Digital Media CT Blog

University to Hollywood

“You have to learn the rules first before you start to break and bend them.” – Timothy Suarez, Blue Sky Studios.

The goal (or one of them) as an animator is to make the most entertaining shot possible. Sometimes the outcome of that shot depends on how much you can push and cheat to make the character most like themselves without breaking the rules. In other words, a lot of effort goes into the act of your favorite character battling that villain who never seems to disappear! Animators usually have to toss their original ideas out the window for the sake of the story they’ve been hired to tell, and learning the basics is an important foundation to master. 

A goal of an animator is to make the most entertaining shot possible. Sometimes the outcome of that shot depends on how much you can push and cheat to make the character most like themselves without breaking the rules. In other words, a lot of effort goes into the act of your favorite character battling that villain who never seems to disappear! 

See Also: Women in Film

I recently re-listened to a 2020 Select+CT podcast episode with Blue Sky Studios Animator Timothy Suarez. Sadly, Blue Sky is no longer around, but there was still lots to learn for any inspiring Connecticut animator. When Tim moved to Connecticut, he had an opportunity to work on productions such as The Peanuts Movie and some of the Ice Age sequels. At the time, he had no clue about any creative studios in Connecticut and thought the animation was “more of a New York City thing.” Although Blue Sky is no longer here, there are still many other opportunities for animators, thanks to WWE, ESPN, and NBC Sports. These companies are great places to work before pursuing a career at one of the larger Hollywood studios. 

In the podcast, I learned that it’s better to specialize in high-end 3D production if you’re an inspiring Hollywood animator. Animation studios look for people who specialize in one thing because they can work with a diverse team who also specialize in other things. “It’s more likely that you’re going to get into one of these bigger studios if you just commit to one specialty,” said Tim. 

Tim specialized in character design and highlighted that having a background in figure drawing can significantly improve the believability of your character. Prior figure drawing experience helps give weight to a surface so the body moves more believably and accurately. Figure drawing, learning to pose, or studying the anatomy of a pose are all valuable skills to attain before establishing your title as an animator.

Featured Program

Speaking of Digital Media in Connecticut, the University of Connecticut has an abundance of digital media concentrations to select from when pursuing a BA or BFA degree: 3D Animation, Digital Film & Video Production, Game Design, Motion Design & Animation, and more. UConn successfully shapes students so they have the skills to pursue those high-end jobs at large Studios like Disney

DMCT Micro Credentials

If you are unsure of how your skills connect to Connecticut’s growing Digital Media industry, I encourage you to enroll in DMCT’s first micro-credential course, The Emerging Practitioner. I am a graduate of the program and learned many things to assist my transition from University to a Career in CT and beyond!