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Interview with Hotel Transylvania Animator, Kelsey Wagner


Kelsey Wagner, animator, Hotel Transylvania III

Animation students talk to veteran animator and Rocket Sky instructor Kelsey Wagner about what it was like to work on the massively successful Hotel Transylvania films.



Q - KATEY MURRAY, London, England

With such a unique actor like Adam Sandler doing the voice of Dracula, were you able to use any of his unique mannerisms like his facial expressions when animating?



Adam Sandler as the voice of Dracula in Hotel Transylvania III

A - KELSEY WAGNER, Animator- Hotel Transylvania III

I love looking at and referencing the actors in the voice record sessions and mining the footage for ideas. But our director, Genndy Tartakovsky , was extremely specific when it came to designing and animating Drac. Video reference was seldom if ever used on the Hotel series as it largely did not apply to Genndy's stylistic choices. Using Sandler as reference was never done and this is not the norm, I assure you.




Q - SAULO SATOSHI BOTOME, Brazil

What were the biggest challenges you faced when animating for the Transylvania Hotel trilogy? What was your approach to deal with them?


A - KELSEY WAGNER, Animator- Hotel Transylvania III

The custom shot-by-shot draw-overs of our great director, Genndy, were always and will always be the toughest thing about that series. “I want him to look like this!” is always met in your mind with, “but the rig isn’t built to do that” however, that simply isn’t an acceptable answer. The answer is to find a way that allows the tweaking, remodeling and re-rigging of the mesh on top of the existing rig. And yes, before you ask... we lowly animators do that work. Not the modeling or rigging department. This is also not the norm, I assure you!



The animators really pushed the boundaries of posing in the Hotel trilogy

Q - KATEY MURRAY, London, England

All of the Hotel Transylvania films use a lot of mythical creatures, where and how did you go about finding the reference for these creatures?


A - KELSEY WAGNER, Animator- Hotel Transylvania III

Everything you see in those films come from the mind of our director, Genndy Tartakovsky. He endlessly can produce crazy ideas and concepts for characters and literally does it in seconds.



Q - SAULO SATOSHI BOTOME, Brazil

After more than 20 years working as animator on so many great TV series and films for such important studios, is there any advice that you consider important to give to young animators who want to have a career in the animation industry?


A - KELSEY WAGNER, Animator- Hotel Transylvania III

Grow a thick skin and lose any ego you have. Ego prevents you from accepting a good idea because it comes from a source that you feel is inferior. Sometimes a junior animator will offer a critique of something I have animated and it can sting because my ego gets involved but a good idea is a good idea. A good idea has to always win.








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