Please introduce yourself, what you do, why you do it, and what you want people to know about you.
Hello! My name is Scott O’Brien, and I’m an animation professional in LA. I’ve always had a passion for animation, and have been lucky enough to work at places like Disney, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. Animation. Currently, I’m the animation director of the new Animaniacs series.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I’m not sure if it makes me unique, but everything I do is always based on character and personality. It’s not only just acting choices in animation, but also in storyboarding decisions and choices on how to stage things. Everything is based on who a character is and what the character is feeling. It’s never just mechanical and technical. As long as I keep that in mind, it’s almost like the scenes do themselves.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you wanted to do what you do now. Who did you tell first? What has it been like since that moment?
One of my earliest memories is watching Popeye cartoons with my grandpa and hearing him roar with laughter, which probably helped me to avoid the feeling that “cartoons are just for kids”. From then on, I don’t remember ever considering another career!
I grew up in Chicago, and they had a constant supply of animation on TV from Tom and Jerry to Looney Tunes, to Speed Racer and Robotech. I loved it all and always searched out how they were made.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?
One thing I didn’t realize when starting out was how quickly trends change. I began my career as an animator drawing on paper and had no intention to ever do anything else. I found out relatively quickly that the industry is constantly evolving, and soon my type of work dried up.
I converted to CG (computer) animation at first, but wanted to be more involved with the overall storytelling process itself, and moved into the story. You have to always be prepared for change, and be open to it.
If you had to pick the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could take your career (or business) to the next level…who would those 3 people be?
This list completely changes every few years.
Robert Valley – on establishing a distinct style and having his vision carry through to the final product.
Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey, and Paul Young – on founding animation studio Cartoon Saloon and producing a series of feature films which all feel very personal and unique.
Hiroyuki Imaishi – on founding Studio Trigger and consistently standing out from other anime studios.