Ted Stearn

What is your name and your current occupation?
Ted Stearn Director Beavis and Butthead
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
No “crazy” jobs! Just dull ones. I used to do paste up and mechanicals for advertising and publishing. Yawn.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I drew storyboards for a little known show for Cartoon Network, called “Squirrel Boy.” I had a lot of creative freedom and enjoyed being able to work with the writers on the story. It was very satisfying to create an entire chase scene, for example, without specific direction from the script. I think storyboard artists should be trusted to integrate more of their visual ideas by actually working with writers and not just be confined to following a script to the letter.  I also enjoyed directing Beavis and Butthead, because these are two characters who are actually funny. When I can get them to do physical humor, it’s great fun. The new shows that will be coming out are a bit more complex than those early shows.
How did you become interested in animation?
I was a fine art major, and even went back to graduate school in fine art, but I started getting into drawing my own comics, which made the transition to animation a little less abrupt.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I lived in New York for most of my adult life. I was a latecomer to animation- I did not get my first job until I was 34. A friend of mine who worked at MTV Animation told me they were looking for storyboard artists, so I showed them my sketchbook and my comics, and I was hired as a storyboard revisionist for Beavis and Butthead. I probably could not have gotten hired if it had been a more sophisticated show!

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
As a storyboard artist, I spend a lot of time drawing on a cintique, with the script and designs in front of me. Sometimes I have to meet with the director and the supervising director to go over my thumbnails and make necessary changes.  As a director, I spend more time coordinating my ideas with the design department. I look over the storyboards and make necessary revision notes. When I have time I draw out some thumbs for storyboard artists for specific sections. And I give specific directions to the timer, and review them when I get the exposure sheets back from the timer.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like being paid to draw and I love the art of film, so it’s nice to get paid to do it.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I don’t like working on scripts have formulaic plots and uninteresting characters, but that seems to come with television shows sometimes. I don’t like it when I have to draw what I consider ugly character designs, because I have to do it many, many times when storyboarding.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Finding steady work!

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I work with Storyboard Pro on a Cintique almost exclusively.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
It’s been interesting working with Mike Judge and Matt Groening, I get to see how show creators work and think.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I would say…. a couple of years ago, I simply could not find work. I was on unemployment for a long time, and it was affecting me in a bad way, I was very nervous about money. I was taking many storyboard tests, and I even took a test for a show that I had already worked on. I couldn’t get a hold of anyone to confirm that I could e exempt from a test. They said I had to take a test because the show no longer had layout artists (as is the case everywhere nowadays.) Imagine having to prove yourself as if you were a newcomer, though you were not. This is why it is so important to network with friends and let everyone know your status. It’s much more difficult to get a job from the outside. And save, save, save, because you will get laid off, if not sooner, then later. Be prepared.

Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
I draw and write my own comics, it’s called “Fuzz and Pluck.” You can find it online at my website tedstearn.com, or go to my publisher’s site, fantagraphics.com, and look up my name under “artists.” It’s about a teddy bear and a plucked chicken and their adventures. I think it is important to always have one’s own projects in the works, it helps balance out working under others’ ideas. With my own work, I have complete freedom to do what I want. I’d like to think of myself as an auteur, and I want to stay that way!

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Before you apply for a job:  1) Try an internship if possible. Nothing beats it for getting your foot in the door, and seeing the industry from the inside. (I wish I did it!!)  2) Make sure you have the strongest portfolio possible. Show it to your friends and/or teachers and ask their honest opinion.  3) Learn as much as you can about the craft of animation. Find the experts and learn from them any way you can.  4) Be familiar with the software that is used in your area of interest. Although, animation savvy is more important than software knowhow, in my opinion.  5) Try to meet people in the industry, and don’t be afraid to ask for their advice and help. That said, connections to people in the industry is important, but if you don’t have the chops, it still won’t get you where you want to be.

tedstearn.com

fantagraphics.com

Corey M. Barnes

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Corey M. Barnes, and I’m a storyboard artist. I just wrapped up my gig as storyboard supervisor on China, IL at Titmouse, Inc., and am currently storyboarding season 3 of Superjail!

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
When I was a teen I worked at JC Penney. I was one of the guys who folded clothes that people threw on the floor or just didn’t put back properly. I remember I found two children, one being a baby, hiding under a rack of clothes with no parents around. I thought they were lost or forgotten. Two minutes later the dad comes running up to me and starts accusing me of thinking because the kids were black that they were stealing stuff, all the while his wife is trying to calm him down. Continue…

Tyree Dillihay

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What is your name and current occupation?
My name is Tyree Dillihay and I’m an assistant director on season 2 of Bob’s Burgers. I have two series coming out that I worked on as a Director premiering on Fox and MTV the same week.  Good Vibes premieres on MTV, Thursday October 27th after the return of BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD and Allen Gregory, which was created by Jonah Hill premieres on FOX October 30th at 8:30.  I directed two episodes on each of these shows.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Fortunately, I’ve only had 2 9-5s before getting into animation and they weren’t bad at all. My first one was doing customer service for a skin care company. My second job, which was my reason for leaving the skin care company, was helping my mother start and run what became our family business of setting up facilities that service developmentally disabled people.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My favorites so far have been the projects where I was given creative autonomy. And ironically, those were not only fulfilling for me, but were huge successes for those that hired me. Projects like “Read A Book” and “Disrespectoids” were very fun projects to work on. “Disrespectoids” is probably my favorite because myself and a writer, Dan Clark, scripted out the cartoons the OLD way…VISUALLY. We literally sat in a room and had jam sessions with 10 characters to play with and just played “What if…?” for about 2 weeks on a dry erase board before animation started.
How did you become interested in animation?
Early in life I wanted to become an illustrator but I couldn’t afford to go to Art Center. Nor was I willing to incur that debt. And I didn’t feel you could Continue…

Aliki Theofilopoulos Grafft

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What is your name and current occupation?
Aliki Theofilopoulos Grafft

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Well I suppose I will go in order and explain why…The first would be my first job in animation…the movie “Hercules” at Walt Disney Feature Animation. I had completed a 3 month training internship, and was hired on to this film to work with Supervising Animator, Brian Ferguson, on the character “Panic”. He was the one who gave me my break, and taught me so much. His love for animation was infectious and I felt so lucky to be mentored by someone with such talent.  Next would be the movie “Tarzan” also at Disney. On this film I mentored with Supervising Animator John Ripa on the character “Young Tarzan”. I had seen an animation test John had done and just knew I had to work with him. I went to his office and asked if I could assist him, and he told me yes, but under one condition… when a student of animation, or anyone seeing knowledge asked for help, that I would pass on what he had taught me. He said James Baxter had made him give that same promise and he had tried to keep it. I learned so much from John and will be forever grateful for the teaching, the time and the kindness he gave me. He was completely generous with his knowledge, and never let an opportunity for teaching pass by. This made working on the film so exhilarating for me. I will never forget it. And yes, I have tried to keep my promise.  Later I would move into television and was honored to be a part of Fred Seibert’s shorts program at Nickelodeon, “Random Cartoons”. I created two shorts..the first was “Yaki and Yumi” and the second was “Girls on the GO!”. It was an incredible experience making my own films. This is where I believe I went from being a draughtsman to a filmmaker. I completely fell in love with telling stories and the whole process of making a film. I also discovered a love for television type storytelling, and cartooning rather than animating.  And of course the show I am currently on, Phineas and Ferb. I am writing and storyboarding on the show and am also an Emmy nominated song writer too(still shocked about that)! I am really proud of the work that we are all doing on the show. I have really grown as a storyteller from watching my peers and working with some insanely talented people. I laugh every day at my job! I am surrounded by some of the funniest people I have ever met and I love the challenge of keeping up! It’s never a dull moment, and I think the fun we have with each other has a big impact on the way the show is turning out. It is fun to be on a show that is loved by so many people and I am honored to be a part of it.

How did you become interested in animation?  
My grandfather loved cartoons and drawing. He would sit down with me and draw. He always encouraged me and would patiently sit by my side and teach me little things he knew. But I feel like I was Continue…

Scott Heming

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What is your name?
Scott Heming

What would you say has been your primary job in animation?
For most of my Computer Graphics career (Since the early 90’s) I have been a 3D artist. I have done my share of animation, video, short corporate films,  and web media. The smaller the company I work for, the more animation I seem to do.  I often have to wear an Animators hat when its called for. So, I would say I primarily do 3D Pre-Visaliaztion Animated films, well at lest I did for many years before I started working in the game industry.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (DIC-1999?) – mostly because it was early 2D/3D mixing on a project that was supposed to be another cheap DIC p.o.s. The show was typically short handed but everyone involved really got into it and I think it shows. It was Emmy nominated and still gets airplay 10 years later.

Curious George (TV series Universal 2006-2010) Kids and adults like it despite PBS’s educational mandate. Fun crew to work with. It’s a character I remember fondly from my childhood, so it’s been a privilege to ‘play’ in the world.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Fred Wolf Films – early 90’s) It was my second job in animation. A real trial by fire because of the insane schedule that first year. I had to learn a lot fast to survive, so I guess the pride comes from that…survival. We did something like 95 1/2 hours of animation in one year – Turtles, James Bond Jr., Toxic Crusaders… it wasn’t all pretty – but it got done.
How did you become interested in animation?
I was assisting doing comic books – which meant spotting blacks, doing backgrounds…doing grunt work. It didn’t pay shit but it got me out of the vacuum I’d been drawing in. One of the guys at the little studio we worked at was doing freelance props for DIC. I asked him how well it paid. He drew a quick ellipse  inside of an ellipse and said, ʺ See that? That’s a plate. That’s $35.ʺ Continue…

Luis Escobar

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What is your name and your occupation?

My name is Luis Escobar and I’m a Storyboard artist on THE SIMPSONS tv show.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
Before I got into the animation industry I used to milk squirrels for a living.  It’s surprising how few people know how high the demand for squirrel milk is. Especially in countries like Vanuatu, Uzbekistan, and Liechtenstein. Okay, I made all that up.  I didn’t really have any jobs before I got into the animation industry.  Especially not  involving milking squirrels. That’s sick, SICK I tell ya.  On the other hand, hamsters…

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of? 
I’m definitely proud of having worked on THE SIMPSONS movie. It was my first storyboard job AND my first movie.  It was also one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever had.  There are some SIMPSONS episodes I’m very proud to have worked on too. LISA’S WEDDING episode, I liked working on (directed by Jim Reardon) and Continue…