Doug Vitarelli

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Doug Vitarelli. 3D animator at one of those big networks. Adjunct professor at NYU.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a roustabout for the Big Apple Circus. Spent 2 summers travelling the northeast with some seriously interesting characters.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I directed “The Buddy System”, a pilot that went nowhere but was a lot of fun to work on. Won a bunch of awards too. I was an animator on “Sonic Vision” an updated 70’s laser light show for the American Musuem of Natural Histoy’s Hayden Planetarium. Going into the theater and seeing your work projected in a dome was a ton of fun.
How did you become interested in animation?
In high school I was given “The Illusion of Life” for a Christmas present and finished reading it in 3 days. I was always interested in art but ever since then animation is the only thing I’ve wanted to do for a living.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Connecticut. My first job was an internship at Michael Sporn Animation in NYC between my junior and senior years while I was attending the Rhode Island School of Design. It is still one of the greatest experiences of my life.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Get to work at 4pm (I work second shift) and create broadcast/news/recreations in 3D until midnight.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like to work other talented artists. It’s always more fun to be with people who like animation as much as you do.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Working until early in the morning. When I was younger the long hours where fine but now that I’m a bit older it takes a few days to get over the lack of sleep.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Maya, MotionBuilder, CS5.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Being a freelancer and getting the next gig when everyone else is in the same situation.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Haven’t we all? It’s such a small industry. But my favorite is when I was at CalArts (MFA, Experimental) and Chuck Jones walked into the classroom. Second is meeting Frederic Back in Ottawa. He’s my favorite.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
The circus story is fun to tell so many years later but at the time I had no other options.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Olifant! He’s a dinosaur who live in NYC’s Central Park. Go to to check him out. It’s been a labor of love for a few years now. I’m working on a short and hopefully it will be a series someday soon. You can track my progress at my blog:
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can safely say that I’m a better bocce player then you are.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Focus. It’s good to be multi talented but at first you’re going to get hired to one thing so you should do it really well. Also get out and meet people. Word of mouth is the best way to get a job.

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