What is your name and your current occupation?
Elizabeth Kupfer: 3D animator/artist.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I got into animation straight out of college, so all my crazy job experiences happened while I was still in school. For 2 and a half years, I was a balloon girl at a party store. Let me tell you. People get very passionate about their balloons and crazy when they don’t get them as soon as they show up (even if there are 10 people in front of them). I have such patience for people in customer service because of my time put in at that party store. You wouldn’t believe how entitled people feel about their balloons.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Currently, my favorite projects are the video games I’ve worked on. It was a lot of fun working on and with each team. My favorites of these were Dance Central and Dance Central 2.
How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve always been interested in animation. Saturday morning cartoon child. But the real kick waswatching Toy Story in theaters as a kid (sorry if that made anyone feel old, you aren’t, every time I say that I just feel inexperienced.)
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Born and raised in NYC. I went to a great high school with an awesome art teacher. He really helped me focus on art and look into the right colleges. I also had some great support behind me. My mom still probably wants me or one of my sisters to follow in her footsteps and become a nurse, but my dad really loved the idea that I was going to do something he wished he could do (maybe not animation exactly, but something having to do with drawing all day). Really, without that support, I’d probably be doing something else.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Typical days change with the studio I work for. Doing freelance work really doesn’t have the consistency as a full time gig. But most of the time, I just jump into working on the shot I was working on the day before, or setting up a new scene. Sometimes it en tales waiting on the client to give feedback or approval (most clients take their sweet time). I usually come into a studio at 9 or 10, and I hope to leave at 7pm, but that doesn’t always happen.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I really like most of what I do. I mean, with animating, we create these alternate worlds. That’s kinda cool.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I would say nothing. I love my job. But then there is dealing with clients. Most of the time its fine, but when a client is obviously having trouble figuring out what they want, they really should let me give them ideas.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Depending on the studio, I’ll be using Maya, 3ds max, Motionbuilder, After Effects, and Photoshop. On mostly PCs, but I do occasionally use a mac.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Really with freelancing in general, the hardest part is the inconsistency. When I’m working, its great. Looking for the next gig is always a challenge. But when there is a dry spell or a client not to eager to pay in a timely manner, it can be difficult.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Well, nothing quite as cool as metallurgy. I grew up with a background in dance (tap, jazz, and ballet). I am in no way a pro in any of those areas, but I know enough to not make a fool of myself. Still have all my dance shoes and every once in awhile I’ll go take a few classes. Some people go to the gym, I go to a dance class. Best cardio I’ve ever done.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Keep at it. You see a lot of great talented people out there. Some will go on to do great and amazing things. Some will just have to work harder to get noticed. What I’ve noticed is that after a few years, sometimes its not going exactly as someone planned and then they turn down a different path, which is going away from what they originally want to accomplish. Maybe they are still trying to find themselves. Its not an easy road to travel, and some people just think it is. If your aware of that and keep at it, you’ll get somewhere close to where you want to be. Its a bit of a corny statement, but a teacher I had in 8th grade wrote it down in my little year book. She wrote “Shoot for the moon! If you fall short, you’ll land somewhere among the stars.” It stuck with me.