Ric Holland's Blog

Matt Taylor interview


Sixty40 Animation Creative Director








Ric        Could you just introduce yourself to us and tell us a little bit about what you do?

Matt      Sure thing. I am Matt Taylor animation Director here at Sixty40, which is an animation and design company in Darlinghurst, Sydney. I run a company with Mark Simpson sitting over there, the Design Director.

Mark     Hello there (Mark Simpson)

Matt      We do broadcast design and animation television mostly, we do a lot of work for MTV and Nickalodeon, TV commercials, titles, combinations of broadcast design and 2D animation and 3D animation and putting them all together in wonderful new ways.

Ric        Great, fantastic, so have you been using WACOM tablets in your work for very long?

Matt      Six years now, I used to use a mouse for everything and then I started to get RSI and it was just slow and laborious. Once you get past that first little phase of adjusting to the parallax, I was away.

Ric        So what kind of tablet are you using at the moment?

Matt      I think it is the Intuous3. It comes with a fancy new pen, it’s got different attachments which I haven’t actually used yet.

Ric        Tell us about your work?

Matt      It involves bringing characters and design together.  I do a lot of the story boarding and character design, which then get composited by Mark or built into 3D and so I draw a lot. I find that a lot of things that I start with as sketches often then grow into the final product, so I really enjoyed working on the screen and I work in Flash all the time, so things that start as a doodles can then be Flashed up into a finished illustration or character design and get animated or made into an illustration.

Ric        So in your workflow, I can see here that you are doing your story boarding in Toon Boom.

Matt      Yes That’s right it’s really great for that.

Ric         So what other applications would you be using in your workflow?

Matt        I use Flash heaps, and Photo Shop are probably the main programmes I use all the time.

Ric         Do you like to design directly into Flash using the Wacom tablet or do you build your imagery up first on paper?

Matt       I start just drawing on paper, I think it’s still the start of everything for me but then basically just do the roughing out on paper, because I could then get a light box and trace it, and trace it and trace it, but I prefer doing all that stuff on screen. Then just build it up and clean it up and add stuff, this is really good for making animatics and taking a drawing a bit further than you could otherwise.

               One of our recent jobs which was the titles for music jungle which is a show on channel 9 that screens every week, we did the titles for it and cartoon Edger Gander Panda Show, that shows every week.  This is probably one of the best examples of taking a doodle and then making into a variety of other things, in that we made a central character it was M.J the Monkey and then this got made into as a cardboard cut out style version of the character and then a Muppet version of the character and then a 3D version of the character and then a 2D version of the character. I guess in a way this method of just building and building on the same original concept drawing really came through because I did the rough drawings, they weren’t that rough but the drawings which got made into sort of fake cardboard cut outs here which were stuff I did in flash and then got put into Maya and mapped onto cardboard elements.

               I designed a Muppet which we got sewn into a physical representation. All the drawings for the Muppet were based on the original drawing. Those plans for the Muppet puppet then became the basis for the model when it got made in 3D Studio Max and the model was also then used for animating it in Flash as a final to the animation as well.  This has been one of the best things we’ve done this year and our Panda.

               Panda is the Edger Gander Panda Show is a cartoon we’ve been working on for quite a long time and Panda’s become a bit of a mascot for Sixty40 and the fact that we can now put Panda on Channel 9 every week is fantastic.  I think the way we work with Flash and Wacom’s would have been impossible to achieve these results otherwise.

We tried to make it look like an old vintage science cartoon that never got made, or never got screened.  But basically the way we work now today made it impossible to turn around a weekly cartoon like this, in the old days, and the ability to draw in screen, send small files to someone in another city to animate and sent back to me, really brings together the whole promise and wonder of technology helping  the animation go forwards into the next century.

Ric          It’s an amazing time isn’t it?

Matt        Yeah, We’re up to episode 15 of Panda now and we are going to be making a longer series the Edger Gander Panda Show which chronicles what happens to Panda after each episode going out engaging in the world, the life of the cartoon character, his feelings, his emotions. Back to the bar afterwards with Mouse, it’s really quite special and exciting.

Ric          Fantastic. 

Matt        Other thing we are doing is we are also turning around a weekly cartoon for Creature Features which is the highest ranking kids’ show in Australia, currently.  I’d like to think the world.  This has been great because we love using puppets basically, but we’re using photo collage and photoshopped images and textures and After Effects and Flash. The bodies are all animated in Flash and the heads put into Photoshop. It’s been very exciting and right now turning around work on a weekly basis is great because it also gives us the opportunity to really grow as a studio and develop.

Ric          If you had the opportunity to tell WACOM about what you’d like in  future innovations, new tools does anything spring to mind?

Matt        Maybe more paper texture surfaces on Wacom tablets. That’s all I need.

Ric          OK that’s great I’ll get onto that for you. Thank you so much Matt for partaking in the Art of Making Marks, we love seeing your work and so until next time.

Matt        Thanks for having me it’s been a pleasure to offer my small opinions.