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Donald Wallace is a kid at heart. His fun-loving, free-wheelin' disposition supplied him with all the creativity necessary to incarnate Wallyhood.
Wallyhood is the result of Don's 25 years of experience in the industry, and is a digital production company that creates stunning visual communications for all ages, across all media.
The company's commitment to interactive storytelling has helped them become one of the premier production studios in Portland, Oregon. By leveraging cutting-edge design software like Maya, Softimage, XSI, and Photoshop the studio has created several original characters and an endless array of animations.
Don recently donated some of his time to Animation Career Review in order to depart some advice about the training, attitude and hard work that was essential throughout his long successful career:
What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus on this one?
Storytelling is what it is all about. That’s always the focus. Whether it’s pure entertainment or conveying a message for a client. It can be in a space of 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or longer. With a business client, it’s about combining information and entertainment, and finding the right balance for that particular client’s needs, which can have varying degrees or mixtures of the two: 60/40, 70/30, etc.
That’s what makes it fun and also extremely challenging. When you work with animation, you have to be open to everything in life because everything in your life’s experience will be called upon.
Fill in the blank: The future of animation is ______________.
What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation?
The best: anything is possible if you are given the time.
The worst: Ridiculous production schedules.
Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?
I’m just happy that I still work in animation and there are still many things one can learn.
What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?
First of all – we look for good draftsman. Someone who knows how to draw well. And, having a good understanding of the principles of animation is a must, and is continually working on applying those principles.
What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from? If none, where do you recruit new hires?
Doesn’t matter. We look at the individual talent.
What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Constantly work at improving your craft. Study life. You will never know it all. There will always be something to learn, even if you have been animating for 60 years.
What were your most challenging projects, and why?
The most challenging projects are the ones where you have to be super-human and produce what would normally be done in four weeks in two weeks.
What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?
A certain amount of academia was essential, but the real learning started afterwards - studying and observing life along with hard work.
What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?
There are many, many different kinds of software out there. It depends on what you want to do. Wallace Creative uses Maya, XSI, Toon Boom, Toonz, all the Adobe products, and on and on…
Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.
The best story is the one that makes me laugh and cry at the same time…
For example: If the client asks can I draw fruit, to get the client into a comfort zone regarding my/our abilities, I’ll show them a picture of a watermelon that I drew, and they will ask – but can you draw a cantaloupe?
Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?
The schools continually turn out students with an interest in some form of animation. The market can handle only so much of that talent pool, so you better be good at what you choose to do.