What is your current Project?
Recently, I cut a theatrical short for Looney Toons Theatrical at Warner Bros. Animation. They are re-making the Looney Toons shorts in 3D to play before Warner feature films in the cinemas and they're great-looking pieces. It's fun to see Elmer Fudd, Tweety and Wiley E. Coyote in CG, and the 3D stereo effect is done beautifully too. I edited a piece called Flash in the Pain, which will be coming out in the next couple of months.
Describe Your Job.
An animation editor's work always begins in pre-production, whether it’s a 2D or CG animation show. We cut storyboards for timing and manipulate the drawings, using techniques like compositing and motion to clarify actions or re-craft the narrative — visually! There is often a lot of sound work at this stage, which includes choosing dialogue takes, building sound effects and music editing. Depending on the type of animation, the show moves through various phases of production that we manage and with which we continually re-build the show. From pencil tests for 2D to rough layout — which is the placement of the camera in a 3D world — animation editors update and affect the animation and dialogue all in support of the director's vision for the story. Once animation is complete and is into lighting and paint-fix stages, our post-production process mirrors that of live action with scoring, sound mix, online and layback.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
As a kid, I fell in love with movies because my mom raised me on Busby Berkeley and Jerry Lewis films. I loved the choreographed bathing beauties and preposterous slapstick, and I honestly think that early fascination with design and comedy informs my work in animation today. In film school, I focused on writing and directing until I cut my first short on Super-8 film and experienced the revelry of storytelling through editing. I couldn’t believe how you could actually fix or make things work that you didn’t get while shooting, and I always appreciated a good rewrite!
Who gave you your first break?
Mark Bollinger and Steve Arenas at Disney Television Animation.
What was your first union job?
I moved to Los Angeles from San Diego in 2004 after being accepted into AFI as one of 14 editing fellows. I had seven industry leads when I arrived and the only one that panned out was at Disney Television Animation. After long consideration, I decided to forgo my master's degree in lieu of cutting animated test pilots for DTA. Fortunately, I had a broadcast credit from San Diego for a show I cut called Profiles that aired on PBS. I was able to join the union and take the job offer from Disney.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
Phineas and Ferb, which is a long-running show on the Disney Channel. I only cut the pilot but the show was greenlighted and I had the experience of working with the talented writer/director, Dan Povenmire, who patiently — and unknowingly — taught me much of what I know about animation today. I will always be inspired by his work ethic and passion for comedy.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
My first job at DreamWorks Animation was on a TV short called Merry Madagascar. We were the first show to use a new pipeline with a studio in India. There was an 11-hour time difference, I was using new and proprietary technology and it was all very exciting and challenging in a good way. The pipeline that was developed mirrored that of sister company PDI, located in Northern California. My best tool for overcoming challenges were the relationships I developed with my PDI and India co-workers. I learned that it was all about communication, the ability to look ahead and foresee possible issues, and not being afraid to ask questions.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
In animation our production phase involves recording dialogue with the actors. Before we're able to schedule the official production dialogue, we record scratch with crew members doing various voices. I once voiced a character named "Hot Flash" for the film Megamind. There wasn't a better cure for a rough day than going into the sound booth and voicing the insane villainess, whose superpower involved being able to torch the unsuspecting with her flaming head of hair! Unfortunately, she never made it into the final version of the film... I hope it wasn't because of my bad acting!
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Being part of the feature filmmaking process in some way.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Seeing live music, hanging out with my pugs, bike riding, hiking and rock climbing in the high desert are some of the things I enjoy doing outside of my work.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Recently I really enjoyed The Ides of March for the incredibly well crafted dialogue, but one of my all-time favorite films is Sweetie by Jane Campion. I love the black comedy and the way the story unfolds in an absurd and nuanced way. It's one of Jane Campion's first feature films, and it has a couple of experimental animation scenes that are reminiscent of early Stan Brakhage.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
I love, love love Mad Men for the ensemble acting and amazing writing. I'm also a huge fan of the costumes and production design. Most everyone I know and work with feels the same way —which makes for fun discussions. Boardwalk Empire is another great ensemble piece that I'm enthralled with.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Yes; my industry mentor is editor C.K. Horness at Dreamworks Animation. She always made time to show me her tricks on the Avid and to give me thoughtful feedback on things I cut. She's also truly encouraging and supportive, which can be rare in this business.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Don't lose your ability to be excited by things, work hard, learn something new every day and, most importantly, don't give up.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Back in 2005, I called on the Guild to organize a department at a major studio where I was working. Thankfully, then Assistant Executive Director Cathy Repola worked hard to make it happen. Because of her professionalism and commitment, I was able to keep my health insurance while searching for my next project.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
I know many people are out of work right now as studios cut back due to the economy, so I would just like to say hang in there and use this time to take advantage of the screenings, mixers, and training the Guild has to offer. Also, sites like www.lynda.com are great for maintaining and upgrading our skills.
I also think it's important to give back to our communities and do volunteer work with the extra time we may have on our hands. There are no screening deadlines and crazy hours to give us excuses, so take the time to help out those in need and you'll find it will come back to you tenfold!
Compiled by Edward Landler
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