What is your name and your current occupation?
Jason Meier – Fanboy and Chum Chum Supervising Producer at Nickelodeon Animation Studios
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Bus Boy, Park Staff at Lake Casitas Recreation Park, Waiter at a mediocre Italian restaurant where I had to where a tie. Customer service is the pits.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I love working on Fanboy and Chum Chum, but honestly I was super excited to animate my favorite mass murderer, Jason Voorhees in Freddy Vs Jason. It was a childhood dream come true.
How did you become interested in animation?
When I was a kid, Saturday mornings started at 6 am watching any and all cartoons. I would pretty much watch anything that was animated, The Flinstones, Jabber Jaw, The Snorks. Anything but The Smurfs, I didn’t really dig on The Smurfs. Obviously Looney Tunes and Tex Avery were the gateway drug into animation. Everything I learned about timing and comedy was from Bugs and Daffy.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Ojai California where you’re thrown in jail if you aren’t creative. My good friend in high school, Tom MacDougall got me into animation. His dad was building space ships in Lightwavefor Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space Nine for Foundation Imaging back in the 90’s. I would go over to his house and check out what they were working on and fell in love with 3D. I always wanted to get into the entertainment industry so I thought learning Lightwave would be the way in. In 1998 I got a entry level job at Foundation Imaging as a tape operator. 6 months later Foundation got the bid to do “Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles” and I got put on a animation team. I’ve been animating ever since.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
As supervising producer I have to make sure that every aspect of production is running smooth. I work with the creator of the show, writers, directors, storyboard artists, art director, production staff, and the in house CG team to make sure everything is doable episodically. Also! I make sure that the overseas animation studios are taken care of and they have all the resources they need to do the job. So my typical day is supervising everything. It’s kind of a lot when you see it written down. It used to be so simple when all I had to do was animate a guy barfing up eels.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
There is a lot I like about my job. Most of all I love working with people to find simple solutions to complicated problems. Winning an Emmy for Fanboy and Chum Chum last year was pretty cool too.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
This doesn’t happen a lot, but I never like when anyone lets their ego get in the way of making the best decision. There’s no need for ego in Animation.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Maya, Fusion, and everyone’s favorite celebrity air brush tool buzzword, Photoshop.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I think the most difficult thing is finding stability. Most CG studios ramp up and ramp down and have a high turn over of artists. I’ve been fortunate to be at Nickelodeon for almost 7 years straight.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Everyone I work with I think of as animation greatness. How’s that answer for you!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
This is really hard to talk about, but I’m going to try. Once upon a time my roommate and I worked on a freelance commercial for Hot Wheels. We were working out of our home and we didn’t have the render farm to render the final frames so we had to go to the studio we were doing the freelance for to render them. It was the night before final delivery and we were there late watching the frames grind on their farm. Well, around 9:33 pm the cleaning lady plugged in the vacuum and BLEW the fuse to the render farm. We had a total panic freak out! Where was the fuse box? How do we get the farm back up? How many frames do we have to re-queue? It was a nightmare, but we pulled through.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Oh nothing, just writing a feature film with a buddy of mine that will be the next greatest movie since “Sliced Bread.” I also plan on cooking a pork loin that is in my freezer. It’s going to be delicious.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’ve been playing bass and drums since I was 12. I also do improv comedy, not stand up, I do improv. There is a big difference, trust me. Unusual talent? I can make the sound of a Didgeridoo with my mouth.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Do it all the time, be the best, don’t quit and be honest with yourself. When you get a job, don’t be a weirdo. People love to talk about all the weirdos they’ve worked with and do anything not to work with them again. Don’t be that weirdo.