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Kyle Balda talks about some of the technical aspects of animation...

READERSVOICE.COM: When working at Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar, did the writers and artists interact very much in the production, or did they do their own thing?

KYLE BALDA: There was more interaction at Pixar because the centre of the film making was all at one location; so the network between the writers, artists and producers was working more closely together. ILM (when I was there) focuses more on the visual effects and animation for a film that is being produced primarily off-site. So it’s a more focused specialisation of artists; the writers and producers of the film are not as involved in the day to day workings.

RV: Do things like anatomy and the body movement deter a lot of students from learning animation? From looking at your walk cycle and other videos, it sometimes seems like you need a pretty good knowledge of bones and the way sections of the body move together.

KB: I suppose the technical aspects of kinetic anatomy can be off-putting to some but I actually quite like it. Practicing yoga makes it also more interesting I suppose. But I don’t think it’s necessary to have an expert knowledge of anatomy to do animation. The more important thing is the entertaining ideas an animator conveys in their performance. The physics of movement and anatomy are a language that can help the foundation of that performance, to make it feel grounded in realism. If you only know the anatomy, but don’t have an entertaining point of view, then there is no emotion in the work.

RV:: In one video you film yourself doing dialogue for reference for later animation, and I’ve seen pictures of animators making faces into a mirror and drawing the expressions. Do you have to be able to act to be an animator? If students can’t act, what’s the best way to learn it?

KB:: I think it helps but I have heard frequently a saying that animators are shy actors. The video reference is a good problem solving tool. But I think that, just like in live-action acting, there are many different schools that people come from. Some animators are more “method” in that they need to act out the scene and feel it in their own bodies before infusing it into the character. But others can feel it totally outside themselves from the start.

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– copyright Simon Sandall.