What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Kishore Vijay and currently I am a Senior Animator on Cinematics for Carbine studios working on trailers for their upcoming MMO Wildstar.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Lets see, I was an Architect and practiced for a year in India before I came to the US to study Animation. I also did a stint as a waiter at a Moroccan Restaurant. Both crazy jobs in their own way!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Cinematics for games has been a lot of fun – both with Carbines”Wildstar” and with Blizzards STARCRAFT 2 – Heart of the swarm”. Before that it was great to be part of the team at Sony Imageworks on their features. With the smaller studios its great to get more influence and involvement with the projects and with the bigger shows its great to get your name on a major project and be part of a fantastic team.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from a small state in South India called Kerala. Like many kids, I grew up watching Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes and Disney animation and reading and drawing comics. Later I read a book on 2d animation by Shamus Culhane and was fascinated. At the time – around 1995, there was absolutely no training for animation where I was from so I chose to do my undergraduate studies in Architecture instead. These days quality Animation training is much more accessible online. After graduation I decided to follow my animation pipe dreams to graduate school in the USA but I had no idea what I was getting into. Both in terms of moving to the US and working in this Industry.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My job involves animating marketing cinematics for our upcoming MMO. Its a tiny team and our process is evolving. But generally its a mix of understanding the character and the storyline, planning for the animation, communicating and co-ordinating with different departments or troubleshooting issues. And of course actually animating on the Cinematic . We usually have tight deadlines but I have flexibility within my schedule since I am trusted to deliver on time. Really that means – come in to work – sit at computer animating all day usually with headphones on – less to listen to music – more to insulate yourselves so you can focus. In between maybe things like shooting reference – usually enlisting help from friends. Or asking rigging and tech departments for rig support and improvements to workflow. Or bouncing ideas amongst ourselves. That sort of thing.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The best part is the ownership of the project I think. If I feel like sitting down and animating with the “flow” one day I can.. and that’s the best part of the job for that day. If instead I am not ready to jump in and want to experiment with the character and his personality then that’s what I do and that’s the best part on that day. Also we have fantastic and varied personalities and characters for each cinematic and try to push each one a little more in different areas making it a new challenge each time.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The flip side of being in a small studio is that you have less resources and time. This means less iterations,with a smaller feedback loop and polish window unlike on the larger studios. Of course the good thing is with quick turnarounds you can refine the existing system to make it more efficient but you don’t have the luxury of experimenting with significant changes to production and pipeline.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
I work mainly with Softimage here and maybe After Effects to do basic editing. Before this I animated mostly on Maya and some on Max. As far as 3D character animation goes, tools and rigs have gotten more refined. But there is a virtual monopoly in the market right now for character Animation tools. And I havent seen much radical innovation that has been adopted by the industry (in this specific area) although incremental improvement and streamlining of the process is ongoing. The area where technology has really made an impact I think is with online Animation education. We have expanding access to quality animation education throughout the world, where once it was the domain of a few select studios. Also we have started seeing more remote work happening with animators working in satellite offices or from their own homes.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Moving to a new country, to work in the VFX and animation field was a lot tougher than I imagined. Its an up and down industry with crunch times followed by layoffs. I was moving all over the country and the lifestyle is not forgiving on family and health.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I have been fortunate to meet people and been even make friends with and be mentored by people I consider great in the field. Animation is a medium to communicate and tell great stories and bring great personalities to life..and it is a collaborative thing usually. Great animators do not always mean a great project, it takes an effective team .
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Being far away from close family for a long time has resulted in some tough situations in personal life.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Nothing right now. I am very busy at the studio and my 3 year old eats up any free time I have but I have some ideas floating around.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Not very unusual, I like to play beach volleyball, and soccer.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
One – be sure you have the passion to get into this industry because you will need it to stay motivated through ups and downs. Study the state of the industry and talk to as many seasoned pros as you can. Okay once that parts done – Observe, record and study – people, animals, life, art and stories. Go out and live your life firsthand so you have a true source of inspiration. Do the best work you can each time. Work and play well with people. That way your job is enjoyable and rewarding and the end product is greater than the sum of its parts. Sitting at a computer all day is very hard on your health and you do not realize this when you are young and enthusiastic and putting in ridiculous overtime work. So read up on it and take precautionary measures. Stay creative and have fun!