what makes the animation program at calarts powerful is that it makes you a problem solver. You are given an amount of time and the freedom to work on your film/portfolio, and the rest is how you approach these obstacles. You learn from the crunch time, the many story passes on your films you have to face, or learning how to manage your own time and space. It’s sad that many people think Calarts is the top school because of all the wrong reasons (by just looking at the alumni for example). What makes your education is yourself!

What studio are you working in now/ where are you interning?
None at the moment! I’ve only freelanced? Thanks for asking though!

How is Minkyu Lee’s class?
You should really ask the class of 2016 this question..


Do each of your films have a specific setting?

I’m surprised that some people have asked me this question! A lot of thought were put into them when making the shorts!

Serenade to Miette is set in the late 1930s (The great depression era) in the late 1930s. It is because of the great depression, a lot of movements were happening to take minds off the issue like small time carnivals and amusement parts (such as Kiddieland in Chicago). The film is set around the eastern side of America. It was mostly inspired by black and white hollywood films, hence why I chose this setting.

Crayon Dragon is set present day. Heavily inspired by irish folk, music and culture, I decided it would be interesting to set the film in Ireland. I tried hinting this with the color usage within the whole film, which was inspired by the flag of Ireland.

Wolfsong is set in northern British columbia, Canada. Although set in a modern-ish time period, it takes place in the mid 1980s. As far as dates go, I don’t really bring it up to my teachers or classmates, but the specific decade was chosen due to various law changes of hunting around that time, and plays a key part in the story concept. Some of them included the introduction to hunting educational courses that teaches about reserves and hunting ethics to new coming hunters. Some of the laws such wildlife management, offspring hunting regulations, etc. were struggled for a long time and not until sometime in the 1990s was it fully set. I chose the time period to relate with a young main character who in the end hopefully shows the potential to be a part of this turning event of hunting culture.

I guess this is all I have to share at the moment!


Serenade to Miette

It’s about a street magician, a professional illusionist, and the mafia.


Serenade to Miette

A magical little first year animation from Calarts


Serenade to Miette - Toniko Pantoja

My first year film at Calarts. It’s about a street magician, a professional illusionist, and the mafia.

This is the uncut version!

Music by Phillip Wareborn
Sound Design by Glenn Hårfagre