Interview Minnow Mountain Founders – Craig Staggs and Steph Swope

Interview – Craig Staggs and Steph.

Hello to all readers of Animation Alerts. With a lot of animation movies, tv-series and a lot of content coming on CDs and DVDs as well as streaming platforms. We have a nonstop supply of amazing 3d and animation content. From this crowded market of visual graphics and animation. It’s not easy to create something which can grab our attention easily.

But some stunning 3d works, as well as animation content, is really powerful which can grab our attention and we just fall in love with that. Today we have some special guests from Texas, United States, Craig Staggs, and Steph Swope. Craig Staggs and Steph Swope founded Minnow Mountain to create groundbreaking material for feature films and television back in 2012. Minnow Mountains is having the goal of developing original feature films and television series.

Craig Staggs is an animation director, filmmaker and writer and co-founder of Minnow Mountain. Craig directed the rotoscope animation unit for Undone. While Steph Hope is the producer as well as co-founder of Minnow Mountain studios. She is a BFA in Photography from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Steph rose from the art department and photo/video research to producing award-winning animated series and feature films. Steph produced the rotoscope animation unit for Undone. Undone has an IMDB rating of 8.3 which shows how much people are loving this series.

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Hello, Craig Staggs and Steph Swope. Welcome to Animation Alerts. We are glad to have you as part of the Interview series at Animation Alerts.

Steph Swope and Craig Staggs
Image source_Minnow Mountain

Would you like to introduce yourself to readers of Animation Alerts and share something about your journey from the Animation industry?

Craig: Thank you for having us and the opportunity to talk about Undone. Steph Swope and I founded the Minnow Mountain studio a few years ago. We’ve made a feature-length documentary, Tower, for PBS and our new show, Undone, is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

What is daily routine for you and your team at Minnow Mountain?

Craig: Each day starts with a production meeting with senior studio staff where we establish priorities for the day. Our animation production is fast-paced, and our animators are busy. The day is spent balancing the speed of animation and the production value of our submissions. At the end of the day we check-in to track progress and troubleshoot delays.

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Your previous project Tower, was an Emmy winning animated documentary. Would you like to share your experience with that project?

Steph: Helping create Tower was an amazing experience. The film’s director, Keith Maitland, came to us with a clear visual plan and vocabulary. We were excited to not only tell the stories of the survivors, but to help the viewer live through their experiences using black and white rotoscoped animation.

Image from IMDB

Your latest project Undone series, also looks a promising project, Would you like to share some more information about Undone?

Steph: Undone has been an absolute joy to be a part of. It is a much larger, very collaborative process involving at least three other filmmaking studios. The show is written by Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksburg at The Tornante Company in LA. The live-action is filmed and edited, also in LA. The footage is then sent to us for line animation. After we’ve completed our work, the frames are sent on to Submarine in Amsterdam for coloring, background compositing (the backgrounds are oil paintings on canvas), and some 3D work. There are a lot of moving parts!

Creating something unique, challenging in such a competitive computer graphics and animation market is never easy. How would you describe your highs and lows and challenges about performing performance capture animation for project Undone?

Craig: Frame by frame performance capture animation is grueling and time-consuming. It’s supposed to be. The animator is taking the time to understand every nuance of an actor’s performance. The experience can be frustrating and emotionally draining for an artist under a deadline. But when you see that scene put together and the audio kicks in and your drawing comes to life it is an amazing feeling.

How was working on project Tower was different from working with Undone?

Steph: Tower had 40 minutes of rotoscoped animation, which we completed in just about a year and a half. Undone is over 170 minutes of animation, and we had one year of production. We had to learn how to produce much more animation in less time, and this was really the biggest difference between the projects.

Since 2012, in just a short amount of time, Minnow Mountain has created a good reputation in the animation industry. Where you would like to see Minnow Mountain in the future?

Craig: We are honored to serve as an animation unit for these incredible projects. If there’s any trick to having a good reputation, it’s choosing good projects and good partners. We are learning from the best in the business and will start rolling out the original Minnow Mountain content.

Any dream project?

Craig: The dream project is one that has a great story, high emotional stakes, difficult visual challenges, and opportunities for the animator to capture and enhance an actor’s performance. I’d love a crack at directing a moody sci-fi film or an epic horror series. I think we can do a lot more visually than people realize.

Do you have any message for the audience at Animation alerts?

Craig: Watch Undone. Find us on social media and tell us what you think.

Thanks for reading the interview. Please do not forget to share this interview from masters of the animation industry.

I am a former Animator and Graphic Designer who has worked on many International and Domestic projects and Tv series and E-learning projects. I created Animation Alerts so that people who are struggling to learn animation can learn this craft and grow together.