Beck Williams is our grand winner for iAniMagic 2017. The interview with Beck outlines her success in the making of the winning work, Misfortune, and her journey in navigating the animation industry. We at Kdan Mobile appreciate the many animation enthusiasts like Beck and would welcome more to come and try how Animation Desk could help you bring your ideas to life.
We hope that you enjoy this interview as much as we do.
First of all, can you tell us more about your background?
Hi, yes, thank you very much for the award and I hope this interview can be helpful! I’m a 2D animator and illustrator from Stoke-on-Trent, England. I have a degree in animation and I was actually finished with my studies when I saw your contest last year, so it was the perfect time to enter!
Your animation <Misfortune> was an interesting and ironic piece. How did you come up with the story? Were you inspired by anything or people around you? Is there any message that you want to communicate through this animation?
I like to try and think outside of the box when I get a brief, so when I heard “future”, along with technology and robots, I thought of something ancient like fortune telling; I thought combining the two would be interesting and something not seen before.
I wasn’t sure about a message initially but I guess what the message ended up being is that if you really want answers, they may not come in the way you expect, or be what you want to hear.
I enjoy looking at other artists, animators, and films for inspiration. For this project I looked at work by Motomichi Nakamura and Nicolas Ménard, and the films Ghost in the Shell (1995), and Ex Machina (2014).
We are impressed by the original storyboard and animatic of <Misfortune>, they are beautiful. Do you create storyboard and animatic for every project? What is the process like?
Thank you, yes I go through this process for most of my animations. It’s not too difficult as long as I know what I want to put on the paper! I tackle this by doing a lot of pre-planning and concept development before-hand. After the storyboard is done, I like to save time by scanning in the storyboard into my computer and using it as the animatic with my choice of music over the top; then the animatic can be used as a guide layer for the pace of the whole animation. It saves a lot of time!
What were the challenges for making this short animation? Which part of the process did you enjoy the most? Why?
The challenge for me most often comes in the narrative and putting across what I want to say as clearly as possible to an audience. I struggled for a while to come up with an ending for the animation, so I agree with your feedback on how it could have been even more shocking at the climax!
The thing I enjoyed most was the ideas and development stages of the project. I love creating characters and picking a style and colour palette for the work that fits with the themes. It’s a lot of fun to just take a simple word, like “future”, and think about what it means to me and what I can create based on that word.
We were excited to know that you have just completed your project for Channel 4 with Rural Media. What was it like to work with Rural Media? Anything interesting happened during the production?
Yes it was a great project and a good learning experience; along with my production mentor, they were really great and helped me to push my concept forward for my Random Acts entry. I learned more about working with a budget, keeping in line with broadcasting standards in the UK, and working with a composer and sound editor in the end stages of the project for the first time. We only met up a handful of times as I was far away from their studio, but we kept in touch through the whole project while I made the animation.
It seems like you spent a lot of time studying the texture of the drawings and the illustrations for the Rural Media project. What kinds of preparation or research did you do before you start creating an animation?
I did a lot of research on my theme of sleep deprivation, at the beginning. There’s a lot of evidence that in a work place especially, that a lack of sleep can be equated to how much work you must be doing; using lack of sleep as a way to boast. That was where the numbers on the faces of my characters came from.
However, I wanted to further the differences between the sleep depraved and the well-rested characters in my story. I looked at different colour palettes, brush strokes, and textures for this. In the end, I decided to make the well-rested characters darker in colour, and the sleep depraved, pale. The change from a cold blue in the beginning to a warmer red at the end also represents their differences, as well as the subtle change in texture through the animation; the textures start off ordered, like office windows, then the windows become more muddle up, until it’s nothing by scribble to show how tired the main character has become. When we get to the end of the animation, the texture has become soft and were made with pastels, to represent the well-rested characters calm and relaxed nature.
Most of your work are 2D animations and illustrations, what makes you choose 2D over 3D animations?
I enjoy the process of drawing and frame by frame more than 3D modeling, it just feels more natural to me. I’ve tried 3D animation but it’s just not for me, plus it’s a lot of hard work! Some 3D animators would probably say the same about frame by frame as well though!
Are you working on any project recently? What do you plan to create next?
I did recently finish making my own Tarot Card set and information booklet. It was great to draw something more detail orientated that I could also print off and own physically. I’m not sure what I’ll create next but the next project is never far away!
To help fellow animators, do you have any good resources to recommend to other animation learners.
When the internet really took off in my teens, the resources I used the most were the cartoons I used to watch on TV, YouTube, and Deviant Art! Nowadays, I use Instagram and Twitter a lot when I need some quick inspiration. It’s good to buy art books too. Just consume; watch stuff you like, look at what think looks good, it doesn’t have to be just animation, even have a go at drawing in that style. In the end, you see so many things and themes that resonate with you, that you can take all the stuff you like and put it together to make something of your own. Just don’t get too disheartened if you’re not where you want to be yet; remember that you can only work at your own pace, and you’ll find your own way eventually! I’m still finding my own way too and I often forget that there’s no rush, knowing when to relax is a valuable thing.
Check out More Works from Beck Williams,
Image source: all images in this posts are provided by Beck Williams, and used with her consent.
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