Animation Apprentice Student Visits DreamWorks!

Rory Marchant is one of our talented animation students here at Animation Apprentice. He just got back from a trip to DreamWorks in Los Angeles, where he got to meet legendary animation director James Baxter. We asked him a few questions about his trip.

Animation Apprentice: You got to visit DreamWorks! How did that come about?
Rory: I got in touch with the executive producer of How To Train Your Dragon and The Croods earlier this year, to talk about how to get on to a post graduate scheme or internship at DremWorks. I told her about my interest in character animation and she put me in touch with James Baxter, who most recently supervised the animation on The Croods - which looks amazing! We then arranged to meet when I was on my recent trip to Los Angeles. 

Animation Apprentice: Tell us about your trip!
Rory: I went to LA to make some contacts and also to have a bit of a fun, by going to Coachella music and arts festival. And going to Dreamworks was most certainly the high point! Dreamworks is a fascinating place - at first it looks like a holiday resort, but then you realise its a hub of hard-working and insanely talented people.

Animation Apprentice: You got to meet animation legend james Baxter! What was that like?
Rory: I was extremely lucky to meet James Baxter, who let me into his office - which was full of artwork and creation for the next Dragons movie, including character/actor facial reference and concept art for the characters in the film. He was working on a new piece of software that Dreamworks have created; it has all the elements of animation in Maya - but in a different layout. There is a piece of software for each part of the pipeline, which helps to increase efficiency. He also showed me some animation tests he was doing, and part of the trailer coming out this year.

Animation Apprentice: What did you learn?
Rory: I had never seen how an animator operates in a studio so I learnt a great deal about the structure of a pipeline, working on a shot by shot basis, and then handing it over to the layering department. James also said something interesting about 3D animation: that once you get past the challenge of the software, that is only a small step of being an animator; you have to understand movement and flowing motion and just observe life - and it take years to put this knowledge into your work. His background is the same as Alex's, hand drawn 2D animation which gives you a frame by frame understanding of character poses and movement - which was interesting to hear. It was also interesting to see how long it took for someone in the animation department to get to grips with a new rig. He told me the "Hickup" was very complicated and had to go through a huge amount of testing before creating a shot.

Animation Apprentice: What does it take to get a job there?
Rory: James told me that all it takes to work at Dreamworks as an animator is an outstanding reel that proves you understand the animation process. They have employed people from Animation Mentor without any studio experience. But in general they do prefer at least two year's experience. The other option is to apply for their outreach program or internships and prove yourself that way.   

Animation Apprentice: Congratulations Rory! It sounds like an awesome experience. Now...back to working on your reel!