Ten minutes with award-winning freelance motion designer and director Oliver Keane

Oliver and his wife Kait.

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Tell us a bit about your role as an award-winning freelance motion animator/motion designer and the work you do.

I’m originally from Portumna, Galway but grew up in Mayfield, Cork. I am currently based in Los Angeles, California and have worked with some of the biggest clients in the world including PlayStation, Xbox, Meta, Apple, and Google, creating award winning 2D and 3D animations.

Some of my most exciting projects (https://www.oliverkeane.com) include motion design for the PlayStation 5 launch, advertising for major video games, and digital content for industry leaders on how their companies are helping make the world a better place.

I am also a motion director, applying my leadership skills and creative experience to coming up with concepts and innovative ways of amplifying digital products and messaging, while also delivering top quality motion graphics.

Was a career in animation and motion design something you had always wanted to do?

No, not at all – I didn’t really know it was a career option. I loved animation when I was a kid, growing up watching Dexter’s Laboratory on Cartoon Network and Spiderman on Fox Kids, but I was always mind boggled on how they created it. I found it fascinating – I started drawing these characters from the age of five but had no idea how to bring them to life. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized this could be a future career.

How did you get started in this career?

When I was younger, my brothers would come home from work and just randomly draw on newspapers. I used to try and copy them, to prove I could be as good as them. Trying to best my brothers is where I think my journey to being an artist really began.

In school, I wasn’t the best test taker, and most subjects never really interested me – all I could think about was drawing. I would even get in trouble for drawing on desks all the time. Fortunately, one of my teachers, Miss Sweetman at Mayfield Community School, encouraged me to keep drawing, taught me how to paint and eventually guided me to Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa (College College of FET – Tramore Road Campus).

Though I hadn’t heard of the school before, I attended the Open Day and after speaking with the Art teachers, I decided to apply to the Art, Craft and Design Course. Fortunately, I was accepted, and I absolutely loved the course.

My favourite module was Graphic Design as I got to use a computer – I didn’t have my own computer until I was 19, so this was really exciting. This led me to explore different computer programs and in my spare time I would try to create animations. I showed one of my Windows Movie Maker animations to my teacher, Lucy Phelan.

She saw my talent and ambition and introduced me to John Halpin, the head of the Digital Media course. John showed me the room where the course was held, with all of the computers and equipment.

He even showed me some of the student work, including a 3D model of a church, with light streaming through the church’s windows. It was then I knew that this is exactly where I was meant to be and what I was meant to do.

After I finished Art Craft and Design, I got accepted to the Digital Media Course and developed skills in animation, motion design, 3D, advanced graphic design, and web design.

Once I completed the Digital Media Course, I earned my BA in Digital Media Design at the University of Brighton in the UK. From there, I had an internship turned full time job as an animator in Brighton and eventually moved on to work as a designer at an advertising company in London. Over a decade later, I wouldn’t change a thing.

How did the PLC courses in particular prepare you for the next step in your educational journey?

The PLC courses set me up for success – they gave me the practical tools to thrive in the real world. I was never the best test taker or the best in school, but because of the PLC courses, this didn’t keep me from a successful career.

Would you recommend these courses to others looking to break into this career space and if so why?

Yes 100% I’d recommend these courses as they help you figure out what you want to do before committing to a course in a university that could end up costing you a lot of money.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is seeing my work out there in the real world! I once made an animation for the Natural History Museum in London. I went to go see it and it was so rewarding to see people looking at my work on the screens, smiling. Seeing their reactions made me feel grateful and love my job even more.

Is there a career moment you are really proud of?

My favourite football team is Manchester City. Since I was a kid, I would go on the Manchester City website daily to check out any updates. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with them on a video about how to become an official Manchester City supporter.

It was a massive achievement for me as I’ve been supporting Man City all my life! I worked from the Manchester offices, seeing the ins and outs of how the club was run. For a while, I got to go to their website and see my own work! The video was also played around the city of Manchester. Definitely a career highlight.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?

“Dream bigger” – The creative director at my first job in London, Michael-Jason Hobbs, told me at my yearly review that I needed to think bigger. He asked me what my mountain top was. Where did I want to be in 10 years? I told him I’d like to be an art director in Motion but he said I had the potential for more, that I could be a creative director or a top director in motion design one day. Sometimes you don’t see your own potential, but others might.

What would you say to someone thinking about animation/motion design as a career?

Be willing to work hard and be flexible – Remember Rome wasn’t built in one day. Getting good at something takes time and determination. I’ve seen the most talented artists fail because they didn’t want to put the time in.

What advice would you have for people trying to decide what they want to do after school?

My dad Brendan gave me great advice while I was in school that I’d like to share. He said, “do what you love and everything else will fall into place.” I have lived by this, and it has gotten me through times when I’ve doubted myself. Thanks, Dad.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Though I have had great opportunities, if you want a career, you have to go and get it. It takes a lot of hard work and resilience, but with the right people in your corner you can achieve anything. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. You can and if you work hard, you will.

Discover Post Leaving Certificate and pre-university courses on offer near you at thisisfet.ie. [link to https://www.thisisfet.ie/] or visit our Higher Options stand at the RDS from 20-22nd September.


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