German artist Hans Bacher, the production designer of the blockbuster Mulan and worked on the visual development of Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, Hercules, Fantasia 2000, Brother Bear, and Lilo and Stitch, is a living legend in the animation world.
The award-winning citizen of the world animator, with past residences in Dusseldorf, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Manila, and Tokyo, is currently an Associate Professor at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He recently had a talk with the student-artists of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) at the School of Design and Arts (SDA) Campus, to give advice to the future animators.
Bacher believes that young artists should not be afraid to start their own studios. “You should not really care if it will work or not, just do it and give your best because that’s what’s missing in the Philippines – there is nothing happening. You are over a hundred million by now and that’s theoretically enough for an industry,” he said.
Bacher noticed that most students wanted to work for an American studio. “Many top talents leave the country. There is so much talent that is spread all over the world, if you could only get them back then you can start an amazing industry,” he said.
He believes that in order to save the animation industry in the country, the young artists generally have to work hard, produce some few short films, and forward it to every single festival possible. “Get both practice and experience, even from international studios, and with the name that you made for yourself plus the help of the animator friends you have made along the way, you come back here and do your best to save the industry,” he advised.
“When you have a story that is interesting enough to attract a major audience, then you already have over 50 percent. Make the stories interestingly acceptable to a wider audience to go worldwide,” he noted. “If there is something that would make others watch it, too, then it means something,” he added.
He reiterated that the different elements-—from the interesting story, the appealing characters, the well-developed layout, all the way to the editing—have to be in sync.
Bacher clarified on one of the most important factors is how to capture the emotions of the spectators. “You know in the end, the audience has to feel with the characters and that’s the amazing part of animation – it’s just a sketch, yet you can make people either laugh or cry. You give that feeling through your drawings,” he remarked.
Having worked in the industry for decades, Bacher certainly realizes that months, and even years of production may still end up in the trash bin if it doesn’t work. “Your love is in those drawings, but you have to be brave enough to understand that there could be something wrong with. It may be the hardest thing to accept, and it has happened to me many times.” he admitted.
However, the veteran illustrator believes that if other established animators can do it, so can the apprentices. “Today, it is even easier than ever to educate yourself. So study the editing, the film language, how it works, how to develop the story, the flow of the character, the flow of the music, and so on,” he claimed. “Remember, everything today can be learned. There is no secret at all. All you have to do is to have the energy to claim it,” he encouraged.
Bacher likewise stressed pressure is not essential to the creative process. “You learn because you love to do something, and you’ll know you’ve improved when you see that what you have created is so much better than what you did yesterday,” he vocalized. “The best way to learn is have someone really next to you, who will lead you. When something doesn’t work, that mentor will calm you down and will tell you not to panic. You find out by the feeling that you did something beautiful and it moves you,” he mentioned.
In his inspiring, well-attended session, Bacher kept on reminding the budding animators to push through with their dreams whatever happens. “Don’t worry, do what you want, and do it good enough to be successful.” he said.
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