Friday, May 11, 2012

This Day in Pixar History: CalArts First Character Animation Graduating Class

Have you heard of the California Institute of the Arts, or CalArts as it is more commonly known as? CalArts is a widely respected visual and performing arts school founded by Walt Disney in the early 1960s through the merger of the Chouinard Art Institute and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Disney's goal in creating the school was to have a single institution that taught all aspects of filmmaking. In 1975 the school added a character animation program and its first class included such filmmakers as John Lasseter (director of Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Cars), Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog), and on May 11, 1979, this first class had its graduation ceremony from CalArts. Later graduates included Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL•E), Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), Brenda Chapman (Prince of Egypt, Brave), Mark Andrews (Brave), Ralph Eggleston (For the Birds) and Peter Sohn (Partly Cloudy, The Good Dinosaur).

Have you ever heard of or seen A113 in a Pixar or other animated film? That is a reference to room A113 at CalArts, a classroom that all character animation students will spend time in during their studies. A113 has shown up in every Pixar film and many other animation films and TV shows, and even some live action films like Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which was directed by Brad Bird.

To see more proof of the influence of CalArts alumni on animation, take a look at this Cartoon Brew article that list most Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks films for the past 13 years with their directors and the director's school. Do you notice any recurring theme?

Below is a fun video of Austin Madison talking about his experience as a Pixar intern while attending CalArts. Madison is now a full-time animator for Pixar and just recently finished working on Brave.

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