I’m not an animator yet

Every time I have watched a Pixar film or other film with 3D animation, my heart would ache. I would sit and watch the credits and think, “I want to see my name up there one day.” After watching The Incredibles I knew I had to give it a shot. I wanted to jump in my car and drive straight to Emeryville, California and sleep on the front step until the doors opened and then beg them to let me empty their trash and sweep their floors. I decided instead to go to a School of Communication Arts Discovery Day.

I’ve been thinking of pursuing a career in computer animation for years. I am finally doing something about it. I have always loved to draw and had an appreciation for excellent work. For reasons I won’t go into here, I didn’t see a feature length Disney animated film until I was in my late teens or early twenties. I was in awe at the beauty and complexity of Cinderella and could not believe it was released in 1950. I didn’t dare dream that I might participate in the making of something so huge.

My first memory of computer animation is from a show on PBS. I saw a flight simulator. Outside the cockpit of the plane you could see a flat green plane for the ground and spherical and conical trees. It contained the simplest of geometries, but I was astonished at the smooth shading and how the perspective was perfect. I thought that the machine that created that simulation must have been incredibly powerful.

I knew that I wanted to be in a career that involved thinking visually, but I wasn’t confident in my creative abilities, so I went the technical drawing route. I had excelled in drafting class in high school so at NC A&T State University I majored in Computer Aided Drafting and Design. I found the CADD classes too easy, but it was safe, so I continued. I was thrilled to discover that our department had a copy of 3D Studio and I devoured the tutorials. Then our department went on a trip to the School of Communication Arts. I could not believe that right here in North Carolina was a school that taught computer animation. I thought I had discovered Nirvana. I decided that when I graduated from A&T I would attend the School of Communication Arts.

After graduation I began to doubt that I could make it in the competitive field of animation. I kept putting off. I even applied once and paid my seat deposit, but had second thoughts and backed out. I did work as an intern at Audio Graphics, a recording studio and animation firm whose founder has since moved to Rhythm & Hues. That was some of the most fun I have ever had.

I would be ecstatic be animator for Pixar or Blue Sky Studios. I am willing to work at other jobs to reach that level: web animation, game design, commercial animation, but ultimately I would like to work on feature films. I know that producing quality animation requires long hours of staring at a computer screen in a dimly lit room. Pressure from deadlines can be intense and sometimes require all night sessions. I am going to keep plugging away and build my animation skills until I get that job.