Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Toot Toot

My old pal Andrew Kaiser sent me a jeering email the other day about this piece which ran in our high school alumi newsletter. Funny, since I don't even get the alumi newsletter.

We've been remiss in sending out press -too busy -so I had forgotten how strange it is to see someone writing about your work. I thought it would nice to share.

By the way -anybody interested in doing press for us, please drop a line.

This article is written by Bill Avington.

As a student, Richard O’Connor always thought his career goal would put him on stage. Turns out, he accomplished that goal but not quite in the way he expected. O’Connor is an animator, not an actor, but all of the things he does end up “in front of the camera, that’s one of the interesting things about animation,” he says. “When you create something you make it perform.” O’Connor is president of Asterisk Animation, which beganin 2004 when he and co-founder Brian O’Connell branched off from another firm. Since then, the company has been busy doing documentary work.

Most recently, the group worked on putting together 20 minutes of animation about Buddha for a piece produced by David Grubin. “A lot of times, people producing documentaries will come to us with an idea, basically saying, ‘we don’t know what we want, can you help,” he says. The 2008 Presidential election was also an interesting time for the company. With newspapers failing, animation filled the gap for commentary. Asterisk partnered with The New Yorker to produce several election shorts (which can be found at http://www.newyorker.com/online/nakedcampaign/videos).

“This form is something that can bring illustration into a new age,” O’Connor says. Along those same lines, the company was working on content for “CBS Sunday Morning,” which O’Connor describes as a “weird mix between documentary and animation, bringing in all sorts of realms of knowledge but trying to make it entertaining.”

O’Connor never studied animation but in some respects he believes that helps him. “I answered a job out of the New York Times for an office assistant at a film studio and after working there for a couple of months, I knew it was right,” he says. “I think the fact that I didn’t study animation in school gives me methods of inquiry into the art form that others who studied animation never really had.” He also believes that his high school training helped prepare him to take on his current career. “The type of education I got at the Prep allowed me to see the world in a bigger way and to apply different skill sets to this particular field of study,” he says.

He jokes that “there is a downside to a Prep education…I’m a lousy businessman. I’m always trying to live that whole MFO thing (men for others), you know treat people well, make sure they have benefits, etc. On the good side though, it does make people want to work with you.”He adds that Asterisk lives the Magis in one of the company’s mottos: “let’s make it not stink.”

More seriously though, O’Connor points to his study of Latin as a huge help in his current work. “I know a lot of people complained about Latin but it was great to have that knowledge skill and that view of history that you would not get just from studying modern language,” he says. “The study of the classics gave me such a broad perspective on history and understanding. It was the base that has helped me understand everything else.”

And O’Connor is taking that understanding and working to increase his business. “There is always a new, better, more interesting, cool way of doing something in animation,” he says. “Animation is about problem solving. To make something look good you have to spend a lot of energy to do it.”

No comments: