Today we are interviewing AnimSchool student Jilmar Altamirano. Jilmar is taking the 3D Animation Program at AnimSchool and is showing some real talent in his animations!
Hi Jilmar! Can you share a bit about yourself, where you’re from, experience with animation prior to AnimSchool, and background?
I’m 20 years old and I currently live in Gainesville, FL. I was born in Ecuador and when I was 12 years old I moved to the US. When I was little, like most kids, I loved watching cartoons and playing video games. In particular, a video game called “Skullmonkeys” which I really enjoyed. At that moment I did not know anything about animation, or that people actually could make a living off of it. A few years ago I remembered about “Skullmonkeys” and decided to get it again. I still loved it. That’s when I started to do some research about animation and began to practice stop motion animation. After months of doing stop motion, I switched to computer animation.
Skullmonkeys in-game animation
The first year of my learning experience I watched tons of tutorials learning as much I can about modeling, rigging, lighting, rendering, etc. I really enjoyed all of those, but animation was still my priority. Learning animation with tutorials or on your own is very limited. So I decided to take my education further. I did not choose a college because of the poor reviews a lot of them got and how expensive they were. I looked into online animation schools. Luckily I found Animschool. I was really impressed with the student showcase, and the characters were very appealing. So I applied and here I am blessed to be doing this interview, and to have a very supportive family, friends and instructors.
Who are your favorite animators and artists?
I really don’t have a favorite animator or artist in particular; but if I had to pick I would say the whole team responsible for creating The Neverhood / Skullmonkeys because without them I probably would have never found my passion for animation. I also look up to my Animschool instructors. They are all great animators who are very supportive which inspires me to keep pushing myself.
We can see a very good foundation on your shot for your Body Acting class assignment. Can you describe how the idea came up and what was your process?
The idea of having a Halloween theme on my animation just popped in my head for some reason. It could have been because Halloween was coming up and also because I wanted to use the awesome “BoneApart” rig.
I won’t take all the credit for the idea, my story was improved by my awesome instructor at the time, Trevor Young, and at a general reviews class with another great instructor, Tony Bonilla.
I did not know I was going to do a cartoony piece until the middle of my first blocking, but I just felt like it needed to be snappy and it would just add to the comedy of the shot.
For the blocking I always try to block on 3’s or 4’s, but since this was a very snappy animation I found myself having to block on 1’s in those transitions.
For splining, I find it easy because of how much time I spend blocking. I just have to go through all my curves, cleaning them up, making sure the mechanics are there and the arcs are clean.
For polishing, I would say I focused 75% of the time I had on the kid and 25% on the skeleton. Since the kid was the focus of the shot I tried to polish him as much as I could, going frame by frame checking that every arc was clean.
You also have a great shot for the Character Performance class. Can you share your process from start to finish?
Picking audio clip: When I picked this audio clip I was telling myself: “what have I done? This is going to be way too hard for me.” I had no experience with dialogue shots, so I knew it was going to be very challenging for me from the beginning.
I listened to the audio like a hundred times. The character sounded very crazy and manipulative. I pictured the character in my head but when I would try to act it out it just wouldn’t be the same.
Reference: My instructor, Marcelo Sakai, recommended me to study Mother Gothel from Tangled, so I did. I watched all her clips from the movie a bunch of times. I shot a lot of reference; I mean a lot, maybe like one hour of footage in total. I also had a lot of help from my wife who acted it out. She helped me see a more girly performance and she made some acting choices I would have never thought of.
Blocking: Finally got my reference and after the fourth or fifth week of class I had my first blocking pass. It had a few story telling poses maybe 4 or 5 with basic facial expressions.
Blocking Plus: I added a lot of breakdowns, blocked on 3’s and 4’s. I refined some facial expressions and blocked all basic mouth shapes.
Spline: I splined the body first, cleaned all my curves. At this point I found myself getting more into the character, and finding facial expressions that fit the dialogue better. After spline on the body was done, I splined everything on the face except the mouth. I cleaned those curves, and then moved into the mouth, pushing the shapes. I had a lot of fun with those mouth shapes.
Polish: At this point I focused mostly on the face and hands, going frame by frame checking every arc, even the arc of the corner of the mouth. Also pushed mouth shapes even more. Added more fleshiness on the face and I worked on the hair.
I am really happy with how it turned out at the end. All my instructors were very helpful and supportive throughout the whole term.
How did your instructors help you achieve the desired quality in your animations?
My instructors are very supportive. When you tell them your goals for the term on your first day of class, they won’t stop pushing you until you reach that goal. They are all very talented artists and that is why my animation has improved so much over the past year. I tried to attend to as many extra classes offered in Animschool as possible.
The General Review classes have been very helpful. The instructors there care about your progress as much as your main instructor.
I can’t thank all of them enough, and I can’t thank Animschool enough for having all these amazing instructors!
Always try to challenge yourself on your assignments, try different things you haven’t tried on your previous work, like different styles (cartoony or realistic), different workflows, if you have only animated guys, then try animating girls, animals, robots, etc. Experiment a lot.
Don’t give up! If your assignment isn’t coming out like how you hoped, don’t get frustrated just keep working on it, it will look great in the end. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
If you send your reel to studios and don’t hear back from them, it doesn’t matter: just keep improving your reel, and keep sending it to more studios.