CLW – Can you give us a little background about yourself?
GK – I have been animating since I was 10 years old, I first started animating using the generic program Microsoft Paint and Microsoft Powerpoint. I got hooked on stick figure death animation and got Macromedia Flash MX9. From there I’ve been working in Flash and other adobe programs ever since.
CLW – Did you go to school for animation?
GK – I am currently finishing up my last semester for my BFA as a double major in Animation and Illustration at the California College of the Arts in Oakland. I plan on pursuing a career in animation and illustration as a freelance artist and have been using Tongal as my launching point.
GK – So far I love being on Tongal. It has opened up a world of possibilities I hadn’t considered before through animating for advertising; which turns out is really fun.
CLW – You’ve been on somewhat of a streak this past month, first with McDonald’s and now Pringles. Why do you think project judges have looked so favorable upon your work as of late?
GK – I am constantly trying new approaches, for every project I think of something from a technical standpoint in terms of how I would tackle it and explore from there. I don’t really think I’ve ever done the things before doing them on Tongal, I am just familiar enough with the software I use to experiment and hope for the best. So each project is really fun in the end and very refreshing. I think the judges can maybe see that process which might draw them in.
CLW – Your McDonald’s video earned you the highest prize ever awarded on Tongal. What does it feel like to win $15,000?
GK – It felt fantastic, I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked. It really was perfect timing in terms of my situation. I am still doubtful that it ever happened I’m not even sure that I’ve fully grasped it yet.
CLW – Were you nervous about the competition in McDonald’s?
GK – The other videos were great, especially the 2nd place winner Kent Yoshimura, incredible production all around. I don’t really think about the competition, I just make the video if I feel like it sounds fun and enjoyable and from there I submit and move on and hope for the best. I was doubtful mine would even place, as it was pretty make shift and spur of the moment, though I always try to view the world in the mindset of extreme pessimism so I can always expect better results.
CLW – Your 30 second animated version of “Romeo and Juliet” was a great take on Jacob Silva’s Bite-Sized Theatre Concept. What made you choose that Play and were you worried that Shakespeare might be hard to summarize in such a short timeframe?
GK – Shakespeare was my 2nd choice, the only thing I considered before Romeo and Juliet was Little Red Riding Hood, but I realized that wasn’t really theatre. I thought Shakespeare would be great because I figured through compressing a drama you could end up with a comedy rather than a comedy to a comedy or an action flick to a comedy. Also it seemed like judging from the concept it sounded like it was more meant for classic theatre so I just picked the play I knew everyone would know and understand that way the audience has an easy reference point.
CLW – How long did it take you to create “Romeo and Juliet” and what was your process like?
GK – Romeo and Juliet was much easier to create then my previous three entries, it only took a week to produce and was animated entirely by me, as per usual. All the animation is tween based done in flash combining shape and motion tweens by a means of puppeting out all the figures. There is some frame-by-frame patch ups but mostly it is automated with intention due to the tweening and keyframe based method. I looked at 50s animation styles made popular by John Hubley’s UPA studio, and the short film “Gerald McBoing-Boing.” I know that this modern 50s style of animation values limited movement, simplification, clarity, and more deadpan delivery, which would allow for comedy and snappier timing. I also looked at “Waltz With Bashir,” a documentary completed using Flash and other programs from the Adobe suite, where they employed a break up puppetting and tweening technique in order to create fluid movement.
GK – I used Adobe Flash for all animation, Photoshop for the texture, After Effects for compositing, and Premiere for editing. The big snag was I went through several iterations of how to treat the characters and backgrounds determining where to use the McDonalds colors and how, as in what combinations or amount of each color work and don’t work or if to use them at all. Some of the earlier designs were atrocious as I was trying to get acquainted with this style of working though throughout production I knew their names would float above them, similar to Run Wrake’s short film “Rabbit” and that their actions would be simplified.
CLW – What are you thoughts on the tournament / pitch process? Any advice you could offer those trying to break through and convince a sponsor to trust them with a budget?
GK – I looked at what was winning and noticed that it was all about being clean so I just made the ultimate goal for my work to be making it as clean as possible. This is why I switched to puppetry and for a pitch I feel it is more about making one to one comparisons.
GK – Don’t let the judges assume anything, present them with everything you can to give them a better taste of what’s to come. It’s good to show them exactly what you are going to do rather than a scribble representing what you are going to do so they don’t have to be doubtful of your execution. These might just be tips for animation but still, even with live action. If your character looks a certain way and you know it’s going to be great, show them the character fully developed instead of a rough idea so they know how it’s going to be and what it will look like.
CLW – Has Tongal helped you professionally, like has it helped you build a usable portfolio, get gigs, jobs, etc?
GK – Yes, my portfolio of commercials through Tongal just got me a job doing puppeted animation for a music video for a popular indie band.
CLW – What have you spent your earnings on?
GK – I used the money from the Q-tips project to purchase a Cintiq, a monitor you can draw directly on that is made by the Wacom company. And I established a Limited Liability Company with the money I made from the McDonalds job as well as funded a trip to New York and Europe where I plan to promote myself and my work. The rest of the money is going toward buying more equipment like hard drives and software to repair old hard drives as well as payment for my brother Ross Kolton who did the voices for the characters in McDonalds.
CLW – What’s next for you on Tongal or otherwise?
GK – I plan to keep submitting to Tongal when a project piques my interest or sounds fun, going for it with my usual attitude. Right now I am working on launching a new YouTube channel that you can view here http://www.youtube.com/grantkolton which I will be adding content to at a steady pace as well as constantly updating my website http://www.grantkolton.com. If you want to stay updated on all my animation and illustration shenanigans you can like me at http://www.facebook.com/grantkolton
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