We were lucky enough to catch up with talented alumnus, James Rodgers, for our Where Are They Now? blog series. James was an Animation Mentor student back in 2011 and has since worked on a collection of films, commercials and different types of media in different styles. One of his biggest accomplishments up to date… drumroll please… has been launching his own animation studio – Lunar Animation!
Holy smokes- what an amazing accomplishment! With the perfect combination of dreams, skills and qualities, find out how he got to where he is today, his advice for aspiring students and the most important lessons he learned during his time at Animation Mentor. Be inspired, enjoy, and go animate!
– The Animation Mentor Crew
ANIMATION MENTOR: What did it take to start your own studio?
JAMES: Running my own animation studio is something I have always wanted to do since my days at University, getting the buzz of collaborating with other highly talented students to create something you think up from nothing. The only issue when you finish university is you only have some of the skills sets necessary to actually run a studio. I’m really glad it’s something I didn’t initially jump into straight out of the gate as I’m sure it would have been terrible. Instead I worked within the industry, learning about film-making, productivity, deadlines, and working with clients. This together with furthering my own animation education through Animation Mentor prepared me to enter into running an effective animation studio. There is no denying it also took a lot of determination and patience as it involves long hours and hard work especially in the early days.
ANIMATION MENTOR: Tell us about your studio and the type of work you are doing.
JAMES: We do a variety of different types of work within the studio that spans a wide section of the animation industry. This is possible due to the versatility of the three core directors and our areas of expertise. Since starting the studio last year we have completed a 10 minute short film for the attraction industry, a game cinematic, worked on visual effects for a feature film and we’re currently working on a music video. Our key premise is to keep the quality of our content as high as possible.
Animation Mentor: What is the most satisfying aspect of owning your own studio and what did you learn from it?
JAMES: One of the most satisfying aspects is that we get to choose who we work with, which is never a luxury when you work for somebody else or at another studio. Here at Lunar all of the company directors are the best of friends, and the talent we hire are great personalities and fantastic at what they do. Ultimately, this means we are able to work together for long periods with good communication and great efficiency. One thing I have learnt is that since having a studio I get to do less animation as I generally have to deal with so many other aspects of running a business, production, writing, directing.
ANIMATION MENTOR: What advice do you have for students who aspire to start their own studios?
JAMES: Don’t try and do it without having plenty of experience, work in as many versatile studios as possible and make as many contacts as you can. Most of your initial work will most likely be through them.
ANIMATION MENTOR: How did Animation Mentor prepare you for this journey, if at all 😉
JAMES: Animation Mentor was huge for me as I had completed a degree in Computer Animation & Special Effects and had worked in the industry for a few years. Yet my workflow involved working on something until it looked right, this had been working for me, but I wasn’t able to tell people how I did it, give constructive feedback or even have an idea on how long something would take to animate. I animated straight ahead for crying out loud! (Which I really don’t know how, in retrospect). I used to sit at my desk in a morning and think how am I going to animate this shot, I had no starting point or process.
Eventually I enrolled in the Animation Mentor course to help take my animation skills to the next level and further my knowledge from the industry’s best. It was pretty tough working as an animator during the day and trying to complete the course in my spare time, but it was totally worth it. Most of the techniques I use today are thanks to Animation Mentor, especially in blocking out my animations, thinking about balance, silhouettes, rhythm… the list is endless. These results allow me to work effectively at the studio, give concise feedback to my animators and be as productive as I can. We look for animators that have completed Animation Mentor because it’s a clear sign that they understand things such as spacing, which can be critical when talking through feedback, especially remotely.
About Lunar Animation
Lunar Animation is a UK based high-end animation studio specializing in full CGI and visual effects for feature films, commercials, attractions and the video game industry.
Want to start your journey as an animator like James?
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