Yet another excellent interview from Art of vfx with Simon Christen on upcoming blockbuster Toy story 3.
What is your background?
I grew up in Bern, Switzerland. During high school I decided to pursue my interest in computer graphics and try to make a professional career out of it. I was fortunate enough to be able to enroll at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and start my education as a 3D animator. After 4 years of studying I graduated and was accepted as an animation intern at Pixar. After the internship I worked as a Fix Animator on RATATOUILLE. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to working in the industry. However, my contract was up after the show, so my wife and I relocated to Los Angeles where I started working as an Animator for Disney on BOLT. It was great spending 1.5 years in Southern California and getting to experience a different studio and city. During that time I stayed in contact with people at Pixar and once the chance presented itself to go back, I took it. I returned to Pixar during the middle of production on UP. Since then I worked on TOY STORY 3 and I am now working on upcoming projects.
How did you get involved on Toy Story 3?
After wrapping up work on UP I worked on some promotional work for the re-release of TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2. It was awesome to work with some of the classic characters. Once TOY STORY 3 was ready for production, I joined their animation team and we worked on it for a little over a year.
Which characters did you animate?
Like most animators at Pixar, I didn’t animate just one or two characters. I was able to animate many of the characters, some more than others. It was a lot of fun having the opportunity to work with such established characters. I think my favorite was to animate Lotso. He’s such a fun character to work with. I animated his last moments in the movie; where he tries to sneak away, gets picked up and tied to the truck. That was a really fun series of shots…
Do you have any constraints for the animation style to match the third film with the two other Toy Story movies?
The character rigs have changed so much since the first two movies, it was a bit of a challenge to try and match the same animation style. Woody, Buzz and the whole gang have such established characteristics and specific behaviors; we had try and match them so they really feel the same. With any sequel you have the blessing of having a lot of reference to get inspiration but also the limitations of branching out too far.
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