Eric Walls

With 20 years of expe­ri­ence in the ani­ma­tion indus­try, Eric is an excep­tion­ally skilled ani­ma­tor in both CG and tra­di­tional ani­ma­tion. His impres­sive port­fo­lio con­tains names such as Dream­works, Walt Dis­ney Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios, Warner Broth­ers, and Rhythm & Hues among oth­ers. Some of his most recent projects are The Princess and the Frog, Alvin and the Chip­munks: The Squeakquel, Bolt and Meet the Robin­sons. He stud­ied ani­ma­tion at Cal­i­for­nia Insti­tute of Arts, in Valen­cia, Cal­i­for­nia, where he was awarded a par­tial Dis­ney Schol­ar­ship. He’s even pub­lished a children’s book, which he wrote and illus­trated: The Har­bor Light, pub­lished by Kregel Publications.

As an ani­ma­tor, do you have any pref­er­ence between 2D and 3D?

I hon­estly love both. Each has its own unique pluses and minuses, and I love the chal­lenges both bring. To me, ani­ma­tion has always been about the per­for­mance of the char­ac­ter, cre­at­ing a believ­able and relat­able per­sona you care about.

And as a spectator?

Both forms of film hold won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties for cre­ativ­ity, imag­i­na­tion and style. I love films that pull you in and make you believe in and care for the char­ac­ters, regard­less of the medium used to achieve that goal.

How long had you been doing 2D when you first decided to learn CG, and how did you find the transition?

I was a 2D ani­ma­tor for about 10 years before I started learn­ing CG. It was a lit­tle daunt­ing at first, but since I’m an ana­lyt­i­cal per­son by nature, I wasn’t scared off by the tech­ni­cal side of things. Once I wrapped my head around the tools and how they affect the ani­ma­tion, it became sec­ond nature and I could con­cen­trate on the most impor­tant thing — cre­at­ing a performance.

I recently had the priv­i­lege to tran­si­tion back to 2D for a time to ani­mate on The Princess and the Frog for Dis­ney. I thor­oughly enjoyed the return to famil­iar ground. Then, it was back to CG for my next project. I feel so for­tu­nate to have the oppor­tu­nity for the variety.

Do you think CG is killing tra­di­tional animation?

No. I think there are sev­eral rea­sons why CG is at the fore­front of ani­ma­tion cur­rently. But I don’t think tra­di­tional ani­ma­tion is being “killed.” It’s just been pushed aside for the time being.

There’s a lot of room in the mar­ket­place for medium diver­sity. The last few years have been a mix of ani­mated films, mostly CG, but also tra­di­tional, stop-motion, as well as some new forms of ani­ma­tion. Great sto­ries, appeal­ing char­ac­ters, and unique expe­ri­ences are what make great films, and they are not exclu­sive to one par­tic­u­lar medium. Hope­fully we’ll see a bet­ter bal­ance of medi­ums in the not too dis­tant future.

What do you like ani­mat­ing the least?

I’d say any­thing not char­ac­ter per­for­mance related can become tedious for me. I know I keep repeat­ing myself, but it’s all about char­ac­ter to me.

How does life as a fam­ily man get along with the long hours of an animator?

It is tough at times, I must say. Fam­ily is num­ber one in my book. So when crunch time hits, I am very aware that I must be on guard to MAKE time avail­able. Work ethic is extremely impor­tant to me too, but a per­son can’t live their life at the stu­dio. I work with my employ­ers to have some flex­i­bil­ity in my work sched­ule at times.

You have worked with very tal­ented and renowned direc­tors and ani­ma­tors, is there any­one left you would like to work with?

Yes, I have been blessed to have worked with many great peo­ple in the ani­ma­tion field. Down-to-earth and approach­able peo­ple who make you feel part of a team, respect you, and value your expe­ri­ence and input.

The per­son I’d most like to work with is, actu­ally, who­ever is the next per­son or group of peo­ple I work with. Every­one has their own unique expe­ri­ences, skills and ideas, and the more peo­ple I col­lab­o­rate with, the more I’ll learn and grow as an artist.

Do you have any inten­tions of tak­ing your children’s book, ‘The Har­bor Light,’ into an animation?

I actu­ally started the idea as an ani­mated project. I had hopes of cre­at­ing a 30 minute, direct-to-video fea­turette with it. But from the very begin­ning, I wanted to do some­thing per­sonal, some­thing under my own com­plete cre­ative con­trol. As time went on, I real­ized a fully ani­mated project was a bit beyond my means, so my focus shifted to a more man­age­able form, and the idea to turn it into a 32 page children’s pic­ture book came in to being. There is noth­ing like hav­ing your own cre­ation and see­ing it through all the steps to completion.

Are you cur­rently work­ing on any new projects of your own?

Yes. I’m just fin­ish­ing up on a new children’s pic­ture book, my sec­ond. After that, I plan to move right on to my third pic­ture book idea, while con­tin­u­ing to develop a novel aimed toward an older audience.

How would you explain your job to a 90 year old lady who’s never seen a CG animation?

I’ve always found it a chal­lenge to con­vey to oth­ers exactly what an ani­ma­tor does, and the process they use to cre­ate a per­for­mance. I’ve sat down many times at my ani­ma­tion desk or my com­puter screen and shown in sum­ma­rized terms the steps to ani­mat­ing. They seem to under­stand it to a degree, and are always amazed to dis­cover the time and effort it takes. But in the end, I know it still eludes them. It seems “mag­i­cal” to them.

But I think that’s the way it should be. To cre­ate a char­ac­ter from absolute noth­ing that you could believe lives and breathes and feels and emotes, but is cre­ated through a tedious process one frame at a time over a period of weeks and weeks – how could that be any­thing but magic?

  1. Dis­ney­land minia­tures and stuff Eric’s per­sonal blog.
  2. Ani­ma­tion port­fo­lio A close look at his work.
  3. The Har­bor Light Buy his book!
  4. IMDb Eric’s filmography.

Cre­ator of one­huge­eye. Founder and direc­tor at Lon­don based Stu­dio Tinto. Dad. Cof­fee addict.