The Pixar Man’s Advice to Animation Students

So Pixar man gave a presentation in my digital media class via skype (yeah, we’re in that digital age). And while I don’t know if I’ll ultimately pursue animation, I thought it’d be worth sharing.

  • Pixar and its ilk hire rarely. Usually, they stick with whom they’ve worked with, meaning whom they trust.
  • So how did Pixar man get his foot in the door? “Luck,” he said (I hate him already). “It was about luck, timing, and who you know.” I asked for clarification of this “who you know” aspect. Luckily, he saved face by saying that one has to build a reputation in order to be recommended to someone else. “Not only do you have to impress everyone around you, you need social skills,” he explained.
  • There had also been something on my mind. “Is it better to take a break and do an internship/job in the field before graduating?” He seemed surprised by my question but I was relieved when he wholeheartedly agreed. He said that one learns so much in the work environment and advised that I cull pieces done on the job for my portfolio. “They tend to look better,” he promised,
  • There is a whole, extensive creative team involved in making a feature-length animation. And each aspect of animation such as color, layout, rigging, and lighting are all so specialized that usually you work at only one small area of the animation. He said that we start out with general knowledge and practice of the whole process of making an animation but eventually tighten and further our understanding in specifically one area.
  • Pixar man has done the lighting for UP, Toy Story 3, and something else (I forget). He showed us the multiple processes and lighting re-hashes of the same image. At this point, I didn’t feel like such a loser for having such a crappy drawing on the first go. You need a few more takes before it becomes “perfect.”
  • Lastly, he told us that we really should work hard to finish our projects during school. Because he and so many other professionals, including our professors, have little time to work on their independent projects once landing a gig. At that instant, I thought about my comic and how I had shoved it to the back burner because of school. If I can’t make time for my comic now, I probably won’t do so later when I’m working.


Something I worked on in that digital media class– my little cheshire man.

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