“Creating characters and bringing them to life has always been the most interesting aspect for me”

What made you decide Art was your calling? How did you further move into Animation?

I’ve always loved to draw. My parents are very creative people who love art, music, movies and books and while growing up they always encouraged and supported me to explore art.
During high school I became interested in animation and illustration. I did some internships at Art School and with an animation producer and that made me decide to go to Art School.
During the first year of Art School I got to explore various forms of art, but animation still attracted me most and that was the specialization I chose.

Pic Courtesy : Marsha Onderstijn

Pic Courtesy : Marsha Onderstijn

What does your day typically look like?

I work as a freelance animator, so what my day looks like really depends on what project I’m working on. Right now I work from home as an animation assistant for a 2 minute short film. I start working around 8.30 in the morning, and during the day I may have a skype call with the lead-animator/art-director for feedback, but other than that I work by myself. Being a freelancer, I get to plan my own day, so some days I can take an afternoon off, and other days I work until 22.00 in the evening.

My previous project was a feature length animation film, for which I had to commute to the animation studio in another city. I would get up at 6.00 to arrive at 8.00 at the studio. I would have various scenes I could work on by myself, but as a Senior Animator I also supervised Junior Animators, checking their animation and making sure the animated characters stayed ‘on model’. We worked with a team of 6-10 animators, as well as a few background artists and compositors. My animation work was checked daily by the lead-animator and the film’s director, and I would correct my animation based on their feedback if necessary. There was a very strict deadline for this movie, so the amount of time one could spend on animating a scene was very strictly planned.

Did you undertake any formal training to become an Animator? How much important do you feel it is to gain international experience in this field?

I studied at the AKV St. Joost Art Academy in the Netherlands. The first year at this school is a general year, but the last 3 years I studied animation. During my study, I also did an internship at an animation studio in Germany.

As an animator based in the Netherlands, I can’t say that international experience is the most important thing. It is important to gain experience at an animation studio, to fully understand what life as an animator is like, but while going to a different country is educational, this can also be learned in one’s own country.

Pic Courtesy : Marsha Onderstijn

Pic Courtesy : Marsha Onderstijn

What is the process that you follow while executing any project and the tools that you use?

Every animation, whether it’s a 1 minute short or a full feature length movie starts with a script and a storyboard/animatic. The visual style and characters also need to be developed during this phase. Once the design and the moving storyboard are fixed, the animation process can begin. This is usually the most labor intensive and takes up most of the production time, especially with 2D animation. In 2D animation, the process of animating is also divided in different phases: key-animation, in-between animation, clean-up and coloring.
I have worked with all different kinds of software, depending on the animation technique, like TV Paint, ToonBoom, After Effects and Anime Studio Pro.

Tell us about your most memorable/challenging piece of work that you have created? Can you give us a brief description about it ? 

My most memorable animation is my graduation film ‘The Life of Death’. It is a short film, in which Death falls in love with Life.
I still like it, because it was the first big animation project I did by myself and since I have published it online it has been very well received. I still get a lot of messages every day from people who share with me how my animation touched them, and that really is an amazingly special experience.

Pic Courtesy : Marsha Onderstijn

Pic Courtesy : Marsha Onderstijn

Which aspect of creating such brilliant pieces do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy the process of animating itself. Creating characters and bringing them to life has always been the most interesting aspect for me. Also the ability to create worlds and creatures that could not otherwise exist, or to convey emotions and feelings through imagery.

Pic Courtesy : Marsha Onderstijn

Pic Courtesy : Marsha Onderstijn

Who or what keeps you motivated to generate new ideas?

Watching movies and other animations really inspires me, and that always keeps me motivated to keep creating. Whether it’s on the internet or at an animation festival, there is amazing work everywhere.

Have you come across Indian art or any Indian artist whose work you found appealing?

During my study I’ve come across the work of Amrita Shergill. Her work is not in animation of course, but it is beautiful.

What message would you like to give to the aspiring animators?

Practice, practice, practice! Watch other animations, go to festivals and watch lots of movies. Be inspired and try out different techniques and styles. Learn from others and find out what works best for you.

To see more of Marsha’s work, click here