23 September 2021
You might think a two time Academy Award nominated, Animation Director, with 25 years of experience would make a bit of an entrance on their first day, but Rob Coleman isn’t your typical ‘big name’. Monday, 2 July 2012 at Animal Logic’s Sydney studio was an exciting day which began with a meeting for the Sydney Opera House’s Graphic Festival, a project Animal Logic was working on that would benefit from guidance by this new recruit. On his first day, Rob met many of the people he would be collaborating with over the next few years and at that time, the studio was working on a range of projects, including Walking with Dinosaurs and The LEGO Movie, while the visual effects team was bidding on The Wolverine. Rob was the first Head of Animation for Animal Logic, and we couldn’t have found a better fit for the Animals.
We have been lucky to have his talent, guidance, and generosity for almost a decade as earlier this month, Rob decided it was time to move on to the next chapter in his career. Before he left, Animal Logic’s Communications and Publicity Supervisor, Tessa Crozier, took the opportunity to have one last chat to one of our favourite Canadians.
Prior to joining Animal, Rob was at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) for 12 years (1993-2005) where he was Animation Director on the Star Wars prequels, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. He then moved to Lucasfilm Animation where he directed five episodes of The Clone Wars TV series while working on the development of an animated feature film with George Lucas.
He has been nominated for two Oscars for his work on Attack of the Clones and The Phantom Menace and two BAFTAs for his work on Men In Black and The Phantom Menace.
Rob has seen Animal Logic go from strength to strength, four LEGO movies, two Peter Rabbit films and now a slate of five more movies in production and development. “It is always rewarding to see how many talented artists, technical geniuses and terrific production folks return to Animal show after show,” he said.
Though he is proud of what Animal Logic achieved under his leadership, the last few years have been challenging for him personally. “My wife was diagnosed with cancer in December 2016, and after countless rounds of chemotherapy, she passed away in May 2020. While trying to reconcile my grief, I finally acknowledged that I needed to look after myself, which meant a fresh start. My next chapter is a return “home,” it is a reconnection with some of my oldest friends and colleagues where I will be working on a variety of creative projects. Ultimately, life is always too short; make sure you are doing what you love. ”
When asked what he will miss the most, the answer was short and sweet. “The people. The work is great, but it is the people that are the most important. Some of my happiest memories are about the personal growth I have witnessed in the crew. It makes me smile to think of some of the young animators I met over the years who have developed and blossomed into some of the world’s best.”
Rob was kind enough to pass on a bit of sage advice before he left; be a good listener, remember what it was like to receive feedback, be organised and empathetic, and lead by example. “The best teachers and mentors are the ones who inspire and guide. I have been lucky in my life to have some incredible people help me along the way. They constantly challenged me while encouraging me; I was stretched and sometimes felt overwhelmed, but I always felt supported, and through that experience, I grew. It is my hope that I have passed some of that philosophy on to the folks I have mentored while I have been at Animal Logic.
“Remember that it takes a massive team to create an animated feature. We can all get lost in our own part, but we must remember that all departments working together are vital to the project’s ultimate success. The pandemic has separated us, which has prevented casual interaction with our peers, impacting our crew’s sense of community and support. It is essential that one asks for help if you are feeling lost or overwhelmed. I’m sure we have all missed the energy of sitting in the Red Theatre, surrounded by our teammates, seeing our collective work up on the big screen. Hopefully, those days will return soon.”
Thank you for everything Rob, you’re a true Animal, we can’t wait to see what you create next and look forward to having you back in the red theatre one day.