Animation Mentor: Tell us about your animation journey; why did you decide to pursue animation and how did you get to where you are today?
Natalia Falowska: I was always interested in art and film. My teachers at the art academy introduced me to a few animation techniques. I was trying drawn animation and stop-motion, but back then I wasn’t thinking about animation as my career. Then my big break came when I discovered motion capture. I felt fascinated that the actors’ performances were applied to non-realistic characters. I started working with this medium during my studies. That was something which opened doors for me in the game industry and started the most amazing adventure of my life.
I met a lot of creative influential people there who showed me what it means to bring your ideas to various characters by animating from scratch.
I met a lot of creative influential people there who showed me what it means to bring your ideas to various characters by animating from scratch. I love games, but my heart always has been beating stronger for movies. I always had this crazy boost of adrenaline when I went to the movies or watched VFX breakdowns. After some time, I decided to practice more and try to make my dream come true.
AM: Why did you choose Animation Mentor?
NF: I didn’t know how to animate creatures. It felt like animation school could help me develop this knowledge and also give me some structure to learning. I did some digging and it turned out you have amazing mentors for creature courses who are professionally active. I chose Alvise Avati and I learned so much from the Locomotion workshop that I also stayed for Fight or Flight.
I did some digging and it turned out you have amazing mentors for creature courses who are professionally active. I chose Alvise Avati and I learned so much from the Locomotion workshop that I also stayed for Fight or Flight.
Animation Tips & Tricks
AM: What is the best piece of advice you received from your creatures mentor?
NF: He recommended the technique where you animate in spline instead of in a stepped mode, and divide the body into pieces. First, you block the creature’s spine, then chest, hips, head, legs and tail. And you always learn from the reference and think about the relevant forces.
AM: When animating creatures, what’s one of the first skills or techniques an animator should focus on?
NF: I think at the beginning the biggest trap is to rely too much on intuition and too little on your understanding. So you need to remember about the principles of animation, think about forces, study the anatomy of the creature you are animating, and also analyze the reference you gathered.
AM: What makes animation so special?
NF: The amazing feeling of bringing life to something.
AM: What surprised you most about working at a studio?
NF: Seeing the movie in progress – what an astonishing experience.
The Lion King from Disney Animation Studios, 2019
AM: What was the most difficult shot you animated for The Lion King? What was the most fun?
NF: I think all of my shots faced different challenges and all of them contained a fun factor. I had one wide shot with eight characters walking up the stones, and doing all the contacts and adjustment needed focus. I think it’s always a challenge when you work on long shots with multiple characters, because you have to spend a larger amount of time on them and you slowly see the progress of the entire shot. So you have to keep yourself motivated and remember that you are doing something really cool.
I think it’s always a challenge when you work on long shots with multiple characters, because you have to spend a larger amount of time on them and you slowly see the progress of the entire shot.
Speaking about a fun shot, I was really excited to animate three lionesses roaring in answer to adult Simba’s roar. Creating variety in the same action was really interesting, and I absolutely love facial animation on creatures so I felt lucky to have that shot.
AM: What character would you most like to animate in future?
NF: I have a soft spot for Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Ready for more advice? Check out our other alumni Q&As:
- How to Become an Animator with Blue Sky Animators
- Q&A with Liron Topaz: Lead Animator and Director at DreamWorks Animation
- Q&A with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Animator Nick Kondo
Want to animate epic creatures for animated or live-action movies?
Learn how in our awesome Creature Animation: Locomotion and Creature Animation: Fight or Flight Workshops! Work with professional Industrial Light & Magic and DreamWorks animators who’ve worked on Avenger’s: Endgame, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, His Dark Materials, and more!