Dylan Martis works in his animation studio space
Dylan Martis works in his animation studio space

Animation student Dylan Martis talks choosing a major, Rorschach tests, and his plans after MCAD.

Why did you choose MCAD?

When I was in high school, I looked up different art colleges because I didn’t want to go to a medical college—my parents really wanted me to attend a medical college but I’m not interested in it. While looking, I came across MCAD and saw that they had a lot of different majors, including animation. I made an appointment for a tour and it went really well. I really enjoyed the facilities, I liked how it wasn’t a huge college, and the scholarship opportunities were great too.

“The best part about declaring your major is that you can also apply for a studio space! I love my studio space.”

Was it hard moving away from home to Minneapolis?

Yes it was! Texas is far from here. The move wasn’t too hard, but finding a place here is kind of hard. As long as you have friends here that you can talk to and rely on, then it’s okay. My first year here was pretty difficult. For most people, it’s all about trying and failing, and understanding what you are best suited for aesthetically and your most preferred medium. With the first year so filled with foundations classes that are out of your control, I experimented and tried to find what I was into the most. I didn’t really hit my stride until sophomore year when I took Introduction to Animation with Tom Schroeder.

So when did you decide to major in animation?

I had heard about animation before applying to MCAD, but I didn’t know what I was getting into until taking the class with Tom Schroeder. I kept hearing things from other people about the major being hard and a lot of work, maybe even the most work-intensive major. But in Introduction to Animation, Tom just had so much fun with it. I remember him saying don’t worry about how much work you’re doing because as long as you’re having fun doing it then it’s okay. Once I heard that, I really got into it, and after taking his class I was sure I was going to major in animation.

The best part about declaring your major is that you can also apply for a studio space! I love my studio space, I would say I definitely needed one, they are great. The Cintiq I use takes up a lot of room and it’s so much better and easier to keep it on campus.

Is there a style of animation that you do?

I want to keep the possibilities as open as possible so when I start my animations I usually just like to get right in it. While I’m working, if I come up with a character in my head that would fit the animation, I don’t want to spend all my time on that character because in the end I don’t want a super complex, detailed character if the overall animation doesn’t look good. I usually just like to get into it and see what I’m working with as my ideas flow and just go from there.

Also, I’m not sure if this is a style of animation, but it’s something I was really interested in experimenting with: I did a bunch of Rorschach tests, photographed all of them, put it together and played it on a loop, and then animated on top of that. And I animated the samurai movie Yo-Jin-Bo and Clint Eastwood’s A Fistful of Dollars and put them together for my Experimental Animation class. The combination of these fast-moving characters and colors was really cool to animate.

A lot of animation students take additional illustration or comic classes which are good, but I am one of the few animation students that have taken additional film classes. For sure, illustration and comic classes are important for improving draftsmanship and style, but film and storyboarding takes a huge part in animation, too. I’d really recommend that more animation students take film classes because you have to think about staging, mood, tone, figuring out the cuts—and you are doing it all in real time; all those things you have to think about while making a film are the same in animation. And if you know how to do it with real people and real objects, animating it will be way easier.

“For a finished piece of work, I’d say about thirty to forty-five hours and the finished outcome would be about two to five minutes of video.”

How much time do you spend on animating?

For a weekly assignment, I would say about eight to fifteen hours and the outcome would be about a thirty-second video. For a finished piece of work, I’d say about thirty to forty-five hours and the finished outcome would be about two to five minutes of video. The weekly assignments are mainly just for faculty to see our work, progress, and new ideas. With the finished animation assignments, they want to see if it looks good, makes sense, has appealing music/audio, the cuts, and is it syncing. You have to worry about a lot more factors which is why so much more time is put into the finished animations.

What are you doing to fulfill your internship requirement?

My roommate and I are making an animated commercial for the Provincetown Film Festival held in Massachusetts. We are working with a guy named Andrew Peterson from IFP Minnesota. We just sent over our animatic (a preliminary draft of an animation) and he liked it a lot. He asked us to put in some orange coloring in the animation because the mascot is black and orange. So, that’s what we need to figure out next, along with some texture.

Lastly, Where do you see yourself after MCAD?

I do hope to see myself doing more experimental animation and/or something with motion graphics, potentially still here in Minnesota or preferably in Texas. But I’ll move to wherever the work is!