Interview with an Animator

Interview with an Animator

Justin Pedersen is the animation genius behind the Poetry lyric video. He is currently a Pipeline TD and was a technical artist on “Zog”. He’s pretty much at the top of the skill chain in his industry and, besides that, is just an awesome person! Unless you post grid layout photos in Instagram- then you can’t be friends with him.

Q: Firstly, where are you spending your lock down and are you watching some awesome animations?

A:  Held up in my apartment in Stellenbosch with my better half. The town is basically empty so its been pretty peaceful. Mostly been binge watching documentaries on Netflix. 

Q: So often we watch an animation and have no idea of how much work goes into the project. What is the process behind animation?

A: Well that’s a whole article in itself, but I’ll do my best to summarize. It takes so many people with varied skill sets to bring a project from concept to screen. It all starts with a concept or idea that gets drafted out as a script. From there a story board which is a bunch of quick drawings that explain the scenes but not in a lot of detail (think visual bullet points). From there production takes off and assets get brought to life. Loads and loads of research and reference is gathered.

Models are created, textured and rigged. From there an animator will puppeteer the characters, bringing them to life. A lighting artist will step in and set the mood for the scene, that all gets rendered and composited together to form a final image. This is a huge over simplification of the whole thing, but it really does take a village to raise a film. Hundreds of artist hours are poured into every single frame flinging itself out of the screen 24 times a second for your enjoyment. 

Q: Coolest project you’ve ever worked on? 

A: I’ve been very fortunate to have been involved on quite a few shows so far, Zog will always have a special place in my heart. 

Q: How did you find yourself doing a music video for Frances Clare?

A: I picked up a guitar one day to, funny enough get me away from the computer. Realized I needed some lessons and a friend of a friend of a friend sent over Devon’s number, the guitarist from FC and the rest is history. 

The Poetry Video [click HERE to check it out]

Q: Longest time spent on one project?

A: About a year and a half give or take. 

Q: Wow that is crazy! All for one project that might be a short watch time. How is your process- do you ever draw ideas beforehand or is everything done on the computer?

A:  The computer is just another tool at an artist’s disposal and getting your hands dirty with some ​pen and paper is one of the best ways to move past artist block or just get loose with ideas. Your first draft of anything will inevitably suck and it is through rapid failure and iteration that great ideas come to light. 

Q: Since studying at The Animation School your career seems to have taken off! What are you currently up to and which moments so far have made you the most proud?

A: Currently I am a Assistant Pipeline TD, working for a VFX studio in London. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work remotely through the lockdown! The current project is for a upcoming Netflix movie, sadly I can’t say any more than that and you’ll just have to wait for it to come out. Recently Zog picked up an Emmy award and I am incredibly proud to have been a part of the team that made it possible. I remember sitting in an airport and overhearing a mom reading Zog the book to her daughter and how shocked and excited they both were when I mentioned that I worked on the movie. Its such a surreal feeling knowing that something you created touched the hearts of millions of people you’ll never get to meet.

Q: Top 3 Animated Films to watch during lock down?

A: 1-  Big hero Six
     2-  Storks 
    ​ 3 – Coco

Justin is an absolute champ and we are extremely privileged to call him a friend and part of the FC Team. Follow him @justin.pedersen on Instagram and watch the Poetry lyrics video on Youtube!