Kauê Asciuti talks about becoming an animator after absolutely hating animation as a student, explains why Maya and Cinema 4D are a great choice for stylized cartoony animations, and shares some tips on getting into the animation industry.
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My name is Kauê Asciuti and I am an animator. I'm 22 years old and I've been in the audiovisual world for some time. I started my studies in 2017 and entered the animation market in 2019. Today I work with animation focused on 2D/3D Motion Graphics and 3D Characters, within the Brazilian production company JUX Filmes.
In my journey, I've already taken several courses (I'll go deeper into this subject later on) and I'm specializing more and more in the area of animation. I've worked on several projects for clients both in Brazil and abroad, especially in the advertising area, which is where we have the greatest demand today. You can see some of them in my portfolio.
Getting Started in the Animation Industry
This is a pretty funny subject. It all began when I started college, I've always loved movies, anime, games, and animated series, I think this whole universe is amazing, but the first time I tried animation, it was my least favorite subject! I can't imagine that today, but at the time I decided to focus on other things like Modeling and Rendering, totally absurd to me now! But after a short period, I ended up finding myself working with animation again and this time it fit me like a glove. And then I started to understand how it worked and became more and more interested in it.
Today I can say that animating is totally what I like to do the most. I am very inspired to see my projects completed and delivered and watch my work evolve more and more.
Yeah, it's time to give credit to those who taught me and helped me along this path. My first course focused on this area, and perhaps the most important one was the graduate course I took at Faculdade Méliès, a sensational place that gave me an extremely solid base for all stages of production. I tried everything in college including drawing, 2D, 3D, post-production, and had my first encounter with the industry software. It was a great experience to enter with an open mind to discover my path.
At the end of the course, I made my first short film, and after graduating from college I decided to focus on animation for Motion Graphics. I took an After Effects course on the Layer Lemonade online platform, and with that, I got the basis for my first job.
As time went by, I started to feel the need to specialize in 3D Animation. I played with Maya a little, I knew the basics, and I really wanted to learn Cinema 4D, which was the software used by the production company I worked for. Then I got a wonderful scholarship on the School of Motion platform, to take the Cinema 4D Basecamp course. Taking this course took my work on a whole another level, not only because I learned how to use a new tool but also because I learned and reinforced many concepts and techniques I knew. And so I entered the universe of 3D Animation once and for all.
And last but not least, I recently finished the AnimAction course at Brave CG School, where I finally specialized in Character Animation. Animating characters has always been a huge challenge for me, and taking this course to stick with it was one of the best choices I've ever made. Understanding character animation opened my mind to many things, and this shared knowledge was reflected in a huge improvement in both my motion graphics and my early character animations. Every job I do is better than the last and I feel I'm evolving more and more.
Studying is undoubtedly essential in this area and in addition to all these courses, I always try to keep an eye out for news, attend classes, tutorials, accompany great professionals and learn more and more about the concepts and techniques for each project I do.
Balancing Between 2D and 3D
I constantly work with this switch between 2D (After Effects) and 3D (Cinema 4D/Blender/Maya). There are differences between these media, the process of working on a 3D piece is much more time-consuming and worked, involving steps such as modeling, rigging (in the case when you are creating a character), and rendering, sometimes with several professionals involved in each area. In 2D it's a little faster and smaller, but depending on what you're going to do it's more limited. Note that I'm talking about 2D as motion graphics and not frame-by-frame, which I don't master.
I really like the freedom that 3D gives me, the results I get, and even the different styles we can achieve, whether it's more stop-motion, or low-poly, or something more cartoony, there are several possibilities.
But speaking of animation, the principles will always be the same. A keyframe is a keyframe anywhere, curves will always be curves, so the most important thing is to study the principles so you can take it to whatever media (2D/3D) or software you need.
Tools for Creating Motion Graphics Animations
When I need to make motion graphics animations, commercials, sets, props, and others, I prefer using Cinema 4D. I think it is an extremely stable software, I really like the different deformers and the entire MoGraph system that the program features. Cloners, Effectors — Cinema 4D is undoubtedly handy for all of this. In addition to the excellent Layers system that helps me to keep my project organized.
For character animation, I prefer Maya. I like the organization of the project, the system that allows you to work with Reference Files and update the rig without any problems, and the other tools to animate characters, such as Animation Layers. Besides, this is where I find the best rigs, where I can distort and animate at will with little or no limitations.
In Maya, I use a single plugin called aTools (now AnimBot), which adds even more tools to my workspace, like an interpolator that I use a lot to help me with blocking, and some selection folders that help me select the objects I want faster. I like plug-ins that help me optimize my work, do something I already know but faster, but I'm not into plug-ins that automate animations and things I should do, like plug-ins that create a premade animation for me or plug-ins that automatically create bounce on my animation curves. This is the kind of thing I feel I need to do myself, to have more control and freedom.
I think Blender is an extremely promising software. It is a program that is in constant evolution and comes to shake the foundations of those who were accommodated in the market. I like how it embraces different techniques, you can do everything within it, from 2D to post-production. The nodal system also caught my attention, for render and modeling. I do very little in these parts but I follow the professionals focused on this, and it's really sensational. I never got to animate in Blender, but I use it to render my personal projects, because of the Cycles renderer that is simple and gives me an excellent result compared to others I've used. For now, I'm not changing Maya's security to make characters or Cinema 4D to make Motion subjects, but from what I'm seeing from the evolution of this software, it won't be long before I change my mind. And the fact that it is free makes a huge difference, both for companies and professionals.
To talk about some challenging projects, I'll start by mentioning my short film, in which I put everything I learned in college to the test. I was still a beginner and this was a work of a lot of discovery and personal growth, where I did a little bit of everything and faced several problems. Scenarios that didn't look so good, animation that didn't feel right, rendering bugs, and some team snags. But in the end, with a lot of effort and support from the teachers, we were able to deliver a good product and learn from our mistakes.
Speaking of my professional projects, I'd like to mention in particular a 2D animation music clip made in After Effects that I worked on some time ago. There were lots of characters, lots and lots of scenes, and the deadline was extremely short. Animating characters in After Effects is limited, and I was very frustrated because I couldn't get the movements and fluidity I wanted due to the program's limitations. This motivated me a lot to learn to animate characters in 3D and overcome these limitations imposed by software or style.
The most recent challenge I went through was an approximately 6-minute motion 2D commercial I worked on. It was a work of simple techniques, but with a large volume within a short period of time, which happens a lot. Sometimes challenges don't come from something you don't know or can't do, but from something you've mastered when it comes in such an insane volume that you end up getting frustrated.
About this last commercial, it hasn't come out yet, so I can't talk much about or show anything. But stay tuned and check out my portfolio for a future release.
I think the biggest foundation we should have when we talk about animation is the famous 12 fundamentals of animation. Having control of timing and spacing, applying things like Overlapping and Squash-Stretch, everything that can contribute to your animation getting better and better. Using these principles in your animation is already half of your success.
The main tip I give is to use references. You don't have to reinvent the wheel in every project you do. For character animation, it is very important to use references, especially to help you in the timing of your project. Using a reference isn't about copying or rotoscoping exactly what's on the screen, it's about having a solid foundation for you to create and elaborate on your animation.
For Motion Graphics this tip is equally valid, as different projects require different approaches, and it's always good to have versatile references so you don't always stay in the same style. Even if an animation works in 2D it will not necessarily look good in 3D.
And finally: study! Be it by courses, by tutorials, by private lessons, alone, in whatever way you can. The audiovisual world is always evolving so if you want to get into this area, there's no time to sit still. Fortunately, there is a lot of content about animation on the Internet, and there are more and more courses and opportunities. It's a fast-growing market and I'm extremely happy to be a part of it.