Dan Fraga

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Dan Fraga. I’m the director of The Ricky Gervais Show.


What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
There have been a few. Comicbook artist, Storyboard artist, Set Designer, Visual Effects Supervisor, Second unit director. Burger King.


What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
One of my favorites was being part of the launch of Image comics in 1992. Designing the sets for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2008 was a hoot as you might imagine. I’m really proud of the work my crew and I did for The Ricky Gervais Show Season 3.


How did you become interested in animation?
When I was a kid, my parents took us to this discount store. In it I found this Fisher Price Movie Viewer  and it came with a cartridge for Disney’s Lonesome Ghosts.  I’d seen the cartoon before, but I never had the ability to step through it one frame at a time like you can now with a dvd player of quicktime clip. This was the late 70’s early 80’s, so for me to see that animation was 24 drawings making up a second of movement was like learning the secret to the greatest magic trick. Of course afterwards I made flipbooks and what-not. I eventually discovered comics and took detour from animation. After working as a storyboard artist in feature films, I started noticing the changes and compromises being made from board to final shot and it was kind of a bummer. When I started working on The Hard Times of RJ Berger for MTV, it was the first time that I got to see what I boarded translated near perfectly to final shot. It’s intoxicating. I felt that magical feeling that I once got as a kid with that toy. I love all things animation and made it my mission to learn all that I could about the different kinds that are out there and the histories behind the masterpieces we all love.


Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from North East Bay Area by San Francisco. I got into the animation business through working on The Hard Times of RJ Berger. I was storyboarding the show and providing on camera artwork for the main character who was an aspiring comicbook artist. The creators of the show asked if I could Continue reading

Hector Lopez

What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Hector Lopez and I’m a character animator/game developer.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I did quite a few jobs in my days before getting into animation. The craziest I would have to say when I worked for a food dristribution company. My job was a material handler working inside a freezer stacking pallets with frozen meats. We walked in there looking like eskimos since the temperature inside was 0 degress. I worked there for several months while I was in school. After a couple months I got used to it. Being inside a room at 0 degress doesn’t bother me anymore. Unfortunately, since I was in school full time I could not keep up working there since it was a graveyard shift. School came first.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’ve worked with several animation studios on loads of projects. The projects I had most fun on was doing facial animation for “Red Dead Redemption” and “GTA IV Ballad of Gay Tony” for xbox 360 and PS3. I always enjoyed playing games like Grand Theft Auto and all Rockstar games for that matter.

How did you become interested in animation?
My interest in animation came at the age of 17 when I was still in high school. I was always drawing and I remember Continue reading

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, …


Ken Pontac


What is your name and your current occupation?
Ken Pontac, animation writer.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?I was a bartender in a place called Roxanne’s in Arcadia, California.  The guzzlery had gone through several incarnations before I worked there, when the new owner decided to make it a “New Wave” bar (whatever the hell that means). He had a big screen that played an Abba laserdisc on endless rotation and he made me dress as a clown while I poured beer and wine.  Roxanne’s had been a motercycle bar in its previous life and on opening day a pack of bikers came in, happy to see that their old watering hole was back in business.  They were the funniest bikers I’d ever seen, right out of Central Casting: furry vests and Prussian helmets and studded leather everywhere.  They were like Get Smart bikers, and they came to the place every night. On New Years Eve I was dancing on the hood of my Gremlin in a jester suit, holding a sign that said “DRINK HERE!” A couple of cute girls pulled up and decided that they’d get the jester drunk, and they escorted me to the bar (somebody else was pouring that night).  As midnight approached I had a babe on each arm, both holding a bottle of bubbly that they were pouring down my throat. Continue reading