Novedge: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Jeremy Stewart: My name is Jeremy Stewart and I'm an Animator. I've been animating creatures and characters for the last 16 years. I have many interests and ambitions which include filmmaking, drawing, photography, scuba diving, fitness, motorcycling, martial arts and travel. My wife and I recently spent time in Southern and Eastern Africa. Novedge: Did you always want to work in Animation?
Jeremy Stewart: Growing up, I loved drawing. I created my own comic strips, and copied my favorite comic books like MAD Magazine and Groo (Sergio Aragonés, and Don Martin are still my favorite cartoonists). In grade seven I made a stop motion film for a class project. For one reason or another I lost interest in Art when I got to high school. I thought it was just a hobby, not something that could be a "real job". I always enjoyed building things so after high school I worked in construction, however it wasn't my calling. One day a friend of mine showed me the computer animation he was doing at Vancouver Film School. This inspired me,and I eventually completed the same course. My career has had many ups and downs. Several times I have doubted whether or not I made the right career choice. So the short answer is no, I haven't always wanted to work in Animation, but I'm glad I still am. I was lucky to rediscover my interest in it before I committed to a different career. I'm also lucky to have not let long hours indoors, mediocre projects, and other setbacks, discourage me from sticking it out and getting to where I am now. Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on?
Jeremy Stewart: I'm not sure if I can say much about the project I'm currently working on. It will be out this summer and I'm really looking forward to it. For the sequence I'm leading, we're taking it from previs all the way to final animation. This sequence includes some of the most challenging work I've ever done and it is going to have some great Animation......unfortunately, I can't say much more about it for the time being. The one thing I will say, is that I'm working with an awesome group of people and the team work will produce great results! Before this, I worked on a commercial for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I was asked to do an Animation test of a cat for the studio's portfolio. This prompted me to take things a bit further and turn the test into a commercial for the SPCA. When I showed them my ideas, they loved them. The studio (Image-engine) liked them too. We used that brief period between projects to help promote the SPCA, do some fur R&D, and add a little extra to the company's reel. You can find out more about that project here.
Novedge: What software do you use?
Jeremy Stewart: Over the years I've used many different 3D Animation programs. Softimage, XSI, Lightwave, 3ds Max, and Maya. Maya is my weapon of choice, and it seems like I am not the only one thinking that way. Maya is what I currently use here at Dneg. Eric Bates, a friend and colleague of mine, has written some great Animation codes that have helped us through several shows . That's not saying Maya isn't good on it's own. It just gets better when you add tools that help integrate it with your studio's pipeline. I also use Dragonframe for Stop-Motion Animation. Dragonframe is one of the easiest programs to use. You can control your camera directly with the software and it is fast and intuitive. I hadn't done Stop-Motion Animation in a while, but with a bit of practice and Dragonframe, I was able to realize my short film "Laundry Day". Novedge: Your work was featured in many recent action movies; is there a project that was particularly rewarding in term of experience? Why?
Jeremy Stewart: The projects that are always most rewarding are the ones that give you a bit of creative freedom: like when you're asked for creative input, get to help design a sequence or develop a character's performance. In big budget action movies we don't always get that liberty. The show I'm working on at the moment has been different that way, but it's not out yet ........Big budget films demand a higher quality of work, and that means revising a shot over and over again till you get it just right. Lengthy revisions can be frustrating, but when you end up with amazing shots it's all worth it. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was that kind of show. It wasn't an easy show, we had a range of technical problems to deal with. But in the end it worked out, it looks great, and I learned a lot because of it. Here are some of the shots I manage to complete while leading the animation team.
Novedge: Tell us about your work outside of Hollywood, with independent projects or projects that make a social contribution.
Jeremy Stewart: Working on Hollywood movies is fun and exciting. You get to do really high quality work that's seen all over the world. When I have spare time, I like to take on projects that might help out a worthy cause or have a valuable message. These are also opportunities to learn something new. For example, the SPCA commercial was an opportunity to learn more about filming and directing live action. I got to use 2D Animation for a theater show about the human condition called PostSecret: The Show , and for a documentary about plastic pollution called From the WasteUp- Life Without Plastic . I find these experiences extremely rewarding : I get to learn new skills while contributing to something that might make a difference.
Novedge: What's the best advice you would give someone that wants to become an animator?
Jeremy Stewart: Just start animating! The software is getting easier and cheaper to use. Then once you've started, keep going and eventually you'll get good at it. Of course there will be plenty of ups and downs on the way to getting better, so remember every set back is just setting you up for a bigger leap forward. Novedge: Is there an artist or filmmaker you would like to work with but you didn't get a chance....yet?
Jeremy Stewart: Well of course all the greats like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, and so on. However there are also plenty of Filmmakers, and Animators that you may or may not have heard of: Neil Impie, Leo Baker, Lyndon Barrois, Pavan Sodhan, and Paneet Singh. I already had the pleasure to work with them, but I would be very happy to do it again . I'm currently working with Adam Estey on his next great short. Stay tuned....
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