What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Chris Woodworth, and I’m an Animator.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Ahhh. Haha! I don’t know if you can call them crazy jobs, but I used to work part time at a sports equipment store, and then went on to working part time for Blockbusters (dvd rental store).
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
GTA4, Lego Harry Potter, and recently Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean.
How did you become interested in animation?
I grew up with stories, whether it involved listening to them or telling them. It became a big part of my life, and also I had an ongoing obsession with movies. I discovered Animation as a career choice when I was 15 years old, and the more I read about this craft, the more I realized that it involved all of the things I love doing anyway. Drawing, acting, sound design, voices, music, the works! From there, being an Animator was my goal. The idea of being able to create whatever you could imagine……….that was just too irresistible to me!
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Preston in England(UK). After doing a 1 year foundation course in Art and Design, I went on to study the BA: Animation undergraduate course at Glyndwr University, in Wales. By the end of this 3 year course, I came out with a short 2D film called African Skies. From there, I did a Masters course in Computer Animation at Bournemouth University. For my final project, I did a short animation called Is This Art, which helped me to get my first job in the industry. My first job was at Image Metrics in Manchester, where I was a Facial Animator for games and feature film. I am now currently working as an Animator at the computer games company, Traveller’s Tales in Knutsford.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I get in at about 8:30am, have breakfast, and continue with whichever scene I’m working on. At times, things get quite active, as I keep my supervisor up to date with the process, while occasionally mingling with the other animators. This is done in order to get more inspiration and to keep the creative juices flowing. Sometimes, I even act out what I want my characters to do. This usually goes on until around 6pm, when I head off home to kick back and recharge my batteries. 🙂
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love forming the movements of the characters I animate and planning the interaction between characters. I love it because it’s just a wonderfully bizarre feeling to go through a process of planning something, and then gradually creating living characters on the screen. It’s very freeing and gives you a feeling of not having any boundaries.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Anything to do with technical setups. Haha! I’m sure my other fellow animators would join me on that one. We’re usually known for being more creative than technical.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
There are times were you have to deal with ridiculous schedules during crunch times. It’s no easy feat to deliver high quality work in extremely limited time and with so much pressure, but somehow we find a way.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Maya. Shortest answer ever. 😉
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
During my studies, when I went to the Annecy Festival years ago, I got to meet Richard Williams, as I attended his master class. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was the first movie I ever saw at the cinema, so meeting him was a big deal to me! Also a couple of years ago, I went to visit a friend of mine in LA. Before I went, I emailed a contact of mine at Disney Animation Studios, telling her that I was going to be in town, and she invited me to the studio for coffee and a catchup. I remember while I was sat, waiting in reception, I saw Ron Clements and John Musker in the flesh. That was a true honour, as I knew they were still hard at work on The Princess And The Frog at the time. Aside from that, I’ve met Nick Park a couple of times, as his mum invited me round for tea while he was visiting. No joke! He was a very relaxed, down to earth man, and it was a true pleasure having lengthy chats with him.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Ahh this is a tricky one. We’re still talking about animation, right? Umm, well I’ve had the few, but the one I’ll mention is the time I finished my undergraduate course in Animation. I had only just finished working on African Skies, and I was planning my next move in terms of my studies. I wanted to do a masters before I started working in the industry, as I wanted to set myself up better. Originally, I was set to do it abroad, but at the last minute, I found that it wasn’t going to be financially possible at the time, so I had to abandon that plan. I was so scared that all of the masters courses in the UK were full by now, as term would be starting soon, and that I would have had to wait another year if I was going to start a new course. I was literally stressing out beyond belief, because going from working a ridiculous amount on African Skies, and then having allot of free time without anything else to do for the film…………..that just felt wrong! I felt at a complete loss and I wanted to get busy again. Luckily, I landed a place at Bournemouth University only a month later. It was the quickest transition ever, but I will never forget the panic. Imagine having to wait a year to join a course. It would be so hard to stay motivated. Luckily, that didn’t happen to me.
Occasionally if I have time or energy, I do the odd personal animation exercise.
Wow, a unique way of asking that question. Haha! Part time, I’m actually a close up magician, so I randomly get hired to perform at weddings, parties and corporate events etc. I’ve been doing this for around 10 years now and absolutely love it, as it has also become part of my personality. Keeps things interesting, and also gets me to meet allot of people. Always good inspiration for animation. Aside from this, I occasionally go to open mic nights to do some singing and beatboxing.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Keep practising your craft, don’t stop hassling industry people when you’re trying to land your first job, keep networking like crazy, and get into the habit of putting yourself forward. There are going to be times where industry people will make it sound like it’s a lost cause, or that it would be near impossible to join their flashy big company. Either way, “do not let that put you off”. It’s still possible, so make it happen. Last, but not least, stay active and build up on your personal experiences in general. Brad Bird once said, “Animation is the illusion of life, and you can’t create the illusion of life if you haven’t lived one.”