Chris Duncan

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 What is your name?
Chris Duncan

What would you say has been your primary job in animation?
Background painter, but because I was a digital artist before that was mainstream I was lucky enough to do a little of everything like some 3D, promotional stuff, design and editing.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Right out of High School I was a technical illustrator at General Dynamics working on build and repair manuals for cruise missiles and they’re launchers while working with a bunch of old grumpy ex-Navy guys. When I first moved to LA I worked on a drill crew where we would go out to the boonies and drill 80 foot holes in the ground so a state geologist could go down and see if it was safe to build on the site. I used to shape surfboards, maybe not crazy but totally bitchin’.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
When I started at Warner’s I was support to all the shows so that was amazing, but Pinky and the Brain and The Animaniacs I have the fondest memories of. Great crew and shows. Osmosis Jones was a fun project and terrific art director.

How did you become interested in animation?
Always been interested. I’ve always painted/drawn so I looked at it as making my artwork move and tell a story. When I was a kid I made some short surfing animation with my Dad’s super 8 camera that turned out really well, at least my friends liked them. I still have a box of the drawings and maybe some day I’ll get them all done. Thanks for reminding me, where’s that damn box?

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
San Diego. I put any idea of animation on the back burner and worked as an advertising illustrator and photo retoucher for years. I was really burnt out on that and a friend told me the Warner Bros was looking for some one so I interviewed and started the next week. It was the greatest job in the world. What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job? I’ve been bouncing between live action and animation in the last few years but it’s pretty much the same as a day goes. Go into work, sit down and stat painting. Then there’s a panic and start painting something else.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Working with all the creative minds in this field. Collaborating with them and just coming up with things that hopefully will make people say wow. Getting paid for doing what I love to do. Also the freedom to be creative, to try new things nearly everyday. Try doing that as a bank teller or at Walmart.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Animation is produced by passionate and dedicated people and is run by people with business degrees that don’t care or even know what is good. Meetings? Why?

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Staying in the business. All the politics and buddy system.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Well I’ve been a Photoshop guy since 1991 so that’s my base, but a fair amount of Maya is thrown in there. After Effects, Final Cut and Nuke is added to the mix every now and then.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Chuck Jones, Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, and Iwao Takamoto I’ve had the privilege of either meeting or working with. Bob Givens who was on Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries and started at Warner Bros. in 1939. Describe a tough situation you had in life.

Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
If I find that box of old drawings I’ll have one.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Learn to say no. People know we love what we do so there’s always that quick project that’s got no budget or pay rate that we just say okay to. Always be open to new things and listening goes a long way. Learn from people you respect, work hard and be honest.

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  1. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Chris for some time. He is a consummate professional and someone who has a vast knowledge and a wealth of experience.

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