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Renegade Animation has pioneered digital 2D paperless animation with a unique all-Flash workflow—and a bunch of really great cartoons! This installment of Creative Inspirations gives viewers an inside look at this innovative character animation studio. Partners Ashley Postlewaite and Darrell Van Citters describe how they left jobs with major studios to form their own company, and how they have been able to create a successful business that defies all the rules and provide a great working environment in the process. Learn how these renegades have evolved traditional character animation into a completely digital workflow that provides greater creative expression and faster turnaround.
(Music playing.) Lynda Weinman: Hello, I am Lynda Weinman. Welcome to another installment of our Creative Inspiration series. I am here today with Renegade Animation people, Ashley and Darrell. Thank you so much for coming. Ashley Postlewaite: Thank you for having us. Darrell Van Citters: Thank you for having us. Lynda Weinman: Congratulations on the success of your company. What sorts of things do you offer that distinguish you as being a great place to work? Ashley Postlewaite: I think there are things that are sort of "soft perk" type things that are more traditional in terms of, we have health insurance and 401(k) and all those sorts of things that some creative companies don't have or can't have, we try and provide.
Flexible work hours when people need them for family reasons, and that sort of thing. We absolutely try and have in place whatever we can. In conjunction with being a place where when you come there to work, you feel like you are part of a big thing. You are part of a team. You are part of a system that works. The work is made easy and fun for you and that you are really pivotal in the success of the whole company.
So I think those two things together are the sort of double perk. Some places can have all those other things, vacation time and all that, but it's not very fun to be there. So I think it's the balance. Darrell Van Citters: We also don't scream. Ashley Postlewaite: Yeah, that helps. Darrell Van Citters: Nothing is a panic. We just don't operate in that mode. We set aside time-- We make sure that people know that family time is important, that they don't have to work long weekends. Lynda Weinman: It's rare in the entertainment industry, very rare. So I know you have really done a lot of technical innovation around the way that you are creating the animation.
Is that a draw from some of the animators who work for you, do they like the system that you have set up, and are they expanding their skill set by working for you in a compelling way? Darrell Van Citters: Definitely, definitely. It was a bit of a struggle at first going completely digital, because like myself, we grew up doing it on paper, but now that they are adept at it, they really do enjoy it, because they-- for example, when we do storyboards, which are really animatics now, they are basically creating films while they are doing their work, which is kind of neat.
You are not just part of the assembly line. You are actually creating the beginnings of the project. Lynda Weinman: So what kind of skill set do you look for when you are hiring animators, and are you expecting them to understand the digital workflow? Are you expecting to bring them up to speed with your specific system? Darrell Van Citters: It's a little of both. We prefer people who are digitally ready, but we also understand that there are a lot of people who didn't grow up doing that as their first tool, so we bring those ones along too.
At least from my angle what I look for is people who know how to draw, who have a foundation in animation skills, and preferably have some real life experience. I am not too hard-nosed on that, because I remember when I was knocking on doors. I will take people in as long as they look like they have promise, but I prefer a solid foundation and what's called, I guess, what we refer to as old school fundamentals. Lynda Weinman: Are you finding that people who are coming to you are self-taught, or do they get these skills in school? Do you know some of the different ways that they could get the drawing skills and get the right...? Darrell Van Citters: Yeah, most of the ones that have the drawing skills have gone to art school or an animation program.
The ones that are oftentimes the weakest candidates are the ones who are self-taught, particularly when it comes to using Flash as an animation tool. They are sometimes not aware of just how many things that they don't know and how many things that they could be doing better. So those are the ones that oftentimes are harder to hire. Once they are hired, it takes a little bit more training. Lynda Weinman: So do you think that there are going to be more opportunities for animators going into the future or less? Ashley Postlewaite: More, I have to hope more. I think more.
I think it's like anything though. We are getting so many-- there are so many avenues, that in some ways the audience is splitting apart, but in some ways also you have large places, like lynda.com, where many, many people can come once they find it. I think that is going to make for more opportunities and I think we are moving to a place, I hope we are moving to a place where also new and different and old sorts of animation are all in the toolbox.
Whatever tool the given artist wants to choose to tell his or her story, they will choose. 2D, clay, 3D, not just, oh, now everything has to be 3D, or now everything... I think we are getting to a moment where it will be just "this is the story that I have to tell and this is the tool I choose to use." The audience is sophisticated enough to just go with a great story, regardless of the medium it's being told in.
Lynda Weinman: So where do you guys get your creative inspiration? What inspires you and where do you go to become inspired? Darrell Van Citters: It's a lot of places, but actually staff. I have never felt that as a director that it was my job to come up with all the ideas or solve all the problems. When you hire great people, they can inspire you too, because you go, "I hadn't even thought about that solution for that," and that gets you going on another direction, which gets somebody else going on another direction. So that's one way I find it very inspiring. I don't know about you but.
Ashley Postlewaite: No, I would agree. People are my primary source of inspiration, I think, and then always, we're all as creative people out there always looking at art, always thinking about it, always taking in different creator's work as inspiration, but I agree with Darrell completely. What just juices us everyday and gets our brain going is usually something our own staff is working on. Lynda Weinman: Well, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Ashley Postlewaite: Thank you for having us and asking us to come and do this.
We really appreciate it. It has been a blast.
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