How would you define Character Animation?
Usually when I hear character animation, it involves animating a human like character, as opposed to creature animation, or even prop animation.
The term character animation has two main parts to it: character and animation. When talking about character, I feel that we are speaking of personality, emotions, who this person/object/animal is and how they feel. Then we think about animation which is bringing an inmate thing to life. We could animate a ball bouncing and that could be it. But we can also decide the character of that ball depending on how we choose to animate it. Is the ball bouncing in happy way or angry? Is it a heavy ball trying to be light? There are a multitude of things to consider when trying to give whatever you are animating some personality.
What’s a day like as an Animator?
A typical day as an animator would be something like this: Get in to work and check the emails to see if there are any important notes concerning the sequence I’m working on. Work for a couple of hours, before morning dailies. In dailies look over the shot I’m working on with the animation director and ask any questions I have about the shot and my animation. Go back and animate some more. Go for lunch. Come back and animate some more. Sometimes you might have an afternoon review. If I have nothing for the review, keep on animating.
Did you need to explain to your mom that this is an actual career?
No the only thing I had to explain to her and I think she still doesn’t understand is rendering. She understood the concept of me making a virtual puppet move in the computer, but whenever I told her that there was a problem with my render she would be confused.
What was your big break into the industry?
The one thing that has always stuck with me is that time when I was studying Fine arts in CEGEP in 1998, trying to accumulate credits and content for a portfolio to get into a 3D animation program. One of the classes I had was History of Animation and one day the teacher brought in a guest speaker who was a former student. He came in to talk to us about 3D animation as he had been working in the field for the last little while working on ride films for Blur. After the class, I approached him and told him my story of how I was desperately trying to get into the field, but found the there was a lack of information and that I was having a really hard time with it. After a while he decided to help me by coming over once a week for an hour to tutor me on how to use 3dsmax. After about 2 months of that I was able to make a small animation and use that as a portfolio submission for the 3D animation program. I consider this to be my first big break, because without that help I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What are some of the cool things of being an Animator?
I would say that one of the coolest things of being an animator is being surrounded by likeminded people, who are generally into the same kind of things you are. When I went into the 3D animation program I found myself surrounded by people like me who were into movies, video games, art, music, and had a very similar sense of humor as me. Over the years I found that the majority of animators are similar in the sense that they are generally people who enjoy entertaining, laughing and being silly.
What' are some of the challenges of being an Animator?
One of the biggest challenges I find is that sometimes you completely don’t agree with the artistic choices being made by the director, producer, or whoever is giving you notes. And you are convinced that your original idea for the shot is the best thing ever created in the animation world and you can’t understand how they wouldn’t want to go with this idea and instead want to go with a cliché type animation. But then you remember that you are being paid to deliver someone else’s vision, not yours. You need to be very open-minded and patient, because there might be times that you redo the same animation over and over and you need to be able to bring something fresh to each version of that animation no matter how long you have been working on the same 48 frames.
Can you mention some of your career highlights?
- Being asked to do a presentation at the ADAPT conference in Montreal
- Working for Sony Imageworks at the Los Angeles Studio
- Supervising an animation team on Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia
How do you stay awesome?
2 Double espresso’s a day and remembering how lucky I am to be doing what I love.
Where do you think the bulk of work is for Animators? (Animation, Video Games, VFX)
In today’s market I believe that there are a multiple places you will be able to find animators creating their visual magic. I think the bulk of it is a close tie between video games and movies. There are more and more commercials with animation with them and I foresee that there will be even more in the future. Even in movies these days, there is some kind of visual effect, and it continues to grow. As long as there is entertainment, there will always be a need for animation artists.
What advice can you give to aspiring Animators?
Learn the art of animation first and foremost. I went to an 8 month Animation program, where they unfortunately seemed to be more focused on teaching us how to use the software and the artistic side, was secondary. I learned most of what I know about animation on the job being surrounded by some extremely talented peers and supervisors. Learn the art then the tools.
Always keep pushing yourself to improve and learn. Just because you did a nice animation doesn’t make you Walt Disney and means you have nothing left to learn. Keep animating.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Animation is the best job in the world. The end.