1994, and teaching it since 1999. He currently leads a team of
8 artists on Season 3 of Nickelodeon’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles” at Bardel
Entertainment in Vancouver, and teaches part time at
Think Tank Training Centre in
North Vancouver, as well as dedicating 10-15 hours/week to
developing short films.
Paul Johnson’s Credit list:
“The 8-Bit Cup” (short film, 2014)
“Earth, Video Games, Port Mann Bridge” (short film, 2014)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Seasons 1 and 2 (TV series)
Fanboy and ChumChum: Season 2 (TV series) (2011)
Planet Sheen (TV series) (2010)
Neighbors from Hell (TV series) (2010)
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Season 1 (TV series)
Kung Fu Magoo (Direct-to-video) (2009)
The Adventures of Little Jake and Many Skies (TV
Pearlie (TV series) (2009)
Edgar & Ellen (TV series) (2008)
The Nutty Professor (Direct-to-video) (2007)
Chaotic: Season 1 (TV Series) (2006)
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: Seasons 1 and 2 (TV series) (2005,07)
FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman: Season 2 (TV Series) (2005)
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: Season 2 (TV series)
The Buzz on Maggie (TV series) (2003)
¡Mucha Lucha!: Season 3 (TV series) (2002)
Return to Never Land (DTV Feature) (2000)
Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (DTV Feature) (1999)
Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You (TV special) (1998)
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (TV special) (1998)
Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (DTV Feature)
Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (DTV Feature)
Tales from the Far Side II (1-hour TV special) (1996)
Kleo the Misfit Unicorn (TV series) (1995)
Paul’s IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0425965/
Regarding “The 8-Bit Cup”. I’m a sports fan. More specifically,
I’m a fan of sports commentary. I didn’t recognize the
distinction when I was a kid, but more than actually watching
the games, I loved listening to them. Hearing Jim Robson call
Canucks games growing up, I assumed that all sportscasters
stayed with the same team for 20 years or more. I’m also a
sports video game fan. Not so much the hyper-real ones, but the
old-school ones that had to make up for lack of graphics and
complexity with gameplay and *fun*.
What part of Canada are you from Paul?
Born in Port Moody, BC, lived in and around Vancouver ever
What inspired you to create animation?
Ha, funny story. So I didn’t focus on creating visual art much
growing up, music was my big thing from grades 8-12 with
clarinet and saxophone. After high school I didn’t know what I
wanted to do, so after a year off I focused on taking courses
to teach English in high school, since it was the one thing I
was good at other than music. After a year of that, I figured
out that music was actually a realistic option and fit into my
natural tendencies more, so I spent the next 2 1/2 years
focused on that in college and university. It was my one-year
full-time data-entry job that really transitioned me into
animation though – it was so brain-numbingly tedious that I
needed a creative outlet to keep from losing my mind,
…so I started drawing!
1994, and once I saw those first two images moving in sequence
on the line-test machine, I never looked back. It was an
awesome moment, to realize that single images created out of my
head could tell a story when represented in real time – a
childhood of watching cartoons had prepared me for this without
me knowing it.
|“The 8-Bit Cup” – Hockey Game|
How would you describe your artistic style?
autobiographical experience with efficient and simplified
motion as much as possible. When I’m working on my short films,
I have a general mantra of “good enough” – I work at 100% level
until I’m 90% finished, and then I do the minimum required to
get on to the next scene, revisiting and improving as time
allows. I pay attention to my moods and structure my work
accordingly – sometimes I just feel like doing lip-sync or
kinetic action for a few hours, and sometimes I just want to
give others feedback on their work with a goal of keeping
consistency and telling a story. Studio work, teaching, and
short films give me a terrific balance right now.
“The 8-Bit Cup” – Screen Captures
(Spoilers) – Click for Full Res
Can you share a piece of art work or script segment that no
one has seen before?
Wow, I had to dig for that one. A drawing from 1993 that kept
me from having my brain sucked out by data-entry (“Eckersley”)
– I didn’t know much about drawing, so I employed the classic
grid-based method, and drew from sports cards.
What role do you play in the creation of animation?
and in helping others realize their potential and manage their
time to get their own work done. I enjoy the entire film-making
process, especially the music – I wouldn’t want to do music
full-time, but I love creating the soundscapes for my short
“Earth Video Games Port Mann Bridge” – Screen Captures
(Spoilers) – Click for Full Res Version
What is one project that you are proud to have been involved
I generally have a sense of loving whatever I’m working on at
the time, so TMNT has been a terrific experience with a group
of awesome and impressively skilled professionals. The Far Side
II in 1996 was a terrific project, as it was the one
cel-painted project I was fortunate to work on, and being
lucky enough to meet and work with Marv Newland helped keep me
in animation. His rule was “make it funny” – the drawings might
be a little off-model, the spacing might be uneven, the
silhouette could be stronger – but if it’s funny, APPROVED!
What project are you working on now?
Who is one of your favourite Canadian animators?
Whoo, I’ve worked with so many people that I’ve been able to
look up to and learn from, I’d have a to give a chronological
list off the top of my head – Marv Newland, Michael VanDenBos,
Dieter Mueller, Paul Boyd, Keith Ingham, Nick Vallinakis, Sean
Newton, Ron Crown, Jon Izen, Larry Hall, Joseph Gilland, and
What is one of your favourite animation books?
artistic inspiration. The character design progression through
the 6 books is instructive too. His “Lost at Sea” is also
Who is an up-and-coming Canadian animator that everyone
should check out?
Are you involved with any animation organizations in
and I am looking to make more socially conscious short films in
Have your films won any animation awards/accolades?
Not yet! At this point, I’m more concerned with people seeing
my work, awards are just gravy.
What are some of your animation milestones?
5 years working hand-drawn animation, 10 years working in 2d
digital animation, 15 years teaching animation, and now working
in 3d animation for the past 5 years. Teaching animation
overseas has been a great experience as well, I’ve been to
Taiwan and China over a dozen times now because of teaching
Attending Ottawa Animation Festival in 2013 was a big turning
point for me – I returned feeling chastised for not creating
films of my own, and have since created two short films, with
the goal of creating one every 6 months for the rest of my life
Is there a question I should have asked that I
Some thoughts on animation:
I find one thing that often happens to people just starting
out, but even to those who have been in the industry a long
while, is that people become dependent on their job title for
their identity, at least in part. I often hear from students “I
can’t wait to become an animator!” and from industry vets “I
was the director on xxx project”, which I consider limiting
statements and not accurate. I encourage students to think
about animating as an action rather than *who* they are; “I
can’t wait to animate for a living” or “I can’t wait to make
short films” are much more positive and realistic statements to
me than talking about “becoming” something based on what
someone else is willing to pay you to do. On a more meta-level,
it comes down to the question “What do you want to do when you
grow up?”, which is sometimes misinterpreted as “What do you
want to BE when you grow up?”, which to me is a dangerous game
to be playing – because once a project ends or someone is
temporarily unable to find work that validates their identity,
what does that make them? “I used to be an animator” means that
someone is no longer that identity, so what have they become?
Could they *be* one again? It’s much simpler and realistic in
my mind to say “I used to animate” or “I animate for a living”
than to confuse the action with the being.
For me, I’m currently leading a team on TMNT season 3, and
animating a partial quota. People can call me a “Lead” if they
want, just like they called me a “Director” on other projects
or an “Inbetweener” on others. The point is, we’re all people,
and everyone deserves the same basic level of respect
regardless of what action they may be performing on a given
project – and if we stop referring to people as who they are
based on their job description, we might have a more equitable
and encouraging ego-free workplace.
DANGERS THAT RESULT IN ANIMATION NOT GETTING FINISHED:
– scope creep
– expanding parameters
– moving targets
– changing metrics
Check out this TEDx talk about careers by Larry Smith:
To see more work from Paul Johnson check out his Vimeo