As it turns out there is funny stuff coming out of Florida other than cougars, bad sunburns and rednecks—there's also cartoons from True Light Media. In addition to old people, Orlando, Florida is also home to full-service production studio True Light Media.
TLM is a content creation company that focuses on the entire production cycle, from concept and pre-production to rendering and editing. The studio has experience in everything from feature films to children's content to commercial work.
Their fearless leader over at True Light is founder and President, Enoc Castaneda. Enoc's vision when founding the firm was to “create family-friendly content across all media platforms, both as an original content developer as well as a offering production services.”
Over the last decade Enoc's career has truly blossomed, making him the perfect leader for his ragtag group of elite animators. Among his long list of credits that Enoc has contributed to are Universal Pictures’ Curious George and Disney’s Princess and the Frog. His work includes feature-length animated films, television shows, comic books, interactive websites and video games—and his professional experience and talents spans across multiple disciplines, including director, storyboard artist, character designer, animator, layout artist, animation director, voice actor, illustrator, comic book artist, and video game designer.
Enoc recently took time out of his busy fearless-leading schedule to offer advice to our aspiring animator readers, based on his extensive experience in the business:
1. What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?
We focus on character and quality-driven content. It is our passion and the reason we got into animation in the first place.
2. Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.
The future of animation is promising but in a state of flux, especially for animation companies and animators in North America. The good news is that over the lest few years there has been an increasing number of content delivery platforms and with that an increasing need for a variety animated content.
3. What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?
Best - Creating content that makes a lasting impression on audiences, Worst - dealing with individuals that do not understand the animation process and the importance of creating quality content.
4. Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
Our most important achievement is to have always exceeded our client’s expectations on every project. Our primary focus with every job is to make our clients happy.
5. What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
We look for individuals who have formal training and a real understanding of the basics of art. Also, we look for individuals who have a sincere passion for creating the best work possible and who take pride in their work, no matter what the task.
6. What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
When looking at potential candidates for a project we don’t necessarily look for graduates of any particular school, but instead look at their portfolio and body of work. The portfolio is the single most important thing we look at. Another important aspect is to find individuals who are responsible, dependable and able to communicate within a team dynamic.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Pick the right school. Do your research. Understand what you are getting yourself into and what you would like to achieve in the long term. The job market is being flooded by recent graduates of educational institutions and there is a lot of competition so give yourself some options for the future. There are so many new schools popping up, seemingly overnight, all over the world offering degrees in animation, there are more 'animators' seeking jobs than there are jobs available. You should really treat your school/career choice as a marriage and ask a few important questions about yourself and the school:
- First, why do I want to become an animator/artist? Is it because you don’t want a “real” job or is it because you are driven to create amazing content?
- Second, is the school going to make sure you are prepared for the future giving you the most options, or are they more interested in simply getting your money and kicking you out the door in 14 months?
- What is the reputation of the institution?
- Is the degree/credits you are receiving applicable at other Universities or Institutions?
- Is a 4 year degree better for me than an accelerated course lasting 14 months? Keep in mind that you will not develop the same skill level in 14 months that you would in 4 years.
- What is the cost difference between an accelerated program and a 4 year degree?
8. What were your most challenging projects, and why?
The most challenging projects are the ones in which you are dealing with clients that have not done animation before. They typically are not sure how to communicate what they want or don’t understand the process.
9. What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
I have been drawing and animating since I can remember. I have been able to get where I am through a lifetime of creating art, building up my knowledge and skill set, and taking advantage of every opportunity available. I did not wait for the 'perfect dream job' and I valued experience and the opportunity to learn and grow above everything else. You have to look at every project as an opportunity to create something lasting and of quality.
10. What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
We use Adobe Flash, After Effects, Photoshop, Maya, and Zbrush. If someone is just starting out I would recommend checking out Toon Boom software as they have several entry level solutions, as well as Adobe Flash for 2D animation. CG artists needs to be familiar with 3DS Max and Maya for films and games, and Lightwave and Softimage for television.
12. Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
As I mentioned earlier, there is an increase in demand for animators thanks to so many to entertainment delivery platforms as well as an increasing awareness of how powerful character driven content is.
Check out more interviews at Animation Career Review's Interview Series.