It is time to meet, once again, the people who make the magic happen here at AtmosFX. Patrick Nobbe is one of AtmosFX’s first animators to join the team in 2014. He is one of four full-time animators here, when you include the co-founder of the company.
Patrick came to Seattle from Dallas, Texas, where he came to attend art school. Upon completion, he decided to stay, taking on freelance animation projects. Then he came across a posting, coincidentally, from the creator of a one-time MTV animated series Undergrads, — one of his favorites. The series creator was AtmosFX’s co-founder, Pete Williams. Soon, Patrick was aboard.
The animation process is complicated – and time consuming. Starting with a script and conceptual renderings of the key characters, the animation team begins the process of 3D modeling, texturing and rigging. Only then the actual animation begins. As with all the animators at AtmosFX, Patrick has come to appreciate the opportunity to participate in each of these steps. “We are lucky because we get to touch every part of design,” he says. “You don’t get that at larger animation studios.”
Of course, animators will tell you that the most fun part is the actual animation – bringing the character to life. That requires faithfully following the script, yet still injecting personality and nuance that reflects the creativity of each individual animator. This is something in which Patrick excels. “After all these steps, the character starts to define itself,” he says. “Over time, I can tell exactly who the character is.”
As an example, he points to the rabbit Hoppy, the star of Hoppy Easter. After being involved in each step of the animation process, when it came to animate scenes, he was able to add character details, not necessarily in the script, that further who Hoppy is. Look for his toe flutter – that’s a little piece of Patrick Nobbe right there. “That was a flourish that just makes sense for Hoppy to do,” he says, “and it just fit.”
(Above, Patrick and fellow AtmosFXer, Kevin Kozel, contemplate their beards)
Q: In your spare time, you participate in a monthly animation contest called the 11-Second Club. How do you think participating in these short-form animated contests affects the way you think about your craft?
Patrick Nobbe: It’s all about practice. You’re never done practicing, just like you’re never done learning. Animating is a muscle that must be worked out, and participating in such competitions is my gym.
Q: Is there a certain part of the animation process you enjoy the most? The least?
PN: The brainstorming would be my favorite. Coming up with the exact actions your character will perform, then looking for spots to let the characters personality come through so the animation can be a success.
Q: Are there any characters/scenes that you think AtmosFX should create, regardless of whether or not the decoration would sell well?
PN: One of our past products featured characters from Michael Dougherty’s film, Trick ‘r Treat. I would like a chance to animate Krampus, from another of Dougherty’s films of the same name. Who doesn’t like evil santa?
Q: Not including Halloween, what is your favorite holiday?
PN: Halfway Halloween
Q: What is your favorite movie genre – and what are your top 5 favorite movies within that genre?
PN: I’m a big fan of westerns. Top 5:
- Good the Bad and the Ugly
- High Plains Drifter
- Open Range
- The Quick and the Dead