What is your name and your current occupation?
My name’s Brianne VanPutte, and I work at Renegade Animation in the TD Department.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
My first job in high school was as a part-time custodian. It was actually not a bad gig, it paid more than minimum wage (which is a high schoolers dream!), and I worked evenings with a friend so we made it a fun job (or at least as fun as cleaning bathrooms and picking gum out of carpets can be)! In college I was a tour guide for the Admission Office and a RA. Being an RA was by far the craziest job I’ve had.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I have a pretty fond place in my heart for my first internship on Dora the Explorer. It was a production internship, so I wasn’t doing artwork, but the team was really nice, and it was the first time I saw how a television show is created from start to finish.I also interned at Augenblick Studios on the second season of Ugly Americans and for BrainPOP before I started working at Curious Pictures on the fourth season of Team UmiZoomi. Those were all really fantastic experiences!
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m an Army bratt, so I lived all over the USA growing up. My family eventually settled in Virginia, and by the end of high school I had the itch to move again. I had taken art classes in DC at The Corcoran, and one of my teachers suggest I apply to Pratt Institute in New York. So I headed up to Brooklyn for college and majored in 2D Animation. The internships I had while in school really helped me get my foot in the door. I also had a lot of really helpful professors and friends who really helped me out along the way.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My job varies a lot from day to day, depending on what project I’m working on. Right now I’m working on creating animated versions of childrens books for one of our clients. I get a copy of the Photoshop files from the books, and break apart the characters into body parts/pieces that I can then rig and animate in After Effects. Some of the stories can be pretty elaborate, so I’ll end up creating new assets and paint/touch up backgrounds as well.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Hm, I really like being in-house and the people I work with. I’ve freelanced and worked from home in the past, and that has a lot of perks, but I prefer to be around people. The people I work with are really talented and it makes for a great atmosphere. Since I’m still very new to the industry, I like being around people who are willing to help me learn more. I also really like the flexibility of my current role at work, and that I’m doing a lot of different things depending on the project.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Rendering. Waiting sucks (though it does make for an acceptable reason to take a coffee break)!
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?
At work I use a PC and a Wacom tablet, and at home I use a Mac and 12 inch Cintq. Technology hasn’t changed too much since I started in animation. There have been some software upgrades, but hardware hasn’t changed to much. I’m sure that things will change, but I think it’s a matter of adapting and rolling with the those changes.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Having confidence can be a real challenge sometimes. Especially as a young person in the industry. It can be very intimidating.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
This past weekend actually! Richard Williams came to LA and gave a sort of lecture at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I didn’t meet him personally or anything fancy, but it was really amazing just to see and hear him talk about his experiences, how he got into the industry, and all his stories. It was very inspiring, he is a very talented animator and artist. When he speaks, you realize how much work he’s put into perfecting his craft. Plus, at 80 years old, he was still jumping around while recounting some of his fondest animation memories! It was fantastic!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Moving a lot as a kid was sometimes pretty tough. As soon as you’d start to make friends it would be time to pack up and move again. I appreciate it a lot more now than I think I did growing up. I had a lot of experiences that I otherwise wouldn’t have had, and I got to meet a lot of great people.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I don’t have any big side projects at the moment. I do try to update my tumblr regularly (http://briannevanputte.tumblr.com). And am planning to have a short children’s book app out sometime in 2014. Updates on that, will be on my website (http://cargocollective.com/briannevanputte).
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I wish I had an unusual talent! As for hobbies, I like running and travelling. I’ve completed two half marathons and one full marathon…hopefully more soon!
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?I’m still figuring it all out myself, but some advice I’ve gotten that has really helped is: Remember that the people you meet in school, at an internship, at a job, your professors…all these people can really help you to get your feet on the ground when you’re first getting started. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or critique, be humble and sincerely thank people for their time/help. I think it’s very important to get an internship/apprenticeship, whether or not you choose to go to a traditional college/university to study animation. You’d be surprised how much faster you’ll learn on the job, than in a classroom (not to say that you won’t learn plenty in class). If you can’t afford a four year school, there are a lot of other affordable classes, books, and tutorials. Don’t be discouraged if you have to take a “non-traditional” route to get where you want to go! For me, I don’t regret a four year degree. However, with the economy how it is, I think it’s really important for everyone to take a personal approach to their education. That being said, if you do have the opportunity to travel, or study abroad, take it! Experience and perspective can go a long way in any industry. It’s especially important in an industry that relies so heavily on story telling, and character. Experience new culture, meet people and explore!