How do I become an Animator?

At SYF, we get a lot of emails from people wanting to know how we did this and that bit of animation in our films. In response to this we'll hopefully get around to posting up those much touted Behind the Scenes articles in the coming weeks.

'How do I become an animator' is another common question to SYF towers - and while we're all waiting for those articles I thought I would address it. It's a very broad question that could prompt any number of responses, but amongst the simplest and most charitable answers is watch stuff. It's common for animators to develop an obsessional enthusiasm for a particular moment of animation - a thrity second sequence, a movement of a single character, the motion of a single arm. I could list hundreds of such moments, that convinced me early on of my need to animate. What is even more inspiring, is when you discover that many of your favourite moments in different films, were animated by the same guy - and the connection you made between them wasn't just in your head.

Studying animation this way, identifying the sequences that really stand out from the rest of a film and discovering why they stand out, is hugely rewarding and will help you develop a steep learning curve. Its a school of study, however, that is hugely neglected. One guy doing his bit to redress the balance is Ben Ettinger, on his Anipages Daily blog.

I was inspired to write todays post because theres an article on Anipages looking at 3x3 Eyes, and in particular hilighting the work of Koichi Arai. It made my morning to discover that this one guy was responsible for some of the best vehichle work in Akira, the title sequence to Golden Boy, the bed escaping in Roujin Z, the arm-tearing moment and destruction of the tank in Ghost in the Shell, Sharon Apple's wings in Macross Plus and the rape scene in Perfect Blue.

That reads pretty much as a whats-what of the best bits from the best movies in anime! I can picture all of those moments with absolute clarity and identify exactly what impact some of them have had on me as an animator and a director, so big thanks to Ben for identifying the connection. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've watched Arai's work from Akira frame-by-frame, more than once.

Anyways, if theres any aspiring animators out there reading this, then give anipages a visit until we post those articles up. More soon...