What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Ted Wilson and I am the co-creator and co-writer of the internet cartoon Gundarr. My partner Corey McDaniel and I also do the voice acting and music. Up until Season 3 (which starts airing on Mondomedia’s Youtube channel on July 17. Plugs ahoy!) we did all the animation as well.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
From door to door sales to working in a lumber mill in Northern Ontario I have run the gamut of day jobs. I’ve also worked as a cook, picked rocks on oilfield reclamation sites and did a couple weeks of telemarketing when I was really up against the wall! None of them were very stimulating, but all those crappy jobs pushed me towards doing what I really love for a living: Animation!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
The project I’m most proud of would have to be my current project, Gundarr. It started as something my friends and I did for fun one night, and somehow turned into a fulltime gig! My time as prop designer on My Little Pony was also a lot of fun. While the show itself isn’t what I would normally watch on my own, the team I worked with was super talented and funny, so I enjoyed myself everyday.
How did you become interested in animation?
I always loved cartoons growing up. My first love was probably comic books and newspaper strips, but I used to watch everything on Saturday morning, from the Smurfs to the old Looney Tunes to the Gummi Bears. The thing that really captured my imagination had to be when Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released. That movie blew my mind! It still holds up as a fantastic film and a cultural touchstone for a lot of people my age.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in Ontario and Alberta. After I ran through a couple dozen of those less-than-coolsville jobs I mentioned earlier, I realized I’d never be satisifed at a normal job, so I applied to a 3D animation course in Manitoba. The course itself was less than stellar (I guess I should have known since it was under a bus station!!) but I made a bunch of lifelong friends, so it wasn’t a total loss. After I realized 3D wasn’t really scratching my itch to draw, I went back home, saved my cash and took the Traditional Animtion program at Vancouver Film School. I had some really great teachers, and really enjoyed the program, so I couldn’t wait to get out into the industry. There were a lot of shows being produce when I graduated, so I got a job fairly quickly out of school and I’ve been working steady ever since!
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My partner and I get into the office around 9 am. Since we write, direct, and act in every episode, days can vary wildly, but it sure keeps things interesting! If it’s a writing day, we’ll go grab a coffee an take a walk down to the beach to get the juices flowing and then we start kicking around ideas. After we have a couple of concepts locked down, we each begin writing a script. After we’ve finished, we get back together and start refining gags and dialogue. It takes a lot of work to craft a stupid fart joke! If it’s an animation day, we split up the scenes and just start drawing.This season we have outside studios helping us with the actual animation, so most of our time is spent doing main layout poses and BGs. The voice records usually happen in the afternoons. We find it’s easier to act like crazed wizards and stupid barbarians after a hearty lunch. We’ve set up our own soundbooth in our office, so hopefully the accountants next door don’t get bother by toom many blood-curdling screams. The days can be pretty long, but we count ourselves very lucky to be doing this for a living!
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I get to wear a lot of hats with my current job. Writing, producing, directing, animating, acting, scoring: It never ends! But seriously this is the most challenging and fulfilling job I’ve ever had. The internet and televison are merging at an ever increasing pace, and it feels like we’re on the cusp of something big!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The ideas my partner and I come up with can sometimes be a little too grand for our own good. It can be frustrating having to reign in an idea we know would be hilarious or epic, simply because we can’t afford it. Don’t get me wrong, we know how fortunate we are, but we have our eyes on even bigger canvasses.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Cintiqs and Flash is how the majority of our work gets done. We have a Snowball microphone for recording voices, and a guitar and keyboard into Garageband and Logic for our music. We keeps it perty simple!
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The most difficult part for me is also one of the things that keeps it so interesting: The lack of job security. As most other people in the animation trenches can attest to, when one contract is halfway done, you already gotta start scrambling for that next one! It can be pretty stressful, but it keeps you on your game.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve really only worked in Vancouver as far as animation goes, but the talent pool in this city is amazing. I really feel like Canada in general, and Vancouver specifically, have a huge amount of untapped potential. We’re on the verge of Vancouver coming into it’s own, not only as a place for outside studios to get great work done for them, but as a place that is creating great shows and memorable characters of it’s own. Van-City represent!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I crapped my pants one time in Junior High. That sucked.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m always working on stuff on the side, but there’s nothing I can talk about yet. Hopefully you’ll be seeing my side projects on the bigscreen or small screen soon enough.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Most of my unusual hobbies have become my unusual job! I’ve been fortunate in the last year to have turned my love of drawing, acting, music, and writing into my fulltime gig, so I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting stuff to try! I’ve just recently aquired my firearms license, so I’m getting into sport shooting. The people in the apartment next door are very patient.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Just keep drawing! Or acting, or editing or whatever it is you do. Make sure that wherever you are now, you’re learning something to take with you to the next job or stage in your career. Make goals for yourself! I know from personal experience that having a plan can be invaluable.