Aniboom 4 Sesame Street Awards Finalist William Levine
Where are you from and where do you work (city, studio, or home studio)?
I live in the neighborhood of Park Slope in Brooklyn, NY, where I work from my tiny apartment.
When did you first become interested in animation?
I've been interested in animation since I was a kid, having grown up on Disney animated features, and watching cartoons on tv after school as a daily routine. As a chronic doodler I used to make simple flip book animations in the corners of all my school notebooks.
What do you like about animation?
I like the ability to take a thought from my head and put it on paper, then the computer, and make it move within minutes, and share it with friends.
How did you get started in animation? Did you have any kind of formal training?
I have no formal training in animation, I studied computer programming in college. In 1999 I created an online comic strip series about Macintosh computer culture, called Zap the PRAM, and Other Placebos. Once in a while I would make a simple looping animated GIF cartoon, and soon realized that those were the most popular with my readers. So, one day in 2000 when I had jury duty selection, I took a book on Flash animation with me to the courtroom. I spent the whole day reading the book cover to cover. I wasn't selected for jury duty, but I did learn the basics of Macromedia Flash 4. When I got home that evening, I created my first Flash animation and shared it with the world online. It was well received, so I decided to make more.
What works of animation, comics, film, or books inspire you and your work?
Gary Larson's The Far Side comics have always been my favorite. I was inspired to learn Flash after seeing the animated music videos of — and befriending the artist behind — Threebrain.com, creator of Weeeeee! (Gonads and Strife), one of the first viral video cartoons online, even before the days of YouTube. I also was inspired by Radiskull & Devil Doll, a short lived animated Shockwave series by Joe Sparks.
What techniques did you like using in your animation?
I like keeping things simple, and prefer using plain white backgrounds instead of complex illustrations. I also use a simple "squiggle vision" technique in Flash, with a 3-frame loop to make still images look like they're vibrating. And I usually animate at 15fps instead of 30fps so I don't have to deal with a lot of tweening space, and to make motion look not as smooth.
What attracted you to the Aniboom 4 Sesame Street Awards?
I did some freelance scriptwriting in 2009 for an international coproduction of Sesame Street called Shalom Sesame. Writing for Sesame Workshop was such a positive and rewarding experience, I've been hoping to work with them in other capacities, like animation and songwriting.
What’s your favorite holiday?
My favorite holiday is Tu B'Av, the Jewish holiday of love. I caught my first glimpse of my sweetheart, Malya, at a Tu B'Av party on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 2009, and now, a year later, we're getting married in Israel for Tu B'Av 2010!
What is your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream is to find the time to produce all the silly cartoons and music I have floating in my head, and somehow get paid for it.