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…

Bernie Petterson

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Bernie Petterson. Which is the condensed version of the name on my driver’s license: Stephen Bernard Petterson. I work as a storyboard artist on a children’s TV show called Phineas and Ferb. My employer is The Walt Disney Company.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?

It was all minimum wage scut work. I worked in a hotel as a “Houseboy”. I learned that hotels are very creepy places. Places that are inhabited by people who, now that they’ve found themselves in a new town where nobody knows them, will allow the meanest and most debauched parts of their personality come out. If you ever get a chance to work in a hotel, don’t.

How did you become interested in animation?
I saw a really ugly brochure in the College Resource Room at my high school. It was green with avant garde purple-ish scribbles on it, and it was the marketing material for a place called California Institute of the Arts.The brochure claimed that you could major in

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Genevieve FT

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Genevieve FT and I’m currently as a freelance illustrator and concept artist. Working on many things I just can’t talk about..! I’m also a pin up artist on my free time !

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Nothing too crazy, I was working at a liquor store before. Not much to say about it, except that having discount on wine is always good !

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
For the past four years, I’ve been creating a pin up calendar, and every year I’m very proud to show the result and see how much I’ve improved during the year! I try to make a different theme every year, like zodiac signs, animals and this year was women around the world. It’s always a nice feeling to have a final product ever year and it’s even better to see the demand
grow !

How did you become interested in animation?
I always loved animation films and TV shows, plus I always was a creative kid and as a teen I Continue…

The Poor Animator’s Guide to making it in a Digital World

So let’s say you’ve decided to become an artist, or you came up old school and have yet to traverse across the digital bridge to the 21st Century. Of course there are devices that work well such as the Wacom Cintiq, The Surface Pro, The Wacom Companion and the Lenovo Helix, but all of these are expensive as hell, and you might wonder what you can do to keep the hard earned cash in your pocket. Fear not animators and artists, Animation Insider’s got your back for cheap alternatives! One look at the items necessary to be a professional digital artist these days can make you think twice about continuing in your endeavor. In order to buy all the essentials like a Wacom Cintiq, Storyboard Pro, Adobe Suite, Autodesk Maya you’d almost have to sell a kidney to have the cash to shell out for these fine items.

Or do you?

Hardware
For digital drawing hardware there are many cheaper alternatives out there to the industry standard; the Wacom Cintiq and while honestly none of them are as high quality as a Cintiq, if you’ve never used one to begin with you’re unlikely to notice a difference.

Yiyinova MVP22u

The Yiyinova MVP22U is a capable Cintiq replacement and about half the price but for now that’s the only alternative to a desktop Cintiq alternative I can recommend and even that has the caveat of shipping from China. To be fair though if a Cintiq breaks you’ll have to ship it to Germany so it’s a fair enough tradeoff.

Luckily there are other smaller devices you can buy as well that work decently enough.

The Asus EP121 tablet PC is a decent tablet that even has a touchscreen. No it’s NOT an iPad but honestly I’ve found those to be crappy at best while trying to produce professional art, and they won’t run professional programs like Storyboard Pro, or the Adobe Suite. Besides I find it hard to support a company that will not listen to the artists out there by purposely excluding a stylus option for the iPad despite a clear market for it.

For the record a much better alternative for artists is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, which while it will not run the above mentioned applications either it DOES come with a stylus and that alone makes me think it’s worth it. We reviewed it last year if you want to take a look.

Asus-Ep121

The Asus EP 121 will run all the standard applications artists use today in a professional environment and do it well. Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and Premiere all run handily on the Ep121. It will even handle Maya, 3D Studio Max, Mudbox and Motion Builder and sometimes you can even find it for less than $300 bucks. Right now the cheapest I’ve found the 64 gb configuration for is $550 (which you’ll need to install all that software) but still with a Cintiq costing $2000 you’re getting a good deal. It will even support an external monitor too boot.  It comes with a wireless bluetooth keyboard as well.

I happen to be selling one of these right now if you’re in the market so give me a shout if you’re interested.

Used_LE1700_Tablet_Motion_Computing_EE544523252_view1

The old standby though has to be the Motion Computing’s Motion series, in the form of the LE1600 and the LE1700 both of which run Sketchbook Pro like champ and if the studio is asking you to use Photoshop, it natively handles .psd files perfectly. The LE1600 is the cheaper of the two and for that you’ll sacrifice a bit of computing power but it still will run decently for the price. You can get a Motion Computing LE1600 at Gainsaver for $107 bucks! Not bad huh? It will even do light Maya chores, which for $100 is pretty damn spiffy in my book!

The more powerful device is the LE1700 though and for the extra price you can get a much more powerful processor. Granted it will NOT run Storyboard Pro, but it WILL run Flash, Photoshop and Sketchbook Pro. You can get a LE1700 cheaply at Gainsaver for about $125 bucks but if you do, I would suggest you change the processor configuration to the Intel 1.5 ghz Core 2 Duo and have them install Windows 7 on there for you. I would also bump up the hard drive to 80gb. This will only set you back $374 bucks but you can ‘probably’ get away with the default configuration if you just use Sketchbook Pro. Also this handy lil’ device WILL run Maya which is pretty cool but you won’t be able to have dozens of characters and huge backgrounds in one scene. It’s great for modeling. animating and rigging though. It’s not going to run any serious games or anything processor heavy but you can easily draw and animate with it.

Also, with Sketchbook Pro’s latest addition of the Flipbook 2d animation timeline, you can now animate in 2D for a VERY low startup price using both of these devices.

Software
For software, of course you can always buy used software on eBay as well, but quite often that’s just pirated software packaged to look legit and when you get your disks delivered sometime programs won’t register so I’d stay away from that.

There are alternatives as well and so you don’t really have to go to your friendly neighborhood software pirate to get decent software. Most don’t know this, but there are many academic sites that offer the ability to buy cheaper software legally. All you need is a scan of a student’s report card (and if you’re taking classes ANYwhere you qualify) which you’ll upload and they’ll create an account for you which will allow you buy all SORTS of discounted software.

The best I’ve found is called http://www.journeyed.com/ but there are others and they all offer around the same discounts.

Watch for our Artist’s Guide to Tablets 2014 to get advice on everything you could want for an artist coming next month.

AI Spotlight: Mike and Wayne

Today’s Spotlight comes to us from Florida in the form of a film called Mike and Wayne  about two guys who attempt to rob a liquor store to no avail. It’s well animated, well designed and it’s choice of palette colors is particularly refreshing.

Mike&Wayne_01AI: So let’s start out by having you introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you’ve come from to get you to this make this film.
Esteban: Hey! My name is Esteban Valdez, I’m the Founder of Echo Bridge Pictures and we’re an animation production company based in St Petersburg, Fla. and since our start we’ve worked on some incredibly high profile projects and respected names in the business like FOX, FXX, CBBeeies, UMG and Edelman. We’re focused on 2D production for music videos, commercials, corporate and educational videos, short and feature films, documentaries and episodic shows for television and the web.
I started back in 2000 working at small shops in and around Boston, MA. In late 2010 I planted some roots in St Pete and founded the studio. Since then Echo Bridge has grown to be an artist driven studio where we work pretty damn hard everyday to do what many other people thought was only possible in LA and NYC.

Mike&Wayne_02

AI: Some good credits! So tell us what “Mike and Wayne” is about and who are these little blue guys?
Esteban: It’s about these two dumbasses named Mike & Wayne. They’re the titular characters of our new short film who are not the sharpest knives in the proverbial drawer. Their mission is simple: get rich quick by robbin’ and stealin’. Their target: the local liquor store. What our fearless (anti)heroes don’t know is that the Cornah Store has the best defenses imagination can provide. Follow Mike & Wayne as they strive to make their dreams come true and are met with spectacular failure. All for your enjoyment.

Mike&Wayne_03

AI: Sounds like an interesting concept. I particularly liked the style and your choice of color. The backgrounds are beautiful too!
Esteban:
 Thanks! Well, a lot of the inspiration came from indie comics and zines and when it came to color I felt it only best to keep with that feel. What was challenging about it too was that it’s both easy to see mistakes cause there’s no place to hide those mishaps and the work can also disappear if the values aren’t probably separated.  And with everything packed with detail as it is it pushed us artistically.

Maybe we’re just artistic masochists because we’re always looking to do something we haven’t done and that challenges us.  We don’t do easy around these parts.

AI: So how did the idea for the film come about?
Esteban: The idea had been swimming around in my head/sketchbook for a few years, mostly inspired by the classic Tom & Jerry cartoons and the styling of Daniel Clowes and Robert Crumb. To make something simple and in your face without having to be so overly developed and processed… I like to think of Mike & Wayne as a punk rock tune. Edgy, fast paced, no bullshit, and raw. And much like punk, it wasn’t about satisfying others ­ it’s about making something that we liked, that made us laugh. Art’s so subjective and if you’re trying to please every demographic you’re going to end up with something you don’t enjoy looking at or love doing.

Mike&Wayne_04

AI: Who worked on the film?
Esteban: I wrote the original premise and provided art and animation direction, however for this project we really took a different approach than we normally do on client work. We got everyone together and pitched ideas around for scenarios. The ideas that made us laugh the most is what made it into the film so all in all there’s a little bit of each of us throughout the film. When it came to the audio portion that was done mostly by my good friend and former band mate, Mark Mniece. He and I had some serious back and forth trying to get things just right. Then Mark did what he did best and mixed us his best work on that track.

AI: What technology was used in it’s creation?
Esteban: We used Storyboard Pro 4 for storyboards and animatics, Flash CS5 for preproduction and production, Premiere CS5 for post, Reason and ProTools for audio production using a Fender Highway One Bass, Gibson SG Guitar through an Apogee Ensemble and Korg Keyboard for additional instruments. All our planning, coordinating, scheduling, tracking and file management was done through Basecamp and all things finance wise was handled via Quickbooks by myself and our accountant.

AI: How was it funded?
Esteban: The film was financed by the studio (Echo Bridge). It was expensive, but the end result is something we’re all really happy with.

AI: What is the end result for the film as in will you put it in festivals or was it just a personal piece you did for fun?
Esteban: The short film has been submitted to roughly 20 festivals worldwide and we’re really hoping it does well. In the meantime the next 5 episodes are already in pre­production, and we’ve recently signed on with the Channel Frederator Network to produce a 12 episode season of Mike & Wayne. A couple of broadcast networks have also shown high interest in Mike & Wayne, but we feel that the nature of the project is best suited for the net.
We’re really working hard to make sure that each cartoon is constantly raising the bar, getting crazier and out ­there. So far, the reviews we’ve been getting from people we’ve shown this too has been nothing short of awesome and we’re really pumped to be producing something of our own.
Stay tuned!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EchoBridge

Eddie Brito

What is your name and your current occupation?
Eduardo a.k.a. Eddie Brito, I am a Writer / Director / Producer at arlequín STUDIOS.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I used to own an exporting business from Miami, Florida to South America. I used to freight forward appliances and cargo for a living.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
As a General Producer of the Television Show “Buscando Amor” (“Looking for Love”, the Latin version of the “Blind Date” reality show), I added the first Computer Generated Images (with Maya, autodesk) in a Latin American Television Show. We created 3 different characters, a Mouse, a Teacher, and a Scientist that would make humorist comments during the show. We did this during sweeps in 2003, and kept the format until 2004, on Estrella 62 Television, in Burbank, California.

 

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born Venezuela, but raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I spend many years going back and forth between the two cities before I Continue…