How did you even get started with animation?

Since I can remember I have always been a movie enthusiast. I watched the same movies with my friends thousand of times. When I was a little boy I filmed home movies with my toys, especially with GI-Joes. Do you remember those times when children played with toys and not with screens?

I was always fascinated by Wallace and Gromit and one year, at Christmas, I decided to try to make an animation with modeling plasticine. I stole the plasticine they had given as a present to my cousins and my first animation was a kind of fish on a duvet, without software or any media resource.

It was later, through my short film “Un Juego”, with which I began to specialize and discover this universe. I took care of all the elements of the 13-minute short film. During two long years of seclusion in the garage of my house. I won several awards and a multitude of selections.

Talk to me about how much time you have to dedicate to putting together a 5 to 10-minute scene?

Well, it depends on what you mean by a scene. Are we talking about a scene in a movie? or a 10-minute short film?
It all depends on the level of demand and how ambitious that scene is.

Normally in a big-budget movie, no animator gets to produce 10 minutes on their own. There is usually a quota of seconds to meet and may vary between 4 or 10 seconds per week.

In TV series it is different, usually, the quantity prevails over the quality, and we can be asked to animate more than 40 seconds per week per animator.

If you are making a 10 minutes short film, the production process can last one or two years. Again, everything depends on the specific characteristics of the project.

What are some of the things and/or people that inspired you artistically?

Cinema in general constantly inspires me, it is an innate obsession in my life. I love many of the cult movies we all know, the riskiest independent cinema, the Danish cinema of the Zentropa studio, Asian cinema, especially the one that is currently being done in Korea, etc.

I love psychological issues and how disturbed or perverse the human being can become.
But I constantly seek inspiration in everything, in behaviors that surround me, in sculpture, in painting … There are many artistic positions that I do not understand, but I am clear about my sense of aesthetics or visual quality.

What was your involvement with the Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires movie?

I was an animator. For almost a year I was giving life to the more than 400 characters that were built for this admirable stop motion feature film. I think it is an unprecedented fact to build such a number of puppets and all of them with an extraordinary level of quality.

It was filmed in Wales, England, it was clay animation, so I was surrounded by the best animators of Aardman Animations. Animate with plasticine is super fun because you can divide your work into two phases and never get bored.

On one hand, you pay attention to animation making sure all the elements move correctly, and on the other hand you disconnect your brain and activate your skills as a sculptor to model facial expressions frame by frame.
Normally sculpting takes a lot of time and the animation was on ones, (24 frames per second), so this production was very long.

This movie is really risky and therefore deserves our respect and admiration. Animation for adults, with large doses of violence and irreverent humor. Very appropriate for the unfortunate times of – the politically correct – in which we live.

Hopefully, it gets the support it deserves and is projected on big screens soon.

 

What’s the biggest project you’ve ever been involved with and what was your favorite project you were involved with?

The biggest has undoubtedly been “Missing Link

” in Portland for LAIKA studios. I don’t know how many people work in that company, but when I was there I think the workforce was around 400 employees. All departments had very large spaces and surrounded by the most sophisticated technology.

I, as an animator, felt very privileged, I had the feeling that the whole team was supporting me so that I could do the best job possible. Obviously, that is appreciated and unique! It is also unique for a company to prioritize animation so much, allowing and encouraging animators to spend a lot of time preparing their shots. This translates into the most extraordinary animation ever seen in Stop Motion.

But my favorite project was “Ma vie de Courgette

” or “My life as a Zucchini” It was filmed in Lyon, France, with an exceptional artistic and human team. It was my first feature film as an animator and finally, I was able to develop aspects of animation that I had never had a chance to do, such as giving emotions to a character with such depth.
I discovered many things during the intense production of this project, which made me grow as a professional and as a person, I was very happy.

Do you know you have the same name as MLB star Juan Soto, who plays for the Washington Nationals?

Sometimes looking for my name on the Internet (narcissistic action, but we all do it), I have seen this baseball player. But I am not a person who loves sports, I do not see football, baseball or basketball … sometimes I watch tennis and I love playing ping pong and pool.

Anyway, I hope this MLB player is good and doing very well.

Dark Corridor from Juan Soto on Vimeo.

Juan Soto is currently looking for producers, financing and a development team for a short film. If you are interested, contact him via e-mail at juan@juansotoanimation.com. You also check out his website juansotoanimation.com.

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