The Pixar directing animator talks tips, tricks and techniques
What skills do you want to see in an animation portfolio?
I want to see that someone understands the principles of animation: weight, physicality, overlap, squash and stretch. There also needs to be good acting sensibilities – an understanding of how to gesture or when not to.
Anything you don’t want to see?
I don’t care about rendering or lighting. I just care about storytelling, entertainment value, great posing character and great acting – the elements that make quality feature animation. If you’re applying to be a technical director or a lighter, they want to see great staging and lighting. Modellers want to see details of models. Animators look for that spark.
What exactly is that spark?
When I see an original character that’s well posed and has a funny little story, I know this person is thinking about entertainment. That’s what grabs my attention. That’s the spark.
Which portfolio traps do people most often fall into?
When you’re tailoring a demo reel towards what you think a studio wants to see, don’t copy old tests. Make it original. Add personality. If you’re going to use a stock rig from a school, come up with an original design and test. Don’t leave the default shading and geometry of stock in place. It lacks imagination.
What are your showreel tips?
Show storytelling. I really love the idea of seeing a lot of shots, and continuity. And keep your titles simple and classy. You don’t need a beautiful logo that’s been done in After Effects with exploding phone numbers!