Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Headless: We are three directors/creators from Spain: Adrian Garcia, Alfredo Torres and Victor Maldonado. We´ve been working in animation for many years and five years ago we decided to get independent and create our own studio, Headless.
Headless is a very small studio specialized mainly on design and the production of very small animation pieces. We work for other companies (Dreamworks, Nickelodeon, Disney…) while we keep developing our own ideas and projects. Currently we´re trying to finance a 2D European animation feature that hopefully will see start of production during this year.
Novedge: How important is team work in your field?
Headless: I think it's essential. It's very difficult (with few exceptions) to imagine animation without team work. I guess we're the living proof of that as all the work we produce is made by the three of us. We have a very organic way of working that consists on sharing and working together all through the different stages of production. For instance, when we are trying to find the style of a project or designing the characters we take each other's work and rework, change it over and modify it in order to improve the result. There's no problems with ego as we know that's the way to achieve a great result.
Novedge: You have a very distinctive style. How did you develop it and why?
Headless: I think it's been a matter of years and years working the three of us together. Separately we have different styles but when we work together we use the strengths of each other in order to create what you might call Headless's style. Also the fact that we have similar taste in animation and art in general makes it easy to create a coherent style. We are obviously drawn to a very stylized sense of design, we like our work to be cheerful and happy and we pay special attention to color and light…
Having said all that, it took time, effort and getting to know each other to reach a solid style. Needless to say, we still have a long way to go, of course!
Although the piece is a separate thing that we made for fun to promote the studio, there's a story in the world that we're developing. The premise is simple: Strange Oaks is this little town where they've gotten used to every night protect their kids from the attack of relentless witches.
At the same time we're developing what we want to be our first official Headless short film. It´s a story called Kingdom of NO that will be traditionally animated. It’s a project quite ambitious for a short film and so we´re preparing a Kickstarter campaign in order to finance it. I guess in the upcoming month you'll know more about it. We´re very excited with this, because we believe it will be something very special and cool.
Novedge: What software do you use? Why?
Headless:Strange Oaks was made very traditionally in terms of CGI. We are no experts so we needed guidance from a CG artist, and Javi Verdugo helped us through the process. The piece was made with XSI, the render is with Arnold and then we took care of the post production in After Effects.
The reason of using this software is 100% practical. These are the software titles we had available and we know how to use.
When we do traditionally animated pieces (most of them, really) that we animate on a Wacom tablet with a software called TVPaint, a very simple but great software that mimics the way you'd animate on regular paper. Then we paint the animations on the same software and compose the scenes in After Effects. Again, a very basic, normal way of doing things.
Novedge: What are some of the rewards and challenges of owning your own business?
Headless: The reward obviously is you are the one deciding the direction that you want to take your business, your studio. Having the power to decide what you do and what you don't, when to focus more on certain area and less on some others. Ultimately you're the one responsible for the image of the company and that's really great.
The challenge I think is pretty obvious… surviving, keeping the studio alive. These are definitively very hard times and work never comes easy, even if you have some reputation. We are in a peculiar situation as we are officially a studio but we don´t work as other studios, meaning we offer very little services and we are very picky about the jobs we accept.
Novedge: What advice do you have for young people who would like to work in animation?
Headless: I don´t think we can give much advice, particularly in CGI, as we don't have much experience in that field. We can talk about animation in general. What we always tell people is to be very open-minded and try to develop their own personality, world, style (call it what you will) at the same time as they develop their technical skills. Some people get really obsessed on the technical stuff and forget that what will make the difference at the end of the day is their personality.
Also, try to absorb as much as possible from all types of artistic disciplines, be open minded about cinema in general, art, sculpture, literature… that´s only going to help you being a better and more complete artist.
Would you like to see more? Check Headless work online, on their website, Vimeo channel and blog.