Inspiring Animators: Chris Georgenes

Inspiring Animators: Chris Georgenes
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Visual storyteller, designer, book author, creative writer, musician; Chris Georgenes can be identified with any of these adjectives but all of these combined, will still not be able to capture the essence of this multi-talented artist.  He is the head of interactive animation for a startup and an accomplished drummer having his own band that performs throughout Boston and the New England area.  An animator for over twenty years, Chris has seen everything, done everything but his thirst for more drives him further.  I had the pleasure of talking to Chris and here is an excerpt.  But first, here’s a short glimpse of some of some of his animations.

What made you interested in art?

Even as a kid, I liked to draw. I doodled countless drum sets and dinosaurs in my school notebooks. I loved flipbooks and seeing a drawing(s) come to life. I loved film. I loved motion. One of the unfortunate things that I had to go through was that my school didn’t have an art or music program.  This stifled my creativity to some extent but then I got accepted to an art school where I learnt how to really draw, paint and create lithographs and etchings on copper. I also started a band during this time and performed every weekend on campus. We drew large crowds. I went from a school that offered no arts to a school that had me creating art 24/7. I grew exponentially.

How did you get into animation?

I found a local studio producing an animated television series on a major network and showed them my stuff and then there was no looking back.  I spent 6 years learning all I could about creative software such as Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator and how-to author content for television and the internet. I loved being at the helm of assembling entire episodes for popular shows. It was a magical time for me and needless to say, I was in love with animation.

How does Adobe Animate fit into your workflow?

Animate is as simple or as complex as you want it to be which is why I love it so much and use it nearly every day. My workflow varies based on the type of project at hand. A simple looping animation to be published as an animated GIF has a different workflow than an animation meant to be exported to video for television or the web.

If it’s a personal project, typically my workflow is to start with a sketch either on paper or on my iPad or directly in Animate CC. I then refine the sketch using the primitive tools in Animate (Rectangle and Oval) or draw with the brush tool. Once the design is complete, I begin separating assets into Symbols. When I design for animation, I always think in terms of motion. I’m always imagining how my drawings will ultimately move and that helps me make the proper design choices along the way.  I’m often asked by animators what tool should they use for their animation projects and my answer is always the same; never start with what tool to select but rather imagine how you want the image to move, then choose the correct tool(s) for the job.  Ultimately Animate CC allows me to be flexible in terms of style. I’ve seen an incredibly broad range of art and animation styles across hundreds of artists. I never get tired of seeing how an artist’s creative personality is showcased while working in Animate CC.

What inspires you? 

Which of your projects are you most proud of and why?Chris:  Wow. Great question and difficult to answer but I’ll give you this:  I’ve spoken/taught at many design conferences around the world. One such conference happened in Boston, Massachusetts, my hometown! I felt the need to come up with a clever way to take advantage of the fact that the event was in my home town.  My daughter was already well known as a cartoon character from my holiday animations.  I decided to have art imitate life, imitate art!  Here’s what I came up with –

At the conference, I opened my session with this animation in front of over 500 attendees and had her make her grand entrance riding a tricycle.

Photo credit: Colin Smith.
Photo credit: Colin Smith.
Photo credit: Colin Smith.
Photo credit: Colin Smith.

The concept worked! The crowd was completely surprised when they finally saw the real Andrea ride down the aisle!

Needless to say – I find inspiration everywhere. From other artists to musicians, film makers, poets, script writers, the list goes on. I find inspiration on the train going to work. I’ll sometimes break out my iPad and stylus and do quick sketches of unsuspecting train goers sitting near me. When I’m waiting for the train, I’ll sometimes shoot video on my phone of a train whizzing by so I can capture how the leaves get swept up and swirled around after the train has passed. I’ll watch the way wind blows through trees and study how the leaves move. How the ocean breaks at the shoreline is amazing to me – I imagine how it could be animated. The way someone walks or the way a dancer moves.  I make lots of mental notes every day. You never know when you need a reference for an animation someday 🙂

You also published a couple of book on Flash/Animate right?

Yes, a popular publishing company asked me to write a book on designing and animating in Flash and it was popular enough to warrant several translations and sold around the world. Six editions later, I’m lucky to be still producing educational content for Adobe Animate CC to help a whole new generation of animators.

What are some of the things you are looking forward to in the near future?

Currently I am the head of interactive design at a startup where I am building a platform for visual storytelling through animation for patients diagnosed with a chronic and long term illnesses.  We help them make sense of their healthcare needs with the hope that if they can be a better patient, they can achieve a better quality of life. I’m also working on an animated music video for a Boston based hip hop band to coincide with the release of their latest album. Much of the animation will be displayed on a large screen behind them on stage during live shows.  I am creating fun examples and video tutorials for Animate CC.  I’m also starting to write a series of animated shorts based on real life encounters.

Any other parting thoughts?

The fact I’m still using the same animation program after 20 years speaks volumes to its versatility. I never get tired of using AnCC as I can find so many ways to quickly create an idea and add motion.

You can find more of Chris’ creations here on Youtube and Behance.  You can connect with him on Twitter @keyframer.

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