Meet the Artist: Jeff Lew

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  08 August 2005
Meet the Artist: Jeff Lew

Jeff Lew
Character Animator

Jeff Lew graduated college with an electrical engineering degree but decided to pursue a more creative career in computer animation. He learned animation by reading books and learning from websites and soon he landed his first studio job with KWCC working as a character animator on the Spiderman themepark ride for Universal Studios.

On his spare time, he would work on his animated short: Killer Bean 2, which took 3 years of spare time to finish. Steve Oedekerk saw some Killer Bean footage and contracted Jeff to pre-visualize and choreograph a fight scene between himself and a cow for his movie Kung Pow. Steve liked the previs so much he brought Jeff to LA to work on the movie. While in LA, Jeff also worked on X-Men.

Shortly after, Jeff completed Killer Bean 2 and released it on Ifilm. It became a huge hit, being viewed 1 million times in 6 months. The success of Killer Bean 2 lead to work on The Matrix Reloaded where Jeff animated Neo and many Agent Smiths. After 2 ½ long years, Jeff decided not to continue onto the third Matrix movie, but instead changed directions.
He went to work at Warner Brothers Feature Animation to supervise animation for an action scene in Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

After that project, Jeff decided to take a break from studio work to produce a training DVD that shares the knowledge he gained over the years. Currently, Jeff has changed directions again and is working to complete his third Killer Bean episode.

As a very special gift to CGTalk readers, Jeff has kindly offered a 10% discount on his DVD, Learning Character Animation with Jeff Lew, available from his website (link below). Please use the coupon code T3UPYJVA to qualify for this discount.

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Last edited by Leigh : 08 August 2005 at 07:32 AM.
  08 August 2005
What inspired you to head in an entirely different direction from your original studies? It's similar to where I'm at trying to decide whether I should persue a career in art or chemistry. You seemed to be picked up for a job so quickly. Did you have any kind of animation or art experience before you decided to do animation? Thanks for visiting, it is awesome to have you.
Sometimes the most simple things are most deeply expressed and most difficult to explain or portray.
  08 August 2005
hey i'm one the first ones

hi Jeff, love your dvd. Very good stuff there. About killerbean, my favorite part is when Beam is coming at his sport car, and there's this tough smoking and when he see's the car's light coming at him he makes that scared+surprised expression, which is a lot of fun.

Ok about some questions:

1- What do you find most difficult in character animation? And if u can shed us some light on how to overcome it(if u have patience ^_^;

2- How long did it take to animate all the shots u did in Matrix Reloaded?

3- Do u think footsteps generators are evil or a blessing and why?

4 - What is your favorite animated character?

5 - Ever heard of Final Fantasy Advent Children? If so what do you think about it?

6 - Are you going to release any more training Dvd's?

7- Killer Bean 3?

Ok, i think these are already a lot. Cheers!

Last edited by FabioMSilva : 08 August 2005 at 07:54 AM.
  08 August 2005
Great DVD

I purchased your DVD a few weeks ago. A fantastic resource! Many thanks for putting it together.

I did notice however, that it appeared for the demo on rotoscoping movement, that you used yourself to do the spinning kick. As a martial artist myself (Pentjak Silat), I'm curious if you have any martial arts experience and background,and if so, what style(s)?

John Simons

PS: I do hope you release more training materials in the future. Yours was definitely heads and tails above alot of stuff out there.
  08 August 2005
Greetings Mr. Lew!

I remember seeing your Killer Bean 1 animation, but it was actually your "Concussion" animation that led me to purchase A:M and begin this journey... If I remember correctly, you were pretty active on the Hash mailing list?

I have only one question... In your experience, what is more important? An MFA (or similar) in animation/visual effects, or an excellent demo reel/portfolio. The reason I ask is because I am currently looking at grad schools for animation/visual effects. I have found some schools with -great- student work but they are not accredited or don't offer anything substantial on paper. However, the schools that are accredited lack strong student work.

So I am wondering whether to go for the paper and continue teaching myself as I am now (Majoring in Digital Animation), or actually get a real education minus the credentials? How could that come into play in future years?

Thanks! Rock on.
Chris L. Harkins
  08 August 2005
Blimey - kudos to you!

I had no idea you worked on so many cool projects! When i hear the name jeff lew, i instantly think of killer bean. It mustve been great to get so much attention from that one animated short. You seem pretty ambitious too - most people would be content with a job in the hollywood movie industry and stay there as long as they can, but you just keep movin' on!

I dont really have any questions for you though - im more of a modeler than an animator.

Best of luck for the future!
  08 August 2005
Hi Jeff Lew..

What an honor to say Hi to you. I will let you know what great inspiration you have been to me. I learned alot from your DVD. it is awesome!!

just a little off topic question. Where you at the danish 3d festival in 2004? I think I saw you where it was free to enter (what was it called? exposé, or something?).
I would say hi, but i dropped my jaw at the floor.. ..

Best Regards Jakob Kousholt

  08 August 2005

Seeing that you like to change so much from one industry to another, the only question that has really come to my head since I'm not an animator, would be if you are interested in working in the game industry, since it's becoming huge and it's very entertaining and productive, and even more for top notch guys like you
  08 August 2005
Hello Mr. Lew
it's nice to hear that you have your knowledge from self studying. at the moment i'm too young to join one of the schools so i have to learn these things by reading books and fighting through the internet too.

Did you ever want to join a school for cg?
what are your preperations before you begin to draw your characters? do you just try some shapes of beans or whatever or do you write down things that descripe the charakter like age, side(god, bad), stupid or intelligent, big or small?

Have a nice Day!
Thx Patrik Hadorn
  08 August 2005
Hi Jeff. Whoa, I was just wondering when you'll be featured in CGTalk. The Smith clones shots are really something man. I thought those guys used some sort of crowd simulation or something.

Anyway, is Nick Pugh your other name?
All play and no work make George an unemployed boy.
  08 August 2005
How long have you been called Nick Pugh?
  08 August 2005
Hi Mr Lew, thats some impressive work you do

My questions is about the start of your career - how long would you say it took teaching yourself before you became proficient enough to go for your first job in animation?
  08 August 2005
Hey Jeff

I truly love your work! I think you inspired all who have seen your work

My question is; roughly (if u can still remember) how many hours did you practice 3D modeling/animation in the very first year you started learning?

Because this could potentially give me an idea how much i have to push myself.

I purchased your awesome DVD about 4-6 months ago, i thought it was great!

I even purchased a lot of the books you recommended, including, "The Illusion of Life" and "The Animator's Survival kit"

lol, now i see i could have gotten 10% off your DVD, but i'm not that bothered really, because i think i get way more in return than what i payed for :_)

Thanks again for your great inspiration and the very high professional production level in animation, that makes me want to work very hard at this.

- Marcel. G.
"I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive" - Albert Einstein

Last edited by 3DChobo : 08 August 2005 at 10:20 AM.
  08 August 2005
Hey Jeff, like everyone else I love your work.
My question is this. I am very motivated to get a career in animation and I am planning on taking a 3 year course in 3d animation , but my problem is that I find I work better on my own , reading books and doing tutorials. And I was wondering if you went through the same problem deciding to go to school? What kind of advice could you give someone that would rather not want a $30,000 dollar loan but still be employable. Because I know a lot of people who attended animation school and still can't find work.

It's great having you here to help everyone out!

Last edited by Matellis : 08 August 2005 at 10:41 AM.
  08 August 2005
Hi Mr. Lew, nice to see you on Q&A

I just saw your short "The Killer Bean" a couple days ago, great job.

I have one question for you, I'm only 14 so im trying to think of wut i might do in the future, since im interested in this field of work, so i wanted to know... does animating make any money, with all the film school, and training and stuff??

Thanks for being on Q&A Jeff Lew
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