In our next Team Story we are taking a deeper dive into the world of the talented Peg + Cat director, Cory Bobiak. Find out how a layover in Vancouver literally changed the “direction” of his life, the many challenges he faces as a director and his recommendation on what to read next!
1. First up, what is your life motto or favourite quote?
2. What do you do at Toronto?
I direct Peg + Cat, a pre-school math show for the Fred Rogers Company
3. What do you love most about your job?
I love that everyone on the crew is connected through wanting to tell a good story. Because of that, everyone involved on a show will put their own touch on things. So steering everyone in a direction where all of their individual tastes will be highlighted in the final piece but not stand out as being out of place is where the juggling comes in and where I find the most reward too. I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing a show blossom into something much greater than all of its individual parts.
4. What is your origins story? Aka, how did you get to where you are today in your career?
Hmm. Well, I’d been travelling for a year and ended up in Vancouver on a 4 day layover before I was supposed be going home. I was walking downtown and noticed a piece of paper tacked up in a window that had a cartoon dog walking across a film strip. I was curious and went inside to see what the place was and it turns out it was Vancouver Institute of Media Arts. I applied and got in, and then ended up staying in Vancouver for 4 or 5 years. Once I finished school I got a job at Bardel through my friend Logan McNeil who was supervising there at the time. Eventually I moved back here to Toronto and started at 9 Story animating on ‘Peep and the Big Wide’ World Season 1. Then I kept taking on new jobs in different departments and as a result I jumped from animation into design, then to supervising, storyboarding, animation directing, art directing, and then directing on Peg.
Looking back I think I jumped around to keep myself from getting bored and I found the best way to do that was to apply for jobs that I’d never done before. Every time I start something new I have that moment where I think ‘what have I gotten myself into’, but then you buckle down and figure it out. There are always people around who know more than me so I try and learn from them.
5. Who is one of your biggest influences or inspirations?
When I was really young, like around five or six years old, I watched my father copy a picture of Ironman from the back of a ‘What If’ comic book that he had lying around. We were in the living room sitting on the couch and my Dad was drawing on the coffee table. Up until that moment I thought comics just existed….I didn’t realize that people made them. It was a big inspiration for me watching my Dad that day. And then I just started drawing and drawing.
In the world of animation, I’d have to say Logan McNeil was my biggest inspiration. While I was in school he showed me some of the stuff he’d done while he was in school at Capilano College and it was magic. It was two mice in a teacup that was spinning while riding waves in the ocean. Epic. He is a true craftsman. Seeing what he made with nothing but a pencil and eraser was a big inspiration to me.
Some of the best advice I ever received was from my first Director, Ron Crown at Bardel. I’d been asking him a million questions about my scenes because I was new and wanted to do a good job. How do I do this? …Should I have this character crouch down first? … What’s the best way to do this? They were valid questions, but questions I should have tried to figure out myself. One day he looked at me and said ‘Cory, this is your job now. You figure it out’. It stuck with me.
6. What have you found is the most challenging thing about working in the animation industry?
All of it. Everything’s a challenge. Drawing an eye properly so it doesn’t look like it’s droopy, or making sure pupils on a character have the right eye-line, or adding detail to something so that it looks random instead of planned, or making sure a cut is working, or a match-action between scenes is working, or that a sequence has the proper build, or making sure all the colours are working and that nothing is stealing focus, making sure the acting is coming across. All of it is challenging, and I think that’s why we do it.
7. What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in animation?
1. Outside of work what is your story?
Commuting from Hamilton gives me time to read on the train which is really nice. I just finished Lynn Cody’s ‘The Antagonist’ which I recommend. Movie nights with my family are always great too.