What is your name and your current occupation?
Ben Rosales – Animation Instructor
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Full-time missionary in the Canada Calgary Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (The “white shirt & tie” guys on bikes)
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Open Season III
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Texas – My first animation job was at a small studio in Houston called Illusion Studio, Inc. Then I worked at ReelFX in Dallas.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
As an animation instructor I usually start with a brief lecture, then I spend most of the class time helping my students with their animations. We generally finish up the class with walk-around “dailies” where my students give/get feedback on each other’s work.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I really enjoy seeing students make progress through the animation pipeline.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I’d say the toughest part of my job is trying to help students work through the endless Maya 2012 glitches. It would be nice if Autodesk had better tech support/customer service.
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?
We mostly work with Maya. Unfortunately, Maya seems to have gotten worse over the years instead of better. This makes my job much more difficult.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I’d have to say that dealing with bad software has been the most difficult part of teaching for me.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve had a few brushes with animation greatness: In 2004 I had lunch with animators Dan Holland and Matt Nolte at Pixar.
In 2007 at SIGGRAPH I met Tony Plett of Lucasfilm Animation, who is also a Ringling alumn. In 2008, got to take a photo with Jeffrey Katzenburg of Dreamworks at our graduation ceremony. In 2011, I met Stephen Jennings of Grasshorse who helped create our animation program here in Iowa. Stephen had a very successful career as a compositor in Hollywood prior to Grasshorse.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
A tough situation I dealt with was commuting from Dallas to Houston while working on Open Season III. While the experience was great for my animation career, it placed a great burden on my family, especially on my wife. At first, I was commuting home every week, then every other week. Finally, it was once a month.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
While I don’t have as much time to work on my own animation projects these days, I am creating assets that my students will help to animate next spring. I’m a member of our local triathlon team, Burlington Endurance Athlete Sports Team, or team “BEAST” for short. They have a great mascot, sort of a big foot character. I thought it would be great to have my students animate a commercial for team BEAST. This would give them professional experience while helping to promote team BEAST.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I like to pull out my old alto sax and play Christmas tunes for charities such as the Salvation Army. This year, I’m also playing to help raise money to get our newly formed animation club to SIGGRAPH 2013.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I have become notorious for saying, animation is lots of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. Be prepared to work and rework a project until it is right or until you have to let it go. Many aspiring animators come into their education ill prepared for the rigors of producing a quality piece of animation. Another point I usually make when speaking to potential students deals with finances. Your total tuition should not cost more than you would make in a year in any profession. If it does, then you need to seriously reconsider the debt you will be in after graduation. I’m paying close to $1,600 a month for my student loans. That doesn’t leave much left over for the fun things of life, or even the important things like savings.