Aidan Coughlan
Animation Lecturer
Diploma in Classical & Computer Animation (Irish School of Animation)
Completing MA in Look Development for Film

How did you get involved in the world of animation?

My brother showed me how to do a flip-book animation when I was four years of age. From then on, I was hooked. I was fascinated with how you could make multiple still images move.  I never forgot that moment and in my later schooling years, all I could think about was getting to go to college to study animation.

What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on or proudest moment of your career?

I think anyone in the animation industry will have a similar answer to this, but for me it was when I landed my first job in Treehouse Republic. It was validation that all my work and study has finally been recognised. Moving on from that, I was hired at Brown Bag Films, the biggest animation studio in Europe. They were working on an internal development project that they wanted me to be the lead background modeller and texture artist on. Then I was moved on to other TV series such as Octonauts, Henry Hugglemonsters and a short film they released in 2016 called “An Ode to Love”. Working with guys from Disney in Brown Bag Films on these projects is the proudest moment for me.

Why should students study animation? And more specifically, why should they study it at SAE?

The philosophy at SAE is about practical work, getting your hands dirty straight away. From traditional artwork to 3D, this is how we teach. I was taught by the best at the Irish School of Animation, no questions asked. People who were the pioneers that worked on Beauty and the Beast, Thumbelina, An American Tale, All Dogs go to Heaven and The Land Before Time to name but a few. I maintain their high levels of teaching standard and passion for the discipline. Furthermore, I believe that I have taken this to the next level in the 3D realm aswell, ensuring that techniques and thought processes from the integral traditional pioneers of the industry are brought into the new era of 3D animation. Passion is what you want from you teachers. It gets the students engaged and produces better work and as far as I'm concerned, that's definitely what makes SAE the best choice for aspiring animators.

What excites you about teaching the next generation of animators?

When I was hired at Brown Bag, I contacted my life drawing teacher and animation lecturers from college straight away. Knowing that I will be the one guiding students on their journey into the industry, being their first point of contact with professional experience. I was that guy before and I'll never forget that. I looked up to my mentors so much. Now I'm in that position, I have the knowledge to get the students to where they need to be. Passing on what I have learned both in college and in the industry, seeing people as passionate as me achieving great things in the industry is what excites me about teaching.

If you had one piece of advice for a budding animator, what would it be?

Knuckle down! Becoming a top notch animator takes a lot of work and effort. Going to college and taking notes in not enough by a long shot. That is why we really push practical work here at SAE. This is true for any discipline within the industry. From modellers to concept artists, matte painters to VFX artists. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

Best animated movie or game of all time?

Ok, this is the question that we all avoid. There are so many, Beauty and the Beast for obvious reasons, Lilo and Stitch because of the watercoloured backgrounds that are mind blowing, Tekkonkinkreet, again because the layouts are stunning. Another that really stands out is “The Little Prince”, it does everything an animated should do. It makes you cry and laugh all at once.

Pixar, Disney or DreamWorks?

Hmmmm, I'll have to go with Disney having worked on Doc McStuffins, I have to stay loyal. They all produce work that I admire though.

If you weren’t an animator what would you be?


Please list projects you have worked on outside of SAE and any publications:

Bottler (TV3 Ireland)
Henry Hugglemonsters
Doc Mc Stuffins
Digger Slade
An Ode to Love (BBF Short Film)

*Lead Zbrush artist for Octonauts (BBF)
*Lead Environment artist for Digger Slade (BBF)