• How did you get into animation, Erick? Erick Oh : “I’ve been a huge fan of animation all my life and I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Korea, so I was exposed to both Western, Disney-style animation and Japanese anime. As a teenager I became more interested in fine art and went to college where I learned about painting, but I started thinking of how I could use animation to express myself. Once I made my first animated short film – The Bag – I realised that’s what I wanted to do.”
  • It can’t be an easy arena to break into? Erick Oh : “It’s very competitive. To give myself the best chance, I moved to the US and enrolled at the film school at UCLA. When I was about to graduate, I figured I would set myself up as a freelance artist. I was such a fan of Pixar, though, that I thought I should at least send my stuff to them. They offered me a position as an intern.”
  • What was that like? Erick Oh : “It was pretty amazing and at the same time very tough – like a boot camp. There are 10 of you in this huge studio of about 1,200. After 12 weeks you might get a position there, or you might not. We were all friends, but rivals too. After 12 weeks they offered me a job and I’ve been there ever since. Cars 2 was the first film I participated in.”
  • What’s a typical day for you? Erick Oh : “Every morning there are ‘dailies’, meetings where we all gather up to show what we’ve done to the directors so we can get feedback. That takes one or two hours, then we spend the rest of the day working pretty freely on our work – there’s no strict schedule.”
  • What’s the work like? Erick Oh : “Animators are like actors – you’re acting out the characters. In Pixar there are so many departments: story people who write the story; designers who think all day about art and design; lighters who just think about lighting; special effects specialists and camera staging artists – there are so many different specialists and as an animator you’re the actor. You’re the one who gives birth and movement to the character.”
  • Who tells you what to do? Erick Oh : “When we are working on a movie, they cast out shots to the animators, just like how directors would cast actors for the right roles. They’ll say, ‘This kind of acting role is good for this kind of animator’ and there’s lots of discussion about which shot goes to who.”
  • Is the animation amazing from the start or are things a little rough when you begin? Erick Oh : “It all develops from a really blocky, rough state. When I’m bringing my shots to the directors it’s all about communication, so those first steps are often quite rough and unpolished because my goal early on is to get the characterisation and expressions right.”
  • Which emotion is famously hard for animators to convey? Erick Oh : “Well, we always say that no shot is easy – there’s always something in a shot that needs you to go really deep and make it work. But maybe crying or extremely realistic shots showing in-depth emotion are always hard, and they often get given to really experienced animators to do. They tend to give me a lot of shots that have fun gestures, with some action or some comedy involved.”
  • What’s the favourite character you’ve worked on? Erick Oh : “There are a lot – I really loved Sadness in Inside Out, and there’s a new character in Finding Dory, which I think I can talk about because it’s been announced: it’s an octopus and it has been the most beautiful, challenging and memorable character I’ve ever worked on.”
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Pixar: Erick Oh
Sara @ Scene Emeryville, California, United States, 94608
Having worked on Sanjay’s Super Team, Inside Out, Toy Story, Monsters University, Brave, Cars 2 and the brand new Finding Dory, Erick Oh is one of Pixar’s leading animation artists. Based in California, the Korean filmmaker and painter has seen his work introduced and nominated at Annecy Animation Festival, Hiroshima Animation Festival, Student Academy Awards, Zagreb Film Festival, SIGGRAPH, Anima Mundi, Ars Electronica, LACMA Director's Night and numerous other international film festivals and galleries world wide. After receiving his BFA from Fine Art Department at Seoul National University and his MFA from UCLA's film program, Erick joined Pixar Animation Studios as an animator in 2010. With Erick’s latest film, Finding Dory, due for release, we thought we would go behind the screen and get a glimpse of life at one of the world’s most innovative movie studios.
Nemo Egg (Main Title)
Thomas Newman
Nemo Egg (Main Title)
Thomas Newman