2010 James Suhr - Professional Animator Visit 

By Bill Fischer 11.1.10


James Suhr is a Kendall Alum. from about 1999. He attended Graduate School at UCLE, studying Animation. He has worked for a variety of studios on a variety of projects in the LA area. 

In addition to working on features (Warner Bros.: Despicable Me) and television series (Kung Fu Panda, Making Fiends), James has done a quite a bit of commercial work too for clients such as Ford, Effen Vodka, CVS Pharmacy and Idaho Lottery.

The commercial that James helped worked on for the Idaho Lottery, 'Twiceland', was nominated for an Annie Award (Animated Television Commercial) in 2010.

Got his first full-time studio job working at Nickelodeon. It was for the television adaptation of the internet show, 'Making Fiends' (2008). The Directors liked his work enough to keep him on to help as an animatic revisionist, and then for animation retakes.






Portfolio’s should include:

• Life Drawing

• Observational Sketches (animals and people)

• Sketches from Imagination

• Finished/ full color stylized illustration (more than on style is preferred)

• Line full motion animation

• Full color stylized animation

• Storyboards

• Have your name on each individual work

• High level of craftsmanship

• Deliver via website and pdf files

Portfolio’s should not include:

• Character from the show you are applying to

• Older work that is not at the same level as newer work

Career Starting:

• Apply for many, many opportunities. It will take a lot of effort to get your first job or two.

• Intern at a non-union studio so you can do some actual work (Union shops do not allow interns to do creative work)

• Union Membership will help you to get work in larger studios. Dues ar about $3,000 and can be made in installments. Your membership can start with your first union-studio job. Membership gives you good pay, health insurance and a retirement plan.

• There are only a few geographic centers for large animation studios in the US: NY, LA, Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando.

• 3D animators typical study 2D animation in addition to 3D (2D usually comes first)

• Flash is most in demand in commercial work and broadcast TV studios.

• Commercial work is a good way to stay busy between entertainment projects

• To get your pitch heard.. you need to know someone on the “inside”

• Most studios have or are in the process of converting to all-digital work-flows where all drawings and art are created with tablets or Cintiqs.

• Game studio workflows are the same as Animation and those studios are proliferating and are more geographically diverse.

Story-board Specific Advise:

• There is a rhythm to creating animation: Anticipation (set-up), Action, Settle (pause) = one cycle.

• In addition to other artists you will be working with Script Writers, Producer (television) or Director (TV).

• Sometimes you will have freedom to drift from the script and sometimes not.