Meet the Artist: Simon Otto

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  11 November 2006
Meet the Artist: Simon Otto

Simon Otto
Lead Animator
[Dreamworks Animation]

Simon Otto began his animation career at the right place, studying the craft at the renowned Les Gobelins in Paris. He lives on the US West Coast and is a native of Switzerland.

Otto previously worked as a supervising animator on the title character Sinbad in ‘Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas’ as well as supervising the animation on two of the members of Sinbad’s crew, the Chinese brothers Jin and Li.

In addition, he worked as an animator on the character Spirit in ‘Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron’, and he also supervised the animation of the eagle in the film. Otto began his career at DreamWorks in 1997, as an animator on “The Prince of Egypt” and later animated on “The Road to El Dorado.” Clearly some very nice work in those two features.

Prior to joining DreamWorks, Otto received animation training during an internship with Walt Disney Feature Animation in Paris, France. CGSociety is very happy to have Dreamworks' cooperation for this very timely 'Meet the Artist presentation.

Please make welcome, Simon Otto.

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Fmr Editor and features writer, CGSociety; Global Artist Liaison, Ballistic Publishing. Freelance writer, media consultant & digital producer.
  11 November 2006
I'm the first??

Hi! Nothing more! Great work and congrats on finishing flushed away! I heard it was awesome!
  11 November 2006
As a rencently french graduated student I was wondering how you got hired by Dreamworks?
What kind of significant differences did you notice between the american way of working and the french one?
I read about the "translation" of stop motion into cg animation, how was it?
Thanks for your answers and your time!!

  11 November 2006
Hey! Im not sure how much you know about US animation schools..but if you can say, what sets Les Gobelins apart from US colleges teaching animation? What makes it so "renowned"? btw Flushed Away looks awesome!
  11 November 2006
Hello Simon.

Congratulations on Flushed Away.

In your opinion what was the biggest challenge for you and the team of animators to overcome in this production and how was it solved?
  11 November 2006
First of all, thanks for giving us this opportunity to ask questions! I appreciate it a lot.

As a lead animator, do you delegate who animates what? Or rather, what does being a "lead animator" consist of? What are your responsibilities?

How were the animations shots distributed among the animators? Were they distributed by scene (i.e. John animates scene A, Jim animates scene B), distributed by character (i.e. John animates Harvy, Jim animates Kelly) or what?

Thanks so much for your time.

Nathan Dunlap
Animation Website
  11 November 2006
Hey Simon,

I'm always fascinated about artist's stories and experiences about making the transition from 2D to 3D animation. So how was yours?
My Animation:

  11 November 2006
As a lead animator, how involved do you like to get? If you are delegating a lot of work to others, are you keeping a close eye on the development or are you letting them impart a lot their own creative decisions? Also, along the same lines, do you also like to work closely with modelling artists, lighting artists, etc?

  11 November 2006
Hey Simon, great to be able to talk to you.

Just a couple of quick questions.

Do you think where you study reflects how good you get at animating, or for you, is it an inspiration thing?

Do you enjoy animating? Do you like doing any other aspect of CG that could rival your liking of animating?

Love your work.

  11 November 2006
Thumbs up

i saw the trailer Flushed Away and its really amazing animation, another inspiration good job anyways simon hope we can see more animation from ur group of talented artists / animators

portfolio :
favourite links :,,
  11 November 2006
Hi Simon!

Your work truly inspires me...congrats on your position as Lead Animator!

Just two simple questions about workflow....if they've already been asked, feel free to pass over them

1) Over the course of a feature...approximately how much animation does each animator "own" in the film at the end of the whole process (ie....30 seconds? 5 minutes? more? less?). I realize that the animation is probably distributed pretty unevenly between animators...but a rough estimate would be great!

2) Approximately how much animation is each animator expected to have finalized each week? I heard an estimate of 8 seconds/week at some of the larger studios a while ago...but I'm wondering if that's been stepped up due to the fact that more and more CG films are being pumped out faster and faster lately.

Anyways...take care! Thanks for dedicating your time to this Q&A session
  11 November 2006
Simon! Hey, it's me. Chris Capel. you know, the animator that just up and disappeared about a month ago. Just wanted to say it was awesome being under your supervision and i look forward to seeing you guys again soon! can't wait to see the finished film on the big screen tomorrow! congrats on your amazing work. talk to you later!
  11 November 2006
Hi Simon,

Thanks for taking the time to field all of our questions. Really great of you to take the time...

1. What keeps you inspired and "in the moment" for a shot?

2. How do you rise above the mechanics of animation and keep focused on the performance?

3. As you have worked in 2D, how much of your workflow is done on paper (i.e. thumbnails/key pose sketches and/or other) and in what stages of your workflow?

Ryan McDougal
Freelance Vfx Artist
CG Lead | Lighting/Look Dev | Generalist
  11 November 2006
Hello Simon, first congrats for your path of carreer from now and your great animation work in the movie quoted above, i'm very pleased to be able to read your opinons here !

I'm french student in 2d/3d animation and will finish my graduation next year with a short movie, my question is large and about the CG here in France... how do you see the evolution and developpment of this field here for the future? You should know that the few CG movies that has been released here didn't worked pretty well (let's say Renaissance, Keana for the recent ones), the US animated features are a lot much popular, attractive, so how do you see the future of french CG movie, why do you think it doesn't work pretty well actually? Because we got the talents but we are missing something... I'll be very interested to hear your pov

Thanks again for taking time to answer!

  11 November 2006
Bonjour Simon,

just dropping by to say hello. i really like your work, it is inspirative.

je vais tenter Les Gobelins l'année prochaine... des conseils?
Encore bravo pour ton boulot.


-Richard Adenot
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