Meet Alex Pilalis, our awesome Animator! Alex is also a published author and a gym buff, but we managed to catch up with him for a few minutes to discuss what his role involves and what he loves about animation.
How did you get into animation?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing, and as I grew up and technology improved, animation seemed the next logical step to drawing comics and designing computer game ideas.
After completing a BA in Digital Arts, which introduced me to animation along with several other digital mediums, I went on to study a Masters in Computer Animation, and most recently have completed Animation Mentor’s Character Animation program.
How long have you worked in the animation industry?
Somewhere around 8-9 years or so, including lots of freelance work to start with, working with start-up games companies and short projects here and there.
What's your current role and what does it involve?
I’m an Animator, which involves creating cycles (animations that can loop continuously, like walking or running), and working closely with directors to bring scenes to life based on storyboards and pre-viz animatics. I also polish rough passes of animation and fix any specific minor or major issues that directors have with shots, like clothes cutting through a character or adjusting facial expressions.
What are your biggest influences/inspirations?
I’ve always been inspired by the older Disney and Pixar films (of course), and also, in particular, the Studio Ghibli films, which blend subtle, realistic stories and aesthetics with fantastical elements that are a lot more mature and thoughtful than an average feature animation. Also, cinematics and cut-scenes in games were one of the first inspirations for me to get into animation.
What’s your favourite tool to use and why?
I find an arc tracking tool called Arc Tracker Pro super useful.
It allows me to see the motion of an object as a curving line, such as the way a hand moves, and I can adjust the curve for a more appealing motion.
What advice would you give someone considering getting into animation?
I would definitely recommend doing an online course. I found that studying with Animation Mentor was a far greater learning experience than my Masters course.
I would even suggest not bothering with a university course and going straight to one of the online schools: Animation Mentor, AnimSchool or iAnimate are the biggest/most popular ones.
As well as this, always keep animating in your spare time; the more you animate, the more you’ll improve!
What do you like most about working in animation?
Having the ability to bring a character to life, to imbue them with personality and emotion, and impart that emotion to the viewer.
What’s been the most challenging thing about working in animation?
Remembering how to animate! When you start a shot it can feel overwhelming, but once things start moving and you get a feel of the character it (usually) ends up working well.
There’s a lot of work involved before animating a shot, such as storyboarding and reference footage, and if the planning isn’t fully thought out, the shot will likely end up not working out so well. So planning a shot can be very challenging.
Outside of animation what are you most passionate about?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, and in my spare time over the past few years I have written a novel - Island Legends: The Awakening of James Island - and a short story. I also think it’s important to have an active hobby, as an animator’s life can be very static, and I enjoy exercising and gym sessions to break away from the inactive work hours.
You can find Alex's novel Island Legends: The Awakening of James Island available to purchase on Amazon: getBook.at/IslandLegends
Are you interested in getting into animation? Keep an eye on our Behind-the-Scenes and Tutorials pages for more interviews, #Tutorials and #TopTips!