Disney Television Animation wants to make sure there’s a steady stream of talented animators in the industry pipeline, so it has sponsored a course at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.
The Master Class Character Design Workshop was taught by former Disney animator Caroline Hu and featured weekly speakers from DTVA’s large bullpen of showrunners and creators. It took the students from the inception of their big idea to their big pitch. The course just finished for the fall semester. “What I’ve been doing is very collaborative. (At the beginning of the semester,) the students come up with their ideas. They pitch it in front of the class, every class, as it develops, and they get feedback from each other every class. And they get feedback from the Disney people. ...
“The class is centered around developing a show for television,” explains mid-term speaker Sonnenburg. “What most students think it is to develop a show for television or film is very different in reality. There are a lot more elements and politics and collaboration and notes and on and on that you have to deal with when you’re trying to develop something, or pitch something. ...
Over the last couple of generations, the animation business has changed a lot.
It used to be a lot smaller and lots more laid back. It wasn't unheard of that a high school artist could drive up to a studio gate and get an audience with a recruitment administrator inside.
And a week later, have a job.
But that happens a lot less frequently now. Few people were being trained for animation jobs in universities thirty years ago. Now colleges and art schools are turning out animators, tech directs, board artists, and designers by the busload. Competition is downright fierce. And the studios -- Disney, Warners, Cartoon Network and hosts of others, are considerably more corporate.
None of this means that it's impossible to break into the cartoon industry, but the various goat paths in are a lot twistier than they used to be, and the climb is steeper. The talented and dedicated still find their way to the Promised Land, it just takes more gumption and stick-to-itiveness than it did in ... oh ... 1973.