Animation Students Journey to California

December 10, 2018

Disney, Warner Brothers Studios, DreamWorks, Blizzard Entertainment…all of these world class animation and game studios are destinations people may imagine as a once in a lifetime destination to tour. For our animation students, these are just another part of their global classroom where they learn about the industry, get feedback on their portfolios, and build connections through our alumni network.

Each fall, Matt White, Assistant Professor and Program Director of Animation, schedules the journey to the Creative Talent Network (CTN) eXpo in Burbank, California. The annual conference brings together animators, illustrators, storytellers, and artists to explore topics in both traditional and digital animation, with live-demonstrations and practical workshops.

“For many students, this is their first experience traveling without their parents, and it really opens up their understanding about the possibilities of where a degree in animation can take them,” shared Matt. “In addition to the vital industry skills they are gaining in workshops, students also gain skills in how to be independent: how to raise funds for the trip, how to map out a conference, how to book a flight and manage transportation away from home. We also talk a ton about presentation and clear communication – especially how to talk to leading artists in the industry on a professional level, not as a fan. This trip opens up the world to students early on.”
With a strong alumni network and friends of USF on the West Coast, the CTN eXpo provided an opportunity for students to connect with several key industry individuals:

● Adam Green (‘02) is a Supervising Animator for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and has worked on movies such as Wreck-It Ralph1 and 2, Tangled, Moana, and Frozen.

● Dane Stogner is the Supervising Animator at DreamWorks Animation, and is the lead supervising animator for Toothless on How to Train Your Dragon III. He has also worked on Baby Boss and Madagascar.

● Chris McCormick (‘09) is a Cinematics Animator at Blizzard Entertainment. He has worked on several video game animations including: World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo. Chris will be an adjunct instructor in 3D Production through a hybrid course offered at USF in the Spring of 2019.

“While this trip is about growing the student’s experience, it is also a really important time for me to network as a professional,” continued Matt. “The CTN eXpo provides really great workshops, but our alumni network and my professional connections allow us to supplement additional tours and meetings with leading professionals in the animation industry. It is pretty common for us to connect with animators in California that later visit us in Fort Wayne, or video call into our classes or Animation Club to talk with students directly, like Chris McCormick.”
Following the CTN trip, all students who attended give a presentation to the animation department about their experience, session and tour highlights, new network connections, and advice to future students who plan to attend. Both previous attendees and new recruits are already marking their calendars for the 2019 journey back to California.