Ask An Animator – Avgousta Zourelidi

Avgousta ~ourelidi

With an impressive list of credits under her belt, including Animation Supervisor on the popular TV series “Chuggington,” and with the current position as Episode Director on Angry Birds “Stella“, Avgousta Zourelidi has been incredibly busy since graduating from the National Film and Television School in 2010. I met Avgousta during my second year at the NFTS when she started the course a year below me. We subsequently bonded over our mutual love of the Moomins.

Avgousta’s wonderful graduation film LAIKA tells the story of the first dog in space and what may have happened on her momentous journey. It is a beautifully made film (a Vimeo Staff Pick), and I even shed a tear during the closing credits. I asked Avgousta what inspired her to work in animation…

ProfileQuestion 1

I always liked to draw, ever since I was little. At the age of four I drew a red bunny rabbit and was admitted into an art school. After that I knew that when I grew up I wanted to do something related to art. I also liked creating stories. One of my favourite pastimes, when I was a kid, was when my mum would name two things or characters (for example a rabbit and a building crane) and ask me to come up with a story involving them.

I don’t remember the exact moment when I said to myself I’m going to do animation. It was more a gradual inclination as I couldn’t choose whether to study illustration, stage or costume design. Animation was perfect because it combines all of these and so much more.

Question 2

I grew up in Russia so a lot of my favourite films are from there. One of my all time favourite mini series is the Russian version of Winnie the Pooh, called Vinni Puh. I really like the look and character design as well as the animation. From more modern ones I really like How To Train Your Dragon. It has fantastic characters and a great story. Who doesn’t like dragons?!

Question 3

So many to choose from! I would say one of my top favourite characters is Cheburashka. He is a creature of unknown origins and his best friend is Gena, who is a crocodile. There were 4 short films made between 1960s-1980s in Russia, and recently one more in Japan. I really like the stories, and the messages about friendship and doing the right thing.

Another one that I really like and I’m very happy to be working with, is Handsome Pig from the Angry Birds Stella series. He is such a funny character and I like his spirit of never giving up.

Cheburashka

Cheburashka

Question 4

Draw as much as you can, write short stories/poems, keep a notebook for ideas, look for images that inspire you. Create your own puppets and shoot films with them. Come up with story games. For example pick two random things and write a story about them or find an interesting image and write a story inspired by it.
Don’t limit yourself too soon, try out things, experiment with different media and techniques. There are so many ways to animate. Everyone has their own approach to their work, find the one you like best. But most importantly have fun!

Question 5

I think watching films is definitely a good way to be inspired but don’t limit yourself just there. Go to museums, galleries, concerts, join clubs and try various activities, read books, go for a walk and look at the architecture around you, learn how to play an instrument or go to Helen’s Animate workshops!

Be open to ideas and you’ll find that inspiration is everywhere. The broader your interests the more exciting and fresh your ideas will be. One book on animation that I would definitely recommend is Cracking Animation: The Aardman Book of 3-D Animation.

Cracking Animation

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Visit Avgousta’s Blog to see more fantastic artwork and project updates.

You can also find Avgousta on Facebook and Vimeo

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