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Next Step Magazine Interview with Fred Armstrong

Here's an email interview that Fred did for Next Step Magazine a while back, concerning careers in animation. I just happened upon the link through a Google search...
NSM: What kind of education do students need to go into animation?
Fred Armstrong: A basic background in drawing helps, even if you are going into 3-D animation. A degree in animation helps, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get it from an art school.

NSM: What skills should high school students practice to succeed in animation?
FA: Art classes, English (if you plan on writing your own stories), computer skills, math (for timing, exposure sheets and much more) and, last but not least, people skills for communicating ideas and understanding directions.

NSM: Where do animators work?
FA: Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and ILM are the main companies on the West Coast. There are quite a few smaller companies as well. The West Coast is where the majority of animation is made, but there are a lot of smaller companies throughout larger cities in the U.S. that have 2-D and 3-D animation studios.

NSM: What’s the biggest challenge in animation?
FA: Getting your foot in the door somewhere to get the experience you need. In my case, it’s bringing in good high-paying commercial jobs into my studio.

NSM: Do cartoonists write their own story boards, or is that left to someone else?
FA: Some do and some don’t. It depends on the artist and the company they work for.

NSM: What’s your advice to high school students looking to pursue animation?
FA: Try creating some animation and see if you like it. It can be very labor-intensive and quite tedious. It can also be quite technically challenging. That said, it can be a very gratifying field. There are not too many jobs out there where you can get paid to bring things to life with a pencil or computer.


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