Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Insider's Guide, Part 1

2D (Illustrative Animation) Online

Where do you go from here? Grab your artistic compass and print out this topological map to the rest of your academic careers.

Part One of this occasional series deals with the traditional (2D) illustrative tracks in animation, including drawn animation, vector-based (flash) animation, character design, visual development, storyboarding, story development, and experimental (stop-motion) animation.

David Nethery (dnethery@academyart.edu)
Associate Director

David is an incredible artist, Disney born and bred, working out of his office in Orlando, FLA. David is a traditional illustrative animator, and with his brilliant 2D faculty can craft a solid plan for your visual development and traditional needs. He's more than willing to help and will acclimate to the new demands placed on his time until he receives additional help. He is the most likely candidate to assume the overall Department Director role.

2D Faculty of Note:

Kathleen Quaife (quaifek@earthlink.net)

Kathleen is a traditional animator, more specifically, an effects animator. Her effects animation class is growing in popularity and has been running every semester. She teaches the 102s and 621s (History and Techniques of Animation) along with industry vet Steve Segal (segaltoons@hotmail.com).

Charles Keagle (ckeagle@academyart.edu)
Faculty Coordinator

Charles is the Faculty Coordinator, or more specifically, the 3D Char. Animation Lead. He will most likely be promoted to Associate Director (a position I originally wanted to hire him into, but for some unknown reason, he title was changed to Faculty Lead. I wasn't even sure what that meant.) Charles was a star trad animator at Cal Arts (Valencia, CA) and his BFA short film was a proven festival winner. He spent time at Pixar in story development.

David, Kathleen and Charles are superb story developers and anyone interested in crafting a collab story-based project should consult with them.

Terryl Whitlatch

Terryl is the enormously talented creature designer/zoologist who famously created and occasionally teaches ILL 639. If you can handle the pre-reqs for that course (ANM 610, ILL 625, ANM 633) you owe it to yourself to take this class. When Terryl is busy with industry projects, that course is taught admirably by Joe Weatherly.

Diana Coco-Russell
Associate Director

Jennifer Oliver

Speaking of fab trad character designers, Diana (Associate Director) and Jennifer O. hold their own with their respective teaches of 610, 611, and 633. Seriously, since Sherrie Sinclair (onsite Director of 2D Animation) brought David on, he's been able to grab all of the ex-Disney animators for our program, making it one of the best (if not THE best) 2D Animation programs in the country (certainly the best online 2D animation program).

Scott Caple

One word: Layout. Layout courses in any traditional illustrative curriculum are essential. We currently have one, built and taught by industry specialist Scott C. Fantastic course. If you're a 3D artist, take note: WE NEED A 3D LAYOUT COURSE. There is a pre-vis/layout course on the books, (ANM 203/ANM 649) but we haven't run them in awhile. Bug David or whoever takes the reins to get that course operational as part of the early 3D story development.

Suggested Program Progression

One of the most important roles that I filled while Director of the program was incoming MFA application triage. A candidate would write a letter of intent, and I would work with him or her to better understand the correct path to craft in order to place them in the right career at graduation. Because I could "hybridize" programs, I could use waivers/substitutions to tailor a MFA program to suit the artist depending on their career goals.

Curriculum Philosophy

If you are a story-based artist, you should be in a core development progression that looks something like the following path. Work with David or your Department Director to develop an approach that considers the following elements:

Tier 1
Foundational Illustration
Performance Analysis
Historical Analysis

Tier 2
Foundational Illustration
Performance Training
Story Development (3-act/4-act/short form)

Tier 3
Character Design
Workflow Analysis
Storyboarding/Beat Development

Tier 4
Visual Development (Advanced)
Respect for Production

Tier 5
Collaborative Application(s)

It's getting late. I'll get back to this in the morning! Good night, all.


  1. Terryl is a wonderful artists, I'm saddened to learn she's un able to teach due to an illness, I hope she has a speedy recovery. I'd love for her to have given me some pointers on my dinosaur, and help me with my bloody Astrodons!

  2. Michelle, she is awesome. I think she takes too much on. She corrects every one of her students sketches. I feel fortunate to have learned from her. I hope you get to take one of the creature illustration classes. They are awesome

  3. Terryl is fine. She's just busy with independent film design projects.