Boris Zhitomirsky

What is your name and your current occupation? 
My name is Boris Zhitomirsky and until recently my occupation was Interactive Designer in advertisement company. Now I am looking for another occupation to occupy.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
At some point I was working in a Drama Theater as a stage designer and pretty soon started to spit out the pieces of my lungs after using all these high pressure sprays. No, no, no. It wasn’t the illegal graffiti at all. The only problem is that it was making me a little sick. Now I see it wasn’t actually the crazy job. That was a cool job.  The crazy job was to work in a hospital. I am not sure why but at some point I was accepted to the Med School and after spending a few years between reading the tons of books and cleaning after the sick people I got a license to treat them. And I did for a while. As a young Doctor I was working in Labour and Delivery unit, you see, and my personal record was 7 C-Sections in one night. That was crazy. I decided that after reaching this height in the Medical Field there is nothing else for me to do and promptly I took off. And live happily ever after!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of? 
Some people might find it not worthy, but I am kinda proud of being part of the team working on “The Adventures Of Chico and Guapo” ( for MTV2). Not sure why but we did only one season. Still, it was fun to work with many talented people.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business? 
I was born in USSR. That was a country before it became Russia. Now it is becoming USSR again. You might have heard of that country once or twice. So, when I was a little boy we had a black and white TV sets and only 2 channels. During the Summer time at 7:00 pm they were showing “Tom and Jerry”. I have no idea how the government of the USSR gave an approval to show the American Cartoons to the gentle Socialist kids. But we were internally great full for this opportunity to watch “the cat and mouse” and later on a playground to reenact it as well. I was 4 or 5 years old. And then I saw  “The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad”“ by Ray Harryhausen…I guess that’s when I realized that no matter what Siberian prison I might end up, but I want to be an animator.

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What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job? 
Checking my timelines, drawing the assets to add to the library, making the puppet, placing it on stage, making it move, watching it move, watching it move, fixing it’s movement, watching it move…
What part of your job do you like best? Why? 
When I just start the animation and still have a few days before the client gat a chance to see my animation and make some valuable comments about the way zombies walk or a fire burns. During that time the exploration of the given characters and the possibilities of what could be done are the best part of the job.
What part of your job do you like least? Why? 
Explaining some very obvious movements and transitions to someone who only knows how to talk on the phone. Oh, don’t ask me why this is the least enjoyable part of the job!
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 used to work with 3D software in my early days, but somehow painlessly switched to 2D and Flash. So more than 10 years  I was able to see the evolution of the entire Adobe suite and I have to admit it became way better lately. The way you can integrate one work file into the other makes me smile because of happiness. The job feels more natural and you can move from one form to another on a fly. Speaking of hardware I like to use my Cintique 21UX which I got right when it became available. I tried it first at SIGGRAPH and that was it. It definitely helped to draw storyboards and sketch the poses. But when it’s not around the old good paper and the pen do just about the same.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The most difficult part is probably being between the business. The nature of it is very much unpredictable and sometimes you cannot know for how long your vacation is going to be. And then once you start on a new project you don’t have the luxury to spend the time with your family, if you happen to have one. Constant balance is hard to maintain.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
I would love to go back in time and start working with Walt D. That’s the only thing I wish I could change.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I remember sitting on a floor of the Sistine Chapel looking up thinking if there is anything better than this?
Describe a tough situation you had in life. 
Once I partook a chance to go to pilgrimage in Poland. Every year in August lots of people go there to kneel before one icon and prey. So I went to Poland and walked for a week through the country with just a little backpack and $40 in my pocket. The experience was great. Coming back to Moscow right in the middle of a military coups d’état was something I didn’t expect. Seeing the tanks on a streets and thinking “Why oh why did I come back in this crazy place?” That was one of the toughest situations.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Planning to shoot and a edit a little presentation for my wife’s Kickstarter project. That’s all I can say for now.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
One of my talents I had to discover the hard way is to rebuild my body from the multiple injuries I got dew to some sport accidents. After I managed to regrow the ACL in my left knee and three nerves in my right hand I realized that I might be somewhat a cyborg. So in my free time I am trying to stay physically active in order to keep the rust away… or just draw.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? 
If you feel it’s your thing, just do it. Or do something else instead only to realize later on that all you want to do is to animate, so you start doing it anyways. Good luck.
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