People: Interview with Bolivian motion designer Jr. Canest

Born in 1990 and raised in Bolivia, Jorge R. Canedo Estrada moved to Mexico when he was 15 and has been moving around ever since. Jorge is an incredible motion designer and a Hue magazine contributor in our pilot issue 'Outset'. We are chuffed that he has given us a moment of his time. So firstly thanks Jorge, for taking the time to answer our questions. We love your work and know our readers will also. 

How long have you been doing Motion Graphics/ Design?

It’s hard to say! You could say that it started when I discovered motion tweening in Flash; I think this was when I was about ten years old. At that time, I used to do a lot of frame by frame animation, but was always fascinated by the graph of animation, even within Flash. But I discovered the real world of motion graphics, you could say, when I discovered After Effects, about four years later.  

It all started with favours to friends. Eventually, I did a course on Maya, in which we touched on a lot of points of animation and After Effects. From then on, I started looking more and more into After Effects and learning more and more of this motion world, as well as doing a lot of projects - just for fun. Amongst those was the one that gave me a scholarship to Vancouver Film School, which allowed me to make a title sequence that gained the attention of Buck, which later gave me an internship. While doing lots of freelance projects here and there, eventually I am where I am - as an art director and animator at Giant Ant in Vancouver.

If you were explaining your work or style how would you describe it?

There is this thing about designers and animators, at least that I’ve encountered lately: it’s that you don’t want to be remembered just for one style. But I think there is value to both sides; to being excellent at one specific style and to being incredibly flexible. I would like to call myself the latter one, but in reality, I know my work is recognised for its particular style and sense. It’s one that is abstract, heavily influenced by music, meticulous attention to animation, and a purpose or story behind it all. Or, to put in the terminology of the motion community, I am a keyframe aficionado.    

What's your preferred process/workflow?

Well first off, it depends as always on the project. I like to find the process that best fits the concept, whether that is basing the story on a technical execution, or completely basing the execution on the story. Once that is defined, there are almost always the same steps of breaking down the story into visual language. And with that comes sketches and storyboards; I have my own series of notebooks filled with sketches for ideas. Even though I’m not necessarily the best at sketching, I still feel that I need to put my ideas on paper before anything, and one thing that I’ve learned is that sometimes it’s easy to neglect the importance of all this “pre-production”, but I’ve recognised more and more that you can treat each part of the process as it’s own little project, and I’ve found that to make a huge difference in the end.

When it comes to the production side of the actual creation of motion graphics, I always like to visualise the movements in my head, and you can see me doing hand gestures of animations I want to see be done on the computer later. One of the rules that I always try to follow is that every movement has a purpose, it is not just movement for movement’s sake.  

What have been your favourite projects so far?

I have to say that to this day one of my favourite projects was that title sequence I made, because it was so personal. In a very abstract way, I’m telling the story of my life - and the intention of the piece wasn’t to tell that story, but the fact that the story was in me when I made it created a piece that was much more meaningful.

For projects like Waiting for Superman, which are also amongst my favourites to have worked on, the main thing was being able to collaborate with such talented people; having the opportunity to take certain designs to the next level with animation, so they don’t conflict with each other but they complement each other.  

Other than that, my favourite projects are always little side projects such as The Interpreter’s House, or Being a Dad, in which I can turn around in a short amount of time (sometimes one day, like with Being a Dad) Creating something short and sweet with complete creative freedom.

What would be your dream project or collaboration piece?

This is a hard question, but one thing I’ve always loved is finding people who are amazing at what they do and getting them to do what they’re best at doing, while trying to give it a twist into the field of animation. One of my favourite things to do is to find really talented designers and artists that have never thought beyond the still, or at least never executed it, and ask them to create something for animation. I find when artists break their barriers and collaborate with others who are really good at things that they themselves might not be the best at, beautiful pieces are created. Any project that would give me the opportunity to do that, and that also has an amazing, meaningful story to tell, that would be something I would be passionate about.

Here's a couple of planning pieces Jorge kindly gave us permission to share to let you into his creative process. More can be found on his blog here.

Behind the scenes

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