I could describe the creative genius over at Element X Creative...but they do it so much better. “EXC is a place where creative minds and cutting edge technology converge to create stunning visual storytelling.” Their unique combination of “animation wizards” and “VFX gurus” creates their unique out-of-the-box style and flare.
Chad Briggs, Director and leader of the ragtag X-men Creative team describes the company's vision by saying that “we find that cross training over various styles and mediums allows us to improve the quality of the work by thinking outside the box.”
See demo reel at www.elementxcreative.com
Despite their several clients on the Fortune 500 list Element X Creative Director Chad was able to put aside some time to talk about his experiences working within the animation industry:
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
Our focus is creating good animation regardless of the medium or style. If a project involves pixels in some way, we want to help make it beautiful and stand out in the crowd. We find that cross training over these various styles and mediums allows us to improve the quality of the work by thinking outside the box.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is ____________.
Content. Which really is the same as it was in the past and present. Digital workflows have made it easier than every to tweak and refine content, but a good idea and story is always king. Software gets better, but your still handicapped by having to interact with a mouse and keyboard. The next big tech leap will come with how we interact with the computer (devices like the microsoft Kinect). Animators being able to reach in and tweak their keyframes by hand in a VR world should become more and more affordable.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
Best aspect is that you can pretty much create anything these days. Worst thing is that you pretty much can create anything.
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
For me thats like trying to pick your favorite kid. We are proud of all of our work, from national spots to our animated series, but really i'm most proud of the people (employees and clients) I work with. The work is meaningless without a good team to go on that journey with you.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
Work ethic and a skillset that leans towards a generalist side. Don't like working with people who have a chip on their shoulder or let their egos get in the way.
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
We recruit all over the nation. In every major city there are usually schools that produce talented graduates.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Really just three things: Do what you love, never stop learning, and treat people like you want to be treated. If you do those things, the technical apsects will work themselves out.
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
Every project is challenging in it's own way, but really in the animation industry the key with every project is staying lean and mean. It's easy to go over budget and let the complexity get out of control, so you have to make sure your workflow stays simple. It's always the same question: How do you make a idea or dream economical to produce.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
I got a BA in computer science from Monmouth College, and then got a degree in computer animation from the Art Institute of Dallas. I use both skillsets daily, but it's the people you go to school with that are the real treasure.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
We do the majority of our projects in XSI with a bit of Maya and Max here and there, mostly to convert assets back and forth. Really all the major packages are fairly simple to pick up, difficult to master. XSI/Maya is mostly film/video. Max is mostly games. Just pick one and run with it.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
I'd have to think about this one, a lot to choose from and i'd probably write an entire article :) Can we just omit this questoin for now?
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
This is a tough one to answer. There is more and more animated forms of media being produced but their is a lot of pressure from overseas studios fighting for budgets. To really be good and stay employed in this industry, you have to be deadly serious about your craft and continuing to hone it. If you don't stay up to par or aren't polishing your skills (or learning new ones), you will get left behind.