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5 Pro Animation Tips from DreamWorks Animator Greg Whittaker

by | Aug 21, 2014

Greg Whittaker just wrapped up the new DreamWorks film, Home, coming out in 2015

Greg Whittaker is a longtime mentor for Animation Mentor and also a Senior Animator for DreamWorks Animation with over 20 years of experience in animation. He recently hosted a special supplemental webinar for students in the Animation Mentor community, and we want to share some of his awesome tips with you, our amazing blog readers.

– The Animation Mentor Crew

Greg’s credits include Home, How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, The Croods, Puss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda 2, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Bee Movie, Flushed Away, Shark Tale, and many more.

  1. Focus on learning animation, not software.
  2. Technology changes and studios may require you to work in different software packages. In one month, Greg used Maya, Emo, and Premo at DreamWorks. To survive changes in technology, you must have a solid understanding of animation and workflow. This will allow you to be adaptable to work in any software package the studio requires.

  3. Quiet moments are important.
  4. Animating a character does not mean that they have to be in motion all the time. Quiet moments allow you to give the impression that a character is thinking and allows the audience to connect to the character.

  5. Never underestimate the importance of your network.
  6. One of the greatest things about Animation Mentor is that you are building your network while you are in school. These are the relationships that will help you in your career. Not just the mentors that you work with, but your fellow classmates as well.

  7. Spice up your Vanilla walks.
  8. Vanilla walks are common for student reels and recruiters get tired of seeing the same style of Vanilla walk on every reel. Find a way to spice up your walk cycle – add a turn, a sit down, a stand up, etc – to infuse character and personality into your walk.

  9. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
  10. Animation is tough and animators are often their own worst critics. If you know you do your best work in the mornings, then adjust your schedule so that you can produce your best animation in the morning, instead of at the end of the day when you are tired, burnt out, and prone to making poor choices. Likewise, if you work best at night, switch to a later schedule. Embracing your natural strengths will help you to make better choices in your animations and workflows.

Greg Whittaker specializes in teaching students how to add the extra 10% to your demo reel to reel-y make it shine. This Fall, he is teaching the final class of our Classic Animation Track, Polishing and Portfolio. Click on the link for more details about the class or click the button below to sign up for his class now:

Not ready for Class 6 yet? We have some other amazing mentors like Jean-Denis Haas, Dimos Vrysellas, and Jeff Joe teaching this Fall. Submit your application by August 29th to enroll for the Fall term.

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