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Kolby Krook: How I Went From Animation Mentor Student to ILM

by | Jan 10, 2024

Kolby Krook

We caught up with Animation Mentor Alumni Kolby Krook to see what he’s been up to since graduation. Spoiler – he’s a Lead Animator at Industrial Light & Magic and has worked on projects like The Mandalorian, Aquaman, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2!

The Start of a Career in Animation

Animation Mentor: Tell us about your animation journey. How did you get to where you are today?

Kolby: I grew up in small town Alberta, Canada in a place with only 50,000 people called Medicine Hat. After high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. The idea of working in Film, Games, and Television was unheard of. I had always loved cooking, so I went to culinary school.

I worked in kitchens for a few years before realizing that it wasn’t for me. I had heard that my friend’s brother was working as an animator at MPC, Vancouver. I didn’t know much about the industry, so I reached out with a lot of questions for him. I had always loved video games and movies, but never thought I could actually work on them as a career. After patiently answering all my questions, he gave me the Animation Mentor website, and I was blown away. Within a few months I was enrolled in the Maya course. In addition to the Character Animation courses, I also did the Creatures Workshop.

“Blue” – Raptor in Jurassic World:Fallen Kingdom animated by Kolby Krook

After graduating from Animation Mentor, a friend told me that MPC was looking for runners. I had been struggling for a while to land my first gig in such a competitive industry. He suggested I take the job to get my foot in the door, and show them that I can do the work. I took his advice. I’d come into the office early and work on animation tests with the film rigs. I’d show them for feedback, and eventually scored a junior role on my first film. Shout out to Anthony Di Ninno for playing an integral role in how I started my career.

Since then, I’ve worked on a variety of projects at MPC, Method Studios, DNEG, and for the last few years, Industrial Light and Magic in both Vancouver and Sydney studios.

Working at a Top Studio

Animation Mentor: Walk us through a day in the life of an animator at Industrial Light & Magic.

Kolby: First thing I’ll do is check my calendar to see what’s on for the day. I’ll go through emails and check any outstanding pipeline or shot tickets that need my attention as well.

We usually have animation dailies, and an animation rounds each day. If I have something to show for feedback, I’ll make sure It’s ready to view. As a lead on the project, I will also help the team with any creative or technical issues throughout the day. When not in any other meetings, I’ll animate my shots.

Animation Mentor: What has been your favorite scene or character to animate and why?

Kolby: There have been a few recently that are in unreleased projects. But I’d have to say Topo, the octopus drummer in Aquaman. I’ve been a drummer since I was 11 years old, and it was really cool to animate something that bridged the gap between my interests. Also, as a shot, it’s a crazy idea! I’ll likely never get to animate something like that again. I’d throw Baby Groot and Blue the raptor in the mix as well.

Aquaman Octopus Drummer, animated by Kolby Krook.

Animation Mentor: What is the most challenging shot you’ve ever animated and what did you learn from it?

Kolby: There are challenging shots every show. Animation is hard. If I had to pick one, I’d say the octopus drummer shot as well. Tentacles underwater, playing to a rhythm in the sound track was a tough one. Looking at it today, I’d love another pass on it. I learned a lot about overlap, follow through, and weight on that one.

Kolby Krook’s Animation Demo Reel

Experience as an Animation Mentor Student

Animation Mentor: How did Animation Mentor help prepare you for the industry?

Kolby: I think one of the best things that Animation Mentor offers is that it functions somewhat like a studio environment. You’re assigned a task, you have a deadline, and regular reviews and critiques from your mentor. Secondly, the fact that the mentors are all industry professionals, actively working in the industry, is excellent too. They do it every day, and pass that knowledge on to their students.

Animation Mentor: Is there one thing every successful animator has in common?

Kolby: This is a tough one. Everyone has a different idea of success. In my opinion, it’s versatility. If you can animate anything in any style, cartoony to realistic – biped, quadruped, vehicles, acting and performance –  you’re a cut above the rest. Also, just being a great person to work with. Your eye for detail and skill set will grow with time and experience, but excellent soft skills go a long way!

Baby Groot, animated by Kolby Krook

Animation Mentor: What other advice do you have for current or future Animation Mentor students?

Kolby: Keep at it! Some of your fellow students are going to land jobs right away. Some might even go straight to Pixar or DreamWorks. But what I’d say to you is, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the same result. Keep working at it. It took me nearly 2 years to get my first job. Everyone has a different path, and it might take longer than you want. With dedication, you’ll eventually get there. Also, don’t forget to network! It’s a small industry and everyone helps each other out.

Kolby Krook in the credits

Transformers OneMission Impossible Dead Reckoning: Part One
The Mandalorian (Seasons 1, 2, and 3)Space Jam: A New Legacy
Space Jam: A New LegacyStar Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomGuardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2
Batman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeGodzilla

See what else Kolby has been up to or connect with him via LinkedIn.

Want to be mentored by professional animators?

Start your animation journey just like Kolby Krook did by learning from animators at studios like ILM, Disney, and Blizzard! Get more information about Animation Mentor’s Character Animation Program.

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