Jennifer Ruiz

What is your name and your current occupation? 
Jennifer Ruiz – Freelance Filmmaker/Photographer/Stop motion Animator.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? After graduating collage I had to work several summer jobs to save up for my move to California.  One job was a Digital Media Summer Camp.  I had to teach kids ages 7-12 how to write, shoot, and edit (on final cut) a movie.  Some children were so young they didn’t even understand what editing was!  Not just imagine explained final cut to a 7 year old.  I get a headache just thinking about it. What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?  I through a fake wedding for Polaroid in a backyard a few years ago.  They never ended up using it, but we spent months setting it up and it was a blast to make.  The day of the “wedding” people who wanted to be in the wedding party all were randomly assigned secret roles that only they knew (groom, father of the bride, drunk ex, bride, etc).   The rest of our friends were wedding guests who sat back and watched as someone was proposed to and “married.”  It was full of improvised speeches, vows, a live band, dancing, a bouncy castle, a photo booth, flame throwing, guitar smashing, you know…the usual.
How did you become interested in animation? 
A friend in high school did a simple stop motion with toys for a class project.  I was so impressed how the toys appeared to be moving on their own. I had never seen anything like this so I decided to try it out myself and have been hooked ever since.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business? 

I am from Lansing, Michigan and now live in Los Angeles.  I’m still trying to get into the business I suppose…anyone need any stop motion animation?

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job? 

I work freelance, so it changes constantly.   Any given day I can be working on anything from photography to editing to shooting to art department.  Some days I have nothing going on, other days I’m working non stop.  I try to take advantage of the free time when I have it by being as productive as possible on my own personal projects.

What part of your job do you like best? Why? 
In regard to freelance, I both love and hate the inconsistency.  It’s nice to never be stuck in the same routine and to have days off during the week for fun adventures.  It leads for an exciting work life that never gets boring.  Yet I also hate the inconsistency.  It can be very stressful at times, especially when you don’t know when your next day of work will be.  In regards to stop motion animation specifically, my favorite part is the pay off.  Seeing a final stop motion come to life is so exciting.  Once you add sound effects, it changes everything.  It makes all the time and work worth it.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?

In regards to stop motion animation, the patience.  I always move everything in such small increments, which makes each project very time consuming.  Not to mention, I tend to pick projects that result in me being hunched over the ground all day, moving tiny pieces of paper.  I once shot a project outside for two full days and forgot to put on sunscreen, resulting in the worst sunburn ever.  I learned a lot that day.  Like never to shoot outside.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?

Canon 60d, Final Cut Pro, Dragon, After Effects, Macbook Pro

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?

Being patient – Stop motion always takes longer then you think.  I love being freelance and consistently working on different projects, with different people, but the time in between work can always be nerve wracking.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?

Hmmm….this is a stretch but when I first moved to LA I was a PA for Harry Shearer (I got him his favorite coffee and croissants).  He’s not an animator but he did voices for a lot of the Simpsons characters, which is my favorite animated show.  I also know a lot of animators in LA.  My roommate and his brother animate and write the comic book Read Gunther.  Also my good friend Sam Humphries is becoming pretty big in the comic book world, so that’s exciting.

Describe a tough situation you had in life. 
Probably moving to Los Angeles.  I grew up in Michigan and after graduating from MSU, decided to move to LA.  I had never even been to California before and I didnt know a single person there (here).  It’s scary moving cross country to a huge city and trying to find a job and make friends and start a life for yourself, all by yourself.  But lucky enough that’s what I did and I couldn’t be happier.  It made me brave.

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I just finished up a stop motion for a friends web show.  Next up I want to try and make a Channel 101 show.  It’s hard though because I’m not much of a writer, especially when it comes to narratives.  It’ll be a fun challenge.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?

I can juggle!  I also was a film projectionist all through college, so I know how to thread a 35mm film projector.  Just like in Fight Club! That’s a talent right?  How many people can do that!  I’ll tell you too, it’s pretty complicated.  Now if only I could juggle while threading a projector I bet you’d be really impressed.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? 

 Work hard. Create. Create. Create.  Be Brave.
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