Educational

A Disney Animator Shares The Moment He Finally Understood CG Animation

Do you sometimes feel like giving up on your dream of being a great animator? Well, read this first. Trent Correy, an animator at Disney, shared a post on Instagram last night that is a must-read for any young animator looking to break into the biz or struggling to grasp key animation concepts.

In it, Correy shared an underexpressed sentiment, describing his creative hurdles after being hired at Walt Disney Feature Animation, and the ‘ah ha’ shot where he finally felt that he broke through.

Below is the shot of Olaf – from the Disney California Adventure projection show World of Color – that Correy says is when he “finally understood the graph [editor] and how to benefit from it.”

A group of friends and I were chatting the other day about our "AH HA" moments. A shot where something clicked. I can clearly point out a few of these in my career, but this one comes to mind first. I was STRUGGLING with CG, big time. In fact before getting to Disney I had decided to give it up and try my hand at storyboarding. Then I was accepted into Talent Development as a CG Animator and decided to give it one last shot. I spent 6 months in Tal Dev and there were some clicks but I still had a hard time using the graph and a lot of the other tools. Here's an embarrassing fact…I went through all of "Frozen" not knowing how to switch between IK & FK and not knowing what constraints were. I just brute force everything. A lot of frame by framing. After Frozen I was asked to work on a water projection show for Disneyland called World of Color. This is the shot. I Finally understood the graph and how to benefit from it. I had been using CG for about a year at this point and finally started to get comfortable with the tools. Which means, I started to enjoy the process more. All this to say, stick with it. Persistence and patience is key. We all learn at different paces, so just keep at it if you're struggling and you'll have your "clicks". I still have them all the time, sometimes for a technical hurdle, sometimes in drawing, sometimes for body mechanics or animation principles. It means we're growing, so keep at it! • • • #disney #disneyanimation #olaf #disneyland #california #californiaadventure #worldofcolor #joshgad #frozen #animation #letitgo #inspiration #fun #artistsoninstagram #artwork #cganimation #student #art #learning #school #tips #anna #elsa

A post shared by Trent Correy ?? (@trentanimation) on

Correy explains that when he had worked earlier on Frozen, he didn’t understand how to switch between inverse kinematics (IK) and forward kinematics (FK), and wasn’t comfortable with the idea of constraints in cg animation. It reaffirms a simple truth that isn’t spoken about enough in animation education: every artist develops at their own pace and faces their own battles on the path to competency, and one doesn’t need to be perfect to get a job (even at a major studio).

The takeaway for artists, Correy says, is to “just keep at it if you’re struggling and you’ll have your ‘clicks.'” But there are also lessons for management here; Correy’s story is a reminder that studios need to provide spaces for artists to fumble around and struggle because those spaces are often what leads to breakthroughs and creates better artists. As Correy explains, he had already given up on animation before being accepted into Disney’s internal talent development program, which is where he gave cg animation another shot and found his calling.

Here’s the full text of his Instagram post:

A group of friends and I were chatting the other day about our “AH HA” moments. A shot where something clicked. I can clearly point out a few of these in my career, but this one comes to mind first. I was STRUGGLING with CG, big time. In fact before getting to Disney I had decided to give it up and try my hand at storyboarding. Then I was accepted into Talent Development as a CG Animator and decided to give it one last shot. I spent 6 months in Tal Dev and there were some clicks but I still had a hard time using the graph and a lot of the other tools.

Here’s an embarrassing fact…I went through all of “Frozen” not knowing how to switch between IK & FK and not knowing what constraints were. I just brute force everything. A lot of frame by framing. After “Frozen” I was asked to work on a water projection show for Disneyland called World of Color. This is the shot. I [f]inally understood the graph and how to benefit from it. I had been using CG for about a year at this point and finally started to get comfortable with the tools. Which means, I started to enjoy the process more. All this to say, stick with it. Persistence and patience is key. We all learn at different paces, so just keep at it if you’re struggling and you’ll have your “clicks”. I still have them all the time, sometimes for a technical hurdle, sometimes in drawing, sometimes for body mechanics or animation principles. It means we’re growing, so keep at it!