How does someone become an animator?
There is no ‘one road’ in. But most people in the industry start with at least a bachelor’s degree. So look for a course that teaches animation, creative intelligent; or computer science with an emphasis on animation production.
To get a job you need to have a demo reel. You can build this while you are studying at university. Once you work out where you want to work (character design, gaming, television, visual effects) you will build a custom a demo reel and start applying for internships. Internships, experience and getting your work out there is essential for getting a job.
Why were you interested in animation?
I love creating things, I like drawing, I don’t mind the computer… so I guess together those all pointed to animation.
Now that I am in the course I probably have a different answer to the question ‘who should do animation’ though. You don’t need to be good at computers, which is a huge misconception people have. You literally learn everything from the ground up. But you need to be interested in problem solving and have a great attention to detail. A good animator is someone that can focus on a task for a long time and perfect it. You also need to able to take feedback and direction. Most importantly, you need to be creative; the character you are making needs to feel alive and there needs to be emotion in your work. My teacher is always challenging us to give real human emotions to characters and treat them like acting choices.
I like that comparison of animation to acting, it’s interesting.
Yeah, I think of character animation in the
Why did you pick Charles Sturt University?
I knew I didn’t want to study at a huge campus in the city. I wanted smaller classes and a more community experience.
So what do you learn in the course?
You do 2D and 3D animation, visual effects production, games design, motion capture, you learn about green screen; and then you learn how everything kind of interacts together.
Do you have a show reel?
Yeah I have one. Basically you are meant to show as wide of the variety of your skill set as possible. So if you have shots of people at a dinner table talking and showing mechanical skills, you would also include someone standing up and walking so that you are showing acting and biomechanics all in one shot.
We listened to an interview with the Paramount Studio Director, Carlos Baena. His advice was that if you want to work in games or visual effects (for example at ILM who produced Transformers and Avengers), commercials or feature works (DreamWorks have animated a lot of dragons) get creature work under your reel. This makes a big difference.
He said he reviews close to 1000 reels a month and for him,
He said, “you still need to tailor your reel based on the job (eg. ILM verses DreamWorks) so stylistically, your creature work will be different; but I can’t emphasise enough, having some creature work will elevate you as a candidate.”
He gave some advice on climbing the ladder in animation. He said that he went from animating at Pixar to Directing at Paramount. He explained that as an animator you are in your world and it’s more introverted. You have a deadline and your shot you need to build. Being a Director is about more about translating your world to others, and he said it was a really hard transition. So his advice was that if you want to work in directing long term you should work on management skills early in your career. He said to start while you are at university by directing short films in teams.