Ai LIVE: Animation Director Todd Redner Shares his Insight
In this episode of Ai LIVE, host E. Vincent Martinez sits down with Todd Redner, director and producer of Floyd County Productions, an Emmy Award winning animation studio in Atlanta. Redner discusses how he came into the animation industry, as well as his advice for aspiring animators.
Growing up, Redner loved cartoons, but he didn’t realize it could be an actual job. Instead, he directed his attention towards cartoon strips. During his college years, he was the cartoon editor for the school newspaper. While he did not pursue animation as a major, he stayed close to cartoons however he could. By the time the 90s rolled around, the internet was just starting to take root. He did icons and t-shirts, alongside other work, to refine his talents. Finally, he got a job doing background drawings for a “Dexter’s Laboratory” commercial, and that was where he started his career. Over time, he worked his way up to becoming a director.
Since Redner first started doing cartoons, technology has improved, and the tools have become much more accessible. When Redner first started, he was scanning pages of paper, putting things together after the fact. Now, much of the process has become digital. However, Redner insists that knowing both the traditional methods and their digital counterparts are important skills to have in the industry.
Now that Redner is the director, his work schedule varies from project to project. At the beginning of a project, he typically speaks to other producers, looks at which staff members might be pulled onto the project, and how they’ll animate it. Often times, he’ll give notes to help improve the final outcome of a series.
When it comes to working in the animation industry, Redner has a lot of advice, based on his many years of experience. He encourages students to not only have the hard skills, such as knowing the tools and software of the trade, but the soft skills as well, like being an enjoyable coworker. Discouragement is a common part of the industry, and he tells students not to give up if they hear a “no.” Sometimes, he says, it might be a timing issue. But that job is out there, and they need to work to find it. Redner notes that it’s much easier to share work now than when he first started out; now anyone can post their animation portfolio online—in his day, he had to put it on video tapes or CDs.
Redner notes that the hardest part of getting that first job is getting a foot in the door. Once that’s done, it’s up to the individual to prove what they can do. That’s what he did, and he credits his success from starting small and working his way up the career ladder.
To learn more about animation, check out the animation programs at The Art Institutes by clicking here.
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