Joaquin Baldwin

Sebastian’s Voodoo: 
What is your name and your current occupation? 
I’m Joaquin Baldwin, I work at the Walt Disney Animation Studios as a CG Layout Artist, I’m currently working on the film Wreck-It Ralph that should come out in November of 2012. Here’s some more info on Wreck-It Ralph:
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I cleaned a ceramics lab and worked in the admissions office at my old college (CCAD). I was also a webdesigner for about 6 years, which is not a crazy job, but sometimes you gotta make porn sites 🙂
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of? 
I made 3 short films recently while finishing my studies at UCLA: Sebastian’s Voodoo, Papiroflexia and The Windmill Farmer. They were incredibly fun to make, and getting a chance at going out to film festivals all over the place with them was a unique experience all filmmakers should experience at least once.
How did you become interested in animation?
I was a computer nerd and used to experiment with computer graphics while in high-school. I liked blowing shit up (in the computer, but also in real life making explosives but that’s another story). I learned a lot of technical things this way, but not much on the artistic side. I came to the US to study art and webdesign and decided that I kind of hated it, and doing animation was more fun. It wasn’t until that point that I embraced animation as a way to tell stories, more than just a cool tool to make shiny, flashy, spinning logos.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Paraguay (down in South America, for the geographically impaired). When I got my first job as a webdesigner (in high-school times), I also did some basic animations, mostly for web, but that wasn’t really the “animation business”. I studied in the US for 8 years (4 in undergrad at CCAD, 4 in grad at UCLA), and about 5 months after finishing my masters I applied to Disney and was hired right away.

The Windmill Farmer :

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
We get some storyboards from the story department, all hand-drawn, edited loosely in a timeline with rough sound and voices. What we do is bring in all the models, rigs, environments, etc that other departments have built, then put it all together in a scene and determine the staging and camera choices. It’s like directing the actors around the stage, while handing the camera. We do a rough animation pass for timing and make sure the camera moves are spot-on, and tell the story the best possible way. Most of my day is spent polishing camera work or animating characters for timing.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like it that in layout we get to work with HUGE chunks of the film, entire sequences all at once and all for you only. It’s very different than, say, the animation department, where they can be working on the same 2 seconds of animation for months. We fly through footage like no other department, and we learn about the film as a whole in a thorough way. It’s great if you like analyzing story structure and love learning about visual storytelling.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I don’t like slow rigs. Sometimes we have heavy scenes with dozens of characters, heavy sets, lots of props, etc, and this makes working with a rig particularly slow. You grab a controller and wait 2 seconds for it to be highlighted, then drag your mouse and see it move 2 seconds later. Then you punch the screen.


What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
We don’t use anything too hardcore. A nice computer with Linux and Maya, dual monitors, and that’s it. Layout doesn’t need the heavy computing that a rendering machine will use, or any crazy tools other than cool plugins and scripts.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve met a lot of great animators at film festivals. I stumble upon Bill Plympton from time to time in festivals, he’s always around promoting his films better that I ever will, if we have time we hang out for a while, then see each other again somewhere else. At Disney, it is hard not to bump into legendary animators every day.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Moving to the US, a completely new world for me, was very hard, but at the same time those are the moments when one grows and learns much faster, one adapts, and it’s soon history.

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I am big into photography now, going a bit obsessive with it, and I’m sharing my photo work in Google Plus. You can see my stuff here:
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can pick locks, do very complex origami, I’m learning to juggle, and I paint miniatures for war games (or used to, when I had time)
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? 
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from random animators you admire. Most people are friendly, and if they are not, you don’t lose anything by asking anyway. Also, ask for help in forums, people will give you free critiques (alongside shitty comments that you can quickly ignore, just take in constructive comments and build a tough skin for the rest of the crap).
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  1. Great film! Very creepy but still a good story that kept me watching.

  2. I totally love this guys work!!! I’m just getting started in animation and Sebastian’s voodoo is by far one of my favorites short animations movie! I’m from Brazil, so I just loved knowing he’s from Paraguay!

  3. wow.. ur films are amazing.. n u r now in my fav animators list.. m also in dis field.. gr8 n useful advice thnkx..

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