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First of all, I'd like to mention that I am really glad to have found these forums since I've learned so much from the artists in this community. I can see there is a high level of professionalism and respect here, so I can't help but ask for assistance from anyone who could be kind enough to answer some of my (probably silly) questions.

I'm a comic artist who has been studying animation for almost 3 years, eventhough I don't have any plans of becoming an animator. After the 3-year course I'm planning to take classes on directing, and music.

Now I'm wondering if this is the right path to take. To be honest, I want to be a director (animation) despite the vast number of disagreeing comments I've received from both students and professionals in my school, who tend to push me into thinking that being a director is only possible if you have an enormous amount of experience in the industry, and ofcourse, money.
I'm not sure if this is entirely true, and besides, I want to start small. I have already formed a studio with my friends and we've got enough people to produce shorts, or even TV series with decent quality. The thing is, my team wants me to be the director (and I love the idea since that is my goal in life) but I'm not sure if I'm ready for it yet. I have absolutely no knowledge in the field... the closest I've ever been to directing was during the creation of my own personal projects like, comics.

If anyone could help me out I'd really apreaciate it. To keep it short, I'd like to know what I'm going to need to become a real director.
Courses, books, brains, brawn...?

Anyways, thank you for reading this, and I'll be waiting for your opinions.


Thank you for the quick reply Laurence :)

...and yes, I think you're right about the producer being the one incharge of the budget for the projects, I still don't understand why some people say directors have to be "wealthy" to make a good performance, but anyways...

So far I've been told that directors usually make the storyboard when theres no storyboard artist around, and he helps during the planning of the script. A director also must supervise all the activities during the three phases of animation.
The thing that worries me is the technical part of directing. Is there any book, or webpage I could study to get some basic info?

Apart from that, I've got some questions about cinematic terms since I have a lot of trouble knowing if I'm using the correct english words :p
(It might have nothing to do with the subject, but I thought I could take advantage of the thread, sorry for this)

In spanish...
-Plano: (I'm not sure if in english it is a "shot"): the placement of the camera according to the situation (ex. close-up, over the shoulder, general, bird's eyeview)
-Escena: (Scene): A situation, or an accion where something happens.
-Secuencia: (Sequence): A group of scenes recorded in the same set to form an event.

I'm sure my definitions are wrong, and I hope someone could explain these things to me with a little more detail. The funny thing is, in english I think it's the other way around: a scene is a collection of sequences, but then again, I could be wrong.

Oh and by the way, you've wiped out a lot of the doubts I had Laurence, thanks again. :D

Having animation experience is something I'd consider to be essential for a animation director. I don't think one needs to have a LOT of experience animating, but at least enough familliarity to navigate the production of animation.
Storyboarding is probably the other route you can take and that has some kinship with comics, though if all you have is storyboarding experience, I still think gaining some animation background would help.
A big part of the director's job is oversight--to the end of being able to identify when talent is working out problems adequately and when they are not--and knowing when to step in to assist.
You need to be prepared, imo, to jump in at any point and supply direct hand-on assistance to any part of the production. If you do not possess the actual talent to do those jobs, at least come with the good sense/intelligence to be able to solve the problem.

Directors that are just people managers, to the exclusion of having any skills in the field, are a waste of skin as far as a animation production goes.
I've seen these kinds of people, and they hinder far more than they help. Their lack of experience in actually creating the works--in the various stages of production--usually means they are clueless in solving problems or making sound judgement calls on creative or technical matters. Some of these folks simply want the title, but bring nothing to it.

The more one knows, the better.
Now, mind you, that directors that come from just an animation background, with no other experience often have problems of their own. Story is a key component, and strictly animating doesn't always develop a good story sense.
Likewise coming from a sole storyboarding background might give someone the technical savvy to flesh out a story, but they might lack some of the sensitivity that character animation needs bring to the piece.

Comics are a background I've come from as well, and used a insight about comics as a springboard to doing storyboarding. There are major and manifold difference between the two though--enough to make them two very seperate animals.

Its a juggling act to be sure, and what you bring to it determines what comes out of it.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

A good example for what a director without hands-on experience in animation can do to a character comes from a live-action/CG animation movie released here in Germany very recently.
The movie is "Hui Buh" and based on a series of audio plays about a rather incompetent ghost haunting a castle. The main character, the ghost, is voiced by a well-known German comedian in the movie. The original character's design was that of a translucent skeleton wearing medieval garb. The live-action director, being convinced that a skeleton can't convey emotions, had the designers make the movie's ghost look like a caricature of the comedian providing the voice instead.
Personally, I think it makes the character less interesting. Sure, it's a "popular" idea to have the main character look like the star behind him but it would've been more interesting if they'd somehow blended the old and the new design. Luckily, the animation director, who has years of experience working on Disney features, took matters into his hands and saw to it that what the character lacks in design appeal he makes up for in acting.

If I may add to this answer...

A good animation director has done most of the other jobs involved in the animation pipeline. The director understands what is possible and what is not possible in the medium, due to having made mistakes himself/herself. There is nothing worse than a director who has not done the jobs, and asks for the moon, and has no idea why people tell him/her that it cannot be done. It gives you credibility, and respect amongst the rest of the team.

Do not confuse Comic Book art with storyboarding and cinematography. They are two totally different beasts. It is very common for people to confuse the two, and it drives me nuts to no extent. You need to learn what a storyboard is, and how to effectively tell a story through camera shots that work together from a cinematographic standpoint. The only way to do that is to do storyboards for film, and see them edited together later on, thus showing you the errors.

Anyways... I hate to be the devil's advocate, but the best directors out there have paid their dues, and have done the necessary jobs in order to become directors... It takes work to go up the ladder, no matter what people these days think.

"Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard" - Paul Simon

I'm not disputing what you and Ken Davis are saying. I am saying, that if someone wants to direct, he or she is going to have to turn on the camera and _start_, with whatever knowledge he or she has.


I am sure everyone is behind this statement because it is a true statement.
Everyone is the director of their own personal work and if you put a lot of effort into it, it should show. Aside from getting a grant we must all pay out of our own pockets, untill opportunity knocks.