Tell us about yourself!
Hello, I am Peter Kerkvliet, and I am a Junior at SCAD. I was born and raised in Minnesota. I am specializing in 3D character animation and I aspire to work on feature films or games. I am currently an animation lead on SCAD Animation Studio’s first film “Bearly”.
What area of animation do you enjoy the most and why?
My favorite aspect of animation is the moment the character feels alive on screen. As an animator, I struggle to find the right poses and emotions to show. When you finally shoot out a playblast and for a few seconds you fool yourself that the character is living and breathing that is the best feeling and what makes the process worth it!
What is a challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
I have always been very hesitant to show work in class, or on social media; however, after taking animation classes where you have dailies I quickly got over the fear of showing work in class. Then after seeing friends post on social media like Linked In, I figured why not and now presenting my work is no longer a daunting task like I once thought it was.
What advice would you give yourself as a freshman?
I would tell myself to focus on the task that is in front of you. I can get sidetracked with other passion projects very easily. I may see an animator that I follow on Instagram do something really cool so I will try to emulate that, but then a few hours will go by and I still have not touched the task that needs to be done. While school is important, make sure to schedule time where you can learn and try things on your own. During these experiments/ tests, I have often found that I will make a major breakthrough and then I can apply my new-found knowledge to my homework.
What inspires you during a difficult project?
I get inspired to see a character come alive and I look forward to the challenges that come with that. I love starting a new shot with a character in A pose and then step by step you begin to breathe life into the character. I always love learning and most of the time there is a new challenge with the animation which is always fun to tackle.
What experiences have stood out to you?
Working on last year’s “Under Your Skin” was a huge learning experience that I have been able to carry lessons I learned over to “Bearly”. I am still learning loads with “Bearly”, so I would recommend students getting involved with SCAD’s SDGM classes or just work on Senior Films.
What are some things you are looking forward to this year?
I am looking forward to watching “Bearly” come together, but I am also looking forward to just continuing to practice and learn the craft that I love so much!
What inspires you?
I get inspired by films in general. I love going to the theatre with family and friends to watch a film and to be transported to another world.
What classes have you enjoyed, and why?
I really enjoyed taking animation for games class with Professor Warman and I have enjoyed taking part in “Under Your Skin” and “Bearly”. I enjoyed these classes because they do not feel like a class, instead, It feels like you are making cool animations or a short film with friends. Everyone in these classes is so devoted to the project or assignment that the bar keeps getting raised and everyone is supportive of each other and you learn a lot!’
Have you worked on any projects outside of class?
Yes, since freshman year I jumped on a senior film as a modeler and an animator. I have kept joining projects outside of class ever since, which has allowed me to work on games, VFX and Animated shorts. As you start to work on these projects you meet more people and then these projects just find you and you begin to wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.
Is there anything you want to see SCAD offer in the future?
I would love to see an animation for the VFX class created. Similar to animation for games, animation for VFX would tailor assignments to creating character performances on top of live-action footage simulating the look and feel of animation for VFX.
What made you decide to go to SCAD, and when did you choose to go to SCAD?
In the small catholic high school, I attended there was an alumnus who graduated from SCAD and went to work at Rhythm and Hues on projects like Hop and Mr. Popper’s penguins. I reached out to him and he recommended SCAD so that is where I set my sights and the rest is history.
What type of studio would you like to work in when you graduate?
I feel that I am still trying to figure this out myself. I love animated features, games and VFX. I would love to be able to work in each of these fields, but as long as I get to animate and be financially stable I will be happy!
What has been the best thing about SCAD?
The people are the best part of SCAD. The professors are always there when you need help. The students you work on projects with become your family which makes studying animation even sweeter!
What are your goals after graduation/ What goals do you have for your career?
I would love to work at a major studio animating on the next film or game and then on the side working on personal projects or collaborating on another person’s project.
Do you have any advice for working as part of a team?
Be mindful of where you are in the pipeline and how your work affects others. Make sure you place files in the right area with the right naming convention. Show up and turn your stuff in on time. These are simple things to do but save your team time and it will build a positive reputation for yourself.
What has your favorite project been during your time at SCAD?
Every new project I am on is my favorite project because of the new possibilities, challenges and uncertainty. So as of now my favorite project I have been honored to work on is “Bearly”.
Do you look up to anyone in the industry? And why?
Michal Makarewicz is an animator at Pixar that I look up to. He breathes so much life into his characters and you can feel the characters think and feel. He is one of those animators that when you see his shots you are left in awe and wondering how did he capture that emotion and make the audience see it and feel it.
Do you have a favorite animated movie?
My favorite animated movie is Ratatouille. I have fond memories of seeing this movie and I love the story and message. I also love listening to movie scores and one of my favorite composer Michael Giacchino scored this film.
When in your life did you decide to choose animation as a career?
I was very fortunate and knew that I wanted to pursue animation by the end of middle school. I was obsessed with making lego stop motion animated shorts and then when I received my first computer in high school I learned Blender then Maya and I have never looked back since.
What are some things you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love playing baseball or going to baseball games. I also, love scuba diving in the lakes but the ocean is far superior to the low visibility of the freezing lakes in Minnesota. When time permits I love playing video games. Being a huge star wars fan I love the Star Wars Battlefront games and I recently played Jedi Fallen order and was left in awe by the games story, visuals, and mechanics.
Thank you so much to Peter for taking the time to interview with us! Want to see more of his work? Check him out on his Website!