Thanks to director’s commentaries, behind-the-scenes features, and the magic of the Internet, the casual film fan knows more about the art and craft of making movies than at any other time in history. Yet, while we know all about directors and special effects people and other important crew members who make movie magic a reality, one area that still seems shrouded in mystery is that of the digital animator.
It’s a sort of thankless gig – CGI special effects and features have changed movies and animation in a pretty serious way over the past few decades, but not everyone’s a fan. There’s always been a misconception that practical FX technicians were true “artists”, while the CGI guys were all just computer nerds – smart guys for sure, but not folks with the artist’s temperament.
Turns out that’s not exactly the case as this new series of videos from The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ YouTube channel demonstrates. These men and women are indeed artists – it’s just that their medium uses computers and green screen instead of latex and Karo syrup…
The 10-video playlist, entitled The Development of the Digital Animator, was recorded during a panel held on May 21st at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Moderated by animator and historian Tom Sito (Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid), the discussion focuses on how some of the industry’s key players broke into the field and what it’s like working as a digital animator.
The panelists are a veritable who’s who and include Jeff Kleiser (Visual Effects Supervisor: X2, X-Men: The Last Stand), David Em (Digital Artist), Rebecca Allen (Media Artist/Designer/Director) Diana Walczak (GC Animator: X-Men, Fantastic Four), John Lasseter (head of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar), and more.
The topics are wide and varied, from broad-based examinations on the future of animation to more personal accounts like Philippe Bergeron talking about working on Tony de Peltrie, there’s something interesting here for anyone interested in the artform. The best part? The videos are short enough that you can watch the whole thing in roughly half an hour.
Swing by the Academy’s YouTube channel for the full playlist. Here’s a clip, with John Lasseter talking about the future of animation to get you started.