Chris Sherrod

What is your name and your current occupation?
Chris Sherrod. I am a 3D Story Artist at Lucasfilm Animation on an as-yet-to-be-named feature film.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
My prior life after college was Advertising Art and Design Manager for the Interactive Channel in Dallas,TX.  Before that i was doing print work and mowing lawns and McDonalds for a summer so i could buy a car.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I was very proud of working at DNA Productions in Dallas on Jimmy Neutron. This was a dream come true being able to walk into an animation studio not knowing how to draw a stick figure but understanding the principles design and composition and applying them to a completely different field surrounded by tons of creative people.  This was my Film 101 on the Movie, the TV series and the followup, The Ant Bully. A very under-rated film in my opinion.  Ken Mitchroney and Johann Klingler get all my props.

How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve been interested in Animation since birth. Seriously, I re-created Snoopy’s “It was a Dark and Stormy Night” on scrap paper when I was 7. My dad was a fan of Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon sand I knew I had to be apart of it.  I watched cartoon and paid special attention to the names in the credits and wondered who they were.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Born and raised in Dallas, Tx. Landed at the Interactive Channel after college and through a fortuitous connection, landed at DNA Productions on Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Lucasfilm Feature Animation is a dream come true. Director has sequence to develop, chooses hisartist per sequence and gives a kick-off.  3D Story is left to their own devices to Make Cool Stuff. We submit to review and Editorial goes over the work and we develop shots after Editorial/Director pass is done.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I’m working with friends who are all animation veterans. I don’t mean this like they came up through the ranks of studios like Disney and Dreamworks, which some did. I mean, they were Imagi veterans. They created TMNT in an unfinished basement below a parking garage in Sherman Oaks. Cars were running over their heads.  Pipes were poking up in the editing room. The smell of sewage was everywhere! Fitting for a movie about Mutant Turtles in a sewer. I hooked up with this crew after Dreamworks to work on Gatchaman. I was very stoked for this project.  We had seven months before the project was yanked from under us because the powers that be decided a violent action film was too hard to promote. “Let’s go with a cute Pinocchio-style film to launch this new venture.” No Gatchaman. No more Imagi.  A few years later, our director, Kevin Munroe, got the gig for the Lucasfilm project and declared he wanted his team back.  We got a call asking who wanted to move to San Francisco, and here I am. The luckiest Mo-Fo on the planet.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Being away from my family for years at a time. In 2006, DNA folded before Ant Bully released. They did right by us an invited recruiters from all over the industry looking for talent. I ended up at Dreamworks Animation on Kung-Fu Panda. A fantastic job that I was very grateful for.  This was right after the birth of my twins, however. My wife knew what I wanted and declared “I’m not going to stand in our way.”   She’s the best.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Gig to gig to gig away from the family.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
In-house produced software called Zviz.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
A certain mega-animation director came by the studio recently to review our work.  At Dreamworks, Jerry Seinfeld was present during “Bee Movie”.One day i was in the lunch-line and saw Jerry ahead of me getting his meatloaf. “Wow” I thought. “Jerry Seinfeld’s getting luch with the rest of us schmoes. If only this guy in front of me would hurry up OHMYGOD, IT’S JEFFERY!”  I had to look “DOWN” to realize it was Jeffery K in front of me in line.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
My mantra is “Be careful what you wish for. Cuz you just might get it.”  After DNA imploded in 2006, I was faced with a choice. Go back to the old life. Or pursue your new found passion.  My wife, after learning of my offer to Dreamworks said “I’m not going to stand in your way.”

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I had a freelance project drop into my lap, literally out of the Fucking Blue.  A crew from the other side of the planet was looking for Pre-Viz/Layout for a commercial project.  I was the only schmuck who replied. That’s the power of the Internet.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metalurgy?
I can juggle.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?  Understand, Layout or Previz is the definition of Creative Cog (TM). Previz or Layout is the best place to be on a production because you get to get your fingers into the pie. Animators get all the glory because that is what you see on screen but Layout is where you get to make the story bend to your will. You get to be a part of the Director’s vision.  You get to make the movie look like what you want. Give life to your characters. Animation will take it and make it look  pretty but Layout is where it starts. You get to say THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN MY MOVIE!

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  1. Thanks Mike for doing these series.
    Great insights beyond animation!

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