A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting animator Ron Campbell at the local Walnut Street Gallery. As I had not yet left for film school, I had a million unformed questions I wanted to asked him, yet most of them would not take shape. I watched in awe as he doodled the Saturday Morning Beatles with the ease and confidence of someone who has drawn the same character tens of thousands of times. All I could think to ask him was what advice he could give a budding animator. This is what he said:
"Learn to do it with computers. And learn to draw; go to art school."
He went on to say he had worked with a lot of famous animators over the years, and many of them "couldn't draw for shit." In hindsight, I might have struggled less learning animation if I had taken his advice to really learn to draw before attending film school. Seeing how many of my classmates worked, it became apparent that a fine arts degree would have made a better foundation than I had.
Last night, at the same gallery, I was pleased to meet Todd White, former character designer for Spongebob Squarepants. Among his paintings he had one or two sculptures that reminded me of maquettes that are sometimes used by traditional animators to supplement the model sheet.
When I told Todd that I had recently graduated from Vancouver Film School and was trying to start a career in animation, I could tell part of him wanted to warn me to steer clear of the industry entirely. Instead, he bit his tongue and simply reminded me that it's extremely competitive field. Then he said (more or less):
"But hey, you gotta do what you love, right?"
Simmon Keith Barney is an animator living in Fort Collins, Colorado.