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QUESTION: I am doing my Senior Project on animation and I am interested in the field of animation. I would like to do a short animated film for my project, along with a interview from a animator, if possible?
How did you get started in animation?
I see you went to SVA and Rutgers University, were there any specific courses you would recommend that I take?
For those looking to get into animation, do you have any career advice or memorable lessons that I could learn from?
Are you currently working on a project? Thoughts on it
Concerning your job what are the best part and the worst part?
What is the most important thing for a animator to remember?
Is there a certain software that you use and what would you recommend a beginner to use?

ANSWER: Hi Jared,

I see you went to SVA and Rutgers University, were there any specific courses you would recommend that I take?

I started out wanting to make live action films and made a bunch of goofy movies with my friends. When I went to Rutgers I didn't have a major. I just took classes that interested me. Some art, photography, film and music classes.
Then I went to SVA and was in the Film Department.  There were some animation classes there that I took there and I took an Animation History class at The New School in Manhattan with Leonard Maltin.  

I always loved Cartoons and I kind of fell into doing animation instead of live action when I got a job polishing cels then moved up to Ink & Paint. I then stayed doing animation and worked my way up the ladder. I really learned animation on the job working with the old Warner Bros., Disney and Fleischer animators in the studios I got jobs in; not in school.

For those looking to get into animation, do you have any career advice or memorable lessons that I could learn from?

Have something else to do when the animation jobs get few and far between and/or non-existent. So much work is outsourced and sent to India, China and Korea it keeps getting tougher to get jobs here in the US. Most work her is Pre production and Post Production. The actual layouts and animation is done by studios far away.

Are you currently working on a project? Thoughts on it.

I currently am working as an Asst. Director on a show called Phineas and Ferb. I think it's the best cartoon show on now. It's good for the whole family. It's smart and clever and doesn't resort to cheap jokes or lame story lines.

Concerning your job what are the best part and the worst part?

The Best Part is the amount of creativity I have, and get to put that stuff in the show.
The Worst Part is the salary is a little low for the amount of work we do, and then there's the small budgets and short schedules!

What is the most important thing for a animator to remember?

Remember to, uh... I forgot.

Oh I remember.
Animation is about FILM MAKING first. Drawing is secondary. Nice drawings don't always tell the best story or give you the best acting.
Animation is making the characters seem to be living beings. Animation isn't just making things move.
Read all you can on the history of animation and the men and women who really made this form of film making the art form it has become today. There has been some fantastic films made over the years. There's also a lot of crap to sift though in the past hundred or so years to find the pure gems. You can learn a lot about animation from even the worst, crummiest cartoon made. You learn how NOT to make a cartoon.

Is there a certain software that you use and what would you recommend a beginner to use?

You may need to use different software at different studios.
Use the same software the pros use. It can get expensive to buy but if you're serious you need serious tools. There are free trial software out there to try out.
For 2D hand drawn animation I use Storyboard Pro and Animator Pro from Toon Boom, and Flash from Adobe..
For 3D I use Maya.

Hope this helps.

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---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Russell thank you so much for helping me out. I have a few follow up questions.

How long have you been working in the animation industry?
What projects have you worked on besides Phineas and Fern?
What was it like working on them?
How so you like your job? And would you do it all over again or go into something  else?

Answer
Hi Jared,

I've been doing animation professionally since 1976.
Here's my IMDB page to see all the stuff I worked on.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0129219/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Some jobs felt like the best thing in the world, and some were just dreadful and horrible. The thing is, I'd rather not say which ones were crap to be on.

You don't always get to choose what you get to work on. You learn whatever you can and try to always improve and get better on what ever project you're on.

I guess I would do it all over again, but I would have made some better choices along the way. You live, you learn!

Hope this helps.

ой

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Russell Calabrese

Expertise

Technical questions about hand drawn and computer animation techniques and production. Historical questions about cartoons and animation.

Experience

30+ years as an Animator, Director and Producer of Television, Feature, Commercial and Independent Animation.

Organizations
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Senior Governorof the Animation Peer Group) Executive Board Member of The Animation Guild ASIFA Hollywood

Education/Credentials
SVA, Rutgers University

Awards and Honors
Emmy Award winning Director 2007 "Where's Lazlo?: Camp Lazlo"
Emmy Award winning Director 1999 for "Steven Spielberg Presents Pinky and the Brain"

Past/Present Clients
Warner Brothers, Disney, Cartoon Network

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