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  • Writer's pictureJohanna Gousset


Hi everyone!

I just wanted to write a little bit about animation because it's been an interesting ride.

When I went to university I studied illustration, but the animation studios were just next door and we regularly worked on joint projects. Having transfered to the university directly into 2nd Year I missed out on the 1st Year's animation projects, which made me very keen to volunteer for any animation opportunity so I could catch up on these skills I knew nothing about.

My very first animation experience was with stop-motion. It was a group project and it made me realised how there is no limit to the imagination in animation. You can start with 5 fairly unmotivated teenagers, an old briefcase, a vegetable peeler and an umbrella and end up with real-life actors, a torture room, screaming potatoes and a lot of tomato juice. Admittedly the plot was way darker than anything I could ever come up with on my own, but it was the source of many lessons.

The first thing I learnt was... that I never wanted to work with stop-motion ever again. The clay characters, the camera handling, the lighting struggles, and the result at the end simply didn't appeal to me. (To this day I still haven't managed to watch Wallace and Gromit to the end...) I liked the old 2D Disney movies, like Sleeping Beauty (I mean have you looked at those backgrounds! And it was 1959!), or the more recent Pocahontas (1995), and Brother Bear (2003). I wanted to work the old-fashioned way. I wanted to draw. Frame after frame.

The second lesson was that I wanted to do things my way. However fun it was to work as part of a team, I wanted to work on something that was really me, with less blood and murder. And last but not least, I wanted to work with music. I've always loved music (in spite of being a terrible musician myself) and I was looking for a way to combine both arts. This was the perfect solution.

When my next animation project came by I already knew what I wanted to do. I had seen "Thought of You" by Ryan Woodward and I wanted to know how to create something similar. I asked my animation tutor and he introduced me to the rotoscoping technique. It was a revelation. I spent hours in the computer studios with the wacom tablets and pens and created my very first animation from A to Z (with a lot of trials and errors. Particularly errors). It took me three months. It was one minute long.

I got an A but ended up with a repetitive strain injury in my wrist. I spent the rest of the year drawing with my left hand. Being right-handed it was quite a challenge, but an interesting one. After graduation I thought I'd probably never do animation again. My wrist was still bothering me (and it still does) and it seemed like such a lot of time and effort for not much. And yet, only a few months later, I bought myself a little tablet and a pen, "just on the off-chance" I said. I did lots of experiments with it, cursed at it, shed drops of sweat on it, and a few months later I was hired for my first paid job as an animator.

Like Margot Tsakiri-Scanatovits (London animator) once said: "Animation is addictive. Animation is 'Jesus I'm not going to put myself through this again'. And you always do it again."

She is right. Animation is addictive. There is something very special about seeing your drawings come to life, about solving the problems you encounter, about creating what's in your mind without any boundaries. You can spend hours drawing frame after frame and after 50 drawings you press the "play" button and you watch those 2 seconds of animation with pure joy and pride. It's a crazy amount of work, but it's all worth it.

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