Animation Day Special Interview 2020 – Michael Enzbrunner, Senior Animator at Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies (MARZ)
October 27, 2020 – October 28, the International Animation Day (IAD) was proclaimed in 2002 by the ASIFA as the main global event to celebrate the art of animation. This day commemorates the first public performance of Charles-Émile Reynaud’s Théâtre Optique at the Grevin Museum in Paris, 1892. In 1895, the Cinematograph of the Lumière brothers outshone Reynaud’s invention, driving Émile to bankruptcy. However, his public performance of animation entered the history of optical entertainments as shortly predating the camera-made movies. To know more about Animation Day kindly visit at www.asifa.net
Michael Enzbrunner is a Toronto-based director, visual artist and Senior Animator at Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies.
Today, Michael Enzbrunner talks to VFX Online about his experience of Animation Day and Animation Industry.
// From Michael Enzbrunner, Senior Animator at Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies (MARZ)
How do you describe yourself professionally?
I’m a visual artist, doing animation and illustrative work for a living.
What sparked your interest in Animation/Visual Effects?
I’ve always been into drawing, but those early 3D animations in the mid 80s really sparked my interest. At that time I did my first attempts in digital art on a C64, then animations on an Amiga and I also proudly owned a Super 8 camera I did primitive stop motion with. All those things combined made me want to be a part of this “3D animation thing”.
What was the key to making it inside in our industry?
There’s always a bit of luck involved, but mainly it was patience and persistence; two traits that are kind of necessary if you want to do animation to begin with.
Any particular area of technology that interests you?
I like the idea of combining analogue with digital technologies or emulating one medium within the other. Maybe it’s because I grew up at that transitional time when computers and digital devices started becoming part of daily life. AR and VR are presently extremely interesting since they allow us to expand the creative process in an unprecedented manner. They make experiences possible that couldn’t be conceived and consumed through any other audio-visual format.
Share something about your recent film/short film projects?
In 2017 I finished a short film called ‘DEATH VAN’. It’s a 6-minute 3D animation that takes the viewer alongside a fictitious band through a surreal and dreamlike world full of bizarre creatures. I always wanted to do another short since my diploma film and when I got the chance to get the project off the ground through a grant, I pretty much just went with it. The aspect of being in control over every part of the production, including music and sound, was kind of intriguing. In a typical studio situation, you rarely have that sort of freedom, to get to do whatever you want. The entire project took me around 1.5 years to complete, followed by the usual one-year-cycle of festival applications and promotion. It’s a bit scary to think about the amount of work now, but it was a gratifying feeling once it was finished and done.
What’s your favorite tools for Animation and VFX?
Generally I try to avoid the discussion of which software is better or worse. At the end of the day, it depends on what needs to be achieved and what tool does the job best. For my personal work I like Blender. I got to learn it while making DEATH VAN. The free, open source idea is a real plus for independent artists or studios that don’t want to be locked into a licensing system. It’s a great tool that comes in a straightforward package and enjoys an enthusiastic community, which can be extremely helpful, especially when you’re starting out. For pure animation work, I do prefer Maya though. There’s a familiarity and simplicity to the graph editor I haven’t found anywhere else, yet.
Any particular artists/professionals that inspire you?
My favourite animator is Bruce Bickford, who unfortunately passed away last year. His claymation and 2D works are incredibly unique and inspiring. Generally, there are too many influences – I’d have a hard time picking someone or something particular. Also, thankfully taste and interests kind of adjust somewhat with time.
What’s your thoughts about Future of Animation and VFX Industry?
Hopefully we’re heading in a more artist driven and less technical direction, which would be great. AI, virtual production and so forth might enable an artist to be less of a specialist and reduce time working on technical details. In one way or another, most content will eventually be 3D, even the live action stuff, designed and produced mainly in collaborative, virtual environments. What can be achieved nowadays by a bunch of skilled people was a pure dream a decade ago. If this trajectory continues, we’ll see some insane tools developing in the near future. Studios will probably have to compete more on a creative level than what they’re capable of achieving technically. Remote work also might become sort of a standard, after the pandemic acted as a catalyst in that respect. There will be a lot of technological shifts, but the demand for content is greater than ever and it seems this is not going to change anytime soon, which is beneficial to everyone in the industry.
What kind of projects would you like to work on in the near future?
I want to find time and funding to work more in-depth on an animated concept that has been simmering on my desk for some time now.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to get in to this industry?
Skip university and save the time and cash. Instead, visit online courses and mentored classes that fit your specific goals. Utilize tutorials and learn from other people’s experiences. But in case you happen to find yourself in art school, make sure to attend as many figure drawing classes as possible.
What are your thoughts about International Animation Day?
Any event that puts focus on art and art-related issues is important; it seems nowadays more than ever. And not only for the people involved, but also the greater good. Freedom of expression is usually taken for granted and gets forgotten about within tight deadlines and financial calculations. It is though the very origin of this industry and International Animation Day is a great opportunity for being reminded just of that.