View Full Version : Meet the Artist: Emile Ghorayeb

02 February 2006, 01:53 AM

Emile Ghorayeb
Character Animator

As a character animator at DreamWorks Animation, Emile Ghorayeb has the challenging task of translating character movements and emotions in accordance to the visions of the filmmakers. The success he’s had with completing this important duty can be seen in his work in the studio’s hit feature films Shrek 2 and Madagascar, as well as the spin-off short, The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper. He holds this same role on the third installment of Shrek, which is currently in production.

Before joining PDI/DreamWorks in 2003, Ghorayeb got his start in the gaming community at the renowned studio Ubisoft Entertainment, contributing to several projects in their cinematic department. Some of his credits there include Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Batman: The New Adventures, Tarzan Untamed and many others.

Ghorayeb studied 3D animation at Inter-Dec College in Quebec and Fine Arts at Dawson College in Montreal.

Post your questions or request for critique

The "Meet the Artists" forum provides a conducive environment where CGTalk members can have the opportunity to speak to some of the finest digital art talents in the world! CGTalk members can post questions and artwork, and have them answered or critiqued by these master artists. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insight from seasoned industry veterans!

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02 February 2006, 04:42 PM
Hi Emile!
That's cool that you're doing a cgtalk interview - hopfully one day I'll do one too...

My Q:
When working with character rigs, do you you ever run into rigging problems? If so, do you ever fix them, or even add features yourself? Also, if they have to go back to the rigging dept, with your animation be preserved? Is this an often scenario?

Thanks man!


02 February 2006, 05:08 PM
no real questions...

just a little hello from old time colleague :)

02 February 2006, 05:10 PM
Hello Emile, it is very good that you are going to be answering our questions. I saw Shrek 2 again last night, and it is still a beautiful film.

My question is, pertaining to MattVogt's rigging question, do you use some extra deformers in your rig for secondary motion, such as for jiggling muscle/breasts, and hanging objects like chains? Or do you create expressions to automate these tasks?

And do you often use video footage to time things like poses and timing? Such as recording yourself, let's say looking bored at a desk? Because I want to create a short film and I hear this is the "poor man's MOCAP".

Thanks in advance, looking forward to Shrek 3

Kashif R

02 February 2006, 05:36 PM
Hi Emile

Big congratulations for your fantastic...

Sherk 2 has some of the most beautiful animations that i have ever seen in any cg animated movie, i want to ask you some things about it, please.

-1. in sherk 2 the facial expresions of sherk are fantastic, how many controls do you have to animate his face and how do you refer to that controls (i mean do you have some kind of pictures to represent each control or do you just have an iconic representation)?..

-2. How shrek's rig was build?....i mean with muscule system, blendshapes, corrective blenshapes...or maybe all?

-3. do you use MO CAP in some animations or is everything with key frame animation?

-4.what amount of work do you have to deliver each day or week?

best regards

02 February 2006, 05:48 PM
Nice name, Emile. I like it!

Thanks for making yourself available for all of us here- much, much appreciated!

So, on with the questions- How did you find animating someone who's meant to be much taller and heavier than average? What sort of problems did you encounter & how did you get around them?

Once more: thanks man. :thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 06:07 PM
its good to have you here for Q&A...thanx cgtalk for bringing top artists here...

so some Questions:

1-how did you find caracter animating???i know you like it but are you stuck in it or you feel intrested and act in other parts like shading,modelings,rigging,texture???

2-for the overal moves and acts of a caracter,do they talk with animators before the animation process to hear theire sudgestions and opinion on each caracter moves and behaviors and then they start the animate part,or you just sit there,they say he must act like this,based on his personality,now its your art to put some fun and idea into it,limited in the overal actions/personality the director/s said....

3-what are the most challenging acts for you??funny moves,reastick?complicated moves???

4-what was the hardest shot you did?
what shots you like most?
is there a shot you did and you think you could do better???if yes,PLS tell which one(if you liked:))

5-do you like animating the realstick caracters as well (yuda,gollum,kong,griveous ets...) or only funny fantasy ones (king luyi,shrek,donkey)??

anyway,thanks alot for answering:thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 06:26 PM
Hi Emile, regards from Spain.
First of all, i want to say you that i'm very happy with the opportunity to talk to you, and second, congratulate for your excellent work in your last films, specially Madagascar, one of better and funniest film i've seen in last years. I love Madagascar.

Here are my questions:

1. How do you think about the buy of Pixar by Disney? How can affect to the Cg Industry?
2. You are now making Shrek 3, and there are rumors that Shrek 4 it is in production or preproduction, don't think that the shrek character can lose his freshness, to turn into a repetitive character, in spite of good stories?
3. when you receive a shot, what's your planning just before start to animate? Draw some poses? record yourself at video? I would like to know how do you prepare yourselfjust before put your hands in computer.
4. Can you tell us a little about the life in PDI/Dreamworks? how is the environment?
5. Can you recommend me a good book not so famous like Illusion of Life or Animation Survival kit?
6. Have you got a personal webpage?

Well, thanks for dedicate your spare time with cgtalk users. Again, regards from Spain

PD: I want to see more films llike madagascar and madagascar penguins short! :applause:

02 February 2006, 06:35 PM
as kmest said, I'm glad to have really top cg artist here in Q&A

here's something I'd like to know

- What's a typical day like in the studio?

- What's your favourite 3d app

- and finally, what advice would you give students who's aiming to achieve what you achieved?

thanks alot m8 :thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 06:53 PM
Hi Emile,

First of all, I want to say that I really liked Shrek 2 and Madagascar. My question to you is what character you liked animating the most, both in Shrek 2 and Madagascar? And why them?



02 February 2006, 07:02 PM
Ooo! Ooo! I can answer that one!

Emilio's website is here:

02 February 2006, 07:09 PM
How can you make your animations so alive?
What´s your secret? What technique do you use? Pose to pose? Straith ahead?
And can you please give us an special tip on how to improve our animations?


02 February 2006, 07:27 PM
Hi Emile,at now i m not intersted in animating but i love to watch it!
anyway i want to know what kind of music you listen?

02 February 2006, 07:41 PM
Hey Thanks for doing this. I always love when someone takes the time out to help everyone in the community.

Mine is a question about general techniqe. Watching your Madagascar animation just makes me smile. I love how zippy and fast paced it is. I was just wondering the steps you take to do a shot. From concepts to blocking through all the passes to completion. Do you do the facial stuff first, last or somewhere inbetween?

Just curious how you get that sweet old warner brothers zippyness and great acting.

Thanks in advance.

02 February 2006, 07:52 PM
Hey Emile!

Glad to see you as featured artist man!

Can you tell us a bit aboutyour workflow? How do you start a shot and see it to completion? For example that shot where Alex is trying to keep melman from falling when he is stuck in a crate (my fav shot in the movie btw man , didnt know you did it)

-Stepped or spline? pepsi or coke? :)

-Any tips on how to keep the character alive during a moving hold? Right now thats my biggest challenge , keeping a character alive and not moving him too much when doing a moving hold.


02 February 2006, 07:56 PM
Hey Emile!

I was just wondering if you have good story about getting the job at dreamworks, like were you up all night waiting for the phone call, stuff like that.

02 February 2006, 08:54 PM
Hi, great to see that you wanna do this and many kudos on Madagascar, actually just surfed around for images on that reeally good-looking piece of art.
Well, here it goes:
How did you start, schools and such? Or well, how did you become a part of all cg?

02 February 2006, 09:02 PM
hey there looks like your going to have a big load hahaha

You want to here somethign really wierd im doing the exact same eduaction as you... im going to study fine arts at Dawson( my dad teachs there in the photography department )and then im eather going to inter dec or NAD center.... im wondering now why did u choose Inter dec over Nad center and how was the program and Interdec. Which 3d app do they teach there?

Thanks in advance

02 February 2006, 09:03 PM
hey guys/gals!


I'm actually at work... Just popping in to say hello, and to also say that I will take some time later and "attempt" to answer questions. There's some really GREAT questions here and I promise I'll do my bestest (better than best, it's bestEST!) to answer everything I can.:D

AND, I definitely wanted to thank Leigh and the CGtalk team.
BIG thanks, hugs and kisses.

02 February 2006, 09:13 PM
yo emileeee! u worked on shrek ... wow! my dream :) ... to work on DONKEY
anyway... i wanna ask u ...

How was it working on donkey? what were the problems while working on him... ( if there were ) ... ?
How did u enter DreamWorks? when... ?
5 tips for young guys ( 18 years ) that wanna become part of 3d&Animation industry!

02 February 2006, 11:27 PM
Man I'm a HUGE fan of your work. Was just curious about what programs you used to achieve your results.

02 February 2006, 12:12 AM
Elloooo......Great to have you in here. And will be bestEST if you could spare sometime for my tiny viny questions.

The Squash n Stretch actions in Madagascar were mindblowing and something that i never saw ever was the transition from Shrek kind of suble n slow animation to Madagascar kinda snaapppyyy n Sque-tch animation ? And how was the Animation Style maintained over the movie... Any special trainings for all the animators for that ?

And you yourself did the expressions of the characters in Madagascar ? Ther was a lot of Sqetch in facials too. Was it all dynamic ?? Rig dependent ?

N lastly...did you urself rigged the characters in your personal Reel ? They are awsomeee....

Thnnxxxx for takin out ur time !!

02 February 2006, 03:14 AM
Hi Emile, great to have you here. I have a quick question regarding your shot planning.

What steps do you take when analyzing dialogue to make sure that you are understanding the characters thought process and motivation?

02 February 2006, 03:22 AM
Oy doooode! Nice to see you here!
If you (hopefully) come back and have any question on how to use the rocket launcher I'd be happy to answer them for you :P

Avi T
02 February 2006, 04:21 AM
Thanks for doing this thing!

I was wondering what it was like to animate on Madagascar, mainly the penguins. I was wondering how you went about making such fun animation for them.


02 February 2006, 04:42 AM
thanks up front for taking the time to read and answer all of the questions your gonna get asked :)

the only question that i have that hasn't been asked yet (i think) is :

every major animation house has their own "special" software that they create that is an addtion to the off the shelf stuff. in general what is the learning curve like - UbiSoft to PDI etc. do they give ample time to adjust or are you thrown into the water and its "sink or swim"

i think this is the question that ponders me the most-- how much time is allowed for adjustment.

thanks again, good luck answering ?'s


02 February 2006, 04:48 AM
Hi! Im very excited that I can even communicate with artists like you.

What I was wondering about is how did it all start? DId you wake up one morning telling yourself you want to animate characters? What was your original 3d program? How is it working with DreamWorks?

Wich was the hardest/funnest character to work on?

Are you ever going to release any tutorials through Gnomon?

02 February 2006, 04:52 AM
who is this guy anyway?


Heya Emiilio!
congrats on your last works buddy, no questions here, just big kuddos ;)

02 February 2006, 06:18 AM
I'm starting to answer... and holy cra... ;)

But b4 I do:

1) Thank you Dreamworks
2) although I animated all these shots, and i don't want to name anyone because I don't want to leave anyone out, none of this would've been possible for me without my peers, the TD's, char modelers, lighters, charFX, completion, layout at PDI.
3) To you the readers: The pleasure is most definitely all mine.

Here we go... (gasp!)

02 February 2006, 09:46 AM
Finally, some answers!


Hi Matt! I only do animation here at PDI/DW. The Gods, I mean TD's here always back us up when there is need for changes or when problems occur. Before it gets to them though we have what we call animation TD's. They filter real problems from, well, our mistakes ;)
And yes, animation is always preserved. I cannot stres how amazing the rigs are.



hey old friend! still in France? send me an IM



1) Hi! I [obviously] can't disclose all information, but yes, we have some automated secondary motion sytems.

2) There is nothing wrong with recording yourself as long as you're using it as reference for timing or to analyse some movement. Just don't copy it frame by frame. Use it as your base and take it from there. Thumbnail, video, snap pictures, etc. What I find important is tht you have a definitive vision before you start animating your shot/sequence/short. If not, things can get out of control and you never get to the end.




1) We are given a facial sheet with some posibilities. As much as I'd like to tell you how many controls we have, I can't. What I can say is that thre's enough not to overwhelm but to give us complete control and freedom. Best system I've ever used by far.

2) As for rigs, I can't answer that, but you can get a glimpse of our rigs in the extras on the DVD's.

3) We keyframe everything. 0 mocap.

4) um... like all major studios, thinsg are calm at first, and as prod comes to an end, we get heavier loads. Since we're more used to it by then, we can dish out more in less time, so it balances itself out. I kinda like the pressure :)



Thank you!
I always feel I need to ramp up a little when animating a new character. PDI is very good in giving us time to study and get used to our characters.



1) (2 hidden questions here you sly dog!... lol) I fell into character animation by "fluke", but not really. I used to watch Coyote and Road Runner (amongst others) with my dad when I was a little kid. Robotech, Transformers, Tintin, and obviously all the Disney classics. The major turning point for me was Tiny Toons, Aliens and Alien3. Funny mix, maybe, but they all had one thing in common. They all moved because someone was moving them. (I had Plucky Duck tatooed on my right shoulder at age 13). And here's the "fluke" part. The Alien running on the walls in A3 was a puppet. I did not know that. Frankly, I didn't know anything about the medium but knew that that's what I wante to do, so I researched, and that's how I found 3D. Wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I knew I could get to where I wanted with this. I learned to model and rig through school. Bonus! All my personal animations are modeled, rigged, textured and animated by moi :)

2)Depending on the shot, sometimes the dirs already have a set view of the motivation of each character. Other times they give you lots of control. Each director is different. You learn your director(s), then you learn to work together!

3) Acting, acting, acting! I believe as you progress not only with animation but also with yourself, your perspective changes and you get into your chars' heads more and more. It's always a challenge, which in turn makes it a constantly learning and fun experience!

4) Hard shots: Mad: Skipper pacing back and forth. There was alot of subtleties betwee characters that I had to make sure their timing was on, or I'd lose the flow of the shot, and the punch at the end when Private breaks the crayon and it hits Kowalski in the head.
S2: The last 2 dancing shots of the film. Given it was mostly physical motion, but I had to deal with dancing to a beat, chreography between characters, making sure they're all on character, and the stress of "the last shot"! I remember Conrad Vernon telling me "this is the last shot emilio, everyone will remember this one". I remember I puked a little after that sentence. lol
Fave shots: Mad: "I got ya Melman, I got ya!" beach shot. I remember going to see my anim dir (Trey Thomas) back then and asking him to let me go nuts on this one, and he did. With good feedback from Rex, the dirs and even Jeffrey Katzenberg (kudos to him for the underground tunneling), this is the result of a bunch of people having fun.
Dancing Penguins (credits): Again, the directors let me go wild. Slapping, bum hitting, too fun!
S2: "Look at our mutant little babies!" with Donkey, Dragon and the babies. TOO MANY BABIES!!! I love kids. I attmpted to put me and my fiends' personalities in there. Kevan, Trish, Lou, Jason and me in the back smiling at the cam ;)

You ask any animator if he/she thinks their shots could've been better, the answer is always: all of them. ;)

5) I tend to go back and forth between real and cartoony. I would've loved to work on such characters as King Kong or Gollum, but alas the cards just weren't there. I hate you Jason... i love you! coffee? lol



First off, Spain is GORGEOUS! Sweet and beautiful people. And like I said, the pleasure is all mine.

1) Aaaaah, the Pixney question. Throwing curveballs are we? lol. Well, (cli-click, i can hear people loading their guns already), I always LOVED Disney. My favorite film of all time is Bambi. I love Pixar's stuff, I love Dreamworks' stuff (except my shots, yuk!). i honestly don't see this as being as bad as many portray it. We don't know what'll happen. But what we do know is 2 big boys have just joined forces. There's no point in disecting it until there are results. Let's give it a chance, I wouldn't be surprised if we all end up with big smiles. So my stance is: I have faith.

2) Shrek3, 4: Whether it's Shrek, Toy Story, Jaws, whatever, as long as there is content that we can relate to and story we can enjoy, I believe the public ends up happy. Butb then again, what do I know!??! I LOVE "The Never Ending Story", SW1, 2 and 3. You could say I have a very childish outlook on films. In the end, Shrek was the reason I came down here so... go go green ogre!

3) to get a good jump start on your shot: plan out what you'd like to do and talk it out with your directors, anim dirs, etc. planning is crucial for a good result from the get go. Do whatever it takes to get going on the right foot. Pencil it out, video, whatever! :)

4) PDI's a great place. Working along side people like Lou Dellarosa, Paul Chung, Denis Couchon, Dave Burgess (I miss you man), my good mates Kevan and Schleif just gets your creative juices flowing. Awe-some. When I first got to PDI, I thought I had a fir grasp of animation... boy was I waaaaaaaay off! I didn't know much, come to think of it, i still don't know anything! I don't think you ever get to "the end of animation". Every shot is a new thing, a new feel, and that's what's so amazing about what we do. Always new, always fresh.

5) Good books: AST is a great book. All the books we know will help you learn the principles of animation, but none of them will give you the most crucial aspect, and here it is: everything around you. Grab your camcorder, some food, go to the park and start filming. Go back home, watch everything frame by frame. Get ready to flip out.

6) (

PD: O! K! lol

02 February 2006, 10:23 AM

a day in the life of emilio @ PDI:
Park. Double espresso. Log in. Check Email. Animate. Dailies. Double decaf. Animate. Lunch! Call sweet wife, feel good. Animate. Walkthroughs. Animate. Leave.
NOTE: insert "smoke" between each step. Repeat. lol

fave app: 3dsmax baby.

Advice: You love it? you REALLY love it? you'll get it. Trust yourself, concentrate. Listen, analyze what you learn, understand it, and DON'T BE SCARED TO ASK when you're not sure.

Anytime m8!



Wow. Tough one... um...
MAD: Julian. I feel I connect with him. Kevan seems to think he's like me, or I'm like him. Something like that.
S2: Fiona. She's *#!%@# HOT! lol



I don't animate my shots actually. I pay other animators tons of money to animat them for me 'cause I suck! :rolleyes:
My secret (I'm actually serious here): Love what you do. I keep my anims on key poses up until 95%. I go back and forth ON my poses and make sure my overlaps and antics are right. If need be, then I shift certain keys. I feel it's good workflow so if there are any changes to be done, your keys are clean and manageable. In the end, i guess it's like 2D flipping pages back and forth the get the right pose.
And the special tip of the day: Pay attention to what your char is, was and will be thinking.



I'm HUGE on music. I grew up listening to classical and opera (thanks dad!). Today, as far fetched as his may sound, the closest thing I found to these is progressive house. You can download some mixes I did from my website on the "download/music" page. Very good for concentrating when refining animation that doesn't have lipsync.



general steps I take on a shot (when I can):
1) view and understand the story
2) view and understand the sequence

Your shot(s):
3) write down notes of what you'd like to achieve. Motivation (shot or char), thoughts, layout, etc.
4) talk with your dirs and animdirs.
5) reference. video, thmbnail, what have you. I'm very lazy about this, and sometimes kick myself afterwards for not doing so.
6) Start animating only the major beats. Body AND facials. Key everything.
7) Show it and get your notes. Dirs, friends, mom, janitor, etc.
8) add in your notes and make your passing poses, antics and overlap IN YOUR POSES. No key shifting here.
9) Show, get notes.
10) Refine.
11) repeat 9 & 10 as needed.

Don't be scared to show it to people with a good explanation of where you're at with it. Fresh eyes are needed as you gte too close to the shot and can easily lose focus. :)

For the snappy/zippyness: try different things. A good start would be to watch Tex Avery, Looney Tunes and believe it or not, Tiny Toons has some pretty wacky takes too, especially in their direct to video "How I spent my summer vacation" movie. Frame by frame this stuff. You'll be like: "w...t...f... that's just crazy!?!!?!?".
Instead of taking 7 frames to do a move. Locate the major beats in your movement, and try it in say 4 frames, 3, even 2! Just be ready to key alot because you need to drag certain parts of the body to make the ye think it's still believeable. And most important, DON'T BE LAZY! Don't let the computer do it for you. Bad! Bad computer!

02 February 2006, 10:31 AM

Heeeey man!

- see my answer for RobW720
I fluctuate. Stepped or splined, depends of the shot. You'll quickly notice that each has it's advantages and disadvantages. This is obviously my opinion...

-clearer read when watching poses
-faster initial results
-hard to keep snappiness
-much more work after the inital blocking phase

-better read when you have many characters in one shot (intersections, char direction, etc)
-good read on transitions between poses.
-slow initial results. You need to put more poses in to convey the shot.
-harder read on poses/major beats

Try them out. You might find you like one better than the other.

I don't like Pepsi or Coke. I like water or fresh squeezed orange juice :p

Moving holds: The name says it all. Keep everything moving ever so slightly. Here's a cool trick. Remember, we always look at their eyes. One or two good eye darts, when placed properly, can change everything. Blinks are the same. Don't blink for no reason but there's a good chance you can put one in there.


rblitz7 & kizoku:

nice avatar. Booyakacha! Too funny.

Here's a quick version of how I got to PDI:
after school, I joined Ubisoft as an animator. I also did supervising char rigging/modeling for their cinematic dept. Left to work on Kaena: The Prophecy. Moved to Toronto to work on Cartoon Networks "Sitting Ducks: season 2" as a lead animator. Back to Montreal to work as anim sup for Meteor studios. Got in touch wioth an old friend which was working at PDI. They needed animators for S2, interviewed me, and here I am. It's all about timing. Keep an eye out for who's hiring ad send your reel when you feel ready. :)



The Maple Leaf baby.

I only chose InterDec because it was all that I found available to me back in 1996. Here's the most important thing you need to know i you want to choose a good school and not throw your money away: you can go to those schools if you wanna learn anything except animation. If I would've known, I would've flown my ass to Toronto and learned 2D or their 3D animation program. For animation, you need to take animation specific classes. ( is a great place to start. Some of the finest animators are teachers there. Good Luck buddy! :)


more to come tomorrow... sleepytime for me.:thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 11:34 AM
Hey Emilio, thanks for your replies friend! I'm very happy with this opportunity, thanks to the CGTalk Forum for make this real.

Some questions more:
1. In what moment do you think or you say, yeah this shot is finished. In a early question you said that if you ask to animators if he can to make it best, he would say yes, no doubt. Then, in what moment you know that your work in the assigned shot is finished? when director says?
2. where finish the director guides and where start the animator freedom? I mean, the director says, hey Emilio, this shot is for you, i want a shot in this style, or animated in this way, i would like that character does this or these movements, or he says this is your shot, try to understand it as well as you can, and ask me your doubts.
3. In "these days" that you aren't with top of motivation or inspiration, what do you do to try to solve this? Have you got a special inspiring material?

Well, i don't want to ask more. thanks again friend.

PD: when you want to visit Spain, you are invited for me, of course! an email or a call, and lets go! :bounce:

02 February 2006, 12:00 PM
Hi Emillio!
Directly to the question:
We all know and have read what to include and how to make our DemoReel. But what you do /or did / when you apply for new job ? For example do you include only your "best and recent" works , because... comee ooon let`s face it :) I can`t say I have a SINGLE shot that i want to show :D And do you include only the things that you want to stress on /for example only your animation or only your rigging skills/
2. What do you prefer - advanced rig, with all kind of controls that can make everything you want, but incredibly time consuming, or something simpler, but faster ? Because there are some deadlines that you have to consider, and when animating you want everything to looks great, but I personally can`t find the golden middle :) What do you prefer ? I hope I explained my problem....

Thanks for your time!

02 February 2006, 12:45 PM
hi emilio,
thanx for clearing up some of the things in our head... have a question :)

Suppose you had to animate the shrek character in a shot walking by and talking to his friend and suddenly getting hit... how would you practically go about animating it?

02 February 2006, 03:27 PM
Nice, Quick responce. Thank you, Its just what I wanted to know!

*sits back to watch everyone else ask questions I can't think of right now*

02 February 2006, 03:36 PM
Sorry my english.


How the studio decide which animator will animate one specific scene. What is the principal factor of that decision? Can you select the scenes that you want to animate?
Also, I always loves to see Donkey when he's sleeping, he looks so funny showing his belly.

Thank you!

02 February 2006, 04:24 PM
I just want to say first that I absolutely LOVED Madagascar as a 3d artist myself. It's a real must see for anyone working with creative animation. Madagascar showed that there's always room for new and fresh styles. Keep up the good work! :D

And now for the question: Do you think that animation is something every artist should learn a little? I'm constantly struggling as a young student thinking what I should concentrate on and what I have time to do. It would be really awesome to bring my models to life but it seems to be such a big step (both time- and workwise).

02 February 2006, 06:03 PM
Hey, nice to hear a bit of feedback from the initiated. Just one question. How old were you when you received your first Animation gig?


Chris Bacon
02 February 2006, 06:54 PM
Hi Emile

first of all..Amazing work....simply incredible......

I only have one question...its related to my dissertation for university, Im writting about how tools like motion capture are effecting the animation industry, like how rotoscoping effected disney some people Ive spoke to see it as a threat to there jobs, I havnt made a real opinions on this myself. I just wondered what your opinion on this is...any experiance youve had,

Oh may as well ask another question...what did you do for your first EVER animation job..what was it like...


02 February 2006, 07:10 PM
morning everyone!



Donkey is alot of fun.Most of us here at PDI agree he's the most fun to animate on Shrek. Thank you TD's and Eddie Murphy! There are no real problems with him to be honest other than your occasional animator mistake like bad acting decisions on my part ;)

I startd here 2 1/2 years ago, and I gotta say it's partially due to my old friend Patrick.

5 tips:
1) Love what you do.
2) listen+understand+learn.
3) get feedback from the people around you as much as possible.
4) don't be scared to try new stuff. If you don't like it, try again.
5) animate, animate, animate, animate, animate, animate, animate...



Wow. That's very sweet... thank you :rolleyes:
@ work: E-motion (PDI anim software)
@ home: 3sdMax



I've always felt comfortable with squash and stretch animation, probably due to watching at such a young age. For the transition between Shrek2 and Madagascar, PDI gave us a greta ramp up time and some classes with Rex Grignon and Denis Couchon about style, facial systems and rigs. These guys are TOTAL bad asses. As for who setup the style of anim, initially they + the dirs set that up. I remember when we started animating Julian a few of us were given shots to "find" his personality. Man did I struggle! lol

And we [the animators] do all of our own facials. The TD's here setup the faces to be unbelievably squashable. Truly amazing.

And yes, I model/rig/texture my own characters. :D



For dialogue, it's important to understand the environment your chatacters are in both spatially (where they are standing, what's around them, etc.) and sequentially in time (what happened before, what got them there, what's about to happen, etc.) to first know where your chars are coming and going. Start with that. I always watch my sequence multiple times and take notes on just about everything I can get my hands on. Now you're ready to listen to what he/she is saying. Pay attention the the tone he/she is using. That's always your best indication of what they're feeling at that moment.



Everyone take note that this guy can TOTALLY kick my ass in Quake3. He's not human.


Avi T:

MAdagascar was the BEST project I ever worked on, especially the penguins and. I gotta say, the directors were fantastic about letting us go crazy with these guys. The more we pushed, the more they liked it.What you see in Mad is the result. :)



PDI is very generous in giving us time to adjust. It's not really a Ubi-->PDI thing (i had multiple jobs between those two) but more of a software-->software thing. I started way back when on Alias|PowerAnimator and Softimage|3D.

A good palce will give you time to adjust and will probably have some learning classes and such.



1) see my answer to rblitz7 ;)
2) see my answer to Paul-Erik ;)

Hardest char: Puss n' Boots. Small limbs, lots of fur covering facials,
As for me making tutorials, there is something in the works that will cover film animation, but there isn't much to say at this point. I will do it under the name EmilioG :)


Great questions! Gotta work now, talk to you in a bit.

02 February 2006, 09:41 PM
Pascal Blanche:

I miss you, and I'll see you soon old friend.;)



In production, you need to figure out how much time you want to allocate (or is given by your boss) to a specific shot. From there you can figure out what needs to get done. It's kind of a teamwork beteen you, your manager, anim dir and director(s). The best advice i can give you is choose to do your favorite shots first so you don't run out of time on them.

it always depends of the shot. Sometimes the directors already have a definitive vision of what they want in a shot, and sometimes you get almost total freedom. Some directors are very specific about what they want and some give you the intention, and let you run with it. I remember on the Penguins short, our director Gary Trousdale (hunchback Of Notre-Dame, Atlantis, etc.) was unreal. I've never had so much freedom before. As long as we got the intention/motivation right, he was happy. Definitely an animators dream.
We all have good and bad days. On the bad days I call my baby often. She's my inspiring material. lol
PD: Hmmm... Spain. I might take you up on that one day! Thanks! :beer:


if you're applying for an animatin position, show your animation. I tend to get fun with the presentation. Remember that whoever is looking at your stuff has no idea who you are. 1st impression is extremely important. I tend to put only my best work, and try to put it from best to worst in that order. I don't put any soundtracks (unless your'e showing a videogame reel). I have to admit I have a few shots on my reel just because I'm still emotionally attached to them, but try to have an objective point of view when choosing.
Unfortunately you have to find a middle. Quantity is seldom best. It's like a shot, over animating and putting in tons of poses becomes lame. Hit the poses you need to convey, and stop there. Same with rigs or facials. Don't limit yourself but also don't put too much or it will get ehavy, slow, and stop you from achieving your goals..


I would treat this like any other shot.

find and animate your major beats (this would include the impact, extremes like the steps)
considering the hit, I always key a few frames before, then hit, then a few frames after. You'll be able to refine it later.
passing poses
i would probably spend alot of time going back on forth on the “hit” frames to analyze body parts and see if everything is flowing like I want it to, and deal with the face afterwards.

Hope that helps! :)



hey there! PDI is great with shot assignements. They encourage us to tell them when we're interested in any particular shot on the sequence we're on. Depending on the complexity of the shot, i will be most likely be given to a certain level of animator. More senior animators get more complicated shots. Newbies arer usually given 1 or 2 easier shots at the beginning so they can get the hang of it, etc.


Thank you for the kind words.:wavey:

Animation is VERY, VERY time consuming if you want to get good at it. Not that I'm any good... I'm working on it!! Stop judging meeee! lol

Seriously though. you should concentrate on what you really want to do whether it's modeling, rigging, anim, etc. once you're very comfortable with that, start exploring. The dilemma I mostly see is that either you work at a major place like here at PDI, and you're needed to be very specific about what you do, or smaller studios require more of a generalist.



I made a few flipbooks when I was young, but got no money for it :(
21 @ Ubisoft Entertainment.



lol... thanks:rolleyes:

the mocap question: I believe there is a place for mocap like in realistic crowds (LOTR, Titanic, etc.), but even then the directors choose to keyframe certain characters because they want to be very specific. I detest seeing cartoony characters get mocaped. It just looks wrong. The whole point of a cartoon is to play with reality. I don't see mocap as a threat, but more like another tool, just not mine

My 1st real animation was making a 3D toy character jump and swing his sword frame by frame, object by object, no IK with the companie's inhouse software, the second he landed, I popped his head off, arms fell off, followed by the body popping off the legs. All you had left as a pile of body parts. I kept that one. :D

02 February 2006, 09:49 PM
I can´t belive you´re in the forum , Is amazing we can talk with people like you!

I´m from Mexico and am keep working to be an animator, hope I will work in small proyects like comercial spots, but my GREAT DREAM was to do masterpices like your work.

My respect and best wishes for you man

P.S. recently see your webpage. I like Harley a lot, her remindme Mad love

Be yourserlf every time, you´re the Coolest one

02 February 2006, 09:55 PM
Round 2!

thanks for the replies man a lot of great insight there.

I was wondering if you have any personal projects on the side like a short film and what are some of the things out there that inspire you be it shorts or movies or something else.


TC Harrison
02 February 2006, 12:21 AM

I miss our conversations outside the big glass doors on your thousands of smoke breaks. Those late nights could get pretty greusome.

Just wanted to say congrats on the front page! You deserve it.

02 February 2006, 01:35 AM
Hi Emilio and thanks for doing this.
Can you please say something about how to get good at timing animations beacause I find it the hardest thing to do so far. Is it possible to name books or some other learning material that you found usefull about timing.

02 February 2006, 01:50 AM
Hi emilio

Thanks for your time. Just a few quick question...

Was it a big change (i.e. learning curve) for you going from Ubisoft to PDI? What did it feel like getting assigned with you first shot? What did it feel like going from a generalist to a specialist just doing animation? Was the level of quality (they wanted) like you had expected? or much more? what are the hours like for you in PDI?

Thanks for million for you help! :thumbsup:

Chris Bacon
02 February 2006, 01:58 AM
Thanks for your reply,

Another question I have is basicaly an extention off sheep factorys. Im working on a short animation for my final at university. Have you are are you currently making any short animations yourself. if you have or even if you havn't how would you go about it, Whats the best piece of advice you can give from a animation perspective.

Thanks again for your reply


02 February 2006, 02:24 AM
hi Emile.

thanks for reply to my previous questions, can you please answer this other question..

-speking of the extras on the sherk 2`s dvd, i notice in one part of the making of videos that an artist was using MAYA, my question is for what part of the process does dreamworks use maya? you use it for animation?

thanks again for your time


02 February 2006, 03:08 AM
Hi Emile,

I checked out your reels, nice work! Got some questions for ya:

1) How do you like working at PDI/Dreamworks? (I'm going to be applying in the near future) Where do you work, in Redwood or Glendale?

2) Did you get your job at PDI/Dreamworks based on the strength of your personal reel on your site, or was it a different reel?

3) Did you find it hard to adapt to from the style of animation in Shrek 2 to that of Madagascar? Which do you find more difficult?

4) How much fun was it animating the penguins in the end credits? Was that something you guys did in your spare time, or right at the end after principle animation was done? I love the rythym in the penguins, great!

Thanks for your time,

Dan Caylor

02 February 2006, 03:18 AM
Emilio, Thank you very much for taking this time to answer so many questions. Thank you to CGSociety for setting this up.

I don't have a specific question but I would like to encourage you to please continue with your animation tutorials through CG Channel. There is a silent majority that is patiently waiting for more.

I hope that the criticism of the Man Walk Cycle preview webcast does not discourage you or John from working on future projects.

02 February 2006, 09:24 AM

I just a question regarding your gaming background.

- did you do mostly cut scene and trailer animation or did you do much in-game animation?
- how important was your game animation experience in becoming an animator for a feature film?
- Is there much difference between animating for games and animating for a movie?

I ask because currently I'm working as a character animator doing lot of lip-synching and talking but not much action.

I have a chance to work for a game company doing in-game animation for an action game and I can't decide what I should do. I don't really know what to expect and I don't know how useful that experience will be.

thanks, :)


02 February 2006, 01:02 PM

1.) How much time a day do you spend modelling characters at home?
3.) Who's the hardest character you've worked with in Shrek 2?
4.) What would you suggest for me to do for an education if I want to work for a big named movie animation company like Dream Works?

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. You're really great.
-Dren T. Martin

02 February 2006, 02:12 PM
Hey emile, thanks for spending the time answering all of our questions.

1.what I would like to ask you is how do you 'get' into your character? what do you think about before you start planning? how long on average do you do this? and how much do you collaborate with other animators etc. about your acting choices?

2.what would you say is the minimum amount of footage a professional animator should produce a week? you have any advice about what a company would like to see in a reel/CV?

4. finally (sorry about all the questions) could you please outline your basic working procedure? e.g do you ever use timing charts, how much control you leave to the computer in a given scene?

thanks a lot, much appreciated.

02 February 2006, 02:36 PM
Hi Emile,

I'm just starting out and i find that sometimes i'm just too scared to animate anything cause i'm too worried to jump in and just do it. I think it takes far longer than i have to spend on it at that given time and leave it, do you think it's worth wile throwing even ten minutes at an exercise if that's all i have at that time?.

I spend most of the time reading as much as i can on animation rather than actuall practice, do you think reading on the topic is also beneficial?

Have you felt at anytime that you are not good enough or won't make the cut?

Thanx for the interview

02 February 2006, 03:38 PM
ok 2 more questions by me !:)

1. Do u do any sport now? if not did u do while u where younger?
2. what was ur biggest problem while u where in learning stage of animating! ( i mean principles and so on ... ?

02 February 2006, 04:01 PM
thats really good you are here! i really love your works.
1.How many animators you guys usually use for a film like Madagascar or Shrek?
2.Do you use different animators for different shots ? if so dont it make problems for the general behavior of a character in film?

02 February 2006, 08:05 PM

That's very kind. Thanks!
If it's you great dream, then keep pushing, and you'll get it. :)


Sheep factory:

I do have a short in the works. Unfortunately, I rarely have time for it :(
I decided to go more towards a serious approach. Maybe all this is due to making happy-go-lucky cartoons all day, but I feel we have the capabilities for all kinds of different tones these days, so I decided to make it very serious, more geared towards an “older” audience.


TC Harrison:

What's up old friend. Thanks.
Yep, those late nights were pretty cool!



I can't remember any books per say, but one major thing to remember when figuring out your timing is dialogue. Pay attention to tone of voice and even the words.

For example: “WHY are you doing this???”

“Why” is an obvious place to hit, and “this” is another. It's also good to remember that you don't have to hit every change in tone, in other words, you can hit on “why” and not hit anywhere else. You don't want to put poses in just to put them in. This can easily become over animation. Block out your major beats, and see how it feels. It's not rare for me to block something out and realize that I'm hitting in too many places, deleting poses and going over it again. The trick here is to realize what should and shouldn't be there early on so you're not stuck with way too many keys when the time comes to change things.

Hope that helps!



this must be a robotech name, eh? Nice one.

Like I said, I had multiple jobs between Ubi and PDI, but I've used so many softwarews now that the leraning curve wasn't THAT big. I had to learn E-motion (PDI soft), and the usual changes such as new company, new people applied.

I was really pumped when I got my first shot, to the point of almost imploding. lol
Going from generalist to specialist is somethig that has happened to me over a long stretch of time, so I guess you could say that I never really felt it. But I always concentrated on animation from the beginning.

I've always stuck to this piece of advice: everyone always wants to get to these big companies and work on the “big” films. Here's what worked for me: I wanted it so bad. You have to really love what you do. If you REALLY want it, when you feel ready, send in your stuff, but make sure they're hiring at that point.


More to come... :)

02 February 2006, 09:45 PM
Hi Emile,

I was wondering what are the character models modeled from at PDI/Dreamworks? Polygons, Nurbs, Sub-D's?? Any reason for the preference? Are you guys using a special plug-in for hair?

Thanks in advance!!

02 February 2006, 10:47 PM

Short film advice:
I have 3 big points I think should be mentioned.
First off, story. I cannot stress this enough. You have no story, you have no short.

And once you got your story, you want people to relate to your character(s).

And last but not least, less is better. What I mean is that don't over clutter your short with useless shots. Time is obviously against you, so make sure that every shot has a reason for it. If you can make something happen in 1 instead of 3, do it. It's the whole "quantity vs. quality" thing, and this goes not only for your shots, but even on your animation. 1 good strong pose is much better than 3 mediocre poses. Having less shots will give you more time to concentrate on better performance.



Hi! um, there is use of Maya here in other departments, but I'm not sure for what! lol. But what I do know is that we don't use it in animation, we have our own software.



1) I'm in the Redwood City campus. I LOVE working here, simple as that. I've never worked with a better bunch. Simple as that.:)

2) At the time it was adifferent reel. If I can remember, I had my Kaena stuff, Sitting Ducks and a few personal animations (the duck stuff on my site)

3) It was hard per say to swith over since I had already done some squash and strecth animation in the past. In trems of difficulty, each has it's own advantages I guess. Shrek2 demands alot more attention to subtleties, while Madagascar demands alot more focus on strong poses. But this can be reversed depending on the shot.

4) Thanks:) I had a blast animating that bit. They asked us to do this at the end, and gave us total liberty to go wild with them.



That's very nice of you, thanks.
I don't think this is the place to talk about my other work ;) Let's try to keep the focus of this talk is animation. But don't worry, we're doing just fine (lol), and i believe it's important to note that I wouldn't have chosen to work with Jonny if I didn't know he's good at what he does. He's fun, a real passionate, is willing to share, and I'm totally the same way. We LOVE animation, and feel we can give back to the community, like I'm doing right now.:p



- I was supervising the TD's and character modelers during my time in the cinematic dept. at Ubi. Prior to that I had doen some in-game animation on a few titles.

- Any experience in animation is good experience, but I fear that what got me the job here was my work on TV and Kaena. It's important to know that you need to knwo how to animate acting shots to be ready for feature. Not to say that game animation isn't going to get you a job in feature, but that wasn't the case for me. As far as I know, we do have 2 animators here straight from EA (Electronic Arts).

- there is a huge difference between animating for games and film. For games, you need to mostly animate cycles (runs, walks, jumps, attacks, etc.), which are usually 99% physical motion. For feature, you need to work on acting shots, meaning characters thinking before they do something, interacting more in a thought based environment. Both are great, depends what you want/like.

Hope that helps Alex :)



1) I haven't in a long time. when I get an urge, I'll spend 2-3 hours a night until I'm done, which could take 1 to 15 weeks depending on how much time I have.

2) Puss n' Boots. Not very forgiving ;)

3) if you plan to animate, ( is a great place and is done on webcams. They teach you full on animation. There are similar places that offer the courses on site, such as Sheridan college (Canada), Vancouver film school, Academy of arts (Cali), etc. Just remember that it's important that you learn ANIMATION and not general 3D.

Anytime! :D


1) to get "into" your character is to understand as much as possible about who he is and what his life is/was like. Example: Shrek. We all know he's partially insecure about his capabilities, Loves Fiona, scares humans sometimes, has a big heart, can be firm about his decisions, etc. This is who he is because of many things that have happened in his life. Knowing this (and many other things obviously), we can imagine how he would act or react. So know everything you can about your character, the more you know, the more you'll be able to anticipate his/her actions. if you're creating a character, try to build them a past and a personailty profile. That would definitely help :)
Planning really depends on the shot and how lazy I feel that day (which is a horrible excuse!). My suggestion is sit down, plan out. Sketch, video, anything you can do will help you while you're animating. The more set you are before hand, the easier it will be while you animate.
And I always try to show my shots to friends. Lou Dellarosa and Kevan Shorey are my cube mates, so I usually bounce my shots off them. They're really good at giving me their thoughts.

2) 3-5. But again, depends of how complex your shot is. There's a huge difference between 1 character and 14. :)
3) Reels. Well, if you're looking to shoot your stuff at a big place (DW, Pixar, Disney, etc.), strong acting stuff is the way to go. Forget the cool music, opening flying logos and that kind of stuff. They're looking for you to show them that you can make a character have personality. Physical stuff is good, but rarely enough.

4) this is a big one. I'll paste what I wroe before, and add to it:

general steps I take on a shot (when I can):
1) view and understand the story
2) view and understand the sequence

Your shot(s):
3) write down notes of what you'd like to achieve. Motivation (shot or char), thoughts, layout, etc.
4) talk with your dirs and animdirs.
5) reference. video, thmbnail, what have you. I'm very lazy about this, and sometimes kick myself afterwards for not doing so.
6) Start animating only the major beats. Body AND facials. Key everything.
7) Show it and get your notes. Dirs, friends, mom, janitor, etc.
8) add in your notes and make your passing poses, antics and overlap IN YOUR POSES. No key shifting here.
9) Show, get notes.
10) Refine.
11) repeat 9 & 10 as needed.

Don't be scared to show it to people with a good explanation of where you're at with it. Fresh eyes are needed as you gte too close to the shot and can easily lose focus. Remember: The computer is your enemy. Don't let it do the work but work FOR you. Well placed keys will eliminate that "computer feel".



02 February 2006, 11:21 PM
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions... it's great to get some thoughts from you!! :)

it's a great help!

cheers, :)


02 February 2006, 11:36 PM

anytime you have is good time. Just try not to do things halfway. If you're gonna do something, take it as far as you can.
What I've learned over the years is that animation isn't only principles, knowledge, and blablabla, it's also confidence. I can honestly say that this is probably 50% of it right there. Hard to believe, I know. I remember stalling before shots, and I still do. But suck it up, and go for it! And if you're not content with it, the time you spent with it isn't wasted, you learned alot and the next time you'll be even better!

Reading is good, but remember to put what you read to practice! try them out :)

Whether I feel good enough or not? I still don't feel good enough... lol



1) I've been snowboarding for 15 years, and occasionally skateboard when I can (since I was 12). I also like playing tennis. I played soccer and when I was a kid.
2) my problems when I was learning principles: ALL of them! But don't feel like you're not doing good. I know we all went through that and I still feel it sometimes when I see other people's animations and think to myself "o... m... g... that's just crazy animation!!!"




1) Around 30
2) We get to animate all the characters on our shots, which is really fun 'cause we get to touch them all! We usually get time to learn the characters before hand, so when we animate them, we all try to be on character. And with our leads and directors keeping an eye on things, if one of us animates soemthing that might be off, we're notified and clean up the mistake.
3) There's no question... um, I'll try to answer... yes! I agree. lol


02 February 2006, 12:03 AM
mmm, a pdi/dreamworks character animator here, and there aren't a lot of questions :eek:. Lets go for my third round of questions.

1. as a character animator in pdi, what part in animation do you think that is the most important? I'm speaking in all animation process.
2. Your favorite animation film?
3. Your favorite live action film?
4. Can you tell me a little about your tricks with eye blinks? How many frames between one blink and next one? How many frames you use in each "normal" blink?
5. Some tricks to polish your animated shot to give him the final quality?
6. In what animation principle you try to put more emphasis to stand out your animation? Which of them you believe that it is the most important?

Well, thats all for now friend! Again, i'm very happy to talk to you friend! You're a coooooooooooooool guy friend! :thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 01:17 AM
Me Again,

I went to and it looks promising, especially since I learn best with the computer. Although I noticed they do not teach modelling or rigging. Where would you suggest I could go for modelling and rigging? Also, Puss 'n boots was my favorite character from Shrek 2 :P Thanks for makin' him so pussy cat cool :D oh, and one last question; What software do you use for animation/modelling and what are your home pc specs?

Thanks again for taking the time to answer all these questions!

-Dren T. Martin

02 February 2006, 02:00 AM
Have just one more question for ya. Do you find that studios you've been associated with prefer an animation reel in which a single linear storyline is the focus or one which has a collage of various motions(lip sync, object interaction, ect.)? I suppose good animation is good animation regardless of the presentation, no?

02 February 2006, 03:32 AM

I'm not too sure how they get modeled, but they look like polys to me when they get into our hands. But don't take my word for it! And I'm proud to say that our guys develop their own hair here. Geniuses.



You don't give up, do ya! lol

1) If you're talking about which part as in from the beginning of a shot to the end, I'd say planning. Why? Because you should have a clear idea of what you're gonna do. It should be set in your head alrady before yopu touch the mouse, so this part, technically speaking, is your whole shot. After that comes execution.

2) Bambi, by a long shot. I'm a total suck for these kinds of films. Next in line would be The Lion King.

3) Fight Club. I have a soft side (bambi), turns out I obviously have a dark side too. "I ran 'til my veins pumped battery acid,... then I ran some more." Genius. This whole movie is a total 180 turn from everything else out there, IMHO.

4) blink is usually 2-3 up, 2-3 down. Depends on the read. I find myself doing 3 up, 3 down on Shrek3. But the trick is slow ins and slow outs. Here's how I set my keys:

5) Trick isn't in the polish, it's in the key poses. Like I said before, if all your key poses are well set, there's barely any work left. I mean, there still is alot, but if you did your poses right, whether you're the type to offset or add keys, most of your overlaps, antics, etc. should all be there already. I likegoing in and even adding overlap/antics on eyebrows, jaw, whatever. It adds fluidity.

6) refer back to #1 ;)



I'm not too familiar with whcih schools can teach you modeling/rigging well I'm afraid. I learned at work. There are books out there. That and going to school should give you a good base to go from.

PC specs:
Dual Xeon 2.4
GeforceFX 6800 GT
23" flat Dell Widescreen
Win 2000
12X17 graphic pad
Adobe Photoshop 7
3dsMax 7.5



good animation is good animation. Most animators here don't have a short film per say, but I see nothing wrong with having one. I think it's great that schools push you to do this. In the end, i think a short definitely helps you as an animator.

Avi T
02 February 2006, 04:32 AM
I have another 2 questions:

1. How do you go about doing the snappy movement of the penguins? (slow outs and fast ins?)
2. What tips do you have for kids in high school who are aspiring to come and work at places like Pixar and Dreamworks?

(Also, on a side note, I just noticed that you and I have the same birthday!)\


02 February 2006, 06:57 AM

my question is, do you have any experience in classical 2d animation? if you do, how do you compare it with 3d?


Chris Bacon
02 February 2006, 12:30 PM
Thanks for your replys

just a few more questions if thats ok,

I LOVE animation..all kinds....I was wondering onece you can see a shot in your head you see the characters moving from a angle that do you go about taking that idea and putting it onto screen,

Also realy quickly...sound....obiously you cant have a short film without sound...whats involved in that...I mean you obiously need the sound off the scene your going so you can animate it in sync...what are the processes involved in making the sound, not just the actors voices but the background noises...(thinking off shreck while Im typing)

And finaly...whats was it like working with Andrew Adamson I watched the interviews with him after shrek 2 but whats he like to work with,

Cheers and thanks for your replys dude..:bounce:


02 February 2006, 02:53 PM
thanks so much for the feedback, just have three more questions if you don't mind.

1. Before becoming a professional, roughly how long did you practice animating per day?

2. With the continuing evolution of technology and software such as endorphin that gives you in-built real world physics and things such as behavioural animation (I think this is the correct term), are you worried about how much control is been taken away from the artist?

3.leading on from your last answer about think about a character's past, do you think it's important to think about who a character is even on a physical action?

again, thanks a lot for taking the time to answer all our questions.

02 February 2006, 03:44 PM
I am very glad, always LOVE your Madagascar, saw for many time ! some question above you already had answer, you are excellence! now my question is:

1, what do you think that how old restrict animatior can do work for the animator position in big animation studio like PDI/DreamWorks ?
2, can do you show photo of your workroom to here ? let us see how cool is your workroom.:cool:

thanks a lot!

02 February 2006, 07:24 PM
Avi T:

well, the best way I can describe it to you without actually showing it is this: whatever move you would animate with more reality based movement, with squahs and stretch you still have to base yourself on this, but “play” with reality. What I means is that on any given move, you have to shave out frames inbetween the beginning and end poses, but the big trick is that you have to compensate for those frames so it stays believable. So, say a character would hop from point A to point B, instead of doing it in say 44 frames, do it in 34. Here's where you would get your snap: hold your anticipation longer than you would normally, squash the character more than he would in reality, pop him to the apex of the jump in less frames than you would normally, and to make up for the shaved frames, stretch the character on take off and unstretch right before he gets to the peak, hold him a few more frames on the apex, stretch him again to come back down, unstretch and squash when he lands for the overshoot, and then bring him back to normal. You just learned how to squash and stretch! lol

the earlier you learn, the better. If you're dying to become an animator, DO GOOD IN SCHOOL! Once you finish high school, look into taking animation courses. To find the right school for you, look around first to se what fits you best. Until then, read books, watch all the animated films you can, and talk to people in these forums. You're on the right track :)

Our Bdays ROCK!



Unfortunately, I do not have any 2D experience. If i would've know, way back when I studied, I would've most definitely enrolled in a 2D program. For comparison, I tend to use 2D methods like flipping pages, where I skip between poses to get the right feel. I try to always put all my overlaps in my poses. All this to say that like 2D, they didn't have the option to “shift keys”, and that's what I strive for. The more you get there, the more you know what you're doing.



I tend to visualize my shot completely before I get started. Writing notes is very important so you don't forget what you're gonna do. When it comes time to actually do it, I rpioritize my characters from most complicated to least. Also, if there's any contact, I always block the 2 characters together.

wow, big question. Well, I don't do much sound, but I know there's cd's you can buy wioth tons of sounds, or you can record your own. It's good practice to get in touch with someone that is in that field if you plan on doing this, they could give you much better insight than I can ;)

I didn't personally work with him during Shrek2. We mostly worked with Conrad Vernon, Kelly Asbury and Aaron Warner, and they were great and definitely energetic!



1. i didn't until I was in 3D school. Unfortunately, they didn't teach much animation in the classes I took, that's why I cannot stress enough that if you want to animate, go to a school that involves animation and not some general 3D school. I was lucky enough to get a job and learn while I was at work.

Actually no. In my eyes, these tools are helping us concentrate on performance. What I mean is instead of devoting X amount of time on ear and tail overlap, I can take that time and spend it on more inportant things like thought process and everything involved in, well, performance :)

Definitely. Example: a lazy versus a confident character running. The lazy one will run slower, drag his feet more, put less effort in keeping his body straight. The confident one will run stronger, faster paces, lean into his run much more, etc.



well, I think the youngest animator we have is 25. I can't say for sure, but I would be surprised if PDI hired people without schooling unless they are VERY talented, but I'm not sure.

lol. I can't show you what it's like in here... I think a lazer would hit me! You can go to ( to see what the campus' look like, or look in the extra's on the dvd's to see some people's workstations. Sorry buddy :scream:

02 February 2006, 10:29 PM

Just a Big question: A Great animation needs a great model
How much poligons have Shrek, donkey... well a character like those

If is posible, (please, please, please) can you show a detailed wires

TANKS A LOT :thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 10:29 PM
I'm kind of shy to say something here ....

Well, the Shrek movies are to me the best in 3D until now - I know that some people prefer others, but it were those who just knocked me off my feet .... I'm a mother of a couple of guys who are 6 to 9, so I get to see almost EVERYTHING !

Anyway, in Shrek 2 - I don't know if you were the responsible, but the entrance scene where Prince Charming takes off his helmet and gets his hair loose .... that's SIMPLY amazing !

Because of the Shrek movies I bought Cinema 4D a year ago - but I'm sorry to say that I have made nothing since then - just a couple of tutorials and now it's gathering dust lack of time ....

I want to be as good as you some day !:D

Chris Bacon
02 February 2006, 10:52 PM
Thanks for the replys dude..:thumbsup::bounce:

again LOVE your work..

02 February 2006, 02:25 AM

hi! Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to show you a wire. What I can tell you is that we use LOD (level of detail) when characters are far or close to camera. And Shrek and the crew have ALOT of polys. lol


The Photographer:

no one's shy here! So don't be :)

That particular entrance scene was done by no other than Raman Hui, animation director for Shrek, and co-director of Shrek3!

I have to agree that it's hard to find time to do my own things, let alone learn a whole new software. But, you're doing much better than me, you're raising a family. The BEST thing ever.
I also looked at your WIP threads, and wow. You have a great style. I so wish I could draw like that.


02 February 2006, 04:33 AM
hai emilio, nice to meet you here,your works are just great,i just want to ask you questions about your work environment at PDI and about yor deadline, did u often overnight in your studio like i did ? lol btw keep on rockin dude:buttrock:

02 February 2006, 06:06 AM
First of all, thank you for lending us your time and thoughts...

my name is Stefan Thorsson, working on my masters in Animation (Rigging)
Miami, Fl
*Ai MIU*
I would like to ask you about what kind of relationship you have with your riggers. Obviously you have some notion of what is needed for your characters expressivness. How do you interact with them to get the most out of them creativly.

If your rigged character doesnt fit with your expectations, in your own experience what is the process for recalibration (so to speak).

Thank you again,
I really appreciate your work and of course the time spent to talk to us here on the forum.

Stefan Thorsson

02 February 2006, 06:42 PM
again, thanks for the replys. ;)

02 February 2006, 06:53 PM
Hi Master, ur work is just awesome, and I appreciate your time spent here,
my passion is doing character animation, I'm in the beginning of the journey,

1 - will it be a useful or useless idea if I start my trials (initial projects) on CAT @ max, since I'm very familliar with the software? or learn Maya from the beginning then start my character animation, since its that industry standard.
2 - if we assume that I did good work on CAT, and if I found a studio that's looking for character animator or rigger, and they use maya (this is moslty the case), can I tell them strongly that I can take this job, will take me long to be able to produce??,
3 - should I practice animating on maya b4 going for any animatior job??
4 - how hard will it be to use my skills (when I have them on CAT@Max) on Maya??

PS I am- super expert in 2d CG, inculding excellent flash animation, great familiarity with
3d on max. 13 years in cg... oops looks like stupid resume :banghead:

sorry if its about packages, I'm now burning to start animating, and these questions are banging my head since months, but I don't want to find out that I made wrong step after spending to much time, so please advice me as a master in this industry.

thanks in advance

02 February 2006, 07:35 PM
What do you think of the current state of cg films being put out based on the assumption that they're gauranteed gold mines in the eyes of most producers?

Can you expand on what you did personally in your free time to get where you are. What gave you that motivation to push yourself towards features? How much time you spent after already doing a full days work. Your process for pushing when you already had a decent job.

02 February 2006, 10:15 PM
Good afternoon Cgtalkers! Finally some time... sorry.



Funny you should ask that. The environemtn is amazing. Being an animator at PDI feels like you're part of a family. Some people bring their kids sometimes, and we get to play with them. So you can imagine how it is.

As for deadlines, they're nopt always strict, but the usual pressure comes around at the end of a project, like all studios. I don't recall sleeping here. I have stayed late, but that's because I wanted to, not because I was forced to. :)



We are very close to the riggers. The TD supervisors are always at dailies to help out, and they are, like I said before, a-ma-zing.

There's alot of back and forth between us and the riggers, especially at the beginning of a project to get the characters where they need to be for the rest of production. I don't rig here, so that's the best I can give you. As for my personal rigs, I make sure they are 100% ready before I start using them on “shot” animation. It's not a good idea to get started when a character is not ready.



I don't know what CAT is. :(

Tell me what it is and I will answer you properly. ;)



I believe CG films have reached a good level. If we look at the progression between Shrek1 and Shrek2, there's a huge difference technologically as well as artistically. Same goes for Toy Story 1 and 2, Incredibles, Ice age, Madagascar, etc. What companies tend to forget, even though theys ay they don't, is the basics of any good film, CG or not. Story. Now I am not one to only base myself on this. I do enjoy films very easily, story or not. But nevertheless, a good sotry will make a film much, much better. I enjoy a good story, but I also enjoy a “mindless” movie also, depends of my mood.

You need to understand that any producer will believe that their film is a “gold mine” or else they wouldn't get onbard... I wouldn't anyway. This is the CG era, so obviously everyone's jumping in. There are alot of CG films in production, let's see what'll happen. I hope it's good.

I love what I do. It is my job, but also one of my pastimes. I feel fortunate that I actually get paid to do something I love to do. When having conversations, I've always been attracted to people's psyche, their toughts, emotions. From body language to dialogue. When I talk to someone, I feel I really pay attention more to how they feel than what they're telling me, which is what lead me to be really into animated characters, realistic or cartoony. It's the same in the end. A well placed smile or even a blink can totally change your shot, and that just blows me away. You spend your day keying and keying, and just 2-3 keys will flip your shot around completely! C-R-A-Z-Y. Man... my brain's really screwd up!? lol

02 February 2006, 02:53 AM

I don't know what CAT is. :(

Tell me what it is and I will answer you properly. ;)

oops, I hope I don't look that stupid :blush:

u can think of CAT as an Animation software other than Maya,

actually is a Character Animation Tool (plug-in) for 3ds max, u can take a look here sir,

and many thanks again.

02 February 2006, 07:05 AM
...When having conversations, I've always been attracted to people's psyche, their toughts, emotions. From body language to dialogue. When I talk to someone, I feel I really pay attention more to how they feel than what they're telling me, which is what lead me to be really into animated characters, realistic or cartoony. It's the same in the end. A well placed smile or even a blink can totally change your shot, and that just blows me away. You spend your day keying and keying, and just 2-3 keys will flip your shot around completely! C-R-A-Z-Y. Man... my brain's really screwd up!? lol

I know what you mean, the subtleties in body language really can be mindblowing -- conveying so much with so little, sort of like the "cliche" - picture worth a thousand words...

well, anyways, my imagination is never lacking, though articulating it can be a challenge. any ideas / tips on how to over come this? sorry if I seem vague, but i would just like to know your method for articulating ideas, and what do you do to overcome challenges like this? (i hope that made sense)

--also, would you care to mention the short you are working on, just give out a hint about the story. i always love to see other animators shorts stories...

thanks for taking the time...

02 February 2006, 07:11 PM
Not a question but I noticed you have the same interests as me, snowboarding, tennis, and animation. Right on!!

02 February 2006, 08:27 AM
Hey Emile. It's cool you're willing to answer all these questions. I've gotten some pretty good ideas just from reading through this thread. I was just wondering if I could get a quick crit on a personal animation I've been working on. It's a line from This is Spinal Tap. I'm at about second pass and I'm still in linear. I haven't gotten to lipsync yet. Thank you for your time!


02 February 2006, 04:51 PM
Hi Emile,i am infant in this field, but i want to be a 3d animator/visual effect artist like u. when i was a kid and watched jurrasic park i wandered where are these dinosaurs come, and when i knew they are computer generated i set this goal in my mind that one day i will also create these things. i am 18 now and chosed this field to be my profession in the future.

My questions are;

1) what is the good age for start learning cg?

2) what are the neseccary skills a person should posses to be good in this field?

3) how do i start, like from which software and what are the skills that i master first?

4) fine art or manual art skills are necessary or not?

5) tell us about your way from a kid to now who u r.


please reply.

02 February 2006, 06:30 PM
Hi Emile, I'm about to graduate from high school (if you remember montreal, my school is jean eude lol, so yeah IF you remeber what school im talking bout im giving you full privilege to make fun of my uniform as of now :)) anyways back to topic, so im about to graduate and I was wonderring, how was dawsons fine arts program, im not really going into animating, i was thinking more about compositing and editing but the communications: cinema program at dawson doesnt look ''challenging'' enough, I didnt mean it in the way that im better than them lol, sorry if it came out like that. anyways so thanks alot for being on the forums and any reply is welcome. by the way sorry for all the errors, growing up in a french enviroment makes it hard lol.

02 February 2006, 09:22 PM
1. What's the funniest animation/graphic glitch you've seen while working on Shrek2?
2. How much time does it take to animate one scene in a movie?
3. How much time does it take for you guys to render the whole movie?
4. Does dreamworks have a huge monster man eating computer to render the movies when completed? :P

02 February 2006, 05:34 AM

1) So, it is better if you know maya, but good animation is good animation. Starting off, I suggest Maya for film and 3dsMax for games, depending on what you want to do. I personally use biped and max bones. The girl in my videos is biped, and the duck is completely in Max bones (for squash and stretch).

2) It shouldn't take you longer than 1 1/2-2 months of raining to be good to go.

3) Not necessarily. Like I said, software i software. But Maya is obviously preferred, especially for rigging if you plan on taking that route.

4) Animation shouldn't be that different. I remember taking 2-3 weeks from Max4 to Maya 4.5

In the end, do what's comfortable for you. Like I said. film industry likes Maya, games liek Max.



lol. let me right you a book here... how about this for an answer. I believe that youcan read up alot on this stuff, even in psychology books. Something that I always found easy access to is really simple, other people. Watch them. Watch when they blink, when they change the direction of their eyes. Does it happen before they turn their head, or after? You'll start noticing similarities in movement. People tend to look first when they are looking for something. They tend to drag their eyes afterwards when in conversation with someone. Again, it's all about where their focus is concentrated. I try to pay attention to this as much as possible.

The short: I don't want to say too much, but it's the story of a 29 year old girl and her little brother, and it's very sad. :(



woohoo!!! :buttrock:


GREAT start. Don't lazy out and not pose the body. I see it's moving up and down, but it's not bending at all. When I make my poses, I ALWAYS move everything. Also, pay attention to your left hand... it' not doing anything while the right hand is moving alot. Remember to add frame #'s when you want a critique. It' easier for people to be accurate for you. We're not feeling him leaning. Watch the slihouette. His Larm is staying behind his body and we're having a hard time reading it. Imagine the image black and white, we should be able to understand mostly what is what at any given time :D

all in all, looking good. Shoot me a more polished version with lipsynch when you get a chance :thumbsup:



hey buddy!

1) any age is fine, the earlier the better. I startedat 20.

2) Love the art form, concentrate, listen, patience, drawing helps, 2d animation or stop motion would really help. Make sure you study animation and NOT a general 3d course. And make sure you are ready to understand that you won't become amazing overnight. This is a field where you have to apply yourself.

3) Don't start on a software right away. Basic principles are what you want to look for. Get some books on the subject and read up. Animation Survival Kit has always been a favorite of mine. Very well explained. Walt Disney's The Illusion Of Life is also up there. Then you can try applying those techniques once you feel you're ready. But I suggest you go to school. They give you milestones, exercises to get you to understand different aspects.

4) Not necessary, but suggested. You need to understand that as much as animation seems to be "on it' own", it's very well intertwined with other art skills.

5) I wrote it somewhere else in this thread :D



Dawson was great for me. I totally suggest you go there. IF you're not sure, get some info on all the schools around, see if you can get a tour or something, that should help you decide. As far as editing courses, I don't even think they existed there when I went. lol



1) My coffee spilling into my keyboard... Honestly, I can't remember. Sorry dude.
2) depends of the scene. some take 2 days, others take much longer. I remember being given close to a month to do the second to last dancing shot in the movie.
3) Dude...I have no clue. lol
4) Yes it does. It tried to bit my leg off once but I gave it the 1-2-3, like it deserved. I hav to admit, the farm at DW is impressive.

02 February 2006, 07:42 AM
Hi Emile,

Do you know anything about the summer intership at Dreamworks? On the website, it says they offer an animation internship during the summer, but then they only list technical stuff, not actually feature animation. Anyways, I would love to apply for the summer animation internship for Dreamworks in Glendale -- any advice on how I should go about doing this.

Does it require work to be submitted? I'm slightly confused by the website.

Sorry if I'm asking the wrong person the wrong questions, which I suspect I may be doing, but if you have any knowledge about this, it would be greatly appreciated :)

thanks again...

02 February 2006, 07:06 PM
oh i am so happy u replyed me.

can u tell me some thing about yourself.

1) what is your ultimate goal.

2) what type of work you like doing and the what is the thing u want to do and not done yet in this field.

3) key for survival in this field.

4) when working on project u have to sit in front of computer for many hours, so how can we save our eyes, body, health etc.


02 February 2006, 07:23 PM
hey everyone!

Cgtalk, Dreamworks and I have agreed to extend this Q&A until friday morning since I have some time. So feel free to ask away and I'll do my best to answer you as promptly and accurately as I can.

Big thanks to Leigh.


02 February 2006, 07:25 PM
lol emile! you got a fan club!
really nice work...i want be like you after:D
no really... the one i prefer in all your're work was the alian....but they didnt showed it...
anyway i can,t wait to see you:rolleyes:
continue like that will be the best :)

02 February 2006, 07:42 PM
hey got a fan club!:P
i wanted say work is really nice...i want be like you:D !
my favorite one was the alian you did...but they didnt showed it...anyway i can't wait for see youXD

see ya famous guy

02 February 2006, 02:07 AM
hey man! really good animation!

i'll shoot some questions:
1. having troubles with timing, do have tips on how to improve? how do you work on your timing?
2. will studios hire people from other countries?
3. what are the standards of studios in terms for animators? what are they looking for?


02 February 2006, 06:37 AM

Unfortunately, I'm not too familiar with the internship. I have seen some interns roaming around PDI, but I have no idea what their background is. I definitely do suggest it as you would see and feel how it is to work for Dreamworks. Go for it! If there's an email there, don't be scared to contact them :thumbsup:



1) ultimate goal: not too sure, but I definitely want to direct my own film. Doesn't everyone.
2) i tend to go back amnd forth. I've been doing cartoony stuff for awhile now. I think I need some violence. lol. And that's why I loved playing quake4, half-life2 and Fear. Scaaaary! The short I'm working on is quite violent, btw :D
3) Key for survival: animate your brains out and be modest.
4) Get up and take a walk every hour or so, and don't do like i do, sit straight! Furthermore, I really like eating fruits and vegetables, gives me a boost.



I Love you little sister.:p



1) timing's a big one. I see too many people work their timing, and eventually say "oh that's pretty good, i'll get back to that later". Not good. I find there's 2 tricks to getting good timing. First, patience. And second, keying. Key your poses completely. Don't lazy out and just key your arm. The whole body moves, so key it all. Once you have that, move them around until you have your timing right. Setting your keys in stepped mode can help you visualize your timing better.

2) most definitely. There are tons of foreigners at PDI and DW Glendale. If you've go the talent, DW sees it for sure. They're very cool about that and definitely take care of you.

3) Acting, acting, acting. It's one thing to animate a character running around, blablabla. But when it comes to thought driven motion, it's a whole other ball game, IMHO. And quality. Forget quantity. I'd rather see 3 fantastic acting clips than 20 mediocre ones.

There ya go:rolleyes:


02 February 2006, 08:37 AM
thanks for the insight:cool:

got some follow up questions:
1. in terms of spacing between key frames, how many frames do you skip before keying the next pose?

2. for an animated feature film what is the standard fps used is it 24 or 30? which will you recommend to be used?

02 February 2006, 02:27 PM
Thanks for the reply Emilio. I've got some more questions coming.

02 February 2006, 02:57 PM
Hey Emile!

How ya been? Haven't talked to ya in a long time. Just wanted to say hi! Take care man!

Scott 'the guy on your sofa' Heatherley

02 February 2006, 04:44 PM
Hello there! I really enjoyed shrek 1 & 2 AND madagascar!
Well some questions (I don't know very much about animation so forgive me):
- how do you animate the faces of the characters?
- do you act in front of the mirror when you're doing facial animation? :D

02 February 2006, 07:18 PM

1) there never a "standard" amount. What yu need to look for is beats. Watching your animation, especially if there's dialogue, there are major beats you can spot out. Take this sentence for example: "Man, i LOVE animation!". Man, Love and animation are all beats. So you;'re guaranteed 3 major poses to work from. Once those are set and you're happy with your poses, you're ready to inbetween them with passing poses and actual inbetweening depending on what movements you choose.

2) Feature is 24fps. If you plan on eventually working on films, get used to it because there's a huge difference between animating 24fps vs 30fps.



Hey old friend, msn me sometime and we'll catch up :buttrock:



Hopefully you'll also enjoy Shrek3 :D

1) We animate faces on characters with seperate controls such as: left eyebrow, right eyebrow, Left mouth, right mouth, etc. And each of these hev "sub" controls. Left mouth can include a multitude of contyrols such as: smile, sad, open, close, sneer, etc. Once you mix a whole buch, you get your facial expression. We also have lipsynch controls for mouth shapes. This is pretty much the standard in all studios these days.

2) some people do. Here atr PDI, we have a mirror room, video referencing, and we also have our own personal mirrors if we want to look at our faces.

02 February 2006, 07:52 PM
by the way...can you say me a good animation program for a "normal" computer?(you know how mine is shit:rolleyes: )

....for the too bro!:love:

02 February 2006, 12:07 AM
1.) What's your fav food/drink? :P
2.) Can you say 'hi' to Shrek and Donkey for me please?
3.) Okay, now with some serious questions; Do you make tutorials at all?
4.) What in your opinion is your best work yet?
5.) Do you think any other animated movies are better than some DreamWorks has produced? (e.g. Finding Nemo)
6.) Do you have your own office at know...Where you can have a party for all of CGTalk? *hint hint* :P
7.) Do you still own your very first 3D work? Want to share it if so?
8.) Would you ever consider leaving animating behind you for a higher position at DreamWorks that had nothing to do with animation?

k I'm done...thanks again for taking this time to answer these questions. :D

02 February 2006, 12:51 AM
emilio G thanks happy you replied me:bounce:. working at PDI sounds like fun id love to be in your shoes. a litle bit about myself now im working on a korean TV series as a supervising animator and i have a quota of 2 episode per month aaaargh!!!....the deadlines sucks!!...we are only 14 animators of us and 1 compositor and the worst things that the animators were know nothing of animation until i taught them ,we did just 'straight pose to pose' and sometimes just let the animation floooaty lol,we've been working on this project for about 5 month now but somtimes i amazed with our animation that its improving at short notice even its not going to be something like PDI or pixar.
one more question do you have a routine exercise for animation, what kind of exercise did you do to achieve your amazing and soulfull animation
thanks for sharing.... im a big fan of your work especially on madagascar:thumbsup::thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 01:19 AM
emilio G, Hello!

I'm a modeling student and just have some questions. I know that at glendale they use a lot of nurbs for modeling. what about PDI? I know you have mentioned polys.. do the modelers mostly use polys and sub-d's?(no nurbs at all?)
Secondly,does PDI and dreamworks(la) has a different workflow in modeling? I'm a big fan of nurbs(a heavy nurbs user) so I'm just curious.
thanks for replying to us and congratulations on your way to success.

jinwoo lee

02 February 2006, 03:10 AM
Hey Emilio,
Just checked this out as you mentioned.
you weren't kidding when you said you were busy! LOL
I still gotta read thru all your replies in thread. Good questions and answers though so far.
Been helpful.
Hopefully I haven't asked a dupe question. But I will go ahead and add to your huge list =):

1)How easily did you transition into animating for film coming from a video game background?
Did you have to think in a new way of acting or act in a new way of thinking or neither? (That confused me too.) LOL. What made you decide to transition into film animation?
Did you feel you were limited with your talents at a game company and had to move on?
Would you ever go back to work for a company to animate for games again? Or have you finally found your love in film animation.

I will definitely pursue film animation in the near future and I feel that there is more creative freedom in animating. Sometimes I feel limited in animating for games but sometimes there's those times where I can't wait to play with a character that I spent precious time designing/modeling/texturemapping/rigging/animating. Maybe that's what keeps me addicted to it. Must resist ....must not convert....but....must explore....must broaden myself....LOL.

The Ebay Loser

02 February 2006, 03:51 AM

1) food: mum's cookin'. Drink: double espresso.

2) Shrek and Donkey say hi back! (Fiona thinks your name rocks)

3) Yes, I am working on a DVD tutorial with my mate Jonathan Abenheim.

4) None. All my stuff is total garbage. Um... I don't know, I really enjoyed doing the shot where Alex says: "Yo Rico! I'll take 300 orders to go!" and Julian pops up and says: "yes yes, but before you leave, I have an announcement to make!". That was real fun. I really paid attention to squashing and stretching the characters where I felt I needed to.
5) My favorite animated movie is Bambi. But if we're talking in terms of CG, I'll have to say my order goes like this:

Shrek2 (which is the reason I came down here in the 1st place)
Toy Story
The Incredibles
Toy Story 2
Monsters Inc
Ice Age
A Bug's Life
Finding Nemo

But if you ask me of all time, it would most definitely be (by a long shot):

Neon Genesis Evangelion
The Lion King
Beauty And The Beast
The Fox And The Hound

The kind of honesty and heart warming films that Disney once put out time and time again is gone, and I feel that our times wouldn't allow such a film to become big. Imagine bambi coming out today, it wouldn't gain the popularity it has done. It's a shame, but that's how it is.

As for Neon Genesis, that's a whole other ball game. There's MUCH more behind the image that one can see. There are so many religious and sexual aspects to this film, I couldn't even begin to tell you. As a whole, well, for those who know it, the last few episodes which are considered a film, is the most complex yet complete animated film I've ever seen.

If you haven't seen it, stop reading this and go get it NOW. Watch the series from beginning to end. Un. Real.

6) I share a cube with Lou Dellarosa and Kevan Shorey, my mates. Jason Spencer-Galsworthy used to be with us too.

7) I do still have my 1st 3d work, just don't know where. lol

8) Never. I have to be involved with animation somehow. I Love it too much. :drool:



I know where you're coming from. When I worked on "Sitting Ducks" for the Cartoon Network during my time at Elliott Digital, we had to pump out one episode every 2 weeks. I remember dishingout 55 seconds of animation in one week! lol

I was once given an amazing routine exercise to do, and I'll never forget it. It's not complicated really, but really makes you dig your head and get creative. The test was this:

Stand a character in front of the camera, and make them react to soemthing off camera.

That's ALL I was told. The cool thing is that it gives you millions of possibilities. I wasn't given any amount of frames to work with, no dialogue, nothing. Just that sentence. That exercise forces you to not only be crative, but be good with time, and also be smart about what you do. You know you don't have forever, but you want to make a good piece. Try that. It's alot of fun. :)

And thanks for the very kind words.



Dude, what are you doing still studying? your work is astounding! Seriously, finish up quick!

You'll be happy to hear that the modelers do use nurbs. :D
In terms of workflow, I have no idea but I can tell you that I have seen some tools here that you explode your head. Maybe even implode. lol

02 February 2006, 07:48 AM
WOW, I am soooo happy that PDI use nurbs! PDI is one of my dream companies!! I will definitly give it a try and apply at my graduation which is the end of May(or maybe sooner)!
Thank you so much for the information. I actually been to PDI for a tour and I really loved it. the HP renderfarm, the gallery hallway, the scene from the glass window view, and the lovely work which was displayed in the hall were all remarkable.
It was friday so I saw some workers with their children which made me feel more like a family environment! I remember I taking a pic a the conference room with my friends with the huge shrek picture for the background!
I really envy you for contributing at PDI's animations master pieces and I hope you'll continue to enjoy your work at PDI!
Thanks again and take care!

Jinwoo Lee

02 February 2006, 04:55 PM
Hi Emile!

Cool to see a 'incredibly famous' animator on the 'Meet the Artists' (as in fact everyone will know your work). Really nice that you can have some time to answer all the questions! :) On the next feature film that will be released with you working on it, I'll be waiting for your name on the end-credits and shout around the theater: 'hey, that Emile, that's a cool guy who takes the time to answer fanposts!' ;)

I have just one question. You were trained to be a 3D-animator, so do you have any feeling of movement when doing 'instant 2D animation'? To speak about myself: I can animate a bit in 3D and then give it a bit 'cartoon-animation-look', but when trying the same on 2D-animation (just frame-per-frame) I never get a nice movement (with the right ease and so). Can you animate without keyframes, if you understand what I mean? And do you think 2D (frame-per-frame animation) can be compared to 3D (keyframe) animation, or if an animator should have skills for both?

Thanks for the time, and I wish you all the best luck on your projects! :bowdown: :wavey:

02 February 2006, 07:26 PM
hey Emilio! I am relativley new to animation (still in school, one more year left).
couple of questions....

1. Is the framing of each shot finalized before you get assigned a scene? Or does it change much after you begin animating?

2. If so, how much animation do you do beyond the frame? ex. If 2 characters are walking in a mid shot do you animate the feet or just the motion of the hips going up and down?

Thats it... thanks for your time....

Robert Diaz
02 February 2006, 09:57 PM
Thanks for talking with us Emile! I realized something today when I was animating a little animation test of a character seeing something and laughing. And looking at the playback something seems missing. Like it really isn't ALIVE. I guess my question is what are some things you do (tips/tricks) when your struggling to make a character feel alive and less blah?

Thanks again.


02 February 2006, 10:13 PM

What's up man!

It's hard(er) coming from games. The reason is that you don't animate much acting in games, therefor you don't get much of a chance to develop those skills. What I suggest to any game animator is to work on some animation on the side if they plan to get into the film business. I always wanted to do film, but it wasn't a possibility in Montreal when I started. So i looked at my own work and realized, at the time, that I just didn't have the skills yet, so I got working on it. Being honest with yourself about such things isn't easy, but if you want it, get on it.That was my way of thinking.

I did feel like I had platformed at one point, but I was also curious to see what's out there. Funny you should ask, because I might be taking a job in games again, but more along the lines of supervising. I don't know if I'll be animating much (Dreamworks IS aware, don't worry), as I am moving back to Montreal because my girlfriend and I are having a baby girl (woohoo!), so i plan to chill back for a year or two and get onto other responsibilities like my family and such, but my love for film definitely is here to stay. :buttrock:



Yes, PDI is very family oriented :rolleyes:



I wish I could animate in 2D. I'm planning to eventually take courses either in 2D or hopefully, if I can find a class, I want to leartn stop motion. I never really tried to "animte in 2d", as I don't know that much about the medium. In my eyes, it is comparable, but to a certain extent. 3D vs. 2D is like comparing a painting to a picture created in painter. Both are beautiful, but 2D is definitely the holy grail of animation. There's definitely a certain charm to 2d that we lack in 3D. But hey, that's just my opinion :D



1) It usually is. Cameras and general character direction is set mostly at the storyboard stage, followed by layout which then sets in general character direction, camera and staging in the 3d scenes and adds changes if needed. The camera sometimes gets changed after or during the animation process, but it's not very frequent.

2) Shot lengths are usually already set before we get in there, again at the storyboard stage when edited together. One of the many reasons being that you need to set shot length prior to animation so time isn't wasted, but most importantly so that directors get a good feel for the story and how it flows. Animating a shot is a long process as I'm sure you know now, so it's a good idea to set all of this first, and then we can get in there :thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 10:51 PM
heh, I don't even know how to start this...mabye with a regular "Hi"...

Aniway, I'm just a little brat who's a lot into arts, of all dimentions and methods (even music). I'm at an art highschool (but it's a great pile of bull fecal matter, learned more from extra "training" and personal experience, but that's how stuff works in my country), architecture class, but I love all that's drawing, painting or 3d (traditional & cg).

I've been into 3D modelling for...2 years now, and attempted some animation (wich totaly sucked), and now I'm mostly animating warcraft 3 models, because I'm too unskilled to animate models for other games. And the fact is that I like very much modelling, but especialy animation, but...I totaly suck (at 2D too). I would show you some samples, but I don't want to waste your time even more and to make a fool out of myself. So, I would like to ask: is it possible to get good at animating (3D) only through personal experience and from reviewing some free tutorials from time to time? Or is a school realy necessary? Also, is there a chance to work in the industry if you don't have higher studies of animating, modelling, concept art, etc? I've heard that no one even looks at one if he dosen't have studies, although he might be realy tallented.

The fact is that in my country, the cg industry is almoust inexistend...actualy it is inexistent, no one even knows what's cg allthough they watch it all the time. There are no schools dedicated to cg here, and I don't have the money or motivation to go to a school from outside. I'll attempt the architecture faculty in autumn, 'cause I like architecture very much (I won't enter though...). This brings in another issue: I like too many things. I love all art domains, as I said, but is it possible for someone to get good at all of them? Or sacrifices must be made...

And finaly, do you have any advice for people stupid like me who like this domain and want to be good at it, are dedicated, don't have the opportunities for specialized studies and they suck? Or it's hopeless...

Hell, I'm going too epic and dramatic here...aniway, I'm terribly sorry for wasting so much of your time (I bet you won't even read this when you look at the size of the text :P). Cheers.

P.S.: I think I sounded like an obsessed freak in the above statements...I do have a life though, I don't draw & stuff all day :P

02 February 2006, 01:21 AM
Robert Diaz:

Making your character feel more alive comes with many things. When I animate, I'd say my characters start feeling alive at about 70-75% of the time that I've been working on a shot. Before then, they tend to feel a little stiff because I'm still working out overlaps, antics and such. So:

1) have a great idea. Take the time to really think about different ideas. You usually know when you have a good one because your eyes light up, your palms get all sweaty, and your head ACTUALLY shrinks a little. THAT's when you have a good idea.

2) Pose your major beats. REALLY pose them, don't do a half job. This could be a reason some animations don't look alive. Pose them from head to toe, facials, everything, ON EVERY POSE.

3) Passing poses. repeat #2 for passing poses. Pose EVERYTHING.

Once all this is done, and all your keys are on the same frames, you can easily move poses around and make sure your timing's good. After that, if you feel a pose is inadequate, you can still delete it and not have to worry about keys being all over the place. Your animation should start looking better this way. I never break out of this. Never.

Try that and see where it takes you.:thumbsup:



First off, there is a modeler that used to be here that is now in the Glendale campus from Romania. WhatI suggest for you is that first, choose something that you really like. From what you're telling me, it's a toss up between animation or modeling. I strongly suggest you study. For people outside USA, like me, you have to have a certain amount of studies or you're not even aloud to get in. Dreamworks is very cool about taking care of such things, but they don't make miracles. For me, I had to have (if I remember correctly) 3 years of schooling such as a bachelors or something equal to that and a certain amount of work experience. Only then are you even aloud to walk into the country on a working Visa.

It is possible to get good animating by yourself, but I'm almost positive it'll take you much more time than if you were to study it because you don't have access to others, not to mention someone like a teacher which will be straight with you and tell you exactly what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong.

Many people leave their home to study animation. There are many schools available for this such as Academy Of Arts (San Francisco), CalArts (LA i think), Sheridan College (Toronto, Canada), Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, Canada). But I gotta say, not only because i have some very good friends working there, but is the way to go. Some of the best animators in the world are teaching there, and from what I've read and talking to them about it, it's a fantastic program. And biggest bonus of all, you can do it from your home and you don't have to leave. That's right, all you need is a webcam! :applause:

Dude, if you want it enough, get on it and you'll get it. Before I studied, I had no idea where to start or what to do. And today, I got my dream job. So can you. :D

Good luck kiddo!

02 February 2006, 02:30 AM
HI Emile' Congrats on the fabulous CG's that u've done in Dreamworks Animation specially that madagascar characters that really make me laugh "Id Like to move it move it! MOVE IT!! hehe funny eh'? :D those weirdo cute litlle squirrels or lemur? are really enjoyable hek hek,
the banzo giants! alex martin it

heres just my Q.
1. Are you enjoying your Job now as an Animator Character Modeller?
2. Favourite Character in Madagascar or Shriek
3. whats ur favourite 3-d program sofwares etc.whats the coolest and explain why?

i will remember u as one of the inspiring 3-d animators artist in the planet keep up the goodwork man! more power

Robert Diaz
02 February 2006, 03:36 AM
Thanks for answering my previous question, it had great information.

My second question is how do you keep yourself from creating poses that are generic and unsurprising? Many times when I'm blocking out my animations I find myself creating poses that aren't exciting. The key, as many people have said, is to push your animation, push your poses. I guess my question can be better said by asking you how you know your poses are good? When trying to push poses don't you run the risk of confusing/turning off the viewer? Thanks again.


02 February 2006, 09:21 AM
Hi emile.
just a couple of questions

1. I was just wondering, was Shrek done in 3dsmax?
2. Do you use Pose-to-Pose technique in your shots or still do it the old fashion way. or do you use both?
3. what's the hardest shot you've ever had in those movies you've been involved lately?

02 February 2006, 01:30 PM
Have you seen animators that had no 3D job experience but animation experience get hired at places like dreamworks based off of 3D they produced in their spare time. I am currently in this situation but I am working on a short film with a group of dedicated artists hoping to use it to make that break into features and wondered how often the type of job experience is a factor over quality of work in getting into 3D features.

02 February 2006, 01:49 PM
Emilio congrats on the amazing worked you've provided so far,awsome really..totally love shrek movies, also.

My question is,you made it clear that your a strong beleiver in posing ..totally agree with that, same for me.But do you always reffer to the 12 principles of animation,when animating or are you more layed back and it kinda became a second nature, more of a feeling.
I say that becasue while working with Sylvain Chomet on "the tripplettes" he was really pesting sometime against those principle saying that you really have to go further than that.I guess it has proven right as the animation on the movie is too me some of the best to date.But what do you think of all those rule we have when animating?

anyway, keep it up, waiting impatiently for Shrek3 ..


02 February 2006, 02:58 PM
wow thanks man!...its emillio secret exercise!!..:bounce: i will definitly try this and i hope i will be as good as you did one eps every 2 weeks on sitting ducks?...dishingout 55 sec animation in one week?...i thought im the only one, btw i like sitting ducks i even have the vcd.Can i ask you one last question?..(probably two) is it important to take acting class for animator?....btw have you ever been to jakarta? thanks again

02 February 2006, 06:53 PM

1) I'm only doing animation at work. And yes, i LOVE my job.
2) Madagascar: Julian Shrek: Fiona
3) 3DsMax is my choice package. I find I work well with it, and it's very intuitive comapred to other packages where it feels more like a bunch of calculations... my opinion, that's all.

lol, you have alot of energy, that's a good thing in this industry :cool:


Robert Diaz:

I still create lame poses Rob. It's hard to keep inspiration at 100% all day, 5 days a week, so don't feel like you're not doing it right. Instead, take the time to really look at your animation. If your brain's fried, ask your mates. I do it all the time. So:

First, try to stay away from movements you have already seen before in other cartoons, and definitely push your poses. After watching your poses, it's easier to dial them back then to go back in there and push them more. Keep in mind that there are times you don't want to push the poses like when things are calm for example. Find the peak of the shot, and that's where you want your animation to shine most. The rest is just practice. None of us sat down one day and automatically created amazing poses. it takes time and attention to detail. Clear your mind of everything else and analyze them. Look at your pose [in context] and see if there's something you could do to it to make it feel better. DOn't be scared to sit there for 10 minutes on the same pose. Also, pay attention to your silhouette, is it reading right to the camera?

Hope it helps!:p



1) Shrek is done with maya and PDI proprietary software

2) I mainly use pose to pose, I figure the other way you're talking about is "straight forward"? If so, that would be really complaicated to do in 3D, and I'm positive my results wouldn't be as good as the ones I get now. Animating straight forward is mainly used by syop motion animators if I'm not mistaken.

3) I think I answered this already, so I hope I answer the same thing... lol. I'd have to say the second to last shot dancing on Shrek2 because of not only were there alot of characters, but getting the choreography right between Shrek and Donkey (when Donkey flips and disconnects from Puss), then connecting him with Fiona (after she looks ta him) so they can dance back to back together, all while being on a beat and making sure they dance properly. I was told that I made Fiona actually look sexy back then. lol. I'm proud of that one.

All that partying, dancing and Djing during the past 15 years turned out to finally be very useful there. :D



Dude, it's hard for me to answer that kind of question. I don't want to throw you in the wrong direction. There are a few things I can tell you. It definitely helps for you to have past experience. I'm sure there are 2D animators that have gotten hired in the past based on their 2D experience. One of my best friends Jason was hired here after being a stop motion animator at Aardman with no computer animation skills. Now he's unbelievably amazing. Another friend, Trey Thomas (Corpse Bride) is another guy who has done stop motion and 3D.

But I'll be honest, your stuff would have to be pretty darn good to pass off like that.
That's just my opinion though.



Dude, I've forgotten what the 12 principles are... lol. At this point, I rely on my feeling too. The problem I believe Sylvain was trying to stay away from is poses that are too harsh maybe? I dunno. It could've and probably was a multitude of things. I guess it depends of the film. In Shrek, you don't feel us hit the poses as much as in Madagascar. Each has it's own feel. I don't see why Triplettes would be any different, know what I mean? :rolleyes::shrug:

02 February 2006, 07:24 PM
Whats your Favorite rendering and modeling Software

Rendering? [MentalRay,Renderman or other software] ?

Modeling? [Only Max, (other from PDI Dreamworks )or maya and XSI too] ?
[sry for my bad English]

02 February 2006, 09:12 PM

Just a not that I worked on season 2 of Sitting Ducks. Acting calsses definitely help. I haven't taken many, but from the little that I did, I could see how much it would help.

And no, I've never been to Jakarta, but it is in my top 10 places to see :)



modeling: 3dsMax. But this is only because i just don't know how to model in any other software.
Rendering: PDI's rendering is the BOMB!:buttrock: As for personal use, I will be looking into Vray or Brazil once my short is ready to render.

02 February 2006, 10:04 PM
hey emile,

me again...just got two more questions

1. do you have any advice about how to animate a slow action in cg? I remember the kung-fu granny in Madagascar being awesome...

2. If you have any time, would you please critique this animation I've made on maya?
here's the link:

thanks a lot. again, very much appreciated.

02 February 2006, 10:53 PM
Wow, thanks so much for answering me, it means so much (I'm usualy ignored). I am seriously taking into consideration to apply for the animation mentor school, but I'll have to convince my parents to pay for it...hmm...I shall see, if I enter faculty with flying colors, I may have a chance.

02 February 2006, 09:16 PM

1) Well, if you're talking about how to animate an old granny or something like that, whether she is cartoony or not, there a re always aspects that are the same. For example, because she's old, she usually can't move very easily because of her bones, muscles, etc. So, knowing this, steps should be small, she should definitely shake, etc. The trick is this: know the aspects that make her look old, and push them further than what they would be in real life, like shaking more, stuff like that.

2) Email me this link and I'll get to it for you sometime next week or so, no time right now ;)



I suggest you do it. :thumbsup:

02 February 2006, 09:19 PM
That's it everyone!

I had a wonderful time with all of you.

Thank you CGtalk and everyone involved, thank you Dreamworks, thank you Leigh, and thank you everyone for the great questions.

C ya on the flipside.

EmilioG, out.:buttrock:

02 February 2006, 09:27 PM
Thanks a million, Emile! :thumbsup: