Last week, we told you about Rani Naamani, a 3D grad who had a hand in that little blockbuster to end all blockbusters, Shrek the Third. We said we’d follow up with him, and baby, you know we wouldn’t lie to you.
Rani’s path was a winding one, taking him across hemispheres and up and down North America, but when you take a step back, the outcome seems like it was… well, destiny.
“I was actually studying as a freshman student at a university in Lebanon before I came to VFS. I had to make a huge decision that year: do I spend the next few years getting a degree in graphic design, or do I move to Canada and study what I really love… animation?”
Rani chose animation, and transplanted himself to Vancouver, where he enrolled in the 3D Animation & Visual Effects program. One dizzying year and a 3D crash course later, he’d graduated and signed on with local big boys Mainframe, where he animated their Scary Godmother: The Revenge of Jimmy.
From there, it was on to Irving, Texas, of all places, and DNA Productions‘ feature The Ant Bully. DNA’s pedigree is pretty great–something about an Oscar nom for their previous movie?–but no one can deny the quantum leap it was when Rani made the jump to PDI/Dreamworks in Redwood City, California. If you’re an animator, that’s where it’s at.
“I have had the pleasure of working with super-talented people,” Rani says. “It’s a great place to be. You learn so much here, and you’re inspired by everyone around you.”
First up: Shrek the Third, easily one of the most anticipated animated films of the year. Not surprisingly, Rani has nothing but good things to say about the project. “It was a great experience, and I got to learn a lot.”
And now with Shrek stomping all over the record books, it’s on to Madagascar 2, the sequel to the award-winning zoo-animals-on-the-run hit. “I loved the first Madagascar film,” says Rani. “The character designs are amazing and the style of animation is so fun!”
But the best part of working for an animation powerhouse? Variety.
“What I love about PDI/DreamWorks is the fact that you get the chance to work on different projects each having it’s own unique style. The way Shrek moves, for example, is very different than how Alex or Marty would move. So you learn a lot from both styles.”
And as is often the case, Rani was a driven guy before we got to him–he wouldn’t have come to VFS at all otherwise–and his experience here had a lot to do with what he put into it. “I think something that helped me a lot was that I knew from day one of VFS that I wanted to be an animator,” he says. “So I focused all my energy towards animation and tried to make the most out of it.”