What is your name and your current occupation?
Corey McDaniel – Lead Animator at Titmouse in Vancouver.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I used to work at a seafood restaurant on the weekends around my senior year in high school. Because of this, I do not eat seafood any more. I also interned at a training facility for a Honda manufacturing plant while taking some college classes. Because of this, I do not eat Hondas any more.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I got to work on an original series called Gundarr with my buddy Ted Wilson for a couple years, funded by Mondo Media. It was a total blast. We basically got paid to write, animate & voice whatever we wanted. I’m also super excited to be animating on Breadwinners for Titmouse. I love cartoons that aren’t ashamed of the fact that they’re cartoons, & Breadwinners definitely fits that mold. I’m currently working with two talented British chaps on a game I came up with called Cloudface. Together we form the unstoppable team FUTUREBEARD. Making a game is hard work, but it’s been very eye opening and super fun!
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
My dad was in the ARMY, so I grew up Texas, Colorado, Germany & Alabama. I went to JSU in Alabama for 4 years & got out of there with a BFA in Graphic Design, but I didn’t want to live in Alabama, so I started hunting around for animation schools. My first try was Cal-Arts, but the tuition scared me, so after more searching I found VFS in Vancouver, Canada. After their one-year animation course, I was lucky enough to land a few jobs with some work visas for a couple years. I eventually married my VFS sweetheart & have since gotten my Canadian citizenship, so now finding a job isn’t such a huge friggin’ visa nightmare!
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Once I get into my chair it’s just pure animation. Breadwinners is such a fun show for me because we’re encouraged not to do traditional “symbol-based” animation. The directors want to see a lot of hand-drawn animation, & that’s pretty rare for Vancouver. I honestly feel really lucky to be working on this show!
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Titmouse is a great environment & the show is really fun to work on. I probably shouldn’t say this, but it hardly feels like work. I feel like I get paid to do what I already love to do.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Driving to and from work! I have about a 30-45 minute commute, depending on the traffic. It gets pretty lonely.
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?
We animate the show in Flash. Flash is the go-to tool for 2D animation here in Vancouver. Flash hasn’t impacted the way I work since it doesn’t really change much version to version. However, I’ve been using it for animation and games for close to 10 years, & yet I always find out something I didn’t know when I talk to other artists!
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I think if you ask any professional animator this, they would say the most difficult part is the lack of job security. Animation work is contract to contract & that is both a blessing & a curse. It’s great to be able to shift around and work on different projects, but when there is no work, it can get brutal, especially if you have a family. It really doesn’t need to be this way, but it sadly is.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
The bigger studios here in Vancouver have these set production pipelines in place & never deviate away from them either because of budgets or just straight up lethargy. It forces people into pre-defined roles on every production & kills any opportunity for one artist to become good at many different skill sets. I’d love to see that sort or work environment go away and have some companies shake it up a bit & try new things. The amount of talent in this city is great & people in this industry should be given a chance to do the best work they can. This is why I always encourage animators to work on their own films/shorts in their spare time. Doing so will force you to learn new skill sets that you simply won’t learn working at a big studio.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I haven’t met any super-famous animation folk. Not to be corny, but I meet tons of amazingly talented people on every show I work on, so I feel like I’m always surrounded by animation greatness!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I used to live next to a homicidal cop that would bash on the wall and scream at the top of his lungs at 3 am in the morning. So there’s that.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
A big side project I’m working on now is a game called Cloudface. I’m making a 2D hand-animated platformer. We’re still a long ways from release, but if you want to check out some of it, head over to www.cloudfacegame.com !
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can do a pretty awesome ‘movie trailer guy’ voice
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Yes! Make stuff, constantly & put it online. Don’t be a stereotypical bashful artist. Put your shit out there for people to see. If you want to animate, then animate stuff & put it on YouTube, Newgrounds, share it on Reddit, etc. Try to challenge yourself with something difficult each thing you make. It’s going to suck no matter what, so the best thing is to do your best on it, put it on the internet, then start on the next thing that’s going to suck! Eventually the things you make will suck less & less. The more you do, the better you will get, & the more you share, the more people will want to see what you’re sharing!
Super duper happy press time, Corey! Great interview!