The making of Super Simple Learning’s “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”: An interview with Nathan Dillow of Fuzz Animation
Based on the much-loved “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” Youtube Video by Super Simple Learning and Fuzz Animation, See Here Studios collaborated closely with Super Simple Learning and Fuzz Animation to develop the app, which includes an interactive children’s book, a counting game and two versions of the original animated video. We hope you enjoy the results!
We had so much fun working on this project, thanks to our wonderful creative partners. We especially loved the quality of the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star animation. So we asked Nathan Dillow, Creative Director of Fuzz Animation, if he could share his start in animation, the making of the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star video, and his artistic process:
Q: How did you first get started in animation?
A: Well I was always into drawing and involved in art, and the moment I saw Star Wars as a kid I became obsessed with movies and how they were made, particularly visual effects. When Pixar released Toy Story, it blew my mind and opened up a whole new world. There was something about it that agreed with my curiosity and love for technology and computers and animation. I was about 14 and my life changed forever when I found and downloaded the open source software, Blender 3D, and started creating and taking on jobs not long after. I’ve always been entrepreneurial minded. I love organizing and directing things – Fuzz Animation is really an extension of that and my love for animation.
Q: How did the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star production with Super Simple Learning come about?
A: Super Simple Learning approached me about the production based on a rough concept they pitched. They had a basic idea that they wanted an owl and star character playing together in the night sky. The fun part about this project was that they gave me complete creative freedom to develop the story. They really liked some of our past work in regards to the art style, so we tried to infuse that feel into Twinkle. Five hundred billion hours later, we finished. It was quite a learning experience, and a lot of work, but to say it was a blast would be an understatement. I hope the heart we put into it shows in the final piece.
Q: Could you share some of your working process for the Twinkle Twinkle Little star video?
A: The most important step of the process for me was to nail down the story and how we wanted everything to flow. Working with my story artist, we locked ourselves in my office and hashed out ideas and drawings until we could pin them up on the wall from beginning to end. Super Simple Learning gave us scratch track recordings of the music composition that I used to time our sequence ideas for the animatic. I’m also communicating with artists at this point to join the team while working on a rough 3D layout. I have a lot of faith in the people I choose for our projects. Although I’ll have some distinct direction, I really believe in utilizing every artists unique potential with their artistic freedoms. I’ll never forget the day a lightbulb went off in my head while I was in the shower. I realized that it’s impossible to do anything on my own at the standards I set for myself with Fuzz Animation. Always inspiring this idea is a quote from Walt Disney I look at everyday: “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
Q: What inspires you as an artist?
A: Nothing inspires me more than a good movie experience. Anything Disney or Pixar has ever produced inspires me to no end. I also love to look at animation history as well as study drawings from, say Glen Keane, Milt Kahl, or any of the nine old men, really.
Q: What do you do to recharge or overcome creative blocks?
A: I have to recharge quite often, I get burned out easily if projects drag on. Simply taking a break from it all, getting out into nature, anything away from the computer. Surrounding myself with people always opens my mind to new and refreshing ideas. I love to run, exercise and cook. I am also a heavily involved musician and enjoy playing guitar and traveling. I try to balance my time working with plenty of “play” time. It’s easy to get into a workaholic rut, especially when there is a fun project. When this happens my brain starts accepting everything it’s exposed to and I stop questioning or looking at things clearly.
Q: What are some of your current (or future) projects?
A: Right now we’re doing some television work, and I’ve just been admitted into a training program in advanced character animation. The future is always exciting, I’m always working towards new goals to improve myself. I’ll be spending 18 months training and pushing myself and Fuzz to the next level. One of the ultimate goals for Fuzz Animation besides continuing to produce quality commercial work, is to produce an independent animated movie. So I’m always working on that when no one is looking!
Thank you for the interview, Nathan!