What is your name and your current occupation?
Hello I am Rachel Anchors and I am a Character Animator.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I wouldn’t call the jobs I did before animation crazy. I was a freelance artist doing some illustration. I worked some restaurant jobs and barista jobs. I worked as a rental agent. As soon as I graduated college I was doing only animation and animation related jobs.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I am proud to have worked on Arthur Christmas with Sony Imageworks. I got to work with some pretty inspirational people, push myself as an animator, and experience what it was like to work on a big production.
How did you become interested in animation?
I became interested in animation at a very early age. I always drew and made up illustrated stories. I watching, “Lady and the Tramp,” and, “Robin Hood,” repeatedly as a child. There was something about the way the characters moved and spoke that I found so beautiful and memorable. I must have seen a movie about how animation was done because as soon as I knew this was a possible career path I had made my decision. In 3rd grade I proclaimed animation my career choice and my parents immediately started putting me in animation camps and art classes. I went to an art High School, and did anything I could do to get closer to the industry. The more I got into learning the process the more I loved it.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Maryland. I got into the animation business by applying myself in my art High School, The Visual Art Center, so I could get into Cal Arts. I was in summer school every summer to make up for the general credits I was missing during the regular school year so I could graduate. I received my BFA in Character Animation from Cal Arts. When I got out I had only worked in 2d animation and all the jobs were turning over to 3d. So I had to play catch up and teach myself how to animate in 3d. I took any work I could at first to get my feet wet. I worked on numerous projects from TV shows, to web shows, to short films. I worked in Flash, Maya, and did storyboarding. I still wanted to work on a Feature Animation though and I felt I needed that extra push. So I went back to school at Animation Mentor. After that my momentum really picked up and I got my first feature job at Sony Imageworks. After Sony, I went to work for some commercial studios in Minnesota to be closer to my fiancé
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I would say there is no typical day for me. Everywhere I work the schedule is a little different. But generally, I come in, I check my notes I wrote for myself the day before and get to work. Usually at some point in the day I check in with my supervisor to get more notes. I always try to fit in a work out whether it is in the morning, lunch time, or in the evening.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love the feeling of seeing my character alive on screen and knowing that it came out of me. When my shot works in concert with all the shots around it a new world is created. I love the people I work with. Animators tend to be an interesting fun bunch. At one place I worked a comic would be passed around the room all day and everyone would add a panel. They usually got pretty out there and hilarious by the end of the day. Animators realize the need to bond with each other and to relax the mind so greater creativity can come out.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
There is nothing that I do not like about my actual jobs. I love animating. I love collaborating, and I love creating. It is more in the way we are hired into our positions. If you want to work for a studio there is so much uncertainty in your life. I can never know where I will be more then 7 to 9 months out. There are not many places that will hire animators as permanent staff.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I work in Maya on a PC with Windows mainly. I did have to work in Linux when I was at Sony though.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I could say the hours are tough, but when you love what you are doing the hours can just slip by without you noticing.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I was privileged to meet Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas when I was at Cal Arts. They would come to our producer shows at the end of the year. I also meet Glen Kean on a number of occasions. I visited Disney and got to have a nice one on one critique with Eric Goldberg.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I started illustrating a book my dad was making. The character I came up for it I loved so much I decided to make him in Maya and do a little animated short of him. Right now I am still modeling him and storyboarding. We will be setting up the book and short on their own website. I am very excited about it.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
My other great passion in life is dancing. I am a competitive Latin dancer. Dancing is so much like animation. I think about the same things. Dynamics, squash and stretch, storytelling, character, where the movement originates from and where it travels to in the body. The dancing also keeps me healthy so I can keep animating without injury or aches and pains.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Be very social. It is important to make friends with everybody. We are all in it together and because we are migrants we will all probably work with each other at some point or another. Try to stay modest but know your own strengths and don’t forget who you are as an artist. Keeping your own personal projects on the side will ensure you keep your own identity and will breathe new life into the industry. Oh and keep healthy. With the workloads it can be hard but if you don’t take care of yourself your career will be shorter and your work will suffer.
Beautiful work, Rachel! Great performances!