Today we are having a very nice conversation with Kevan Shorey, one of the instructors at our General Reviews. Kevan is an Annie-nominated Feature Film Animator at Dreamworks Animation (PDI).

Chris Bancroft made this caricature for his friend.

Tell us a little about yourself, what’s your background? How did you get into animation?

It’s not a particularly interesting story, I’m afraid. I grew up in Wales, and my love of movies and drawing led me to Animation. I tailored my school studies and subsequent university degrees towards learning both the craft and visual communication/film-making.

What animation style (cartoony, realistic) do you enjoy the most to create?
I enjoy the the hybrid approach. The opportunity to blend the two styles that allows for moments of sophisticated acting to contrast with the fun and energy of pushed, larger-than-life action.

What is the best experience you’ve had so far in a production environment?

I’ve only worked as an Animator as I started my career here. I really love being surrounded by talented people who push the medium forward.

In what project are you working on? What workflow are you using right now at it?
I am currently working on The Penguins movie, out later this year. It is a cartoony show using the style set by the Madagascar films. While I’ve recorded a few bits of reference here and there, my planning has been almost solely in 2D, using my Cintiq to draw and plan using our new software. I am finding it much quicker to plan directly in to the shot and be able to push poses with stylus strokes rather than trying to exaggerate live action reference.

Do you think that animators need to have a nomad spirit, kind of a ready to move mentality in order to get the best gigs?
Unfortunately it is the nature of the modern Animation industry to make big demands on those who make a living within it. Work/life balance and lots of moving around becomes much more impactful as you age and gain responsibilities such as older or younger dependants. I wish the industry would do a better job of catering to all types of personality, and not just the nomadic portion but this lift is forced on many.

What’s been your inspiration throughout your career?
Those around me. 100%.

What is the most enjoyable thing about teaching animation online?
The sense that I am someone in their aim to improve and grow in the craft they wish to pursue. Even if my observations are merely a spring board to a new idea for an individual then it’s a worthwhile endeavour.

How do you explain to a new acquaintance (not related to the industry) what is your work about?
I explain it as creating performance for digital characters. I’ve found it’s the simplest shorthand for the layman.

Have you ever had the “I can’t believe where I am working/ who I am working with” feeling?
Oh yes. It took me years to not have that feeling everything single day, but it still intimidates me from time to time.

Having worked in so many cool feature films, what goals do you have?

Just to keep doing what I’m doing, growing as an artist in the process. There’s always something to be learned, and I have a long way to go, particularly in broad, comic shots and realistic physical ones.

What does it feel like when you go the the movies and see the people laugh or get emotional with one of your shots?
I don’t know that I’ve had that for my shots specifically – more for a sequence that I worked on. It feels pretty satisfying, actually.

You wrote a great post on your blog about your experience relocating in the US coming from the UK. Being Animschool a school with a lot of international students, what’s your advice for international students that want to get their foot in the animation industry?
AnimSchool is definitely a good place to start! Getting noticed is all about the reel, and the contacts made with industry professionals to get that reel in the right hands.

What’s your perspective about animation made in the US vs made in Europe?
I don’t know that I make any such distinction since there is so much migration of talent. There are amazing people to be found everywhere in Feature, Games, TV and lots of other places.

How important do you think it is networking in this industry?
Very much. It’s a small industry and with so much movement between studios many people will know each other, or know of each other, at least.

Let’s say we are in 20 years time and your kid would like to study animation, what advice would you give her/him?
While I don’t know where the craft will be in 20 years, let’s assume it is mostly similar to today. I would suggest a course emphasizing traditional skills then moving on to computer-based stuff to give a well rounded perspective of the craft. Oh, and drawing. Lots of drawing.

Thank you very much Kevan for sharing your time with us!
Thank you. Cheers!

Twitter: @kevanshorey