Why America Remains a Magnet for Animators: Here’s an interview with Blue Sky studios (most notable for their Ice Age franchise) animator Ricky Renna.
Animation industry is growing like never before, not just in America, but in several countries. There are several local employment opportunities for animators in many countries.
Having said that, America continues to attract several foreign artists.
Here we talk to Blue Sky animator Ricky Renna (from Italy) to find out why.
- 1 Where did you study animation?
- 2 What did you study/receive your degree in?
- 3 How do opportunities in the US compare to where you came from?
- 4 Has working in the US lived up to your initial expectations?
- 5 How have your talents developed since coming to the US?
- 6 In what ways have you been able to contribute aspects of your home culture into your work here?
- 7 You Might Also Like:
Where did you study animation?
My first educational experience in animation was at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. I enrolled in the Department of Computer Animation in 2009 and graduated in 2013 with my BFA. Subsequently I attended the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York, where I obtained my MFA in Computer Arts in 2015.
What did you study/receive your degree in?
Both of the universities are highly focused on the arts, spanning various disciplines. At Ringling College, the Department of Computer Animation was a phenomenal way to get started as an animator. Through four years of intense lessons, ranging from animation pre-production to creating an entire thesis film, I was able to learn the basics and refine my skills to be prepared in the industry. Here, I completed my first short film, “The Final Straw”. In my Master’s at the Computer Art Department at SVA, I had the chance to focus my entire time to animating and creating a second film for my thesis, entitles “L’Americano Returns”.
How do opportunities in the US compare to where you came from?
Animation in Italy exists, but compared to the US, is virtually non-existent. Throughout Europe however, animation is widespread, particularly in France. I doubt there would be much room to grow as an animator in Italy, particularly when one’s interests lie in feature film.
America is one of the world’s most developed hubs for film making and animation, and for an animator like me is a top choice for pursuing a career. The US’s great animation studios are too good an opportunity to pass up.
Has working in the US lived up to your initial expectations?
There was a time when I believed that hard work is all it takes to make it, and although I still believe that, I realize now that plain old luck plays a huge factor in the life and career of an artist, particularly an animator.
But having said that, working at an amazing place like Blue Sky Studios is really a dream come true. The work is top notch, the personal challenge is motivating but most of all, the fantastic people there are always around to help.
How have your talents developed since coming to the US?
Before coming to the US I hadn’t done much animating at all, only the occasional flipbook. Generally, my talents were more focused on sketching and doodling. But coming to the US I was overwhelmed with the amount of animation available on a daily basis, whereas back in Italy I’d be forced to wait until late afternoon to watch cartoons. I think this is what motivated me to become an animator, seeing how much was actually out there and wanting to be a part of it. I’ve since learned much about animation and film making, but mostly I’ve realized that with the enormous amount of talent out in the world, there is still so much to learn.
In what ways have you been able to contribute aspects of your home culture into your work here?
Foreign animators bring a different perspective on characters and acting. There’s certain nuances and mannerisms very characteristic of European culture. An example would probably be gesticulating, as Italians are known to do. I find that when I shoot reference for animation shots with a more eccentric character, I’ll be flailing my arms around much more so than normal. Aside from that, brainstorming is usually very fun among foreign animators, as we’ll come up with ideas that here in America might be seen as lewd or inappropriate, but to us are completely normal and humorous aspects of life.