Meet the Artist: Victor Navone

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Old 07 July 2005   #61
Originally Posted by mmkelly011881: 1.) What was the toughest critique you've ever gotten... how did you stay on target and get back to work

2.) What did you study to create such a slimy portrayal of Syndrome..(is there an inner slimeball alter-victor?)

3.) Can i have Ed Catmull's email address
Hi Matt,
1) It's hard to narrow it down to one. Usually the worst is when I show a shot in dailies that is supposed to be funny and no one laughs. I have to pick myself up, crawl back to my office and start over again. It's a blow to the ego, but I look at the work and the people around me and convince myself to try again and EARN my job.
2) A lot of it just came naturally.
3) No, but you could probably figure it out on your own.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #62
Originally Posted by entity: How does one "break" through the tidalwave of new artists and animators to make themselves "hot" for hire animators or even graphic artists?
Is the portfolio/reel necessary, or is it possible to make good enough with just an all out dazzle 'em animation short- what do TDs and ADs look for?
I know you made "Alien Song" with Animation Master... Do you think that the 3D package a person uses has a big impact on getting a job in the 3D industry?
There are no simple answers to these questions, no "magic bullets". You need to come up with a great demo reel and be willing to work long and hard to reach your goals. There is no gaurantee that you will be able to make a living as an animator. If you want to be an animator then focus on animation and don't worry about models, lighting, etc. The software doesn't usually matter, though some studios would prefer not to have to train you to use their software.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #63
Originally Posted by mberrynk: question is with all your experience, how good have you become at judging when you need more and when you should pull back a little? How often do you look back at a shot once it's on screen and wish you'd pushed it more?
Hi Mike, good questions. The ability to judge your shots comes with experience, and I think I'm getting better at it. Of course it helps to be surrounded by people who are better than you so you learn faster. Still, it's hard not to get tunnel-vision when slaving over a shot for days at a time, so it's important to get frequent feedback from the director and other animators. I very frequently look back at my work and wish I would have pushed it further.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #64
Hi there Victor, I know i'm just repeating what everyone else has said but i'm really in awe of the animation that you and everyone else at Pixar are able to produce. But anyway, on with the questions.

1. From listening to the animators commentary on the DVD for The Incredibles, many Pixar animators noted that they animated in 1's and 2's, where whenever I animate I just place keys down where I need them, so the keys for my arm movements may be spread out in a completely different way to the keys for my leg movements. Besides the economy of it, I tend to find that I get jitter in my motion if my keys get too dense. Is the decision to animate in 1's and 2's on a computer, a continuation of techniques learnt from traditional animation, or is there some real benefit to this method that i'm missing?

2. When animating characters do you do the body motions first, then the facial motions, or the other way round, or both at the same time?

3. Can you give any tips on coming up with good body language, especially in the case of matching to dialogue. When animating I try to think about the character's emotions, their motivations, and their internal dialogue, and I try to make sure that I don't just go for unnaturally obvious actions to match their dialogue (like having a character wave when they say 'hi' or pointing to themselves when they they say 'I'), but sometimes it's tough to come up with body motions that have that believable subtlety. Even if I act the scene out, my motions are still affected by how conscious I am of what i'm doing. Any advice?

4. Do you make sure that your animations always work no matter what angle you're looking at them or do you animate just for the camera? Related to that, do you animate in less detail if you know something's going to be really tiny in the shot?

5. To what degree do you iterate animations? If you see an issue with an animation will you usually start fresh, or tweak the animation until it's right?

Anyway, cheers for doing this Q&A session and i'm really looking forward to hearing your responses.

- Dan Lowe.
Old 07 July 2005   #65
Originally Posted by Shortricci: I'd like to be similar to you. How would I acheive this?

Thank-you in advance..
This would require loads of plastic surgery and psychotropic drugs. Or you can just send $750,000 to my PayPal account.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #66
Originally Posted by Tom N.: Quick question about your Incredibles gags/bloopers - It seems like working at a studio like Pixar there would be lots of long days and tough deadlines, how do you make time to do things like make those bloopers? Am I under the wrong impression about how crazy it must be there as far as deadlines, or are you just really quick?.
Hi Tom, it really depends on the animator and the state of production. I tend to work pretty fast and I did those bloopers when we were not yet in "crunch" mode. The falling gaurds I whipped out in one afternoon, and they actually scolded me a little for it. I still hit all my deadlines, though, so they can't complain much. The schedule on Cars has been really easy. I've hardly worked any overtime and we're almost done. Incredibles was much different, partly because the film was so demanding and partly because the animators were all so into it. We worked a lot on that film, though the hours were never unreasonable. A 55-60 hour week was probably the extreme for me, but again, I work pretty fast.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #67
Oh goody goody goody! Another Mentor! Boy, I can't wait to join in Fall!

I've definitly got some questions for you. Some of them are picked from an interview I did with Bobby Beck, and since I got some awesome answers on those, I'm asking them again
It's quite a list, though, so feel free to skip one or two if I'm being too demanding

1. How do you feel you have grown as an artist during your carreer path?

2. There's this statement "Genius/Art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." Do you think this is applicable to character animation? Why?

3. Working at Pixar, you're actually helping other people complete their visions, tell their stories. When doing so, don't you feel you are creating kitsch, rather than real art?

4. Animation is a way of communicating, so how important are people's reactions to your scenes, to you?

5. How important is reference and planning to you? Do you thumbnail, videotape, use x-sheets...?

6. To you, what's the most important thing in animation? And what's the most important thing that you've learned?

7. Apart from your Pixar work, AM Online mentoring and Big Bang creating, have you got any other artistic hobbies you like to do?

8. Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

9. Do you still go out and sketch people, as a way of observing, like the AM Online students have to do? How do you observe?

10. What do you strive for in animation?

11. Have you tried other media than 3D, such as 2D or stop-mo? If so, what have you learned from it?

12. Who in the animation world is your "idol"? Anyone from the Nine Old Men? Maybe Tex Avery or Chuck Jones or anyone from their crew? Or guys from the new Disney Generation, such as Keane, Deja, etc? Or maybe someone your work with, or for? Yourself ?

Hope you've still got time to sleep after this

Thanks a huge lot! It's absolutely awesome that you're willing to do this!

- Benjamin
Benjamin De Schrijver
- future character animator :)
Old 07 July 2005   #68
Originally Posted by Grgeon: You're my favorite pixar animator
Aw shucks! Why couldn't you be a girl?
Originally Posted by Grgeon: 1. What is your favorite part about working at Pixar every day?

2. Will you be at siggraph this year?

3. your daughter's birthday is coming up, anything special planned?
1. Probably the atmosphere. All the cool, fun, talented people, the casual workspaces and the cushy treatment.
2. No.
3. She's only going to be 1 year old, so I can't imagine she'll really appreciate or remember anything we do. We'll give her some cake and take some photos.
See you at Comic-Con, George!
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #69
Originally Posted by Porridge: If you were to sift through a multitude of demo reels, what would you look for, personally, in an animator's reel? Is there any advice that you would like to impart?
Hi Derek, we look for good acting ability, a sense of humor, and the ability to communicate thought and emotion through body language. Originality helps, too. Show us characters and situations we've never seen before in animation. And only show your BEST work. Keep it under 3 minutes long.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #70
Originally Posted by StevenBHS: Wow! First off I just want to say ,like everyone else, that you have created some amazing pieces, and have a crap load of talent. One quick question though, which 3d package do you feel most comfortable with? I'm not asking you to dis others or anything, I noticed on your site that you use so many programs.
Hi Steven, thanks! For character animation I like to use Animation: Master. It's got great animation and rigging tools. I like Cinema 4D for solid surface modeling and rendering. I haven't used Maya a whole lot but I'm sure I'd like it more if I knew it better. As for 2D I use Photoshop and After Effects constantly.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #71
Originally Posted by oddguy: Ok, I watched the extra material on The Incredibles and need to ask: how was it working with Brad Bird? He seems "intense". What directing style works best for you, do you prefer the no-holds-bar straight on approach when someone is critiquing you work?
Brad is intense, but his passion really inspired us to work hard and fulfill his vision. He inspires great loyalty and I would work with him again in a heartbeat. He is an animator himself so he gives amazing notes. We learned so much from him over the course of the film and all the animators improved. He was never harsh in his critiques, but if you asked him to he would really tear your work apart for you. I asked quite often...
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #72
Originally Posted by Smartypants: 1. Do you (or your colleagues) see a difference between the type of animation that's done for live-action films (example: the creature work in Harry Potter) and the full CG-feature animation that's done at studios like Pixar? I'm wondering if a studio like Pixar likes to see animation for live action films on a reel, or if they'd rather see more cartoony work.

2. How easy/difficult do you think it is for an animator to move from the game industry into animating for full cg features? Is that sort of move common? I'm wondering if it's difficult for an animator to build a good portfolio of performance-based animation at a game studio, or if a gig like that will just produce a reel full of cycles.

I'm curious about the sort of work that studios like Pixar like to see on a reel. Do they like to see work from live action films? From games? or does it not matter, as long as it's fantastic performance animation?

3. Do you see a lot of animators at Pixar who come from a 2D background?
Hi Kat,
1. There are stylistic differences because if you're playing against a live actor then the performance has to feel consistent. Still, a great performance is a great performance. Take Gollum, for example. His animation blew us away. We like to see a variety of styles from an animator, but good acting is most important.
2. I can imagine it would be hard to get good acting performances for your demo reel if your working at a game company. Run cycles and physical actions only go so far. You may need to do additional work on your own time to produce a good reel for character animation. Again, acting is king.
3. We've hired quite a few. Just a year or so ago we hired 5 animators who were laid off from Disney and had little to no 3D experience.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #73
Originally Posted by Julez4001: 1. For your arms, do you like animating with FK or IK. Describe why you like whatever techique you use.
2. Whats your average day at Pixar .. do you guys devote days or weeks to concepting a scene out (acting it out).
3. Do you animate without reference?
Hi Julian,
1. I ALWAYS use FK for the arms unless I need to attach a hand to something like a doorknob. It's just too hard to get convincing animation and good arcs with IK in the arms. IK is okay in the feet if your going to be walking and standing, but if the feet are going to be off the ground for an extended time then FK is the way to go.
2. If I have the time I like to spend at least a day planning and thinking about my shots before I start in the computer. I my act in front of a video camera, do thumbnails, or just run it through in my mind.
3. Sure, especially if it's a short, simple shot. Generally I try to come up with a couple of different ideas, though, and pick the best.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #74
Originally Posted by ryusen: when are you coming to singapore?
Hi Dwida, I'll be there at the end of October.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
Old 07 July 2005   #75
Originally Posted by ila_solomon: - Normaly, How many seconds of quality character animation (1 char) - in pixar style - do you animate per day (an 8 hours workingday)?
If you cant estimate the avarage you can name a sample shot of - for instance - 'The Incredibles' which you worked on and the time you spent on it.
Hi Ila, I think I average about 100 frames per week (about 4 seconds). This is a very rough estimate and depends greatly on how complex the scenes are and how many hours I'm working.
Victor Navone
2-4D Artist
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