What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Leigh Rens, I’m an animator, a mentor at animationmentor.com and a previz camera guy.
theres three moments that stand out. remember going crazy for Tom and Jerry when I was four, kept begging my dad to rent all the 8mm prints from the local rental store, drove him crazy. also when I was a kid, there’s is a memory of hanging out on this giant flat rock with our bikes next to this drive-in theatre watching “Wile-E Coyote and the Road Runner” thinking one day I wanna do that. but the moment that made it a serious pursuit was the Dire Straits Mtv video “Money for Nothing”. it was the first time I realized that 3d cartoons were gonna be the future and I wanted to be a part of that.
Originally from south africa . after 15 years of working in LA I’m now a US citizen……. used to visit a friend I knew from college helen silverman at this post production house every spare moment I got. took a year or so before a spot opened up. they asked for a portfolio and the following day I was hired.http://vimeo.com/26403691
the usual – ………..answer e-mail. regroup and tweak notes from the previous day. dailies at 11am, do some more tweaks, jump on the internet a bit, plan a little for whats coming up. lunch at around 12:30. after lunch I get into my changes for my shot so I have something to show for rounds at 4pm. after rounds keep working on turning the shot around for the next day. sometimes I wil get thru it and get them to look at it again. then its hometime.
Inventing a performance. I enjoy a good narrative sequence, a run of stuff happening.
The unspoken fear of staying employed. ever since the “minority report schedule” the studios have got us all playing musical chairs, its all contract work now’
Mostly Maya on all platforms (and a bit of after effects when I’m doing previz). still thumbnail in pencil if I have something difficult to work out’
Its hard not to get jaded, It’s a huge fight to stay fresh and passionate about the craft’. teaching AM has been awesome, the energy of the students keeps me going’
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Sure , I’ll namedrop a few’ Con Pederson I first met years ago at Metrolight studios, been over to his house a few times, extremely grateful to him, taught me how to think like a film maker, tons of stories about working as Ward Kimballs assistant. the Space Race with Wernher Von Braun, his time as art director on 2001, his relationship to Stanley Kubrick as friend and his story go to guy, he was also part of the robert able legacy, even wrote his own 3d modeling program back when cgi started out. I’m guessing, but i’m sure that quite a few people owe their careers to Con’ also had the privilege to work with Bill Kroyer and have been to a few of his famous animator christmas parties. can’t forget to mention Tina Price who I’m also super grateful to for allowing me to be part of CTN. still see my self as on the fringe, but I guess I get around.
The deaths of my mom, brother and dad have been the big ones, mostly sad, more than tough. The toughest was losing my job back in 2001 a week before my son was born, luckily I got hired almost immediately, so it all worked out.
I’m working on a personal piece for my reel to balance out the cartoon side of things and to have some fun. also like everyone there’s a script or two under the bed. racing anyone?
I can juggle, play drums, windsurf and I’m also a car guy so I love to follow F1 racing
Manage your expectations…….understand the three things needed:- to prove you can do the job(reel)…- that you’re a member of the human race (you can comunicate in a normal fashion and you’re not crazy)…..- that you’re a team player, a good fit for their team.(i.e. any recommendation or something to show that you’re not a loner).
….the easiest way in is a recommendation from a member on the animation team, but being a student you more than likely will not have that yet, so you’re gonna go with the reel first. a reel equals the job you are applying for, if you going for an a-list studio it has to be an a-list reel, so ask yourself if what you have on your reel is at the same level with what that studio produces, in this way you can manage your expectations. if the answer is no then you’ll end up at a studio that has the same quality as what your reel represents.(water finds its own level) not a bad thing, but the reality is its just where you are at. so it might take a two or three studio jump to get your reel up to that level where you will be able to break into your dream studio…for your reel to resonate with a recruiter it must have weight and performance(persona), if you are not sure if your reel has those two qualities then a brush up course at an online school like animationmentor.com will get you there.