New interview! Hot off the presses! I’m really excited to share this interview with Alexey Medvedev, Animation Supervisor at Wizart Animation – TV Series Department. Alexey is my Supervisor on the TV show YOKO. I’ve worked with Alexey for about 3 years now, and it has been awesome! I owe a lot of my improvement in my animation abilities to him. Alexey has a huge passion for animation and also a great eye for detail. His feedback on my shots and guidance really helped me grow as a animator and push my skills. He is a great guy to work with and really knows how to lead a team of animators. I hope you all will enjoy this interview with him, he has some really great answers. First though, check out his demo reel below:
Alexey Medvedev Demo Reel 2017:
Where are you from and how long have you been working as an animator?
I was born in Lugansk (Ukraine), but for more than 15 years, I’ve been living and working in Moscow (Russia).
Have you always worked in the animation industry, or did you have any other jobs before becoming an animator?
I have a Master’s Degree in Political Science and Master’s Degree in Project Management, however, I did not work in any of those fields. Ever since high school I really loved music and planned to do it all my life, but my parents said that music is just a hobby and you need some real education… bla-bla-bla.. I know that many of us have been in the same situation. So, I went to University to study Political Science, as my parents wanted. But, at the same time continued to learn music and play in a band.
After University, myself and fellow band-members decided to level up and move from Lugansk to Moscow! The city of big possibilities and broken dreams. You can actually find me behind the keyboard in this video from 2002 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er2-cb9sM4E
Sadly, this trip ended as a total epic fail. We were all good friends in Lugansk, but when we moved to Moscow and forced to live all together (5 men) in one small room in the hostel it became difficult. We were not ready for that new big family. So, after one year our band broke-up. Moscow broke our dreams to become famous stars and we parted just as friends. In that moment I understood, that I never want to depend on anyone in this life, and I stopped playing music.
How did you learn animation? Did you go to school for it?
After Moscow, I came back in Lugansk. My mother convinced me to enroll in the Public Administration Magistracy and get a Master’s Degree in Project Management. But during all those boring lectures about politics and management I read the book “3Ds Max Bible” and started to learn Photoshop. I did not have a PC at home, I just read this book all the time. Sometimes I was given the opportunity to work on the PCs of my friends as well. I often tell this story to young people, who have iPhone 6S, MacBook Pro and more yet, they tell me that they cannot learn or do something 🙂
So, I got my Master’s Degree in Project Management and came back to Moscow. Some of my friends helped me to get a job as a Junior Modelling Artist in a small animation studio. At that time I could create models of sofas and vases and I thought that I was a God in modelling! But, once in the studio I realized it was quite the opposite..
This was around 2004, and I had worked there for about a year when my boss made an offer for me to try animation. (Actually, it happened because he had just fired another animator. Yeah, crazy times…) So, that is how I became an animator.
After that, I spent many years learning and studying animation by myself. In Russia there was no special animation schools and there was almost no information on the internet back then to learn from either. After 5 years of my blind practice, Sasha Dorogov, a famous Russian animator who worked at Disney for more than 15 years came back to Russia. Sasha started to teach animation here in Russia. I was not his student directly, but got a lot of information from my friends. It was like a breath of fresh air after being imprisoned in a stuffy cave.
Since that time I have worked on many projects! Then one day, a friend of mine who worked as a producer in the new series department of Wizart Animation made me an offer to join their team as a Supervising Animator. They were starting a a new co-production Russian/Spanish TV Show called “Yoko”. I decided to give it a try and now it has been almost 4 years that I’ve been doing it!
What is a typical day like as an Animation Supervisor?
Actually, my working day is not that big of differences compared with a regular animator’s day. I’m also looking at animation all day!
How is working for TV different from working on feature films?
I think the main differences are that TV has small production teams and is more forgiving in production mistakes, it also has less strict quality requirements. It’s like comparing a small fishing boat and the Titanic, really. Also, when you are working on feature, you know that the audience will see the final result after several years and you do not actually know if it will be successful or not. As said Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Disney Studios said “Even we cannot predict success of our movies.”
What is different from being a Supervisor versus a regular animator on a show?
Here I can point two main exceptions:
- I need to hire the animation team and organize their work.
- I do almost no animating myself. Instead, I spend most of the time reviewing other animators work.
Also, there are other responsibilities that are important for a supervisor, because you have to stay between your team and the Director. It is the Supervisor’s job to transfer clear information from the Director to the team and constantly monitor the quality of animation according to the Director’s and Producer’s requirements. Sometimes, it’s not easy either! Almost always animators on your team have different experience levels and you may spend 80% of your time reviewing 20% of the animators to the get necessary quality.
How is it working with a team of remote animators on Yoko?
On “Yoko” we had 2 teams of animators – one Russian and a second international one. I’m working with the foreign animators. It was a big challenge for me, because it was first time I needed to communicate in English. Also sometimes I needed to work nights through the different time zones.
Do you think using remote animators is helpful for a studio?
Definitely yes. The main reason why studios are working with freelancers is to save money. This is because freelancers often get their salary by episodes with a fixed fee.
Do you have a favorite project that you have worked on in your career?
My favorite project for this moment is “August 2008” created by studio MainRoad|Post http://mrpost.ru/projects/28
It was the first Russian movie with a lot of scenes involving character animation. For me, as an animator, it was a big level up! Also, working with MainRoad|Post was the best time of my life. I call them the “Russian ILM” 🙂
What do you do outside of animation to stay motivated and creative?
I’m an ordinary person. Sometimes I get frustrated with the work as well. But, when I return to the animation, I realize: what may be better than this? Damn it, I have the best profession in the world!
Do you have any advice you can offer newer animators that want to work in the industry?
I can say only one thing, beginners should spend a lot of time and attention to learn and practice the “animation basics”. A person, who may perfectly animate a bouncing ball, can rule the world! 🙂
Thanks again to Alexey for taking the time to write out these great answers! I hope everyone enjoyed this interview and please, if you would like to reach-out to Alexey, below is his IMDB and Linked-In page.