Alex York's Art & Animation Blog: Pixar Story/Animation Masterclass

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pixar Story/Animation Masterclass

Last weekend I had the great joy of attending a story/animation masterclass taught by Matthew Luhn and Andrew Gordon, both of Pixar, in Austin, TX. The masterclass was arranged and facilitated by Vanarts, a media arts school in Vancouver, and spanned all of Friday and Saturday. It was a lot like having a week of college courses smashed into two very full days.

The speakers and school asked us not to record or disseminate the particular content of the lectures, so I shall honor their request and not go into much detail, but I will give a review of my impression of the whole as for anyone considering attending future classes.

Both speakers went from basics/principles to specific recommendations. While much of the information could be found in other animation/storyboarding books and resources, having it explained in context by artists from Pixar was a big help. I have this tendency to see people like them as these kinds of "gods of animation" sitting on Mount Olympus out in California, hardly even real people. But, seeing them and hearing them talk in person gives a real sense of the ability of one to achieve that level of mastery of the form. And, as they harped, it's not genius that makes great art, it's hard work.

I would highly recommend the session to anyone serious and focused on working in the animation industry (I'm serious, but not working yet). It was rather highly priced at $500 per a seat, but, it was sold out, as are the other two sessions in New York and Montreal, I believe, meaning that the demand does statistically justify the current price. Though every person got a cool T-shirt, bag and workbook, I feel like it would have been just a little bit better and a little more well-rounded with just a few more benefits. Like, if there had been a little Pixar swag for everyone (they did hand some out as door prizes prizes) and if parking had been free. Just those two (really, just like a Pixar sticker or pencil for every person) would have made the session every slightly more... joyful in tone.

Regardless, it was a great learning experience. I'm glad I went, and I feel the fire of animation and storytelling burning stronger deep within me.

Check out the official masterclass site for more information.

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