If you, like many of our readers are currently attending one of the many prestigious animation schools around North America then you may have heard Peter Adamakos speak—or possible have been in one of his classes. Peter is one of those rare animation industry professionals that makes it a point to pass on his successes (and probably a few failures) in the industry to thirsty young minds.
When he isn't teaching, touring or speaking you can find Peter running his production house, Disada Productions. Since its inception in 1971 Peter and Disada have had the opportunity to produce a wide-variety of projects from TV to corporate animation to films—and back again. Peter has worked with governments, corporations, major television programs like Sesame Street, and major film producers like Disney.
Peter's talents however go far beyond production and teaching, he has also authored several books, curated museum exhibits with his collection of animation art memorabilia, has created nationally syndicated comic strips, donated time to serve on several film boards and has testified on animation matters for the federal government.
And all of this started from a $10,000 bank loan that Peter used to start his studio.
Always one to volunteer his precious time Peter jumped at the opportunity to offer advice to our aspiring animator readers about how to land a job, cater your skills and broaden your animation horizons:
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
In our 40th year now our focus has always been on quality animation with personality, and solid stories. We were inspired by the classics and the people that made them.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is ____________.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
Animation is pure creativity: A blank piece of paper (or screen) becomes a brand new world with motion, color, sound and characters.
Worst aspect? Nothing about animation itself-- Just the attitude of some people in it today.
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
Launching the careers of so many people who stayed in animation or found successful creative careers in other fields.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
Talent, obviously, but equally as important is detication, curiosity, hard work, teamwork and a 'we we we' attitude rather than a 'me me me' attitude
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
We look at graduates' work and hire them as we believe in helping new talent. we also hire people who are just plain talented who have never been to animation school or have dropped out, as we can train then ourselves rather than "unlearn" bad school habits and attitudes.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
See all you can, study classic animation then apply their lessons to modern subjects, styles etc..
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
Doing projects for clients that didn't give enough time. Projects can be adjusted to budget constraints, but time is absolute.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
A general education. in my case a university degree was indispensable in the learning processes, which later included animation and live-action subjects, General knowledge, varied interests and so on all helped me. Education teaches you how to learn, makes you curious and interested in life, one of the basic of creative success.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
Learn animation by doing real animation, not playing software per se. The keyboard does not write--people do. Software does not animate--people do. We use software as an aid in any mechanical animation and in post production. We do not let machines "animate" (as if they did.)
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
A great bonus was meeting the pioneers of animation and getting to know many of them over the years- great animators like Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson, directors like Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett and Walter Lantz. And so on, all the way back to John R. Bray and Paul Terry, visiting, interviewing, and many times working with them.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
There is an ever-increasing demand for so-called animtors due to the sheer quantity of footage today. We seek quanity over quality and as the quality falls lower and lower anyone and his/her grandmother can be an animator. What talent does it take to push a computer grid around? If a computer animator dies at his desk he will be replaced before he hits the floor and the scene will be done with no deciperable difference between their work. Those who learn real animation as well as computer techniques will rule the industry when crap has had it's "run".
Check out more interviews at Animation Career Review's Interview Series.