What Is The Future Face of Animation?

Inside Out movie poster

Inside Out movie poster

Consider Pixar’s newest film, Inside Out, to be released on June 19th. The movie’s plot centers on an 11-year old girl and the many voices she hears inside her head. They’re the voices of her emotions, each one clamoring for her attention. It’s a clever way to build multiple characters into one. But the detail that you really don’t want to miss is the main character herself: an 11-year old girl.

Animation is changing before our very eyes, in part because of women and girls. We’ve witnessed strong and successful female characters in Pixar’s Brave and Disney’s Frozen. But changes are happening behind the scenes as well. Dreamworks Feature Animation got into the act earlier this year when they named two women as co-presidents.

What’s behind the change? Start with the fact that young girls are getting introduced to the world of animation through the rise in female characters in online gaming – something that wasn’t happening just a few short years ago. Simultaneously more and more women are attending college. A recent Los Angeles Times article puts these two together, detailing the trend of an increasingly female population studying this fast growing art form. 

The Incredibles

The Incredibles

If your daughter is leaning towards animation, she could be on the cusp of something big and transformational. Males still dominate in the workplace, but a shift is definitely afoot.

If you’re trying to determine where to start your animation program search, try here. The colleges I posted about are still at the top and worthy of your attention.

Obviously the next step to consider is a career path. Fortune Magazine lists the 100 Best Companies To Work For each year, and two to note are gaming companies, Riot Games (#13), and Activision Blizzard (#96). 

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Guest Post: Cultivate Your Creative Skills

The-three-levels-of-creativity - colored

By Laura Young

Many of my earliest memories are of art. My family was into museums, botanical gardens, and classical concerts, so I started making art very early. Through grade and high school I enjoyed drawing and painting, playing the piano, and acting/comedy improv, but I always saw the visual and performing arts as a separate practice from my academics. Art was just something I did for myself, because it was fun and pleasing, and I didn’t think much beyond that.

When I applied to college, I didn’t want to apply to art school because I liked many subjects. At the nudging of a family member, however, I applied to UCLA’s art department, and to my great surprise, I was admitted. I had turned in a portfolio but my academics did not meet the average profile of campus, so their decision confused me. More than anything else, I didn’t know what I was good at. I had plenty of things that I liked to do, but I wasn’t an expert at anything, so I wondered what UCLA had seen.

The summer before college, however, the luckiest thing happened to me: I got an internship at Disney, with a woman named Peggy van Pelt. Peggy was an executive consultant at the company, and her expertise focused on creative people: how to understand them in order to ensure their happiness, productivity, and positive development. Peggy was the first person to tell me that while I was making art, I was also cultivating many powerful creative skills.

Now that I work with artistic students in the college application process, I often hear them worry that an arts degree isn’t “sensible”. I couldn’t disagree more! Here is a short list of what artists are good at:

– Problem solving – being able to approach an issue and come up with many solutions
– Working alone with minimal supervision
– Working collaboratively
– Working effectively and in a disciplined manner
– Multitasking
– Delivering articulate critique
– Accepting critique and utilizing feedback positively
– Being able to consider issues in the long run as well as in detail

Those of us in the arts have been listening with some amusement to the national discussion on how to develop leaders for the 21st century. Critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, creativity… artists are already fantastic at this. Of course, anyone could learn these important skills in any major, but for creative students, an arts degree program can be the best, most appropriate context to better identify and interact with the world.

So. My message to you is the same one I got from Peggy: you are already so good at so many things.  Go have fun figuring out how to implement your many talents! We’re waiting for you.


Laura Young is the Director of Enrollment Management at UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture. She can be reached at laura.miwha.young@gmail.com, and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/lauramyoung/.

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A Disney Reality

CalArts campus

Walt Disney is well known across the globe for his creativity and vision.  His name conjures up images of characters that have become lifelong friends, of memorable movies and of theme parks that we want to visit again and again and again.  A lesser-known success story of his, one that deserves more attention than it gets, is California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), a small interdisciplinary art school located in Santa Carlita, California, about a half hour north of downtown Los Angeles.

In 1961 Walt Disney and his brother Roy founded the institute as the first innovative, interdisciplinary art school in the country, where visual and performing artists would study side by side and collaborate when they wanted.  To this day the genius behind the CalArts experiment is still thriving; giving artists the laboratory to learn from each other, integrate their art, and push their own study and medium beyond what is commonplace.

The school attracts and enrolls those who are self-motivated and already practicing what they want to do.  According to Admissions Counselor, Brian Gershey, “they’re open and curious-minded.  They’re interested in making personal work, experimentally, and want to be innovative, not just develop technical skills.”  With the exception of some animators, all students are conceptual artists.  That’s what I like to call creating “art, for art’s sake.”

Clearly, CalArts is not your typical art school.  It’s a fairly intellectual and cerebral place with a focus towards innovation.  There are no traditional foundation courses and students are encouraged to take risks.  Undergraduates come to campus already knowing how to create art – here they’re challenged to stretch and re-imagine it.

When I first learned about the school I mistakenly thought it didn’t have much structure.  Not so.  Varying by major, students are required to take a specific number of liberal arts courses, general studies courses (Critical Studies), and electives.  According to Stuart Frolick, CalArts Director of Print & Electronic Communications, “the structure is designed to give students freedom … to explore and develop their own creative voices.”

The campus houses six separate and rigorous schools: Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater.  Within the School of Art, theory and art history are incorporated into other coursework.  Sophomore year includes independent study, feeling more like a graduate program.

Undergraduate coursework leads to a BFA.  MFAs and doctorate degrees (Doctor of Musical Arts in the Performer–Composer Program in the Herb Alpert School of Music only) are also available.  Application requirements for individual programs include a portfolio of current work along with an artist statement addressing your influences, interests and current artistic direction.  Artistic submissions should be personal work not class assignments.  High school students need to take their academics seriously, however the school has no minimum GPA.  Faculty members are primary decision makers when it comes to accepting applicants into the programs.  They want to see what motivates and inspires you, and how you represent those interests artistically.  Tuition for the 2013-2014 academic year is $39,976.