Why a FAQ?
I have gotten a few questions over the years, and some of them seem to repeat. So I've collected a few of the answers here! If you have any further questions, just drop me an e-mail. After I get through being suspicious of your e-mail, I'll probably neglect it for a month, rediscover it while I'm sifting out old groupons, and eventually respond to you in a dignified, intelligent, and satisfactory way.
How long have you been working in animation?
I start counting my professional career from my internship at Primal Screen in the summer of 2004,
Where do you work?
I am a freelancer, so where I work varies all the time. There are several studios in town in which I have worked, but now most of my work comes from outside Atlanta and I work remotely. I couldn't say which I prefer- suffice it to say I enjoy variety and I'm always looking to expand my client base.
How do you do your animation?
I prefer to do my own work on paper, taking pencil tests with DigiCel Flipbook, and finishing in AnimatePro or Photoshop. But honestly, its been a while since I sat at the disc because working in TVPaint is so much more effcient. Most of my professional work is done in Flash, for economic reasons. But no matter what the job, I always pine for paper. Someday I shall return to you, old friend.
Could you animate my pilot/music video/other personal project? How much would that cost?
I'm always happy to discuss new projects, but the thing to remember is that animation is very labor-intensive and I do this for a living. I can't give a quote off the bat until I know the details of what you want, but generally just remember to think in terms of thousands of dollars, and not hundreds. It is true that I do work on stuff for fun, but if I'm not going to be compensated, I'd rather be working on my own projects for free than someone else's project for free.
So-and-so said they'd animate my project for like, $100 and a calzone. Why won't you?
Good for you, sounds like a keeper you got there. But you have to understand that when you hire an artist of any kind, you're not just paying them for however long it took for them to draw a drawing. You're paying for all the years of study, training, and experience it took to get them so good. So $100 for four minutes of animation will probably look just like that, and if thats the quality you're looking for then you don't need me. Although I do love a good calzone...
Can I use one of your drawings for my website/class t-shirt/brochure/tattoo/boat/etc.?
What a great question! If you want an image of mine for recreational use, please go right on ahead! Just remember your 'netiquette- credit is always nice. And if its for a tattoo, please send me photos. But if you're planning on making money, even a little bit, by using one of my works, then please talk to me.
I love drawing and animation, but I don't know what to do. Should I go to art school?
Art school is one way, but by no means the only way anymore. These days we have the glorious internet, and there are so many terrific ways to get an excellent online education in animation. There are many free newsletters and tutorials to subscribe to, as well as paid courses like Animation Mentor and Schoolism. And since many of these courses are designed and taught by working professionals, it may very well be a superior education to a traditional college course. Do a search and see what you can find, and be sure to follow your passions.
Also, get some animation books. I think your best bet to start with would be the Preston Blair book “Cartoon Animation”- its concise and cheap (you can probably get it for less than $15) and the drawings are gorgeous. If you want to experiment with animating without breaking the bank, start with flipbooks or doing simple gif animations. While you’re just starting out, don’t go crazy with expensive toys. Exploit all the cheap ways you can find to educate yourself. Once you get a sense of where you’d like to go, then you can invest in programs like Flash or constructing a pencil test station. Also, it may seem like a no-brainer, but watch a lot of cartoons! Old cartoons, new cartoons, international cartoons, independent animation… everything. Your parents may say cartoons will rot your brain, but I guarantee you’ll pick up a few tricks as well.
Are there jobs in the animation industry these days?
Golly, I hope so! If I can eat once or twice a day then the well can't be completely dry. Honestly, in my somewhat peripheral opinion, the animation industry is more robust than it has ever been. My advice to animation hopefuls is this: Yes there are jobs out there, but there is also competition. Work tirelessly on your foundation skills- great observational drawing skills will distinguish you and improve your work even if you're working completely digitally. And also, something I wish they taught in college- learn how to manage your finances early on. A lot of the animation work out there is seasonal, so there will always be slow periods that you will have to weather with sound fiscal planning.
Why don't you do CG animation?
Let me state this for the record: I love good movies no matter what the medium. I love Pixar (in fact, the only time I considered the possibility of doing CG animation was after The Incredibles) but I feel that its really easy to lose sight of the basics of what makes animation such a pleasure to watch when there's a clunky computer interface in the way. And I can state unequivocally that I personally *ABHOR* animating in Maya. I have no patience for it. If you can do it and you love it, fine and dandy, but it is not for me. You cannot convince me. Some have tried and they have failed, incurring minor bodily injuries in the process. Moving drawings possess a magic that is immediate and inimitable, and it is pure pleasure to watch.