What is your name and your current occupation?
Lee Ray I am currently finishing off a contract to design andÂ visualizeÂ Â props for an Endemol kids Cartoon show based on The 99 comics.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was lucky to get a job in video games about 4 years after graduating in 1990. Before that I did what every student would during the holidays; shop work, Nightshift Warehouse work, even a bit of teaching anything to pay off the debt from term time.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I have been lucky enough to work onÂ video gamesÂ and TV, probably The TimeSplitters series would be the most fun I had in games while so far the CBBC show HOUNDED in the U.K. Was great fun as they let me go mental with what they had on paper. The starsheep Enterprise was originally going to be a ball of wool until I showed them the sketch. They trusted me to develop the idea from then on.
How did you become interested in animation?
Technically speaking I don’t animate but the work I do does get animated. I am from that generation that was at the right age to see Star Wars when it first came out, the rest was just a case of â€œHow do I get to do this for a livingâ€ and later on the more mature version â€œHow much can I get paid to do this for a livingâ€.It`s all George Lucas` Fault.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Birmingham U.K. Originally now, in Nottingham ( yes it`s a real place, no we dont all talk like Kevin Costner OR Russell Crowe for that matter 😉 ). I worked at Rare ( home of Donkey Kong Country) for four years before leaving to set up Free Radical Design, then a couple of stints overseas in Australia before returning home to the U.K. And being offered the design work on the CBBC show via an old friend ( it`s usually who you know that helps). And the rest is a case of trying to make contacts within the Media and get my work out there
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Up around 7.30, social media till 8, breakfast, school run, work till 1, lunch, work till 3, school run, work till 7, Dinner, maybe a bit more if needed but I usually like to leave it wanting to do more. It`s better than hating it and knowing its still going to be there tomorrow morning.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Concepting .Its great finishing the design off and having it approved but Concepting to me is the first step of a journey that you never know exactly where you going to end up. You have a brief ( usually) but mostly I find I end up pushing the initial idea further than was expected and that to me is the most satisfying part of any project.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Time constraints. Everything could be better with just a bit more time. I know some disagree but I find the idea never stops evolving in my head even after its gone out the door.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
At present its just getting known and hopefully generating some paid work. There is no end of â€œgreatÂ opportunitiesâ€ I.e we wont pay you for this. Coming my way but I refuse to take them up. Spec work wont pay the bills ever.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I work in 2D and 3D, Sketchbook pro on my old Fujitsu Siemens Tablet I still love and sometimes I may model in Modo if needed. Before this it was a case of whatever software the studio was using I used, Maya, Max, photshop, etc.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I am good friends with James Cunliffe who worked on Happy Feet when he was in Oz. He is now Animation Director at Crytek UK. He will kick me for saying he is great but he is stupidly talented.