Welcome to Part 2/2 of our Judge Profiles! We have the pleasure of introducing Stephen Egts today. With tons of experience in the worlds animation and storytelling, he has a unique perspective in what it takes to make a great narrative. Keep reading to learn about him, his animation style and what he’s looking for in iAniMagic 2015 | The Living Light Box!
I’ve had the great fortune to spend over twenty years art directing in a variety of mediums. My career began in advertising, but I quickly was drawn to video and film production. The idea of communicating concepts through a narrative intrigued me. Naturally, my love for storytelling evolved into an interest in animation.
I originally went started college as a drawing major, so drawing was second nature to me. I was inspired to seriously invest time in animation after listening to a college alum speak about creating animations for Saturday Night Live using Adobe Flash. I had already completed small projects with software like Autodesk Animator Studio, but Flash was the first program that made animation feel possible. I’ve worked in many programs since. Some of my favorite tools include Anime Studio Pro and Toon Boom.
Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time figuring out how I can incorporate free and open-source software into my arsenal of programs to create art. For animation I’ve been learning Synfig for 2D animation, Blender for 3D animation and compositing, and Krita for digital painting. I write about my experiences and challenges on my blog. Free an open-source software not only gives artists a lot of freedom and control over their work, but you are also able to build a close relationship with its developers and help direct the software development.
I love using Kdan Animation Desk for quickly drafting ideas and creating animatics (moving storyboards.) Since Animation Desk on my iPad, it’s like having a digital sketchpad for animation.
In the last ten years, my career has steered me away from animation and video work, but I still try to stay relevant. Three years ago, I cofounded a meet-up group for animators and artists. We discuss current projects and give each other professional advice for dealing with clients. Since we meet regularly at our local Starbucks, we named the group the “Starbucks School of Animation.” I would like to spend more time working on animation projects, but it’s just finding the time.
I mainly like to work with cut-out animation. Creating frame-by-frame hand drawn animation solo—without a team— can be overwhelming and a little too much to tackle. Cut-out of puppet-style animation enables me to easily reuse characters and create animations quickly without needing to draw every frame by hand.
Anime Studio is a great tool for achieving cut-out animation. Recently with the most recent version, artists can easily flip between cut-out and hand-drawn animation in the same file. Toon Boom Harmony is also a great tool for the cut-out style. Synfig is a free alternative for cut-out work.
When judging, I tend to focus on the storytelling. I enjoy work that is clever and it built around a unique voice. I also like to see how much the animators can push the tools that are available. Sound is very important and many times is as important at creating a mood and giving your audience emotional cues. Animation is a difficult medium to complete a piece of work in and I respect anyone who is able to complete a piece. That is a commendable achievement in itself.
To learn more about Stephen Egts, check out the links below!
Starbucks School of Animation: http://starbucksschoolofanimation.tumblr.com/