Talent Spotlight – Pierre De Celles

Talent Spotlight : Pierre De Celles

During our time here in China we have met a lot of talented individuals out here. Today we would like to talk about an Animation Director located in Suzhou, China. His name is Pierre DeCelles and has a long history of designing, animating and storyboarding feature film projects around the world.  Born and raised in Canada, Pierre had a keen interest in drawing and picked up his first comic strip project at the age of 13.

From there he designed characters and cartoons for a variety of studios and went to learn from some of the animation industries greatest artists such as Tex Avery and Ed Benedict. He will provide us with a quick interview for our first “Talent Spotlight” interview.

Hi Pierre, Please let us get started with a fun question, what are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?

Pierre: Hi, thank you for the opportunity for the interview, yes some of my first jobs ever was in Canada, I was scrapping safety tape from giant windows of an Ogilvy store, washing the windows and then put new tape over the windows. Worked in a pie factory and had to mix the jam, brown sugar, ingredients to make pie with a special essence, a really sticky experience. Then got promoted to put pies in boxes,and run down to the end of the rolling carpet to catch the sealed boxes,and put them in a box,,,,,but I broke too many pies and got fired…maybe it was a good thing. While working side jobs I was learning how to draw of course, practicing my drawing techniques when I was a young boy.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?

Pierre: I loved everything I worked on. From Sonic the Hedgehog to “The Adventures of Little Toot” did not matter if it was a commercial for a cheese product or a feature film. I always enjoyed a new challenge whatever the project was. I do love Feature Films a bit more then TV series,a series is like being involved with a bunch of films.

How did you get into the animation business?

Pierre: When I was young, I just wanted to draw and one day I saw an add in the newspaper, brought my samples,and got hired, it was a small Canadian animation studio at the time and they closed a long time ago, but so that was my start in the business.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?

Pierre: Depends on the job,the schedule,and the complexity of it. Directing TV is hard work but directing a film in a fast period of time, lets say 6 to 10 months is also difficult. It is often a 14 hours a day routine, 7 days a week I would work. I would check exposure sheets, animation layouts, pencil tests, storyboards, color backgrounds and editorial.  Check the print final scenes etc.

What part of your job do you like best?

Pierre: I like every steps of production but I do enjoy specially designing characters, props and locations, as well as story boarding sequences. It is fun to use imagination and try something different then see it come to life.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?

Pierre: Well there is less work in 2D, which made it tougher for me because I do prefer to animate on paper CELs. Anyways ‘Kung Fu Panda’ movie opening sequence was visually done on “Toonboom Harmony” and I thought looked better then the rest of the 3-D movie, but that is my opinion.

Generally I work on paper and pencil, color pencil, water color and inks.  I storyboard that way and then scan and Photoshop lightly to clean up and arrange the artwork in a presentable format. I do not let technology limit my imagination but just use it to help present and tell a story for my audience.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?

Pierre: Surviving !! It is hard to get money to create and produce great things. If anyone wants to make an animated feature film let me know!  Ha ha!

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?

Pierre: Met ‘Chuck Jones’,’Frank Thomas’,’Ollie Johnson’,’Hanna & Barbera’,used to hang around with ‘John Kricfallucci’;
Did 4 animated scenes for Brad Bird,’Family Dog’, Brad was was a nice guy and for many years had great friends such as ‘Jack Dunahm’,’Wally Gentleman’,’King Hu’,and ‘Ed Benedict’

Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?

Pierre: Currently working on animation design, previz and illustration projects.  Nothing out of the ordinary for artists, will like to work on feature film in the near future.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?

Do not expect too much,specially now,times have changed. Better have a passion for drawing and draw,draw,draw! Anyone can claim to be an Artist but if you want to be an illustrator or an animator, you better be a damned good artist. Learn all you can,about all forms of art, all kinds of artists and their style, old and new. Don’t copy but try to understand why a ‘Frank Frazetta’ or a ‘Dean Cornwell’ are so good and what makes them so special. Invest in education, books on Art, Music, Cinema, CD’s, DVD, L.P.’s and work hard and smart on your artwork.

Thank you Pierre for your time, if you wish to contact Pierre, feel free to email him at pierre.decelles@crashdownstudio.com or visit www.crashdownstudio.com.  Stay tuned for more articles on local artists and talents within our region.