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May 14, 2010 (Last Update)
 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ANSON JEW

BORN TO DRAW
By Santiago Mendez

Anson Jew was the lead animator on Brian Moriarty's version. He also did paintings for that version and also for Noah Falstein's version. Besides his work in games he also worked as a storyboard artist in some pretty cool movies.

Tell us about yourself and How did you started drawing?

I was at LucasArts for nine years. Mostly, I was an animator and worked on Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Full Throttle, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Curse of Monkey Island, Herc's Adventures, among others.
I currently work as a freelance storyboard artist. I was a board artist on Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid, Cat in the Hat, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Inheritance.
I 've done freelance work for games (Knockout Kings, Oregon Trail) and have been doing some work for a new game company called Autumn Moon.
I've been drawing since I was 4 or 5. I was especially interested in using artwork for telling stories, and used to make my own comic books and super-8 animated films throughout my grade school and high school years.

As a kid, have you created any superheroes?

Legions of them.

What is your favorite animated movie?

I have so many favorites. But I'll say that Pixar is always spot on. I love everything they do, from Toy Story to The Incredibles. I also like Iron Giant, Ice Age, Sleeping Beauty. I love Wallace and Gromit particularly The Wrong Trousers. StudioAKA did a short film called JoJo in the Stars and three related shorts: The Good News, Hound of Flesh, and Pizza Sangre. Beautiful work.

What brought you to LucasArts?

I used to be Larry Ahern's roommate in Sacramento. Martin (Bucky) Cameron worked at LucasArts (commuting from Sacramento to San Rafael!) and had mentioned that Lucas was looking for new talent. We both applied and were hired.

Creature from the Falstein versionIn what versions of The Dig have you worked on? (Falstein's, Moriarty's, Grossman's, etc.)

I worked on the Falstein and Moriarty versions.

What was exactly your job at The Dig?

An animator mostly. I was lead animator on the Moriarty version and did a couple of paintings for both versions.

When you worked at LucasArts did you have to use the Wacom tablet?

No. I tried one out, but they were too awkward at the time. Nowadays, however, I can't work without one.

Did any of your work made it to the final released version?

I did some animation for the Moriarty version that made it to the Clark version. It was a puzzle involving water. There might have been a couple of other things, but I don't remember.Lovely or scary? (I really don't know)

Could you describe us LucasArts HQ a little bit?

I was there nine years, so things changed a lot during that time. The art dept. moved no less than 4 times. When I started, we were at Skywalker Ranch (for a whole month!) Which with the lake and the ranch environment was very tranquil and cozy. Then we moved to the top floor of a building at the Kerner complex where the environment was pretty fun and freewheeling--people getting into nerf gun wars and stuff. The art dept. was so small you could fit it into two rooms. Then it moved across the parking lot when the art dept was big enough to take over most of a whole building. The environment was open and collaborative, and was roughly sectioned off by project. Later, the company had grown huge and the whole company moved to another building. By then everyone's job was specialized and for the most part we were divided up into tall cubicles. You could walk through the art dept. and it could populated or not, but you couldn't tell the difference. If you poked your head into a cube, however, you'd see all the requisite game company type stuff: toys, posters, tiki lights.

Any anecdotes from The Dig?

The Dig was the first Lucas game I worked on. I was lucky enough to work with a bunch of really talented artists. The first Dig art crew included Ken Macklin, Jim McCleod, Iain McCaig, Armand Cabrera...there were also some sketches done by Terry Whitlatch. There was a lot of really great art created for that game, and it being my first game, I was heartbroken when the game got axed. Bill Eaken and I had even proposed creating an entirely new game with the existing art (a Boba Fett game!) but they didn't bite. This was like 1992, I think.

Have you played The Dig? What do you think of it?

I played the beginning. It was just too hard for me and I gave up. I didn't get very far at all.

February 25, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Santiago Méndez.

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