Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Interview with Mark Oftedal

Mark Oftedal was one of the core group of animators at Pixar to work on Toy Story. When I came to work on A Bugs Life, he had just finished work on Toy Story. Marks' animation was always inspiring to look at and really set the bar for others. He worked on Toy Story, A Bugs Life, Toy Story 2 and did a bit of pre-production on Monsters before he left to pursue other things. He has recently worked on a short film and is also doing a comic book for a wildlife rescue organization. He is also one of the partners of an animation software company called Digitalfish, started by another former Pixar employee, Dan Herman. Their aim was to make a really easy to use animation package. The software is called Reflex. Calarts is beta testing the software.
Mark will always be considered one of the best animators at Pixar. He was a great mentor and his interview is very educational.

I hope you enjoy reading this interview, as much as I did. Thanks Mark!

Link to Interview

Animation Clip


Blogger Bobby P said...

Wow. Very Insightful and great ideas on thinking through a scene. Thanks for posting this.

1:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

when do we see more animation clips?

10:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am quite intrested in that tool in the second picture in this post (with drawings on the video). Is this an internal Pixar tool? Does anyone know if there is something similer for the PC?

6:29 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

You cant say please? I'll put them up when I have to time.

As for the second question, it is a prgram called Reflex.

6:32 PM

Blogger Dave said...

Greta Interview- thanks for posting it!

9:51 AM

Anonymous Marcos Gp said...

thaks to share

It's great to see how people are still trying to merge the advances of the 2D and 3D make the animator life easy ...

11:11 AM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:13 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

Sorry for all my spelling and grammar mistakes. I'll try to get some of Marks films up soon.


6:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How afordable for the end user is this Reflex?
Because I`ve seen mentioned "large-studio environment" on DigitalFish site.So...I hope the end users will be able to touch it,not only watching how the professionals have fun animating.
But,well...I definitely watching the evolution of this package.
Since long time now I`m waiting for something like this.

Great job!

4:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

eXXciting!! I always thought animation can and should be done without curve editing windows. Also can't wait to see more of Marks personal work!!

Good stuff!

7:01 AM

Blogger BrandonBeckstead said...

Wow thanks for sharing the interview and the hope of an new amazing software! I am super excited about Reflex! It seems like a dream come true, I will be watching and waiting for more on this.

9:08 AM

Blogger rebecca said...

Wow... really awesome interview Andrew! Thanks for sharing!!

10:16 AM

Blogger Max Perelman said...

Thanks for doing these interviews, Andrew--fascinating reading/listening, and stuff like the "transitive verb" trick is pure gold.
Also... how do I put this? Argghh! Short films like The Pumpkin of Nyefar are finished, in the can, and there's no way--short of a fortuitous and nearby festival or copyright violating torrents and youtubes--to see them? Why, gods of digital distribution, why?

10:34 AM

Anonymous Justin Weg said...

Yeah Andrew, thanks a lot for a great interview. I too am looking forward to hearing more about this software package. Keep up the great interviews!

10:41 AM

Blogger Matt Kelly said...

Fantastic interview Dr G!
That transitive verb idea is gold!
It's little nuggets like that that make learning animation so fun and exciting.


1:20 PM

Blogger Brian "My Fault" Nicolucci said...

Fantastic interview. Thanks for doing this Dr G!

2:38 PM

Anonymous Mark Oftedal said...

Hey, this is Mark here. Just to answer a few questions I've received about Reflex: Yes, it will be available for individual users eventually, but no it is not available yet. We're currently developing the 1.0 product for large studios, to be followed soon after by a "professional" product for individual users, and something like a "personal learning edition" of Reflex. Currently Reflex Educational is available for educational institutions.

As for "The Pumpkin of Nyefar", Tod and I are talking to some people about internet and theatrical distribution, but nothing to report, yet. If it becomes available online I'll let Andrew know so he can pass the word on. Thanks for the kind words, everybody!

7:00 AM

Blogger Jeremy said...

Thanks Mark, like everyone else, I appreciate your advice. 4pm is a great film too there's something really appealing about slowing down a student film and milking each moment. Best of luck with your future work!

9:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm currenlty calarts student and we used 'Reflex' as a beta tester but I and my fellow student spent thousands money to learn the animation not to be a beta tester. We had terrible problems of using 'Reflex'. That program doesn't have comfortable environmental for beginning 3D animator especially controlling the rig. Last two semester was waste of time. Why we just couldn't use 'Maya'?
Awww. If you're good animator, you can say software isn't matter but I hate using 'Reflex' even though it has some good feature compare to other 3d animation pakage. No offence to mark. May be, our department coulnd't afford to buy a maya even though calarts has the most expenssive tuition among the animation school in the U.S.

7:19 PM

Anonymous Charlie said...

Mark, I loved '4pm'. Its what my tutor told me and it still holds up today. Apart from all the stretchy,zany animation Ive seen.Keeping someone alive, just waiting for something, blows my mind. Its so hard to do! but its the subtlety I absolutely love. Thanks for showing.

11:05 AM

Anonymous Mark Oftedal said...

I have a question for the CalArts student who hated Reflex. I'd love to get honest feedback on why you had a bad experience with Reflex. The folks I spoke with at CalArts had very positive things to say about it, despite the fact that it did have problems, as beta software often does. But hearing otherwise would be very valuable to me. Feel free to email me directly at

CalArt's decision to use Reflex wasn't based on financial constraints, by the way. They're offering Maya classes to their second year students, so you'll be able to get familiar with Maya this year, I'd imagine.

7:43 AM

Anonymous Adam Green said...

Hey Spline Doctors-

Thanks for this interview, it's just what I needed today. Especially the part where Mark says he doesn't always enjoy animation, but likes the result...and how 2/3 through the process you're ready to go nuts! Hilarious and honest.

11:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool interview, thanks. The action verb tip was pretty helpful. I'm wondering about the illustrative gestures part though. I've seen people criticized for having the character point to his head as he said 'think'. It was a while ago and I can't remember what the rest of the scene looked like. Maybe he tried to illustrate every word or something. Is it safe to say that you should limit the more literal gestures to the main idea of the sentence? As a general rule...

2:34 PM

Blogger david maas said...

Mark, if you're checking these feedback posts, know that I'll be mailing at the info adress shortly. I'm project consultant at the FilmAkademie in Stuttgart, Germany.

One of the major areas neglected in animation is the rough staging phases, followed by sign-off comments and fitting the 3D to 2D corrections... and this is only one of many features! The whole concept has generated a good deal of excitement amongst my colleagues and I. In general: fantastic to see pipelines being questioned, interfaces being re-designed.

2:45 PM


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