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The Future of Character Animation


The Visual Effects Society is holding a panel on Saturday January 19th on The Future of Character Animation. Frank Gladstone (formerly of Disney/Starz/Dreamworks and Warner Bros) will discuss “what new technologies mean to artists” with animators Ken Duncan and Steve Chiodo, producers Don Hahn (Disney) and Michelle Papandrew (Fosters Home), visual effects supervisor Ken McDonald (Sony Imageworks) and puppeteer Dave Barclay (Perform FX).

The panel will commence from 11am to 1pm at Sony Pictures Imageworks (Ince Theatre), 9050 W. Washington Blvd. in Culver City, California. Admission is $20. VES members admitted free, and there are discount prices for members of various unions (TAG) and organizations (ASIFA). Contact VES at (818) 981-7861 to RSVP.

  • greg m

    The only thing I hope for the future of Character Animation is that we can see more diversity in overall acting choices for a film – meaning that I hope to see a very cartoony acted film alongside of all of the live-action style films. A little more “Peter Pan” theatrical acting versus the subtle Michael Caine course type acting.

  • G. Leydon

    What does gladstone know about Character Animation? OH brother. How sad.

  • It means that more and more bad films are going to be made, and more and more kids brain washed into thinking explosions sword fights and sensationalism as a means to it self is more important than substantial stories and genuine characters. It means another generation of art school kids substituting talent for technology.

  • Danny R Santos

    Personally, I think the future of character animation should be left at the hands of the artist with real true passion for the art form and those who are bold enough to produce a feature on their own. I intend to see “Persopolis” because most people that believe that traditional animation is dead, I suggest that they consider finding a different profession and leave the fate of character animation to those truly passionate about the craft.

  • It took Disney nearly ten years to rebuild it’s premiere animation department. Once back on top – – Michael Eisner trashed the whole thing.

    Traditional animation can still have a great future if we can find leaders to support it.

  • The Golden Age animators of the 40’s in the 70’s trained an entire corps of artists in their techniques, so that the Art of Character Animation would live on beyond them and grow.

    By an large most of those animators are not doing that kind of work today. If they are doing anything, they were forced to other jobs like storyboarding or teaching. They were shunted aside by careless execs who think anybody with a Preston Blair book can do just as well.

    Of course, execs in the Golden Age were just as ignorant, but we will have done the Art of Animation an injustice if we can’t move the skills of the past into the future, and not just rely on labor-saving tricks and gimmicks.

  • Pedro Nakama

    Whoa! The comments are really good on this topic.

  • Hulk

    G. Leydon- to answer your question: Frank Gladstone knows a lot about character animation. He was an independant animator in Miami for years before working for the big companies. Not to mention a lot of animators are working today because of training that he gave them.

  • Jo

    Is there any chance that these “new technologies” will be for traditional animators? Anything to make the drawing/inking/scanning/coloring process more efficient?

  • Nancy B

    It’s not the technology that matters, but the content. Good character animation will not save a bad story.
    But a good story, in any medium, will be helped by good character animation. It doesn’t matter whether it is done by hand or on a machine; it’s still about communicating an idea to an audience.

    Tom, some of us chose to work in storyboard and teaching–it’s a great way to concentrate on the basics (communication and storytelling) rather than the latest shiny new gadget. If you have nothing to say, the computer isn’t going to say it for you.

    By the way PERSEPOLIS is outstanding and easily one of the best films of the year, animated or live. The stark graphic technique intensifies the horrific story. It might have been possible to do this in live action, but it would not have worked nearly as well.