Hector Godoy Garcia is a Senior Animator at Blue Sky Studios. He has been Character Lead for some of the studio’s most memorable characters, like Mub, the funny slug, from “Epic”, Charlie Brown´s little sister, Sally on “Peanuts The Movie”, or the crazy weasel Buck in their latest film “Ice Age: Collision Course”. He is a true inspiration in the world of animation. Don’t believe me? Take a look at his work and judge for yourself:
Hi Hector, could you talk a bit about yourself and your background?
I am originally from Madrid, Spain, and since I was a little kid I loved drawing characters and doodles everywhere. I loved animated movies in particular. I remember watching Peter Pan twice a day for a long period of time, probably a good couple of months, when my parents bought me the VHS. That film and the first Toy Story, which I watched when I was eleven, had a great impact on me. Another big influence for me as a kid were video games. In fact, the very first memory I have from video games is playing Contra’s multiplayer on the NES with my neighbor at the age of four. We also played a game that not many people know of, the first Dragonball for the NES. I think in North America it was called Dragon Power.
When I had to decide what I wanted to do with my professional life, it was pretty clear in my mind; I wanted to do something related to my passions. I found the one thing all of them had in common was animation.
Can you talk about your early education in the arts, and where you studied?
In high school I specialized in arts. I took drawing and sculpting classes, and I studied four years of cinema, which consisted primarily studying the language of film, analyzing films, and story boarding. But when I finished high school I still hadn’t look into animation specifically. I wanted to learn a bit about all the digital arts, and open my field of view in order to decide what I wanted to do next. I went to a school called Trazos, which is in Madrid. I spent three years learning a bit of everything. I learned Maya and Softimage, post-production with Shake, web design with Dreamweaver, Flash, HTML and some Java Scripting, Photoshop, Illustrator, and a few other things. The one thing that resonated with me the most was 3D. So that’s where I put most of my time.
Did you study animation at Trazos?
Almost. When I was there I met a traditional animator who was learning Maya. He had worked for years on many films, one of them being Dreamworks’ Sinbad, and he introduced me to animation. He explained the basics (arcs, slow in/out, squash and stretch, acting…) and he did not like the animation schools in town. So he advised me to buy two books, The Illusion of Life and Richard William´s Animator´s Survival Kit. He said that all I needed to know was contained in those two books.
Of course we are talking before Animation Mentor or any of the online schools available today. I followed his advice and bought them both. My education was quite simple, I would read some pages from the books, and right away I’d frame through some animation looking for what I had just read. I remember watching The Incredibles teaser and trailer over and over again, framing through it to absorb as much as I could. I find frame by framing is a really powerful study method and use it even today.
So how did your professional career start?
I was studying at Trazos when one of the big studios from Madrid came to the school to recruit people to collaborate on a pilot for a TV series. They were a 2D studio, so they needed 3D artists to help them. I was selected by the school as part of a group, I think we were six or seven in total. Once we were done with that project, the studio got a job for a 2D film that needed some 3D vehicles in it. At first they only needed one person, since one of the supervisors from the studio knew some 3D already, and they selected me. But after a few months, they hired another member from the group in order to meet the schedule. That was a tough job, I had to complete work for every part of the pipeline: modeling, rigging, shading, layout, animation, lighting and rendering. It was quite a challenge, but since I was only twenty years old, I didn’t even think about it, I just kept pushing.
Soon after that project, I got to work for some of the best companies in the Spain, like Bren Entertainment, which is the animation division of Filmax, and Dygra Films and Ilion Animation Studios in the pre-production of Planet 51. I then went to London, where I worked in arguably the biggest company in Europe, Framestore. I stayed there for two years working on two big projects, The Tale of Despereaux for Universal Pictures and Where The Wild Things Are.
How did you get to Blue Sky Studios?
After spending a few years working on European animated films I thought it was about time to take the leap and try overseas. I was already married and my wife and I were a bit tired of moving around to different countries every time I´d finish a project. Typically once the project you are working on is finished, you need to find a new job. It´s great for some time, as you get to travel and live in new places, but after a while we wanted something different. So I applied to Blue Sky Studios and I was lucky enough to get hired. That was back in 2010, and I’ve been here ever since.
Could you tell us a bit of your role at Blue Sky Studios?
Of course. I´m one of the Senior Animators, which means that at the beginning of every production I’ll get assigned a character that to be in charge of. This role is called Character Lead. That doesn’t mean that I only animate that character, I get to animate different ones, but it means that I know my character better than any one else, since I spend a lot of time on pre-production with it, animating tests, creating the libraries, cycles and so on. So my job is to make sure the character looks and behaves consistently. Senior Animators also get assigned a group of animators. Throughout the production we help them with their shots, and this is a process I enjoy a lot, since you get to see the improvement in their work and get to know them better as artists.
What are you plans for the future?
I don´t want to close any doors. I love creating stuff, and there are lots of new possibilities coming soon, like VR for example. I find this a very exciting time to be a creator, and I definitely want to keep my eyes wide open for the things that are to come. I like TV shows a lot, and video games are still one of my biggest passions, so who knows what the future will bring. Whatever it is, I just want to enjoy doing it, that´s the key for me.