Daniel Abramovich lives among pictures: In addition of painting and drawing, he gets his living from animating 3D movies.
In the heart of Manhattan, the warm spring day has turned into an evening. Daniel Abramovich, who currently resides in the hip part of Brooklyn, has just commuted back from Connecticut, where he works at the studios of Blue Sky. Now he sits in a traditionally American diner and talks about his job over a cup of coffee.
– People often think that working with movies is always really fun and fantastic - and it is, I do like my job a lot, it’s fun and inspiring. But it is also very stressful! Abramovich, specialized in creating visual effects and stereoscopic aka 3 dimensional animating, explains.
He further explains that the stressfulness comes from working with really big projects and from the pressure clients put on the animators.
– When someone puts a hundred million dollars into a movie, it becomes stressful because they want perfect and they want it fast. The problem with live action is that usually most of the budget goes to the actual shooting of the film and the casting, when the amount of time and money left for post-production, which is what I do, is not very high.
Still, Abramovich says that he loves his job and there is nothing else he would want to do - except fine arts.
– On side of my day job, I have a part time fine art career: I do paintings and drawings. So far, I have had shows in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto. At the moment, I am trying to get a new one together.
Abramovich finds it hard to choose if he would rather work as a full-time artist or keep working with films.
– It goes in swells: Say you have a show and it goes really well and people are interested in your art, you start thinking if this is what you should put the focus on. But I wouldn’t want to leave the film industry either. I’m a mixed up person, Abramovich laughs.
Even though Abramovich’s career in film does not affect his art and the world of the movie he is working with at the time does not sneak into his paintings of that era, he is trying to find ways to marry the two.
– I have been thinking of combining these two areas and making a short animated 3D film all on my own. However, it takes a lot of time to draw all those frames even one minute of completed movie consists of so we’ll see when I get to do it, he reveals.
Israel+Finland=Canada (+New York)
Daniel Abramovich was born a bit over 34 years ago in Israel. After a few years from that, his Finnish mother and Israeli father decided that it was time to leave Middle East behind and so the family moved to Canada. Abramovich grew up in a multicultural family and spent most of his childhood and adolescence in at least equally multicultural Toronto.
– After high school, I studied in Sheridan College just outside of Toronto. It is a school focused on animating and illustrating, he says.
Abramovich explains that he has always wanted to work among images and that he has been drawing ever since he was a kid.
– For me, much started with the comic book called Heavy Metal. It made me realize that I wanted to work with comics. Soon the comics turned into cartoons and animations, and the first half of my career I did work with different kinds of animations.
After his educative years in Sheridan College, the young artist started his career by animating advertisements for television.
– I made all kinds of silly animations, like flying napkins, Abramovich laughs.
Soon after, he got a job from the since-closed Disney’s animation studios in Toronto. About five years ago Abramovich’s career took him on the other side of the border and to the Big Apple, when he received a freelance assignment from the team responsible for the visual effects of the movie called The Brave One, starring Jodie Foster.
– After that, they wanted me to work on another movies too, so three months turned into a year and into another year and into three years...
After those couple of years, Abramovich got a job from the Academy Award winning Blue Sky Studios, known of such hit movies as the Ice Age trilogy. There he changed his career path a little when he started to work with stereoscopic animating, which is creating 3 dimensional effects on animations.
Rio and Kaufman as the Career Highlights
The most recent project Abramovich has had his hands on is the 3D feature film Rio that premiered a few weeks ago. Abramovich says that it is also one the highlights of his career.
– Professionally, I am most proud of the stereo effects of Rio and we worked so hard with that movie for years. And my position in the company changed quite a bit over the film, so career-wise it was a great transition as well, Daniel Abramovich, who is now the Lead Stereoscopic Technical Director at the Blue Sky, says.
Another movie Abramovich says is one the highlights of his career is the surreal Synecdoche, New York - the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman mainly known as one the most unique screenwriters of the contemporary film.
– It was a very difficult job. For example, we had to take New York City and put it in a dome and they didn’t want it to look too real, they wanted it to be a fantasy, but still they wanted it to be convincing. At the end, I think it looked really good. The experience was good otherwise too, because Charlie Kaufman himself would come to the studio with us and sit at our computers with us, which in live action is kind of a rare thing. At Blue Sky, I interact directly with everybody - the directors and producers - but with Kaufman the cooperation was more intense, Abramovich says.
New York is a fairly rare location for post-production film staff and especially with Rio Abramovich had to travel a lot between New York and Los Angeles, where the big studios are. For people working in post-production, the location is not as crucial as in example for the actors and directors.
– In movie making, the US is definitely the place to be, because all of the studios are here. But I could do my job somewhere else too. I have actually thought of living in England, where I could do the same job I do here, Abramovich, who has the Finnish, and thus the EU, passport, says. – Most of my career I have spent in Toronto but then the industry kind of died there and moved to Vancouver. And the job I am doing now - such position doesn’t exist in Canada. Besides, for now, I am committed to my current job.
Abramovich’s next project, and a movie he already is working with, will be the fourth part of the internationally successful Ice Age saga. The new Ice Age is supposed to premiere in the summer of 2012.
– My favourite character in Ice Age would have to be Sid, Abramovich laughs referring to the goofy giant ground sloth.