What were your most challenging projects, and why?
Every project comes with it’s own set of unique challenges that can range from something as common as technical issues, to capturing a clients vision for their project or idea. We travel quite a bit now and it can be a challenge to be away from my family and overseeing the production of art for a project we were hired to art direct in LA.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
We have all been to art school and majored in illustration or animation. We have also worked as artists in various other related fields. I was an illustration major at Ringling College of Art and Design, in Sarasota, FL. Prior to that I was hired to produce maps and artifact illustrations for an Archeological Research company. But I can honestly say that the toughest and most rewarding educational experience would be my 15 years as a Disney artist and animator.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
Because of our years as traditional, hand drawn animators, I’d say that pencil and paper are still a preference for us, but a few artists were trained in Maya as 3D animators. We have worked with Flash on several animation projects, as well as Toon Boom. As illustrators, we almost exclusively use Photoshop for our day-to-day work. We use Cintique tablets to produce artwork and make art corrections, but always return to our desks for some good old-fashioned drawing on paper.
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry?
It’s difficult to pick just one experience, so I’ll mention two moments that I was extremely proud of. The first would be when we were invited to a studio academy awards party at Disney when Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to be nominated for best picture that year. The other would be working on Lion King and it becoming the highest grossing animated film of all time. For Funnypages Productions, I would say our involvement in the relaunch of the animated series, Superbook for CBN and the work we’ve done for Big idea.
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
I’d have to say there’s always a demand for good talented “performance” animators. What I mean by that, and something I learned a long time ago is, you can teach anyone to draw or use a computer and how to move things around, but it an entirely different thing to create a sincere and believable performance on the screen.
The gaming industry is obviously huge with revenues in the billions each year, and if an artist/animator is observant, and can capture the reality of a character’s movements and acting, they can go a long way to securing a job in animation. Other important related areas would be character, vehicle and prop designs, location art and paintings for feature films, 2D or 3D films and games.