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Student Spotlight - Daniel Purcell

"I learned so much at iAnimate that it is hard to break it down. I think the interesting point is that when at iAnimate, I was so focused on creating a good piece for a showreel that I was not aware of how much I was learning."

Student Spotlight features Daniel Purcell, a VFX and Video Game Cinematics Animator from Greater Brighton and Hove Area. Daniel is currently working at Firesprite - Playstation Studios.

Daniel wanted to learn the skills to make him ready for the industry. He had previously been concentrating on learning Maya and having fun with ideas, but his work was not solid, and he struggled to find work. The quality of work produced and the flexibility of study appealed to him, and Daniel felt this could help lift him into the animation world.

Student Animation Journey

Daniel took the following Feature Student Workshop here at iAnimate:

The creative process Daniel used whilst at iAnimate is very similar to the process he still uses today. Here is Daniel’s creative way of doing his animation::

One of the things he learned in iAnimate was to understand what is important. The performance is about telling a story, and you don't want to distract the viewer with unnecessary actions and focus more on what they are thinking and feeling.

  1. The first stage was thinking about what I was doing and why I was doing it (planning). This was followed by creating a video reference. This stage was often a mixture of filming myself and using references found on the internet. I used to think I was a good actor, but after watching myself, I learned that good acting is hard to do!
  2. I use SyncSketch to visually note down my key poses, contacts, and breakdowns. Whilst at iAnimate, I would use image planes to put my video ref in Maya. After doing the blocking poses, the next stage for me varied during my time at iAnimate as I was experimenting with what worked best for me. Sometimes I would go straight to spline and work from there and sometimes, I would stay in blocking mode and keep adding poses in between until it was complete.
  3. The feedback was weekly, and I would aim to complete all notes by the following review. This is similar to dailies in a professional environment which for me can range from being every day to being once or twice a week.

Daniel learned so much at iAnimate that it is hard to break it down. For Daniel, the interesting point is that when at iAnimate, he was so focused on creating a good piece for a showreel that he was not aware of how much he was learning. There were many pieces of advice and information that, although he may not have been used at the time, still trickle through to him on a daily basis when animating. Daniel thinks it helped him become a rounded artist with an appreciation that there are many ways to approach a challenge.

Daniel's Student Reel

You can reach Daniel via:

Student Spotlight Q&A with Animator Daniel Purcell

iAnimate: What do you think of your Online Animation Instructor(s), and how did they help you?

Daniel: I was very happy with all my instructors and the feedback I received. They were always approachable and always gave good feedback to improve a piece. I remember certain lectures and demonstrations that I use on a daily basis. Examples of these are details on production polish (it's very satisfying making an animation super smooth!) and thinking of external factors that may affect how an animation looks or feels (especially important when working in a sequence and when taking into account what effects will be later added).

iAnimate: How did iAnimate help you to evolve as a character animator?

Daniel: As well as teaching me about how human anatomy and the facial muscles work it also made me think carefully about why we do certain actions. There is no point in doing lots of movement without purpose. I think I am still improving in this aspect. I am getting more comfortable doing simple actions and then making them stronger by adjusting timing, adding overlap, and then adding some life by facial/brow movement and breathing. I feel that when all these aspects are in place, an animation can be complex and yet appear simple at the same time.

iAnimate: What kind of animator do you consider yourself after taking your workshop?


“After doing the iAnimate workshops, I felt I was ready for the industry. There were always self-doubts as I did not know if I would be 'good' or fast enough to work in the industry but the principles I learned put me in a good position to succeed.”

iAnimate: What kind of animation project do you want to work on?

Daniel: The early stage of my career has been in VFX and video game cinematics. I love both of these and am very happy to focus on them for the time being. I want to work on and improve not only my character skills but also creature animation, action sequences, and my technical knowledge as time goes on.

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