From Identity Visuals comes Animalators: curious conversations from the world of animation. On each episode, animator Zac Dixon sits down with members of the animation community to discuss life, art, business and the creative process.
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Now displaying: 2016

Animalators: curious conversations from the world of animation

Dec 23, 2016

Samuel Fast, Josef Andersson and Björn Johansson are the three founders of Brikk, an animation studio based in Stockholm, Sweden. During our conversation, we talked about how they navigate creative challenges, how they built their team and why it is important to stay curious.








-Trying to stay curious

-Don’t like to do the same thing twice

-We find people we like to work with

-Nice people culture

-How to push clients towards something outside of their expectations

-Treatment design

-Differing creative processes

-Meeting in art school

-How to play on being young = the competitive advantage  

-Didn’t have much to lose when they started

-Starting to be able to say no to things

-Taking work that doesn’t make it to your portfolio

-Dividing work between all three creative directors

-How to get through creative challenges

-Trying to get better at planning

-Learning from mistakes

-Always growing as a team

-Learning how to keep things personal

-Why it can be helpful to learn less

-Getting better at organizing and managing team


-Establishing processes  

-Advice to young animators: Say yes to everything

-Dream Client: A client that trusts you

-Favorite Animated Movie:The Jungle Book

-What does your family think you do: Grandma once said: starving artists

-Animalator: the moose

Dec 9, 2016

Ryan Moore is a creative director at Gretel based in New York City. During our conversation we talked about how Gretel handles pitches, the process of boiling down a brand and how to anticipate the evolution of brands.




IFC Case Study-




-Creative directing at Gretel

-The company is 11 years old

-Viceland Project

-Try to boil things down to the ethos of the brand

-Working from both sides to the middle

-Bringing in the whole team on

-Two ways of getting work: pitch vs. direct to work

-Boiling something down to a core metaphor

-IFC Case study

-Every brand evolves

-We never pitch things we don’t believe in


-Editing or reducing is basically my job

-The only way to know the line is to cross it

-Managing teams

-Learning how to listen…to your the studio

-Showing your work to non-designers

-Brand changes


-Moving graphic design

-Learning how to let go

-Dream Client: A public utility

-Favorite Animated Movie:  Ratatouille

-What does your family think you do: Grandma once said: He works at the internet

-Animalator: An owl. Why? Because owls stay up late. They’re quietly observant. And they’re silent killers.

Nov 25, 2016

Aharon Rabinowitz is the head of marketing for Red Giant based in New York City. During our conversation, we discussed the importance of work life balance, his start as a production intern at Sesame Street and why artist’s feel personally offended when you reject their work.



Red Giant-



Leaky Timbers Video -



-Psychology major

-Intern at Sesame Street

-Not a puppeteer

-Saw a behind the scenes Star Wars program

-Teaching intercity art programs

-Back to Sesame Street as a technical manager and animator

-Nickelodeon Digital as a producer


-Taught classes to professionals

-Dreaming about coding problems

-Head of Marketing at Red Giant

-Pick up someone else’s trash kind of culture

-My biggest problem is reining my team in

-Understanding products is a large part of the job



-Leaky Timbers video


-Executive producer role

-Personal artwork

-Artist’s rejection

-Time is the only thing you can’t have back

-Working well with people is most important

-Work hard, be a life long learner

-Work life balance

-Dream Client: Red Giant Film Projects

-Favorite Animated Movie: Tron

-What does your family think you do: “the actor!” “teacher” “movie maker”

-Animalator: Cat

Nov 11, 2016

Luca and Ilenia are the founders of Illo, a studio based in Turin, Italy.  During our conversation, we discussed their self-driving video bot named Algo, how Illo was formed and how they’ve crafted a unique office culture.  









-How they met

-Studied communications

-Focused learning on start-ups

-Started in a small apartment

-Hired one person to learn animation

-Computer coding


-Producing 100 videos in a weekend

-Hiring someone good with expressions for Algo

-The future of Algo

-Growing their company

-3 persons per year on average

-Creating a good and unique working culture

-Every two weeks they change their desks

-Ideation process

-Swedish brainstorming sessions

-Delegating & working as a team

-Good & great projects

-Future of their work

-Working with start-ups allowed them to try lots of new things

-Get started tips

-Learning how to lead creatives

-Dream Client: Fashion brand

-Favorite Animated Movie: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

-What does your family think you do: videos

-Animalator: French Bulldog

Sep 30, 2016

John Schlemmer is a motion lead at Google in Mountain View, California. During the conversation, we talked about team dynamics between animators and developers, how to create the best possible user experiences through animation and the importance of finding the best solution not just the fastest.








-Motion Lead – Material Design at Google

-Introducing motion design on Inbox by Gmail

-UX design approach

-Having consistent elements within transitions

-UI development guide

-Helping to know what to focus on in UI

-Animation in long spits vs. short spits

-The 12 Disney principles

-Should animators code?

-Challenges for animators looking to be a part of an interactive team

-Finding the best solution, not just the fastest

-Proving value to customers

-Motion sometimes gets pushed into later versions

-Show effectiveness of motion in design = best way to get work

-The right movement can be key to helping users understand how to use or do something

-Integrating animation from the planning stage on

-15-20 frames long

-Beta testing

-UX team including engineers

-Learning how to create the smoothest experience

-Adding in polish to experiences

-Where did it all start?

-Dream Client: Nintendo and Google collaboration

-Favorite Animated Movie: The Lion King

-What does your family think you do: I work on the apps you use like Gmail.

-Animalator: Myself and my dog

Sep 16, 2016

Seth Worley is a resident filmmaker at visual effects software maker Red Giant and the director and writer of short films. During the conversation, we discussed the importance of making client projects your own, learning how to pace and structure story development and how to receive negative feedback on the work you create.





Form 17-

Red Giant-



-Resident filmmaker at Red Giant

-Make films with our software

-Magic Bullet


-Roger Rabbit behind the scenes

-Watching people watch movies

-Music videos

-Form 17

-Receiving online feedback

-Don't let your identity be wrapped up in your work

-Advertising agencies are just nervous

-Think in themes

-Leaky Timbers

-Story Clock Notebook

-Trace story threads

-Story pacing

-Idea development


-Dream Client: Myself

-Favorite Animated Movie: The Incredibles

-What does your family think you do: My son thinks I make movies

-Animalator: Jogging lego guy

Sep 2, 2016

Kirsten Lepore is a director and animator based in Los Angeles, CA. During this week's episode, we talked about how Kirsten is learning the art of appreciation, the specifics behind her Adventure Time episode and how photography has influenced her stop-motion.






Sweet Dreams Project-

Move Mountain-

Adventure Time Episode-



-Started with a camera in fifth grade

-Making ridiculous movies

-Very first stop-motion with movie candy

-Going to school for animation

-Musical background

-First project: Sweet Dreams

-Always start in the middle of a video

-Currently working on a personal project

-Stick with it, stay with projects, how to coach students

-Book trailers

-After Effects animation

-Learning on the job

-Moved to CA and went to grad school

-Learning photography influenced stop-motion.

-Lighting is key

-Animation is an extension of what live action could be

-Learning how to appreciate film

-Move Mountain project

-Adventure Time Episode

-Avoiding burnout

-Dream Client: Someone who gives me total creative freedom and trusts me

-Favorite Animated Movie: The Lego Movie

-What does your family think you do: Animator - oh so you work at Disney

-Animalator: Koala

Aug 19, 2016

Ryan Summers is a freelance animator based in Los Angeles, CA. During the conversation, we discussed the how to network, balancing budgets in a project, and the importance of always adapting and learning in the industry.







-Comic Books, Movies, Cartoons, Video Games

-Problem-solving day to day

-A switch to art school

-Working in many different industries

-Slot Machine company, Chicago Board of Trade

-Learning from various kinds of people

-Imaginary Forces

-Importance of networking

-Being a problem solver

-Specific pitching

-Balancing budgets

-Character animation

-learning from different studios and how they approach new problems

-Getting back to 2-D animation

-Dream client: Myself

-Favorite animated film: Iron Giant

-What does your family think you do: Interior designer

-Animalator: Orangutan

Aug 5, 2016

Daniel Chester, Dave Prosser and Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits are the founders of Moth Collective based in London, England. During our conversation, we talked about their start at Royal College of Art, the fight for a good story and what it was like to pitch The Guardian.



The Last Job on Earth The Guardian:

Modern Love New York Times:


-How they met

-Royal College of Art

-Moth Collective

-Selective about projects

-Leading to more projects

-One year ago stopped freelancing

-Based in East London

-When to start adding employees

-Collective vs. studio

-Artist and business

-Storytelling conflicts


-Vision casting

-Project roles

-Fighting for ideas

-Mixing of styles

-Learning CGI

-Learning how to communicate better

-Personal projects

-Feature film

-Friday fun day

-The art of pitching

-The Guardian project

-New York Times project

-First failed project

-Future of Moth Collective

-Dream client:  A client that doesn’t meddle in your business too much

-Favorite animated film: Zootopia

-What does your family think you do: They pretty much get it

-Animalator: Moth

Jul 22, 2016

Michael Jones is the founder of MoGraph Mentor based in Bend, Oregon. During our conversation, we talked about the power of visual journalism, the ins and outs of MoGraph mentor and the future of art education.




MoGraph Mentor:



-Character animation

-Motion design

-Animation Mentor

-Learning on projects

-Cardboard Castle

-MoGraph Mentor

-12 weeks of workshopping

-Develop artistic skills and professional skills

-Provide job placement

-Connect mentors with aspiring artists

-Students from 70 different countries

-Future of education

-Always re-making our skill sets

-Make sure your product provides value

-Freelance balance

-Business development as a freelancer

-Skills and network correlation

-Educate your client

-Cost structure of art education

-Visual journalism

-Time management


-Dream client: The New Yorker

-Favorite animated film: Tangled

-What does your family think you do: If anyone has a broken printer, I am the one they call.

-Animalator: Bird

Jul 8, 2016

Andrew Vucko is a freelance design director and animator based in Toronto. During the show, we talked about how Dance Dance Revolution changed his life, his personal project: Original, and the challenges in posting work for the world to see.



YouTube Gaming-

Original Short-

Motionographer- Original-


Boomerang Mono-


-Sociology/psychology background

-Film school

-Dance Dance Revolution changed his life

-Big Studios in Toronto

-Jumped into full-time freelance

-Learning 3-D

-Shifting from generalizing to specializing

-First personal project

-Original Short

-Time management

-YouTube gaming



-Sonar Festival

-Boomerang Mono Project

-Posting your work

-Dream Client: Cartoon Network

-Favorite animated film: Space Jam

-What does your family think you do: My parents are pretty savvy.

-Animalator: Butterfly

Jun 24, 2016

Erin Sarofsky is the owner and executive creative director of Sarofsky based in Chicago, IL. During our conversation, we dove into her process and workflow habits, how she began her company, and what it is like to work on projects with Marvel.




Art of the Title article-

Animal Kingdom Main Titles-


-Digital Kitchen is “where I grew up”

-Taking every single opportunity  


-Communicating budgets with workers

-Art of the Title - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

-Workflow habits

-Concept-ing process

-Be careful with partnerships

-Creating good workplace culture

-Helping younger designers build talent

-Always have a junior and a senior on a project

-Learning how to be a boss

-Community title sequence

-Pitching strategies

-Studio set-up for Marvel

-Focus on design

-Favorite parts of working with Marvel

-People respond to authenticity

-Upcoming projects

-Animal Kingdom on TNT

-Love anything with a heavy design element & main titles

-Being a great collaborator with the client

-Dream Client: Marvel

-Favorite animated film: Toy Story

-What does your family think you do: Mom said I design business cards

-Animalator: A little dog

Jun 10, 2016

Claudio Salas is an independent animator, director and designer based in London. During our conversation, we talk about the tension of being a generalist or a specialist, how to collaborate within the animation community, and a few of Claudio’s latest projects.



Childline Project-

The Wisdom of Pessimism Project-

The Wisdom of Pessimism Project Spreadsheet-


Wine After Coffee-


-Uncle taught him how to draw, scale and grid

-Started on photoshop & flash


-Intern at Buck LA and NY

-Now a full-time freelancer in London

-Childline project

-Benefits of working in a team

-Buck’s team dynamics

-Communicating with clients

-Transitions and style frames

-The Wisdom of Pessimism project

-Working with a bunch of freelancers on big projects

-Spreadsheet, mood boards

-Animation community

-Blend, Wine After Coffee

-Inspiring people


-Being a generalist or a specialist

-Taking time to learn, push your skill set

-Life & work balance

-New projects

-Dream Client: A studio that treats their employees with love and respect

-Favorite animated film: Aladdin

-What does your family think you do: They get it

-Animalator: A black sheep

May 27, 2016

Phil Borst is the lead motion designer at Spread Truth based in Normal, IL. During our conversation, we discussed how to balance two jobs and a family, learning to perfect camera movements, composition and scene layouts, and the importance of getting feedback from other artists.




Framed Ink

Spread Truth


-Went to school for film editing

-Wedding videos

-Learn how to work on quick deadlines

-Graphic design

-Started taking on small personal animation projects

-Learned animation from tutorials online, reading a lot of books

-Animated storyboards with sketches

-Designing and animating workflow

-Sources of inspiration

-Life/Work balance

-Learning new things

-Trying to get better at design

-Framed Ink

-Camera movements

-Learning about composition and scene layouts

-Cinema 4D / After Effects combinations

-Pros and cons of working by yourself

-Getting feedback from other artists

-Patience is key

-Spread Truth

-Role as lead motion designer

-Dream Client: an opening title sequence

-Favorite animated film: Alice in Wonderland

-What do your kids think you do: they get it, still don’t understand how long it takes

-Animalator: Turtle

May 13, 2016

Aaron Ray is one of the founders of Legwork studio based in Denver, Colorado. During our conversation, we talked about how the studio got started, the ins and outs of creative project management, and the importance of having creative outlets.




Animated Storytelling




-Loving to draw

-Rust Boy project

-3-D Skills

-Basic design development

-Ad agency

-Collective - Marketing Ad for young people

-Transitioning into Animation

-Started Legwork in 2008

-Team size growth up to 14

-Defining the brand

-Pros & cons of being in Colorado

-Company growth

-The art of self-editing

-Team dynamics

-Put your culture/tone into it

-Challenges of managing

-Book: Animated Storytelling



-Thick skinned

-Other creative outlets

-Future of Legwork

-Dream client: Music Videos

-Favorite animated film: Ernest & Celestine & Song of the Sea

-What do the people you love think you do: Cartoon stuff

-Animalator: Turtle

Apr 29, 2016

Rachel Yonda is the senior graphics producer for The Late Late Show with James Corden based in Los Angeles, California. During the conversation, we discussed her transition from television to freelance and back to television, how to escape creative dry spells and where to go for creative inspiration.





-Obsession with animated characters as a kid


-First Internships

-Little Einsteins Rigs

-Transition into freelance

-TV motion design vs. studio work

-CTN Expo

-Transition back to TV

-Overlap from freelance career

-The Late Late Show with James Corden

-Senior Graphics Producer

-Day to day work - games, headlines, etc.

-Role changes every hour

-Collaboration within the workplace

-Being a lifelong learner

-Creative dry spells

-”You can’t animate life if you don’t live life.”

-Places for inspiration

-Dream client: Find illustrators and animators I admire and work with them

-Favorite animated film: The Big Snit

-What do the people you love think you do: actually doing the Late Late Show allowed for a lot of clarification.

-Animalator: caterpillar

Apr 14, 2016

Greg Gunn is a creative director at Blind studios based in Los Angeles, California. During the episode we talked about the importance of creative weightlifting, the pros and cons of art school and the importance of developing and sharpening ideation skills.


Mythical Mondays:





-Otis College of Art and Design

-3D Animation

-Thrown into directing

-Benefits of art school

-Design thinking

-Importance in finding a teacher, mentor

-Transition from school to director

-Ego & creative control in a project

-Working with clients

-Speaking truths over yourself

-Personal projects

-Mythical Mondays

-Creative weightlifting

-Becoming a creative director

-A day in the life of Greg Gunn

-Keeping skills fresh

-Style vs. substance

-Sharpening ideation skills over technical


-Dream client: A nonprofit, help create a video that will tangibly help people

-Favorite animated film: Spirited Way

-What do the people you love think you do: no clue

-Animalator: a fox

Apr 1, 2016

Chris Kelly is a creative director and co-owner of Odd Fellows, a sateen design and motion studio in San Francisco, CA. During this episode we discuss how Odd Fellows grew into the company it is today, the role of Creative Director, the advantages of blending styles on a project, and the difficulties of making the transition from artist to manager.





Bot & Dolly:


-Background- fine art focus

-Adobe cut and paste challenge

-Auto Fuss

-Transition from 2 to 11 employees


-Creative directing

-Working remotely vs. locally

-Freelance staff

-Advantages of collaborating with a lot of different people

-Diversity of styles

-Blending different strengths & styles




-The fear of letting go

-Dream client: Any client that trusts you

-Favorite animated film: Tall Tales & Legends

-What do your kids think you do: Animation cartoons

-Animalator: The turkey Tom

Mar 17, 2016

Marcus Eckert is a programmer and motion designer based in Oslo, Norway. During this episode, we discuss Wide Sky, taking negative feedback, where to start when learning code languages and the importance of developing new skills and improving on the old skills.






Wide Sky:

Wide Sky Trailer:



-From journalism to counselor to freelance motion design

-Wide Sky game & its trailer

-Process of getting better, trying old work again

-Coding & expressions

-Taking feedback

-Advice for anyone looking to get into creative projects

-App culture


-Stop motion

-Google/ Apple Motion Design

-Future for Marcus

-What Marcus is learning right now

-Advice on starting to learn code languages

-Tools for After Effects

-Dream client: Someone who doesn’t tell you, you can do whatever you want

-Favorite animated film: Ghost in the Shower

-What do your parents think you do: Apps the stuff that is on there

-Animalator: a cat


Animalators is part of the Gradient Podcast Network. Learn more at

Mar 4, 2016

Michelle Higa Fox is a director and animator based in Brooklyn, New York. She owns Slanted Studios which focuses on creating mixed-media animation for experiences of any kind. During the episode, we discussed her permanent public art pieces, how she started with Mixtape Club, and the importance of building trust with a client.








-Transition into animation

-Mixtape Club- the first business

-Music videos

-10-11 of freelancing months & breaking for 2 months for personal projects

-Transition from doing every style to being a director and needing to make those calls for clients

-Make things over and over again to get better

-Pitches: committing to making something look a certain way

-Making depth without using 3D software

-Building trust with a client

-Interactive installation in an airport


-Love for stop motion


-The future for Michelle

-Dream client: The MTA (who runs the Subway in NYC)

-Favorite animated film: Rejected, The Hedgehog and the Fog

-What do your parents think you do: I think my parents know now

-Animalator: a corgi- my dog Merlin


Animalators is part of the Gradient Podcast Network. Learn more at

Feb 19, 2016

Jordan Scott is a 2D animator, designer and illustrator currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. He is in the process of transitioning from freelancing to art directing for the Odd Fellows Studio in Portland. During the conversation, we discussed Ice Cream Hater, how to get started in freelance, and the importance of finding work that fulfills you.




Ice Cream Hater

Odd Fellows


-How Jordan got started

-Making movies in high school

-Vancouver Film School

-Digital Kitchen, Lifelong Friendship Society

-Getting laid off and forced into freelancing

-How to approach freelance work

-What to put on your website

-Honesty is the best medicine

-Being clear on money, time and expectations with clients

-Share your work

-”It would be like painting something and putting it in the closet”

-Odd Fellows

-Why the shift from freelance to full-time

-Pros and cons of working in a team vs. freelancing

-Ice Cream Hater

-Dream client: a client who is open, honest and ready to take risks

-Favorite animated film: Peter Pan

-What do your parents think you do: no one is really sure

-Animalator: a bear


Animalators is part of the Gradient Podcast Network. Learn more at

Feb 6, 2016

Sander van Dijk is a freelance animator from Brooklyn, New York. During this episode, we talked about his background in architecture and carpentry, why he switched to freelance and the importance of designing work that matters.


Wish List After Effects



Sugar Detox Project:

Time Well Spent Project:

Facebook Redesign:

Motionographer article:

Steve Jobs’ Speech:


-Transition from architecture and carpentry into animation

-King and Country brought Sander to the U.S.

-Worked for Buck

-Transition to freelance

-Move away from advertising

-Importance of communicating life changing ideas

-Daily choices

-Personal next steps

-Choosing clients that support what you believe

-New Projects: food, health, and technology

-Sugar detox project

-Time well spent project

-Facebook redesign  

-After Effect’s wish list

-Why motion graphics specifically can help bring about change

-Getting close to a story and a concept when working on a project

-Motionographer article - trends, learning

-What new things Sander has been learning

-Advice for people starting out in motion graphics

-Dream client: someone with a complex idea and communicating it an easy, understandable way

-Favorite animated film: Adventure Time Episodes

-What does your parents think you do: they get what I do and are gracious enough to let me run with it.

-Animalator: a squirrel


Animalators is part of the Gradient Podcast Network. Learn more at

Jan 22, 2016

Erica Gorochow is an animator based in Brooklyn, New York. She owns a studio called PepRally and loves collaborating with other artists around the world. During this episode, we talked about app designing, the Why Pay? project, and the importance of good writing.





Why Pay?:


-How Erica got into animation

-As a kid always wanting to be an animator

-Learning After Effects

-Film degree from Northwestern

-Transition from 9-5 to freelance

-Pros/Cons: working for a company right out of school

-Creating a safe space to ask questions



-Why Pay?

-Focus on design and art direction

-Relationships, marketing, getting clients

-Writing for motionographer and Creators Project

-“Writing is one of the most important things in the director's process”

-Bringing on a copy writer

-App called Specimen - a game about color

-What’s next for Erica

-Dream client: more app Work

-Favorite animated film: Tangled

-What do your parents think you do: "I sit in my office all day"

-Animalator: a peacock or a bear

Jan 8, 2016

Seth Eckert is a freelance animator and the owner of The Furrow, a studio specializing in animation, illustration, direction and film, based in Lexington, Kentucky. During our conversation, we talked about the practicalities of freelancing, the pro's of collaboration and the difficult balance of structuring work and life.



-Hating the work you used to do

-How to find satisfaction in the work that you’ve done

-The power collaboration

-New people helps make up for your weaknesses

-Cel work

-How Seth started in animation


-Learning programs

-Jumping to freelance from full time job

-Insurance and retirement

-Working with Facebook

-Mimicking people’s work

-Life/work balance

-Business names

-Directing, animation, communication balance

-The future of Furrow

-Dream client: people who are the coolest to work with

-Favorite animated film: Tangled

-What does your daughter think you do: I sit in my office all day

-Animalator: a peacock or a bear