Wednesday, Interview of the day

02 | 05

Wednesday, Interview of the day

The main theme of this year’s Anifilm is 3D computer animation. The choice of this theme naturally influenced our choice of guests as well. We are thrilled to welcome Robin Cooper who gained a lot of experience in CG animation while working as an Art Director at Pixar.



Why did you choose CGI animation over drawn animation?

"After my degree in Set design for Theater, I worked for many years as a scenic painter in theater and film. My skill is as a painter, especially a painter of textures. I was asked to give a talk at Pixar Animation Studios about scenic painting. At the time they were having people come from related fields. A few months after my talk they asked me if I would like to interview for a painter position. I was curious but not sold on the idea as I love paint and painting. After meeting with them I was really excited to be a part of a group that was forging a new industry. My skills were related and helpful in making C.G. less sharp and clean. It was an exciting challenge."


How did your experience working outside of CG influence your work in the animation studio?

"Working with Walt Disney Theme Parks was like coming back to my theater roots. I was a Set Designer and Scenic Artist before Pixar and now I was using my Pixar design and paint experience back in a three dimensional world. It was fun to get my hands dirty again!"


How did you get your job at Pixar?

"I was asked to give a talk on Scenic Painting at Pixar. After the talk I was invited back for an interview. I was hired first as a digital painter and later moved up to an art director position. I was asked to move to Art Director position by a Production Designer."


Please, describe your work on a feature film.

"Starting in preproduction we gather reference and do artwork to help build the visual world of the film. My focus would always be on surface texture and color of objects, sets and characters. During the production of the film, working with Production Designer, Director and Lighting Designer I would put together a packet of information artwork and guide the digital artists in creating the looks for the final film."


Which movie was your favourite?

 "Finding Nemo was my favorite, because it was such an elaborate world full of rich textures and colors. I loved working with scientists and digital artists to help achieve a very non CG look."


And which one was the most complicated?

"Nemo was the most complicated film because the job was big and there were very many departments to feed information to. And so many surfaces to shade."


How has CGI Technology changed?

"From the beginning, in each production, CG has grown exponentially better and more malleable. The tools have become more and more accessible to artists. It used to be like painting with pitch forks, now you can actually paint directly on a tablet. The quality of the work has also risen. When I watch CG movies today, things that were impossible for us to do are standard now. It is exciting to see what is out there and how far it has come. As well as what the future will be."


What are the aesthetics of CG animation?

"I believe that the aesthetics of CG are only limited by our imagination. CG is just a tool, you can make ugly cold films AND beautiful warm ones, or whatever you dream up. Do not forget that it is the film makers that are making the film, not the computer. I look forward to a time when artists and designers have really pushed the boundaries of what we thought possible. There is a whole lot of opportunity for growth and fantastic design in CGI. I will be speaking more about this in my talk."