What is your name and your current occupation? My name is Scott T. Petersen, and I own a production animation studio called Golden Street Animation Productions. You can watch our latest animation reel below.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked in a machine shop making tort converters and delivering them around town at machanic shops for transmissions and soon after my first job as an artist right out of high school was a silk screen artist designing T-shirts.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
The Iron Giant, hands down is the best movie that I’ve worked on and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see director, Brad Bird in action during that show. The first professional animation that I worked on was for the Quest for Camelot which in the end turned out to be an embarrassing movie but in the beginning (before there was a falling out) when Bill Kroyer was directing on it, the show had great possibilities and there was so much wonderful preliminary artwork and animation done for it. It’s too bad that most of that stuff will never be seen by the public. Bill is a director that I respect a lot because he is clear and everything that he does is very interesting and cool. He knows how to inspire his artists. My mentor, Christal Klabundy did an animation test with the villain Ruber, during that time with the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger which is still one of the best pieces of animation that I’ve ever seen and I use it as an example when I teach animation classes as such. Also the great Dan Wagner did some awesome early tests for Ruber then, it was a great time to be starting out. Space Jam was a fun show but at first nobody wanted to work on it because “Quest” was suppose to be the big one (ironic isn’t it) I worked on Prince of Egypt for three months which had certain elements that pushed the medium. I won’t go down the list of every film but years later, I did a lot of straight to video work at Disney’s and some of my favorites were Mickey’s Three Musketeers, Pigglet’s BIG movie (awesome characters to work on), Lion King 1 1/2, Tarzan 2, Ariels Beginning, Kronks New Groove, and I got to work on another Looney Tunes show called Bah Humduck, a Looney tunes Christmas which was fun because I had more control over that one as the over seas animation director. That one we had to complete all of the animation in just 3 1/2 to 4 months and all things considered, I think our crew did a great job. Working under those time constraints and budgets successfully was a great feeling. Although, I think I’m most proud of the film that we made here at Golden Street last year. It was a Mexican show which we did about 65 min. worth of animation and character designs, and layout work for. Again the deadlines were crazy but we successfully delivered quality work on time and under budget. It was gratifying to complete that show and I’m proud of all of the work that we did for it. Here is a you tube link for a sampling of that “True Heroes” project.
How did you become interested in animation?
I grew up watching the classic Disney Movies, and what has always drawn me to be an animator is the art of it all. I love the drawings and beauty behind the process.Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Glenwood Springs Colorado, but was raised on a cattle ranch in Wells, Nevada. By the time I was 14 we moved to Orem, Utah and there was no animation companies or artists in those areas. I got into the animation business by being accepted to the animation program at Cal Arts in Valencia California. I read in a “making of” book about all these Disney artists who went to Cal arts and so I decided that Cal Arts was the best place to be noticed and start my career. I went to school there for two years (93′ to 95′) and that was the time that all the major companies were hiring and traditional animators were like gold nuggets. After the 95′ Cal Arts “producers show”, I got drafted into the industry by Warner Brothers and they had a terrific training program for us there. They had figure drawing classes, acting classes and and many workshops for design, filmmaking and layouts etc. Everyone wanted to duplicate the Disney successfull string of films which were breaking all of the box office records at the time. Years later, after all of the traditional feature animation companies went under, including Disney Feature, I did a lot of projects for Disney Toons as an animator and over seas supervisor on their straight to video shows like Pigglet’s BIG movie, Lion King 1 1/2, Tarzan 2, Mickey’s Three Musketeers, Kronk’s New Groove and many others. That was a strange situation for me because, all I wanted to do up to that point was work on high quality traditional feature animation, but through working on tons of strait to video projects, I learned the value of doing more with less and working with a small budget. I learned to choose were to spend your time and money and were to let go of the things that are less important. It’s esential in those high pressure production situations that you make those decisions correctly and you’ll end up creating a respectable show. I think there is a lot of big budget films and filmmakers who could do well to learn that lesson, because there is a lot of waist in many areas which can be demoralizing for the artists.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well here at Golden Street Animation when we are in the middle of a production, I have to review and approve every scene in all of it’s stages from rough to clean up to final coloring, and that takes up most of my time. We have in house artists and animators but many are working on a freelance basis in other parts of the country which means they send digital files. We also have a major production facility in Manila Philippines, and a partner studio in Taiwan so daily files will come in from each group and I’ll review them and give email instructions for every scene and if necessary I’ll make a video note and send those also so there is no confusion of what I want. Weekly video conference calls help also. Every animator who is not physically in our Provo studio gets a proper description of there scenes through what we call a directors hand out video explaining every scene to them and what is important from the directors point of view. That saves so much time in retakes and getting right to the point so everyone is on the same page and unified and getting their information from the same source. As animation director I make lots of drawing and posing corrections also.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
As an animator I love seeing my characters come to life. That’s what I love most, watching a character really come to life believably. The process is tedious, but the rewards are very great. As a director or supervisor, I love having more control or influence over a larger part of a film.What part of your job do you like least? Why? I do not like not knowing where the next job or project is going to come from. I’m a planner and even as a studio owner it’s hard to secure future projects sometimes in this changed environment, especially in what we specialize in which is high end traditional animation.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business? I have so much passion for the art form and I love making something the best that it can be, but I don’t like the politics which get in the way sometimes and people who do not share my same passion for the art form. For me, my decisions are based on what is the best artistic choice here and I do not like it when others will let a personal bias or jealousy or the need to climb a corporate ladder or playing king of the hill effect their choices. That’s what I liked most about Brad Bird, he did not care where or who the best idea came from, he just wanted to come to the best idea in the end for the project.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I email constantly and I use my cintique alot when making corrections and notes on color etc. other than that I draw, draw, draw on paper.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve mentioned some above already but yes, I think that there are a lot of unknowns out there that I was very happy to see in action that are underestimated but super great and I’m proud to say that we have some here in our own studio both here in the states and in Manila.Describe a tough situation you had in life.
In my professional life the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to go through was just this last year when a major client, after we delivered our service did not pay us the money they owed. We had over 200 artists working for us at the time and it was a devastating blow to our plans. We’ve picked up the pieces and are climbing our way out again but it was quite a lesson for me in business and an eye opener as to the kind of lack of integrity there can be out there. Like I say, it was a lesson learned, and one mistake we will never make again.
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
Yes, there is a short film project that we’ve been working on called “Franky Brings 2D back to life” You can view the following youtube link to see the work in progress :
Also, we will be producing a series of short films called “Mission Tales” based on some of my missionary illustrations that we already sell on products for a local nitch market. you can view them on the following link http://missionarytoons.blogspot.com/
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
The only advice that I can give is that you need to get a good solid foundation of all of the basic areas of study in animation which are Drawing, design, acting, animation, layout, character design. If you try to skip that hard work of going through that process of learning well those basics then you will have a cap of what you can do in your career. Watch the following link of John Lasseter saying the same thing
Great interview, I love hearing these bios!
Makes me sick to think that a client (a major one at that) would not pay what they owed.
But it’s good to hear that you were able to recover from that.
Thanks and stay tuned! Many more to come!