The psyches over at Madwerkz are in a perpetual '3D state of mind'. The fearless leaders leading this troupe of rag-tag animation experts are production gurus Joddy Eric Matthews, Alexander Rivera and Edwin M. Figueroa. Joddy Eric however is not only Madwerkz's Director, he also heads up their Visual Effects department--with 20-years experience behind him.
Recently Joddy Eric sat down with us (virtually) to discuss his experiences working in the animation industry—both as an artist and entrepreneur.
As you read below about Joddy Eric's vision for his company, keep in mind that Madwerkz is perpetually on the lookout for animation talent. So, if any of our aspiring animator readers are looking for an internship or position be sure to checkout their careers page.
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
MadWerkz Studios is a full featured visual effects boutique focused on the animation needs of today’s Independent Filmmakers and commercial producers. Our services range from Realflow and Houdini dynamics and fluid effects to character and massive animation. Recently MadWerkz has completed several 3D stereoscopic projects.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.
The future of animation lies in the ability of creative’s to continue to dream and explore new possibilities. The dissemination of wonderful software to the masses and freedom from constraints means it’s up to you and what lies in your head, not the capabilities of your machine.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
The best part of the animation field is that in a short time we have empowered any director or producer with the ability to fully realize their vision. Almost anything that can be dreamt of can be produced.
The worst part of the animation field is that the enormous ability and skill of today’s top level animation studios and animators have set unrealistic expectations of look, cost and development timeframes with content makers. The enormous cost of today’s big budget films makes every producer expect the same results no matter what the budget is.
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
We are proud of all the work we do, large and small but the stereoscopic work we are currently doing on a film titled Deadly Return will be a great feather in our cap. The suspense thriller, featuring 50 – 60 vfx shots, including Digital Doubles, Creature animations and Dynamics simulations modeled and animated in Maya and composited in Nuke. The film, shot on RED in REDlogFilm, is being converted to 3D in Nuke by Compositor Brian Beba.
The beginning of the film has an animated open, directed, inked and colored by Animator Jeff Black. The graphic novel opening, animated in Adobe After Effects, will also be converted to 3D by Beba using a custom Stereo rig developed for After Effects.
Both Mr. Beba and Mr. Black are currently enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College, which has a film program focused on providing capable graduates for the animation and film business.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
The most vital skill we look for is the ability to work in a team orientated environment. Working in the animation and visual effects industry often demands long hours and the ability to communicate and work well with others is key. Secondly, a strong understanding and appreciation of film history, camera framing, story telling disciplines, cinematic aspects of movement, action, comedy, body movement and staging.
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
We recruit from many schools in the Midwest, some of which are Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland Institute of Art, Columbus College of Art and Design, Pittsburgh Institute of Art, Kent State University, Virginia Marti College and Cleveland State University
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Along with enhancing your skillset, determine what your personal goals are in your career and understand that working in the industry in whatever capacity, given the large number of graduates every year, is an accomplishment. Many young animators want to work at the big houses, but they aren’t paying attention to the industry trends which has seen more work being spread out to smaller houses. Even on big films.
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
We recently modeled, animated and rendered 24 minutes of 3D Stereoscopic animation for a client’s tradeshow they were attending in less than 4 weeks. The finished animation was rendered to 3D BluRay for delivery.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
In my life I’ve studied cinematography and film focusing on the science of light and the qualities of the photochemical process. I have a degree in Design and continue to enhance my skills with workshop/online studies through FxPhd, Digital Tutors and Autodesk University
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
We almost exclusively use Autodesk tools such as Maya, MotionBuilder and Mudbox along with ZBrush and Realflow. Houdini is a new tool in which we are starting to incorporate into our pipeline.
We would recommend Maya to any beginner; it is the preeminent tool in animation today and has been for some time because of its flexibility and power.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
Don’t really have a best story as every project presents the opportunity to do something new.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
I think the demand for animators has remained constant for the last five years. What has increased is the demand for high level animators as the amount of projects, whether it is film, corporate, advertising, etc. has skyrocketed. I believe the reason why lies in the fact that content producers have accepted the challenge of dreaming big, which is fun.