Ivan Pinzon

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Ivan Pinzon, Principal Engineer, SketchBook Dev Lead.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked for Imaginova Corp, developing an Astronomy App called “Starry Night”.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My current project, SketchBook for iOS and for desktop and Starry Night
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Bogota, Colombia and 14 years ago I moved to Canada. I got involved with the digital artist world when I joined Autodesk to work in SketchBook.

 

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
It’s a combination of different things: code, debug, investigate and learn, plan and schedule future releases and a bit of customer support.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I really like to investigate and play with new concepts and ideas, try to find something that is going to be useful for our users.I also enjoy optimizing code. Faster is better.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Finding / reproducing bugs that caused our users to lose work. It’s frustrating to get these complains and more frustrating sometimes to not be able to reproduce these issues.

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?
My main development machine is a Mac and developing for iOS requires to have some iPads, iPhones and iPods. It’s incredible how technology has evolved. The latest iPhone/iPad are more powerful than the computer I had a few years ago. This has allowed us to push for unbelievable features for a mobile device. Something that a few years ago was just crazy to even imagine. The current trend were mobile is getting closer to desktop is very interesting. Seems that these 2 will eventually merge.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Keeping up-to-date with all the technology changes and being able to take advantage of them in a short period of time. It’s both challenging but at the same time motivating.

If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
I would like to spend more time investigating to find new innovative tools. But, work has to be done so finding a good balance is never easy.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve had the chance to watch and listen to a few amazing guys, from sketching artists to animation professionals from studios like Pixar and Marvel. Different techniques and tools.  This has given me a chance to understand what artists need and with this I try to find a fun, simple and effective way to expose this in our software.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Leaving my family and my past in my home country and starting from scratch again in Canada while keeping my wife and kids afloat
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
All I can say is that I’m working in some interesting technologies/features that I hope eventually are going to see the light of day.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I love airplanes. I have a private pilot license although I haven’t flown in a few years and I like to build and fly aerobatics model airplanes.  I’m lucky to have my son Nicolas as my partner and we compete in Canada and the US.  I also like to play the piano.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?Although I’m not an artist, I’ve had contact with many that have started from zero and have been persistent enough to develop a clear style and technique that differentiates them from the rest, finally becoming successful and recognized. Take advantage from the social networks: Deviant Art, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, …

 

Nick Gibbons

What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Nick Gibbons and I am currently the editor at Radical Axis in Atlanta Georgia and a freelance writer.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked at a magic shop for about 7 years. I loved doing magic for the first 4 years working there, then I sort of lost interest. The store was a magnet for insane people. Clowns, magicians, jugglers and mental patients would frequent the store on a daily basis. It was like a stationary traveling circus.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I worked at DNA Productions for about 8 years in Dallas. That is the studio responsible for Jimmy Neutron. I was around from the very beginning of that project, working on the movie and the series. The people there are all so fantastic and talented. It really was like being part of a family. Watching that little studio help break new ground in 3-D animation by showing the world you didn’t have to be in California to create magic, was an amazing experience.

 

How did you become interested in animation?
It feels weird to say I watched a lot of animation as a kid, because every kid watches a lot of animation, right? I guess the difference is Continue…

Matt Novak

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Matt Novak. Children’s Book Author and Illustrator. (Occasional animator)

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Can’t really say I’ve had any “crazy” jobs. In high school and college I was a puppeteer and an actor. Our puppet troupe was called “Pegasus Players” and we performed at amusement parks, birthday parties, flea markets, farmers markets and anywhere else that would pay us a few bucks to make kids laugh. Also, acted on stage and in a nationally syndicated radio show called “Willow Crossing.” I played the part of a freckle faced kid named Billy, which was very convenient since I was a freckle faced kid at the time.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I think my favorite animation project to have been a part of would hands down have to be “Beauty and the Beast.” To be part of the team that created the first animated film to ever be nominated for “Best Picture” That’s pretty cool. Of course, I’m proud of ALL the books I’ve created as well.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in the small coal mining town of Sheppton, Pennsylvania. (Population at the time, about 700) I was always interested in animation. Even before kindergarten. It was the closest thing to magic that existed in my world. As I grew up I watched a lot of cartoons and devoured any books about Walt Disney and the animation process. Tried making some Continue…

Zeke Ares

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What is your name and your current occupation?
I am Zeke Ares stop motion animator/director and T/A of Black Box Building animation studio here in Stoke on Trent UK.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
Well I was a chef for 9 years of my career, which was pretty crazy. I know your thinking “what?” but Chefs are crazy! I have ended up in knife fights working in kitchens before, drunk lock-ins till silly o’clock and even naked frolicking. Like I said chefs are crazy, but that’s what working stupid amount of hours for bad pay in very hot circumstances does to you, Fun times but definitely crazy.

What are some of your favourite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I believe this is one question I love to answer and the answer is always the same, War of the Worlds SURGE. A trailer based animation, a short adaption of the novel by great British author H.G Wells.  I have always been a little bit obsessed when it comes to War of the Worlds. It’s something I have always dreamed of doing. So when my chance came along to do a film at university I jumped at the opportunity to create a stop motion version just like the late and great Ray Harryhausen in 1949.
So with an amazing team behind me (now known as the SURGE crew) we set out to create this intense animation, it became more of a tripod obsession in the end. Just animating tripods for weeks. One very intense interesting shot we did was after a few weeks of animating on the church set we had to destroy it But I had so much fun on this film I even had the symbol of the animation tattooed on my arm now everyday can I smile when I look at it.

 

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from the very green city of Milton Keynes in the UK, I have always wanted to be an animator and after 9 years of being a chef I decided to chase my dreams and re-join education for 5 years to gain my BA HONS in stop motion animation & puppet making. From here I Continue…

Kenya Danino

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Hello there! My name is Kenya Danino and I am a Freelance Visual Development Artist for BlueBells Animation Studio in India and I’ve worked with PennyFarthing Press Inc.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Well, before I even thought about pursuing a freelancing career I did a lot of small commission work here and there since my high school days. In doing so I was making some pocket change as well as practicing to better my talent in areas I struggled in such as anatomy and perspective. And to think when I got to college I was going to pursue the sciences haha, totally different ball game. Wasn’t quite my cup of tea to say the least.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Ah I’ve loved all my awesome opportunities! However, favorite project I have been and continue to be part of is working with the lovely Miss Karen Kiefer on her ongoing children’s book project entitled “The Misfit Sock.” The Misfit Sock teaches lessons of love, hope, inspiration and gratitude through a profound children’s story and introduces a wonderful children’s Christmas tradition. Karen is such a wonderful person in how she is and what she does with this project which talks to “misfit people.” They come in all colors and genders and try to fit in with society that views them as different but what they really have is a gift; a good reason why they don’t exactly fit the puzzle. You can’t lead what you fit in with. And that’s what Karen The Misfit Mama teaches.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from good ol’ Queens, New York. I hear this state used to be an animation central, now there are only a few sites left. Shame, but no matter, you make do with what you got around you when Continue…

Sam Ellis

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Sam Ellis, Creative Director at Never Say Die Studios LLC.  I also teach Animation, Story Art, and Concept Design to college students, 2 days a week at the Art Institute of Washington.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a supervisor at a quick service chicken restaurant, a Mormon missionary in Arizona, a house framer in historic Williamsburg, a pizza delivery driver, a burger cashier, I built curbs all over Virginia Beach, an off-ice hockey linesman, as well as quite a few more freelance art jobs.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Well, the one project that really helped launch my career and that is going into its 5th season is Archer. I was Lead Designer on Archer Season one and left at the end to go work on personal projects, but we were wrapping up an episode of the short lived Xtacles on adult swim and Adam Reed was getting ready to pitch a new show around called Duchess, Neal Holman was too busy with his other duties so Matt Thompson passed off the majority of the work over to me and Chad Hurd. I was to draw Duchess (later to be known as Archer), his mother, and his father, while Chad drew Archer’s love interest, his foil, and his car.  After his pitch was successful and a pilot was green-lit, I got to do quite a bit more designing, Chad and I were pretty delighted to start making some changes to the designs when we got hold of them, there was some great stuff already done by Neal Holman and Eric Simms, but with Neal working on creating backgrounds before we found Trinity Animation and Eric taking some heavy animation duties, Chad and I were like kids in a candy shoppe. We had a blast on that first episode, it came together real fast and we came up with some interesting solutions.  Even though I left Archer I still love the crew and am tickled when I see some of the art I did show up all the time, also I get a kick out of seeing my son every time I see young Archer as he was the model for it, Although he has never seen or probably will see Archer.  Outside of Archer I have been able to work on Cory Edward’s Krogzilla with the fine folks at GreenShoe Animation, Jason Shwartz’s company–man totally forgot, working with those guys let me work with Disney and Marvel I am heck’a proud of that I also got to foray into gaming and got to do some designs for that Avengers ultimate alliance game–that was fun.

 

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I currently live in Spotsylvania VA, and I grew up on the east coast, most of my life was spent in Virginia Beach, VA.  I always wanted to be an animator and a comic artist, I love telling stories and find that using pictures and being able to draw was another great skill set in being able to Continue…