I am A Character Animator with 10 feature film and over a dozen video game credits. AMA!
Working animator since 1997. Ten feature films and over a dozen video games Demo Reel: https://vimeo.com/161248812 PROOF: http://imgur.com/FwnCgdP IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2110662/
It was a high concept film starting with the single image of the glowing Kida floating above the water
This image obsessed me when I was like 9 years old. Good job.
can you link that?
Hi! Happy Saturday. I've always assumed the voice actors record their part first then the animators sync the animation to the voice. Is that correct?
Yes, we always animate to audio
But the storyboards come first so that the voice actors know the general direction and flow of the scene, right?
So do you have a general scene drawn out and then add in faces to match audio, or is it not even started until you have the audio?
By the way, seems you worked on some of my favorite movies and games, so thanks a ton for your work and this AMA!
Thanks! I may do simple poses to temp audio. But that's about it. It's a waste of time to do more beyond that because the final audio is always so different from the temp
What is the most difficult to animate? Human body? Animals? Weather event?
I find both human and animals difficult because we all know how they should move, making it easy to recognize when it's wrong.
Considering animals and humans are so difficult to animate what would some advice (asides the 12 principles) be when animating such characters?
It's all about observations. Shooting a lot of video reference
What day to day software do you use now? Animate? Toon Boom? Other?
Maya is all I use now
You only do 3d or you use maya for 2d animation?
It's all for 3d
Is there much difference between Maya and Max for animation?
Just different controls mostly. But I haven't used max in a long time so I'm sure there's more to it
how do you feel about big-name movie actors doing voice work and taking voice actors' jobs?
It's a shame when studios only want the big name actors because it looks good on a poster. But they're in it to make money so I understand the business reason
How much artistic knowledge/skill does an animator need today?
Whether 2d or CG, The animation principles from the early days of Disney still apply today. It takes a lifetime to master.
What did you do/use to practice animating, especially since the bio from your link stated that you had no formal training and you were able to meet someone who led you to this?
I was given copied key poses to inbetween on a homemade desk. This was the entry level 2d position that got my foot in the door. always watch motion. How people walk, run etc. Whether live or on film. Sketches help as well to capture poses
My child has a degree in Animation - loves 2D best and is proficient on Maya. Great artist blah, blah, blah. Why can't she get a job? Is there a secret? You said you had a friend on the inside. Is that what it will take for the newbies?
Knowing someone will always help, no matter what industry you're getting into. I was fortunate to meet someone. Nowadays you can meet professionals on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc to show your work. If it's good someone will take notice, connect with you and help you when you apply. But the bottom line is the work has to be good. You also need to be willing to learn. Being able to toss out pieces from your reel if suggested. 2d jobs are almost non-existent sadly, I'd focus on getting good in Maya
Thank you for the quick reply. She needs to beef up that Demo reel.
Makes all the difference in the world
I have a few questions, if you don't mind.
- What do you prefer to work on: movies or games?
- What is one piece of tech (software or hardware) that has made a significant impact on your design/workload?
- The Witcher 3 or Dragon Age: Inquisition?
EDIT: Some spelling errors, etc.
- I enjoy the creative input of games
- Learning Maya saved my career when everything transitioned to CG
- I'm not familiar with either but have heard great things about Witcher, I'm looking to get it
What is your favorite project? What was the hardest to work on for you?
I always go back to my first, The Prince of Egypt. It's my favorite and was most difficult
Thanks for the AMA! What about The Prince of Egypt caused it to be the most difficult?
Also, what are you working on lately?
Thanks. The level of detail in POE made it so difficult, plus it was the first thing I'd ever worked on! I'm starting on a fun unannounced project
That movie is really beautiful. You guys did an amazing job on that.
PoE seemed like it was a pretty spiritually intensive project. Did it come across that way to you? The animation in it is great, but to the point where it really feels alive.
I think a lot of people felt that way. It's an important story.
Holy cow, I always thought that The Prince of Egypt was beautifully animated. My sister and I love it. Amazing to think that I could say this to someone that had a hand in bringing the characters to life.
Thanks, that's very cool of you
Don't really have a question, sorry. I just wanted to say that I love the prince of Egypt. One of my absolute favorites as a kid. Thank you, very much for what you do. Please continue to be awesome c:
Have you ever worked with blender? If so, how does it fare with maya and how often do you use it?
I've never used it. I went straight from 2d to Maya
Game animation needs no anticipation for attacks or running. This allows it to be more responsive
could you elaborate on this, I don't get it. I feel like the character in Assassin's Creed is attacked by a wolf or bear, he braces for attack. What am I missing?
What he means is that in any real action, be it running or swinging a fist, there is build up to the main action. You set your feet, pull your arm back, stuff like that. In most forms of animation, these "anticipation" moments help give an action impact and make it look natural. His comment refers to the fact that in games, when you press a button, you want the action to happen immediately instead of having a second of delay while your character winds up in a cinematic way. As a result, the "anticipation" motion is generally either skipped or cut way down. If you want a more detailed explanation, check out this link for a great explanation by a professional animator. It is a 20 minute video, just so you're warned!
What are your thoughts on the shift from traditional animation to CGI that has taken place in major animated movies? Has it had much of an impact in the quality of the movies or the way studios approach them?
IMO, I feel studios initially shifted to CG because it was something new that audiences were intrigued with. I believe they've continued with CG because they're more affordable to produce. Quality will always fluctuate whether it's 2d or CG depending on production time and level of talent
you sound like a bit of a character, wanna beer?
It's too early. Maybe cheerios :-)
Walt would have had a beer.
How would you recommend getting into the gaming industry? I'm more of a coder, but I would love to learn animation.
Also what's your favorite animated movie? Why?
Check some of my answers below if you don't mind. I'm pretty lazy to write it all again! :-)
See previous answers
What is your ultimate advice to an aspiring animator?
If I had to do it all over today and just wanted to animate, I'd enroll in an online class. (AnimationMentor, iAnimate, Animschool etc) They're focused on animation alone, taught by professionals, you make great connections.
Hm... What are the types of positions aspiring 2D/3D animators should be looking at if they're interested in getting into game art?
Game development has many disciplines. Concept art, modeling, rigging, animation, FX, level design, environments. It's important to pick one and get really good at it. General knowledge of each is only good for small studios. Everywhere else will want you to only do one.
Thanks for the answer. I'm really only interested in working in a smaller environment and on personal development projects, so I'd better get cracking on those multiple disciplines...! Haha...
Good idea! Good luck!
Is there rivalry between the character animators, the fx animators, the background animators, etc?
None whatsoever. We all depend on each other to make our own work look good
What do you think of the need of Higher education to get into digital arts related work? More and more people, be it for games or other media, start and learn by themselves, do you think a degree is that helpful for these fields of work?
I can't speak for other disciplines, but for straight character animation, it comes down to what you can do. The degree is secondary. You can learn animation entirely on your own, make an awesome demo reel and land a job. It all depends on how well you animate.
Why aren't you working right now?!! get back to work slave.
Is that the office experience you get?
It can get busy at times, but not always. I haven't worked on Saturday in a long time
So, which project was your favourite?
For nostalgic reasons, my first project, The Prince of Egypt.
Do you do your own rigging, or you get everything ready for animation. Is there a rigging standard? What were your expectations before coming to animation, what were you right, and what we're you wrong about?
Having only worked for large studios I've never had to do my own rigging. Departments are so specialized, they only want you to focus on one discipline.
Do you know of any free sites/video series for learning Maya? You know, something comprehensive and effective.
I believe Autodesk offers a free student edition
Is hand-drawn feature animation really dead?
How much animation does 1 animator usually get done in 1 week in 2016?
Aside from the great independent foreign films I don't see any major 2d animation movies coming anytime soon. I believe CG feature film animators average about 5-7 seconds of shot footage a week? I may be wrong
Now that maya is a part of Autodesk, do you have a look on others products of the firm? If yes in which way it helps you to do your works?
Not really. It's all maya for the most part
do you think a character animator has to have CG animating skills in order to survive in the industry?
Absolutely. Sadly, There's just not enough 2d to make a living
I've heard about a number studios closing or moving out of the country over the past five years, which is worrying, but it's hard to tell what the state of things are from the outside. As an insider, what's your opinion of the current state of the industry?
Things are always changing. Studios close, new ones open. I've managed to stay employed for the last 19 years, but there have been plenty of layoffs in between
Whaaaat?! You animated The Emperor's New Groove? Did you meet David Spade and John Goodman?
I never did. You'd see them around the studio occasionally
Animation student here.
1) How is the job market in the animation industry these days? I've heard some pretty grim things.
2) Do I need to go to CalArts or somewhere nearly as prestigious to be able to make a living in character animation?
There's a lot of ups and downs. Staff jobs can be difficult to land . It's mostly contract work. But if you're good, you can always find something. No, CalArts is not required, a good demo reel is
Hi, you've done a lot of work that I have admired when I was young, Shark tale and Spyro especially!
I am currently studying animation (game and film) and love using 3DSmax and have been tempted to move over to Maya as I have heard most successful companies use Maya over max. I have been assured that there are jobs for max workers, but am unconvinced. Would learning Maya be beneficial?
Also, what do you think about the current speculation over the animators working conditions for 'Sausage Party'?
I hope you can answer :)
Thanks. I'd say Maya is much more common when looking for work. Long working hours happens a lot unfortunately. It's not until artists speak up that it gets any attention
Could we see your current demo reel? Also when making a demo reel how big of a role does the soundtrack to a demo reel play?
Hello, Mr. Estrada. I am always a fan of animation; it can make real what live action simply cannot, and allows for artistic vision to flow more directly from artist to audience. Please continue to produce more animation!
My questions for you today: Do you enjoy watching the work of other animators? Do you have any animated works you hold in high regard?
Thanks. I love watching other animator's work. It's both intimidating and inspiring. Tangled is probably my favorite right now. It's so good
Tangled is outrageously good for 3DCG animation. It looks like it's been a long time since you did any 2D work, but I'd like to share a resource with you - the sakugabooru.
Thanks. I'll check it out
Prince of Egypt is one of my favorite movies. Any helpful tips for an aspiring animator?
Thanks! Check out my previous answers for aspiring animators
Do you ever read a script or know about the story in advance, or are you animating "blind"? Thank you for your work!
For the sake of context in your work, you usually have the script beforehand
When you were a kid, what were the things you liked to draw and what were the things you could never get right?
For me: I loved Super Heroes, Battle Scenes, Fantasy Genre.
I could never draw a horse that looked good for some reason. (I'm 40 and this came to my mind instantly.)
I loved drawing Johnny Soko's Giant Robot! Drawing hands are still a challenge for me
As a potential animator getting through school right now in a location that probably doesn't have the most career options for this line of work. Where would you say globally is a hot spot to go to ease a young paranoid mind?
I'm currently watching The Emperor's New Groove so I love that you posted today! I've always thought this movie was so under-appreciated, and actually has some of my favorite character animation.
I know you animate to the voices, so I'm wondering the difference a good voice performance makes. As in, have there been certain performances that have provided you with more "inspiration" or were more rewarding to animate? I hope this question makes sense!
It's all about performance. When you hear a great dialogue your mind starts thinking of all kinds of cool ideas!
What was your favorite project and why is it emperor's new groove?
Groove is still so funny!
Hey there! Love your filmography! Treasure planet and Atlantis were a couple of my favourite movies growing up. I'm currently studying animation in Canada, I was just curious about a few things, seeing as you've been in the industry so long.
How has the industry evolved over your career? Is it still as lucrative? I know 2d is said to be dead and I've been focusing more on 3d these days, but is there a chance for a comeback?
Also how different is the film industry compared to television and videogames? Is it much harder to enter?
I'm kinda scared since I'll be graduating in two years and I don't know if I'm good enough or how to go about reaching higher in the industry. I've heard you've gotta be both good at what you do and have good people skills?
Also, does it ever start getting too tedious? I really like animating right now but I'd definitely like to expand into storyboard over time.
I'm not sure when 2d will ever come back. Feature film is much harder to get into than games. People skills are just as equal as quality and quantity. All three must be balanced. It does get tedious at times, but when you realize you're doing what you love it makes it fun again
What role does a Script Supervisor play in animated films? And is it during development or post production?
I don't have an educated answer for that one, sorry
My second cousin animated the Chief in El Dorado and the old Pharaoh in Prince of Egypt so my mom tells me, who did you animate in these films and what do you find most difficult as an animator?
El Dorado I was on the Tulio team POE was Moses. As an assistant animator for both the most difficult thing was maintaining volumes, keeping the characters solid
Are there any particular trends in animation that you're liking/disliking at the moment?
What's your take on the increase in mocap and how that intersects with work that animators would traditionally do?
The short term contract work gets old. Studios hire 15 or more FX houses to do a film in just a couple months. I understand the need for mocap, especially for realistic humans. Gets stuff done so fast
You've had some amazing experiences from what I can tell! So far which ones have been your favorites and why? Are there any future projects you're excited about? :D
Also, I'm pretty good at doing voices, any idea where one can look for a job in that department?
I love Prince of Egypt and Emperors New Groove. Nothing coming up that I can discuss yet. I'm not sure about voice acting, sorry
How useful have you found scripting in your career? I'm am animation student and I'm starting to get into scripting (mainly MEL, but everyone suggests python).
They like to keep me away from scripting! Don't want to break anything. I don't know anything about it, sorry
Who's your favorite character from all of animated films or TV shows and why?
There's just too many, I'm not sure. I love the design and animation of Ward Kimball's Jiminy Cricket
Thanks fors doing this AMA!
A couple years ago I decided to go to school for VFX with the intent to transition more into character animation. I worked my ass off, but got burned out and didnt make the cut. I currently have a great career in landscape installation but my original dream is still calling. What advice would you give to someone like me, who wants to start back up again, but has concerns of it being "too late" to segue back into animation?
It's always doable, just depends on how bad you want it. Look at the online schools, you'll learn just what you need
Hi Mr. Estrada! I'm an aspiring concept artist who was fortunate enough to meet one of the artists for Dreamworks (Sam Michlap), but I also love looking at animation and process. My question is: Do you feel that the animation industry has changed much over 19 years?
Since moving to cg, not really. You land a job, hope for another, maybe get a staff position, then move on to the next. It can be difficult
I don't know if you worked on it but I always found Eris hair in Sinbad to be beautifully animated. Is it because they put a lot of time and care for this part especially ?
Exactly. As quoted in Toy Story 2, "you can't rush art!"
what was it like working on those trash Spyro games?
I was happy to be employed
Wow, Atlantis: The Lost Empire* is one of my most favorite movies of all time!
Is anything about the movie that most people don't know about?
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