Animation Apprentice Student Jeff Smith reports from SIGGRAPH

Jeff Smith, one of our talented students at Animation Apprentice, recently attended Siggraph 2013 in Anaheim, California. While there, he went to the Marc Davis lecture series/keynote presentation, an event which was full of insights into learning animation, from some of the giants of feature animation.
Animation Apprentice: Jeff, tell us some of the most memorable moments from the Marc Davis lecture
Jeff: One of the points that all the panelists agreed on was this: they said that one of the main gaps they see in student animation reels tends to be is a sense of story. The animation should be of course work technically, but what will really make a reel stand out is a strong sense of story.
Animation Apprentice: Of course, that’s one of the key points we talk about at Animation Apprentice – that your animation must always be entertaining. You mentioned that you enjoyed the section about what inspired the panel, when they were growing up – any stand out moments for you?
Jeff: There were lots of great comments. Eric Goldberg said that he was inspired by Bob Thomas's book, Art of Animation, "The Wonderful World of Disney" TV program and the Woody Woodpecker show, which featured segments of Walter Lantz showing how the animation was made. Chris Sanders commented that Ward Kimball's musical number on "The Three Caballeros" was a big source of inpiration for him. And the thing that Mike Mitchell remembered giving him inspiration was the communal aspect of creativity in the animation program at CalArts. Something that made everyone smile was Goldberg talking about developing a story. He said that back in the day one had to be able to tell a story in two minutes because that was the length of a standard super-8 film reel.
Animation ApprenticeIt’s amazing how fast technology moves! What did Kevin Lima say?
Jeff: Lima related being inspired by the fact that nowadays a student can make an entire animated film by him or herself. He also mentioned that when making a film one should strive to find a way to make it fun, to re-attach to one's inner 14-year old. He talked about not getting bogged down with details. Details can eat you alive. One useful trick he recommended is to put your image up in front of a mirror and take a good look at it; this helps you see the big picture by seeing your image new again for a split second. He also mentioned how when he makes films he tries to draw upon moments from real life to help tell the story, and not always go back to the touchstone animated films.
Animation Apprentice: Something we encourage at Animation Apprentice is additional learning, and developing, improving and honing your foundation artistic skills. You mentioned that Eric Goldberg said something similar?
Jeff: That’s right. Eric Goldberg, probably the most experienced 2D animator on the panel, mentioned that traditional hand-drawn principles were necessary to learn, and that although the hi-tech tools are needed today, one should never forget the foundational aspects that the new technology draws upon. Pete Docter also mentioned that art is ultimately a reflection of the artist inside, and one needs to know who one is to tell a story in the best way.
A fun moment was when they talked about their early days making student films. A few of the panelists, many of whom have directed big-budget animated features, related how in their student films, they would do things like avoiding showing the legs because they couldn't make the walk look right. Or how in stop-motion they would only show the character from the waist up so they could slide the characters across the set without having to make them walk.
Animation Apprentice: Well there’s nothing wrong with smart camera decisions! Thanks so much for the feedback Jeff, glad to hear you had such a great time at Siggraph
For more information about the Keynote Session, you can watch the video here, or visit: