Kevan Shorey works as an Animator at PDI/DreamWorks Animation Studios, a position he took while working on the feature film Shrek 2 and since then has gone on to work on films including: How To Train Your Dragon, Gift Of The Night Fury, Megamind, Madagascar 2, Shrek 3, Shrek Spooky Stories, Megamind: Button of Doom.
As an only child growing up in a smallish village in Wales, Kevan tended to gravitate to activities that required imagination. He spent his time reading a lot and drawing a lot.
Kevan also used played Lego and computer games. He would become invested in the worlds and the characters that he was experiencing at the time, expanding on their stories in his head and externalising them through drawing.
Thank you very much Kevan Shorey for this interview, would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself?
My name is Kevan, and I am a British Animator working in the United States. I contribute to Feature Films at DreamWorks Animation.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
As an only child growing up in a smallish village in Wales, I tended to gravitate to activities that required imagination. I read a lot. I drew a lot. I played Lego and computer games. I would become invested in the worlds and the characters that I was experiencing at the time, expanding on their stories in my head and externalising them through drawing.
As a teenager, I re-discovered the Star Wars films, which in turn led me to learning about their creation by Industrial Light and Magic. Around that same time Pixar released Toy Story, and between those two events I knew that's what I wanted to focus my studies on.
As a teenager, I re-discovered the Star Wars films, which in turn led me to learning about their creation by Industrial Light and Magic.
Did you draw a lot growing up?
Oh yes! A lot. This was before digital art was mainstream so lots of pencils and paper.
Which animation school did you go to?
At age 16 I tailored my A-levels (high school level specializations) to a combination of Mathematics and Design-related subjects; to satisfy the entry requirements for the particular university degree that I wanted to pursue, which was the Computer Animation program at the National Centre for Computer Animation, Bournemouth University. Having secured the place, I deferred a year so that I could study Art and Design at the Glamorgan Centre for Art and Design Technology. With some techie and artistic exposure under my belt I felt better prepared to go off to university to study Animation.
How did you end up animating for DreamWorks?
At my university degree show I was introduced to the European representative for Dreamworks Animation. She saw my short film at the screening of our work and sent a copy back to PDI in northern California. It was this that started the dialogue that eventually saw me starting as an Assistant Animator at the studio.
We noticed that you are a teacher on AnimationMentor.com, how did you end up working with them?
AnimationMentor is probably the biggest innovation in Animation since the introduction of Computer Graphics in to the industry. That students can have access to top tier animators who help them develop is pretty amazing. The number of AM grads working at big name studios is testament to this success.
I was a Campus Mentor at AM until early 2012. I had been following their progress since the first announcement of their new way of teaching Animation, and joined as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
How is it like to teach and critic Animation for new aspiring animators?
As a campus mentor I provided written critiques for a number of students each week. While AM has recently removed the role of Campus Mentor, I decided to put the time in to doing free video crits for anyone who wants them, one per week, via Twitter.
Teaching Animation a two-way process, for it not only helps those new to the field improve their skill set, but also develops the eye of the teacher, too! I find it a most rewarding.
Teaching Animation a two-way process, for it not only helps those new to the field improve their skill set, but also develops the eye of the teacher, too!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I am proud to be a part of any successful project that allows me to improve and create good work. If I had to pick a favourite it would probably be, "How To Train Your Dragon", since I like the Fantasy genre.
What’s a typical day for you with regards to your job?
Talking about Animation, communicating with peers and creative superiors, reviewing work, oh - and animating, too!
What part of your job do you like best and why?
Creating performance that resonates with those viewing it.
What is your favorite 2D or 3D animated film? And why?
Hmm... a very tough question. Perhaps Miazaki's, "My Neighbour Totoro". The observation involved in creating the believable human performances is outstanding.
What are your thoughts about Anime? Are you a fan or prefer American animation?
I like some Anime, but the quality of its execution can vary greatly. The great thing about Anime is its ability to communicate complexity using a very economical approach. A single drawing can go a long way.
Which software do you use on a daily basis?
In-house Animation software.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The long hours become tougher to juggle as responsibilities and commitments increase outside of work.
Have you ever had a problem in a scene or an action that took you a long time to fix?
Of course! Every new shot brings with it new challenges. Some require a couple of attempts to get them right. Animation is tough, and there is no easy way to create good stuff.
Who influenced you mostly in the animation business? Who is your ultimate Mentor?
I don't have an ultimate Mentor, but I am influenced most by my peers - the talented people I work with every day. All of them work differently and bring a unique perspective to the process, which I can then observe and incorporate in to my own work, to make it better.
2D vs 3D what's your opinion on this endless battle?
I do not have an opinion. Both techniques are tools within the same craft, with the language and experience being common.
Is there any advice you can give to an aspiring animation student or artist trying to get into the animation business?
If your focus is Animation, a simple piece of work done well is more likely to impress than something hugely ambitious that is less polished and draws your attention away from clear performance.
If your focus is Animation, a simple piece of work done well is more likely to impress than something hugely ambitious that is less polished.
Thank you Kevan for this wonderful interview! We wish you much success in your future animation business.
Thank you for interviewing me.