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Animators Come to Life at Seminole Campus Workshop

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Following his successful lecture on the Seminole campus last week, Esteban Valdez, owner of Echo Bridge Pictures returned to campus to share his experience and craft with St. Petersburg College students in a workshop hosted by the Innovation Lab.

The workshop brought together 20 of the college’s most talented students who packed themselves into portable 603 to learn from a master animator with more than 12 years of experience. Read our interview with Esteban Valdez here. In his talk, Valdez reiterated one of the points he made in last week’s lecture on Seminole campus that what tools an artist uses to create do not matter. He told the artists that learning to draw is the key creating great animation.

Drawing develops an artist’s observational skills which are the key to great animation, according to Valdez. He urged the artists to get out into the world and experience life because their best work will come from drawing what they know. It is the animator’s job to breathe life into their creations, to make them credible, animators must do research just as authors and journalists do. Pixar’s writers went scuba diving to research Finding Nemo, to see how sea life moved and interacted with the environment. “Animators are actors with pencils,” Valdez said.

#spcollege Innovation Lab #animation workshop is on!

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The second half of the workshop was an open question and answer session with Esteban Valdez. Students had the opportunity to ask Valdez anything, and here are some of their questions.

  • “What do you look for in an animator?”

Valdez: “As an employer I get a lot of demo reels, I’m not interested in seeing your demo reel. I want to see your life drawings, and your sketchbook. Then I look at your attitude, attitude plays a huge part in this industry. There are late nights, no weekends, the reality is that it is hard work. As an employer, I look at the basics. Doesn’t matter if it’s animation, art, or game design. It is all fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.”

  • “What happened to Saturday morning cartoons?”

Valdez: “There are less cartoons on TV today because of the market. The people who are running the industry are the last people who should be running the industry. They are looking for another Spongebob, but cheaper and faster.

  • “What happened to cartoon classics like Bugs Bunny?”

Valdez: “Last year in November 2014 not a single Saturday morning cartoon aired. The future of the industry is you guys. The thing is that the industry is at a state of critical mass, web and film festivals are caked with animation. There is a definite need for it. People want it. I’ve still seen studios open and close within six months, and production houses collapse within a year. As an industry, animation is unique. It takes time to do the work, it takes time to do good work, but the industry is focused on fast and now.”

Keep up with the latest from the St. Petersburg College Innovation Lab on Tumblr, and geek out with the Innovation Lab volunteers on Facebook. This event was covered live on The Sandbox News Instagram, follow us for filtered photos, and unfiltered photojournalism on campus and around Tampa Bay!

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