Get to know Yellow Lab Studio head, Emmy nominated, Award-winning motion designer and all-around awesome person Andrew Embury!
You're self-taught. What made you want to do animation/motion graphics?
I've always done art since I was a child. As a boy in the '80s, we had a Nintendo Entertainment System, and I was amazed by making Mario jump. It was incredible. I remember turning to my dad and said, 'I want to do this.' and he's like, "what's this?" I'm like, 'I don't know, but this' and I just kept on tapping the jump button over and over again. The fact that I was able to create movement out of something that's only an image and have an emotional response to it. I went to college to study programming, but the program was overbooked, so I studied 2D and 3D animation. At the time, you only focused on one thing, you did modeling or UV mapping or rendering.
You got your start at Fatkat animation studios. What was that like?
That was the first studio I worked at in 2003 for Gene Fowler, it was a wild time. He was just like, "I don't have any money. I don't have a desk," and I provided it all, and I told him, 'look, I'll work for free for 30 days and prove that you need me.'
I was also working at a call center, pushing grocery carts and working eighteen hours a day and trying to get like my foot in the door at the studio. Gene was my mentor. He taught me everything from the good, the bad, the ugly. Like why we create, what we create + how to cheat things, all these great things.
I would be sleeping at the studio, sleeping under my desk, sleeping in one of the couches on the top office floors. I just never left. And the nice thing is we had a shower on-site, so we were able to like freshen up. Not saying this is THE thing everyone should do, but I soaked up anything I could for experience and opportunity.
Advice for those new to the industry?
The best thing I could say to anybody, it's just to have persistence. Have a vision of what you want to create and have the persistence to pursue it. It's not gonna come easy. You're not going to become a master overnight, and any education out there that's worth anything won't sell you or give you necessarily the trick to do it all. But at the end of the day, that education is going to give you the foundations. It's up to you to be able to take it to that next level of creating something special. To find your own voice, it just really comes from what motivates you, pushes you. There's a lot of personal growth that can happen when you're trying to just pay the bills. Sometimes you find your voice in the burnout, sometimes it's negotiating the next big project. You have to put yourself out there and make opportunities happen.
To be able to have that voice, it takes persistence and time; you're not going to be able to develop that voice overnight. I'm still trying to find my voice. I like doing challenging client projects because, for me, that's where the payoff is, making something that tells a story and elicits emotion. But yeah, it just takes time and persistence to find that voice and not give up like, always keep pursuing - keep investing in yourself little by little.
You've talked about the importance of Collaboration and Community to you. What would you say to those who want to do this for a living?
If you are just starting out, get an internship, get into a studio, get in somewhere that you're going to learn from because you get your best growth from that.
Yellow Lab - Creative Studio
We have people in Australia, Brazil, we have people in England, myself and others in Canada, and the US. It's a bunch of friends that have banded together and some of us have been working together since the Fatkat days. We have some really great ideas together, and we mesh. If we can make it great, let's keep going and get each other's back. We don't need like hundreds of thousands of dollars to do good work, we do it because we love challenging ourselves and what we are capable of. As long as we're paid fairly, we're respected, and we're trusted, that value comes instinctually. You know money's not everything, and you need that growth by just learning from one another, and then you just get better exponentially because you have a good team together. We definitely overlapping a lot, so I'd say we are generalists overall.
Favorite After Effects Tools?
Honestly, Universal Audio, absolutely incredible. I could not live without it. It's one of those things like for character, animation, explainers you name it. It's fantastic, and just like boom, everything works and is linked. The next ones are Ease Copy and Flow. I use Flow pretty much every day cause I have about probably 60 ease presets I have created.
What is your inspiration?
My family and the people around the world that I work with. I just want everybody to have an equal opportunity together. And if we all just always take, take, take, and we don't give back, then the world's poorer for it. I wish to give back to the community and to the industry.
Interviewed by Clay Asbury
Based in Asheville, NC, Clay Asbury is a Certified Adobe & Blackmagic Design Instructor.
He works as a freelance videographer/editor and writes about postproduction at claytonasbury.com.