My friend Sharon is finishing up her Master’s in the UCLA Animation department.
Yesterday, she gave me a tour of her department.
Fascinating stuff. I kept saying that it was exactly like being in a Disney documentary, like the things you would watch on the 2nd DVD.
Ever see a pencil-test machine? You put down your drawings, then take pictures of each, and it runs the pictures, making the drawings move. A fairly simple concept, but profoundly interesting when you see static drawings come to life.
The whole place was cool, as an outsider. Seeing how much work goes into it all make me quite clear that my perspective was very different than the perspective of the students therein. We visited after midnight on a Sunday and there were 3 people working hard in the room. Sharon told me how you used to be able to find one of her classmates’ sleeping bags under his desk.
The decor was perfect. When you first walk into the building, on the first floor (Animation is on the 2nd) you just see various movie posters, with some signatures from alums (all the movies have alums involved and are pretty much any random big Hollywood movie). Animation is immediately different, with the posters being replaced by those of animated flicks, as well as various jokes/advice for the artists (some of which made sense, such as only drawing every 3/4 frames, which Sharon explained was all that was necessary to trick the eye into believing that the drawings were moving). And, of course, everyone work desks were filled with little toys/dolls of characters from animated TV/movies.
Apparently, my sense of it being very Disney wasn’t very far off. The old slanted desks are from Disney, from Snow White or one of the other classics. And that’s apropos, because you can feel the history and the fact that these are people that will create the future dreams of children and adults alike.