Colus Havenga is originally from the Western Cape but is now based in San Diego, California where he works as an animator & stereographer and runs his own t-shirt label (they ship worldwide!). Over the holidays we asked him a few questions about his day job, his label and working in the US. Here goes:
Between 10and5: Please let us know your official (or unofficial) job title.
Colus Havenga: I am full time animator and stereographer at a film production studio in San Diego California, and part time designer and anti procrastinator.
To put some light on stereography. Part of my work is to convert standard shot movies and music videos and convert them to 3D that you can watch with 3D glasses in cinemas, museums and on TV. It’s a process where you have to dissect every frame of every shot and mimic depth into it with special software. It’s a tedious process but the results are as close as you can get as if it was shot in 3D.
10and5: What and where did you study?
Colus: I studied animation at the Universal Computer Arts Academy – now named The Animation School in Cape Town.
10and5: What skills does it take to do what you do?
Colus: I am the only animator on staff so I need to be able to handle a wide variety of tasks without depending on other artists for help, so I would say experience and knowledge of the software is vital. I use Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and inhouse software.
10and5: What’s the most difficult part?
Colus: On the stereography side of things, being able to adapt to very different production workflows every few weeks. Every film project that comes in has their own set of challenges like dealing with forests, water and other particle effects and also crowd scenes.
10and5: And the bit you most enjoy?
Colus: Being able to see the fruits of your labour on the big screen.
10and5: Please tell us about your design label:
Colus: I started a self titled designer label called Colus ( www.colushavenga.com ) to challenge myself creatively and also to feed my love of t-shirts. The label is exclusively in black and white and it mixes shapes, character design and symbolism in a minimalist style. I’m having a lot of fun with it and aim to build it into a creative outlet where I want to do not only shirts, but also prints, art, vinyl toys, jewelry and anything else that interests me. The label has gained a great following from across the globe which includes Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz who requested to wear one of my shirts for an MTV interview and a signing for his book/toy release “The Hole In The Middle”. I was blown away by this because designer toys have been such a big deal to me over the years, especially Kidrobot.
10and5: Weirdest task you’ve found yourself doing in the name of your job?
Colus: I had to do special effects on an educational film that we shot on bats. One of the shots that I had to work on, depicting the vampire myth, required a human vampire to transform into a bat and fly away in a wooded area and I guess I was the perfect height so I was also cast as the vampire for the shot. I ended up running around in our crowded city park in an over sized hooded black cape and make up.
10and5: The main difference between working in SA vs USA?
Colus: It’s maybe just me but there’s an ever present sense of possibility in the air that I did not feel in SA to this extent. Everything is so accessible and immediate. Anything is a few clicks away and 2 days later, it’s on your doorstep. This makes you the only one to blame for not doing that thing you always wanted to do. It’s very empowering. In South Africa I felt a little more limited trying to get things made and done but with the rise of online shopping and services over there I think it’s going to empower a lot more people to do their own thing.
10and5: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Colus: I’ve been obsessed with cartoons since my earliest memories. I would draw Sonic the hedgehog and other characters on everything that my pen and pencil would let me. I didn’t really know what my options were so anything in the line of an artist or designer would have been fine, but when I heard in high school that there is actually a place in SA that teaches animation, I knew that was it.
10and5: Advice to those who want to make it in America?
Colus: Be unique and passionate. Offer something different in whatever line of work you might be in. This might be the “land of opportunity” but it comes at a price of hard work.
10and5: Your dream job?
Colus: Making a living creating my own art.