I really did it! But it wasn't the way I had planned it.
Aaron Hartline was incredibly generous in his time my class, often he stayed for an extra hour teaching. As I look back, I wish that I had recorded the sessions - some lessons have sunken in only after a few years of experience have passed. Who knows what other golden info he shared that I missed due to ignorance or pride. Regardless, I learned a ton from Aaron and the other classmates I had, thanks Sven!
Here's my reel from my time in Aaron's class. It's painful now but I grew in leaps and bounds there. NOTE THIS IS NOT MY CURRENT DEMO REEL
Aaron continued to be a mentor and friend to me after I graduated. I went to San Francisco to look for a job with a few gaming companies in the area. I had called Aaron to see if I could come by the Pixar studio the afternoon before I interviewed. He said YES! I drove my car through the Pixar gates in awe. He showed me exhibits around the fish bowl area (and may or may not have escorted me back through to his office to see some fantastic Cars 2 shots). He left me with a poster shown above and some great advice which has served me well.
"Don't worry about getting a job, just worry about getting better."
BEING BETTER is far more important that having a better job. With that in mind, at the end of this year I know I'll be able to say I am a better animator and a better person than last year. Thanks Aaron.
And for your viewing education here is an interview with Aaron with Bobby Chiu.