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RobertoOrtiz
03-14-2009, 02:18 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v308/robertoortiz/cgtalk/top.jpg

I would like to welcome Animation Director Alex Orrelle of Crew 972, to our first Q & A session.
Alex used to work at Pixar as an animator and before that on The Matrix Sequels. Alex focuses on high end CGI and 2D animation production for film, TV and games. His clients include the Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros Animation.

Crew 972 has been in business for four years and operates out of Tel-Aviv, Israel.
More info at www.crew972.com (http://www.crew972.com/)

You can see their reel here:
LINK (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA_PChN0nEQ)


Here is how the Q & A is going to work:

For one week you can post your questions on this thread.
I will compile the questions and send them to Alex.
He will cherrypick the questions he wants to answer, and as soon as he is ready.
He will send me the answer, or post them himself on this thread.
If there is enough interest, I will do this kind of mini event often.


-Roberto

tharrell
03-14-2009, 06:48 PM
Well, I guess I'll start then...

In a very small shop, how do you approach your pipeline efficiently? For example, in larger shops, there are quite often enough folks to work on modeling/lighting/shading/rigging/compositing and fx concurrently, and for the generalist or folks with limited resources that's one of the hardest balances to achieve... either due to time or render horsepower.

So, I guess it's really a two-part question... how do you execute a shot through your pipeline, from storyboard to post? And secondly, how do you stay efficient and minimize re-dos when working with limited render horsepower & manpower, but still dealing with looming deadlines?

Thanks (and awesome reel!),

--T

crew 972
03-15-2009, 04:12 AM
how do you execute a shot through your pipeline, from storyboard to post? And secondly, how do you stay efficient and minimize re-dos when working with limited render horsepower & manpower, but still dealing with looming deadlines?

--T
Hi Trey,
We use open-pipeline with minor modifications. We build shots in layout (with as many final models as possible) and the move to animation when the cut is approved and character models are rigged. Due to time restrictions we have to allow final set modeling to continue all the way until lighting. This is where we have to watch out for tangents and silhouette clarity of the characters. We render as many layers as the project calls for and comp.
We tend to fix effects in 2D, since it's easier and faster to draw what I want the effect to do rather than tweak it in 3D.

ah-fx
03-15-2009, 06:05 AM
Alex,

Can you tell me a bit about the process of starting your own studio? How did you decide it was a good time to start your own business, what do you think you and your team did well during the process, and what would you do differently / better if you could do it again.

I love seeing unique studios pop up, it makes me hopeful about different possibilities for my own studio.

- Adam

crew 972
03-18-2009, 02:06 AM
Alex,

Can you tell me a bit about the process of starting your own studio? How did you decide it was a good time to start your own business, what do you think you and your team did well during the process, and what would you do differently / better if you could do it again.

I love seeing unique studios pop up, it makes me hopeful about different possibilities for my own studio.

- Adam
Hi Adam,
I decided to start my own studio when I realized I can't find a workplace in Israel that fully takes advantage and rewards me for my talent and skills, as well as my business opportunities that come with my track record. I tell people I wanted to "build my own sand box so I can play in it." In the four years I've learned the studio business model is incredibly tough and competitive. The average time it takes from a first phone call or email to closing a deal on an animation project is very long, so I'd have to say my biggest lessons were:
1. Start as small as you can.
When starting out, you should have the smallest fixed costs possible to produce animation, in terms of payroll, rent and IT expenses, so you can survive those quiet months. As much as we love this business and are optimistic about people appreciating our skills, animation clients almost never no what they're looking at, and are appalled by how long animation production takes and how much it costs.
2. Stop being shy.
Artists are rarely marketeers. We're usually good at what we do because we're used to spending so much time alone, honing our skills. Your big clients' decision maker saw your reel but he can't tell the difference between yours and Joe Shmo's. He wants to feel confident about your studio being the right choice for them, so he really needs to hear from you that you are the best. Humility is not a great advertising skill.

So you can tell that the lessons I have have nothing to do with animation. Starting a studio is a business venture, not an artistic endeavor. I wish you and your studio a lot of luck and success!
Alex

WGerick
03-18-2009, 11:03 PM
Hi Alex,

when working on a project, could you tell me what exactly you like best doing and why? And what you least like doing, and how much of your time these two areas take up in relation to each other. I'm talking about project phases or work fields.

And also, what are your ways to make a client go for your favorite idea for a shot or project? The idea, which will most likely get the best results or is the more realistic one. Especially when the client says: "Let's have all the characters have fur and be on fire. And then their house collapses, because of the big giant wave..."

Thanks for taking the time to answer!

crew 972
03-20-2009, 06:49 AM
Hi Alex,

when working on a project, could you tell me what exactly you like best doing and why? And what you least like doing, and how much of your time these two areas take up in relation to each other. I'm talking about project phases or work fields.

And also, what are your ways to make a client go for your favorite idea for a shot or project? The idea, which will most likely get the best results or is the more realistic one. Especially when the client says: "Let's have all the characters have fur and be on fire. And then their house collapses, because of the big giant wave..."

Thanks for taking the time to answer!

Great questions Wanja,
My favorite hands-on stages in a project are storyboarding, editing and animating, though I don't always get to do the latter two. The reason is that these are what I love doing and happen to do a half decent job :p but I have to admit I love working with talented artists in all aspects of visual and sound storytelling.
My least favorite part of a project is tracking progress and cracking the whip, which is why I have a great production manager!
Regarding clients, I think the attitude should always be collaborative. If my client is heading down the wrong path I'd gently suggest my idea, using other successful examples and the theory behind them. It's all about having confidence in your idea and the proof to back it up. Remember, even after you got the project, you're always pitching to your client.

A

BadG3r
03-20-2009, 10:47 AM
Hi Alex,

when pitching for a job, how much R&D is involved to get the job done (although I know, it depends), and do you tell the client that you have to R&D, and does the client have to pay for it???

Thanks for answering.

Igor

Btw, you have a cracker reel. :thumbsup:

Gotmilk
03-24-2009, 06:29 AM
Hello Alex,

My question is when you first started your studio how did you make people notice you? There are tons of studios out there. What steps did you take to let the world know about Crew972?

Thanks,
Karel.

crew 972
03-24-2009, 07:18 PM
Hi Alex,

when pitching for a job, how much R&D is involved to get the job done (although I know, it depends), and do you tell the client that you have to R&D, and does the client have to pay for it???

Thanks for answering.
.
Igor

Btw, you have a cracker reel. :thumbsup:

Thanks Igor!
I'm afraid there's no simple answer. R&D is something my client usually expects me to have already done before so they don't have to pay for it. On the other hand, studios with a robust pipeline that have years of R&D behind them are very expensive, so I guess you have to be very honest about this with your client. I find that if the client is already in the room with you, they're wanting you to succeed. You should use this leverage to be honest with your client and tell them that what they asked you to make is something that you have to develop as part of the production budget, but that it will end up costing them less than hiring Digital Domain...
If you don't have the reel to back it up, you have to inspire confidence in your client by talking them through the process and the costs in more detail, so that they understand that you know what you're talking about.

Good luck!
Alex

crew 972
03-24-2009, 07:29 PM
Hello Alex,

My question is when you first started your studio how did you make people notice you? There are tons of studios out there. What steps did you take to let the world know about Crew972?

Thanks,
Karel.

Hi Karel,

I used to be timid about telling the world about Crew 972 before we had work to show that I thought was excellent. This was a big mistake. It turns out I should have used any legal form of marketing to tell people we exist because there is always someone out there willing to give you a chance to prove yourself, especially with a limited budget.
I mentioned in another response that business is not for shy people. If you believe in yourself you have to show what you have and be bold about presenting it even if you don't think it's as good as you can be because otherwise you will never get the opportunity.
My suggestion is to post your best work in the best possible way. your company website should reflect your professionalism as well as your creativity. Once that is up, you email all your friends and family your link, post it on every possible forum online and network your way to potential clients. Sorry - there are no secret solutions here unless any other members want to chime in. I'm happy to learn some new tricks too!

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