ACTING for ANIMATORS
I recently taught for two happy weekend days at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, one of the top animation schools in the world. Why does Ringling enjoy that reputation? Let me count a few of the ways:
1) One hundred percent of the student body showed up for class, freshmen through junior levels. The auditorium was jam packed, well over 100 students. And, like I said, this was on a weekend. In Florida, where the weather is generally gorgeous. Where there are plenty of reasons to be outdoors.
2) The faculty was there the entire time. That is how they do things at Ringling. If the students show up, the faculty shows up. Often, when I teach at animation schools, faculty pops in and out. Ringling faculty simply doesn't miss a beat. It is quite an extraordinary student-teacher dynamic.
3) Faculty conferred with me privately about all the possible ways that acting theory practice can be worked into the general animation classes. The acting training will continue long after I have departed.
4) Story. Ringling students learn how to tell stories. It seemed to me that virtually every faculty member was involved with dedicated classes for storytelling. Again, this is extraordinary. Most animation schools may casually refer to storytelling skills, but they don't generally get down to the nuts and bolts, analyzing famous live-action films and such. Ringling students are not going to get out the door without learning how to tell a story, and that is the beginning and end of it.
5) The admission screening for new students is rigorous and intense. You can't just shove a credit card across the registration desk at Ringling. The school is serious about screening for aptitude and talent. As the old saw goes, "Garbage in, Garbage out." No school can make an animator out of a born pharmacist. And, yes, Ringling is expensive. US$40,000+ per year, on a par with the cost of top universities. That's because it is a top university.
6) Ringling alumni have careers. The industry employs a startling number of Ringling grads, from major studios like Pixar and Disney, to smaller independent studios. The grads routinely are nominated for and win awards. Brandon Oldenburg, who won an Academy Award for "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mister Morris Lessmore"), is a grad. Thirteen Ringling alumni worked on Pixar's "Inside Out". Patrick Osborne, winner of 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, "Feast", graduated from the Ringling class of 2003. Really, the list goes on and on, and I could fill two newsletters with nothing but names, but you get the point, I'm sure. They simply are not fooling around at Ringling.
It is my honor and privilege to teach for Ringling College of Art & Design. My sincere thanks to the faculty for its support and especially to Ringling students for the opportunity to participate in a weekend of excellence.
Pssst!... Check it out!.. Adam Schnitzer's
YouTube Channel, "CG-Layout"
I've known Adam Schnitzer for at least 40 years and consider him to be a personal friend. He also happens to be one of the most talented individuals I have met in my life, a visual artist par excellence. Adam began as a fine artist of the gallery-exhibition, expensive-landscape variety, and then he moved into animation, first at Pixar and ILM, then for most every other major animation studio. He's worked with all the big directors - George Lucas, Gore Verbinski, Pete Doctor, John Lasseter (of course), Michael Bay, and on and on. He did backgrounds and then got into layouts and previs. Truly, this guy has been around the animation track professionally, and he knows his stuff cold. And now he is sharing his knowledge and wisdom own his own YouTube channel called, fittingly enough, "CG-Layout," and it is my pleasure to recommend it to you. Subscribe no matter how experienced an animator you are. I guarantee that you will learn useful new approaches and techniques. Good stuff. Go, Adam!
"I'm not a comedian. But that's what it needed, was someone who was trying to be funny, but was really tragic." Gene Wilder (1933 - 2016)
"What It Takes..." (a Podcast)
As part of my physical exercise regimen, I try to complete a 45-minute power walk 7-days a week. The time flies by, I have discovered, when I listen to a podcast while walking, and one of my favorites is "What it Takes...", produced by an organization called Academy of Achievement. I want to enthusiastically recommend it to you because I think all of us can use a little inspiration now and then, and this show delivers that in spades. Each podcast segment features an individual of significant accomplishment chatting casually about his or her background, upbringing and break-through career moments. Some are well known, like Steven Spielberg or Clint Eastwood, but most are people with whom I was not previously familiar. Like Sir Roger Bannister, for example, the Brit who first broke the 4-minute mile in 1954, and Dr. Steven Rosenberg, the 76-year old Chief of Surgery at the National Institute of Cancer and the world's leading authority on immunotherapy. "What it Takes..." isn't a typical interview show because the guests have been pre-recorded and their interviews have been edited to highlight only the important points. They are not in direct conversation with the narrator, but the format works extremely well and is invariably enlightening and inspirational. Each segment runs about 30-minutes.
The Academy of Achievement is one of those good-intentioned, non-profit organizations that has been around for many years, sponsoring formal gala dinners that most of us have never been to. Its primary mission is certainly laudable -- bringing young people into personal contact with real-life heroes, international leaders, scholars, scientists and high achievers. Sadly, until the Internet came along - with podcasts - the good works rarely extended beyond a fancy ballroom somewhere and its invited audience. Did I mention that this podcast is 100% free of charge? All you have to do is download the app, scan the many pages of featured guests and pick out the ones that interest you. Give it a listen and I'm sure you will also be recommending it to your friends.
Until next month...
Copyright © 2012-2017 Ed Hooks