I spoke with Adam Einfeld – an Australian animation professional, who has recently returned to Sydney after working for a few years in Tel Aviv. Adam, whose creative interests branch out into UI/UX design, graphic design and illustration has been a friend of EDAP Tools for many years.
It was enjoyable to discuss his experiences and hear his thoughts. Below is our conversation.
Interview with Adam Einfeld
I'm delighted to welcome you back to Australia. I'm sure that we'll touch upon your experiences abroad a little later, but to start our conversation, let's go to the very beginning.
What were your favorite cartoons when you were a boy, and which is the first one that you remember seeing? Did you prefer shorts or feature films?
Hey Nickolay! It’s great to be back home!
Let’s get to it!
I grew up in a household that was very into animation with my father being a traditional animator in the 70’s and 80’s, so I really grew up on all the classics. I loved, and still do, watching the Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Hanna-Barbera, all the 2D Walt Disney films. I also watched Saturday-morning cartoons which in my time had Captain Planet, Rugrats, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Gargoyles and more! I have to also mention Ren and Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life as well as the Cartoon Network shows like I am Weasel and Cow and Chicken. I could keep going on and on. I watched a lot of cartoons growing up! I will say I remember very clearly watching Disney’s Aladdin at the cinema and it being the very first movie I have memories of. I loved both shorts and feature films equally.
What about comics?
As a kid did you see comic books as a separate, unique art form or just as a still, printed extension of the animation world?
To be honest with you I was never really into reading comics. However, I used to love reading through and studying all the pictures from my father’s animation books, like Preston Blair’s Cartoon Animation and many assortments of Disney books, going behind the scenes into the feature films. I would always copy the drawings from the books and try to impress my father with them and remember getting caught and in trouble whenever I traced over the pictures instead of drawing them on my own!
As you grew up and learned more about animation, did your tastes and sensibilities change? Do you have favorite animated shows and feature films? Any particular animators and directors that you consider influential?
Funnily enough my tastes in animation have stayed really consistent since my youth. I think being introduced to such classic and timeless animation when I was young really developed my taste and sensibilities as I grew up. I absolutely love Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book and the work of the master animator Milt Kahl. I’m a huge fan of Chuck Jones and all of his work with the Looney Tunes, and, last but not least, I would mention Eric Goldberg. I just love his style of drawing, animating and how fun, simple, fluid and lively everything he creates is. His book, which was recommended to me by yourself, has had a huge influence on my animation skills!
How did you get into Flash and what was the path that led you to becoming an animation professional?
After finishing high school I knew I wanted a career in animation and design. I spent all my time in school drawing in my books, painting and creating characters and I really wanted to learn how to do this digitally. I took up a short course in Digital Media, which is where I was introduced for the first time to Flash, back in 2008, and it absolutely blew my mind when I realized I could make a cartoon at home in my bedroom from start to finish!
For many years you have been involved with the Australian reggae scene, making T‑shirt designs, promo materials and music videos. Can you tell us more about this and your love of music?
Reggae music had a big influence on my work when I was in my early twenties. One of my favorite bands is a group called Katchafire from New Zealand. They are a very popular Reggae band. I would have been about 19 when I drew a caricature of the band members and sent it over to them. I was surprised and very flattered at the time to hear back from them. They asked me if I would be able to create a music video for a song they were about to release. They were signed with EMI Records and I ended up with a fairly good budget and what happened to be my first professional project in animation to create the video. This really inspired me and led me to having quite a niche for creating artwork for Reggae music, which evolved to include album art, posters and merchandise for many well known bands touring Australia.
Your areas of expertise are much broader than just animation.
You recently spent a few years in Israel, working as a concept and UX designer, among other roles. With portable devices and interactive apps, animation is now everywhere.
Does having a background in animation bring advantages when you design corporate apps and websites?
Do you think there is an overlap between directing the viewers' attention in a film one shot at a time, and gently guiding the user experience with strategically placed UI elements and prompts from screen to screen?
Yes, in recent years I have been very immersed in the world of “Product Design”, working as a UX and UI designer.
I have found my animation and illustration skills have been extremely useful and relevant in this field. Working in small design studios within startup companies in Tel Aviv, I found there weren't necessarily predefined roles and being able to add a variety of skills to the team was a great asset. In UX design there is a fair bit of animation involved in creating interactions, transitions, icon animations etc., and it all follows the same principles as traditional animation. Another place, I suppose, there are similarities is in the process. In the world of UX design, there are clear parallels between certain elements of the design process and various aspects of animation. For instance, just as storyboards serve as a visual narrative blueprint for an animated project, wireframes and prototypes play a similar role in UX design by outlining the structure and flow of a digital product. Similarly, animatics find their counterpart in UX design through interactive prototypes that allow for testing and feedback before the actual development phase.
Ultimately, both animation and UX design emphasize the importance of careful planning, preparation, and iterative testing to create compelling and user-friendly experiences. These similarities highlight the value of a thoughtful and structured approach in both disciplines, leading to successful outcomes in animation projects as well as in the development of digital products.
What are some of the exciting projects you have been a part of in the last few years?
I joined a Startup in its very early stages, called Gist MD in 2020. We were creating animated videos for patients who were suffering from various health problems or about to undergo a procedure. I was brought in to create the animations and as the company grew I set up an in house animation studio with almost 20 animators. We worked in Flash for almost 3 years and used EDAP Tools to rig our characters.
We came up with some pretty unique ways of designing the characters and I think really pushing the capabilities of Flash to the edge! It was a really great experience and we made some great work that had a positive impact on a lot of people as the product was taken on board at many hospitals across Israel.
You have been an EDAP Tools user for many years. We've seen extremely impressive advanced Smart Magnet Rigging done by you. It's a pity that none of these demonstrations are public. What do you think about our SMR system in 2023?
I love EDAP Tools! Yes, I am not very active on social media or YouTube, which, I guess, I should make more of an effort to put my work out into the universe. Flash, or today Animate, is still my go to animation software and I couldn’t imagine using it without EDAP Tools, not just for rigging but I use many of the commands and shortcuts in my process. It's just second nature now and feels like an essential part of the software. I have made really advanced Smart Magnet Rigs that can be interchanged between characters while still keeping the animation. I also use SMR just to make really simple rigs for quick use.
I remember that you used to love Flash CS3. To this day my most favorite is Flash CS6. Since the name change, Animate has been terribly mismanaged and has suffered a lot of reputational damage. This opened the doors to competitors. What do you think about the developments on that front? Are ToonBoom and even Moho able to fully capitalize on the shaken confidence in Animate?
I have moved onto Animate now, I’m using Animate 2022 and am too scared to update it. I find my main issue with it is the playback on the timeline. It's really challenging sometimes to preview animations in real time, I wish they would solve that issue!
Working with a lot of young animators over the last few years, I have noticed Animate has a terrible reputation and ToonBoom on the other hand is extremely popular. There is no doubt ToonBoom is an amazing software with a lot of features, and is leading the way at the moment. I still would rather use Animate. I just love the simplicity of the software and find it quite capable in achieving most of what I need to do. With the addition of EDAP Tools, I honestly find the rigging process to be much faster and easier to do than it is in ToonBoom. I would love to see Animate work on bringing the brushes up to a similar quality as ToonBoom’s, but then again, none of the new features in Animate are really worthwhile, unless they can drastically improve its processing power and make the timeline playback at the right frame rate!
Besides your interest in animation and design, do you have any other hobbies or side projects?
Well, I have two young daughters, who are the most important things to me in the world right now and I guess that’s where I spend my time when I’m not animating or designing!
Is there anything I forgot to ask, but you would like to add?
I would just like to thank you for inviting me to do this interview, and also for the huge influence you have had on my animation career. I learned a lot under you as a student and you really gave me a lot of confidence and belief in my work! I am also a huge fan and regular user of EDAP Tools and I can’t wait to see what you, guys, will release next!
Thank you very much, Adam!∎
More of Adam's work
You can see more of Adam's work on his website: https://www.adameinfeld.com/