We’re so excited to introduce our new mentor, DreamWorks Supervising Animator, Mark Donald. We were delighted to catch up with him and ask him a few questions on what it takes to get started in the industry and about the amazing work he’s done. Mark was recently nominated for an Annie Award in the category for Outstanding Character Animation in a Feature Film for his amazing work in Home. Get to know Mark, be inspired, and go animate!
– The Animation Mentor Crew
ANIMATION MENTOR: Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, why did you want to become and animator.
MARK: I’m originally from a small town near Glasgow, Scotland. A career in animation was almost unheard of where I grew up and I came out of school studying architecture. But animation had always interested me and when I saw Toy Story I knew right then and there I had to pursue a career in CG character animation.
ANIMATION MENTOR: How long have you been animating?
MARK: I have been animating almost 20 years, in various studios, animating on video games, commercials and for the last 10 years, feature films at DreamWorks.
ANIMATION MENTOR: Who mentored you?
MARK: For the most part I am self taught, having spent years learning as much as I could from some very talented people whom I’ve been lucky enough to work with. My education relied heavily on analyzing cartoons, movies, games, any source of animation at all really.
ANIMATION MENTOR: What kind of mentoring style resonated with you?
MARK: When it comes to mentoring and learning in general, I am fascinated with how open and organic the process can be. Sharing and collaboration is super important to learning anything about animation and if you are fully engaged with others, it can make the experience much more rewarding.
ANIMATION MENTOR: What animation shot did you learn the most from? And tell us why.
MARK: That’s a difficult question, there are so many shots where I learned so much. But I remember one moment in particular from Madagascar that was quite challenging for me. It was quite a heated moment between Alex and Marty and I remember learning a lot about pacing, sub-text and how to create a believable, entertaining and memorable shot that was true to the characters and their relationship.
ANIMATION MENTOR: What advice do you have for students who are looking into becoming a feature animator?
MARK: Don’t be intimidated and feel that it’s outside of your reach. I know it sounds corny but being a feature animator can be the most absurdly fun job that doesn’t feel like work at all if you love animation. Studios are smart about recognizing students who are passionate and determined and it will just be a matter of time before you get a break. They know that experience and knowledge will develop over time.
Mark Donald is a 20 year animation veteran. You can see some of his work for the upcoming DreamWorks film, Trolls. His other notable credits include, Home, Madagascar 3, and Kung Fu Panda 2. Mark was nominated for an Annie Award (the equivalent to an Oscar in the animation industry) in 2015 for his stellar work in Home. He’s currently teaching Animation Basics, the first class in our Character Animation Program.