Wednesday, March 02, 2011


This is a podcast that answers a question that a young student asked concerning what animators do. Rather than simply give her just typed answers which cam easily morph into a sort of egocentric infomercial about yourself, I wanted to give her a really personal answer I hope she shares with her classmates.

As a student myself, I always hated when I asked a professional a question I really wanted an answer to, only to have them talk way over my head and drown me in verbage, or condescendingly give me some useless, " baby answer". I hope in my response to this student, that I did neither. Instead, I expanded on my written answer, and gave her, in this audio. More tips that she could implement right NOW instead of waiting until she grew up. Technology has literally put all the tools in reach. All she has to do is reach out and grab. I hope she pulls back stars.

Here is the original written transcript. The audio follows the same basic format, but since I am speaking/reading I add a lot of additional details in the audio that is not written here, so I suggest interested listeners check out both.  Im posting this because there are a lot of similar questions have been asked of me over the years on my ALL EXPERTS colum  as well as at my live parties and special events. I had been procrastinating for a while of writing something out, and this students questions kinda force me to do that, so hat's off to her.My answers are NOT meant to be "the definitive word" in how to do animation. It is simply my account of MY role in the industry, and what I've done up to this point in my career. Having said that, enjoy the interview, and if you have comments or questions, do not hesitate to write me!

What got you interested in animation?

I got interested in animation as a kid watching a cartoon called UNDERDOG. What I loved especially about Underdog was he talked entirely inRhyme, just like a rapper! LOL! He was always saving his girlfriend, reporter Sweet Polly Purebread from danger, and used to say, WHEN POLLYS IN TROUBLE,I AM NOT SLOW, SO IT'S HIP, HIP, HIP, AND AWAY I GO!

When the show was over, I went straight to my drawing paper!

To watch an animated film, how do you get the film into a device to watch it?

There are a couple of ways to do it now with the technology available, but it usual involved some conversion process that made into DVD. Web animation is done using programs like Flash, and others. You can also make very simple animation called GIF an older technology that still works.

What is your job in animation?

Some people think, that in animation, there is one person doing "everything". The truth is, there are many people involved, each doing their own specialized thing very well , and then handing off their contribution to the next person in the process. My contribution is whats known as a character designer. Its my job to design the signature look of the character. It's up to me to design a character that fits the role of the story he's going to be in, whether as the hero, the villain or the quirky best friend. I have to draw the character in such a way that it will be easy for other animators to draw too, since we work in a team to make the film faster. My skill is specialized also because I specialize in drawing caricature, which is a fancy word for real funny and exaggerated. Sometimes I have to draw celebrities and make them look simple, which is sometimes hard to do!

Can you tell me about how you make animation?

I use, what's known as 2D animation, and I use a traditional approach which involves pages and pages of drawing different poses, each drawing building on the next until I have a completed sequence. At my stage, these drawings are still in pencil, sometimes rough, and put into a pencil test program to see how smooth the movement looks. (monkey jam is a great Free program which can enable you to do your own pencil tests) once the pic is approved they are inked over and colored, and the cycle repeats itself.

What is the science behind animation?

Gee, they said there would be no math in the interview,,,, I will say the most important bit of science I learned while animating is that 24 frames which equal 24 individual drawings equal one second on film....ONE second. Get out 24 sheets of paper put them side by side, and you get the idea WHY you NEED a TEAM of people to help you complete even a short 10-15 minute animated cartoon!

How long does it take to complete a film?

There is no cookie cutter one size that fits all answer. I will say that it depends on the type of film you're doing. If you are doing what's called limited animation, which is what a lot of web animation is based on, the time is relatively short, compared to if you are doing a 3D full length Pixar 2hour feature film. Speed of production also is determined by the size of your team, many hands make fast work, fewer hands make slow work. The great thing is there are a lot of jobs in animation, and you need not get discouraged if you feel you can't draw well enough. We need people who paint backgrounds and scenery, people who know the computer animation programs ,( you'd be surprised that many of them can't draw a straight line), as well as people do do voices, sing songs, or score the music. Hope I not only answered your questions, but encouraged you to start a great career, trust me , YOU CAN BEGUN NIOW!