Today we’d like to introduce you to Shir Baron.
Shir, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Born and raised in Israel, my path toward animation began during my senior year of high school. I majored in both Computer Science and Art while working at the local cinema. Movie after movie, I would open the theater doors, and while I loved movies myself, what inspired me to pursue this career was seeing the audience’s reactions to films. Children would walk out of animated films alongside their parents. I once asked a child if they enjoyed the film, and as they opened their mouth to answer my question, they were pushed aside “it was amazing!” the grown child (aka their parent) answered. We’re all children at heart and that experience sparked something in me. I realized animation is a tool to communicate with the world, and it combined everything I loved. After graduating from high school, I did my mandatory military service, traveled the world, saved up money, and finally began searching for a school that would help me reach my goal of becoming an animator. I ended up pursuing my education at Ringling College of Art & Design. After creating my thesis short film “The Train to Qinling” I went on to a summer internship at Riot Games and later to working at Dreamworks as an animator, where I currently am today. So far I have worked on Boss Baby: Family Business, Trolls: Holiday in Harmony and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Reaching where I am today came with many challenges. I moved away from family to another country to pursue education in animation. It took a lot of hard work, ambition, and some Israeli chutzpah, as well as a little bit of luck, to create the opportunities and pave the path toward my goal. I’ve worked since I was 15 and saved up for 9 years before beginning my studies. During school, I worked multiple on-campus jobs which were the only way I could cover my daily expenses. While the financial struggle was a big one, the biggest struggle was, and still is, the distance from my family, friends and culture. The distance from my home. I graduated in 2020 a few months after COVID hit and wasn’t able to see my family for two years straight and my long-distance Israeli partner for a year straight. While all my friends went back to their parents’ homes, I didn’t have where to go, as leaving the US during that time would jeopardize my visa status. However, an Israeli family that barely knew me opened up their home to me and hosted me for nearly three months. Just like that family, every stage on this path wouldn’t have been possible without the help of so many people. My family and some very special people helped support me financially. Ringling College has done everything in their power to help me with any need, and my professors went above and beyond their teaching role to support me and every other student as individuals. Family, friends and mentors helped me learn and grow and find the strength to keep going even at the hardest of times.
Liron Topaz, an amazing Dreamworks supervising animator, was also born and raised in Israel and came to the US to pursue his studies in Computer Animation. He gave me tips before I started school, supported me throughout my studies and mentored me and gave me animation tools during my last year and a half at Ringling. Nowadays, I am lucky enough to get to work alongside him at Dreamworks and keep learning from him, as well as many other brilliant animators and artists.
Success is not possible alone. It takes hard work and dedication, but it also takes friendships, support, and collaboration.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a 3D animator, Ringling College 2020 graduate, currently working as an animator at Dreamworks. I love telling stories and live in the world of children’s books and novels. I love the naivety in stories and their power to make big differences for young minds. During my senior year in college, I created my short film “The Train to Qinling.” It’s a story about a middle eastern traveler that meets a panda on a train in China. Intimidated at first, she learns to communicate and understand the panda without words. This story was inspired by an experience of mine on a 24-hour train ride in China. There is so much beauty and color in the world, and I love to bring those different sites and experiences into my stories, while also staying true to my own background.
Before moving to the US, I went on a journey on my own to Far East Asia, where I backpacked for three months and fell in love with traveling. I fell so in love with it that I started thinking of ways I could keep seeing the world while also saving up for my future goals, which is how I ended up working as a flight attendant for two years. Those couple years have allowed to gain so many different unique experiences which have influenced many of my works. Traveling had to be put on pause for the duration of college, and then because of a global pandemic, but I am hoping to get back to visiting more places, seeing new sights and creating new experiences. To write a story, I believe you have to live one.
How do you define success?
It might sound cliche but the most important thing is happiness. I think achieving happiness IS success in itself. Some things that bring us joy do include setting goals and reaching them, which is what led me here. While I absolutely love my job, I make sure to keep busy outside of work as well. Work should be part of our lives, and not what we live for. That being said, I am still only in the first years of my career and working hard to improve is more important now than ever, and I’m enjoying every second of the creative environment I’m in! Success also has a collaborative aspect. While I strive to better my own work and keep creating new goals for myself, I am also so happy to see my friends grow and climb up the ladder. When I can help others learn and grow and pass on the knowledge that was given to me, seeing their growth feels to me like my personal success as well.
- Website: https://www.shirbaron.com
- Instagram: @shirbaronart
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shirbaron1
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l16v4kkA4i4