From Korumburra to the big screen
IT FEATURES a foul mouthed teddy bear and some of Hollywood’s hottest stars, set records at the American box office and has been a smash hit here in Australia.
But when it comes to some of the talent behind the movie Ted, you need look no further than Korumburra.
Local man Shaun Freeman worked with a team of animators from the Melbourne based company Iloura to bring the loveable, yet cringe worthy stuffed toy to life.
In fact, Shaun has helped bring many of our favourite animated characters to the screen, having also worked on films such as Happy Feet, Kung Fu Panda and Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas – all very impressive for a former science teacher who self-taught his way into the animation industry only eight years ago.
Around halfway into a 10 year teaching career, Shaun said his interests began to wander.
“I taught myself to animate just by buying books and picking peoples’ brains,” he said.
“It basically took me three or four years to teach myself to animate to the point where I was able to get work.”
After also learning how to model and rig characters, Jamster – who were responsible for the Crazy Frog ringtone – found some of Shaun’s characters and asked to buy them.
As a result, he began working for the German company, and eventually moved onto Reel FX in Dallas, in the United States, and Iloura, based in Melbourne and Sydney.
While Shaun usually works remotely from the family home he shares with his wife and two children in Korumburra, he spent around seven months commuting to Melbourne for his role in Ted, completing up to 40 shots in the film.
For those familiar to the movie, a restaurant scene with a disastrous double date, a raging party with actor Ken Jones, and a dramatic chase scene around a baseball park may ring a bell.
When movie-goers sit back in the cinema and enjoy Shaun’s work however, it’s unlikely they appreciate the hours upon hours required for high quality animation.
Shaun admits animation is hard work and describes it as a “dark art”, with animators often closed away with just the company of a computer for hours at a time.
“You’re expected to do five or six seconds a week of animation – the longer you spend on it, the higher quality it is,” he said.
“Each second is 24 frames and I have to create an image for every one of those frames.
“Your computer’s a tool. You’ve got your model on the computer and you’ve got to pose the character and pose character and pose the character, and most people think the computer fills in the gaps, but it doesn’t do a very good job.
“You basically have to more or less pose the character for every frame and that can be up to 150 frames a week.”
But for the devoted family man and hobby farmer, animation is his passion, and Shaun describes his career change into animation as an “epiphany”.
“I’ve always been interested but it never occurred to me I could do it as a career. It was a logical progression – chemistry teacher to animation!” he laughed.
“It was a bit of a risk. As far as I knew no one was working as an animator remotely, but I really love it.”
Shaun said after he finishes a project, there’s no guarantee another one will come along, however he’s already begun working two new films with Iloura.
Be sure to keep an eye out for his work in I, Frankenstein and the Will Smith blockbuster 1000 A.E.
He also hasn’t quite given up his past career, teaching online for Animation Mentor.
While Shaun can’t hide the excitement around the huge success of his last project Ted, he admits animating the crude bear was a vast change from the usual children’s films the animator is accustomed to.
“Most of the films I’ve worked on in the past have been G or PG films for kids, so this was a bit of a change but I really enjoyed it,” he said of the MA rated movie, adding, “the jokes are appalling – it’s very good!”
However, unlike his other films, Shaun said his children won’t be seeing this one anytime soon.
“Not until they’re at least 18…or 22 if I have my way!”
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