Blair McNaughton; Auckland, New Zealand; Editor-turned-Animator; Animation Mentor rah-di-rah-di-rah… Now that the boring stuff is out of the way…
When I was growing up, I lived and breathed Star Wars. I had the toys, the t-shirts, the bed sheets, the VHS (what?) boxsets… Saturday mornings for me didn’t mean cartoons. They meant Star Wars. I know, I know, you’ve heard this story before… it’s far from unique to me. There’s just something about that world and mythology… the magic and imagery… the filmmaking and storytelling of it all, that’s just so captivating.
I was ten when the Special Editions came out and on the tapes before the movies started they had these behind-the-scenes featurettes. Seeing the stop motion AT-ATs blew my mind. On one hand it destroyed the illusion but on the other it opened up a whole new world (a dazzling place I never knew – the Disney musicals of the early 90s were also a big part of my childhood).
On graduating High School I remember saying to my careers advisor that I was interested in Animation. She laughed and said “Nah, you want to be an Architect.” “Mmmm, I don’t like straight lines though.” I ended up stumbling into the live-action industry. I taught myself editing and After Effects and how to hold a camera and, with my brother and his wife (both actors), started up Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions through which we’ve produced wedding videos, corporate videos, music videos, TVCs, short films, and a TV series called Auckland Daze for which I served as the editor.
I’d been doing motion graphics work on the side for a while when I decided to give the 3D thing a go and enrolled at Lifeway College just outside of Auckland. It was a good taster for the fundamentals in all specialties (modelling, lighting, rigging, texturing, animation…) but I quickly realised that character animation was where my strength was so I enrolled at online school Animation Mentor to really hone my animation. It’s been a fantastic experience and I’ve been mentored by some amazing animators including John Vassallo, Charles Alleneck, Drew Adams, Kevin Koch, Boola Robello and Sean Sexton.
Now that I’ve graduated, I’m looking forward to getting into the industry and making a mark in the animation world!