Ever wondered how on earth you create a realistic zombie apocalypse using visual effects and animation?
David Rodriguez has the answers.
He’s worked on some huge projects – World War Z, Star Wars Kinect, and the Ice Age: Continental Drift Arctic game just to name a few. Despite having a solid career in 3D Animation, David has a real passion for teaching others the techniques and industry know how that you need to start their own careers in the field.
In this week’s seller spotlight, he tells us about how generosity has been a key to his success, the importance of an engaged community, and the challenges he’s faced.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is David Rodriguez. I’ve been a 3D Animator for film and games for the past 4 years. Not only do I have a passion for creating animation, I get a kick teaching animation to beginners who don’t know where to start their 3D Animation career. I always felt that there was something I was missing when I set my ways out into the real industry to look for a job. Now that I feel comfortable in this industry, I want to give back as much as I can to students or hobbyists who want to make their animation career a reality.
Tell us about your business and how you got started.
I never actually considered myself a business. I started off by giving everything away. I started a YouTube channel back in 2010 where I share all of my animation methods for free. I still have the channel running up to this day with over 100 uploaded videos. I’ve always had that mentality of giving.
I remember when I was starting off with my animation career, I wish I could’ve known someone in this industry that could mentor or answer my doubts. It was because of this need that I set out in early 2012 to write my first book titled Animation Methods: Becoming a 3D Character Animator. It was in this book that I didn’t feel like a writer, but I felt more like a person trying to mentor and write the facts about this industry. I wrote about the importance of how to land a job in animation as well as how animation is done on a computer. It was only after my fans got a hold of my book that they wanted more and more. The following year, I wrote a second book titled Animation Methods: Rigging Made Easy.
I now offer books, lessons, and downloadable tutorials that will get any beginner up and running into this career in no time.
How have you built up your business and what’s been the best way for you to get exposure?
My biggest exposure comes from my YouTube fans. I roughly have 15,000 subscribers and am always happy to listen to my fans and give them what they want. This channel is for them and it’s my best form of communication to keep that relationship with them. I always make myself available through my Facebook fan page so that anyone who has a question about animation or wants advice, we can message each other.
This is how I feel my business has grown the most, because I try to keep that one-to-one relationship with them. I post an animation Tip of The Day so that there is always something engaging going on and keeps the fans happy. Not to mention I also have weekly book giveaways!
Any particular challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The biggest challenges are finding content that always keeps your fans happy. Even though I work as an animator, I have to make time to come up with new material, tutorials, a Tip of The Day, giveaways, write articles, and answer questions to keep my social media alive. But I think I’m always learning new techniques and in what areas to invest more of my time. For example, I notice every time I upload a new YouTube video other areas of my business do well.
At times, when I do a book giveaway, my book sales from Amazon do well. There is also a certain time of the day when my Facebook posts get more exposure. I’ve noticed that 60% of my followers are from India and 40% from the US. The best way I’ve learned is to keep a log and track what you do, when you do it, how long you do it, and what the results are.
What kind of tools or practical applications have you used to manage your business?
I’ve tried a couple of sites that help me track my visitors to ease my workload. Google Analytics is really powerful and easy to use. It allows me to see what pages on my website are being viewed the most, at what time they are viewed, what area of my pages are being looked at, and monthly visitor counters. I find this valuable because it helps me design my webpages better.
I’ve also used Yahoo! webhosting because they have really easy tools to build a website. As an artist all I have to do is design my own images and click and drag them where I want them to appear on my page. Very easy to do! Even if you know nothing about web design I highly recommend you give them a try.
I recently added Selz to my website to offer the paid tutorials on my website. I think this is a really good addition to my site because they take care of all of the big things for me. They handle the delivery of the products, secure payment, and make it widely available for my students trying to take their skills to the next level.
As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of social media. If it wasn’t for YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, WordPress, and Selz I don’t think my success would be where it is today.
What are some websites, blogs or other businesses that inspire you?
I look at other websites, blogs or other businesses to help me see how I can stand out from them. I look for what makes their products unique then I try to see how I can stand apart. It keeps me on my creative edge. Always moving and always growing. There hasn’t been a time when I feel I can rest easy with what I have. Although I will say they are good websites out there that can teach in other styles and have a different approach than I do, I still recommend them to my fans. I enjoy reading others experiences in the animation industry. Perhaps there is a new and better method for animation that I’m not aware of, I’m always on the lookout for blogs and sites I can find on Google.
Can anyone learn animation? What do you think it takes to make a career in that industry?
Sure they can. I’m a strong believer that anyone can learn anything if they put in the time and effort. I was a horrible animator myself when I started learning it back in 2007. It comes down to a combination of the right person and the right teacher. I’ve seen students who try it for the first time and actually understand it well. When I ask them if they’ve done animation before they say, “No, I’ve never animated before. I just understood how you explained it.” This always makes me happy to hear.
Animation does take a lot of time, but this is what makes animation fun. You sit down for a while, and at the end, you have a character that’s acting and cracking jokes. Your audience gets a laugh and you feel like an accomplished animator. It’s also a medium for people to express their feelings to the world. Games nowadays are turning into films. They put the player into a deep story and cinematic experience. This is what studios are looking for and it’s what I’m hoping beginner animators can learn. You have to have a passion for what you do and you also have to be personable. Working in a studio turns into your new home. It’s important that you get along with people and have a caring and giving mentality when other animators need help. It’s a fun and rewarding career that I’m hoping I can help someone get their foot in the door.
What does the future hold for you?
I want to give more to my audience and I hope on building a larger community of animators. I know the feeling of being a beginner and imagining your name on the movie credits seem only like a dream. I hope I can inspire others into making that dream a reality. I’m always learning and growing, but those who want it will pursue it until they are no more excuses. The only other option is to do and succeed.