The animation industry is filled with artists who achieve success and a place in their field early on. And Chris Robadue is yet another example. This young and talent artist-turned-entrepreneur who success early on in his career by creating a successful production studio.
Chris is a classically trained filmmaker who formed his own company in 2005. Today his entrepreneurial effort, WaveGarden Arts, is succeeding—as proved by their current project 'The Adventures of August Winter', a feature-length production and their most complex undertaking to date.
Chris' company carved out its place in the Eastern seaboards animation scene by “bridging the gap of new and traditional techniques”. By embracing the company's talents in the hand-drawn arts and incorporating those finely-honed skills into their digital portfolio their production house continues to churn out a variety of successful animation--from animated shorts and feature-length productions. WaveGarden Arts aims at “a mixing of organic with the modern through the use of colored pencils as well as digital media”, an approach that creates rich multi-layered animations for their diverse array of clientele.
Chris recently let us pick his (creative) brain for advice to give to today's aspiring young artists.
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus on this one?
Our current focus is on establishing signature characters and storylines for an episodic animation series. As we’ve done a lot of pre-production work to get a feel for what the best direction is to go with the work both stylistically and utilizing current and past animation techniques. As ultimately the main focus is on story telling and having a wonderful experience for the audience to enjoy!
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation?
Seeing something you visualize come to life and the joy of creation when an entirely new world of your own design is realized before you is an absolute highlight for me. The worst part or rather the most challenging part is staying focused and committing the extensive hours required to get to the point. And to actually ‘complete’ what you set out to do.
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
I am most proud of the writing that we have done in house. As we are creating all new scripts and material that is fresh and never seen before, versus taking existing intellectual property and giving it a new coat of paint.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
Usual standouts such as imagination and skill in their craft are eye catchers for certain. Also finding people that have strong collaborative skills is vital as it is all about meshing personalities and giving everyone a chance to shine and do their best work. Both individually and as a team, so chemistry is important.
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from?
Applicants thus far have come from a variety of backgrounds with the majority having a BFA from a University Art Dept. With that said, my chief concern is with their portfolio and the way they would fit in with the rest of the production team.
What schools do you recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
Usually it comes from seeing work in festivals and being introduced to artists through common collaborators. As often that is the best way to gain awareness of new talents. That allows you to get a sense for their style and interests and open up the opportunity to collaborate on future endeavors.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Practice, practice, practice! Animation is an incredibly diverse field currently and discovering what you are best at (in the production cycle) takes time. While you are still a student look at the firms that are hiring and see which software packages they use (and want applicants to know) and master them so you have that up your sleeve for when you graduate and apply. Also, keep things simple to start for your portfolio. As illustrating simple ideas and doing it in a lavish way is far more compelling than taking a lavish idea and producing it in a sloppy simple way.
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
The longer the animation, the harder and more demanding it becomes to do well. Sounds obvious and it is, but the catch is that as a production company the desire to jump from shorts to features is strong. So you quickly become faced with the above challenge, haha. Thus our current project ‘The Adventures of August Winter’ is both our longest and most expansive project to date while also being the most challenging (and also the most fun!).
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
My background is in Fine Art with a BFA in Film Production. Being classically trained in film making, drawing, print making and painting has only added to the regard I hold for animators and all artists. Though perhaps its more the stories I read as a child and the wonderful films I’ve seen that most inspired me to want to do what it is I am doing today!
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
Here at WaveGarden Arts we primarily use Adobe After Effects and Adobe Flash for our 2D animating needs. I’d recommend either to beginners as they give you a solid background in Production and ample opportunity to grow and expand your repertoire.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry?
Best story about working in the animation industry comes from the enjoyment of doing something that is vital and exciting each and every day. As the creative process (though stressful at times) is incredibly rewarding when it takes shape as you have envisioned. It is really a wonderful feeling to complete and fully realize an idea.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
I feel there is an increasing demand for animators as the saturation of visual media continues to launch itself into our everyday lives. Whether it be in the form of current generation video games, internet programming/websites, mobile device software, films, tv, etc. Not to mention other businesses looking for creative and new ways to market their products utilizing all the previous listed platforms. Good ideas and creativity is always welcome and people hunger for innovation of all types, including in the arts.