Interview: Michael Trikosko & Andrew Wilson, InvisibleBlake Harris 09.08.2016
In this week’s installment, we speak with animators Michael Trikosko & Andrew Wilson, the dynamic duo behind Invisible…
Last week, we wrote about a charming animated short called Invisible. The film was created by animators Michael Trikosko and Andrew Wilson, who did so as their thesis project at Ringling College of Art & Design. To get the inside scoop on how this 3D animated short was made, we spoke with the dynamic duo themselves…
Blake J. Harris: Hey guys, thanks so much for speaking with me! Before we talk about the short, I’d love to begin by hearing from each of you how you first got into animation. Where did the interest come from?
Andrew Wilson: I got into animation through my interest in drawing and my interest in computers. I remember, in middle school, taking some classes and just fascinated by what people could do with computers. I wanted to learn more about how it was done. That’s what took me to Ringling.
Michael Trikosko: I always liked drawing and animating. I used to create comic books when I was a kid, but I didn’t really think I could do it for a career. Then in high school I started to learn about the animation industry and I started to appreciate the importance of story.
Blake J. Harris: Yeah, story is key.
Michael Trikosko: It is. Story is everything. It’s really what makes stuff worth watching. So I thought the animation field would be a great way to combine my interests in design and art and story.
Blake J. Harris: Tell me about the origin of Invisible. How did it all begin?
Michael Trikosko: Andrew, you had the first initial concept, right?
Andrew Wilson: Yeah.
Blake J. Harris: What was that first initial idea? The original spark?
Andrew Wilson: Oh god… [embarrassed laughter] We were trying to think of story ideas that would have high conflict. I remember we were walking back to my place. I was looking at a street sign and something about the yellow got me thinking…I said to Michael, “What about a chameleon who keeps turning invisible?” It was almost a joke at first because it was such a simple idea. But that turned out to be a good thing; because it was simple, we were really able to build on top of it.
Michael Trikosko: That was a semester before we had to develop the film. At that time, we were working on our own assignments. So I asked Andrew if I could take his idea and turn it into a little short story.
Andrew Wilson: That sounded good to me.
Michael Trikosko: Yeah, Andrew said, “that’d be cool and then we can develop it into our thesis.” So I took the idea and turned it into a story.
Blake J. Harris: What was that original story? Was it the same as the final film?
Michael Trikosko: Well, the original idea was basically the same: The chameleon is in high school and there’s this girl he wants to get noticed by. But it was a lot bigger in scope. It wasn’t set at a dance and there were a lot of different locations around the high school.
Blake J. Harris: How long did making the film ultimately take you guys?
Andrew Wilson: From conception to completion it was about a year and a half. We developed the idea for a semester and then we spent senior year actually producing the animation.
Blake J. Harris: And what was the hardest part?
Andrew Wilson: Would you say the story, Michael?
Michael Trikosko: Yeah, I’d say the story. We spent a lot of long nights coming up with ideas (and also banging our heads against the wall).
Andrew Wilson: Yeah, that period where you don’t know exactly where it’s going—when you don’t totally know what the story is—that’s the hardest part.
Blake J. Harris: In the actual film, the characters don’t have names. But did they have names to you guys? How did you refer to the characters amongst yourselves?
Michael Trikosko: Oh yeah…I guess no one knows that.
Andrew Wilson: For a while it was just “guy chameleon” and “girl chameleon.” Then, at some point, we decided to deconstruct the word chameleon, so we ended up with “Cam” and “Millie.”
Blake J. Harris: Ha!
Michael Trikosko: But naming the character “Cam” would have been confusing with “camera.” So we left off any names.
Blake J. Harris: In terms of the actual animation process, which was the hardest scene to animate?
Michael Trikosko: The main dance set piece at the end; the invisible dance scene.
Michael Trikosko: It was really hard to get them in an appealing angle at all times. And the idea of what dances they would do that would be unique to the chameleon aspects and be entertaining.
Andrew Wilson: We had a mentor to help us with the animation: Liron Topaz. He was a huge help.
Michael Trikosko: Agreed. We wouldn’t have a film if it wasn’t for him. Liron Topaz was a great mentor.
Blake J. Harris: What would you say was the biggest lesson you learned from making Invisible?
Andrew Wilson: I think, really, just what it takes to go through the entire process. How to organize such an endeavor. I mean, we’ve been practicing these skills for years, but I learned a lot about how all the pieces fit together. And how a team has to communicate to get all those pieces to fit properly.
Blake J. Harris: Last question here. But I was wondering—since this was a creative partnership that lasted over a year—what surprised each of you about the other?
Michael Trikosko: Andrew’s perseverance. He was just a pleasure to work with. He was always happy and always smiling, even when I wasn’t.
Blake J. Harris: [laughing]
Andrew Wilson: For me, I was just impressed by how much Michael really knows story. And he’s good at giving feedback. That’s so important, you know? Having him there as a second eye, to help see the vision, it was really helpful.
Blake J. Harris: Wonderful. Thanks so much for your time and keep up the great work!