I cleaned a ceramics lab and worked in the admissions office at my old college (CCAD). I was also a webdesigner for about 6 years, which is not a crazy job, but sometimes you gotta make porn sites
I was a computer nerd and used to experiment with computer graphics while in high-school. I liked blowing shit up (in the computer, but also in real life making explosives but that’s another story). I learned a lot of technical things this way, but not much on the artistic side. I came to the US to study art and webdesign and decided that I kind of hated it, and doing animation was more fun. It wasn’t until that point that I embraced animation as a way to tell stories, more than just a cool tool to make shiny, flashy, spinning logos.
I’m from Paraguay (down in South America, for the geographically impaired). When I got my first job as a webdesigner (in high-school times), I also did some basic animations, mostly for web, but that wasn’t really the “animation business”. I studied in the US for 8 years (4 in undergrad at CCAD, 4 in grad at UCLA), and about 5 months after finishing my masters I applied to Disney and was hired right away.
We get some storyboards from the story department, all hand-drawn, edited loosely in a timeline with rough sound and voices. What we do is bring in all the models, rigs, environments, etc that other departments have built, then put it all together in a scene and determine the staging and camera choices. It’s like directing the actors around the stage, while handing the camera. We do a rough animation pass for timing and make sure the camera moves are spot-on, and tell the story the best possible way. Most of my day is spent polishing camera work or animating characters for timing.
I like it that in layout we get to work with HUGE chunks of the film, entire sequences all at once and all for you only. It’s very different than, say, the animation department, where they can be working on the same 2 seconds of animation for months. We fly through footage like no other department, and we learn about the film as a whole in a thorough way. It’s great if you like analyzing story structure and love learning about visual storytelling.
I don’t like slow rigs. Sometimes we have heavy scenes with dozens of characters, heavy sets, lots of props, etc, and this makes working with a rig particularly slow. You grab a controller and wait 2 seconds for it to be highlighted, then drag your mouse and see it move 2 seconds later. Then you punch the screen.
We don’t use anything too hardcore. A nice computer with Linux and Maya, dual monitors, and that’s it. Layout doesn’t need the heavy computing that a rendering machine will use, or any crazy tools other than cool plugins and scripts.
I’ve met a lot of great animators at film festivals. I stumble upon Bill Plympton from time to time in festivals, he’s always around promoting his films better that I ever will, if we have time we hang out for a while, then see each other again somewhere else. At Disney, it is hard not to bump into legendary animators every day.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Moving to the US, a completely new world for me, was very hard, but at the same time those are the moments when one grows and learns much faster, one adapts, and it’s soon history.
I am big into photography now, going a bit obsessive with it, and I’m sharing my photo work in Google Plus. You can see my stuff here:
I can pick locks, do very complex origami, I’m learning to juggle, and I paint miniatures for war games (or used to, when I had time)