Research into Animation Companies Role

As a character animation student, I was obviously interested in researching the animation industry before I got involved into it. However, I did not go as deep as I could.

Fortunately, this term we were asked to research the roles in the animation industry and critically analyze them compared to our role in our group project. Even though it is a topic I had brushed before thanks to animation books, the research revealed to be harder than I thought. It turns out not many people are interested in knowing how it works, or giving us a precise animation hierarchy distributed in roles. The reason is, yes not many animators are not famous enough to talk to interviewers, and yes animation industry is always evolving, nevertheless, the main reason is because we cannot compartmentalize animation into one group. Every company is different. Every one has a different hierarchy and animators usually have a tiny job in a huge bee house.

Moreover, in most companies, animators end up doing a few jobs, dabbling here and there. So when trying to compare my role to a specific one, I was a bit lost. I do know from watching years of behind the scenes and documentaries from Disney and Pixar animations that people working in these type of companies usually are given one or two specific jobs. They are hired for a very specific talent, and this is the talent the company wants them to use.

However, when I started working as a freelance animator, I quickly noticed a big difference. I mostly had to handle the whole project from top to bottom.

The only way for me to understand what was really going on was to directly contact a professional. Denise Dean,  head of assistant animation at Lupus Films, tried to shed a bit of light on the matter by describing the process in TV based animation. And I discovered there was one more way to do animation.

In retrospect, there are many ways to do animation. Trying to categorize a role is next to impossible. Truth is, depending on the company or client, an animator will do many various things.

How Chef’s Table Can Relate to Animation

When browsing Netflix to search for a new program to help me focus while I animate, I unconsciously stopped my mouse on “Chef’s Table”. I remember thinking ‘here we go, another one of those cooking shows, no thank you’. Then, as Netflix does when your mouse stops on a program, the trailer starts playing.

The first thing I hear is Will Goldfarb’s voice: “When I was in Paris for pastry school, they were pretty clear this was a bad career choice”. I can already relate. Then, this series of so aesthetically pleasing dishes to the rythm of “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow. And I am hypnotized.

I start watching it and quickly realize it is a series of documentaries about exceptional chefs. Not always famous chefs or cooks, but people that fought and became food artists.

The title sequence of Volume 4 pastry is by far the most aesthetically pleasing in terms of visuals and music.

It transported me into a world, a world of art, where people, like us, start from the bottom and build their way up. They fight, they face failures, disappointments, bad reviews,… but they go on, they strive to constantly be better and satisfy the client, please him/her.

The lessons I got from this show is first of all that we all start somewhere, with a love for something. For them it’s food, for me it is drawing.

Then they start from the bottom and work their way up like animators. First we in between, and hope to be a lead animator or director later on. To reach this dream, we all have an inspiration to take us along the journey. My dream has always been Disney for instance.

Another thing I could relate to in this series is that you need to leave your ego at the door. You have to listen to feedback, take it in to make your work better. In season 3, Jeong Kwan says it beautifully:

“Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment. You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. This is being free. There is no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. That is my belief.” — Jeong Kwan

Moreover, this series talks about transcendence. Food is a basic need. Cooks could just want to give you something to fill you up without caring about taste or appearance. However, they strive to excel, to give the customer an experience they will not forget. This is also my aim for animation. To deliver something so beautiful and touching, the viewer will not forget it.

The more you watch the series, the more you discover individuals, stories behind their dish and all the long process, the attention to detail it took to this particular point. When animating, we always start from a particular story or anecdote and build on from there. We start this very long design process, a process similar to one of a Chef.

Finally, this show is all about teamwork and the people that push and help you getting to reach your goal. In a kitchen, having a crew helping you develop your idea, giving you out of the box feedback, all this knowledge reunited can only help improve your initial recipe. In animation, each person is part of the final process, each helping each other be better.

Grad Film Preparation

The ENO project is now coming to an end and it was time to pitch our ideas to our tutors for feedback.

The story is pretty set in my mind, the biggest problem now is that this will be my first 3D piece. I also have not touched 3D in a while. It is quite a risk to try it out on my grad film. I would like to model my own character over the winter break so I started researching models online.

I have also made some character design research, looking at how similar characters have been portrayed before in cartoons and illustrations, trying to transmit the whole character in the face and body, in the way it acts.

I have also contacted my mentor and he has given me some advice about how I should set up my scene as well as about parenting in Maya.


My Book Collection

I have to tell you something. I really do not believe in e-books. As long as you do not see the paper, feel it, smell the ink on paper, you cannot be inspired.

Reading as always been a religion to me. It has always inspired me. I treat every book as a piece of art. If it is a good one, it will transport me to different places, make me sad, or happy, or mad. Everything that you do should always be for that purpose. That is the goal I want to reach when I animate. I want people to immerse in my piece of animation.

I have developed my love of books very early on thanks to my parents. I went from Disney to Harry Potter to Twilight (yes, yes I did that) to Lord of the Rings and so on. Then I moved to art books. Traditional classical and modern art books, museum books to concept art books to animation books to character design books. I have so many shelves my room might crumble under the weight of it.

I guess every art relates to the other. I may love this movie, so I buy the concept art book about it. I love this manga, so I watch the anime. I like this anime, so I buy the character design book about it. Every art has a correlation to each other.

Kids were watching TV (and believe me so was I) and I always had a book in my bag (still do-currently reading the red queen, about 700 pages, probably not the best choice to carry around in my bag all day).

Anyway here is a little visual list of my most priced posessions: