Andrew Grisdale

Andy Gris­dale has been involved in var­i­ous types of ani­ma­tion through­out his career and has worked on a num­ber of excit­ing projects rang­ing from con­sole games for Xbox and Playsta­tion 2, to theme park attrac­tions, com­mer­cials and stun­ning cin­e­matic sequences for games such as Bioshock and Fable 2.

Andrew has spent the past 8 years hoard­ing a wealth of expe­ri­ence in very excit­ing projects. After work­ing for sev­eral stu­dios in Eng­land, he moved to the United Stated where he first joined Blur Stu­dios in Los Ange­les for just over a year before join­ing Pixar Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios in Emeryville, Cal­i­for­nia where he’s cur­rently work­ing as a lay­out artist on Toy Story 3.

You are cur­rently work­ing at Pixar. Can you tell us how you ended up there?

I started ani­mat­ing as a hobby back in the early 90s which led me to art school and even­tu­ally a degree in ani­ma­tion. My first three jobs were for games com­pa­nies in Eng­land. I wasn’t espe­cially inter­ested in the games indus­try and so in the mean­time I was mak­ing my own short films at home. I made two of them — ‘The Cir­cle’ and ‘The Green Miaow’. They look crude now but these shorts led to my being hired at Blur Stu­dio in Los Ange­les which was artis­ti­cally a huge move for me, col­lab­o­rat­ing on much more cin­e­matic pieces. I was there for three years before some larger stu­dios started to call. Although Blur was a great place to work I couldn’t say no when Pixar invited me to join them. i feel like cre­at­ing my own work was the most cru­cial step in get­ting here.

What is it about ani­ma­tion that made you choose it as your career?

I had an inter­est in film mak­ing from a very young age. When I was start­ing col­lege I thought I was going to go into live action film mak­ing but I quickly got dis­cour­aged by the lack of con­trol I had over the com­po­nents of a film — actors, light­ing, weather and so on. I was already com­fort­able with ani­ma­tion with which I could more eas­ily real­ize my ideas and have more fun with it. You’re only lim­ited by tal­ent and time. When I was at Blur I started to do lay­out pro­fes­sion­ally and in that area I really found my niche as it is the most filmic part of the ani­ma­tion process and I enjoyed it a lot.

What do you like the most about the type of work you do?

It’s just really fun to start a new sequence and to cre­ate a new Pixar scene from scratch. In lay­out we really work out the nuts and bolts of how the film is going to work in three dimen­sions. Aside from fig­ur­ing out the logis­tics we’re free to exper­i­ment as much as we please with the stag­ing, com­po­si­tion and cam­era work so we’re a big part of the film mak­ing process which is very satisfying.

Who or what inspires your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional work?

I’m mostly inspired by live action film­mak­ers — Kubrick, Hitch­cock, Lean, Scors­ese — all the usual sus­pects. PT Ander­son is my favourite work­ing right now. Scour­ing the inter­net for art blogs pro­vides an infi­nite source of inspi­ra­tion too. I’m for­tu­nate to live in an inspir­ing part of the world and to be sur­rounded by many tal­ented people.

What lessons have you learnt from you var­i­ous roles in games and films?

My years of work have taught me to have a plan and stick to it. Think about what you’re going to do do before you do it. I try to be as organ­ised as pos­si­ble. To build up my work in lay­ers and to do one thing after another. To com­mu­ni­cate as much as pos­si­ble with every­one you’re work­ing with. Keep track of how long tasks take so that you can best judge how long things will take to do in the future. But how well I stick to my own advice is another question…

Hav­ing tran­si­tioned from games to films, how do you think these two medi­ums are different?

From an ani­ma­tion stand­point there are obvi­ous dif­fer­ences — act­ing in ani­mated film ver­sus shorter actions and loops for games — but, really, the tools and the process are pretty much the same and you always try to cre­ate the finest qual­ity you can. I do remem­ber work­ing in games as being more repet­i­tive but it was still enjoy­able for the most part. I haven’t worked in games for quite a while so maybe things are chang­ing with this gen­er­a­tion of technology.

I know that you enjoy work­ing on your own ani­ma­tion shorts. Are there any more of them in the pipeline?

Nope! I would love to do another but this job takes too much out of me.

What are your tools of choice when animating?

Pixar has it’s own soft­ware which I really like using. Com­mer­cially, I like to use Max for most things but for ani­ma­tion I would say Maya is my favourite.

With films like Avatar and Up grac­ing the screens last year which take the art form of ani­ma­tion to new lev­els, where do you see ani­ma­tion going in the next few years?

Up, and espe­cially Avatar, had huge amounts of resources poured into them and it’s great for the indus­try that they’re doing so well. I’m more excited about how Cora­line and Fan­tas­tic Mr Fox went down so well. The ani­ma­tion indus­try is much cooler with those kind of films in it.

If you were a sur­vivor from the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse and you couldn’t do ani­ma­tion for a liv­ing, what would you be doing instead?
Hmm… hope­fully, build­ing boats to sail away on.

  1. Andrew’s offi­cial web­site A closer look at his work.
  2. Pixar Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios Andrew’s place of work.

A pro­fes­sional ani­ma­tor work­ing in the games indus­try, since 1999 Will has been ani­mat­ing for sev­eral major game titles in South Africa, Eng­land and cur­rently Denmark.