SCAD Alumni: Noah Sterling
Noah Sterling, 23, is a recent alumnus of SCAD’s motion media M.F.A. program. Over the past two years, Noah has been able to hone his skills as a media professional and storyteller, producing and directing original and adapted content for his digital animated series, MARVEL TL;DR.
Originally from Irvington, New York, Noah’s passion for motion media began after receiving his film and television B.F.A. from SCAD. During his senior project, titled “Raspberry Galaxies,” Sterling had the opportunity to experiment with mixed media, including animation, puppetry, live-action filmmaking and illustration. From there, he began pursuing motion media as an elective course, not knowing just how quickly his passion would develop.
“The neat thing about motion media is that you can play around a lot and mix in different techniques,” said Sterling. “There isn’t such a conventional structure like with animation or visual effects.” Upon graduating and moving back to New York, Sterling realized how many opportunities are out there for motion media artists, and returned to SCAD to gain the knowledge and skills to be successful in that field.
SCAD professors like Michael Chaney (film and television) and Austin Shaw (motion media), “helped expand my mindset beyond conventional filmmaking language, strengthened my ideas on design principles, and taught me how to craft strong animations,” Sterling revealed.
Sterling also credits SCAD for helping him, “develop an eye for design and composition,” which can be crucial when producing new content. “As a producer, even if I can’t do all the amazing animations by myself, I know what to look for when I’m hiring other animators.”
One of the biggest lessons that was reinforced for Noah while attending SCAD was the importance of teamwork. “Collaboration is key. Working with so many talented SCAD students helped me develop my skills for working in a team.” He continued that, “In the industry, you’re almost never working on projects alone, but with a big group of people. Knowing how navigate different people’s personalities and skills, and build a strong team, is critical.” That team-oriented philosophy has guided Sterling immensely over these past two years while working with Marvel.
For those that aren’t familiar with the ever-changing tech vernacular, TL;DR is an acronym for “too long; didn’t read.” Usually reserved for elongated internet ramblings, Sterling and his team were able to repurpose the phrase to perfectly pitch the popular YouTube series, which condenses lengthy Marvel Comics into short, animated videos highlighting classic Marvel characters and story arcs. The videos have been a tremendous success averaging over 200,000 views per episode.
“We originally started out with three people,” Sterling laughed, “the illustrator, sound designer and I would do everything else. And now, I have a team of about thirty freelancers all working on different episodes.” In regards to the continuity of the animation style from episode to episode, Sterling said that his new philosophy is to be, “consistently inconsistent so that every episode has a different style and adds more variety to the show.”
But how does one even establish the connections with a powerhouse like Marvel to make their own show, you ask?
One word: internships.
“In 2015, I started as an intern for the Digital Media Group at Marvel,” Sterling said. “I pitched them the pilot episode and before I knew it, the VP had requested 10 additional episodes to air online. They really helped me to develop the show to what it is today and I’m still extremely grateful for this opportunity.”
Finally, Noah had a few words of wisdom to offer for any motion media majors still looking for a way to make their mark in the industry. “Don’t limit yourself to just commercials or title sequences. For me, I was drawn to more narrative content and that worked for me. Play around. Invent your own techniques. There are so many different applications out there for Motion Media that go beyond convention.”
If you want to check out more of Noah’s work, you can find his full portfolio at noahsterling.com
By Malik Jones.