Loopmedia is a collective of animation and design professionals creating vivid and
memorable branded content. Loop's 17-years of experience would never have
happened without the vision, and co-operation of their tightly-knit team. Oh and
not without Craig Kirkham, their fearless leader.
Craig is not only one of the studio's owners but also its Creative Director and
an award-winning designer. Another credit to Craig is his ability to recognize
incredible talent amongst the different animation disciplines and to then
amalgamate them into one coherent team.
We recently got a chance to sit down with Craig to discuss what it takes to create
and manage a successful studio and what qualities he looks for in potential new
What is your firms focus within animation and what led your firm to have
such a focus?
Seventeen years ago, we started out as a 3D animation studio with a focus
on character design. We did a lot of work for companies such as Much Music,
creating short, 3D interstitials and animations. This was before I joined the team,
but it's safe to say that Loop was driven to it's focus by Bill Hutchinson, Loop's
Vice President and co-founder. Loop began with a clear focus on animation and
now we find ourselves expressing a passion not only for 3D animation but also
motion and graphic design, editing, programming and interactive production. Our
experiences over the years and our expertise in such a wide range of disciplines
currently allows us to build brands across all platforms.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is______:
The future of animation is bright and forever evolving. I think globalization and
our constant hunger for newer/better/faster technology will always lead to a need
for animation. We, as an industry, have created some really incredible stuff and
it's only getting better.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation
The best part is definitely the freedom of knowing that if you can think it, it can
be done. I've learned that we can make anything happen and there's nothing like
going to work knowing that there's no limit to what your day might have in store.
The worst? The constant struggle of working against tight deadlines, schedules
and ever-changing technology.
Among your firms achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud
I'm most proud of the community that we've managed to build here at Loop
and the amount of success that we've achieved as a team. We're a creative
collaborative that upholds productivity, open mindedness and forward thinking to
the highest regard and I'm proud every time we deliver a project to
a client when I know that we as a team worked together to ensure that that
project exceeds their expectations.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new
While we obviously seek a specific skill set when hiring new employees, what
really matters to us is that this new person will be a fit within our community.
Skills are very important to us but so are the values that an individual chooses to
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If
none, where do you recruit new hires?
As far as schools within and around Toronto, we often look to Sheridan and
Centennial. Other than that, we often get referrals from word of mouth and we've
got an extensive global freelancers list that we reference for new hires.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Definitely enjoy what you do. Work hard, remember to play and never stop
thinking about the big picture.
What were your most challenging projects and why?
There have been so many challenging projects over the years. It's when a project
is difficult that you find out exactly what your team is made of and the most
growth happens. I've always believed that it's the tough ones that build the most
character. It's in those crunch moments that you're forced to think outside of the
box and search for an answer that isn't right in front of you. Somehow, someway,
we always get it done.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
I've run the gamut on education. From general studies to environmental resource
studies to art and animation. It was after my animation studies at Centennial
College that I was hired at Loop.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which
ones would you recommend to beginners?
We use Maya, Cinema 4D for our 3D work. For compositing and design our
principle tools are After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and Shake, as
well we edit in Final Cut Pro. For beginners, if you want to do 3D, focus on one
package. Once you've got the fundamentals down it will be less of a
learning curve to move to other platforms. Also, Photoshop and Illustrator are
two important tools no matter which direction you are planning to go.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation
I'm not sure I could define one as the best. The animation industry can be as crazy as it is rewarding, and the two certainly aren't mutually exclusive. I've
had some great times, dealt with my fair share of interesting clients, and have
created work that I am incredibly proud of. And the great part is, I've been able
to do all of this with a team of incredibly talented people by my side.
Has the trend of outsourcing animation overseas affected your firm, if
yes, how have you dealt with it or compensated for it?
Rather than allowing the trend of outsourcing to affect us, we've altered our
business model and have chosen to use the trend in our favor. We've taken on a
repping model and outsource Loop work around the world. You can't deny the fact
that talent exists all over the world. Why fight such an obvious truth? We want to
embrace and work with every artist we can, no matter where they plug in their
computer. We have maintained our own key group of people in Toronto but the
truth is that, in this industry, you've simply got to adapt.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for
animators overall? Why?
Well it's definitely not decreasing. The pie might be shrinking because there
are considerably more capable individuals and companies out there creating
animation work but that's not to say that the demand isn't there. From when
Loop started, the amount of people in the industry has sky rocketed. We
just find ourselves working harder to improve our skills and ensure that our work
is of the highest quality.
Check out more interviews at Animation Career Review's Interview Series.