Gareth ‘The Chameleon’ Jones
25 and some pieces of pie.
So what is exactly is it that you do?
Apart from moonlighting as the guardian of the Gate of Endor ( a portal through which the souls of the damned occasionally find their way to Winnipeg), the storyboard team fleshes the brilliant scripts out into visual documents. We create a cinematically engaging template, kind of like a comic book, from which the animators will create and bring the shots to life. Basically we’re visual storytellers.
Why in the world would you choose a career in animation?
Why in the world not? Large scale animation is a pretty new field locally and it’s exciting to be on the crest of the wave. There’s plenty of room for novelty and creativity.
Did you study, how did you go about learning your trade?
I studied cinematography for three years at AFDA Cape Town and I’ve always been a bit of a scribbler. Extra features on those DVD thingies often have great examples of storyboards, as does the internet machine. It’s great to see what the pros do and borrow their techniques.
Give us a brief run down of your average working day? Rooibos. Cigarette. Draw. Cigarette. Draw. Cigarette. Draw. Cigarette. Lunch. Cigarette. Draw. Rooibos and cigarette. Draw. Phone call from someone offering me life insurance. I’ll take this call outside and have a cigarette. Home to the wife, the cat and the cocktails. Zzzzzzz…. (FirstStep raises eyebrow)
What type of challenges do you face on an ongoing basis?
Tight deadlines aside, URBO is one of the fasted produced animated series out there. Each stage of production is done on a five day cycle, so we have to work smart. What takes a couple of seconds to watch takes many hours to animate so the storyboard department tries to make the animators’ lives simpler through clever shot selection. For example, animating a character running takes a lot of hard work. If we frame the character from the waist up, we save the animator a cow’s load of work and allow them one more night’s sleep. They thank us for this, often by baking cakes or composing songs of praise.
Do you recommend studying to get into your field?
Absolutely. Short courses, at least, in drawing and film-making will be helpful. Cinematography, even when applied to storyboarding, is as much a science as it is a creative process. The ability to communicate ideas visually is imperative. (FirstStep says: well put!)
Funniest moment of your career:
The broken urinals resulted in a Lord of the Flies-esque melee outside the only cubicle in the gents’. (FirstStep says: Huh, actually no explanation needed...)
Highlight of your career so far:
The urinal thing. That and seeing the first episode televised after months of hard work.
If you weren’t a ….you would be a…..?
Libran/ Fairy princess. Or a gaffer.
What’s your biggest inspiration?
Oooh, illustrator Ralph Steadman.
And your influences?
Tim Wang (Resident animator). I want to be him when I grow up. If I live to 450, I might stand a chance.
Favourite food: The mighty taco.
Favourite Country: South Africa
Favourite Cartoon: The Family Guy