What is your name and your current occupation?
Vadim Kapridov, currently a director of animated TV series for preschoolers.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked once as a builder of ice town.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Web – Progress from Above, TV – Futz!, Peep and the Big Wide World, and the incredibly challenging show I’m directing now – Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
How did you become interested in animation?
I always loved animation and wanted to be an animator even as a kid. I used my school textbooks as flipbooks, filling them with silly moving stories on margins of the pages. This helped me to find many friends among students but not many among teachers I’m afraid.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Now I live and work in Toronto. I was born in Russia, have a fine arts background and worked for a while as an illustrator and editorial cartoonist. I did an animated short once, painting with gouache right on celluloids. There were stacks of sheets, thousands of brushstrokes to paint and shoot painstakingly. I learned patience. Because of a technical filming glitch, we had to redo the whole minute of animation next week. I learned humility and perseverance. And more patience. The computers made the transition to animated world look simple and fast! Still, I learned patience. I worked a few years in digital multimedia educational animations among other art related projects, then in 2001 created and animated a web mini-series Progress From Above for Netherlands’s company Bit Magic, which was a fantastically fun project, and was digitally animating since.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Brainstorming boards ideas, directing animation, working on animatics on a computer and in editing room and collaborating on other production things from design to eating cupcakes.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Brainstorming visual storytelling, especially for story spots that seem weak or boring at first. It can get challenging in tight production timeframes but most of the time is creatively gratifying – something clicks and then you know it works. And of course it’s great to have fantastic brainstorming team which I’m fortunate to have, and it can be fun, too!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Computers are great, but just last week my workstation had to be repaired for several hours, and time is literally money in this business, so I’d say dependency on technology, when it’s not cooperating.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Pencil or Fineliner on Paper, Storyboard Pro, Sketchbook Pro, Flash. I also use iPad for typing notes in editing room and for working with scripts and boards while commuting.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Watching finished show and catching myself wishing to go back and do something differently. But in this industry you learn the importance of the crucial “letting go” skill. That’s how we move forward.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
When we worked on “Peep and the Big Wide World”, Kaj Pindal was drawing animatics on a long strip of paper, that was pretty great to watch!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Once I had to walk a goat path over a half a hundred meter drop with jagged rocks on the bottom. The first step was the toughest. Thankfully, there was a friend’s hand on the other side.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
There are a handful of new projects I’m currently working on – I attached a few sketches to give you a peek. And I keep doodling in my sketchbooks about pretty much everything that happens in my life – sort of ongoing never-ending project but hey, isn’t it the life of a cartoonist? Most of my new project ideas are originated in my sketchbooks.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can whistle with two pinkies really, really loud. I do it only in a forest far away from civilization and still have to hold back as I’m afraid it can be damaging to hearing. Maybe even damaging to wildlife hearing.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
First and foremost, stay a “student” as long as possible. The thirst for learning is the key. In a production, be a part of a team, the part that counts. Learn to focus, listen and see the bigger picture and grasp the style of the project. Once when we talked about particular staging of a scene, someone said “this is the opposite of what they were teaching us in animation school”. Try to look at this in a way that in school you’ve been learning methods, and not necessarily shortcuts or cookie-cutter solutions for any possible occasion. There are a huge variety of good shows and movies out there, all done differently! Watch as much as you can and keep learning!