At the age of 33 Andrés Bedate, former U-tad Master in 3D Animation student, has been nominated for Best Character Animator in Motion Picture at the Annie Awards for The Willoughbys. This category is the ‘crown jewel’ of the awards. This is a personal nomination (directly for him), and is a great achievement that only two other Spaniards have achieved before: Sergio Pablos and Carlos Baena, “two of the best animators in Spanish history,” says Bedate himself. The film was nominated for a total of six categories, including Best Picture.
He adds that, for him, the nomination alone is “a success”, and he’s up against animators from films like Soul, Onward, Wolfwalkers and The Croods: A New Age. He is currently Lead Animator at Sony Pictures Animation and lives in Vancouver (Canada), where he is working on Hotel Transylvania 4, and will soon start on the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2.
Around 40 animators have worked on The Willoughbys. How is only one of them chosen as the nominee for Best Character Animator in a Motion Picture at the Annie’s? The director and the animation supervisor make a selection of several candidates that are then sent to the Awards. “In my case, I know that the director and the supervisor agreed and asked me if I had any references, because the more you provide (drawings, descriptions of shots, videos, etc.), the easier it is to be nominated,” says Andrés.
Our former student started working on the film at a very early stage and has been working on it for a little over a year. “Not much of the film had been made, and my immediate superior started to trust me and give me shots. Since the style of animation applied was very similar to the one I had developed for Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, 2D animation, it wasn’t very difficult for me to adapt.” With increasing trust and confidence, Andres was getting more and more work. “I think something the jury must have liked was that my shots are very long and complicated. My work is featured for many minutes in the film. For an animator to produces almost three minutes is a long time. I have made more than twenty shots. I’ve taken to acting as a cheerleader for my team, and from time to time I’ve helped my teammates.”
Note that when an animator is assigned a shot, they must animate all the characters in that shot. “Most of the time my shots had one, two or maximum three characters, but they were very long shots where the characters were moving a lot or intensely expressing something, so they had to be stretched out further..”
What is it about Spaniards that makes them stand out so much in international animation studios? According to Andrés, European professionals in general have “a special artistic touch”. ” It is often said that we Spaniards are gifted artistically, but we are also very fast. In studies, Spaniards are valued quite highly outside of Spain. Maybe this has helped me. I’ve always worked fast. I like computers, and I’m trying to learn things to make my work faster.
Andrés Bedate and his work on The Willoughbys
Returning to his nomination, although he’s excited, he says that winning this kind of award is “a bit complicated.” Major studios such as Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks usually win these awards, since their style tends to be the most popular with the jury. Though it doesn’t always follow this trend, as was the case last year, when Klaus “deservedly” won.
Andrés explains that the film can be viewed on Netflix across the world. “And whoever sees it says it’s something special. It deals with more adult themes, despite being an animated film. It’s based on a book that, though a children’s book, has a slightly macabre ending. Maybe that’s why it has gone more unnoticed by the public,” he explains. However, he insists that the reviews are very good, and its merit is backed up by its various award nominations. “There must be a reason. The film deserves it.”
Andrés is not the only U-tad student who has recently won an award. The Oscar-nominated film Wolfwalkers, featuring the work of our former student María Pareja, winner of the Annie Award for Best Production Design for Wolfwalkers, has also won.