Clambake studio shows that animation might be for kids (sometimes)—but its not just for Disney and Pixar. This sparky animation studio has produced a number of great Cartoon Network series, including Between the Lions, The Electric Company, Southies and Lower Allston.
Clambake Animation is a kooky Watertown-based studio that has been known to use nontraditional methods to achieve exceptional results. This includes the time they asked four random girls walking down the street if they could mic them and send them to chat amongst themselves over pizza in order to get an inside look at “girl talk”—and the research stunt worked.
The current Creative Director allowing such things is Andre Lyman, who was also the former Director of Productions for Soup2Nuts—for 15 years. And we got the chance to chat him up:
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus on this one?
Clambake Animation is an animation studio located in Watertown, MA. Our focus is on comedy, improv, and art at the speed of expression. Our creativity is heavily driven by bringing together accomplished writers, talented voice over-comedians, and capable artists.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.
The future of animation is bright.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation?
The best aspect of working in this field is the opportunity to work with creative local artists. The worst aspect is that our work is quite labor intensive with very tight deadlines.
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
We are most proud of our original projects, which have been produced in-house. We're the studio who created Cartoon Network's Assy McGee. More recently, we produced Southies, another original series for Adult Swim. We're currently in production on Tight Bros, a new series set to air in the Spring of 2012. We have a ton of original development shorts.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
When seeking out new employees (and we're constantly receiving resume submissions through our website), we look for individuals with a sense of humor, who are flexible, talented, and possess a strong work ethic. Being a fan of what we do is key, as is drinking beer. (Well, not really.)
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
We have developed strong relationships with the career centers of various local art schools, and look to their career advisors when hiring. These schools include RISD, MassArt, AIB/Lesley, and Emerson. We've also got a couple of SCAD alums on our team now.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
We'd recommend any applicants learn the tools of the trade prior to applying for a job. Those with internship experience at relevant production companies absolutely gain a competitive edge. We look for a clean, neat, prolific portfolio, and recommend you read up on the company you're meeting with prior to your visit. Last but not at all least, bring a hard copy of your resume with you to your interview!
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
The most difficult projects we've taken on involve working with clients who have never done animation, or working on projects that are critiqued by non-artists. These are difficult situations because it's important for a client to have an understanding of the possibilities and limitations of animation— working with those who do not "get it" can be trouble!
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
3.5 years of art school, coupled with 20 years in the animation industry.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
Our studio works with the Adobe Creative Suite, animating in Flash. Our designers work in Photoshop, audio editors in Protools, and editors in Final Cut Pro and After Effects. Our storyboarder is working on good old fashioned paper! But, we seek a strong knowledge of Flash and Photoshop.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
There are many fun stories that come to mind, but as a studio, Clambake's favorite memories are when individuals have called us after finding us online, looking to book an actual seafood clambake. We're honest people, so we don't let them get too far into their questioning ("how much do you guys charge?", "are you available for weddings?" and the like) before explaining we produce animation!
Once, we did have fun creating an internal production schedule for a beach clambake.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
We see a healthy demand for 3D artists in the gaming industry. Our focus is in 2D work for broadcast, where there are plenty of opportunities for development of original shows. We also help corporate clients communicate messages to their customers through animated shorts.