Don Bluth has been one of my greatest inspirations as an artist since as long as I've been watching his movies. Last week I had the amazing opportunity of not only meeting him, but learning traditional animation with him as my teacher. Don was not only a wonderful teacher, but despite being a living legend and a master of his trade, extremely down to earth and excited about sharing his love of animation with us. I also got to meet some wonderful people who I now call my friends, and I am so extremely thankful for having this opportunity.
Don usually started each day with a lecture, stories about working with the nine old men, or on his own productions post-Disney, or some piece of inspirational message. Afterwards we would all get to work on our animations, each of us having a different scene with a bird character named Jake that don drew up for us.
Don critiquing my animation in progress! Quite surreal at first! Don would take a look at our animations and then do draw overs or make adjustments to our drawings. He really stressed doing everything the traditional ways, and taught us how to use x-sheets and the importance of timing our character's movements to a beat with a metronome.
I also got to meet Gary Goldman! Don got a phonecall on the morning of the second to last day of the workshop, and when he answered "Oh hey Gary" the entire class lifted their heads from their animation tables haha. Shortly afterwards in walks the great Gary Goldman, with a bunch of signed Banjo dvds and Dragon's Lair posters. Gary was also extremely personable and took the time to talk with each of us individually and critique our animations. It was slightly overwhelming to be in the presence of two animation giants and have them encourage me so much to pursue my dreams :')
The whole class. I was surprised to find out that I was the only person from Arizona in the group! People came from as far as Japan to attend, and one person in the class, Keith, is even a teacher at Ringling!
The whole week we were lucky to have the help of Dave, Don's assistant at our disposal. Dave has been working for Don since he was sixteen and when Don was still operating in Ireland at Sullivan-Bluth Studios. Not only did he put up with our endless questions and screw-ups with shooting our animations all week, but he was nice enough to treat the entire group at his bar/restaurant in Phoenix called the Irish Wolfhound after class ended on the last day.
On the day after the class ended I took out some of my new friends to see a little more of Arizona than just the hotel space. I took them to the Phoenix Zoo and then to downtown Scottsdale for sushi at Ra and ice cream at the Sugar Bowl.
In short I just had one of the best weeks of my life, and I am sad to say it's now over, but I encourage anybody who can make it to one of the future master classes to go. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience; I learned so much in one short week and I feel so lucky to have a piece of animation history passed down to me.