Today our interviewee is AnimSchool Student Andrew Stovesand. Andrew is now working as a character animator at Moonbot Studios.

Hi Andrew! Can you share a bit about yourself and experience with animation prior to AnimSchool?

Hi there, yeah for sure! Prior to Animschool most of my animation experience came from working as a Maya generalist. I did a lot of camera animation at a prior studio and that really helped me become aware of the graph editor and how it works. I had a few 11 Second Club attempts, most of which I am not super proud of (haha). Also I made a short animation while I was in school.

Do you have any favorite artists that inspire you?

I love watching those old Disney animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston and how they did it. I mean, they were just going with what felt right and they did amazing work! Nowadays there are so many ideas and theories on what to do and what not to do. Of course Glen Keane is very inspiring as well…

A clip I recently saw that inspired me:

I also like to paint and am very inspired by painting. Somehow I think they all link together, I feel like the more I grow as an animator the more I grow as a painter/artist in general and vice-versa.

Your facial performance shot is very appealing – mind to share your process with us?

Cool, thanks! Yes, that shot was fun. I knew right away when I heard the sound clip that it was the one I wanted to use. I mean, if you get a good sound clip where you can see the character easily in your head, then things fall together much more smoothly. I sketched a bunch for the shot and I believe it was Stewart who taught that class, he had us spell out the subtext for the shot which helped me get into her mindset. I also shot a bunch of reference of me and my wife acting, I got a lot of good ideas from that. I knew right away how I wanted her to start off in the shot but transitioning her to the end when she blows up was really the challenge.

Andrew’s sketches and notes for his facial performance assignment (click to enlarge).

Your character performance assignment features two animated characters and a complete modeled set. How many hours per day did you work on this shot to get it done in time?

Ha, yes that had some love put into it. My generalist background helped me there. I can model basic stuff pretty quick, so once I knew what I wanted I modeled it in there fast and kept updating as I would go along. Once I see something working in a shot and it inspires me, I feel like nothing will stop me from getting it done. I did spend a lot of time on that shot, and this is where getting laid off had its benefits. Haha!

Back to the question, I think I worked a couple hours a day give or take on that one.

Andrew’s sketches and notes for his character performance shot (click to enlarge).

How do you think your skills as an animator evolved since you joined AnimSchool?

Wow, great question. The biggest change for me, even after working in the industry for a few years, was getting it through my head that it really does take a lot of work and time to make quality animation. Honestly, it was a relief once I could do this. It kept me from being way to hard on myself. I mean really, anyone who has no experience would not think it takes so many hours to make something move in a pleasing way. We take it all for granted, don’t we (I mean isn’t this what the whole industry is trying to get the public eye to see?!)?
So really the biggest change was learning how to respect each step of the animation process (planning, reference, blocking, splining, polish) and the amount of time needed to do each one well.

Lastly, do you have any pointers or tips for your fellow animation students that are struggling to get their shots the way they want it?

Ok, yeah… Well, one really simple saying that Thom Roberts said in my very first Animschool class was “kill your babies!”, meaning, be willing to start fresh and delete something that just isn’t working. For example, the way the character is turning his/her head bugs you and you can’t figure out why? Kill your babies. I find this also applies a lot to simplifying keys. So many times I realize I just needed to get rid of a few keys and it cleans up a movement. I still am amazed when this happens. Killing your babies is not easy and still difficult to do, but usually I find it always helps (that sounds terrible)!

Thanks Animschool for all your help and for having me!

We thank Andrew for this interview. Check out his reel below: