Updated: Nov 16, 2020
I have always enjoyed drawing. Having a background and education in illustration and design, I had spent my life creating art that doesn’t move. After joining Create International in 2009, I began working with a small team in Adobe Flash to animate the gospel portion of a live-action film called The Story of Xiao Nong.
Something really amazing happened, though, the first time that I animated a character I had created. I began to sense a spiritual connection with God as I “breathed life” into these pixels on the screen, in the same way that God breathed life into the first human being.
In City of God, Saint Augustine wrote, “This man, then, who was created of the dust of the earth… was made, as the apostle teaches, an animated body when he received a soul.” As we began to make our cartoon versions of Adam and Eve move about and react to their environment, there was a feeling of joy as we gave them personality. It was an unforgettable moment.
Ten years later, it continues to be a joy when we breath life into our animated characters. I love observing our students when they reach that point in their training when they begin to animate. Phrases like, “Wow! It’s like he has life!,” can be heard repeatedly in our classroom.
Spiderman and Dragons
Among professional animators, the joy of creating life is a common experience. “We say that we’re like the actors because we’re the ones who breathe life into the characters,” explains Laura Han, who has worked on films produced by Sony Pictures, DreamWorks, and Disney. “Every eye lash that moves or finger that twitches is something that the animators put in. I think a lot of people assume it’s mostly computer generated, but for the most part an animator physically put it in there.” Laura is presently at Walt Disney Animation Studios, where she is working on the forthcoming film Raya and the Last Dragon.
“As we began to make our cartoon versions of Adam and Eve move about and react to their environment, there was a feeling of joy as we gave them personality. It was an unforgettable moment.”
Another animator at Fudge Animation puts it like this, “When you experience your early scribbles from storyboarding or the character creation phase progress from a still image into a moving, breathing, thinking character, there is a real buzz to it. You get to really nurture your creations as their character traits and motifs take shape before your eyes over the span of weeks and we get real satisfaction in that trajectory!”
Next year, we will be starting a new training program at Create Taiwan called AniMissions, which will cover many aspects of producing both 2D and 3D animated short films, with an emphasis on using animation to reach unreached people groups. We will be using the Blender software environment as our main tool, and producing a group project for front-line missionaries to use in evangelism.
Would you like to experience that joyful spiritual connection when you breathe life into a modeled and rigged character? Please join us in Taipei, Taiwan next June!
- Dave H.
City of God, Augustine of Hippo, 5th Century
From Spidey to Dragons, Breathing Life into Animated Characters, Julie Fox, Slice of MIT, March 30, 2020
6 Reasons We Love Working In Animation!, Charlie, Fudge Animation Studios Ltd., August 23, 2016