Animation and Design Interview
Landis Fields is a computer graphics art specialist at ImageMovers Digital, a Disney studio based in San Franciso, California. Landis has worked on a number of movies, such as “Spiderman 3,” and worked at Lucasfilm.
Animation and Design Career Path
Landis had a calling for animation and design even when he was young. When he was a teenager, he pursued art all the way through high school, despite hearing from many sources that art wasn’t a very financially sound career choice. The praise Landis did receive kept his dreams alive.
“I had an art teacher who even created an extra class exclusively for me to try new mediums, such as the computer,” he says.
After Landis learned how to use the computer, it was only a matter of time before he embraced that as his art form.
Animation and Design Experiences
Landis took some time before finding his animation and design niche. After he graduated high school, he was accepted to an art school in Detroit, but he couldn’t go due to financial reasons. He also looked at going to school locally instead.
“I eventually looked at studying graphic design at a much less expensive community college,” Landis explains. “As proud and happy as I was to be sipping a latte in a college classroom, it still wasn’t what I was looking for.”
Landis dabbled in different fields during this search, such as selling computers at Best Buy and starting an unfruitful computer aided drafting job.
“I didn’t really know what to do at that point so I walked into a military recruiting office and joined the United States Airforce,” he says. “Sometimes you have to go in the other direction to find your way. I still dabbled with my art here and there on the side at first, but nothing really serious. I then met my wife who encouraged me to seek an art job for when my enlistment was up.”
After finding an art school that fit what he was looking for, Landis started to get through his basic classes while still in the military.
“I even took books to the desert with me on deployments,” he adds.
Landis and his wife moved out to San Francisco after their enlistments were up so that he could start art school. At first, it was tough living in such an expensive and competitive city, but after he made the right connections, Landis had the opportunity to work on the movie “Spiderman 3.”
Since then, Landis has worked at a number of computer graphics companies, such as Lucasfilm with George Lucas.
Animation and Design Degree Programs
The level of education necessary for a successful career varies depending on the person’s experience.
“In my experience,” Landis explains, “the majority of the old school guys are self-taught or learned on the job while most of the younger guys like myself went to school. This is mostly due to the fact that this is a very young industry and when the older artists were our age, they were creating a lot of the techniques we use today.”
Because the skill set is always changing, an animation and design specialist must be constantly adapting and learning while they work.
“It’s a fast-paced environment, but that’s what keeps it interesting,” Landis adds. “You definitely have to embrace new ideas and be willing to adapt to a new program at a moment’s notice.”
Animation and Design Job Description
Landis works as a CG art generalist for ImageMovers Digital, an animation company run by Disney.
“Basically, I do multiple tasks within the film process that are typically divided into specific departments,” Landis explains. “If a movie is ‘green lit,’ a few other guys like myself will take the ideas within a script and bring them to life so everyone can get an idea of what the movie is going to look like.”
Animation and Design Daily Routine
Due to the many different jobs that Landis might have to do, each day is different from the next.
“One day, I might be animating, and the next day I might be building in the computer,” he says. “A lot of work that is done will not be seen by the rest of the world in the final film, but that is a necessary part of my job as well as the nature of the movie-making process in general.”
“For instance,” Landis continues, “Let’s say that a story involves a spaceship. I would design the spaceship, such as making something rough sketches, and try to figure out any component that would affect the way it would look in the end. After I have a good idea of how the spaceship works, I then build it inside a 3D computer program. After I’ve designed the whole thing (color, lighting, landing and taking off, etc.), I hand it off to the art director who shows it to the studios. If they like what they see, the artwork is used as a template for the rest of the film.”
Animation and Design: Steps to Success
“What it takes to be successful is persistence, discipline, and a positive attitude,” says Landis. “Raw talent definitely helps but it will only get you so far. The ability to work well with others and to handle rejection are big, too.”
Animation and Design Job Opportunities
Because it is an art field, animation and design is very competitive.
“Getting an interview has a lot to do with luck, the right timing, and a positive attitude,” Landis explains. “Nailing the interview will come down to how you mesh with the people during the interview and most importantly: your work.”
The best thing that an animation and design artist can do is just keep working on their art.
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to your portfolio,” Landis says. “Resumes are just a formality”
Favorite Part About an Animation and Design Career
“Making a living doing what I love to do, getting the opportunity as an artist to earn the respect of my peers, and being paid to learn new concepts that ultimately make me a better artist,” says Landis.
Animation and Design Future Ambitions
Despite all of the competition in the field, Landis wouldn’t have his job any other way.
Animation and Design Advice
“Stick with it,” Landis advises. “Don’t give up. Set goals and deadlines for yourself. Getting the interview is only half the battle; you have to show up with a strong portfolio if you ever want to land a gig. It’s your life, so don’t be lazy; it will be half-over before you know it. Find out what makes you happy and go for it.”