Ever wondered what it would be like to work for Pixar? Well, after an inspiring night at ACMI with animators Chris Sasaki and Andrew Gordon, we can assure you that it’s pretty awesome!
Chris and Andrew both became part of the Pixar story in very different ways. For Andrew, it was the desire to bring the characters he was drawing to life that attracted him to animation. And for Chris, it was one of Pixar’s most beloved titles that inspired him to pursue a career as an artist.
‘I always loved to draw. But it wasn’t until Monsters Inc. was released during my graduating year when I realized that I wanted to do it as a job.’
Andrew joined the Pixar team as an animator in 1997 and has since worked on several titles including Toy Story 2 and 3, A Bug’s Life and Ratatouille, just to name a few.
Chris, a character designer, has worked at Pixar since 2009 and has been involved in both animated feature films and shorts including Inside Out and Sanjay’s Super Team.
Both Chris and Andrew were only too happy to share some advice and tips on how to break into the industry and how to prosper once you do.
The research was a huge factor for both of these talented artists when it came to their work. Whether it be studying different cultures or just a bit of people watching, research is an incredibly important step in creating a believable character.
‘The first thing I do is ask myself ‘who is this character?” Said, Andrew. ‘I approach it much like an actor would.’
Chris believes that character design should be cyclical. ‘All the choices I make come from research. Making a character is a constant circle of research, design, pitch. Research, design, pitch.’
When it comes to those just beginning their journey to become an animator, both Chris and Andrew agree that learning as much as you can about the other steps along the visual effects pipeline is crucial. It helps you understand everyone’s roll in production, be able to step in and help if needed and to communicate with your fellow artists.
‘Learn everything.’ Chris told us. ‘Get to know every part of the machine.’
“Make the animation speak for the character.”
They finished by sharing some advice about demo reels and portfolios. Andrew suggested that your demo reel should say as much about you as possible.
‘Customise the animation rigs you’re using. Don’t just use the same rigs everyone else does. Make the animation speak for the character.’
Chris agreed, believing that we should draw on what we know and what we have experienced to display who we are in our demo reels.
‘Use your culture and use your experiences to tell stories. Your work will become far more believable that way.’
A big thank you to all of the CG Spectrum students that came along for the night. We hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did.
If you would like to hear some more tips about how to make the most out of your folio or demo reel, make sure you check out our article on how to make your portfolio or demo reel stand out.