What is your name and your current occupation?
Craig Wilson, I’m predominantly a board artist for television animation these days.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Nothing to crazy, but depressing? Quite a few…
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Recently, “Wolverine & the X-Men” was a hoot as well as coming out pretty good. I directed a DTV 3D feature a few years ago titled” Dragons: Fire & Ice.” We really tried to get a dark, graphic look to Maya, lots of blacks…everyone had Hellboy pages around their desks, there’s a lot of good stuff in there. I was overseas animation director on “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” back in the ‘90s. Again, a fun experience, and I won an Emmy on that (of course, it’s in some producer’s office, all I got was the certificate thingy.) I’ve been with a few companies in their formative years, which is always great.
How did you become interested in animation?
Despite being a Warner Bros fan like everyone else, I was really a comic book kid. Not knowing how to break into that, it was really just luck that I lived near Sheridan College and it’s animation program. That’s where I found my passion for cinematic storytelling.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m mostly a Torontonian. Out of Sheridan, my first job was in Ottawa, inbetweening on “The Raccoons.” The studio was starting to go off the rails with “The Nutcracker Prince,” a feature that ended up killing them. That being said, it was a great time for a newbie to be brought in and move up the ranks. A few weeks before they collapsed I got a gig with Crayon (which later became Cinar) in Montrealas a character designer, then moved into boards. It’s been back and forth with boards and directing ever since.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I do everything in broad sweeps. I’ll thumbnail out the whole board, then transcribe those panels to the panels proper, pushing and tweaking as I go, then a final pass in cleanup. That’s when the audiobooks come out, and the days just fly. It’s a combination of amazing and depressing!
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
All the stages are taxing and rewarding. The initial boarding’s great, finding strong shots, getting into the character’s shoes and acting…
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
…then you start realizing the script’s waaay overlong, and there’s another crowd sequence coming up that you’re going to get tendonitis cleaning up!
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Believe it or not, I still board on paper mostly. I have a multipage scanner, and most studios haven’t minded yet. I’m in the process of picking up the new cintiq 24HD, which’ll probably change everything, especially with my pencils just about 2 bones each! I have a tablet laptop I travel with if I have to do a board while I’m away. I’ve tried a few different programs, Sketchbook’s the best for a simpleton such as myself. For illustration, I generally use brush and ink and color in Photoshop, though I play around with Illustrator now and again.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Keeping your name out there, I guess. Being a freelancer, you start planning for the next gig about half way through the one you’re currently on, or at least you should be. Sites like this are making it a bit easier, and good work breeds word of mouth.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
There’s a few I’ve worked with that I consider greats, but the names wouldn’t mean much here. One time inOttawa, a friend and I got talking to this older guy at our local (pub) on dart night. When he found out we were in animation, he says “Oh, my son’s an animator. There’s a bunch of his stuff at home, why don’t you come by, I’ll show it to you, we’ll have a couple beers.” We were making beans in those days, so free wobbily pops always sound good, right? On the way, this guy’s going on about how his kid lived at home FOREVER, and wasn’t interested in anything but his band, blah blah blah…We’re thinking, boy this guy must be a real winner. Anyway, we get there, the guy hands us a couple, and takes us into his rec-room, and the first thing I see are cel setups from the Stone’s Harlem Shuffle video. What the hell? There’s some Mighty Mouse setups! The guy’s pulling out pages and pages of sketches and we’re just trying to prevent our heads falling off, it’s freakin’ John Krisfalusi! Hilarious. (This was before Ren & Stimpy; a few of my buddies from that time worked on the first season out here inVancouver.) The next day word gets around, and all of a sudden half the animators from the studio are in the bar, trying to find John K’s dad!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
C’mon, I’m in the animation business! It’s all job security, buckets of money, fast cars and slow women, right? Tough situation, indeed.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’ve just put together a horror anthology comic titled “Bloody Hell,” it’ll be on www.drivethrucomics.com site anyday. I have another book on there called Jimmy Ricochet as well. I make hard copies and matted illustration prints as well, and have been doing the comic convention circuit the last couple years, having a blast. This year I’ll be atEmeraldCity(Seattle), Vancouver, Kapow! (London,UK),Phoenix, and I’m working on Luccain Tuscanyin November. It’s a great way to write off a trip, and make it pay for itself (well, almost). I have a blog with my comic/illustration stuff on it.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Please, I just stopped eating spaghetti with my hands.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Just keep cranking on your own stuff. The work’ll come, and experience grows, but just about every real boost I’ve gotten in the biz isn’t from the work I show from a studio, but my own projects.