What is your name and your current occupation?
I’m Luca Mari, cut-out animator, motion graphics and 3D generalist. I’m also a co-founder of StudioASC, a creative team specialized in pre-visualization and illustration for advertising, film and TV commercial, located in Milan, Italy.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I did a lot of jobs before landing in this Studio, like working for an assurance office or as a Graphic and video editor in a small TV company. I’ve been even a barman and radio station director… I can’t tell you which was the craziest job… but what’s sure is that I always had a lot of fun and met plenty of strange people!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Well… I don’t know… every week it’s a new adventure, and I try to do every work with my maximum effort. In the past, founding and starting a new radio station was really a wonderful experience in my life.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I ‘ve changed many works, and the most of them didn’t have much to do with the animation business. But the course of my professional life has a thread: to work with the “image”, what my eyes can see every day… It’s interesting, lights up my curiosity and starts up my brain process.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
It’s strange, but every day has the possibility to be the same, and in another way every day is different.
Usually our work pipeline starts with getting the brief from the client and then making a rough assembly of the frames to get the idea on how it will be. The second step is to look for images that can be useful, then to do a green screened photo session of the protagonists of the story, or a research in various image banks. After that, to mix all the images and photos in a single big photoshop composition. Then we make compositing with After Effects (actions, cut-out animations and camera movements) and finally, we edit audio and video with Premiere, …and and here is the final movie.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like giving life to images we create, making them move giving them a voice, and creating a short story about them…this is my best part!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
We work together and we do all the parts of this job. We are editors, animators, illustrators, but we are also secretaries and billing administrators, this is the part I don’t like so much.
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 use Apple Mac Pro with various monitors…and I work with Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere, Modo and other apps for 3D modeling. The progress of technology is so fast and I have continuously to do courses and get information in community or forum on the internet.
This is very important for a professional freelance.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The most difficult part for a freelance, is to keep your business alive. In the past if you had a professional specialization, you got a slice of the cake in business and you could go straight through the years. Nowadays, this is impossible, because the business changes continuously, and you have to change with it.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
This is a very hard question, the answer would be very complicated and with lot of pages, so I have to answer it in one word…”meritocracy”.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Not for the moment…but.., life is long, I hope!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I remember my first day at the small Tv company. I admit that I had exaggerated a bit my skills.
So the director put me live on the prime time show, and I had to push the graphics live on it. I was only thinking…OH MY GOD, I was terrified. Luckily the show went on without mistakes and I finished my first working day in a good way. Once at home I couldn’t sleep for the whole night. Lesson: Never exaggerate your abilities!
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Ok, I admit, the work is constantly in my mind and I do 3D personal projects. I really have a great passion for this new, for me, part of our job. The 3D programs give you the possibility to create an entire world you have in your mind. It’s simply beautiful.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?Ehm …no, I’m a very normal person. I like the mountains and I spend my free time there, going for long walking and eating big meat dishes with a good wine.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Working as a freelance is beautiful for many reasons, but you have to work a lot, strongly, with great passion and much willpower, never give up and do a lot of courses to keep up your professional level.