For most people a career in animation is about being in a place you want to work, doing what you love. The folks over at Crush believe just that and decided to make it happen. “Crush is the place we all wanted to work. We just had to build it first,” chimes the creative team.
Since making their ideal workplace in 1998, the team at Crush has been toiling away creating VFX, moving pictures and animations for clients like IKEA, KIA, Telus, Mastercard, the Royal Canadian Mint, United Way, Walmart and ADIDAS. Their recent effort on their award-winning Sapporo commercial shows exactly the kind of kick-ass work the talented staff at Crush are capable of.
Gary Thomas is the Creative Director of the rag-tag group of uber-talented artists at Crush, and yet another Sheridan College animation grad taking part in our series. Of course Gary graduated a 'few' years ago in the 80s. He recently sat down with us to offer some tangible advice to aspiring animators and new grads who are looking for a place like Crush.
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
Our focus started on short animations, both for commercials and for our own short projects. It has grown to include some long form where we have a hand in development of the content.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is_____________
Fresh independent vision.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
The best thing is the ability to bring our ideas to life. Haven’t hit any real worsts yet.
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
The success we had with our shorts for “The Gum Thief”, a book by Douglas Coupland.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
Technical skills are high, but also a unique creative vision.
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from?
If none, where do you recruit new hires?
We have hired from Sheridan College, and Fanshawe College. Also from Ravensbourne in the UK.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Work on your own projects constantly. We will not hire any new grad who comes to us only with student assignments. In this day, with the resources available there is no excuse for a lack of completed projects to show.
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
The Sapporo campaign, because the deadline was tight, the ambition was large and there were a lot of moving parts.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
I am a Sheridan College grad, but my real education came when I took my first job in this business as a Paintbox artist at Centro Digital Pictures, in Hong Kong. My life started the day I landed there.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
We have Maya, and Cinema 4D. Cinema 4D is an excellent package priced for the real world. Plenty of good tutorials available online.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
I once did a Knorr chicken bouillon cube ad for Hong Kong. It was a stop motion project that we worked on in conjunction with a company in the UK. The ad featured a chicken carcass dancing and then jumping into a pot. We found it funny, if a little gruesome. The animation was good and the spot was finished but it was pulled off the air in Hong Kong because people found it offensive that the chicken carcass had no head.
Has the trend of outsourcing animation overseas affected your firm, if yes, how have you dealt with it or compensated for it?
Not yet, but we will address it when it does.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
I think there is a demand for animators with real unique vision, but a declining demand for animators who simply fulfil a technical role. Those roles are always the first to be outsourced. Creativity is harder to be sent offshore.
Check out more interviews at Animation Career Review's Interview Series.