Everyone wants to find where their interests lie and then follow them, but not many people succeed. According to Gallup's World Poll only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their job. Umar Seed, now a professional 3D animator, has the job he dreamed of as a child. This is Umar’s story of realizing his passion, overcoming obstacles, and launching into the animation industry.
As a child, Umar was interested in animation and games. He recounts, “I thought I wanted to be a cartoon artist.” As time passed, Umar gained an interest in science and thought he wanted to be an engineer. In his teenage years, big gaming industries became popular and widespread. All of his friends, including him, grew fascinated with gaming. Umar describes that he “used to see game development on tv and how artists put their effort together to make a game.” That’s when a spark from his childhood dream reignited, Umar realized he didn’t want to be an engineer, and in turn, set out to learn animation.
Umar began his journey by watching tutorials and reading Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. However, back in 2008, the internet was still new in Pakistan, “very few people had it.” Umar was not accustomed to the internet and found it hard to figure out what software to use. “It was a back and forth between a lot of things.” Umar worked through all the trials and errors as difficulty arose.
Umar’s adventure to find the right software was similar to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. His third attempt was perfect. First came Autodesk 3ds max, then Autodesk maya, where he first learned 3d modeling and animation, and finally the commercially usable Blender. According to Umar, “Blender is getting better and better. A lot of people say it’s going to become the industry standard in the future.” Blender, an open source software suite created by hundreds of people around the world as a free-for-use, global program that anyone can use. This is the software Umar uses up to this day.
Beyond softwares, there were other difficulties to overcome. Umar rushed into trying to make a photo-realistic model with the absence of much knowledge and realized “it did not look that good.” Umar points out that “In the beginning you are naive and don’t know how things really work.” He can now suggest, before rendering anything, for creators to take a moment observing their model without any shade and without any lighting (the grayscale model). If it looks realistic then move on to the next step otherwise, refine the model.
Despite his first failed attempt, Umar wasn’t discouraged to continue. In his eyes “We have the whole world at our fingertips. You have this entire gallery of artists doing work and that is inspiring in it’s own right.” With practice, he gained skills and momentum in 3D animation and began looking for an online job. He applied to different companies for a job and/or internship when he saw an advertisement for the Kashmir World Foundation (KwF). Soon, KwF responded to Umar, accepting his application.
Umar looks back on his internship with pride. “It was really a different type of route to break into the visual effects industry.” At KwF, he was given flexible deadlines and creative freedom, a unique situation in the animation industry. Generally, there is a lot of pressure to come up with solutions and there are many limitations. Sometimes even a seemingly flawless proposed solution will not please the client. In Umar’s experience, when a client rejects your idea, “you move on to their solution and do what they want.”
During his internship, Umar was given the challenge to create a 3D animated KwF logo. Umar worked directly with Princess Aliyah, the Executive Director of KwF. Her vision was to create a logo that represented the union of art, science, technology, and worldwide collaboration. Umar was asked to design an earth rotating inside of a canary diamond. Umar t