What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Daniel Zettl and I’m currently senior animator at Weta Digital
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
To financially support my animation internship after high school, I worked in the halls ofÂ the biggest german provider for postal services and was sorting letters and packagesÂ every night for a couple hours. Met some pretty quirky people there 😉
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a partÂ of?
Very proud to have been a part of James Cameron’s Avatar and currently of PeterÂ Jackson’s The Hobbit.
How did you become interested in animation?
I started out with drawing a lot, doing design jobs and lots of graffiti. At some point theÂ still image, or the single drawing wasnÊ¼t enough anymore and I was searching forÂ something that could unlock whatÊ¼s hidden in me. It had to get it out and on that search I
stumbled over 2D animation. For a long time I couldnÊ¼t find access personally and didnÊ¼tÂ know how and where to start. But once you understand what you can actually say with theÂ moving image it becomes an addiction to create.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Munich, Germany. It was during a design and storyboard internship afterÂ high school at a small 2D studio in Munich when I got introduced to animation and startedÂ absorbing everything about the software Maya. When the studio got the green light forÂ their first in house animation feature film I was offered a position as junior animator.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
When I have time to animate 🙂 Thinking and planing, studying reference and searchingÂ for inspiration to achieve something that either hasn’t been done before or understandingÂ and copying something exceptionally great.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
When projects get so stressful and intense that there’s no time to actually think aboutÂ what’s the best solution for a shot. When you have to produce and not create.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I mostly work with Maya and Nuke.
Â What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
At the moment, making sure I donÊ¼t burn out and balancing work and private life better. Â This is a constant challenge since I started out in this industry.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I had and have the pleasure to actually work with some of the heavy weights in creatureÂ and character animation. Animation legends for Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Avatar,Â Disney’s Tarzan and Hercules, PixarÊ¼s Monsters Inc. and Richard WilliamsÊ¼ The Thief andÂ the Cobbler. I was always very lucky to be guided by great animation directors who taughtÂ and inspired me so much.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Luckily no illnesses or serious health problems have ever crossed me or my family. SoÂ one of the things that influenced me a lot in the way my career paned out were probablyÂ the rejections from film schools and design colleges when I was very young. This
motivates me to always improve and learn.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to shareÂ details of?
Just recently I had time to work on a few character designs and startÂ developing a rough concept for a story, maybe a childrens book maybe a short film, I donÊ¼tÂ know yet. Besides Wellington offers quite some good surfing conditions, IÊ¼m totally hookedÂ on that!
Â Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with yourÂ Â tongue or metallurgy? When IÊ¼m really angry my skin turns green, I grow 9 foot tall andÂ smash just everything into pieces. But other than that… 😉
Â Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student orÂ artist trying to break into the business?
You only convince with the quality of your work,Â nothing else counts. Animate a lot, show it to more experienced animators and talk a lotÂ about it. Love what you do!