What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Kevin Long and I am currently working as a Layout Supervisor at Atomic Cartoons in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I don’t know if they’d be considered “crazy”, but I’ve worked in lumber mills, delivered pizza, pumped gas, taught guitar and was once employed for a short time at Virgin Records.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Well, the show I’m currently working on is pretty awesome and special, but some of my fave projects have been animating on “The Buzz On Maggie” for Warner Brothers and supervising key animation for two seasons of “Kid vs. Kat” at DHX Media (formerly Studio B Productions), but my most favorite experience is also my very first job – Working in the art department for the Tom Green movie “Freddy Got Fingered”. When you’re on a movie set watching Tom Green whip around a rubber newborn baby, everything else kinda pales in comparison.
How did you become interested in animation?
After two years of Design school, I couldn’t find any work, so I started doing my own independent comics. For some reason, it made sense to make the leap from comics into animation.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Even though I’m originally from Northern British Columbia, I’ve been living in Vancouver since ’95. Graduated from Vancouver Film School in 2000 and I’ve been working in animation ever since.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
A typical day for me would involve reviewing and approving layouts, hunting down assets for my team members, breaking down storyboards, assigning work, and listening to metal. Lots and lots of metal.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I really enjoy supervising and working with a crew of talented artists. When you get the very first couple of scenes in from the crew, the whole thing becomes tangible and exciting. To be able to work with and nurture your team, and then see them really embracing and running with the style of a show, that’s pretty much the best thing right there.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
When budgets and poor scheduling affect the departments and the overall production. It’s easy to say that certain things can be done better, and I know how complicated it can be to put together a show, but when not enough time and money is put into pre-production, it can cripple everything and end up costing more money and possibly even losing the talented artists you already have.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
For my department, it’s all Flash or CS5. Even though I was trained in Classical Animation, all of my industry work has been on computers.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
There really hasn’t been anything that I would consider difficult, except for maybe one particular production, but you learn with each show and absolutely have to adapt and improve how you approach certain “speedbumps”. I’ve been doing this for almost 12 years, so I consider myself very lucky and I really feel that its been a lot easier than some people I know.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve been very lucky to work with some incredibly talented artists who never fail to inspire and make me feel very lucky to work with them. If I had to single out any particular artist who always kicks my ass, it would be Tony Cliff (http://www.tonycliff.com/) – Ridiculously talented, humble and funny. Not a bad bowler, either.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
For someone who came from a disfunctional home riddled with divorce and other crap of that sort, I’ve done pretty good. I’ve made my share of poor choices, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to have a small, but solid support group of family and friends.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of? Nothing really, as my day job keeps me nice and busy. I do have pitch ideas that I revisit from time-to-time, which helps keep me from getting burned out.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
If I had any talents like that, I probably wouldn’t be in animation… although I’ve heard that cherry stem tongue tying is starting to get outsourced to Korea.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
As much as you want to work in animation, always have a backup plan and be prepared for the periods of time where you’re not working in animation. Much like a lot of people, I’ve been through employment ups and downs, so I just made sure that I had some kind of job outside of animation to keep me sane and afloat. Knowing the right people through hussling and networking will help your chances of being employed, along with expanding your skill set so you’re not locked into just one position or department. Also, when you do end up in a studio with a decent kitchen, get into the habit of washing your dishes. I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH and your coworkers will thank you.