Animation: Interview with a new filmmaker Brandon Ray

thenewfilmmaker: How do you develop the stories for your animation shorts?
Brandon Ray: That really depends on the project. For my short animated films, most of the time a particular song, image, or idea serves for the foundation. I’ll usually dive head-first into executing a scene that I feel inspired about, and from that point forward, I’ll develop the rest of the narrative. With my current project, Paper People Jokes, I use jokes that people email or webcam to me. So I don’t have to develop a story, I just need to decide what way visually I’m going to express the joke that’s being told. Occasionally, however, I’ll make-up a joke myself (like I did for the Vimeo Festival + Awards promo).

thenewfilmmaker: Could you describe the animation technique you use?

Brandon Ray: Basically every single animated short I’ve done has used a different stylistic technique. Sometimes I use video footage composited and motion-tracked along with painted images (like I did in The Land Eaters and The Deal), and some of my projects are completely flash-based animations (My So-Called Adult Life). In Paper People Jokes, I’m using a technique that looks like stop-motion construction paper cut-out animation but is completely cooked-up in After Effects.

thenewfilmmaker: Why do you use this technique?

Brandon Ray: I like the look of construction-paper stop-motion, and I love working in After Effects. Plus it saves me a lot of time. 🙂

thenewfilmmaker: What are the difficulties of your technique and where can someone learn to to do such videos like you?
Brandon Ray: Well, you need a basic understanding of how to use the program After Effects. I actually made a tutorial for AE Tuts Plus that completely explains how I do the technique.
thenewfilmmaker: Did you go to a film school? Learning by doing?
Brandon Ray: I went to film school, but honestly 99% of what I make (especially the animated content I do) I’ve taught myself. My film school didn’t really have any program for animation, so I learned the cinematic grammar and used that as a foundation for my own personal animation education.
thenewfilmmaker: What kind of video software do you use for the animation?
Brandon Ray: I edit in Final Cut Pro, animate in After Effects, Photoshop, and sometimes Flash or Toon Boom Studio.
thenewfilmmaker: What would be your advice for a first time filmmaker, who would like to do such videos like you?
Brandon Ray: The only way you’re going to learn is by working on projects, whether they’re your own personal films or someone else’s. Theory is important, but real experience is how you come to terms with and understand your own ability.

More info about Brandon Ray at:

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