The most successful production studios in the business have used their specific talents, found their niche, then worked their tails off to carve out a place for themselves in the industry. Image Engine did just that. In response to Vancouver's growing post-production market in the 90s Greg Holmes, Robin Hackl and Christopher Mossman founded Image Engine with the goal of serving the high-end visual effects market.
Since then the studio has been nominated for numerous Emmy, Academy Award, Gemini and Visual Effects Society awards for their work on feature-length films like District 9, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Breaking Dawn and The Thing and Immortals.
We got the opportunity to talk with Lyndon Barrois, Image Engine's Animation Supervisor. The native New Orleanian has just the career that many of our aspiring-animator readers dream about, with a career that has taken from from hoppin' LA to down-under Sydney to stunningly-beautiful Vancouver. His MFA in CalArts has served him well.
Always one to share his successful experiences in the industry, he guest-lectures at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and the Black Hollywood Educational Resource Center, was a contributing author to the VES Handbook and co-captained at the Visual Effects Society, it was no surprise that he eagerly volunteered to offer advice to our readers about the animation industry:
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is ___________.
alive and incredibly well!
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
The best aspect is that you can spend weeks or months working on the most complex or simplest shots. The worst aspect is that you can spend weeks or months working on the most complex or simplest shots.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
A keen understanding of animation fundamentals, fundamentals, and fundamentals.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Learn as much practical fundamental art as you can and animate, animate, animate.
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
All of them because they all bring their own special challenges and parameters.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
Years of art and character animation training that included drawing, painting and sculpture; as well as 2D, stop-motion and ultimately digital animation.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
IE is a Maya house. And Maya is the most accessible animation package. But I've used everything from Maya to Max to XSI to proprietary systems. The most important thing to remember is that IT'S JUST SOFTWARE. LEARNING TO ANIMATE IS WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT, regardless of your tools. If your animation skills are bad, that will transfer to the software.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
Nope, I've still gotta work in these towns.
Has the trend of outsourcing animation overseas affected your firm, if yes, how have you dealt with it or compensated for it?
It's affected me personally as I've been with many studios that have overseas branches like Rhythm & Hues, DD, and Prime Focus. You just adapt because it is a global medium and no one place has a monopoly on it anymore.
People all around the world yearn to do this work and a lot of them are very talented. I currently live in LA but work in Vancouver so its fun--but it takes a toll. But, as of yet, IE isn't in the practice of outsourcing. I guess you could say I'm an insource.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
I don't know what the current answer to this question is because its cyclical. Demand is dictated by the market need and competition. I do know in some capacity there will always be openings for talent, so its always best to be prepared for the opportunity regardless of market. If you're good enough, someone will make a spot for you.
Check out more interviews at Animation Career Review's Interview Series.