Which cartoons/animations did you watch while growing up - which was your favourite and did any in particular inspire you to become an animator?
I watched cartoons when I was growing up, but not on TV, as we were not allowed to watch TV at home. At some point though, we got a computer, and my older sister would show us Disney animations. The first one I watched was Snow White when I was around seven or eight. I was so impressed, like: “Oh my God, the characters are moving on the screen it’s amazing!” I watched all the Disney animations over time, then my sister introduced me to Sailor Moon when I was about twelve, and I fell in love with it immediately. It’s how I discovered Anime, and it really inspired me to do animation later.
You did your degree at Falmouth - what was it about this university that attracted you?
I was lucky in that I had five universities to choose from, but I chose Falmouth simply because it’s a great university with a great programme of animation, and the location! Cornwall is just beautiful.
Your artistic style is distinct and immediately recognisable – what influenced your style – was it any particular painter or artist?
I’ve never consciously thought about that. I get lots of inspiration from painting with watercolours, and we do lots of research at the design stage of a project, which includes looking at many artists' different styles of drawing backgrounds and characters, and this inspires us to make our own.
What software do you use to create animations and why?
We use TVPaint. It’s what we both learned to use in university, and it’s really good software for creating animation, as well as being easy to use. It has a feature called onion skinning which is a useful tool for animators which allows you to see the previous sketches with the next frame overlaid on it. So you can move through this making adjustments until the animation is flawless. A lot of animation programs have this, but it’s so easy in DV paint. I once looked at an animation program called harmony, but I didn’t like it – for 2d animation it complicates things more than it needs to, and also photoshop but that’s really awful for animation. It's also really expensive the subscriptions model and you end up paying for things you don’t need. I actually id a calculation for how much a subscription would cost for the average lifetime, and it’s half the cost of an apartment!
Where do you get your inspiration for creating new characters and backgrounds from?
Each of our films has a different style, informed by a research process of looking through many other artists and animators' work, but it very much has something from us as well. As far as character design is concerned , it's Liana who does it, so she is best to answer. about that.
Are there any Romanian artists or animators who you particularly admire?
The Romanian animation industry is very much at the early stages right now, so we still don’t have that many people who work in the industry. However, there is one animator of feature films called Dan Panaitescu who I really admire - the way he animates is amazing.
What is a typical day for an animator? Do you have a set nine to five routine, or are you more flexible?
I tend to be flexible about the workday rather than having a fixed routine. Sometimes I do work nine to five though, and those are happier days because to be honest, when we have a deadline, I tend to work a lot more. But the good part of having a flexible routine is that if I want to do something in the middle of the week, I can take a day off and make up for it on a Saturday or Sunday.
What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to expand the animation studio and take on more staff or explore different creative areas?
Yes we do have plans to expand our studio, and would love to make and direct our own films; but this will probably not happen for at least another year or so. But in the future, yes, we would definitely like to be involved with big projects and expand the team.
What are your views on CGI animation?
I don’t have a strong opinion on the topic. I like what I’ve seen of it in other films, but I prefer to work in the medium that we’re working in now. Some people say CGI is an excuse for weak story telling but I disagree – there are lots of non-CGI films with bad stories, so I don’t think the technology has anything to do with it.
What are your 3 favourite animated films?
Birdboy was written and co-directed by Alberto Vázquez, and his story telling is amazing. I can’t even describe it – you'd have to watch it to see what I mean!
What are your 3 favourite non-animated films?
What is your favourite part of the animation process?
Definitely the pre-production phase, which involves storyboarding, design of characters and backgrounds, but in the past year I’ve started to find the actual animation part more and more likeable. Every step of the process has its pros and cons. I was comfortable in the pre-production more because that’s what I concentrated on in university, so the animation is more of a challenge – especially the character animation.
Do you have any particular snacks that keep you going through a long day of animating?
No not really. The downside of working from home is that once you start snacking it's really hard to stop. So I try not to snack, but I do drink a lot of sparkling water, which may not be as healthy as it sounds – my mum says that sparkling water can damage your kidneys!
I like it because it feels more substantial than just water, and it satisfies a craving.
What is your favourite fish?
I guess it’s tuna, but I also love mackerel.