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Fuse's Alec Syme: Industry Perspective & Advice for Aspiring Animators
Fuse President and Creative Director Alec Syme took an interest in art at a young age—which wasn't incredibly surprising given that he came from a family full of artists. Unlike many artists, Alec has made a successful career after pursuing an element that had always fascinated him, commercial art.
After graduating from art school he worked for a time at Studio West focusing on airbrushing—but quickly tossed that aside, as did the industry, when computers took over. Alec soon decided to put his entrepreneurial skills to the test and he became a freelancer, whilst still honing his 3D skills.
After impressing art directors across the Midwest -he decided to become one himself- by opening his own studio, Fuse.
Since its inception in 1993, the Minneapolis-based animation studio Fuse has earned its reputation in 3D animation and visual effects. Comprised of some of the best talent in the Midwest, the studio's goal is to create quality work that exceeds client’s expectations—a motto that has helped the studio rise in the ranks of the Midwest animation market.
Seasoned veteran Alec recently gave AnimationCareerReview a few minutes of his time to answer some of the most pertinent questions for aspiring animators.
What is your firm’s focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
I think our focus is on our clients. Our clients dictate the day-to-day direction of Fuse. It’s something I completely love. One moment you’re creating an “Eyeball” character, the next it’s gluing Skittles to Vespa’s. Seriously, you just don’t know what you’re going to be doing week to week. How awesome is that?
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation?
The best things are the huge variety of projects and the satisfaction of exceeding a client’s expectation. Worst thing, rendering. Hate rendering.
Among your firm’s achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
Bootstrapping this company from nothing into a premier 3d animation shop in the Midwest. Also finding the best talent in the five state area is key. My animators are the BEST in the Midwest. Bar none.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
Talent. Period. I can train them on whatever software we need to use, but I want someone with natural born talent mixed with some serious hunger to achieve.
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
We get a lot of students from Art Institute. I’ve hired three directly from AI. I think it’s one of the better schools in the Midwest. They are good, but Minneapolis Technical College is also turning out talent.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Work hard. This is not a job for average work. The work has to be better than the next guy by a lot. Seriously, work long hard hours. It’ll pay off later. If you love the work you’ll do it anyway. Be better than anyone else. That’s the bottom line.
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
Heavy animation with GI. GI is just hard to animate with without noise and flicker. I LOVE using GI, but it can be a pain to render animations with.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
I had a couple years of art school and a degree in commercial art. Personally, I could care less about the degree. It’s the portfolio I care about. I sweet portfolio with no degree is way better than an ok portfolio with one.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
We primarily use Cinema 4D. We also use Maya and Max, but Cinema is our core. We love it and are beta testers for it from way back. Bottom line though is that it’s not the tool. It’s the artist. Work hard. Learn.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry?
Let’s just say it involves Vegas. It was AWESOME, but since it was Vegas, you guessed it, it stays in Vegas.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
I think for sure there’s an increase in demand. How could there not be? Every animated feature is 3D now. It's just going to get bigger. Not to mention all the commercial work on every channel these days. Animators are doing this work every day. It’s going to boil down to talent. There’s lots of work for the hard working talented folks. That’s sort of the way it is in any industry really.
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