Meet the Artist: Simon Otto

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  11 November 2006
Just thought I'd pop in and say how great it is to work with Simon--you'd all be lucky to have someone like him around. On top of being a great animator, he's the kind of person that gives energy to a team and keeps a wonderful outlook on life no matter what he's doing!

(Simon, you can pay me later for the compliment. ;-D)

- Jason
  11 November 2006
How important are short films for an animator trying to make a mark? And what are the key things that should solely be his creation in the short-film, other than obviously the animation part of it? for ex - character design, story, models, bg design and such...

Thanks for your time, Simon


  11 November 2006

Sorry if this post is a duplicate but it got delayed for a day.A question about the modeling pipeline? Is it polygons/subdees or nurbs? Any details about the modeling pipeline would be great.

  11 November 2006
From one Simon to the other... :-)

Hi Simon

Just wanted to say hi and congratulate you for Flushed Away. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm really looking forward to.

I'm one of the other few Swiss animators animating here in California.

Nume schnell woue hallo saege... Witerhin aues Gute and keep up the good work.

Simon Christen
  11 November 2006
I also wanted to say what a pleasure it was working with Simon during Flushed. He & his team did a beautiful job bringing the characters to life and it was great to have his involvement & collaboration when we were exploring staging & character ideas during layout.
Simon was also great at keeping the purpose of the layout in mind as things passed through animation & when he requested tweaks & changes to the cameras it was always because of a great acting idea to enhance the storytelling in the seqeunce. A rare pleasure.

"Huzzah, a man of quality!" as our good friend Toad would say

I hope we get to work together again mate!

bis dann...tschuessy,

Brad Blackbourn
  11 November 2006
Hi Simon!

I still have'nt seen the movie, but I will as soon as it's available here in Jordan..

My stupid Q's are:

1- do 2D cartoons require high performance computers as 3D features?
2- What does it take to be a well known artist? luck? talent? or an outstanding CV?

  11 November 2006

Hi Simon.

I am currently studying Computer games Design and Production and Salford University in England.

I am required to write a dissertation and was wondering if you would mind very much giving me your opinion on my questions.

Do you think there a place for 2D art in video applications anymore?


Do you think that people been forced away from using 2D art in games due to advances in technology, or purely due to taste?

I was also wondering if you had any ideas where i could find research material for this kind of subject matter. I'm finding it hard to collect books in the Salford library so far.

your replies would be greatly appreciated.
Thankyou very much

Last edited by Bunnyjen : 11 November 2006 at 03:28 PM.
  11 November 2006

very nice work,just wanted to ask what are the specefications of the computers you used in this amaizing film?


wat 3d sofwares u used?
  11 November 2006
Hello Simon.
What do you think is harder to animate in 3D: realistic animation or animate like stop-motion?
  11 November 2006
Hi Simon. Very important question for you:

If you were a fish, what kind of fish would you be and why?
  11 November 2006

Hi Simon, heres one from me.

So, I understand the sense you guys had during production, with all that creative tension and long hours. All that good stuff.

What is the feeling right now, as the film is finally being seen by the paying public. Please describe the vibe in the studio corridors.
Fmr Editor and features writer, CGSociety; Global Artist Liaison, Ballistic Publishing. Freelance writer, media consultant & digital producer.
  11 November 2006
lol paying my respects, thankyou for give up your time to hear what we have to say. Your sketch/blog was cool. So do you carry a sketch/idea book everywhere you go ?
The Hamster made me do it...

  11 November 2006
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

Learning your craft in traditional hand drawn animation and then transitioning to CG, have you noticed any consistent gaps of knowledge in animators who began directly in CG, instead of having a 2D grounding?

What are good exercises for learning 2D? (I already having training in draftsmanship and CG animation, I'm just not sure where and how to start bringing those together in handdrawn)

Thanks. (Loved the film, just saw it today Really fun and snappy )


Last edited by aes : 11 November 2006 at 07:13 AM.
  11 November 2006
Hi Simon,

I found your brown & white sketches (on your blog) full of life and near "triplette's" stuff...
Your answer are... Cool and very helpful !
Just a question :
When you block do you do it with curves in constant extrapolations or rough splines ?
And (I know it's the second question...) : how do you make blinks (interaction between brows and lids...) ?


__________________ ... but it's always underconstruction (:-()
  11 November 2006
all of page 2

Hey Guys,

Thanks so much for your interest and for having gone out to see our movie. Unfortunately, I was sick all weekend and therefore had a really hard time sitting in front of the computer for more than 5 minutes. I'll try and check in as many times as I can today to answer all the latest questions.

<theflash> I'm glad you like them. We worked really hard on those in animation and I think you can find some of the most amazing 2D animation in them. Unfortunately, too few people actually went out to see it.

I find inspiration in a lot of artists, but for animation it must have been Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston at first and then later the guys around me (James Baxter, Kristof Serrand, Rodolphe Guenoden, William Salazar, Fabio Lignini, Jakob Jensen, Dan Wagner etc....) I don't know if you're familiar with any of these guys' work, but they're incredible. Tell me what you think of their stuff, if you happen to know them..!

I animated day and night (2D), acting scene after acting scene. I sketched a lot in the city of Paris as well and watched a lot of animation frame by frame.

<danylyon> Hey Dani, freut mi, dass verbii glueget hesch. Mir gsehnd ois sicher bald mal wider. (Sorry guys, what you see here is the language known to only a few people and a couple of cows called Swiss-German. Imagine the sounds somebody makes while throwing up...yep, that's what it sounds like)

<Wilson-3d> Hey Chris, that's very promising. It's tough to give you a lot of good advice here with a couple of phrases. You should definitely send in your reel as soon as you feel ready. A couple of quick tips: Put in a couple of really convincing and entertaining lip-sync acting tests (think about it for a couple of days and plan it really well before you start), a walk-cycle and then of course your short film. You seem to have a very artistic sense (liked the sculpture a lot, but I think that should show in the choices you make in your animation. Unless you want to become a modeler, I personally wouldn't put that in your reel.) But overall I think it already shows your sense of entertainment, which is very good. That's what we want to see in our review boards. A good sense of entertainment and a good skill level.

<mroberts> Since I am not a modeler I would probably confuse you more with my attempts of answering technical questions like that than anything. Animators don't tend to model, even though Supervising Animators are often closely involved in the process.

<Chris Bacon> Good questions Chris. 1. There were a lot of challenges to overcome in that process. First of all, just trying to move out of your comfort zone and accept that you're going to animate differently than the way you had animated before, was a big challenge. It's very hard to move away from the way you do things you think work. Learning to animate as simplistic as possible was a huge personal battle. Editing, stripping down your ideas to the bare essentials was a difficult process for everybody, but ultimately extremely beneficial to all of us. Anything floaty or meaningless in animation today annoys me even more than it did before. And it is always good to be reminded that the character stands above all other technical rules.

2.Well, the workload is only too much, when you don't work efficiently and concentrate on the right things. Less experienced animators tend to focus on the less important stuff (secondary action/arcs etc...), before they have the structure, composition and general idea of the shot right. That's where an experienced supervisor can help getting it right faster and therefore getting the shot approved sooner.

3. I worried of course. A lot. I really wanted to be able to do good animation like some of the scenes I studied intensively and that I loved so much. Something that struck me in this business, though, was that I met a lot of people along the way, that wanted to be, rather than wanting to do. If you ever find yourself more wanting to be in a position because it's cool, well paid or admired then you should think about it really hard. It's only a nice job if you really want to create the work and sit down for endless hours trying to create 5 frames of animation.

<peglegpeet13> Hey David, You know, I don't think it's that much to learn, really! Compared to other professions it's not that much information. The hard part is to do all the things at the same time and do it well. Imagine a juggler that needs to juggle 15 balls for a circus show. He's going to juggle 3 balls first and then little by little add one more ball until he's got it up to 15. That's how you need to do it. Do little short simple exercises and then add more difficult ones as you go. That's how I did it. And a personal advice is not to look left and right too much, but concentrate on your own stuff. Some people learn it really fast and then stall and others take more time, but eventually become excellent at it. Steady wins the race! And in your biggest moments of animation despair, watch your favorite animated film and you'll get your motivation back instantly or go out and sketch people in a cafe or at the train station! Good luck, buddy! (I still know the feeling by the way!)

<Winner> Hey Cameron, Yes, we usually don't force people to work in a specific method. As long as the ideas are communicated there is no problem. Personally, I like to block my animation out in stepped mode with the fewest amount of keys necessary. This first pass displays my idea of the structure, composition and general acting idea of the shot. As soon as I have the directors approval, I go ahead and add breakdowns to my shot. Once I am happy with that, I “spline” everything and work in layers from then on and polish the shot until it's done.

Generally, the earlier your method can display most of your ideas, the better. It will give you more time in the end to polish your scene and make it perfect!

<lvlr_kian> I draw as often as I can. I also thumbnail a lot to find the best ideas for my scene.

I'll check in a little later today!

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