Are you seeking to master a craft that inspires delight, in a program that instils foundational skills? That’s the path animator and Bachelor of Visual Communication Design (Honours) student Reid McManus is following.
There’s a magical transformation that happens in animation. Of course, there’s the transformation from static sketch to living scene. But for Reid, the more important transformation is the one he sees on the faces of his audiences.
“I get really proud when I see people have that happiness in their eyes, like I used to have when I was a child and I watched a cartoon on Saturday morning.”
Reid’s own face lights up when he talks about that moment.
“Through my work, I hope to bring happiness to other people. Make them laugh, make them feel joy.”
Reid’s journey with the University of Newcastle’s Visual Communication Design program has been a dynamic mix of foundational design knowledge, and in-depth exploration of his chosen craft—traditional, hand-drawn animation.
“Because the degree also incorporated design, I was able to use that with my animation. It got me to think more about colour palettes. How I could design collateral for film. It gives you a wider range of things you can do. You can design comics with it, posters. It gave me a much wider understanding of visual communication.”
Reid honed his skills in the Plasmatic Research Laboratory, the University of Newcastle’s celebrated animation lab.
“I got to work with the stop-motion setups and the hand-drawn setups, the light tables. So, it was awesome to work with equipment that the industry uses.”
It can be hard work, but Reid says it’s all worth it.
“After you put a lot of hours, stress, and tears in, it’s great to finally look at the end product and think, I made this, and to see everybody else’s reaction to it.”
One of Reid’s proudest moments was creating an animated short, Food for Fraught. Encouraged by his teachers, who Reid describes as “really supportive,” he entered it into a number of film festivals. He was thrilled when three of them accepted.
“It was screened in Melbourne, Croatia, and the Czech Republic,” he says.
“It was surreal, you don’t believe it. But it validates what you’re creating is good enough. Because you’re not always sure it’s striking a chord with people. But once that happens, you realise it is.”
Reid’s talent, and the network of connections he made at the University of Newcastle, led to more exciting opportunities.
“I actually got the chance to work on a music video with [Australian punk legends] the Living End. I got to help film it, I got to help edit it, and I also got to help draw the animation that we put over the top of it.”
He’s also done significant work for Yak Media, the University of Newcastle student magazine and online TV channel.
“I’ve worked on some little animations for them and I’ve also helped them do the magazine and done a bunch of cartoons featured in the magazine.”
Reid describes seeing his work, and the work of his classmates and other artists in Newcastle at the Newcastle International Animation Festival, as eye-opening.
“Seeing my film at the NAF and also seeing all my classmates’ films on the same screen, it was an awesome chance to see everybody else’s work, to collaborate, and really to see how much talent there is in Newcastle.”
In the future, though, Reid’s dream is to work in the television industry, helming his own TV show. There, he hopes to share his work with new audiences, and to bring more happiness into the world, one frame at a time.