Get the low-down on life as an animator from Brown Bag Films Animation Supervisor Ricky Silva! We chatted with Ricky about a range of topics including where his love of animation started, the most important keyboard shortcut every animator should know, and his eclectic collection of vintage Shazam memorabilia!
1. First up, what is your life motto or favourite quote?
My quote’s a simple one, but has really proven true over the years, as cliché as it sounds, and that’s:
“Do what you love, and love what you do.”
A variation of this quote that I also live by but hopefully doesn’t sound lazy is from Confucius;
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
2. What is your role at Brown Bag Films Toronto?
Currently I am an Animation Supervisor on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, but I've also been an animation supervisor, animator and stunt-animator on a plethora of other productions.
3. What do you love most about your job here?
At its core, I love making cartoons, but something I've come to appreciate and love equally is getting to collaborate on said cartoons with some of the most talented, funniest people and artists I've ever met! They really push you as an artist to constantly strive for better and push yourself farther than you think you can go.
4. What tools and programs do you work with most these days?
I use a mix of tools and programs for creating animation. Depending on the production I use either Adobe Flash or Toonboom Harmony along with a Wacom tablet and stylus pen. For posting, and reviewing scenes and assets I use Shotgun, and for keeping organized - Google Docs and good old fashioned pen and paper.
5. What is your origins story?
Well, my family and I immigrated to Windsor, Ontario back in 1988 from the Azores (Portugal) and one of my earliest memories here was watching TV on a little black and white television set we owned. I remember spending hours watching Sesame Street, Looney Tunes and Ducktails. Not only did it help me learn English incredibly fast, but it also opened my imagination and eyes to the world of animation!
By grade 8 I was decided - I would revolve high school classes around getting into the 3-year Animation course that St. Clair College offered. After graduating from the course, I eventually made my way to Toronto and began job hunting. A close friend of mine had recently gotten hired at this company called 9 Story (now Brown Bag Films), and got me a test which landed me my first gig on “My Friend Rabbit” and the rest is a 10 year long (and getting longer) history!
6. Who is one of your biggest influencers or inspirations?
My late cousin Suzanna would definitely be one of my more recent influences in life. She showed a heroic will to fight and really taught me to appreciate life for what it is.
7. What have you found is the most challenging thing about working in the animation industry?
The easiest thing to give into in this field, is giving it your entire life and focus. Finding a healthy work/life balance is key, and not passing life by committing 24/7 to work. Remember to actually live a life outside of the industry! Set important work goals, and equally important life goals to work towards.
8. What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career as an animator?
This brings me back to the first question I answered. Make sure it is something you really love, and try not to get bitter. Those two factors will always be looming over you on the bad days, and to continue to thrive in the industry you’ll need to make sure you’re doing what you are passionate about and fighting the urge to get bitter and look at the brighter side of things… like the fact you’re making cartoons for a living!
9. A tip or trick you might want to share about what you do?
One trick that seems like a no brain’er but you’d be surprised how often it gets missed, is to have an intimate relationship with the shortcuts CTRL+S (SAVE) and CTRL+SHFT+S (SAVE A NEW VERSION)! Even the most experienced animators will forget and end up losing 1-3 hours of work. It really sucks when that happens, so make saving and saving new versions as second nature as you can!
10. What do you love about animation?
I love bringing a range of characters to life! I’ve always been into acting, but WAY too nervous to do it in front of a camera. Getting a chance to bring a still image to life in a believable way and having fun adding bits of acting nuance to a character really gets my heart pumping!
11. Outside of work what is your story?
For over 3 years my friend Bryan and I created a podcast called “Crash Course in Awesome”. We’d pick a random neat topic and give listeners a quick crash course in it. We produced over 150 episodes and I’ve always been very proud of that accomplishment! It’s currently on hiatus, but who knows if or when we’ll come back to it.
The other interest I have outside of work is a love for vintage Captain Marvel AKA Shazam memorabilia from the golden age (1940s). My collection is getting a smidge outta hand at this point, but I just love how innocent the stories and artwork are in these early Fawcett Publications, and how they really were a juxtaposition of the time being that WWII was in full swing!