Home Interviews Animation Career Advice with Shawn Kelly & Carlos Baena

Animation Career Advice with Shawn Kelly & Carlos Baena

Did you know that together Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena have worked on over 40 blockbusters?! If you're curious about a career in animation, or simply wondering what to put on your demo reel, look no further. Shawn & Carlos cover animation career advice from all angles in this entertaining webinar. Check it out!

What should I put on my animation demo reel? What can animators do to improve their skills after Animation Mentor? How do I build my confidence as an animator and an artist?

ILM Lead Animator Shawn Kelly and Paramount Director Carlos Baena answer these and other questions in this animation webinar. Don’t miss two of Animation Mentor’s Co-Founders sharing their stories and advice:

We had an excellent webinar audience who asked a mountain of great questions. Here’s a small taste of the advice our audience enjoyed:

The Art of Animation

Carlos Baena: I think part of becoming an animator is being able to do a little bit of everything, just like an actor. I see it exactly the same way as an actor, and actors have to be chameleons.

I think part of becoming an animator is being able to do a little bit of everything, just like an actor. I see it exactly the same way as an actor, and actors have to be chameleons.

What’s the best way to switch from 2D to 3D?

Shawn Kelly:The art is the same. The principles are the same. Don’t be afraid of the computer, you’ll learn the software pretty fast. Treat it like drawing.

What are some good demo reel tips?

SK: My brain is exploding with a thousand demo reel things to say:

  1. Tailor your demo reel to the job you’re applying for and the studio you’re applying at.
  2. Choose shots that show off as wide a variety of your skill set as possible.
  3. Choose shots that show your current best ability. I like to say that your demo reel is only as good as the worst thing on it.
  4. Try to show both acting and action.

CB: Have fun with [your demo reel], explore different things…It’s a great opportunity being in school to explore things, not just to follow the same line that everybody is following.

Advice is just Advice

CB: What I learned over the years is people are going to give you advice left and right, throughout the whole career. They are gunna tell you, “you know I’ve seen your work, I think you are more like this” etc. Do what your heart is screaming to do. Figure out ways to learn how to do that.

What I learned over the years is people are going to give you advice left and right, throughout the whole career. They are going to tell you, “You know I’ve seen your work, I think you are more like this,” etc. Do what your heart is screaming to do. Figure out ways to learn how to do that.

We’re all on a Journey up Animation Mountain

SK: I like to say that we’re all still learning and we’re all on this journey where we’re climbing Animation Mountain. And we’re never going to reach the top of Animation Mountain. Glen Keane would tell you he is not at the top of Animation Mountain.

I like to say that we’re all still learning and we’re all on this journey where we’re climbing Animation Mountain. And we’re never going to reach the top of Animation Mountain. Glen Keane would tell you he is not at the top of Animation Mountain.

Everyone is at different places along that mountain, and we’re all climbing at different speeds, and every once in a while maybe we plateau or even slide down the mountain a little bit. Maybe your buddy grabs your hand and pulls you up the mountain. We’re all just going together, and it’s an art and it’s a journey and you can’t compare yourself to the other people on the mountain.


We’d like to thank Shawn and Carlos for keeping us entertained while simultaneously making us feel like amazing animators and inspiring us to do better. You guys rock!

Ready for more advice? Check out these related articles:
Is Your Demo Reel Ready for a Major Studio? More Shawn Kelly Tips.
How to Become an Animator with Blue Sky Animators
Q&A with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Animator Nick Kondo


Want to be mentored by professional animators?

Start your animation journey by learning from professional animators at studios like Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar, and DreamWorks! Get more information about Animation Mentor’s Character Animation Program.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

POPULAR CATEGORIES