After 12 years producing high-quality animations for various studios around the country Anik Rosenblum got the entrepreneurial bug. This lucky 'bug' led to one of Anik's greatest successes, Dancing Line Productions. For the last three years Anik has been the Founder and Animation Director for Dancing Line, a studio that found its success by creating “animation with feeling”.
Dancing Line's expressive 2D animation infuse Anik's decade of experience, spirit and personality into professional-grade animation for small-scale productions. The network of artists that Anik hand-picked to be part of the studio was crucial in building a successful reputation for the relatively-new studio, a process that has paid off in spades.
Anik recently sat down with us to discuss what it takes to be successful in the industry as an individual, entrepreneur and business owner:
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
Dancing Line specializes in 2D character animation from concept to completion, focusing on small- to medium-scale productions such as TV commercials, educational videos, animated title sequences, and music videos. What led us to have such focus is our desire to do creative work, which is less possible when working on large productions (such as TV series, for example) where freshness of ideas often falls a victim to procedural and formulaic thinking.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.
unknown (same as the future of everything else)
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
Well, it differs from person to person, I guess. One of the unfortunate things about animation is how much work it takes to make. One of the best things is being able to, in a way, breathe life into something, feeling it take shape, energy and a believable personality as if on its own.
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
One thing is that we only take the projects we feel we can contribute to creatively, and another is that we have maintained great relationships with all our clients-–so we know we make ourselves happy and the people we work with happy.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
Since we focus on relatively small scale projects we rarely need more people. We may occasionally hire an additional person or two on a freelance basis for some help with the various creative and technical aspects of a production. We then look for the best skill level and best fit with the specific production requirements. Generally it’s good when talent, motivation and high work ethics show.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Consider what exactly about animation makes you want to get into it. Whatever that is, it has to have the power to motivate you through the very long work hours, which is more likely if it has to do with doing it (which can last weeks or months) than the time of broadcast/screening (which lasts a moment). Being an animator doesn’t have any magical “aura” except the one you may feel during the work process.
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
For one multi-platform campaign we had to create ten TV spots, as well as animation for the web and illustrations for print while working with an extremely tight schedule and adjusting to continuous script changes. It was a crazy race with the challenge of keeping everything organized and on time, without compromising the creativity and animation quality. What helped though was that the agency producer we were working with was great, we could discuss with her the most effective ways to get the things done well.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
Art/drawing classes, an unfinished film degree and a two-year program in traditional animation. Also, I believe some general culture and life experiences always help.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
Any 2D animation software that incorporates hand-drawn animation is good--it’s all about drawing and making things move in certain ways. We don’t use much digitally generated effects.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
Sorry, I have to keep my best stories for private occasions (or I won’t get invited anymore).
Has the trend of outsourcing animation overseas affected your firm, if yes, how have you dealt with it or compensated for it?
It mostly affects larger scale productions which we don’t do.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
I think it fluctuates, going up and down every few years, depending on new technological trends, the economy, globalization, etc. Really good animators are always in demand, but generally, animation schools produce hundreds of new graduates every year, yet even in good times there is no proportionate growth of studios (or retirement rate to match), so obviously many will struggle to find a job.
Check out more interviews at Animation Career Review's Interview Series.