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fyre-flye's avatar
I've been meaning to do this for a long time, and boy howdy is it long!!!  It's organized into a few different categories. I'll update as needed.  This may be repetitive to some, illuminating to others, and completely boring and useless to others still.  

Happy New Year!

Animation Job FAQ

Q:  How can I get a job in animation?

The absolute best thing you can do to get into animation as a career is to go to art school.  Not only will you learn how to draw and how to SEE, you will meet people, students and teachers alike, who will give you new perspectives and will likely be the sources of your future jobs.  (My first job came from one of my teachers.)  

There are several schools that have fantastic animation programs that cover all facets of the atr form.  Schools like the one I attended, CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF THE ARTS, will teach you animation (2D and 3D,) character design, storyboarding, background design and other skills required for animation production.  Since I've left school, many, many more schools with full animation programs such as the one at CALARTS have popped up all over the country.  Though CALARTS remains one of the most respected schools in the animation industry.

If you're lucky enough to have an idea of what you would like to specialize in, you can also find schools that have programs that focus on your interest.   Many fantastic character designers and colorists came out of design schools that do not focus on animation, and most background painters and designers come from very traditional art schools.

Q:  I can't afford/am not able to/don't want to go to art school.  Is there anything else I can do to get into animation?

Art school really will give you the best leg up, but if you can't go, there are classes you can definitely take without being in a university full time---- you'll just have to hunt them down. There are lots of books on animation (The Illusion of Life and The Animator's Survival Kit are really, really good ones) that you can learn from. I've worked with people who took studio classes and self taught and eventually got a good art education by interning at production studios. Many of us (myself included) feel we learned more on the job than we did at school, but you need to have some skill to get your foot in the door.

Look for guidance and art education wherever you can, but the biggest, most important thing of all is to draw, draw, draw and never stop drawing. Imagine you have several thousand crappy drawings you have to get out of your system before your any good and try your damnedest to get those crappy drawings out as fast as you can.

Even if you have no interest in drawing realistically, draw from life. Take figure drawing classes and, on your own time, go out to the mall, or the zoo, or a café, or anywhere and draw people, places and animals you see. Learn about 'gesture drawing' and the difference and importance of drawing fast to capture an attitude and a feeling with as few lines as possible, and drawing slow, where you focus on detail and accuracy. What you learn from drawing what you see all around you will subconsciously come into play when you later sit down and try to draw from your head--- or try to draw really cartoony, or try to draw high design. Observing the real world is the best foundation you can have.

Don't be stubborn about your "style." This will keep you from growing. You'll never forget your own style, so if you learn to deviate from it, you'll find later that your own style only gets better and stronger.  Or you can be one of those incredible artists who can create new styles over and over.

Be open to trying new ways of looking at things and changing and DON'T GET DISCOURAGED. You may look at what you have on the paper and want to give up, but every single time you try again, you get better.

Q:  Yeah, yeah, I already went to school and/or I'm already awesome.  What now?

Depending on where you live or where you went to school, you may need to move to cities where the work is---- sorry.  Obviously, Los Angeles and New York have the most opportunities in the United States.  

Inquire with your classmates and teachers about opportunities.  Most folks I know got their starts through friends or teachers.  You can also see about contacting studios.  Lots of them have lists of job openings on their websites and instructions on how to apply.

Most likely, you will need to start low.  If you're talented and lucky, you may get assistant or clean-up jobs, but you may need to start out scanning art, making copies and getting coffee.  But don't worry, getting your foot in the door this way is A BIG DEAL.  Be bold, ask questions, show everyone how reliable and friendly you are and, most importantly DON'T STOP DRAWING!  You need to let people know what you're capable of if you want to start being part of the creative process.  I knew one Production Assistant who would take on the show character design assignments in his own free time.  He'd complete the whole design list.  It was never used in the show but he would show his work to people on the crew to get tips and feedback.  He kept doing it and people noticed as he improved.  Eventually, he improved enough that when a design job opening came up, it was offered to him before inquiries even went out!

Q: I have an awesome idea for a cartoon.  How do I get a pitch?

I hate to break it to you, but I only know one way to do this, and it's the way I did it:

Go to art school.  Get a job in animation.  Work really hard for many, many years.  Get promoted.  Do decent work and make a name for yourself.  Then people will take pitches from you.  Then maybe after you've pitched a whole lot of them, someone will pick one up.

Other approaches are:

Make a comic book that tons of people love and buy, then pitch it to studios.  Make a children's book that tons of people love and buy, then pitch it to studios.  Make a toy that tons of people love and buy, then pitch it to studios.  Make an internet short that tons of people love and watch, then pitch it to studios.  Become a rock, tv or movie star, then pitch to studios.

Q: I'm interested in voice acting.  How do I get an audition?

This I know less about since I am not a voice actor.  But I do know you can't get an audition without an agent.  And I don't know how you get an agent, unfortunately, but I can tell you what I like to see from actors.

It's not just about having crazy, cartoony voices, it's also about being able to ACT.  Since I don't know any professional voice actors who have not had some sort of formal training as actors, I suggest taking some formal acting classes.  And I can only imagine that you can get advice from teachers and fellow students about how to land jobs and find agents.


FYI:  My ability to answer questions about the show is limited for several reasons.  I can't answer questions about things that have not aired.  And since April of 2011, I no longer work on the show, so I don't know a lot of what is coming.  I can offer my opinions or thoughts about character backstories, world dynamics and the like, but if it's not in the show, it should not be considered canon.

Q: How old are the ponies?

The ponies' ages were left intentionally undefined.  I like to think of them as having  maturity levels anywhere between 12 and 18, (but remember that maturity is different than age.  You can be a 10-year-old with the maturity of a 15-year-old, and you can be a 35-year-old with the maturity of a 15-year-old.)  For story telling purposes, they needed to be able to live independent of parents, but innocent enough for the type of lessons they learn at the end of the episodes.   Since horses are full grown around 5-ish, I guess I sort of justified it in my head that they could be childlike young adults.  I know this answer is frustrating for some people, but it happens often in cartoons.  How old is Bugs Bunny?  Mickey Mouse?  Sponge Bob?  I don't know either.

Q:  Is Equestria a planet or a country?

I imagined it as a country, but beyond that it is left intentionally undefined.

Q: Is it Derpy Hooves or Ditzy Doo?

It sounds like it's finally landed on Derpy Hooves, but you should ask the current show runners.

Q: Will we see more of {any given character}?

I can't answer this one---- you will have to wait and see!

Q: Is "Octavia" Pinkie Pie's sister?

It was never planned that they would be sisters.  The color similarities, I believe, were a coincidence.  I would say no, they're not sisters, but I don't know if the current show runners have other ideas.

Q:  Where are Applejack's parents?

To put it bluntly, we just never figured it out.  I just liked the feeling of them living with their Granny, but keeping the family dynamic tight and small.  To be honest, I would like to simply say that they passed away somehow, but it's just it would have likely been deemed too sad for a kids' show and I don't think it would have ever been approved.  There was brief discussion of them being traveling salesponies or explorers, but since we never needed the information in an episode, nothing was ever made official.  So it will have to remain a mystery until someone decides to define it.

Q: Exactly what is your role in Season 2?

On Season 1, I was involved in every aspect of every episode.  I gave direction and/or called notes and/or personally handled revisions from story conception, through scripts, through design, record, storyboarding, animation and through to musical score.  On Season 2, as "Consulting Producer" I was involved in story conception and scripts only (with the exception of "The Return of Harmony," which I saw through record and storyboards.)  I saw roughly the first half of the season through to final script, and the second half I only helped with concepts and attended the story meetings.  My part in the show ended in April 2011 and I am no longer involved in the show.

More technical MLP:FiM FAQ

Q: Can I get your permission to draw the characters from MLP:FiM?

Though I developed the Friendship is Magic and imagined the characters, I do not own them.  If you feel you need permission to use the characters in any form, you need to contact Hasbro.

Q: Can I interview you about MLP:FiM?

Maybe.  Interviews inquiries need to be made to Hasbro, if they ok it, I probably will, too.

Q:  When will MLP:FiM come out on DVD?  Can you air MLP:FiM on {this channel}?

That is a question for Hasbro.  I am not involved in the distribution of the show.

Q:  Can you make a toy out of {any given character}?
Another question for Hasbro.  I am not involved with any aspect of the toy making process.

Q: What do you think of bronies?
I like them.  I am astounded, surprised and thrilled they exist.

Q:  What do you think of Rule 34 applied to ponies?

It's not my thing, but I know that it comes with the territory of having your work on TV, so I'm used to it.  I admit I avoid looking at it, and would rather not have it pointed out to me----- so please don't!

Q:  Have you read "Cupcakes"?

No.  And I'm not going to (see next question…)

Q:  Will you read and/or critique my fanfic?

I'm sorry, but I don't read fanfics.  Professionally, we are discouraged from it as any unintended similarities to actual episodes can lead to legal problems.  But really, I simply don't have the time.  However, I know that if the internet were around when I was very young, I would have been a pretty rabid fanfic writer myself.  So more power to you all!

Q: Can you put my pony OC in the show.

Even if I was still working on the show, I'd have to say no.  From what I understand, there's a lot of expensive legal stuff involved in that sort of thing, and so many people ask, it's just impossible.

Q: I have a great idea for an episode.  Will you make it?

Please see above.


Q: Did you create the Powerpuff Girls and/or Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends?

No.  My husband, Craig McCracken did.  

Q: Well, what the heck did you do then?

I was a writer/storyboard artist on PPG.  I had a bigger role on Foster's.  I was Co-Developer/Supervising Producer/Story Supervisor/Writer/Storyboard Artist.  I also co-directed the voice records and directed animation on a handful of episodes as well as a bit of character design here and there.  Mostly when we needed animals.

Q:  Do you do commissions?

Nope.  Sorry.  No time.

Q:  Is your last name pronounced F-ah-st or F-ow-st?

F-ow-st.  Like, "how now brown fowst."

Q:  Will you do a tutorial on how you draw?

Sorry---- I don't have time, and I don't really know how I would, anyway.  I'm just making stuff up as I go.  Plus, I'm still learning.

Q:  Why don't you post more art?

Until I get permission from the people/studios I am working for, I legally cannot share the work I am doing professionally.  And since my professional work takes up all my time, I have no recent personal work to share, much to my dismay.  Sorry!


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kidilemingou's avatar

is this workin yet?