We’re so excited to introduce our new mentor, Blue Sky Studio’s Character Animator, Dan Segarra! Since graduating from Animation Mentor, Dan has worked on some of Blue Sky’s major hits such as Ice Age: Collision Course, The Peanuts Movie, Rio 2, Epic and The Story of Ferdinand (set to release in 2017). Read on, get to know Dan and become even more inspired to animate!
– The Animation Mentor Crew
ANIMATION MENTOR: Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from and what inspired you to become an animator?
DAN: Hi Animation Mentor enthusiasts! I’m Blue Sky animator Dan Segarra. I started my career in my hometown of Chicago and would mainly be inspired early in my life by animated movies, as I’m sure many of you were. So what sparked my interest in becoming an animator? There are a few things but I’d say the first was Sword in the Stone, the Wizard’s Duel sequence. First it’s about a battle between and witch and a wizard. Awesome! Second, I loved the creativity involved and how they transformed from one animal into another. Also the contrast of each animal and finally the punch line of turning into something so small at the end was unexpected to me and I thought it was such a clever idea. Lastly, you couldn’t really do something like that in any other media except for something as artistic as animation. After that, what kept my interest of course was the work of Glen Keane. I didn’t know he was the reason until I started studying animation in college but the characters he animated had a huge impact in my life and sparked my dream of one day working on animated films.
ANIMATION MENTOR: What was your favorite scene or character to animate and why?
DAN: One that stands out is a shot I worked on for Psyop’s Happiness Factory. It was such a big learning experience for me since I was just breaking into the industry. It was the first time I worked on a project with film quality animators and I learned a lot from animating alongside them. Another few shots I enjoyed working on were some physical shots I animated for the villain, Gutt, on Ice Age 4 mainly because I fleshed most of them out in 2D and I began adapting that into my workflow when necessary, and also some Snoopy shots I did on The Peanuts Movie for the sheer fun of animating such a playful and iconic character.
ANIMATION MENTOR: What do you love most about your job?
DAN: Besides getting to animate for a living the part I love the most is the team friendly atmosphere at Blue Sky. Everyone seems to want to make the best movie, put their best foot forward, and help others on the way as they do it. There’s a wealth of knowledge available to us with style guides, blog posts for every project, workflow and animation tutorials left and right, character leads and even personal pod leads to have extra eyes on your work. They’re good people and all love what they do. It’s very inspiring.
ANIMATION MENTOR: As a former student turned mentor, what words of wisdom could you pass on to students having a hard time in their animation journey?
DAN: Honestly I have a lot! Haha I’ll keep it short though. Take notes! While a student, I wrote sloppy notes quickly while watching the AM videos, then I rewrote them again in a notebook but a lot cleaner. Doing this forced me to study the concepts and think about what I learned. Put in the time! You’re paying to be taught by a film animator. If you slack off now then when will you learn as much as you are now? No excuses! Learn what you can, do your best, and show your mentor what you’re made of. Learn from studying animation, listen to constructive criticism and most importantly apply it. Have fun and stay inspired!
ANIMATION MENTOR: What was the most meaningful thing you learned from your time at Animation Mentor?
DAN: The class on Animating Force with Wayne Gilbert was the lecture that helped me improve my work drastically. It was about transfer of energy and how much effort was needed to move your character. I would say that was the building block that helped bring weight to my movement. I began to have more fun animating than I used to after that. I learned a ton from AM lectures such as Navone’s workflow video that put the entire process into a clear perspective for me, and simply from following other student’s work-spaces. I loved the encouragement and feedback from other students. It was a great network of inspired potential all trying to learn and help each other out.
Dan Segarra is a 15 year animation veteran. You can see some of his work for the upcoming Blue Sky Studios film, The Story of Ferdinand. His other notable credits include, Ice Age: Collision Course, The Peanuts Movie, and Rio 2. He’s currently teaching Animation Basics, the first class in our Character Animation Program.