Lyndon Ruddy, Paramount Animation Story Artist, on 30 Years in Entertainment, Lucasfilm, Disney, & The State of Animation.
August 21, 2015
I’m from Toronto Canada. I’ve always loved to draw ever since I can remember. I used to draw pictures in grade 3 and sell them to my classmates for a quarter and do flip book animation in the corner pages of my library books.
I loved watching things move so when it came time to choose a career, animation was it.
I attended Sheridan College’s classical animation course and have done everything from animation, layout, design and storyboarding for 30 years.
First Job in the Entertainment Industry
I had a choice for my first job, animate on Strawberry Shortcake or do layout on Ewoks and Droids for Lucasfilm.
I was a no brainer I chose Ewoks and Droids-‐it was the coolest thing at the time because it was right on the heals of Star Wars Return of the Jedi.
I love cinematic film, the great compositions and the creative cutting really inspire me.
I prefer visual storytelling and the films of Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock are really exciting. The simplicity of the storytelling is amazing. They are my biggest influence.
I love creating characters from nothing and putting them in situations in a world we can only imagine.
Animation allows you to break the boundaries of real life and bring your audience into worlds you dream of then bring them back to reality. It appeals on many levels to children and adults.
Early Career in Toronto
Toronto animation industry is full of amazing talent so the bar was set high when I entered the biz. When I saw how much time people put in and went way beyond what was expected it made me feel the passion that fill this industry.
I learned you have to work hard to compete and you’ll only get better with lots of practice.
Everyone has an imagination and as an animator you must learn to tap into it and let it drive you.
Then you need to get from your head to the paper, that’s the skill you have to learn and the tough part.
Positions Within Animation
Story Artist - you have to craft the story, come up with fresh and exciting ideas constantly that suite the story. Setting up and staging characters within the camera frame, working on character development, acting and more.
As Layout Supervisor you delegate the sequences, supervise the background, camera and staging for the animators.
You storyboarded on Gnomeo and Juliet. What was your favorite sequence you worked on?
My favorite sequence was when Gnomeo puts Benny in charge of guarding the Wisteria tree. It was funny.
When you worked on Tinkerbell: The legend of Neverbeast what was the highlight of storyboarding on that film?
Well, I’d say the part when the Scout fairies try to trap the beast and he gets away and hides. It’s a dramatic and tense sequence.
Challenges Facing Animation Today
One of the biggest challenges is cost of making films is way up compared to 20 years ago.
This means they want the work faster and subsequently much tighter deadlines. This trickle down effect puts more pressure on artist to come up with more ideas faster.
How Has the Animation Industry Changed Because of Improvments in Technology?
I think audiences relate easier to CG films nowadays touching on realistic emotions in a relatable environment.
Technology allows you to do more with lighting, rendering and camera making the cinematic experience more like a live action film
I’ve been doing this for 30 years and even though we don’t do this for the accolades it’s nice every once in a while to be recognized for our contributions.
I’ve had my storyboarding work submitted twice for Emmy award consideration and once for Annie award consideration for the show Backyardigans.
Be professional and respectful of those before you. You want to be liked and supported by the people you work with. And network; make lots of connections.
Studios have to get to know about you and you want a good reputation. You might be rejected a few times but don’t give up.
Get a good, well-rounded, portfolio wtih lots of life drawing, and try to come up with your own ideas. Studios love that.
Which roles helped prepare you for your current position?
I feel all of the roles I’ve had have prepared me for where I’m at now as an experienced story artist. I’ve helped craft many stories and this where I can be my most creative as a story artist.
The competition is a difficult challenge but I try and let it bring up my game. When I see someone’s work that is great I don’t get intimidated I get inspired to do even better myself.
Be confident and know what you bring to the table.
Approach to Creative Projects
Sometimes ideas come at different places and times. Something you see inspires you then you quickly jot it down.
You never know what might turn into a story worth telling.
I close my eyes then imagine the story unfolding in real time. The key is to get the idea down visually, very quickly.
As artists we all want to share our work with everyone. Social media allows us to reach more people quickly.