We had the good fortune of connecting with Yonatan Tal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yonatan, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
10 years ago, my mom sat me down and we together we wrote a prediction of what I would do in the next 10 years. Last week we opened that “time capsule”, and I was shocked to discover that everything I wrote came true. I predicted that I would move to the US to get a BFA degree in Animation (I went to CalArts), that I would then work in the states for a few years (I worked at Disney TV for 2 years), and that I would open my own business (last year I opened Parade Animation, a studio that specializes in narrative VR animation).
It feels great to know that I fulfilled my childhood/teen goals, but from where I am right now, it’s harder to make such specific predictions. The filed I’ve recently entered, VR animation and the metaverse, is constantly changing and evolving. One goal I have for the foreseeable future is to push VR animation forward, to branch out to many more parts of the metaverse, and to create AI characters that are fully interactive and challenge what everyone thinks is possible. Another but not less.important goal of mine is to make mainstream entertainment more inclusive for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Also I want to get married, have kids and be happy.
Other than that, God only know where the road will take me, and I’m ok with not knowing.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Nowadays, my studio, Parade Animation, is mostly focused on narrative VR animation, I see it as a brand new medium of art. VR storytelling is pretty much in the same place that cinema was about 100 years ago.
It’s still a very small space and creators that pioneer in it are all trying to figure out ways to create impactful experiences for their audiences.
I started playing around with VR animation after leaving my job at Disney TV, which wasn’t an easy decision.
There was definitely a risk involved in going from the heart of the mainstream to investing in a field that’s still brand new. and with a more limited audience. Yet, I couldn’t;’t help it. My gut feeling just screamed to me that this is what I have to do.
My experience at that point was mostly working on traditional animated shorts and developing TV shows. When I first tried to use VR, an entire world opened up for me.
Suddenly I had to create a shorts that happen all around the audience. Nothing is framed in the traditional way that we know from cinema. It certainly challenges your approach as a director, but it also gives you endless new creative opportunities.
Despite of the medium shift, the type of stories I want to tell stays the same.
My writing always comes from an extremely personal and often venerable place. I base the narratives on my own life experiences, but in the process they take a fantastical turn.
The stories my studio put out there are not the same old over-told fairytales from previous centuries. We want to bring out audience stories that are as relevant as the medium we’re creating in.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live right between Los Feliz and Silverlake. I love that area to bits and I never thought about leaving to any other part of the city. My favorite bar in the world (that happens to be located in Silverlake) is Akbar, an extraordinary neighborhood gay bar.. I can’t count the nights I’ve had hung out there with my friends. I love the welcoming feeling it has and the way it’s super easy to start conversation with complete strangers there. Another fantastic bar (+restaurant) to experience in the neighborhood is the Dresden. It’s very easy to miss if you just walk by it and you don’t know what’s inside, but when you enter, a whole world reveals itself. The place is fabulously designed, the food there is great and they have jazz nights almost every night,
My favorite place to eat in the neighborhood is Pine and Crane, a great contemporary Taiwanese restaurant (get the Dan Dan noodles and the beef roll). Another great place for a quick bite is Homestate. Is a Tex-Mex restaurant with delicious little tacos.
There’s so much more to explore in the area. If you just go up Vermont or Hillhurst you’d find counless little shops, great coffee places (Maru), and even a little park up the hill (Bransdall).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to give a shoutout to the team of “Qull”. Quill an VR animation software that allows creators to make entire VR experiences inside VR.
My studio has created its first VR experience, Lifetime Achievement, in Quill, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of the fantastic team behind the software. Big shoutout to their producer, Ryan Thomas, their Executive Producer and Chief Artist, Goro Fujita, and their Audio Director, Paul Gurman.