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iAnimate Feature Student Spotlight - Simon Taylor

iAnimate feature student, Simon Taylor, recently finished up a wonderful & cute short animated film titled 'Taking Pictures'. We wanted to know a bit more about him and the project. Watch the short, a 'making of', as well as a quick interview with Simon. Be sure to leave him some feedback on his shorts' Vimeo page.

iA: Please tell us little about yourself?
My name is Simon and I’ve lived in London for 4 years. I’ve worked at a few different studios as an animator, mostly on pre-school shows such as Sarah & Duck and Tree Fu Tom, as well as some feature work on John Carter and some commercials. In my free time, I like making both live action and animated films and dabble in photography and the occasional magic trick.

iA: How long you've been animating?
I’ve been animating professionally since 2009 but have been animating since I was a kid and first had access to a camcorder. I entered a few festivals as I was growing up which was a great way of getting audience feedback as it was before the days of any video sharing websites.

iA: Why did you decide to enroll in
I wanted to improve my acting skills and try a style of animation that was less broad and cartoony. With iAnimate student work you can see that they’ve really studied the reference but are pushing it in the right places to get the greatest amount of appeal.

iA: What prompted you to do a short film and where did the idea come from?
I wanted to do something other than a typical dialogue test shot. It had been quite a few years since I had last made a short and the idea of doing a simple character piece with subtle acting really appealed to me. I decided to do a “boy meets girl” type story but wanted it to be as unique and un-cliche as possible but still feel genuine. I remembered a moment between my girlfriend and I where we were waiting in a queue and both had our cameras, we started popping the flashes up at each other like a quickdraw. The rest of the story grew outwards from that moment.

iA: What did you enjoy most about working on the short?
I really enjoyed writing the story and getting it to work visually. I didn’t want dialogue but at the same time I wanted there to be a narrative reason for there not to be any, hence the river between them. It was really fun coming up with the acting choices to make them feel like they both compliment each other as characters, she brings out his playful side and he brings out her sensitivity so when we see them together in the final shot their acting choices are more similar. At least I hope that came across!

iA: What part of the animation process do you enjoy the most?
I think it depends on the shot. Sometimes my favourite bit is the brainstorming part and turning video reference into something that works in animation, other times I get lost in peppering in little details.

iA: What part of the animation process do you still find to be a struggle?
Sometimes I find it tricky to come up with really cartoony acting choices especially when you can’t video reference them. I’ve been framing through shows like The Animaniacs and Ren & Stimpy recently, it’s fascinating how few lines can make a facial expression really funny and I’d like to be able to apply those 2D principles better in my 3D work.

You can view Simon's website with his current reel

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