SINCE the release of the first full-computer animated film, Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story in 1995, audiences have clamored fore more. A Bug’s Life, Antz, Finding Nemo, Shrek, and the upcoming Surf’s Up and Ratatouille have sought to satisfy that call.

“Compared to the hand-drawn, digital animation is more realistic and more attractive to moviegoers since it has better rendering and fluidity”, College of Fine Arts and Design professor Raymond Son told the Varsitarian. Son also did some freelance work for Fil cartoons, which is a subsidiary of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and also produced, Meena, a Unicef animated series about gender inequality in South Asia.

Thomasian trademark

Thomasians are no strangers to the lucrative but challenging field of animation. Advertising graduates Virginia Cruz Santos and Joe Mateo belong to the few who made it big in the world of digital animation.

After getting a degree in Computer Arts from the New York School of Visual Art, Santos landed a job as animator for Pixar. Since then, she has worked for its major productions such as, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Monster Inc., Finding Nemo and most recently, The Incredibles, where she designed Violet, the character who has invisibility and force-field creating power.

Santos says that despite its computer bias, Pixar still values the basics. She recalls that when she applied, Pixar asked for her portfolio to see if she had the eye for aesthetics. She said the experience made her realize that the fundamentals are important.

“A lot of people get attracted to the techy side, but for me that’s just a tool,” Santos said.

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Meanwhile, Mateo works in Disney’s Art Classic Department where he has done artworks for animated films such as Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Home on the Range. Mateo said he was already based in Los Angeles when he was informed by his wife, who was a Disney studio employee as well, of the job opening.

“It was an opportunity,” Mateo said.

Asked what advice he could give people who would want to be successful he said “give every thing you can.”

He recently contributed for the film, Meet the Robinsons, where he crafted the script and the storyboard. He also conceptualized the T-Rex pet character of the Robinsons family, Tiny, to which he even lent his voice to.

A ray of hope

While Thomasian animators are making waves outside the country, animators in the Philippines are struggling to achieve their digital dreams due to lack of technology and job opportunities.

“Filipinos are good animators since they are creative, diligent, and exposed to diverse cultural background,” Son said. “Given the opportunity and new available technology they would progress well given their inquisitive minds.”

Digital animation is already being used for special effects in movies, television shows, and commercials, Son said.

In 2002, Tutubi Patrol, an award-winning show about a car salesman who turns into a superhero, was produced by Top Peg Animation, a Filipino animation firm. It used three dimensional backdrops, effects, and designs.

Here in UST, digital softwares such as Macromedia Flash, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Premier are already being integrated in the curriculum of Advertising students in the College of Fine Arts and Design.

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“We have continued to update what we impart to the student to ensure they would be able to compete in the global arena,” Son said. “Fundamentals could be learned with the guidance of proper mentors, but basically you can never limit human creativity.” Samuel Raphael Medenilla with reports from the Philippine Daily Inquirer

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