Creating “puppets” that can be manipulated to resemble movement relates closely to Rebecca’s beginnings in animation. “Growing up I would make stop-motion videos on the family camera, starring Play-Doh people and LEGO figures,” Rebecca said. He cultivated his interest at summer camps which taught digital and stop-motion animation. He decided to study film at North Central and settled on interactive media studies as his major with a concentration in interactive technology.
Rebecca studied animation in a way that opened the door to making his hobby into his vocation. “(Associate Professor of Art and Design Kevin) Valentine's animation classes were always the highlight of my day,” Rebecca said. “In his classes I learned just how enthusiastic about animation I really was.”
Animation is a competitive and challenging field. Those who succeed often create their own opportunities, as Rebecca did when he researched NewScape and reached out to see if there was a place for him at the upstart company. Those opportunities have been even tougher to generate in the few years since Rebecca graduated, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced him and many other animators to make their homes into their studios. “My professional career so far has been completely remote,” he said.
The one surefire key to success in the animation industry is constantly working to improve so you can stand out when you pursue jobs. Animation companies don’t impress easily.
“There are many different jobs in the animation industry that require many different skills,” said Rebecca. “To find success as a professional animator you need to have an impressive portfolio that not only shows that you enjoy creating art, but that you also possess the skills to do so.”
Thankfully, Rebecca has no shortage of sources to go to for inspiration. His love for ‘90s cartoon staples from the Cartoon Network like "Dexter's Laboratory", “The Powerpuff Girls", "Grim & Evil”, and his favorite, "Ed, Edd, ‘n’ Eddy", made him a great fit for working on a show full of loving homages like SMASH. He also thoroughly enjoys more modern classics geared toward older audiences.
How does he keep coming up with ideas? Rebecca says the key for him is to seek to be different. “Many animated shows have their own unique style, like the yellow coloring in ‘The Simpsons’ or the scribbly-ness of ‘Rick & Morty,’” he said. “A lot of times when I'm trying to come up with new characters, I'll try thinking of a unique stylistic choice that I can apply to many different-looking characters.”