We welcome back Peter Nagy! Thank you Peter, for taking the time to answer more of our questions. In your winning 11 Second Club entry entitled “Mother Earth,” what were some of the most challenging parts of these shots?

After a sudden movement, I polished the settling elements of the head and face further than it was necessary. However, the most difficult part was not connected to the movement but the closing pose and facial expression of the street musician. This was the most sensitive part of the shot- the reaction itself. How the character reacts after a negative attack. What is the character like- somebody who feels hurt after this and attacks back, or a calmer self-confident and wiser character? I wanted a mixed face expression here, showing pride, and a bit of anger at the same time. When I finished the animation, I wasn’t content with this part, but now I got used to the closing.

Can you talk about your process, from the planning to animation, on your “Mother Earth” piece?

Once I got the idea and prepared the scenes (location/characters), I made a reference shot of the movements. After that, I chose from the test scenes I most preferred, and then started the animation. At the beginning, I literally followed the reference scene and then, when the main movements were on the 3D characters, I stopped using the video and finalized the movement according to the rules of animation (arcs, stretching etc.)

When starting a dialogue or acting piece, what method or process do you use to get into the mind of the character?

Resetting of the correct lip sync is always based on the original film. For the movement of the character I always consider his personality, who he is in reality (where he is from, where he is heading etc.) According to my story, they are brothers. It’s their story, so there’s an unbreakable bond between them. Therefore, both of their reactions are moderate. During the shots I try to get every prop that appears in the final 3D scene. So, if there’s a turban on the character’s head, I put on a cap. If the character smokes, I lite a cigarette – or at least I put a cigarette in the corner of my mouth. One never knows, it might happen that when I talk, I might blink more or set my eyebrows differently. I might snap at my head to scratch my forehead, or to adjust my cap. You never know what tiny gestures come during it. These are the unpredictable small bits that make the character and the shot alive, so it is worth nipping them. Props are always a big problem for me. For example, I needed a sitar. Since I neither had a sitar, nor a guitar at home, I suddenly grabbed a broom which was suitable. It’s very important to be in contact with similar object as my characters when playing them.

Do you bring any of your methodologies of traditional 2D animation across to your 3D animation and vice versa? And if so, how do you think they inform each other? Can you provide us with any past experiences where these methodologies really pushed your shot?

2D has an effect on everything, every workflow of every animation technique, it is in the background. When I start the animation of the 3D scenes, I draw one or two sketches unaware, searching for the poses of the character. I’m probably not saying anything new, but today 3D animation is more alive, the lumpiness and stiffness which was characteristic at the beginning has ceased, and now any ancient 2D trick can be done with the characters (squash & stretch, or even multiples). So, if I keep these traditional basic rules in mind, I would say this work of mine was more successful than some previous ones because I could handle/treat the limbs more freely and I could make certain bends and stretches I didn’t have a possibility to do before. I just loved tinkering with these settings, and in the meantime, I had some nostalgia over the memories of old times.

You obviously have experience with how the competition is handled on 11 Second Club, with your entries always being in the top 10s, 20s and 50s. What do you think it is about your shots compared to the rest that make the audiences vote for your animations? What advice and tips can you provide to new animators who want to take part in this monthly tradition?

This is a complex thing and quite unpredictable because if a new character appears, whom we haven’t seen before, it can help the competitor to success. For me, the most important thing is always the idea, the story, how the actions react to the dialogue, how much they exploit its possibilities, and also the quality of the animation. These are my main aspects at the evaluation. The problem with my first two works is definitely their topic not being that popular – besides the weaknesses of the animation. Only after that, I realized I have to handle the topic not just to amuse myself with the result, but everybody should understand what I was trying to say. With 3D work the appearance is also important (if we aim the top positions). If I handed a view-port animation in January there couldn’t have been smoke in it either, the character would not have smoked and without the present environment it is questionable whether the closing and most important information would have been understandable. The most vital, they should not want to win with a render because the audience will appreciate it. It can also be an aspect whether the competitor enters his work on the forum because with a promising animation he can already find some supporters. Many, many tiny aspects. How up-to-date you are (I mean, do you react to the actual season, holiday?) I think the thumbnail is also important. Another crucial issue is that it should be easy to identify. It should be specific. It should have a distinctive feature, it can be anything (beside the beautiful animation). It can be the character’s appearance or an object from the shot. If you talk about the works with your colleagues at lunch after voting, all of you must think of the same: Ah, that Pinocchio one? Or: Ah, that nice stop-motion animation? Or: The one where the dishes fly off and slow down in the air? The one with the priest? The one with the split-screen? The one with the subtitle? And so on and so on.

The most important: concentrate on the animation and the idea! Or, simply just think of your own eCritique! Be critical about your own work and ask the question: does the character move enough in my scene? Is there enough movement? Is that amount of movement necessary? Are there any subtle details to temp the viewer back to see it again? Aspire that your work be a good base material for a winner critique.

 And lastly, what can we expect from you next?

 With my ex-colleague, Peter Hostyanszki, we’re trying to finish my previous competition-work, the King the Talking Lion. As soon as we manage to overcome the difficulties from the fur simulation (we haven’t done this before) we will check in, but this makes finishing a bit uncertain. After that, I’ll probably compile a demo reel, partly because I like editing, and on the other hand, it’s been a while since I’ve come out with a new one, so this year it’s due. After that, I’m planning to have a rest. 🙂

Interview by: Andrew Tran