Sunday 27 May 2012

Flavio Santana do Nascimento Interview

For February's monthly competition, the admin team challenged the community to respond to a female audio. I caught up with the month's winner, Flavio Santana do Nascimento, who kindly donated a few words about winning entry and also his background in Brazil. Hope they help. Enjoy and happy animating!


Each animator seems to remember the moment that sparked their interests in character animation. Please tell us about your moment.
I think it all started when I was watching the "making of" Beauty and the Beast. It presented the animators wearing a cape and deciding how it would react to the movements that the character would do. Since then, I started to, as many animators did once, pause the movies on VCR to understand how the movements work.

Once you knew you wanted to become an animator, how did you go about pursuing it as a career?
I started to animate by myself, with a lot of self determination. I used to do some animations at home,
drawing it on paper and then cutting the character out and layering it upon a background.
I didn't know anyone who worked with animation, so I thought that the best way to make some contacts with those professionals in the area was to go to animation festivals. I remember that the first festival I went to, there was a room with workshops to the public.The people received some paper to draw, then their drawings were photographed and shown on a big screen. That was the chance to show my work. I took many sheets of paper not numbered. When it was on the screen I noticed that the people watching liked my work, but now, as I've been  practicing a lot, I see that it was really bad. That was my first demoreel and with it I had the opportunity to start working in two feature films, one of them was Turma da Monica em uma Aventura no Tempo (monicas´s gang - an adventure in time). It was based on comic stories that are very popular here in Brazil.

Please tell us about the animation community in Brazil
Well, what can I say? There are big talents here. Great animators like Rune Brandt Bennicke, Sandro Cleuzo, and others. The brazilian animation market has grown well since 2005, when I started as an animator. Since then, there were a bunch of new projects to the movies and for the tv, mostly developed in cutout using programs as toonboom or adobe flash.

There are also a lot of professionals in this area that work with publicity or as freelancers. I know also some people who worked on projects like The Princess and the Frog and Open Season 3.

Your entry becomes our first winning traditional animation produced in colour. Please talk a bit about the unique challenges that were entailed in your choice to use colour.
I intended to use the character without an outline and had already decided which colors I would use. To the scenario, I wanted to create an atmosphere that could represent some romantic date, that wouldn't let clear if it was in a restaurant or in the character's home. I worked on the layout and finished painting it before I finished animating.
When I put it together with the character, some parts as the hair and the arms were mixed with the background, so I had to change the colors of the hair and the dress and use the arms and hands with an outline. At first, I wanted to use the outline of nose and mouth in a color that was similar to the color of the skin, but then I chose to use black to give more contrast to the face.

The style and designs of the background appear reminiscent to 101 Dalmatians. You have mentioned the film was not a direct influence, but you were referenced other Disney films. Please talk a bit about this influence.
I grew up watching classic Disney movies, so, when I chose to make a (finalized) shot with the scenario, I decided that those were my references. Actually, I did it based on the stetics of a donald duck´short -How to have an Accident in the Home- 1956

From which concept artists or illustrators do you find most inspiration?
This work was inspired by the art of Shane Prigmore. I also like Ben Caldwell, Bruce Timm, Chris Sanders.

Shane Prigmore's Coraline Concept Art

Talk about your animation process for this piece.
At first, I kept hearing the audio over and over, and, at the same time, I was making some thumbnails of my ideas. This moment, I think, is one of the most complicated, because I must choose a way to work and (stick with it). So I decided that I would do some girl trying to run away from a date. As it was a situation where I didn't have a briefing or a director to report to, I had all the liberty to do whatever I wanted. I already had on my mind some details of what i wanted to do. For an example, the character (bringing the hand) on her hair ,catching her purse, smiling shyly(embarrassed smile), looking down as she talked to her date, pushing the door with her hips (this last one, i didn't use).

At the same time that I was thinking on the character design, I recorded myself on my webcam, to try to capture some details. I was acting when I thought make her touching the door and looking for the knob. I draw directly with tablet, on Flash 8. I started drawing the main poses, the breakdowns, defining moving holds and the arcs.

Everything on sketch. I listened the audio and marked the accents. I drew in the hair and then I went to the head, body and arms. The last thing i did, was the lip sync. After I put the colors, I just deleted the outline.

Tell us about your animation process for this piece.
At first, I kept hearing the audio over and over, and, at the same time, I was making some thumbnails of my ideas. This moment, I think, is one of the most complicated, because I must choose a way to work and (stick with it). So i decided that I would do some girl trying to run away from a date. As it was a situation where i didn't have a briefing or a director to report to, i had all the liberty to do
whatever i wanted. I already had on my mind some details of what i wanted to do. For an exemple, the character stroking her hair, catching her purse, smiling shy, looking down as she talked to her date, pushing the door with her hips (this last one, I didn't use).
At the same time that I thought about the character's design,I recorded myself on my webcam to see if I could study the movements. I determined the accents of the audio and studied the hair.
After that, I made the clean-up and the in-between, first the hair, then the body and finally the arms. The last thing I worked on was the lip sink. After I painted it, I deleted the outline.

(Rough animation)

(Tidying up)

I believe the straight angles of the background play beautifully against the curves of the character. Please talk about this choice of style.
It was a simple choice. I think it's very fun being able to play with the style and break a little the rules of the perspective.

I really enjoyed your camera pan between frames 174-189, only noticing the 'cheat' as I frame by framed the animation. How did you come up with this concept?
I was afraid I wouldn't be able to finish it all before I had to post the video, as it had happened before. So I thought that I could save some time making the girl out of the scene for a while.
I've seen this kind of pan many times and I wanted it to look like the opening (the old one) of the Simpsons right after Magie is packaged and placed in Margie's shopping cart. I thought about using some blur effect, but I ended up distorting the scenario in some frames to look like the girl had traveled a certain distance.

(frames from the camera pan)

I believe the strength of the character performance shines throughout the animation. I love how distracted the female is to the person she is talking to. Talk a bit about how you approached her performance.
I listened to the audio exhaustively, trying to imagine what the character was feeling in that situation. I concluded that she was embarrassed to tell the date she didn't want to stay there anymore, and then she embarrassed herself even more, trying to make excuses to leave. The last speech, when she was ready to open the door, I considered as those times when we say something stupid, and instead of remaining silent, we talk even more and we make the situation worse than ever.

So I made some sketches, some thumbnails just that I would forget anything. Then I videotaped me acting and it was really useful to have the video as a reference to capture some details so I could enrich the scene.

Through watching your 11SC entries, I have noticed your decision to animate both follow through and overlap in clothing and hair of your characters. Please talk a bit about your value of this principle.
In the studio I work, we make cutout animation and each animator must finish 11 seconds daily, so we don't have much time to add some details that enrich the animation, as the follow through and overlap. The competition is a good opportunity for me to dedicate more to these principles. I admit that, sometimes, I even exaggerate a little bit.

One of the challenging things about the audio was how to incorporate the sound of footsteps. Your interpretation superbly communicates her desperation to escape while remaining feminine. It is beautiful to watch. Talk a bit about how you approached this section in order to get the feel of weight, balance and the female's personailty to come together.
I wanted that the scene were really funny at the time the girl runs to the door. Basically, I used as reference the way my little 2 years old daughter, runs, bouncing a little bit, looking like she is walking on hot sand or something like that. Of course, it was just my first idea. Added to this, I think it was the purse hanging on her arm, the way her hands were up, and the movements of her hair and the dress, helped me to make a scene that was at the same time, funny and feminine.

In your eCritique, Victor Navone discusses the importance of playing with different beats and timing.
Please discuss your thoughts on this.
First of all, I would like to thank Victor Navone for his attention and time. I listens carefully to each thing he said and it all made so much sense to me. I always try to use all the principles at my shots, like squash and stretch, anticipation, staging, arcs, ... but only after I listened to the eCritique, that I realized that detail. I will surely start to pay more attention to this at my future works.

(To help inspire the animation community, Victor Navone produced a guide to Rhythm and Texture. To have a read, please click here)
Your February entry was tidied up post competition. Do you intend to return to this piece and apply any changes?
Yes, sure! As soon as possible. And I intend to apply all the observations on the eCritique into my future work.

Is there anything you'd like to add about your thought-process or experience in February's competition?
To be able to participate of 11 Seconds for me, it's always a learning experience. It made me really motivated that my work is seen by professionals from all over the world.

It's been 2 years since my first entry. In each competition I had participated, I always tried to apply all the principles I learned on the last one. I will keep trying to improve myself each day. I would like to thank all the comments, to the 11second club team, and to all my friends that have always have supported me and, specially to Victor Navone, for his time and great criticism.