BRAD HERMAN Crowds Supervisor
TURBO, KUNG FU PANDA 2, KUNG FU PANDA HOLIDAY SPECIAL, MONSTERS VS ALIENS
What DreamWorks Animation films have you worked on?
I have been Crowd Supervisor on Turbo, Kung Fu Panda 2 and the Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special. I also worked with the crowds on Monsters vs. Aliens. The Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special was one project that really stood out to me. Tim Johnson (the director) is really amazing to work with. The project had a really short schedule, but we turned around some beautiful work. I was really proud of our work on that show.
What does the crowds department do?
The crowds department is responsible for creating everyone on screen that the hero animation department doesn’t do, which is usually everyone who isn’t a main character. That could be the person standing next to Shrek or it could be the 100,000 people in a stadium. It’s a pretty wide variety of things. If it’s moving and not done by effects or animation, it’s generally us.
How would you describe a typical day here at Dreamworks?
A typical day here is a combination of three aspects: creative, technical programming, and management. It’s everything from reviewing the shots that my artists have worked on, to working with the animators on new cycles. I work with the creative leadership to resolve problems and come up with new ideas. I also work with the technical artists. It’s a mix of all of those things. I love being able to collaborate with people that are this creative on this level on a daily basis – it’s a rare thing to find. I really appreciate and value having this many creative people around to come up with ideas.
How did you get started in animation?
Being in this business was always something that I wanted to do! It kind of all goes back to a place called Cinekyd, which was a broadcast arts school for kids that I started attending when I was 11 years old. I studied animation visual effects, acting, photography and lighting. After college, I spent about a year in the games industry then went into animation. I worked on an animated TV series for about a year then transitioned into live-action visual effects. I worked on huge films with big-name directors, and it was a really fun time in my life. The transition back to animation was predominantly motivated by family. Animation allowed me to spend more quality time at home.
How did you get started with app development?
The app development actually got its start in a dark and troublesome place. I have 2 kids and my oldest son Elijah was diagnosed with cancer on December 1, 2010, which has been very difficult. While we were at the hospital, they gave us this game for kids to play that explains the concepts of cancer. Medical studies have shown that kids who played this game had better results in terms of their cancer treatment. The game doesn’t have special powers, but gives kids a better understanding of the disease so they become better at taking their medication and managing themselves. But it was only a PC game, and we didn’t have a PC. I set about making my own app version of that concept for my three year-old son. While he was watching animated films on loop, I sat at his hospital bedside and created Cancer Zapper for him. You play as Dr. Syringe, shooting chemo at the cancer cells. There’s no concept of dying and there’s no concept of being cured. You can only get into remission, because everyone who is fighting cancer is never really cured. If you stay in remission until the end of your natural life, then you’ve technically been cured. I was very careful about the words and the concepts that I put into this for my son. I’ve given away lots of free copies to kids at hospitals and teaching centers. Cancer Zapper is available on the app store, Android market, Amazon, and Nook.
What other apps have you created?
I consider making apps a part of my personal artwork. I’ve got one called Puppet Show, which is an interactive puppet that you can play with. It’s based off one that I purchased from a DreamWorks artist who makes puppets. I also put out an app called Learn My Name. We realized that while my son had gotten good at spelling and phonetics, he wasn’t great at recognizing or writing his own name. You can customize the names and bounce these little letter dolls around the screen. You match them up to form your name. It has a cute, fun soundtrack composed by another DreamWorks artist. Elijah does all the dialogue in it, so when you click on the letters he goes, “A, B, C.” It’s very cute. It’s crazy; I have 19 or 20 different app projects in the works.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or app developers?
Don’t let anything stand in your way. Everyone is here because they got themselves here. People are at most studios because they have worked hard and because they have gotten good. No one starts out being great at what they do. It’s about perseverance and it’s about determination; it’s about getting yourself there. If you draw a picture and you don’t think it’s good, then draw another one. Get better. Don’t get mad at yourself because that picture you drew the first time wasn’t great. Nobody was great that first time. You stick to it and you get better. You apply those skills and you get to wherever you want to be in life.