Rigger and Animator extraordinaire, Devon Palmer took us through their creative process and experiences here at SCAD. As a junior gearing up for senior year, Devon shows us how using the resources here can set you up for success. Be sure to check out their social media for some amazing projects, links below!
How did you know you wanted to do Character TD?
When I was in high school I joined an animation camp at the Ringling College of Art and Design. They had a class that was similar to CMPA, where you got to rig a character from scratch. Although I had initially joined the camp with an interest in Storyboarding, rigging this character was so awesome that I ended up downloading Maya that summer to continue learning. I learned a lot through online tutorials and fell in love with rigging; by the time I came to SCAD I already knew what I wanted to do and had declared the TD minor.
What has been the best thing about being at SCAD?
The people I’ve met here have been incredible. I love the environment of collaboration that you can get here. I love being able to turn to people if I have questions and work with people from other majors.
How has it been being on Under Your Skin?
I knew I wanted to be on this project as soon as it was announced! It has been a great experience. I get to work with my friend Lorenz (link to his work here), who is an incredible rigging from Vis FX. We’ve been doing auto-rigging software and very varied tasks for the film. It’s been a good problem-solving experience.
I wanted to do a collaborative film before going into my senior film. That way I’d know where some things could go wrong. That’s the best thing I’ve gotten out of this project; knowing how a pipeline works and how people work when they are working on a film together.
Have you been on other collaborative projects?
I was also on a CLC (now SCAD Pro) project when I was a sophomore. It was for Dynacraft Wheels and was a 2D film. It was similar to Under Your Skin in the way that I was really impressed what people can accomplish when they work together. That’s what inspired me to get involved with more collaborative projects.
Are you excited for senior year?
I am! I’m taking concept dev and I’m really excited. I don’t know if I’m going to pitch personally, but I might co-direct something with my girlfriend Helen (link to her work here). She’s an amazing story artist and really talented. Our skills complement each other really well; I do all the tech stuff and she does all the emotional stuff. I’m excited for whatever project I end up on and I know it will be a great opportunity to innovate and experiment with new stuff.
What inspires you?
In terms of media, Hotel Transylvania. When I saw it I was blown away that CG could push the animation that far. Before I had Crossley I thought the rigs must have just been really good, but no, it was the animators pushing them to the limit. I still think it’s an amazing collaboration between the tech and the art sides of things. I think the point of tech is always to support art. That’s why I want to learn how to make my rigs more dynamic, more cartoony, more reality-defining. I have an animation background as well, I do a ton of character animation on the side because it’s fun and another thing for me to develop. I’m always pushing my rigging to catch up to my animation and vice-versa.
What classes have you enjoyed?
My collaborative classes really stand out to me, those have been really important. As far as curricular classes, 3D Production was one of my favorite too. I took it with Tim Steele and used a clip from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and animated to the dialogue. There was a lot of freedom in the class to explore new techniques. Steele taught me so much about simulation and rigging. He answered any question I had, even if it wasn’t directly related to the short.
What is the most challenging thing you’ve encountered at SCAD?
Building up my self-confidence was a struggle. I’m finally to a point where I’m starting to feel qualified to take on the tasks I’ve been assigned. I’ve been learning to apply for what I want and not be afraid of rejection. Not taking criticism personally has been a challenge; it’s not a reflection of who you are, it’s a reflection of your work and everyone wants to help you improve.
Sometimes you get stuck in a rut when you’re rigging. You can be working on a problem for hours without making real progress. That’s helped me learn when to take a step back and either get a new perspective by taking a break or asking someone for help. That problem-solving mentality has taken a lot of work to build up.
“Not taking criticism personally has been a challenge; it’s not a reflection of who you are, it’s a reflection of your work and everyone wants to help you improve.”
What advice would you give to yourself as a freshman?
Everything will be okay. When I first got to SCAD it was a bit of a shock how much there was to learn. I was never challenged in high school, but here I felt out of my depth. When I took public speaking, something I had no experience with, which was really humbling and forced me to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
“I learned about camaraderie in animation”
At first I was really afraid of flunking out, so this has really been a journey of self love and chilling out a bit. After taking Action Analysis with Troy I was almost questioning if I wasn’t ready for this. It turns out, he was just a really hard teacher. But I feel like you need a class like that; animation isn’t for everyone. One of the best things about that class was the teamwork that evolved. We’d get together every weekend to work on the sketchbooks. It was there that I learned about camaraderie in animation. People will look out for you, they have your back.
What are your goals for after graduation?
I love character animation and rigging, so doing one of the two. I’ve been leaning more towards rigging but I’m pursuing both. I’d love to work in games because the smaller studios have stability. Having a career is important, I don’t want to be jumping around studio to studio every year. I also have a love of feature animation. I think the best animation is being done in feature right now and that’s something I would love to be a part of.
My dream studio is Sony Imageworks, they keep pushing the bar. Spiderverse blew my mind, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is one of my favorite films, even the Angry Birds feature was incredibly well animated. The big dream of mine is to work on a Garfield animated feature adaptation. Sony owns the rights to Garfield, so I hope they make it someday and I get to be a part of it.
Huge thank you to Devon for giving us this interview! It was wonderful hearing about their experience here. If you want to see more of their work, please visit their website:
Also be sure to check them out on social media!