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Lupin House to Nimona - Interview with Peter Dang

Updated: May 17, 2022

First let's get to know a little bit about you! When and why did you decide to become an Animator?

I was always a very artsy kid, so the question was only ever—what kind of creative work will I go into? In high school, I took an animation class, and delightfully found that animation was the intersection of technology and creativity, both of which I naturally gravitated towards. I immediately made the decision to work for a big animation studio. In the beginning, my goal was Dreamworks, but now it matters to me less where I am, and more what and who I’m doing it with.

Favorite animated film and why?

It’s a toss up between Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and How to train your Dragon! Cloudy being this effortlessly fun comedy, and Dragons being this fantastical hero’s journey. These were THE movies that drove my passion to go into animation when I was in high school. (Also, Dragon’s soundtrack!!)

What's your dream project?

I’m gonna say Spider-Verse. But I’m not holding on to that too tight. I think that goals are worth having for the sake of moving forward, but I’ve found that the more I’ve moved towards working on SpiderVerse, more and more opportunities have availed themselves to me, and I’m quite content with where I’m at now (Nimona!). Alternative answer—any action-adventure epic film!

What did you learn at Lupin House that has helped you in your new position working on Nimona?

Specifically -- observing your reference and noting where everything is pivoting from; being aware of where you WANT your audience to look at; dirtying up your curves to add texture; being intentional about what’s the biggest and smallest parts of your performance; pushing contrast.

After having studied animation at university, what are the benefits of doing a mentorship with Lupin house? Like many people, after graduating from college and not being at the level I wanted to be, online courses were a great boon for my development. The advice I would’ve given myself when I was working in TV trying to get to features is this: “You won’t level up as much as you think you will working in TV. If you want to get to features, online classes is the FASTEST way to get there. Personally, I stalled my growth for two years, and I regret not having taken online courses sooner.”

Jackie has gone from your mentor to your Supervisor, Is there a difference in the feedback you receive while working on Nimona to the feedback you receive during our Mentorships?

Qualitatively, it’s the exact same. But if I'm being honest.... I think I got MORE notes during Lupin House, haha. I think with the small class sizes, and the dedicated time for your shot, mentors like Jackie are able to dive into every single note that they can think of (without conflicting notes from five other people in a production). Either that or I actually got better between doing Lupin House and working on Nimona

Every now and then while animating a shot we all get “stuck” if you will. Where all of a sudden the shot is not working, or you have been working for 3 hours and it feels like the shot has gone backwards, all of a sudden you feel like you have forgotten how to animate.. What do you do in this situation? What is your workaround?

I don’t have a concrete workaround for these situations, unfortunately. But I do have a mindset that helps me power through. First, there is a solution to everything. You might feel like this is an impossible task, but that’s not true-- There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Next, sometimes animation is easy, and sometimes it is hard. Sometimes you hit a note on the first try, and sometimes you don’t hit it until the tenth try. It’s part of the game. It happens. After that, trust your lead. They’re a lead for a reason-- Two heads are better than one! And lastly, persevere!

You already had feature experience before taking a mentorship at Lupin House. Some people might feel once they are in the industry they no longer need to take extra courses, what made you decide to take our mentorship and what are some of the benefits for doing so?

I can’t speak for other people, but personally I want to be really good at this. I’ve been in dailies where someone’s first pass looks better than my polish pass. Everyone's at different levels when working at these big studios, and it both scares and excites me. I want to do this craft on that level. I want to see what I can do. And the fastest way for me to get there is to learn from people who are already there. Closing remarks: I’m grateful to have had Jackie!! Pick a good mentor, you won’t regret it!

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