What Life Is Like As An Animator

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Giant Father animatedLuiz Lafayette Stockler is an Award-Winning Director and Animator. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1986. He moved to the UK in 1994. In 2007 He attended the University of Wales, Newport, where he made his graduation film Vovô, which competed in festivals around the world. He Likes tractors, dogs and languages. This is his account of life as an animator…

When I tell people I’m an Animator I’m usually greeted with a look of confusion; the kind of look you would get if one of your friends looked through your iPod and found ABBA in one of your playlists, the ‘I know what you mean, but can you still explain please?’ look.

So I will explain.

Animation has become one of the most important forms of creativity in the 21st Century. It is present everywhere; commercials, films, television, video games, Internet, even the TomTom in your spoilt friend’s new Corsa, which also, annoyingly, has heated seats. It is however overlooked by the majority of the general public, often dismissing it as merely a technique used in children’s entertainment. Special effects, cartoons and computer graphics are just some of the forms that fit under the umbrella term of ‘Animation’, and it is probably due to this large variety of terms and techniques that perhaps your 48 year old neighbour, Malcolm, with the mole under his eye, doesn’t have a clue what you’re going on about.

As well as the confused look mentioned earlier, I sometimes get asked questions; the most recent being when I was at my dentist getting a filling done “so you’re pretty good at drawing then?” asked Dr. Richards, as she prodded my gums as if they were some sort of voodoo doll of that guy she had a one night stand with and caught syphilis last month. “I’m good at making drawings move” I replied.

Dr. Richards’ question is in fact another common misconception regarding animation. I too, thought that if I could draw it meant I would be good at this thing. This is true to some extent, of course, it is important to understand anatomy and proportion, perspective and space etc… But what is most important is understanding movement and translating that onto the screen well enough to fool the audience that what they are seeing is alive. Of course, this doesn’t always have to be super-slick-sophisticated-Disney style stuff. Take South Park for example, shoddy design and animation, but a compelling script and great characters. I feel that this is the difference between animating and filmmaking. You can become a great animator and work in a studio on big projects, or you can become a filmmaker that uses animation as a technique to tell your story.

For me, animation has always been a way of telling stories in a unique and low budget way. I feel I have a lot more control over what I’m doing as opposed to making live action films which require large teams, the right weather conditions, actors, catering etc. All I need is a computer, some software and a graphics tablet; that’s pretty much it. The rest comes from inside my brain; the idea, the script, the storyboard, the animatic and of course, the final result, and what’s the best part? Getting your film into festivals and travelling the world.

Its amazing to think that those months spent in a room on your own would lead to visiting places you never thought you’d go and meet people you thought you’d never meet. Knowing that people like what you have done is a great reward at the end of it all.

Maybe now you get why ABBA’s on the iPod?

See more of Luis’ work at http://vimeo.com/luizstockler

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