Nico Colaleo

What is your name and your current occupation?
Nico Colaleo – animatic editor at Titmouse LA. Currently on the team for a new animated/action show for Disney Channel coming in 2012.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Hmm, a lot of your standard boring normal jobs. Cashier (retail slave) for 3 years. Restaurant waiter, for way too many years to mention. The most interesting job was being an Audio/Pyro Technician at a western-themed theme park. I sat in hidden booths during the cowboy stunt shows and played all the SFX/music with the mixing board and got to push buttons and make things explode for the audience. A pretty crazy job, but I got fired after 6 months for showing up late too many times (the park was in the middle of the desert, almost an hour outside of town!)

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Most of 2010 I worked at the post studio that is responsible for digitally restoring all the classic animated Disney films for whenever they get re-released out of the Vault onto home video. During my time there, I got to help restore the Bluray releases of Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, Winnie the Pooh and Fantasia that are in stores now. So it feels pretty cool whenever I see those classic films on sale while I’m out shopping and to realize, “Oh yeah, I helped restore those!”

How did you become interested in animation?
Pretty much by growing up with the classics. Looney Tunes, Popeye, Tom & Jerry, Disney stuff. I’ve watched cartoons ever since I was a super little kid and they were so much more fun and interesting to me. Not that I dislike live action or any other mediums, but animation has for some reason always had a firmer grasp on my attention and interest. A lot of TV/movies you can sit there and veg out, but animation most always stimulates my brain when I watch.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Born and half-raised in LA, then finished growing up and spent junior high, high school and college in Tucson AZ. Then three years ago I moved back to LA. Then, pretty much started making friends and hanging with folks in the industry. Networking, socializing, etc. Meeting cool people, it really works! I really have my friends to thank for getting my foot into the industry.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Video editing animatics, matching up storyboard panels to the voices, choosing the best takes, and adding in sound effects and music. Then prepping animatics to be shipped off to the executives for approvals and revision notes. But the most typical element to every day is drinking coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
How fun, awesome and like-minded the people I work with are. Everyone is a huge nerd in their own special way, and been weird is what makes people fun. Nobody at Titmouse is normal and boring, and that’s a pretty great thing. That, and Tim Curry plays one of the show’s villains, so getting to listen to and edit through different takes of his voice recordings always makes for a really entertaining morning.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Deadlines are a part of every job, which is fine. Sometimes they can close in on me and get a bit stressful, but I haven’t gotten in any real trouble yet so I’m counting my blessings!

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Final Cut Pro for animatic editing, Soundtrack Pro for any scratch track recordings, and Photoshop for teensy image fixes whenever need be. Whenever I’m drawing for my own personal aspirations, I use Adobe Illustrator to ink and Photoshop for color/textures.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Worrying about your current production eventually ending. In which you might have to spend a few months OUTSIDE of the business, trying to get back in.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve been pretty lucky to meet a lot of fantastic artists and make the amount of friends that I have. John K has had me over his house many times for parties and if I had to choose, he’s the #1 person who made me want to be in animation, so I feel incredibly lucky about that. Pen Ward and Thurop Van Orman are great dudes and always fun to be around. My boss Jackie Buscarino has worked on tons of great series and is the best person you could ever ask to work with. Doug TenNapel is a man among men and a good friend as well. You know, I really can’t even begin to list off any more names here, because I’ll feel bad about the friends I’d forget to mention. Everyone I know is great and amazing. BUT I am extremely lucky to not only have met, but also be roommates and best friends with, Kali Fontecchio who is an amazing young artist that is going to take over the animation world someday. She’s my hero!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Deciding what to sing at karaoke this weekend. Hmmm…
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’ve always loved making short weird videos with my brother and friends. A lot of bits from our old public access series can be found online. These days I submit most of my videos to Channel 101, which is a monthly live screening here in LA. It’s a really terrific venue for getting to submit you own work along with a whole audience of creative filmmaker pals to watch up on a theater screen. Definitely check it out all the fun at Also, I’m starting up some webcomics with my friends Kali Fontecchio and Stu Livingston. They’re called Bacon Strips and will be debuting soon (at, as soon as we can get the site’s HTML coding figured out! My two star characters are named Scribble & Skarfy. They are two young hipster girls who have ironic misadventures while trying to survive within the foul, mainstream societies of LA. It’s hip and edgy and I guarantee the kids’ll love it!
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Being a geek, I guess. Hey wait a minute… You just made a Twin Peaks reference in your question. Cool, I love that show!
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? 
Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is one of the simplest, and the best part is that it applies to any creative field that you’re in: Just create stuff. It doesn’t matter if it costs you $5000 or $5, just MAKE stuff. Fill tons of sketchbooks with your illustrations or cartoons. Write pages and pages of that screenplay or book you want to publish. Film as many videos and movies as possible on whatever budget you can. Work hard and always have fun doing what you love to do, and eventually it will shine through and people will notice. And even if your video got rejected from that film festival, or those studio heads hated your idea at that pitch meeting… Get back to work and create even more stuff. The only way you truly fail is if you sit around worrying about rejection, and don’t make anything at all.

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