Dane Romley

What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Dane Romley and I am currently head of the training department at Topdraw Animation studio’s in Manila Philippines.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Oh wow let’s see, I worked a few summers at Valley Sash and Door in Burbank, California.  In college I worked a few semesters at FedEx ground in one of their warehouses, and then I also worked at Trader Joe’s for a little bit.  I was a late night security guard for a week before I quit due to the late hours.  Oh and I was also a video game tester for a month.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
The project I am most proud of I would have to say is The Simpsons.  I was a character layout artist for 5 years and it’s really nice being able to say I had a part in one of the biggest culture icons of our time.  Other projects I’m proud of are Mini Loup, Guess How Much I Love You, and Dennis & Gnasher.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born and raised in Sun Valley, California; just outside Burbank.  I attended Woodbury University from 2001 to 2005 and it was my professors that encouraged me to apply to The Simpsons as I approached my senior year.  Two of them were working there at the time and they took me to Film Roman to meet some of the artists and directors, and from there I took the test and got accepted.  If  it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have got the job, I owe them a lot.  August of 2005 I officially started my animation career.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My job right now is to develop training programs for new and current animators to further develop their drawing skills.  Most of the day I’m giving lectures and demonstrations, but the other times I’m going over assignments.  Once or twice a week I also interview potential candidates and go over their drawing tests to judge weather they will be a valuable asset to the studio.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?

The thing I like the best is seeing my trainee’s apply the techniques I’ve been showing them and seeing the progress they make during training.  Once they start actually working it’s also very rewarding to hear a director tell me how much they like working with someone I’ve trained because it mean’s I’ve done my job.

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

There are times when I have to be tough on people and the culture here is not used to that.  I once threw an artist out of training because I caught him copying other people’s work and lied about it, then proceeded to copy my work and tried to turn it in to me.  It’s also hard telling someone that they just don’t have what it takes weather it be skill or attitude, no one wants to be told that but it’s my job to make sure they’re ready for the working world.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?

I use Flash and ToonBoom harmony on a daily basis as the studio I work at is a digital studio.  As far as technological advances, when I first started in animation they were still using pencil and paper.  It was only after 3 years that the studio switched to digital and I learned how to use ToonBoom.  It’s really made everything very streamlined and makes everything much easier.  I can do a lot in just one machine, even simple things like erasing or adjusting a drawing used to be a big ordeal with exacto blades and lots of tape.  Now it’s just a key stroke.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The most difficult part for me is the job security.  Before you were never guaranteed to be brought back after a hiatus, and that can be very stressful.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would
you do it?
 For me there are just way too many people in higher positions making decisions they have no business making.  An executive is not an artist and I ran into many situations where an executive was making artistic decisions despite people saying otherwise.  Look at the new Simpsons HD opening, that was not thought up by artists.  I also experienced the treatment of artists by the higher ups and how they thought of us as dispensable, they could care less about our opinions or well being.  I’m not against corporations or even executives in general.  There’s the saying that the camel must have been thought up by a comity because everyone wanted their own idea’s thrown in.  Leave us alone and let artists create art.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Well I never had to travel far to brush with animation greats.  Just working at Film Roman I was working along side some brilliant artists and animators and I learned so much from them.  I’ve also been fortunate to take classes with well respected artists as well and have met many of the greats living today.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I’ve never really had anything happen in my life that I would consider “tough.”  I’ve had a very good life so far and I know it can only get better.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
 There are a few side projects I’ve been a part of in the past but currently I’m only training and working on my own idea’s on the side.  Sorry those are secret hehe.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?

Nothing that you would call unusual, besides drawing my hobbies are playing video games and spending time with my family.  I can make a water drop sound with my mouth, does that count?  Oh and I have an almost photographic memory; almost in that I can clearly remember people’s clothes and hair style at any point in time.

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

Ask a lot of questions and network as much as you can.  The time students spend in school is limited so I encourage them to ask a lot of questions in order to get the most out of their professors.  This can be anything from animation technique’s and guidelines to what state the industry is in at that time.  This industry is always changing and it’s important to keep up with the changes.  Also get to know the professor’s because most, if not all, are working professionals and they can help you get that first internship or job.  Don’t be a suck up, be genuine, all working animators can tell the difference between passion and plastic smiles.  Above all never give up.  I have heard of many people who give up their dreams because it was too hard or they were rejected from the studio they really liked.  As long as you remain passionate about your craft doors will open.

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2 Comments

  1. So proud of you Dane Romley! Keep
    up your good work!

  2. Good job Dane! Cheers!

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