Meet 3d Animator Danielle Kelly! #Interview

Meet our awesome 3d Animator Danielle Kelly! A wiz with Maya, we managed to snag her away from the screen for a few minutes to chat about her role and why she loves animation.


How did you get into animation?

There were two things I had always wanted to do since I was about 7, that was animation and becoming a vet, animation won out in the end! When I finished my leaving cert I applied to Colaiste Dhulaigh who were running an animation course and I studied there for 3 years. I then went on to The University of Wolverhampton for my final year and got my degree in animation.

How long have you worked in the animation industry?

I've worked in the animation industry for over 4 years. I started out in advertising, working in a small company in London, Pipedreams Productions, as a Junior Artist and eventually a 3D Generalist. We mainly did animatics but later moved into full broadcast commercials. I would do a little bit of everything, Rotoscoping, Modelling, Print Work, Layout and as time went on a little bit of Animation.

I then moved back to Ireland where I started working full time in animation. I got my first animator role in Boulder Media working on Go Jetters, which led onto where I am now in Brown Bag Films.

What's your current role and what does it involve?

My current role is as an Animator on Butterbean's Cafe. It mainly involves retakes, animating cycles like character walks and runs for all the new characters on the show as well as dialogue pieces or acting tests to develop their personalities and style.

What are your biggest influences and inspirations?

This is going to sound really cliche but my biggest influence has been Disney and Pixar. I grew up watching the Disney classics. 

I also love playing games so I was always inspired by game cinematics from companies like Blur, Blizzard and Bungie. They really fueled my aspirations of becoming an animator. 

If I'm stuck and it's been a long week and I need some inspiration to keep me going I watch some of my most favorite animated movies to remind myself of why I started, some that never fail to get me motivated are Tangled, Big Hero 6, How to Train your Dragon 1 & 2, Zootopia, Kung Fu Panda 1, 2 & 3, Surfs Up and Wall-E.

What's your favourite tool to use and why?

I keep it pretty basic when it comes to tools, however the one I find the most useful is Maya's Motion Trails. These allow you to track your characters movement in the 3D space so you can keep an eye on your Arcs and Spacing. It's extremely handy for those cases where you have a pop or an issue and you can't tell what's going wrong, turn on your Motion Trails and BAM! you can see the issue right away.

Another tool that I have only recently been using since I started in Brown Bag is Studio Library, it's great for saving and loading on animation, keeping a library of your most used poses and selection sets. It's a real time saver.

What advice would you give someone considering getting into the animation industry?

Work hard and don't give up, if you are truly passionate about and love animation you will get that job.

Also, learn as much as you can, become a sponge, and show your work to teachers and classmates as often as you can, be open to notes and feedback and understand that you are learning with every critique you get and don't get disheartened, it's so important to get feedback from your peers and mentors and to also give feedback as this trains your eye in noticing errors in your animation.

As well as your course, look for tutorials online, the internet is full of awesome tips and tricks from industry professionals!

What do you like most about working in animation?

I love developing characters and getting inside their heads. You never know what your next animation could be, which is very exciting. I like that the tasks can be so varied it could be animating a girly walk or an evil cackling laugh, both equally fun to do. Also, I feel very grateful I get to animate such appealing characters thanks to all the hard work put in from the character artists, modellers, riggers, lighters and everyone else on the show.

Seeing the final renderered result is one of the most satisfying things about the job, there is a real sense of teamwork and achievement in the building when shots get approved.

What's been the most challenging thing about working in animation?

Staying motivated on version 37 of your shot. If there is one thing you are guaranteed it's notes and changes, be open to notes and critique and remember that you're learning, don't get disheartened. There are a lot of ways the character could be animated but the challenging part is getting the personality right for the character, the shot, and the overall show.

Outside of animation what are you most passionate about?

Outside of animation, the thing I'm probably most passionate about is art, I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil. I try my best in my free time to do some form of drawing whether it's quick 30 second pose sketches or sitting down on my PC working on my latest digital art piece.

I love music, going to heavy metal gigs and collecting vinyl. Also, a fan of first person shooters, coffee and zombies… who doesn't love zombies?


Are you interested in getting into animation? Keep an eye on our Behind-the-Scenes and Tutorials pages for more interviews and #TopTips!

Anahita Tabarsi

Anahita is Brown Bag Films' Digital Marketing Manager and drinks more than five coffees a day...

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