Monday, 7-13-2009 Animation Mentor students and alumni tour the 3 major animation houses in the Bay Area. This is a most motivating event in my animation journey. Planning the tours was a collaborative effort between myself and Heather Kilber and it began the day after the AM BBQ event.
Meeting the legendary animator Victor Navone, who was also our tour guide, is an honor. His modesty and good nature hide the fact that he is one of the most talented and innovative animation artist of our time
No pictures were allowed inside the offices but the atmopsphere at Pixar felt like a play pen for adults. To encourage the creativity of the artists the work stations have been decorated with different themes that are more suitable for Disneyland than a working studio. But, it sure made for a fun working environment.
After lunch at Pixar we headed to PDI Dream Works half an hour away. Rachel Hanson, a fellow student who arranged the tour couldn't be with us but she did manage to have her fellow animator Hoyt Ng to give us a most informative tour an lecture about the rich history of this animation house. The atmosphere at Dream Works leaned towards the professional working environment but not without the fun events that are part of the company's policy and culture.
By shear coincidence we ran into Jason Schleifer who has a number of lectures at Animation Mentor that all of us have watched and learned from. He is as funny in person as he is in those lectures.
The "No Pictures" policy is a standard at ILM as well. Tuesday 7-14-2009 we toured the previously secret birth place of Star Wars. ILM is housed in what was previously the Digital Arts Center and also houses Lucas Arts and Lucas Film. The place has the feeling of a university where art and science are pushed beyond the limits by a spirit of innovation and experimentation. Many great minds have come from this place.
Shawn Kelly, senior animator and the man to whom I am indebted for pushing me into Animation Mentor (which he co-founded) was our gracious host for this tour. He wanted to work for ILM since he first watched Star Wars as a little boy, and here he is. I admire him for knowing what he wanted to do with his life early on and getting it. This is where he wants to be and do and there aren't many people I know who have accomplished that. I am honored to know him.
This tour is not a usual event. It is the result of the determination of simple people who share a great passion for the art of animation and for the animators who inspire them. We all are grateful for this opportunity to see first hand the work environment where dreams are made that inspire millions around the world. It has been a truly magical tour.