Lauren Carr

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Lauren Carr Assistant Professor 3D Animation Montclair State University.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Telemarketing for chiropractors “More Balls Than Most” (juggling company) Splatter painting gift boxes.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Spirit, Chubb Chubbs, XMen 2, Chicken Little, Bolt, Ice Age, 4 Rio.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in New City, NY and studied graphic design at Buffalo State. After graduating college, I started working for a website firm in Buffalo doing HTML programming and website design. Website development software had not yet been created and the ability to do both graphic design and HTML programming was, at that time, marketable. I liked creating interactive media and decided to get my MFA in Computer Graphics and Interactive Media from Pratt Institute. The computer graphics part of the department entailed 3D animation and I ultimately pursued that path. During my thesis work, I taught broad-spectrum 3D software to undergraduates at Parsons. As I was nearing the end of my thesis, DreamWorks Feature Animation was transitioning their studio to 3D animation; they needed a Maya trainer for their traditional artists. That was my first job in the animation business.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
When I worked in production, I started the day checking my render(s) that I sent to the farm the night before and planning out how to get my shots in for dailies. I recently shifted my career, for the past two years I’ve been an Assistant Professor in the Animation / Illustration department at Montclair
State University. Each day is considerably diverse; I no longer have the structure I was so used to in production. Certain days I am teaching and  the other days vary. My new role requires self-motivation, creating work leading to new discoveries benefiting the students and representing the school. For example, I’m working on a research project doing experimental animation with a poet. I also serve on committees within the university as well as animation / illustration based organizations such as
Women In Animation. I recently acquired a grant for a faculty / student research project based on combining fine art with 3D software. Grant writing and research projects are new ventures in Lauren world.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love teaching! Some students start with lots of motivation and some don’t, regardless it’s getting all of them to break their mind-made limits and persevere through the tough times which is so rewarding.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Students refusing to push themselves.

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’ve been working with Maya since it was introduced. Before that I used Power Animator. Maya has grown its capacity enabling the user to do things only studios were able to achieve, not too long ago. This helps students with their work since they don’t have access to an R&D
department.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
With any job it’s important to be grateful for your employment. In the industry it’s never certain if you’ll be working on the next show, this is something you have to accept. Working amongst people who haven’t accepted the nature of the industry, is working with fear-based people. If your co-worker’s foundation is based on fear then you’re in for amazement.

If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
If I had a magic wand, I would wave it over our government granting them the motivation to give studios tax incentives keeping the work in our country. I can’t imagine why this isn’t a priority but I am hopeful for the future and it’s vast new areas of employment regarding oculus rift and it’s
competitors.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Yes! At DreamWorks when I worked on Spirit, Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook (directors), and Kristof Serrand (animation supervisor) would be at dallies critiquing; they caught things I didn’t know the human eye could catch. They were incredible. At Disney I worked on shows with Glen Keene, an amazingly talented person. He would give us talks and was at dailies critiquing shots. Mindblowing
insight. Describe a tough situation you had in life. I’d rather not get historic. Looking back on bad things is like keeping rotten food in the fridge so I can sniff it.

Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Not at this time.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I used to be able to tie a cherry stem with my tongue however I haven’t in so long, I would have to practice to get myself back to that aptitude. I was also able to pull a tablecloth out from under a set table but there again, I haven’t kept up with it and I couldn’t achieve that form of mastery at this
point. I have actually dabbled in metallurgy however my lack of patience created toxic fumes for uninvolved people. I’m a measure once cut twice kind of girl.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Don’t think about the competition because if you are persistent and always trying to better yourself you will get where you want to be.

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