Interviews With Animators: Pedro Allevato (Sugar Blood)Blake Harris 06.23.2016
In this week’s installment, we speak with Brazilian-born, Vancouver-trained and London-based animator Pedro Allevato…
Last week, for our PICK OF THE WEEK, we featured Shell’s Make The Future motion graphics explainer video. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with the director responsible for putting that explainer together: Pedro Allevato (aka Sugar Blood). Allevato is a mega-talented young artist who–as I learned from our conversation–has already had the benefit of seeing the animation industry from a variety of different vantage points.
During my conversation with Allevato we talked about what inspires the Brazilian-born, Vancouver-trained and London-based animator, as well as how he broke into the business and–last but not least!!–how he came up with the alias “Sugar Blood.”
Blake J. Harris: Hi, Pedro. Great speaking with you. Where are you located?
Pedro Allevato: I’m in London.
Blake J. Harris: How long have you been there for?
Pedro Allevato: Three years, more or less. Before that I was living in Vancouver for a while.
Blake J. Harris: Ah yes, we’ll get to that in a bit—your time studying animation at the Vancouver Film School—but first I’d like to begin, well, at the beginning. Tell me when you first became passionate about illustration and animation?
Pedro Allevato: I grew up in Rio, in Brazil and I’ve always drawn, since I was very young. For me, that was my favorite “game” to play, if you could call it a game. I’ve always loved art. I also come from a background of playing music.
Blake J. Harris: Growing up, and even to this day, who were some of your biggest influences?
Pedro Allevato: I’m a massive fan of Saul Bass. I know he’s an icon, but just what he’s done is unbelievable. Something so simple and so graphical that turns into something so beautiful.
Pedro Allevato: Some of the other guys I really like are not much older than me, but they inspire me. Joshua Harvey he’s a designer and animator and there’s another guy in Seattle I really like as well called Colin Hesterly. Those three guys, they’ve always inspired me. And I’m a big kid as well, so I’ve always loved watching cartoons.
Blake J. Harris: Ha! Of course.
Pedro Allevato: So watching The Regular Show, Adventure Time or Rick and Morty, those things keep my mind fresh. I love those shows.
Blake J. Harris: All great shows.
Blake J. Harris: So tell me—as we alluded to earlier—how did you end up in Vancouver?
Pedro Allevato: So in university [in Rio], I basically studied graphic design with some film production mixed in. I also studied a lot of motion design and animation on my own. Then after school, I started working at a record label doing some design for them. Doing artwork for the bands—which I really loved to do—and illustrating video lyrics. Stuff like that, you know? Then I worked for a couple of agencies. That was nice, but at the same time it was a little frustrating because often times after the initial development of ideas, the work would be outsourced to studios or freelancers. It was a shame because we’d have the ideas, but we didn’t get a chance to execute. So I got a bit sick of that and that’s when I went to Vancouver to study.
Blake J. Harris: When you went to Vancouver, you took an interest in 3D animation. What was it about 3D Animation that captured your attention?
Pedro Allevato: I’ve always liked to learn new tools. I like to see what people are doing and then I like to figure out how they are actually getting it done. So that’s helped me a lot throughout my career; having an interest in these things and then learning what it takes to actually get stuff done. That’s what keeps me updated. So, with 3D, I liked the idea of learning how to create new kinds of things since I was focused on 2D animation before. But I made sure that if I was going to do 3D, I still wanted to do that with an emphasis on character animation. That was important to me. That was important to me, since it is quite rare to see motion designer that are also character animators.
Blake J. Harris: Your character animation is very strong. Can you tell me a little bit about your approach?
Pedro Allevato: Sure. I think the At First Sight video is a good example to start with because this one was a personal project.
Pedro Allevato: For that video, the characters were relatively easy to come up with because I wanted to just show what we see everyday. I live in very much a hipster area of London, with a lot of things going on; art and technology and addiction to phones. So to come up with the main character, he had to look like an East Londoner. The shoes, the glasses, etc. I’m always trying to take references, so that I may be able to use for future creative projects. So the inspiration from that one was just from people I was seeing on the streets.
Blake J. Harris: How interesting.
Pedro Allevato: I also think it’s very important to mention that even when I do 3D, you’re very likely to see 2D features. Especially with character.
Blake J. Harris: Like that Tortoise and the Hare video you did for LycaMobile?
Pedro Allevato: Exactly.
Pedro Allevato: That Hare and Tortoise video, it may be the most CGI rendered video in my portfolio, but when creating the characters there was inspiration in there all the way back to Looney Tunes and Chuck Jones. That was on my mind when I was creating the concepts for those. To be honest, I’m always looking for references and things that inspire me.
Blake J. Harris: I mentioned in the PICK OF THE WEEK piece that you had previously started a company. Can you tell me what you learned from that experience?
Pedro Allevato: So much. It was absolutely amazing for that purpose. Sometimes is hard to find a balance between business and creative work because when you have a business you have bills to pay—but I was able to learn how to lead and manage a team. So nowadays, I can put teams together and I know how to take a project from start to finish. The business experience also provided me with very extensive knowledge for pitching projects. It taught me how to deliver on time and on schedule with a creative product that met client expectations. So much, I learned. That was absolutely incredible.
Blake J. Harris: Speaking of our PICK OF THE WEEK, can you tell me a bit about your approach on that “Make The Future” explainer for Shell?
Pedro Allevato: Well, from my previous company, we had a lot of experience creating explainer videos. With Shell, the goal was to present them in a way that is different than one would usually expect. For this, we wanted to show Shell as not only a petrol station, but more as an innovative energy company that’s thinking about the future. A company that uses eco-friendly resources and has a focus on energy saving ideas. Creating the video was something that came very smooth because I worked with a great creative team; both on the animation team as well at the agency and the client. And they really gave us some freedom to explore, which is not always the case, but I think paid off in this instance.
Blake J. Harris: Do you have a favorite part of that explainer video?
Pedro Allevato: I quite like the very beginning. I like the way things morph.
Pedro Allevato: It’s just such a simple animation. That’s what was really great about the project. The final design is so simple and smooth, just lines and colors. Initially I had such a different idea, much more complicated. Like the camera would go into the van and then that would morph into something else. But at the end of the day, it evolved into something much simpler by using these iconic images.
Blake J. Harris: One final question. You are now producing work under the alias “Sugar Blood.” Where does that name come from?
Pedro Allevato: So Sugar Blood…basically I have diabetes. And I think the overall concept is very simple: it’s just a matter of trying to turn a weakness into a strength. Into something I’m proud of. This is who I am. I have a lot of sugar perhaps in my blood, and it is supposed to be a not good thing, but I make the best of it and try to turn this weakness into a strength.
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