AAU Industry on Campus - Disney Animation Studios

Taking a break from watching my batch renders go as I prepare for finals, I went to see the Disney Animation Studios presentation by Dawn Rivera-Ernster, director of the talent development program, and Nick Orsi, a visual developer and AAU alumni. The presentation mainly focused on the internship program, the summer internship program and the talent development program, and detailed into the different areas of the pipeline of how a movie progresses. As I have gotten to go to Inspire Days and met with some of the people who have gone though the talent development program, the presentation was a bit of a reiteration. However, what was really great was seeing some of the demo reels that people have submitted to get into the program and Dawn went on to talk about what Disney is looking for in the reels.

As the demo reels were shown, two areas that made a big impact and was further expanded upon was visual development and animation. For visual development Dawn and Nick says that it is important to let drawings breathe and speak for itself for what it really is getting at is capturing a moment; that moment captured is what will capture the attention of the judges. Animation is about attempting to get an reaction from the viewers, whether it be laughter, sorrow, being grossed out, etc; you want to make the viewers want to see the animation again. As a texture painter, during the Q&A, I asked Dawn to expand slightly more on what they wish to see in a texturing reel as often times I feel showing a bunch of turntables can be very dull. While turntables are good, so are paintings. It is important to show that you understand material attributes. A really good question that was brought up was what does Disney take notice of and what makes a portfolio stand out. Dawn mentioned that the portfolio has to be clear and focused, showing that the applicant where he or she fits in the process of the production pipeline.

I got to ask a few more questions at the end. One of them being whether or not video quality matters significantly a lot. The application submission process unfortunately only takes up to 100mb in a single file so it can be a daunting task to try to compress a reel that small. I have found it particularly difficult with texturing and lighting reels as I have to show a full turntable or shot and then followed by breakdowns which can make the reel somewhat lengthier and more image intense thus bumping up the file size. Compressing and compressing ruins the quality but unfortunately quality does matter so I was told to try my best and figure it out.

Unfortunately the date for Inspire Days has not been set yet but I am still looking forward to going in 2013. I got to go back in February 2012 and it was amazing not only getting to be in the studio where they make the movies where dreams come true but meeting the people and seeing what Disney is doing really opened my eyes as to how they are advancing and taking a place in the world of 3D animation.