interview with new eden animator – part one: background

13, July 2011

Freek Van Haagen is the character designer and lead animator on our animated sci-fi web comedy pilot, New Eden. As I’ve mentioned again and again on my blog, working with Freek has been great and so I wanted to share with you all some more details about the man himself and his working method via a two-part interview.

Part One outlines Freek’s animation background and his career aspirations. Part Two breaks down his animation process for New Eden and ends with a short clip of raw animation footage from the pilot episode. Enjoy!

Where do you live?


Where does most of your work come from?

Most of my work comes from the Netherlands. After that Belguim. Sometimes I get something out of Germany or Switerland but that doesn’t happen too often. My aim is to get more work from the english speaking world as well – America, Australia and England.

How did you get into illustrating and animation?

As a kid I loved all the Disney movies and one day my dad explained to me how animation worked. He drew a ball on a couple of pages and flipped them, creating the illusion that the ball was bouncing. Then I got the idea and knew that all those Disney films were thousands of drawings, shown really fast.

Of course that’s a lot of work and I had to become a good draftsman first, before I could animate but I knew it then. Animation has something magical about itself.

How long have you been working professionally as an illustrator/animator?

Making money in animation isn’t that simple here in Holland so I worked in the advertising industry working my way up from designer to art direction. After 6 years I started out as a freelance illustrator and have been doing that for the last 7 years. The last 3 years I’ve taking on animation jobs as well.

What is your preferred style of animation to work in?

Not really a specific style. I like change and variation. I love figuring stuff out to see if I can get it to work.

What do you think it takes to be a good character animator?

Persistence. Basically it all comes down to a simple fact – it’s work! And a lot of it. There are a few tricks and cheats. But if you really want to become good at it, you just have to put in the hours. Talent will get you far, but motivation will get you further.

What are your all time favourite animated films/television shows?

  • Dragonball Z – because I have bad taste.
  • Lion King – best Disney flick I think. Great story, great everything.
  • Akira – best manga film. Level of animation is still not surpassed I think today.
  • Thundercats – because I am a child.
  • Wall-e –  best Pixar flick. 45 minutes of non speech animation and you can’t take you eyes of the screen.

There is probably more but I don’t want to tire you.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given regarding working as an animator?

Don’t cheat at the ending. Don’t wrap it up too quick. Meaning when you’re almost done, you kinda rush it towards the end. Which can destroy everything you did before.

What resource would you recommend to emerging animators?

Richard Williams’ Animators Survival Kit.

What new piece of technology are you itching to get your hands on?

The new Zelda for the Wii U 🙂

What are you hoping to get out of working on New Eden?

Instant access to Hollywood babes and a life of spending enormous amounts of money on stuff I don’t need. But seriously … just the money would be okay as well.

What do you hope to achieve in the next five years of your career?

My ultimate dream is to direct a feature animation.

Where can people find you online?

Check out Part Two where Freek breaks down the animation process and we give you a sneak peek at some footage!


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