The reason I chose Animation as my major, is because ever since I was a little boy I have been fascinated by how cartoonists made these characters come to life. I find it fascinating to see these characters move like they are truly alive. As I got older, I began to notice things in the background. For example, little details such as shadows, background characters, and little things here and there, that made the world seem so real. When I would watch an episode of an animated series or an animated movie, I would always stay for the credits. I was amazed by how many people it takes to create the finished product of an animation. Sometimes I would study how long it takes to make a movie or a series; and every time I am still amazed with the production process. For example, did you know that each episode of Avatar the Last Airbender took nine months to complete? That takes a lot of hard work, time, and dedication.
Inspired to Animate
In the fall of 2016, I took my first animation class. In this class I learned the basics of 2D and stop motion animation. I learned how much time it takes just to create a few seconds of animation. Some shows can be animated at 12 frames per second, while others are usually animated at 24 frames per second. When it comes to stop motion, it takes longer because if one thing falls out of sequence then you have to start the process all over again. I remember trying to create a stop motion animation for my cousins with their teddy bear, only for their dog to keep ruining the shots when he kept getting in the way. As a result of this, the objects in the foreground moved like they were supposed to, but their dog made the background inconsistent. One day I found a bunch of empty soda cans lying around my house, and I had the idea to make an animation out of them. I remember spending a good part of the day trying to time everything perfectly. It can be time consuming, but the end result makes it all worth it. Another day, my friends and I found a bunch of Legos and decided to build several mini cars and create an animated race out of them for a stop motion project. I felt like a kid again as I built with the little plastic pieces. It also took awhile because we had to make a race track but it was fun to do.
My Experience Animating
2D animation is a completely different ballgame from stop motion. When I started with 2D, it was a bit of a challenge because I was using a mouse, and to me, drawing with a mouse is like drawing with a shoe: very difficult, if not impossible. Even though it was a challenge for me, I was able to make it work. I remember one time when I recorded a former coworker doing a trick. A few months later, I dug up the video and decided to animate it as a surprise for his birthday. It took about three hours but I was satisfied with the result, and I sent him a copy of it. After he received it, he contacted me to tell me it was amazing and thanked me for doing it. Later on, I had to take a drawing of a line, change it into different things and then back to a line. I had to really think about how it worked. Eventually I was able to change it into a couple of things. I was able to change it into a road, a sign, and a Frisbee, and back into a line. This project really showed me how many frames it actually takes for a minute of animation. It took over 200 frames, and it also took me several days to complete it. Can you imagine how long it takes to make an animated television series? In the spring of 2019, I actually opened at an animation festival. I took the word Rarebit and changed it into multi-colored peppers, an honor I was proud to have.
My own animation project
When it comes to hobbies, I currently am working on an animated South Park parody series called North Park with some friends of mine. I write, animate, and voice a character on it. We currently have four episodes with a fifth episode in the works. You can look for it on YouTube under the channel North Park Studios.
Another thing I would like to do is acting. When I was a senior in high school I had a small role in James Madison’s High School Musical “Sing.” Even though I was mainly part of the chorus, that experience got me thinking that acting was a lot of fun and I wanted to do it again. A few months later, I got my chance in the Madison’s Spring Musical “Oliver.” I auditioned, and I got the role of Charlie Bates. He was a pickpocket for a man named Fagin. Although he was a secondary character in this version, he actually set the second half of the story in motion. It was a fun experience playing this character, and it truly felt like becoming someone else. What really surprised me was that someone from the RoundAbout Theater in NYC saw the show and liked it so much that they asked us to perform a scene on Broadway. Being on that stage performing was truly a pleasure, and an honor. It was one night I won’t ever forget. In the future I am hoping to take an acting class at Pace and build on my animation skills. Step by step, frame by frame, moment by moment, I am enjoying bringing my passions for animation and acting to life.
About the Author: Michael Segal is from Brooklyn, NY and is currently a Junior at Pace studying in Animation.