INTERVIEWS - FEROZ IQBAL

GL: What part of Canada are you in or did you come from?

FI: I grew up in Ottawa (Ontario) and by the age of 21 - I moved to Vancouver. I consider Vancouver to be my home and where I want to settle down after.


GL: How long would you say you've been animating for?

FI: I've been animating for 3 years now.


GL: What was your inspiration for delving into animation as a career and why choose animation?

FI: One day I ran into this film called "Nuit Blanche" by Arev Manoukian. I will never forget how it made me feel. It was a collage of vfx, animation, green screen and story-telling. It was like watching a dream. After that - I knew this is what I wanted to do and that was it.  I wanted to improve my work and someone in my college told me about Video Copilot and I started seeing more about the world of film.

After that - I ran into the work of Pierre Magnol who now runs "Bright Photon"  and then I knew this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to create worlds that would evoke feelings that even we don't understand as humans. We are all drawn to things that we dont understand... but somehow we can relate to it. That was my intrinsic inspiration.




GL: "Hollywood Interview Disaster" was inspired by your job hunt in LA - Did you end up finding an animation job while you were there?

FI: I did get many offers. Some studios and ad agencies loved my work but I went with the best ones. There are many studios here that don't understand how much creative pressure is put on a graphic artist but I went with two that would let me work off-site. This means that we take the notes we need to color correct/add film titles/ add motion graphics to their footage and then we work on it in our own studio and communicate via email. I loved that because it's very open ended and the senior animators are very respectful and understanding.



GL: 'Magnetic Dance' is a great piece of work, how did it come about?

FI: To be honest, I ran into this song and then I sought out a choreographer/dancer in Vancouver (Chris Wong). I wanted to create a visually powerful dance video and after a month of rehearsal - I rented out a green screen, did some shopping at Michaels and the dollar store for more green posters and helped prepare the lighting before and during the shoot. This was filmed in 2 hours and I had my flight to LA the very next morning.

It was an incredible journey and a great experience making this happen. It was purely out of passion and for the love of the work.


GL: What are some animation projects you've been stoked to be involved with?

FI: The most exciting one for me was "Cookies n Milk" and "Balloons"  because it was an idea that just popped in my head and I had to do it. The crazy thing is that - these ones weren't even heavy animation projects but it was more about the world that I would create in a regular every-day environment. Plus, the message was exciting to share.


GL: What was the most difficult challenge you've overcome in your career thus far?

FI: The most difficult challenge is balance. Even when a project is done - rendering is also an art. Sometimes an overnight render can mean you will lose one more night of sleep. It needs to be perfect and it needs to be the right size and it shouldn't buffer too long for people trying to watch it online.  I work for studios in the day and create my own YT work by evening. So in between - maintaining good health and hygiene is very important and I'm still learning how to maintain balance.


GL: Do you have a favourite Canadian animator? If so, who and why?

FI: Two words. Giant Ant. Incredible group of animators. They are a very strong group and I look up to them a lot for inspiration.

I can't even explain how amazing they are. Each animator has a different style and they did a spot for Target which I absolutely love.

When I came to LA and I walked into a target - I saw all the TVs in the entertainment section playing THEIR animation. I was so very proud of them. They will never cease to amaze me. here is their link: http://www.giantant.ca


GL: Are there any animators you keep tabs on for inspiration?

FI: Yup. Giant Ant - all those animators are incredible. I always look up Pierre Magnol as well. The way he lights up his world is breath-taking. They always inspire me to pay attention to detail while still respecting deadlines. Mostly - for intrinsic inspiration - I read about painters and artists from the renaissance period. They were always creating and challenging themselves to push the boundaries of evoking powerful feelings in their work. They relied on commissioned work so their job was to please the royal families while still maintaining public attention so they could still get hired. History taught me to rely on our gut and instincts when nothing else goes as planned.


GL: How has your animation style/technique evolved over the years?

FI: My animation style has become more and more minimal. I realized that it takes more effort to simplify.

The more shape layers, more keyframes and more crazy animations - doesn't mean you have a great product.

Over time I developed the "less is more" strategy. If there is a design or an animation in front of you - it needs to be there for a reason - otherwise it's just clutter. Simplify at all times and it's very rewarding to see how beautiful it looks when it comes together.


GL: How did you develop your skills as an animator?  Did you read a lot of books, watch a lot of animation, and/or pursue it through college or university programs?

FI: Developing my skills took a lot of trial and error. If I wasn't failing - I wasn't trying hard enough. So I was happy when I made mistakes or when things didn't line up - that made me want to achieve better results.

I never took college or university courses in animation. I actually decided to commit to learning online by greyscalegorilla, red giant, video copilot, vfx bro - anything I could find online and I noticed I was getting better and better. I highly recommend taking classes because it's a much more creative atmosphere and the teachers also educate you about the business side of this work. I learned by experiencing everything first hand from writing business contracts to attracting clients to creating animations.

As far as books go - the only books I cared for were "Walt Disney" biography by Neal Gobler and the Steve Jobs biography. That was enough fuel for me to keep going.


GL: Was there ever a particular technique or thought process that completely changed how you animate?

FI: Yes. As a beginner, it's tempting to want to use all your creative vocabulary and use all your tricks. Overtime - you start to understand your own work flow.

It's best to start with rough sketches and break things down into smaller goals. A big goal is too daunting and it'll never get done.

So my technique went back to my instincts - break the project down into smaller parts - and write down you're possible animations. 1 out of 5 ideas usually works. So it's best to stop and take breaks. Then come back and repeat.


GL: What kind of technology do you use to create your animation?

I use an iMac and Adobe aftereffects CS6.


GL: And finally, what's it like being an animator in Canada?

FI: Ah... I feel bad saying this now that I've moved to LA. I miss Canada and I miss Tim hortons a lot.

Being an animator is Canada was great but I wanted to be closer to the Disney lot and Warner Bros studios in LA. If anyone wants to pursue this craft seriously - I highly recommend moving to New York or LA. 

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