Interviews: Dave Williscroft
1. How many hours does it take to render one episode of Beast Wars? What is the animation process (from beginning to end) like?
Don't want to give away too much here but around an average of 3-4 hours per average shot....The process basically is: the director assigns a sequence of shots for you to animate, tells you what he wants to see, then you go to your comp. and animate a couple rough tests (basic camera moves, chars moving around like statues for timing etc.) to show the dir., he will suggest changes , tell you what he likes or wants changed or added. You may have to submit 2 or 3 rough tests before it is ready to finnesse and tweak for final approval, after which you get the lighting to look nice, and set it up for final rendering, and dumping. Then you go get another shot to do. etc....
2. What type of training does one need to learn to animate in CGI?
Take a 3-d comp. animation course, dude....
3. How did you get started in animation? Did you always want to be an animator?
I saw a film festival with some cool comp. anim. and was blown away....the next week I saw an ad in a paper for a 3-d course which I signed up for the next day and the rest is history....(I have also pretty much always been a cartoon addict)
When I was very young I wanted to be a fire truck, but as I got older I realized that was just silly, so I decided to become an animator....
4. How many hours does it take to create a brand new character?
I worked on season 1 Megatron for around a month.....
5. What types of computers and software are used to create Beast Wars?
Big fat juicy SGIs chock full 'o' ram , running Softimage and a bunch of wicked awsome proprietary programs!
6. Do the animators enjoy their work on Beast Wars?
I thoroughly enjoy my job as a BEAST WARS animator....Its like when i was a kid and wanted to blow up robots 'n' stuff, ...NOW I CAN!!! (not to mention being a hero to all my 5 yr. old daughter's friends!)
7. How is animating transforming robots different than other types of CGI work?
I've been animating tranforming robots for so long now that I've completely forgotten what other types of CGI are!
9. Was there any influence from the previous Transformers show on the look of this show?
Lots....it seems like the script writers try to use references to events and characters, etc. from the original comics 'n' series .....
10. It's been said that all the scenes in BW are animated from several different angles at once until the final angles seen in the episodes are chosen, is this true?
Sometimes a big dramatic "Characters go flying through the air from a huge explosion" shot will be rendered from a few dif. angles and cut together for the dramatic thing, but usually a camera will be set and approved for a shot before the chars. are even animated.....(did I understand the question?)
11. Rendering shadows was an issue that came up regarding the first and second seasons of Beast Wars. Does this really add a lot to animation time?
It is another element to work with in each shot....which will usually add time taken to do each shot. (making sure the shadows go where you want and vice versa , plus it takes longer to render).