To catch up on yesterday’s comments, pannonica wins the award for best guess: today’s cool job interview features Randy Santa Ana, a professional animator who specializes in Flash Animation for television broadcast. (I should add that all of the other guesses have given me a few ideas for new jobs to pursue — thanks, everyone!) Now on to the interview!
There are about a million interesting things one can do with a computer, but in my opinion bringing drawings to life is one of the coolest, and among the most challenging. My own personal artistic and computer skills run along the lines of stick figures and playing Minesweeper, so naturally I’m in awe of Randy’s animations, samples of which you can view here and here. If you are interested in the subject of Flash, I can also recommend Randy’s blog, which is a great read.
So are you ready to find out what it’s like to work at home, make animations seen on TV by hordes of people, and play with all that nifty computer equipment? Me, too!
When people ask you “what do you do?” how do you describe your job?
It is not everyday that somebody asks me about what I do for a living
so it is always a treat to tell them about it.
I am an Animator and I do animation for television broadcast. I
describe animation as the process of creating or drawing a series of
images that when viewed in sequence creates the illusion of movement.
Traditionally, it is all done by pencil and paper, meticulously hand-
drawn and painted and then each image is shot by a camera in sequence
to put it into film. You get to see the product of this process by
watching the popular animated classics such as the Flintstones, Scooby-
Doo and Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Snow White And The Seven
Dwarves, among other.
What’s cool about the field of animation that I specialize in is that
all the animation is done using a computer. No, it is not 3D
animation, which I think is the more popular kind of computer
animation and the one that readily comes to mind anytime computer
animation is mentioned. The genre that I specializes in is called
Flash Animation and it uses this computer software called Adobe Flash.
Flash was originally made for web designers to allow them to add
animations to a web site. You may have seen these animation anytime
you visit a particular web page that has it. Since it deals with
animation, somebody must have figured out that it could also be used
to create rich animation suitable for television broadcast. And thus
Flash Animation for TV was born.
Since Flash Animation is all done using a computer, it has become a
popular and preferred method for creating a series for television
broadcast. It does away with pencil and paper, thus reducing cost.
The process is much faster compared to a traditionally made production
because everything is done digitally.
Whenever I tell people that I am an animator and that I did some work
on a particular television series, they usually ask me if I did
everything on that show. Actually, I am just one of the many artists
involved in the production. There is a department that do the voices
for the characters. There is a department that handles the layout of
each scene and another department that creates the backgrounds for
these scenes. And then there is my department, which is tasked with
making the characters move and give the illusion that they are alive.
Oh, and I should mention an even cooler thing about my job: I get to
do it at home. Since everything is done digitally, I can work at my
home office based here in Calgary. I download my work load from the
intranet of my client’s website, work on it at my computer here at the
basement of my home, and send the completed scenes back the same way,
via the internet. How sweet is that!
What are the things about your job that you love?
Here is my Top 5 List of Why I Love My Job:
1. I get to do my work at home. I don’t have to worry about getting
up in the morning to take a shower and commute to work. All I have to
do is walk down to my office in the basement and viola! I am at the
2. I get to work with cutting-edge technology such as computers and
the internet. I am geeky, so this is a plus!
3. The pay is good!
4. Working on an animation series intended for kids makes me feel
5. Working from home, I am my own boss!
What are the things about your job that you hate?
I don’t have much to hate about my job. It is so fun and feels like
play most of the time! But there are some minor gripes, to which I
intend to present as my Top 5 List of Gripes About My Job:
1. Working from home blurs the line between work and personal time.
Since I have full control of the time I spend at work, and this can
become engrossing at times, this sometimes eats up time from my
2. Since I have to work with my own equipment, I had to raise a
reasonable amount of capital to be able to purchase them and that sure
gave my finances a significant hit. These equipment can also be
unpredictable at times and can break down with no slight hint
whatsoever, so I have to become my own tech support team and do the
3. The pay may be good, but I get my paycheck from the mail so I have
to wait. While my other co-workers in the studio where I get my work
from have received their paychecks, I would have to wait a number of
days for it to arrive in the mail. And when the weather becomes
rough, the wait might take even longer!
4. I miss the camaraderie and interaction you get from fellow artists
when working in a studio environment. Nothing helps one further his
art even more than to get some healthy criticism from another artist
sitting next to you and that is something I will not be able to enjoy.
5. I am my own boss, but I also have to be my own employee, director,
critic, production assistant, accountant, purchasing officer, driver,
cook, tech support, maintenance crew, etc.!
What education, training, vocation or just plain luck would
someone have to have in order to get a job like yours?
I started out as an Architect and have worked as one for a number of
years before deciding to shift careers and pursue my love for
animation. At that time of my career change, there were no schools in
my home country, the Philippines, that offer a full animation degree
course. I was fortunate that one of the major animation studio in my
home country were looking for a number of applicants to train as
artists through their in-house training program.
As a trainee, I had to undergo a rigorous 6 months training on how to
draw as well as the basic principles of animation. When I was
accepted as an in-house artist, I had to work for another number of
months as an assistant animator before I had the chance to apply for
and train as an animator.
It was fortunate that Flash came along at that time when I was working
as an animator already and was looking for a paper-less medium to do
animation. I am proud to say that I was one of the pioneer in the use
of Flash for animation in my home country and it has been my area of
expertise ever since.
A degree in Fine Arts can surely benefit somebody who wants to pursue
animation as a career. Taking a dedicated animation degree course is
not a must but would be very, very useful. It takes a certain degree
of persistence and dedication and a love for hard labor as well as a
sprinkle of talent to be able to work as an animator. It is a long
and hard journey to learn how to do it; I have been at the industry
for more than nine years now, 4 years as a full time animator, and I
am still a student of the craft.
With regards to being able to do your work at home, there was a bit of
luck there as well as my own reputation as a professional that landed
me that arrangement. You have to have a certain knack for multi-
tasking as well as a good reputable work history and experience as a
professional. I was lucky because the studio that I previously worked
for gave me a good recommendation letter and the rest I had to rely on
my own persistence and dedication.
What is the funniest story you can think that involves your
professional training or your job.
Whenever an animator works on a scene, he or she would try to “act
out” that scene to be able to get an idea on how one can give life to
that character. I do that a lot and sometimes in front of a mirror so
I can see how the action is done and then apply to what I am working
on. But sometimes, this can get out of hand. For instance, I had
people looking at me wondering when, say at a middle of a casual
dinner with family and friends at a fancy restaurant, my mind would
suddenly drift back to what I was working on back at the office and I
would unmindfully and unconsciously “act out” a scene right then and
For samples of animation done in Flash here are some links to some
that I had the privilege to be a part of: