The level of sensibilities of Arthur Kautz, and Aniben design studio, is refreshingly reassuring. They create great work, and do it on time. This simple mission has remained the same throughout Aniben's years of growth—and will remain their vision.
This boutique production studio in Vancouver, Washington is lead by Arthur Kautz, a shrewd businessman with creative flair. Despite his MBA and Strategic Planning background, his love for story telling and brilliant animation have always driven him—in fact it drove him to start Aniben, eventually. With a solid background in hand illustration and several years of business management experience under his belt Arthur finally struck out on his own, and hasn't looked back since.
Recently Arthur sat down with us to offer some nuggets of wisdom for our aspiring-animator readers:
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
We are original content creators that focus on family entertainment. We have recently begun to focus on bidding for animation projects from studios or other producers that have been considering sending work overseas. It is our position that here in the United States we have access to the best creativity and can compete with the low cost overseas producers by virtue of innovative production pipelines and reduced overheads. We are planning to begin offering mocap work for gaming studios as well as animation in the near future.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.
Growing strong and will continue to do so. Over the last two decades, animated movies have outperformed all other genres of film at the domestic and worldwide box office. I see particularly in the United States that there is no longer a cost incentive to export our work, and keep it here for our well trained professionals.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
The raising of capital is an entry barrier, particularly for studios that want to produce theatrical content. Software and hardware are expensive. Venture capitalists don't see the benefit of films and would rather invest in the latest internet 'thing' than movies. We need to shape their expectations to realize the next Pixar or Dreamworks can be created by one single animated film from a new studio doing well at the box office.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
We are looking for creative individuals that have a strong work ethic. Being on time, working as part of a team and realizing that animation is a business is important to us.
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
In our local market there is the Art Institute of Portland, who has a fine animation department. I have worked with several of their graduates.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Pick the element of animation you like doing best and focus on that. Learning curves for new software are steep, and having a focus helps. Beyond that, try to broaden you artistic talents and understanding of movement. Study the great animated films. Go back and look at the early Disney animation; Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan and observe how they did things. See if you can replicate it in your work.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
My background is as a hand illustrator, with a degree in Business Administration, and several years of management experience with large corporations before striking out on my own.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
We use Maya and 3ds for 3D work, Toonboom Storyboard for board work, and Adobe Illustrator. Maya is an industry standard and a beginner might as well start with that package. The transference of technique is what is important between software packages.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
Animation will continue to be strong. As an industry in the United States we have to demonstrate and convince studios and producers we can be cost effective and stop shipping work overseas. I believe we will be able to make this case and keep the industry vibrant and viable.