Seeking Insight & Advice in pursuing a career in "Action Cartoons"

Obviously, I’m young, ignorant, and new to Toonboom. I have the 2.5 express version. I just wanted a reliable but basic animation program to begin experimenting in the subject I hope to have a career in. But I’m clueless. Toonboom I may be able to learn via tutorials and experience, but to get to the career I want, well, I just don’t know what paths I should take. So here’s the lowdown on myself…

What I want to be:

When I grow up, it is my dream to be the leader of a team that produces epic, dramatic, exciting, well-animated & innovative cartoon series and mini-series for older teenagers and young adults. I guess the proffession I’m shooting for is to be a writer/director of my own series, with the help of a group of other creative people in the animation industry. I’ve noticed that, unlike Japan, America has failed to produce its own thoughtful, well-made action cartoons geared towards older viewers. Nevertheless, this is the target I am shooting at and I refuse to give up.

What I’d like to know:

To actually become an animation team leader, how much hands-on experience would I have to have in actually animating? Would I have to actually have past experience in drawing out and animating action sequences for other cartoons? Or could I just have a good writing status? What should I major in while I’m in college? What courses should I try to take when I’m in college? See, I don’t want to do the actual animating, just the writing, directing, and general design of it all. It’s selfish, I know, but it’s just my dream. How likely is it that I can get a job leading an animation team by just proving my skill as a writer and/or director? How can I prove that my ideas are creative and innovative enough to get into the industry? I just don’t have any leads on this.

If anyone who knows the animation industry and/or has experience with it, I would appreciate your answers, advice and insight more than I could express. Thanks alot.

hi warsaint777,there are a few good animators with a production experience here, but they do not appear frequently. and the audience is not so big as at other forums. have you tried: rob

Hi, 777-Just a few thoughts on your desire to become a "leader of a team that produces epic, dramatic, exciting, well-animated & innovative cartoon series and mini-series for older teenagers and young adults."You wonder how much hands-on experience you might need in the area of animation to become an animation team leader. I know very little about that specific discipline, but I was an art director for some 8 years and I’ve been a full-time commercial illustrator for about 35 years and I haven’t met anyone in all those years who’s become a head art director (a leader) or head of a commercial art studio (again, a leader) with a staff of artists working under him/her who hasn’t had a LOT of hands-on experience in the field. A “leader” by the very definition of the word is someone who has a vast overview of the process they are expected to lead. And to get that overview, one needs experience. You can’t lead (at least effectively–think of the Katrina mess-up) without experience in your chosen field. Perhaps you can lead a team of animators if you have top-notch writing credentials, but you’d at the very least have to be familiar with the process used by animators. I can’t imagine even the funniest staff writer on Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” with NO experience in the field of animation, jumping in and successfully heading up a team of animators for “The Incredibles 2”. At the very least, you should begin by reading a lot about writing for animation if you think that’s your strength or, if you want to know what’s involved in the animation process, putting your Toon Boom Express to good use and creating a slew of short animations. You ask if it’s likely you can “get a job leading an animation team by just proving (your) skill as a writer and/or director” and I’ll ask you this: how do you imagine you’ll get those impressive writer and/or director skills? You can begin by taking courses in creative writing and perhaps your college or art school of choice will offer courses in film/animation directing. With those basic skills under your belt, you would probably head to a studio somewhere to serve an apprenticeship to log in some hands-on experience. Then, assuming you are a hard-working, talented, creative artist, you might either work your way up the ladder within the studio or move on to another firm to begin your ascendent career as a top player in the animation industry.Even if, as you say, you don’t want to do the actual animation part of the process, just the “writing, directing and general design”, I don’t think you’ll find your time wasted in learning Toon Boom and creating some animation project. Even if you draw stick figures for the animation, it’ll give you an idea of how to construct an animation narrative. Once you begin doing actual animated stories, you’ll begin viewing the work of animators you admire through a whole new prism. Narrative animation is not about writing or drawing as separate entities, it’s about how the two forms merge, how they support and enhance each other. You can’t really fully grasp that process without getting in there and doing it. In addition, I suggest you spend an equal amount of time critically observing the work of many, many others who do it for a living. Sounds like you have done a fair amount of viewing what’s out there in your comparison of Japanese & American “action cartoons”. That’s a good start, for sure.I know you asked for the advice & insight from someone in the animation field, but since the response here has been limited to a single response (the always helpful Rob), I figured you might find some benefit from a seasoned pro in a related field, even if the guy’s but a greenhorn animator.Good Luck & Best Wishes,-Elwood

@elwoodi hope you don’t mistake me for rob from ;)my website is elsewhere: :)rob

Oops! I’m guilty of not paying attention. I did confuse Rob A with Rob B. Thanks for letting me know. Hey, you’re helpful, too! Best, Elwood

Hi, Rob Number 2.I went to your website and downloaded your Flash file: die_vorhersehung.swf and found it to be very interesting, despite my inability to understand German. Some nice Rotoscoping and you’ve merged your drawings with photos really well. Did you do it all in Toon Boom or was some of it done in Flash?I’ll have to go back to the site to see if you have other animations. I sure wish I knew German. I’d not only be able to understand your animation, but also be able to read even more about my favorite composer, Gustav Mahler. He was born in Kaliste (Czech Republic), but worked and lived all his adult life in Vienna.Best, Elwood

hi elwood,thanks for dropping by :)btw, there is also an english version of the whole web site (start page, union jack on the top). there is also an english translation of the die_vorhersehung.swf here:[url=] come from a slightly different corner (architecture and design) and just start with animations. and yes, it’s only toon boom studio. flash export due to file size last animation, a 10 seconds contribution to the festival is only a screenshot because of the terms and conditions of that site.oh, i’m a resident in vienna, but my real background is warsaw/poland.cheers.robupdate@warsaint777: sorry for this off topic…

Hi, Rob. I hope 777 doesn’t mind our using his thread to chat. I just wanted to say I visited your Anglo site and loved the drawings accompanying your “How did it all start?” page. Assuming you did 'em, you should find some way to work that style into an animation.Later on, I’ll dig around the site some more. I do wish you’d put some more animation up on the site. My wife’s grandparents are from Poland. I’m an American mongrel–lots of Scottish & Brit blood and everything else.-Elwood

hi elwood,i decided to prolong this chat here (i hope 777 won’t mind), because some thoughts might be interesting for others, too. my point is to do everything as fast as possible, with the best possible effect.i love the smeared atmosphere you see on some of my pics (mostly comic/graphic romans), but to animate this at a 25 fps pace (i use pal), it would be a helluva work. that’s why i tend to prefer the layout of my last animation i’ve mentioned in my last post. very fast, almost nonchalant drawings with strong shadows to build a 3d impression, and a smooth gray background area to calm down the effect. i wish i could show you the animation, but i can’t yet.btw, you can see all the animations on my web site at the navigation tab click (left hand side). cheers,robp.s. yeah, all the works there are mine…btw, do you know the polish and czech animation has a long tradition? the czechs are known for their mastery puppets for already thousands of years.check maybe also the old czech animation guru jan svankmajer on the web. i think tim burton does know him thoroughly :wink: