Aug 11, 2005

Wanted by top studios: Future animators

Source: USA Today
Written By Janet Kornblum

GLENDALE, Calif. — The lights are dimmed, the shades are drawn, the computer screen is on and Dave Walvoord, Xiao Zhang and Han Lei are staring at a porcupine butt.

Specifically, this porcupine butt belongs to an animated character in DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming movie Over the Hedge. And Walvoord, a computer graphics supervisor, is in his office working with two of DreamWorks’ newest employees — recruited straight out of college as part of a new DreamWorks educational initiative. Their job: to light the scene so the motion of the quills looks just right.

Animation is not what it used to be.

Where cartoons of yesteryear, like Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, were once hand-drawn in two dimensions, movie hits such as The Incredibles (Pixar) and Shrek 1 and 2 (DreamWorks) are painstakingly designed, modeled, rigged, surfaced and lighted by teams of animators who have to be as artistic and creative as they are technological. Studios are constantly developing new technology to bring out details: Fur can rustle with the wind, skin can now almost glisten like the real thing (even if it does happen to be green). And porcupine quills can now bristle.

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