One of the Russian websites dedicated to computer graphics and animation became interested in our animation studio.
They wrote a very long and very interesting interview disclosing the identity of our animators. So, meet the employees of Simpals Animation Studio, read the interview, fall in love with CG and animation, and come to study at our Monsters School.
For more information, please visit the website: monsters.md
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Tell us a little about yourself, where you were born, raised and got education.
Serdar Djumaev: I was born in the Soviet Union, in the Republic of Turkmenistan. I began my studies in Ulyanovsk (Russia), after that I studied in Belarus, but graduated from high school in Ashgabat. Then I studied at Moscow Institute of Advanced Studies “GosTeleRadio USSR”, in a workshop taught by Fyodor Khitruk. My main specialty was 2D art and animation.
Valentin Naku: I was born and raised in Chisinau. I studied at the Technical University of Moldova, but I didn’t finish the course.
Serghey Kirillov: I was born in Chisinau. Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by CGI. I often came to my father’s workplace where I got acquainted with 3DMax. As it was difficult to find any information about this program, I learned it independently. At first, it was just a hobby, but then it turned into a profession.
What were you doing before you came to the studio? Tell us a bit about your background in CG.
Serdar Djumaev: In Chisinau I worked at Diver Studio being engaged in advertising projects as animator and animation director.
Valentin Naku: In fact, my first acquaintance with computer graphics dates back to 1998 when a friend of mine showed me his 3D project. I was so impressed that I bought a book on 3DMax 4.0 (which was a rare thing at that time) and began to independently study this program. I spent days and nights learning how to use this software. When I finished the book, I began to search for information on the Internet setting myself different tasks and trying to solve them. At first, I worked as an editor for TV news. Then I found a job at a computer graphics company where I worked as a generalist. After some time, the company went out of business and I decided to apply for a job at Simpals. I passed the interview and since then I’ve been working here. At Simpals I switched to Maya, which I’ve been using for about 6 years. I switched to this program very quickly as I had a good knowledge of 3DMax and could use lots of tutorials. At first, we all worked as generalists, performing various tasks from modeling to compositing. After getting acquainted with Maya, we decided to choose a specialization. So, each of us selected one of the four subfields of CG: modeling, animation, RnD and rendering. I chose rig and animation.
Serghey Kirillov: As a teenager, I worked in an internet cafe, after that I worked as an interior designer. Then I successfully escaped from that company and got a job at Simpals where I’ve been working for almost 10 years now.
What’s your position in the studio? What are your responsibilities?
Serdar Djumaev: I’m an Art Director. I participate in the creation of characters as well as in the development of the script, especially its comedy scenes and gags. Besides, I’m teaching beginning artists and animators.
Valentin Naku: I’m a 3D animator. I’m doing character animation and rigging. I was also teaching a basic course in 3D graphics at Monsters School as well as a professional course in 3D animation.
Serghey Kirillov: I’m currently working as the studio supervisor, lead compositor and assistant director.
Please tell our readers a bit about the studio history, how it all began.
Serghey Kirillov: Initially, the studio was founded by Dmitri Voloshin as a video production studio specializing in TV commercials. Then we decided to make our own product without limiting ourselves with deadlines or scripts as it was in advertising. So we decided to make an animated film. At first, we were making the film in our free time, working parallely on advertising videos. But in the course of time we realized that we couldn’t combine two things and decided to focus only on the animation.
Why did you choose this career? What motivated you?
Serdar Djumaev: Since childhood, I wanted to be a 2D animator, because this profession includes both acting, and drawing. I realized at once that it was the thing that I could do best.
Valentin Naku: I got acquainted with character animation, when I had to animate a herd of dinosaurs. I was taught the basics of animating, and I was so fascinated by the whole process that when I came to Simpals, I already knew that I wanted to be an animator.
Serghey Kirillov: I didn’t choose this career. It chose me=) At first, it was just an interesting thing to do. But I’m always trying to develop my skills. Initially, I worked as a generalist, then I started to combine it with supervising as I was the longest-serving employee at the studio. I performed these functions for several years. But given that I’ve always loved to create beautiful images (but I can’t draw), I chose the subfield of rendering. As rendering goes hand in hand with compositing, I decided to learn it as well.
What challenges were faced by the studio?
Serghey Kirillov: Of course, there were many difficulties. The biggest one was the lack of qualified specialists. We had to train them by ourselves. There was even a joke saying that “Simpals is a talent foundry for other production studios in Moldova”. In order to solve the labor shortage problem, we decided to open a school (Monsters School) that will train specialists in the field of computer graphics. At the initial stage, I was developing the school curriculum and guidelines, but then it was managed by its own administrator. More than 300 students have graduated from this school so far.
Another difficulty consists in the fact that often when you make your own product, you’re constantly improving it and it’s really hard to stop. These modifications may not be noticed by others, but you consider them important. As a result, you have to extend your deadlines which is not a good thing to do. Every project is a great challenge. We improve something in every animated film as we set ourselves more complex tasks and solve them.
How many people are currently working in the studio?
Serghey Kirillov: Today, the studio has more than 20 employees. And we have open vacancies for animators.
Please tell us about your first animated film. How successful was it from your point of view? Did you accomplish everything you planned?
Serghey Kirillov: The first animated film was called “Gypsy and Death”. I think, the notions “successful and unsuccessful” are not really appropriate here. If you put your heart into your work, it can’t be a failure. It will turn out the way you imagined it. Maybe, the result will be different or not so funny as you expected, but it won’t be unsuccessful. In general, every artist, if he continues to develop his skills, is always dissatisfied with the result of his work. And it should be like that. We always see that there are things that could be improved. I can’t say that we have any unsuccessful works as we put our hearts into each of them trying to make the best films that we could.
Baro and Tagar
Gypsy and Death
Santa and Death
Dji. Death Fails
I watch your animated films with great pleasure. The creators have a great sense of humor))).
What’s the favorite film you made? I understand that they all are dear to you like children, but is there a favorite causing particularly pleasant emotions?
Serghey Kirillov: Of course, the first animated film is especially dear to you as this is something completely new for you. But you consider it your favorite until you start making a new film. Therefore, it is impossible to say, which one is my favorite. While you making a certain animated film, it’s the most important thing for you.
You’ve mentioned open vacancies for animators. Are you expanding the studio or recruiting people for a specific project?
Serghey Kirillov: We continue working on the series about the adventures of our unlucky death named Dji. This is the project we’re recruiting animators for.
Tell us a bit about this project.
Serghey Kirillov: It’s classified information=). The main character will be the same, but we can’t reveal yet what is going to happen to him.
How do you manage to maintain a creative environment in the studio? How do you motivate your team and maintain team spirit?
Serghey Kirillov: We don’t do anything specific to motivate people. We feel particularly motivated when we see the emotions felt by the audience watching our films. When you see their positive emotions, you understand that a part of your life wasn’t spent in vain. And it gives you the motivation to move forward and create something new.
Do you have any other passions in life besides computer graphics? What are your hobbies? How do you spend your free time? Do you have a rest from 3D?
Serghey Kirillov: I have ordinary hobbies of an ordinary man: ethnic music, speleology, raspberry jam, feeding the ducks, styling hairy bumblebees (I was joking about bumblebees=))
What about dreams? Do you have any of them?
Serghey Kirillov: In general, a dream is something very private and it’s better to keep your goals secret in order to achieve them. As the saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”. But there is one dream that I can share with you, which is to own a small candle factory.
Serdar Djumaev: My dream is to make a feature-length film and pierce my ear.
Valentin Naku: I have quite ordinary dreams- to build a wife, grow a belly and have a beer=)
Guys, thank you for a great interview! I wish you every success and I do hope that you’ll continue delighting us with your new projects. Bye!
This is what was written about us. Thank you for the interview! The original interview can be found right here.
SIMPALS 1999 - 2020