What is your name and your current occupation?
Jeff Amey, Storyboard Artist, Professor of Animation at Algonquin College -Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Night shift grocery store clerk!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
The Undergrads, The Oblongs, Watership Down, Ren and Stimpy, Adult Party Cartoon.
How did you become interested in animation?
I always loved drawing and watching cartoons. I never realized I could do this as a living however. I guess I thought it just all magically was done in a far away land. A girlfriend at the time pointed out that I could go to college to learn to do this as a career. I decided to apply. Then she dumped me!
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Guelph Ontario. I went to Sheridan College and took their Classical Animation Program. I was hired after graduation as a designer and then a key animator. Shortly after that I supervised key posing for a series of television shows and then went overseas to help with the production.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Draw, draw and more drawing! I am lucky and get to work from home right now doing storyboards. I have a home office with a cyntiq that I draw with. I also have a nice record player that I play my Dylan records with in the background while I work out the visuals for the shows that I work on.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I get to work from home and take the breaks whenever I want to. No traffic jams to deal with, no parking spots to fight for etc.! I also get the benefit of watching my kids grow up around me as I work day to day! It’s very rewarding and relaxing!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I find I miss other artist involvement. The social aspect of the work environment is missed. When I used to work in a studio it was always fun, lots of jokes and crude joke drawings! It kept us creative and we inspired each other. I find at home, it can get lonely and isolated. It’s easy to lose the creative energy or spark!
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I recently went digital and draw on a 22” wacom cyntiq tablet. I use a program called Toon Boom Storyboard Pro as well as Sketchbook Pro. Before this I was drawing storyboards traditionally on paper with pencil. There are days I miss the tradition way of drawing though.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The worry of making sure you have another contract once the current one is completed. The deadlines aren’t fun either!
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve worked closely with John Kricsfalusi and Lynn Johnston on their animated shows and learned a lot. They were both completely different shows with completely different styles of drawing, animation, story, morals and jokes etc!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
My wife broke her arm right when I started a new contract with Corus/Nickelodeon. My wife needed my help with the kids and our 1 year old son. She is a stay at home mom with 3 kids and I am working from home on a new show with a new studio. I was nervous working with a new director and studio and this was the show that I had to cut my teeth on working digitally. I needed to learn how to draw on the cyntiq and learn the new software etc. The shows were ½ hour shows and needed to be storyboarded out in 3 weeks with 2 weeks of revisions. There were 2 directors calling revisions! Needless to say, I was working 16 hour days 6 days a week and helping my wife with the chores and kids while trying to learn how to draw on a computer on a new show with a tight schedule! I forgot to mention that I as also teaching part time at Algonquin College. One of the hardest gigs I’ve had to do in a long while!
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Unfortunately, I have nothing! There is not time in my life to do anything right now. My kids take up any free time and the industry takes the up the rest of my time!
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I once shut out my director and a supervisor at a studio in Ottawa with a Stiga Table Top Hockey Tournament! They’ll never forget it! They know who they are!
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Work hard, play hard! K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)