To become a Feature film ANIMATOR you must be equal parts ARTIST, ACTOR, PUPPETEER, AND NERD. Only the perfEct balance can bring a character to life on screen. You must also be one of the most patient humans on earth.
Blue Sky is home to some of the world's finest character animators - masters of creating performances that infuse life and personality into our characters.
During the early stages of pre-production, animators work closely with the Director, character designers, modelers, and riggers. It is the animators' job to ensure the characters are expressive and able to perform all of the action required in the film. Will Blu's wing enable him to fly? But what about holding onto the hang glider for dear life? Wait, he also needs to use his wings to gesture to get story point across??? These are some questions we ask ourselves early in the process and along with the Rigging department we make sure our characters are ready to perform!
Before starting a shot animators will get a kick-off from the Director who'll describe the goals of each scene - the action, context, subtext, ricechex, etc. It's then up to the animator to work within that framework and come up with the appropriate acting choices. To accomplish this animators will shoot reference of themselves, draw thumbnails, and sometimes even do a quick 2D animation in order to better understand their scenes. After getting the ideas approved by the Director, the animator will work tirelessly, frame by frame, to bring the performance of each character to life!
Always looking to push boundaries and improve acting choices, the atmosphere in the department is creative and collaborative. At any point in the day you can catch a group of animators at a desk reviewing a fellow animators' work in progress and giving constructive feedback. The pages of their notebooks are filled with character expressions and ideas for interesting character posing. Inspirational artwork hangs everywhere - both from Blue Sky and other artists. Some even build out their cubicles - we have a building from Whoville, tiki huts, a tree house and even a pirate ship with working cannons!*
* (That would, of course, be a horrible idea. There are absolutely no cannons in the Animation department, but the two dudes that sit in that pirate ship are extremely dangerous cutthroat scallywags.)