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Insights by the Pros with ILM Animator Tatsuyuki Shimada

ILM Animator and iAnimate Alumni, Tatsuyuki Shimada, shares her stories and inspirations and how she succeeded in his animation journey.

“I was already working in this industry when I took the class, but iAnimate took my animation level to the next level.”

Meet Tatsuyuki (Tatsu) Shimada, an accomplished Animator at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic). His impressive portfolio boasts a diverse range of visual effects projects, from blockbuster films like Spider-Man: No Way Home to beloved television series like Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

In his quest for mastery, Tatsu didn't hesitate to hone his animation skills further. He delved into courses like "Creature Workshop 1 and 3," demonstrating his commitment to continuous improvement. Beyond his professional endeavors, Tatsu is renowned as a hardcore Star Wars fan, adding a touch of passion and dedication to his craft.

Tatsu currently works at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic ) which started in February 2022.

Alumni Interview

Animation Journey and Inspiration

iAnimate: Tell us a bit about your animation journey and throughout your time with us. Who or What inspired you to become an animator? How did you become an animator, and when did iAnimate become part of your journey?

Tatsu: I've been working as an animator for more than 10 years but iAnimate was my first professional animation course and I 4 years ago.

I have been a huge fan of Star Wars since I was a kid. This is where my animation journey started. Also, Jurassic Park and Toy Story were released in the ‘90s which sparked my interest at a young age and allowed me to familiarize myself with GG. While I was studying 3DCG at college, animation was the most interesting thing I learned through CG and I decided to become an animator.

My career started in Tokyo, Japan, on my favorite television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Soon after, I moved to Taiwan to keep working on The Clone Wars series until the season finale. In 2017, I moved to Vancouver, Canada. I had the opportunity to experience different animation styles while working on television series but I was never formally trained in animation so iAnimate came at the right time. The Creature workshop was the most interesting course, in my opinion. I got an eight-week break after I wrapped Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which was a great fit for taking a class.

iAnimate: What's it like working at your studio?

Tatsu: It's been a little over a year since I joined ILM. I am just as excited to be working in the studio today as I was on my first day in the studio. It is an honor to work with a seasoned colleague with a great personality. I love seeing shots of my colleagues who inspire me. Now I'm a hybrid employee who works at his studio twice a week and I get the chance to go to his team lunches and hangouts. The studio is filled with Star Wars figurines, statues, props, and posters to get you excited.

[Tatsu photo with ILM]

Tatsu photo with ILM

iAnimate: What kinds of projects are you working on and what’s your favorite part so far?

Tatsu: I'm currently working on Netflix's upcoming animated feature Ultraman. Ultraman is a superhero series originally loved by Japanese people. As a longtime fan of the series and as a Japanese, I am proud to have been involved in this work. I can't wait to see the movie when it comes out!

Animation Lessons and Growth

iAnimate: How did iAnimate help prepare you for the industry? What were the most important things you learned at iAnimate?

Tatsu: I was already working in this industry when I took the class, but iAnimate took my animation level to the next level. I feel it was the right time to understand the details my mentor gave me. If I had taken this class earlier in my career, I wouldn't have gotten this far.

iAnimate: What is the most challenging shot you’ve ever animated, and why did you succeed at the shot?

Tatsu: When I was doing VENOM: Let There Be Carnage It took me some time to get used to the anime style. Its posture is similar to that of a human, but it's taller and heavier than a human, so I had to think about making it feel heavy. As usual, I started animating the character from my acting reference videos, but I also had to figure out how it would move as a heavy quarter pet. What I learned in iAnimate Creature Workshop also helped me in animating this heavy creature.

[Tatsu's Current Reel]

You can reach Tatsu via:

iAnimate: Do you have any demo reel or interview advice you can share with animators on the job hunt?

Tatsu: I think tempo is important with reels, just like when animating shots. In order to make an impact on those who review my demo reel. Start the reel at a good tempo with your favorite action shot, slow it down a bit with some action shots in the middle, and pick it up again at the end of the reel.

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

Tatsu: I want you to enjoy anime without stress. That's what my mentor told us in our first class, and I agree with his advice.

Animation Career Advice & Tips

iAnimate: If there’s one animation tip or technique you’d share with someone wanting to animate in a feature film, what would it be?

Tatsu: Keep the shots simple at first. Good animation is already good without details.

iAnimate: Given that there’s so much to learn, how would you recommend a brand new animator start their training?

Tatsu: I recommend starting with a simple animation, such as a bouncing ball. You can also animate with the rig you want to animate. A simple rig is a good place to start, but the most important thing is to have it fun and animated. Learn basic animation with Animated Bouncing Balls, play around with the rig to animate, and imagine what kind of animation you want to create.

iAnimate: What makes a great animator or an animator a studio would hire?

Tatsu: I would like to work with people who have good communication skills, who are excited about their work, and who are eager to learn. I want to be like that too.

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