Tell us a little about yourself. (We know there is more to people than being an animator.):
Well, I’m more nerd than anything else - a child of the internet, video games, and Saturday morning cartoons. I love all forms of media and I have an unending thirst for storytelling and entertainment. Animation in 3D is a perfect blend of engineering and artistry, so naturally I was drawn to it. For fun, I’m usually programming or playing games.
This is my Frozen animation reel. You can find more of my stuff on my Vimeo page.
Where do you work and how long have you been there?
Walt Disney Feature Animation. Almost 3 years now. I started working here on Wreck-It Ralph.
What are some of your past jobs?
Previous to Disney, I joined Rhythm&Hues in 2010 for their Animation Apprenticeship program. I got my start in film working on Hop and Alvin & the Chipmunks 3. Before that, I was in the commercial industry doing motion graphics, FX, and design work.
Where did you do to school?
Self taught up until AnimationMentor in 2008. From there, while at R+H, I continued my education with iAnimate and then Animation Collaborative. Collab was in-person, which meant I had to drive from LA to Emmeryville every Friday night for 15 weeks to take that class. Believe me, it was worth it.
What made you decide to be an animator?
Storytelling is my biggest drive. And no part of the process gets closer to telling stories with emotional beats than animation. Once the characters start moving, the story is alive.
What is your favorite part about being an animator?
The work is absolutely rewarding and extremely difficult. I thrive on challenges. I love solving problems and I have a fascination for acting. Animation is the perfect blend of technical and artistic expression.
What’s your favorite kind of animation?
I love going to the theater to see giant robots fighting - it’s my guilty pleasure. But my number one would be that perfect blend of cartoony and hyper-natural movement. Somewhere between Tangled and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs would be the sweet spot for me. But seriously, Pacific Rim is pure ambrosia.
What’s your software preference?
Maya is such a powerful tool if you learn how it works. And I mean, deeply. In the past 2 years, I’ve been teaching myself Mel and Python and learning the Maya API. I’m able to write tools to help the entire pipeline. Other studios tend to use proprietary software, so I’m not sure how customizable they can get. Maya is a fantastic framework to build upon.
What does your workflow look like?
It’s very reference heavy with a huge push toward caricatured physics and posing. I use ref for nuance and natural, proportional timing. But then everything else is pushed into the style of the character and film.
How do you prepare for a new shot?
I really try to understand the purpose of the shot first. What it means in the film and why the character is making the choices they are making. Once I understand things from the character’s point of view, acting choices tend to seem natural and easier to come by. It’s easier to know what is the right choice and wrong choice. Then I shoot a lot of ref, trying to get that nice timing and efficiency. Then it’s deep into blocking.
What is the aspect of animation that you struggled with the most and how did you move past that struggle?
I struggle a lot with the rigs. There tends to always be something I want to do that the rig doesn’t do naturally. So, I break the rig over and over again. Unfortunately, there isn’t an elegant way past this problem unless you remodel the character on the fly.
What are some of the ways you manage your time so that you can get everything done in time?
Sometimes, the shot is going to go longer than anticipated. It’s the nature of the beast. The best thing I can do is to keep the communication going between the supes and the producers about my predictions of when the shot is going to land.
What are some of the things you look for before you declare your shot complete?
I never declare my shot complete. That’s entirely up to the director and production. There is always soooo much more I would love to do to my shots before they are pushed downstream. I would love to take a fine-tooth comb to the whole thing and make sure all parts are moving in perfect concert; never starting or stopping at the same time, yet maintaining a relationship in movement and energy.
What’s your favorite animated movie, short, and game?
UGH, this is a tough question. There isn’t a king of the hill in my mind, but the top three would be: The Incredibles, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Wreck-It Ralph. Shorts-wise, I love Burning Safari and Octopodi. Game: Bioshock Infinite, Mass Effect 2, Half Life 2, and WoW (still recovering).
What do you do when you get animator’s block?
Take a walk, get Starbucks. Ask friends what they think of the shot. Watch some movies, surf the internet, procrastinate, then suddenly get a flash of inspiration. That seems to do the trick.
What do you use to get inspired?
My life is filled with art, movies, and video games. I’m never short of inspiration.
What is your favorite experience as an animator?
Every time I final a shot where the director sees it and says, “Wow. That’s awesome. Let’s watch it again.”
What are your favorite animation resources that other animators might find useful?
You can get a ton of helpful scripts and tools from a place like creativecrash.com And animal reference from rhinohouse.com
How do you take your Chipotle Burrito?
Burrito Bowl with no rice or beans, extra veggies, carnitas, sour cream, cheese, guacamole. Smothered in chipotle tobasco.
If you could direct a project, what would it be?
A Disney-Animated spin-off Star Wars movie. I don’t even care what character it’s about. A guy can dream.
Do you have any advice for students and animators trying to find their break?
There was a time I was working at R+H and I just knew that I wasn’t going to have a good enough reel to get me a job after the contract. So I enrolled into an online school to keep learning and keep growing - at a rate faster than I could at work. People told me I was crazy because I was already working. But here’s the thing: You don’t ever get to a point where you “deserve a job because you worked hard.” At the end of the day, if your shots aren’t entertaining, or your execution is lacking polish, your entire reel is easily dismissed. It’s a subjective industry and very difficult to pinpoint what exactly people want to see. Work hard to make shots that are special and appealing. My advice would be to keep learning and keep animating. Oh, and an easy point to make: if you are still learning mechanics or even how to polish, stick to shots that are short. Like 6 seconds max. You’ll learn just as much in a 100 frames as you will in a 500 frame shot. And you won’t be stuck for months working on the same shot. Finish short shots and move on.
I recently got a bunch of stuff from stimtastic. I got two infinite edamame keychains, a pop tube, the snake puzzle, lava putty, the trapezoid chewy necklace, the droplet chewy necklace, and the bubble wrap phone case.
First of all, I just want to say I got everything so fast, like whoa. Also I wanted the trapezoid in purple with a black cord, but that wasn’t an option on the site, so I just added a note to make the replacement of mine purple, but they made me a purple w/ black cord one special which was really sweet. 20/10.
Now, product reviews.
Infinite Popping Edamame
These things are so much fun. The beans in the one I opened are kinda dirty looking, and their faces are really smudged up, but it’s not really important and couldn’t really be predicted. It’s so much fun to place with them though. 10/10 stim toy. It smells faintly of plastic. Hard to resist putting it in my mouth.
Easily my favorite thing in this order. Like by a landslide. It’s a triple threat combination of visual, auditory, and tactile stimming. Best $1.50 I ever spent. Who knew something so simple could be so fun. 20/10.
I was excited about this, and it was honestly a bit of a let down. Not much fun. I should have gotten a second tangle or more pop tubes. 3/10.
Different than what I expected but lots of fun. It doesn’t seem to change colors with heat, but instead just looks different in different lights. It doesn’t seem to go past browns and reds and a little orange? I don’t know, it’s an enigma. It’s a lot of fun though, and I might be using it wrong or something. It looked different in the video. It’s odorless. It’s a little softer than I expected, which was unpleasant the first touch, but very nice to touch after the surprise was gone. 9/10.
I literally can’t stop sucking/chewing on this thing. Perfect thickness. I’m amazed at how durable it is. I bought a watermelon shaped baby teeth awhile back and ripped through it in hours. This thing has been constantly chewed on for 2 days and I haven’t so much as left a tooth mark. And I have two of them because it came with a replacement. Odorless and tasteless. The only issue I have with it is that the ridge from the mold is a little irritating to my tongue. 10/10.
It was bigger than I’d thought it would be. It’s honestly a bit too thick for me and hurts my jaw. Odorless and tasteless. 3/10.
Infinite Bubble Wrap Phone Case
I love this thing. It’s more like pressing the buttons on an old Nokia cellphone than popping bubble wrap though, which honestly is a pleasant surprise. The texture of the bubbles is a really nice stim too and they also give your phone some traction. 10/10.
You should definitely buy from Stimtastic, they do a great job, they’re super nice, and their products are great. Buy a pop tube too, they’re really fun.
As you might deduce because of the URL and my posts about it it is mister Daniel Campbell Smith and the reasons why I love him are infinite but I will write you a list anyways because it 3:10am and I want to bury myself in a hole because of his face
Lets start with the looks ok:
His adorable smile
His little front tooth that sticks out
His perfect lips
His jawline (uGHH)
His ginger stubble
His fucking neck
His perfect nose
His eyelids and eyelashes (damnnnnn)
His fucking blue eyes
His bouncy hair
His geeky t shirts
His fuckiNG arms
His incredible sexy hands
The bracelets he wears
His derpy calculator watch
His cute as fuck sweaters
HIS THIGHS OK NO IM NOTOK
His slightly oversized hoodies
His dorky glasses
EY E BROWS
THose black pants he wears
That scarf he has that makes me want to strangle myself
EVRY SINGLE LITTLE THING ABOUT THE WAY HE LOOKS
Lets move on to the other stuff I love abut him
The way he bends over or throws his head back when he laughs
The way he scrunches his nose
His infinite repertoire of expressions
The sound of his laugh
The way he rolls up his sleeves
THe way he licks his lips
His perplexity at their success
His incredible modesty
How considerate he is
His pessimism (even if it gets on my nerves sometimes)
His amazing writing sills
THe fact that he is like 3 years old sometimes but then acts like 30000 years old
His adoration for TKAK
His passion for what he does and for music in general
When he talks about the things he likes (Like David Lynch or music, etc)
His appalling dancing skills
The fact that he wrote a song for his parents and played it live in their home town
How he tells stories
When he smiles when he sings and you can hear him
The emotion he puts into what he does
How he stepped on glass and pierced his foot but kept dancing
The way he tries to involve the crowd at gigs
The face he puts when they have a big turnout at a gig or a festival
When his voice goes all raspy
He goes out there and sings even though he is sick
His hilarious and humble tweets
His incredibly wide vocal range
The way he climbs onto really high places during gigs
THe way his hands move across the piano
The way he bangs those drums
The faces he makes in photos
THe way he plays with his shoelaces
The way he holds a microphone
How deep he is
EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS MAN IS PERFECT
Im missing so many things
Because this man is pure unadulterated perfection and there is now possible way to describe why I love him the way I do