Thursday, 3 January 2019

Plamen Ananiev Talks 2D Animation

Plamen Ananiev
Plamen Ananiev is our newest animation tutor, joining us next week for our very first evening class in 2D animation, teaching students to use the latest 2D animation software - Toonboom Harmony.

Why are we running classes in Harmony? Because Harmony is now one of the leading software packages for the creation of 2D animation, such as at London-based animation powerhouse Blue Zoo, which is currently crewing up a whole new division for 2D animation. 

We asked Plamen (currently working on Simon's Cat in London) to talk about his work in the field of 2D Animation - now experiencing a major revival here in the UK and elsewhere. In particular, how can students successfully break into this competitive part of the industry?
Plamen - working on Simon's Cat

Escape: How did you get into animation?
Plamen: I’ve wanted to be an animator for as long as I can remember. After finishing my bachelor’s degree at New Bulgarian University in Sofia I did a master’s degree in 3D animation at Bournemouth university.

Once that was done, I spent a year doing some small freelance jobs and updating my showreel. During that time I realised that what I was really passionate about was 2D animation, so I put my efforts towards that. My first TV series work was at studio Karrot on the pre-school TV show Child's Farm for Cartoonito.

Escape: What are your favourite projects you have worked on?
Plamen: One of my favourite shows to work on was Magic Hands - a preschool show for CBeebies, designed for children with hearing disabilities. I loved the idea, and it was one of the shows where the animators were given quite a lot of creative freedom. The fact that the animation was quick and bouncy and often timed with the presenters’ sign language made it challenging and great fun to work on.

I also enjoyed working on The Snowy Day - an Emmy winning Christmas special for Amazon- a very different style of animation to what I usually do.

Last but not least, at the moment I’m working on Simon’s Cat and loving it! It’s something I’ve been a fan of for years and there is something very satisfying in animating the cat wiggling its bum when hunting or doing a big stretch when waking up.

Toonboom Harmony
Escape: Do you think 2D animation has a future?
Plamen:  2D animation definitely does have a future, from the beautiful feature films of Cartoon Saloon, the upcoming “Klaus” from SPA studios, to the numerous cartoon series coming out every year. Ireland already has a big animation industry with studios like Boulder Media, Lighthouse and Brown Bag, and the UK industry is getting bigger and bigger, especially in pre-school content. More and more studios around the UK are picking up Toonboom Harmony and getting into 2D series work and that makes me optimistic about the future.

Escape: What do you like about Toonboom Harmony?
Plamen:  The main thing I like about Toonboom Harmony is how flexible it is. Unlike some other software, it makes it easy to do both puppet animation using rigs, and also work in a hand-drawn style. When I first started using Harmony I found it very intuitive and - which I found very important - not at all restrictive. I have worked on various TV shows with completely different visual styles and, even though it was sometimes challenging,  I have never found it difficult to bring these to life with Toonboom Harmony.

Escape: What do you think students will get out of the course?
Plamen:  What I’m hoping for students to get out of the course is the ability to confidently animate in Toonboom Harmony and also get a better understanding of the 2D animation industry and its practices. By the end of the course they should be comfortable with the software, and animating using rigs. I have done 2D animated series work for over 5 years and I can prepare them for what the job entails and what the requirements usually are for getting in the industry.

Escape: What advice would you give to students looking to break into the industry?
Plamen: Practice a lot and observe the world around you; I believe that this is how you become a better animator.  The main thing any studio will be looking for is the quality of your showreel.

Try new things and different styles. Showing that you’re capable of adapting is important and, who knows, the show you’re applying to work for might have a similar style to something you’ve done.

Networking is important. It’s something that not all of us enjoy that much but from my personal experience I can say it really helps. Even if it doesn’t lead to you grabbing a job straight away, knowing people and making friends in the industry will definitely pay off. It’s also great being around like- minded people and exchanging ideas.

To see more about Plamen's new Toonboom Harmony course starting next week, follow this link.

Plamen Demo Reel
And to see Plamen's demo reel, watch the video below:

Plamen Ananiev Toon Boom Harmony Rigging Showreel from on Vimeo.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our BA/MArt in 3D Animation, follow this link.  To apply for our storyboarding evening class, visit this page here.  For the next 12 week animation course, click here.

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