What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Pablo Navarro; I’m an Animation Director and Senior Character Animator. Right now I’m animating for the movie titled “The Congress”, the next project from Ari Foldman, director of Waltz with Bashir. Besides that I teach animation as a part time job, and I do tutoring to students here in Barcelona and other cities of Spain. Also I give lectures and conferences about animation and acting around the globe.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Well, I work since I’m 8 years old, I used to work on orange and watermelon plantations helping loading the trucks, after that I was a waiter for many years in the family restaurant……although I am a formerly electro-mechanic technician, I never worked as such, I jump into animation right after finishing my studies.I wasn’t fond of those other activities to continue with them Don’t know if they’re crazy enough jobs…..but surely they don’t have anything to do with animation.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
The project I am most proud it is a movie called Nocturna. That is my favorite project so far. I really enjoy working with the same Directors of that movie (Adria Garcia and Victor Maldonado plus Alfredo Torres), they create a studio called Headless and I collaborate with them often for new projects and development.
How did you become interested in animation?
Well, I think that all my life I was interested in animation, but when you’re a kid it is difficult to find out, or to put it into words like say “I want to be an animator!!” My mother found out that the only way to keep me quiet and not doing too much trouble around the house was giving me a paper and a pencil and I could stand for hours drawing. One of my grandmothers used to take me to the movies two weekends a month, there was a theater in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that was just for animation, it was like a homage to Walt Disney, and they played all day long Disney classics and Tom and Jerry cartoons (not related between, but hey, it was great!), I saw the whole session and it was continuous play, so when it ended, I forced my grandmother to watch the cartoons all over again! I think that my interest in animation was clear…..poor grandma J. At a later age, I was interested in art in general, but I thought than an artist was a person who does everything related, from an illustration to an oil painting and from a comic book to an animated feature. I found out later that people who does animation was called animators, and I instantly wanted to become one of them. I’m still treasure my love for art in form of a hobby, I love to sculpt in my free time, or go to the zoo and draw the animals there until people start seeing you as an attraction J
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Argentina, currently living in Barcelona, Spain. Well, I got into animation after finishing my studies of electro mechanics.
I moved to Buenos Aires trying to find a place to study animation and I couldn’t find any, Argentina does not have an extensive animation culture, and the only places to study were not good or serious places….usually some so called “animator” that teaches you nothing and get all your money. I can say I was lucky, when I was about to despair, I found an add on a newspaper, “learn animation with professional artists” it was a studio that was in need of artists so they build up a kind of a school. They test you (while you pay for the classes of course) and if you were good they would offered a job. It was year 1995 when I got my first job into animation after 3 months of studying in that studio….final line inker it was….long way from there to direct animation! I did almost all the steps, final line inker, inbetweener, assistant animator, animator and animation direction.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well, I wake up and since I’m a freelancer now, I get to work right after a big cup of coffee! That’s the benefit to have the studio at your home. I sit and I plan the work I’m going to do during the day, I develop the action or the character if the scene is acting, and after that I just work and work and work…. even sometimes forgetting to get some food J I get absorbed by animation, that is cause I still enjoy doing what I do I think! But basically it is like that, some hours early on the morning planning and thinking and after that execution of the task! If I’m directing animation, well….I review and make comments for the scenes that arrived that day and talks with the animator through skype or such, I do sketches if needed, you know the usual in direction.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I don’t know how to describe this, but I’m going to try. The thing I enjoy the most is the feeling of working in what I always dream off working you know. It is a kind of connection with yourself. Besides, the continuous challenges that animation brings, it keeps you learning every day and that is good. If I have to be more technical in my response, I would say that what I enjoy the most is the preparation of the character, the acting and development of a character during a sequence or a film. That part on where you become that character to endue life to it. Thinking on the timing of the actions, finding the best option to connect and manipulate the feelings of the audience.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
It is not about the job what I don’t like; it is more about some people what bothers me. I don’t like the exaltation of mediocrity.
I don’t like people who’s not humble, because that makes a terrible teamwork and animation it’s all about teamwork. When you find these two ingredients on a production, then you’re going to suffer big time being on it, and I don’t like that. Because it is not job related it is a problem of ego’s and such.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Since 4 years I mainly work with digital media, doing traditional animation. So I use all the time a Cintiq Wacom tablet, and the software that the company it’s using at the time, could it be Tvpaint, Toonboom or Flash, but depends of the production type and studio, but the Cintiq it is always there.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Right now it is the low range of feature films being produced in Europe. And more short range of that if I want to continue doing traditional animation that is a bit of a downer right now. I do CGI too, mainly directing animation, but I like best traditional.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Oh boy yes! In 2010 I was invited to talk on a panel with Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Victor Navone, and Tony DeRosa, great Disney and Pixar legends! It was CTN expo in L.A., and it was great. I use to work with Sergio Pablos too, he have a studio in Madrid called “The Spa” studios. It is great to share knowledge and experiences with this guys. And greatness can be found often and not necessarily the names have to be famous…..I had the pleasure to work with people that I consider top on their fields, like Julien Bizat, an exceptional French animator, or Torsten Schrank, one of the most gifted character designers I had ever met. I can say so far I’ve been lucky to share and work with so many great artists.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
My father got ill back in Argentina and I was at Spain, I could make it there to see him but I had to come back a few weeks later.
We both knew that that was the last hug we will ever give each other that was tough. Sometimes life can be very tough but show must go on for the sake of the ones that are not here anymore.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I have several projects, personal projects I’m developing. Two of them are the most important ones. Along my career I specialize in animal locomotion (besides acting) so I’m writing a book exclusively for animators about locomotion methods of 4 legged animals. I’m tired of seeing bad animation on animals just because mocap does not work well on them! The other project it is a feature film, traditional animation, that I’m developing and I hope to find producer soon.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I studied metallurgy, and I can melt and work the metal like it was done hundreds of years ago, with pressed dirt molds and such….but it is not a hobby of mine No I don’t think that my hobbies are unusual…..playing videogames, sculpting, playing terribly the harmonica, go hiking with my wife to the mountains in Catalonia…..or…..go hiking with my wife while playing the harmonica as I sculpt some rocks on the way down…..not unusual at all.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I think that the advice will always be the same, keep your passion for the craft and be sincere with it. Be up to date with technology and new trends, this days you can become obsolete in one week…..but never forget the roots, technology and new fashions are shallow without knowledge.