Thursday, August 10, 2006

Easing stress

Baer Animation staffers, early 1990s. From left to right: Frederick DuChau, Jay Jackson, Cal LeDuc, Dave Nethery, Tomi Yamiguchi, Sadao Miyamoto, Alejandro Reyes, Mike Polvani.
See how times change, the more they stay the same? This caricature (artist unknown) shows many of the stalwarts from Baer Animation, a nifty little animation shop that started in 1984 and closed up a half dozen years ago. (The place was a much nicer studio at which to work than this drawing would indicate. We all get frustrated here and there, don't we?) Jane and Dale Baer were two Disney veterans who met at the studio and married, and in 1984 struck out on their own by founding their own studio. The job that really put them on the map in a big way was their studio's work on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Baer Animation anchored an L.A. animation unit for that film, turning out twelve minutes of animation that supplemented the work of Richard Williams's staff in London. After "Roger Rabbit," the Baers went on to produce dozens and dozens of animated commercials, as well as a large part of the animation for the theatrical "Tom and Jerry" feature directed by Phil Roman in the early nineties. (The studio's credits are numerous and extensive, as seen in the links above). As to where some of the artists in the caricature are now? Well, animator Mike Polvani is still going strong; artist Tomi Yamaguchi remains busy with layouts and storyboards; Dave Nethery was down in Florida a few years back, working on "Brother Bear;" animator Jay Jackson is now hard at work on "The Simpsons" feature. And animator Frederick Du Chau has moved on to directing live action.


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
The artist wanted to remain anonymous at the time. Not sure if that is still true, but out of respect to that request...
Mike Polvani is also currently working on the Simpson's feature. He has also opened an animation school with fellow animation veteran Wayne Carlisi, check it out!

Anonymous said...

That's great ! I haven't seen that drawing in years (there were many, many caricatures and gag drawings all over that 2nd floor animators room at Baer's). Thanks for the pleasant trip down memory lane !

And you're correct : the Baer's were great people to work for and the studio atmosphere was one of the best I've ever worked in ... if I recall the drawing above was expressing some frustration with a client and/or a client's deadline.

Anonymous said...

The "unknown" guy between Miyasan and Polvani is Alejandro Reyes, just in case anyone who can fix the caption is reading this.

And I can confirm that, contrary to the cartoon, Baer was indeed a great place to work. Just earlier today, two of the people in that drawing and I were reminiscing about what a great environment that studio was.

Kevin Koch said...

Thanks Eric, I've corrected the caption.

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