What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Chris Palmer and I am a 3D Artist at Turner Studios Creative Services in Atlanta GA.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I use to clean bird poop off the rocks and walls at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga TN during High School as well as rehabilitating wild birds and animals for release back into the wild at the Chattanooga Nature Center…… far cry from an animation career!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I did a short film called Cold Country with my good friend Travis Overstreet during college. It made its way through the film festival circuit, and opened many doors for me. Its a powerful short film, I still get goose bumps watching it. Also during my time at Crawford Media in Atlanta GA we created the cover for OZ magazine’s January edition. I had always wanted to do a stand alone 3D peice and it turned out wonderfully! I worked on the lighting and got to learn how to create fur in Maya. I still have the image hanging on my wall at home.
How did you become interested in animation?
When I was a kid I always had my head in the clouds, creating stories and epic adventures in my mind. I use to watch this show called Movie Magic and I always wanted to be the guy that created the cool stuff you saw in movies. On top of that I constantly watch cartoons such as the smurfs, Scooby doo, and Fragle Rock and I just want to be apart of that world, creating stories and bringing my imagination to life. After my mom took me to MGM studios in Florida when I was younger and I saw that people could create these stories for a living ….. I was hooked
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Chattanooga TN and my path to animation was a long one. I have to admit I didnt go into an animation career starting off, I didnt think I would be happy drawing all my life. I was young and naive, I thought I would not have the life I wanted as an artist. I graduated with a Communications degree with a minor in theater from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 05′ and then did sales and marketing for a few years. I hated what I did but by chance I came across a potential client that had an animation background. We started talking about the industry and my love for the animation world was revised. He told me about the Savannah College of Art and Design and that’s when I started looking into going back to school for animation. It seemed fate had intervened and before I knew it I was graduating with a BFA in Animation and I haven’t looked back since.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I am currently working on a children’s TV series creating 3D backgrounds to be combined with live action plates. Every morning we have dailies as a group so that everyone knows what needs to be fixed or what was approved by the client. Then we get our assigned shots and start composing the backgrounds for the next set of plates for that day. If changes need to be made we do it and if not we plug away trying to get as much as we can done. Sometimes I am asked to create establishing shots, or add lighting to certain scenes, so everyday is a little different which is nice.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The fact that everyday will be a little different in regards to what needs to be done. There are always challenges that come up and it makes for a interesting day. I cant take doing the exact same thing everyday. Plus we all laugh! Every one is always in a joking mood weather or not we are all stressed out about deadlines or whatever has happened during the day we always find time to laugh at each other.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
On the rare occasion when we are waiting on feed back to progress onward. I get a tad bored and I feel like I am supposed to be doing something but there is nothing to work on haha. But those times are very few and far between.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
We primarily work in Autodesk Maya. Sometimes we use Photoshop to quickly check or compose a shots before sending it over to the composition guys.
Being a freelancer. I am use to having a full time job without any gaps in employment. But the silver lining is that it gives me the free time to work on my own art work.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I got the opportunity to meet with Don Hahn during my time at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He was such a down to earth guy and was great to talk to about the industry. A few of us were asked to sit down with him and talk about our time at SCAD, show him our work, and discuss our plans for the future. I was one of only two undergrads that was invited so I was very honored to meet him.
The toughest situation I ever had to go through was my time at SCAD. I had to go to class everyday, work 30 + hours a week serving tables, then came home just to stay up to all hours of the night working on homework. I would forget to eat, hardly got any sleep and had no social life to speak of. There were times that I had to take off work just to finish a project but that would cause me to be late on bills or not have enough money to even feed the dog or myself. But the one that kept me going was something that my mom said to me “You, by the grace of God, have made it this far and have done so well, this is truly where you are supposed to be. One day, you are gong to look back at all this and laugh. Then you are going to ask yourself, was it worth it?” I can safely say now that, that answer is “YES!”
I have a group of friends and I that are currently working on a new short animated film, along with some personal work that I will be posting progress of on my blog. The film is still in its early stages but we are every excited about it. We will be posting its progress as well once we get to that point so stay tuned!
Ummmm I can do a standing back flip…. not really wierd I know but its hard to do haha. As for hobbies, I am a nature photographer, have been one for years. Great way to see the world and capture its massive beauty.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Dont be afraid to fail or ask questions. Also network with everyone you come across, you never know who will help you in the future. Having said that, if you can help someone else then do it, because good karma will always come back to you. If you want it bad enough, fight for it and it will happen, you just have to give it time. Plus when it does it make your success that much more sweeter.