In this week’s Spotlight Series, Emanuel Nevado describes a typical day in the life of an Aardman Animator. Read on to learn more about his career journey, favourite projects and proudest achievement.
How did you start out in the industry and what role or roles have you had while working at Aardman?
I graduated from university with a degree in Musicology, worked in classical music, then went on to study Fine Arts where I really got into sculpture. Sculpture led to animation. When I moved from Lisbon to Barcelona I decided to study a Master’s in Animation and worked as a Stop Motion Animator in advertising. While living there, I saw an ad for the NFTS/Aardman Academy Certificate in Animation in Bristol and decided to apply. Since then, I have been working as a stop motion animator in the UK (Bristol, Manchester) and Portugal.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with Aardman regularly for the past seven years, first as a Trainee Assistant Animator on Shaun the Sheep series 5, then as a Junior Animator on Early Man, and as an Animator on A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom, The Epic Adventures of Morph and the upcoming Shaun the Sheep special.
What impact did the Aardman Academy have on your career?
Let’s just say that in three months I learnt more than I had in years.
Seeing the studio from the inside (whose work I had admired for years) and having the mentorship of Loyd Price and others made me more confident and entirely sure that animation is what I want to do.
To date, what has been your biggest professional achievement?
One of my proudest moments in the last few years happened when working on Early Man’s mammoth shots. The mammoth was such a different beast of a puppet. Due to its huge scale and physical and technical demands, no one was entirely sure it was technically possible to make it work convincingly. A true team effort, across teams in all departments, ended with what felt like a victory of stop motion (especially when CG might have been the obvious choice at first).
Tell us what a typical day is like for you…
I wake up and have some coffee while trying to teach new words to Clint (my pet parrot). Once at Aardman, the day starts with a morning meeting. I’m then briefed by the Director and get launched on a shot. That means… frame, frame, frame, frame, frame… Relax at lunchtime with some of my favourites at the canteen. Coffee. Frame, frame, frame, frame, frame. At the end of the day, it’s back home for piano classes and family.
What do you like most about working at Aardman?
Working with people who challenge me and teach me to be better. Also, it fills my heart with joy to see how the work of Aardman over the years captivates “kids” of all ages.
What’s your all-time favourite project that you’ve been involved with and why?
Couldn’t choose one, really. Projects mix with life and every project represents a different time in my life and they all left great memories. Right now, the Shaun the Sheep special is looking amazing and it has been a blast working with such a brilliant team.
What advice would you give to your younger self about getting into the industry?
Find the best to teach you. In my experience, the best professionals are usually very good at sharing the knowledge.
Who is your favourite Aardman character and why?
Gromit is a favourite, but I also have a soft spot for Feathers McGraw. I love the mix of spookiness and simplicity of his expressions.