Meet the Artist: Carlos Baena

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  10 October 2005
Originally Posted by Eddie_rossi: BIG BIG BIG Fan of your work!

Thanks so much Eddie.

  10 October 2005
Crit of Animation


I will make this quick, I was hoping you could take a look at a clip I am working on, and offer any kind of crit as to what mistakes you see me making, And what to really pay attention too.

Big Fan!

Don Dixon
  10 October 2005
'lo Carlos, just a few questions. What did you like best about working at ILM, and what do you like best about working at Pixar? I'd ask for what you like least about each, but since you're currently working at Pixar it'd be an unfair question. Also, coming somewhat from a layman, what's it like switching from one style to another (i.e. from live action films like Episode II to pure animated film like Finding Nemo)? I don't know if it's much of a transition for an animator, but it'd still be neat to hear your take on some of the nuances of each.
kdm ::
making fun of lightwave since 2004
  10 October 2005
Originally Posted by jakiloblanco: I'd like to know if you've always been a 3D guy, or if you've done some 2D work in the past... And like Breinmeester asked, your crazy understanding of physics... are you really a scientist in an animator's clothing??


A scientist in an animator's clothing. I have no words.

About your first question. I started in 3D, in 1995. In trying to learn animation, I was focusing on the wrong stuff...mainly the software. It was driving me nuts sometimes. I would get stuck easily. In 1997 after many attempts at character animation, making the same mistakes, I decided to start doing 2D at the same time, just for fun. In Spring 1998, I worked on a 2D film, because I wanted to focus strictly in animation, without being distracted by the software. In working on this film, I had other problems that had to do mostly with my drawing skills...but overall, it helped me tremendously in understanding the importance of posing, timing and planning your shots. I honestly couldn't recommend it enough. It was a big nightmare to get this film finished in three months, but it was definitely one of my best learning experiences as an animator.

  10 October 2005

1) Hi Carlos great to see you have taken the time to answer some of the hundreds of questions we all want to know, so here goes!

1) Since you have had such a great experience working for some of the best animation house in the world my question is, what have you found to be the most challenging aspect of your job. And could you explain a typical run through of how you go about starting an animation sequence of a character?

2) What has been the most difficult shot to animate in your career?

3) Do you have a preference as far as animating, (i.e.) quadruped, bi-peds, real, comical etc?

4) Last but not least, What was your favorite shot you had to animate? And which was your favorite character to animate?

Thanks for your time Carlos, I’m a huge fan and look forward to seeing your work in the future.



"Back off Warchild he's with me"- Broady
  10 October 2005

I hope you make it to my question.

I am in the game industry and Pixar comes up a lot in conversations. As a manager I am curious just how much animating a professional Movie animator does and is responsible for. I hear often that it is 30 seconds per week of feature film work. Also, what kind of hours does a animator typically do. Could you answer for both leads, and grunt animators?

If that 30 second part is true can you elaborate on it? Is that 30 seconds total for the week or 30 second that has to be approved for final? And how many versions or first passes does an animator take to complete it. What is the animation drafting phase like if there is one?

As a manager its difficult to figure out just how long it takes for a good animator to animate. So any help would be very useful. While good "acting" rarely happens in game animations, I am very curious how long the other animations take too, not just the super hard stuff.

Thank you.

Software Engineer
  10 October 2005
Just wanted to say that I just saw the finger boarding videos and MAN!!! Your craaaaazzzzy!!!

BTW, I've had about 15 years of training in music theory and piano. If you tutor me in animation, I'll be glad to tutor you in piano and music. With those fingers from the fingerboard videos man, I think I could whip you into shape in no time! lol.

Ok, my questions:

1)Do you plan or block in your slow ins and outs during the blocking phase? Do you also account for this in your original timing?

2)I remember you talking about a slow in or out of 10 frames needing about 10 frames to finsish up the action. Is this 10 frames of overshoot with very very tight spacing, and in general are these overshoots defined by a smooth arc as well or more of just a back and forth motion.


Last edited by mayakindaguy : 10 October 2005 at 06:37 AM.
  10 October 2005
Originally Posted by andy_maxman: Its a treat to have you here. Got some questions -
1)What makes a reel really stand apart? Is 'the reel' the only thing which is key to getting your dream job? Or there are other things which influence it, things like location, contacts?
2)What kind of music do you make? Which instruments do play?
3)One character you would love to animate? (preferably out of the Pixar domains)
4)A recipe for some instant paellas?
5)Your favourite outdoor sport?

Hi Anand,

Let me see if I can get to all of them.

1) I think the reel is number one. We watch reels at work. Now and then there will be one reel that shows something different at least to me. I love to see enterntaining reels, a reel that tells me the animator was truly having fun with it. A reel that perhaps show the animator's personality, but definitely shows that the animator got inside the character, and did something different to what we are used to see (cliches sometimes). A contact or someone inside a studio passing your work may help, but if the reel needs work, it really doesn't matter how many people you know at a studio.

2) I usually play keyboards, and I love to do both electronic/industrial type of music...and I do most of the work in the computer. Lately I've been trying to learn more about composing and scores. I still have no freaking clue what the hell I'm doing...but it's definitely fun. I grew up playing piano by ear. Never had the patience to learn how to read or write music. So...basically...some of songs, if you hear them, you'll go "what the hell is going on in this guy's head?". They make no sense.

3) A character I would love to animate? Great question. Actually, I remember watching the first trailer of "IceAge" a few years back. Amazing trailer and still one of my favourites. I do remember watching the trailer and Scrat, and, as I was watching it pretty much drooling, I would go "Wow!...that...looks....awesome. Fun....looks...totally fun. Me...wanna...animate...little dude...". Also, any of the Stop-Motion characters in "Corpse' Bride" would of been so much fun to animate. Of course, they would of look really bad if I animated any of them...but still.

4) Instant Paella? Hell yeah. Here it is: Take a nap, drink sangria, watch "ToyStory" and "Iron Giant", take another nap, put some rice somewhere in there, go out and have some fun with your friends, come back, and the paella should be ready to go.

5) My favourite outdoor sport. Lately, it has been going back to skateboarding more than I used to. A few weeks ago, an old friend of mine I used to skateboard pretty much every day, and me got together to skate down the hills of San Francisco, all the way to the beach. Priceless. The last couple of years, I haven't found much time to do outdoor stuff because of work...but as things have been slowing down, I've been going back at being outside here and there. Also, taking naps and "siestas" are a big outdoor hobby of mine. You can do it anywhere...and it doesn't require much effort.

  10 October 2005
Hey Carlos!

It's such a trip to see one of great 3D animators of our time up here doin a Q&A I have a feeling many of us will learn a lot throughout this week. I got a couple questions for yeah and hopefully you'll get to them. Looks like this could be a busy week of typing for yah eh? haha and I apologize for my over usage of "Eh"... I am Canadian :P

Ok and now on to the questions...

1. Do you have any tips for eye darts? I found this to be extremely difficult, trying to find the right timing while also conveying thought process. Sometimes I get it but often times I don't and in the TV industry, we're forced to only spend a limited amount of time on this.

2. Because my coleagues and I work in the TV animation industry, our time is very VERY limited. Do you have any tips you can offer that might help our work look better in the long run? By that I mean areas we could focus on? When you average about 40 seconds a week, it's hard to experiment without falling behind quota. However despite that workload, I still think our show is one of the best on TV right now.... perhaps you've seen it? Dragonbooster? yes it's a shameless plug but I couldn't help myself.

Rock on!

"Use every part of the buffalo" - Brad Bird
  10 October 2005
Carlos, gracias por hacer el tiempo para compartir tus ideas y commentarios con nosotros!

I have a few questions:

I am taking on the colossal task of trying to build a demo-reel from beginning to end. This is my first year of really dedicating myself to 3D and although my background is in 2D illustration, I feel I have a good grasp of the basics. From your experience, what do you feel most reels lack and if you could give one solid piece of advice when submitting a demoreel, what would it be?

Also, although some people have a seemingly endless amount of motivation to finish projects, I sometimes have a hard time getting going. What motivates you most when youre just not in the mood to work with 3D?

Gracias! - Joel Carlo

Last edited by MechaHateChimp : 10 October 2005 at 02:37 PM.
  10 October 2005
Originally Posted by aversive: Hi there. First off- What you did and are doing is simply impressive. These might sound like dull questions, but I am very curious;
- How did you get aquanted with Pixar studios?
- What's your typical daily routine like? (Or might there not be one)
Gael van der Schans

Hi Gael,

No question is a dull question man.
Let's see. First time I heard of Pixar, was through "Toy Story", right after it came out. I was literally blown away. A friend of mine who I had all sorts of comic book/StarWars/movie things in common, called me...and goes "Carlos, you HAVE to see this movie that just came out, ToyStory. YOU will be blown away". Sure enough, I go and I had to go back a few times to really realized what it is that I just watched. It wasn't the 3D. It was everything else for me. Then, shortly after, I went to a talk that Pete Docter, animator of TS at the time, and later Director of "Monster Inc" (and one of my biggest inspirations as an artist) gave a talk about the movie at the Yerba Buena Garden (South of Market in San Francisco) maybe around Spring 1996. Watching this talk, not only was inspiring, but it gave me a path in what I wanted to do, where I wanted to work, and definitely the people I wanted to learn from. I truly wanted to become an animator and work surrounded by artists like that.

About my typical routine day. Lately it's been a little crazy, due to my "Cars" and "AnimationMentor" schedule. Over most of this year during the weekdays, and some times weekends, I was been working on the film "Cars". It's been one of my favourite experiences as an animator, personally...mostly because of having the luck and opportunity of working with John Lasseter. I learned a lot. Then, now and then at nightime, but mostly on weekends, I would do work for the AnimationMentor Online School that we launched in March. The rest of my time, I tried to spend as much time with my friends as I could, which wasn't much at times. "Cars" and "AnimationMentor" were two big responsabilities in my life, and I wanted to put my best.

  10 October 2005
Hey Carlos, thanks so much man, I have a couple of questions for you if you have the time.

- What I find exciting about animation is the fact that the more I learn, the more I think I got left. The endless range of knowledges needed to become a real expert amazes me.
So I'm asking, once you've reached such a high knowledge in the field, are you still looking forward to discover what's left as much as you were in the beggining? what would you like to learn next, or what do you do to make sure you never stop learning?

- I also tend to feel frustrated by the technical issues of computer animation, (rigging, gimbal locks, too many damn buttons..) and end up grabbing my beloved pencils. Do you ever feel limited by the tool/software? Do you think it's still something less "natural" than drawing maybe?

that's more than just a couple of questions I think, I hope those make sense.

Muchas gracias Carlos, y añádeme a la lista de fans. Cuídate. :)
Andres G. Lazaro
· andytoons ·

Last edited by Frinsklen : 10 October 2005 at 08:38 PM.
  10 October 2005
To the Man, Carlos,

1) Do you have a set amount of hours you work at Pixar every day? Is there such a thing as a 40 hour per week job for anybody or do you guys have so much fun you lose track of time altogether and end up working 60 to 80 hour work weeks?

2) Would you be able to direct us to demo reels that Pixar has hired from and list the reason(s) as to why that demo reel stood out among the others?

Thank you for your time! You are a truly talented and inspiring person! Someone I would greatly enjoy working with someday.

Nate A
  10 October 2005
Originally Posted by CarlCampbell: - What is your usual workflow or how do you organize and prepare your assets when presented with a sequence?
- I would like to know how you managed to leave Spain and get into the schools in the US. I especially would like to know how you 'made the step' to go overseas and did you finance your studies while working in Animation.
- How do you see the importance of studying Traditional Art (painting, life drawing, sculpting, ...) towards working in Animation.
That said, I love your work and I'm a BIG fan!

Thanks Carl!

-My usual workflow. I'll tell you what's been helping me tremendously lately for me. I've been trying to surround myself with as much material related to whatever it is I have to animate, as possible. Whether it's storyboards, reference material I've gather or other animators have been gathering on either a character or a scene...and also, and very important for me, stuff related to it that inspires me. For example, for the "Incredibles" I kept playing certain action sequences from different films that I found, shots that other animators did that I found really impressive...and I also kept playing music that would situate me on the mood of the scene I was animating or planning. So with "Incredibles", I made a music playlist with scores from James Horner (Aliens), John Barry (Goldfinger), Rob Dougan (Matrix) John Williams (Indiana, Jaws, etc)...whatever I would find on my computer. Anything that puts me in the mood works. For "Boundin" I played Mary Poppins and Sesame Street.

-Studying overseas and moving to an entirely different country where I didn't know anyone or barely spoke any english, in order to study what I wanted was definitely one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. My family has always supported me and my dreams. They supported me financially as well, up until I was able to support myself financially...and I can never thank them enough for that. Through a spanish program I ended up going to USF and the Academy of Art (now University of Art). Now, in order to do a full program at the Art School, I had to be in school for a lot longer than what me and my family could afford. So, right after I got to the US and USF, I started gathering signatures from the Deans of the different departments both at USF and the AAC, explaining them my situation. They ended up allowing me to study an individual major, taking Media/TV classes from USF and Animation classes at the AAC. It was a very special case, because I'm pretty sure I was the biggest pain in the a** to everyone I talked to. In the end, they probably ended up going "Kid, seriously, here is the got damn signature, now get the hell out of here you annoying little punk!"

-Importance of Traditional Art towards animation. I'll keep this answer simple. Really really important. Can't stress it enough how much it helped me personally. We are also noticing how much it is helping the students at AnimationMentor in their work. It also helps you to focus your learning on the art, as opposed the technology...which is a mistake many of us have done in the past.

  10 October 2005
Originally Posted by ivanisavich: WOW! Great job Leigh!
No questions from me....purely a fanboy post.
You ROCK Carlos!

Don't know what to say.
Thank you very much Ivanisavich.

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