Tom Sito is an American Animator with a seriously impressive resume. He is now regarded as one of the most influential animators in history and even placed in Animation Magazines ‘top 100 most important people in animation’ list.
JMC Sydney was lucky enough to host the mastermind as part of JMC’s partnership with SIGGRAPH.
One trimester 2 animation student, Joseph Shankar, grabbed the opportunity to absorb as much animation advice as he could possibly handle. Here is what he took away from the day and Tom Sito’s key advice…
“Tom Sito’s talk at JMC was one of the most informative and inspirational speeches I have ever had the pleasure to attend. Not only did he show off amazing works from his spectacular career as an animator, writer, storyboard artist and director but also gave personal insight into the animation industry currently and historically.
Tom began the presentation with his showreel, wowing the audience with his work on Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and He-Man. Tom talked a lot about the changing history of animation as he is an animation historian and believes it’s important to look back and see what’s been done before to see how we can do things now.
1. HOW TO STAND OUT
Bring yourself into your work. Your personal story will be different to everyone else and thus you will have an influence that no one else will have. Be willing to tell your story and show your true self through your work.
2. THE BEST WAY TO DO SOMETHING IS THE HARD WAY
Too many people waste too much mental energy coming up with shortcuts. If you took all that energy and put it into the work, the work would be MUCH better. There are very few retakes and corrections when you do it the hard way.
3. TRULY LEARN ALL YOUR CRAFT
Learning animation isn’t just learning a software and what buttons to push. Like actors do with Shakespeare, you must know your fundamentals. Make sure you know your 12 principles of animation. It doesn’t matter if you're doing 2D or 3D, a good animator knows the steps, but a great animator can put them into practice. Start simply and then work your way up to more complex stuff. It’s very hard to sit down and immediately start generating good quality animation. You MUST start with easy stuff.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO RELOCATE
Working in animation is a fun life and you don’t just have to stay in one place. You can work is Europe, you can work in Asia, you can work wherever. There’s an animation studio in Cape Town now, and there’s a studio in Tele Vive, you can work anywhere in the world. Once you get a few good films or well-known products, they become your armour – that reputation allows you to work anywhere.
5. A GOOD PORTFOLIO IS VITAL
Show variety, show fundamentals. Studios will want to know you have your own strong personal style. Don’t do generic characters. Prove that you understand anatomy, weight, proportions and personality. Have about 10-20 still pieces or a reel, and edit your reel to ensure your best stuff is at the front. The people looking at your portfolio are going to make up their minds in the first 30 seconds. Put your best stuff up front and immediately make an impression.
I took many things away from the talk, many things about the animation industry, many things about what it takes to become an animator and many things on what then happens after you become one. As a junior student, I found it very inspiring as it helped me focus on what I need to do throughout my time at JMC so that I can make the most of my classes and my teachers so that when I graduate I will be ready for the animation industry.
I believe this is why attending talks and presentations like this are so important, you’re able to meet established individuals who have great knowledge and stories of the industry. This experience and being able to learn from them is invaluable.