Interview with Ed Harriss
Hello Ed, could you tell us a bit about yourself and family?
I’m a computer animator that lives in the United States specifically Raleigh, North Carolina. I work for a company called SAS in their video division. (Called SAS Studio Productions) I also run my own company, EdHarriss.com, INC. Where I do freelance work, create training, books and videos.
In terms of CG, How did it all begin for you?
One word: Tron. With out this movie, I might not be where I am today. When I first saw Tron I was amazed. I had always liked animated movies, but this was different. In my opinion, this looked a lot more interesting. I knew from that day on that I had to find out what it took to create images that looked like that.
But it was not just Tron that drove me to 3d. I had another other major influence: The Last Starfighter. While didn’t think that this movie was as enjoyable as Tron, its graphics were just as good, and in some places better. After seeing these two movies, my desire to create 3d animation grew even more. But as I soon found out, it took a team of computer geniuses, really expensive computers and months of time to create just a few frames of this type of work. I was disappointed, but that did not stop me. I began doing CG in the early 80s by trying to learn how to program graphics on TRS-80, Apple2e, Comodore64 and Coleco ADAM, computers. It was difficult, and I didn’t get much done. But I learned a lot of basic skills that I still use today.
Not too long after the “Comodore64” days I got an Amiga. On that Amiga I ran a program called Silver. (Now called Imagine.) It was like a dream come true. Finally, a program that didn’t require a lot of math, was comparatively easy to use, and had a real point and click interface. I spent a few years working on Amiga machines and that’s how I produced my first demo reel.
Were you trained in 3D or self taught?
I’d say it was half and half. While I did go to school for computer animation, the field was so new that much of the learning had to be done on your own simply because there were little or no resources for learning 3D.
Tell us about your book “How to get a job in Computer Animation” are you planning any other books?
It’s a book containing all the information that you need to get a job in computer animation. From demo reel tips to resume creation to interview tactics to salary negotiation to job hunting advice and much more. It also contains web addresses, telephone numbers, physical locations and names of thousands of production and game companies located all over the world.
I have written some of an XSI book on rendering, texturing and lighting but due to freelance obligations and the birth of my son, I have not had time to do any work on it for quite some time. In addition I’ve also been working on a version 2.0 of my “How to get a Job in Computer Animation” book. It also has been put on the back burner for the time being.
Is SOFTIMAGE|XSI the only software that you use for 3D? If not, then how does it compare with other packages in your experience?
I use SOFTIMAGE|XSI for 99% of the work I do. Occasionally I do some freelance work that requires me to use different software, however that is rare.