Animation Learning Journey, USA
As the champion team of N.E.mation! 6, Pua Jia-er, Fabian Kang and Lye Siang Ler, accompanied by Ms Teh Ting Ting, departed for the United States of America on 2nd June 2012. The 12 days-long trip to Los Angeles and New York City, sponsored by Nexus, allows N.E.mation winners to see for themselves how the animation industry works and gain a better understanding of what really goes on behind large-scale animation works.
Throughout our journey, we were given the opportunity to truly experience the vibrant energy and life that defines American society and culture firsthand. In Los Angeles, California, our itinerary included visits to the Natural History Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). We also got a taste of American campus life when we embarked on a school tour in the California Institute of the Arts- founded by Walt Disney in the 1960s, notable graduates include Tim Burton and John Lasseter. Sightseeing featured Santa Monica Bay and (of course!) Hollywood Boulevard and its landmark Walk of Fame. But what’s a trip to California without visiting theme parks? Universal Studios Hollywood? Check. The original Disneyland? Check. At Universal Studios, it wasn’t just about the rides- the most amazing part was the studio tour of the backlot, where we visited the stage set of “Parenthood” amongst others, as well as their props warehouse. We even entered a production studio (though it was empty) and saw the equipment and rooms used for producing great blockbusters! The sheer size of the entire backlot, coupled with the intimate attention to every last detail of each set, overwhelmed and captivated us. Two days later in Disneyland, we were once again charmed by the magic of the worlds we walked through. This time though, it was a day of pure fun, and we discovered that our favourite ride was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- 8 times just wasn’t enough!
In New York, we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the world-famous Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), where we got to see paintings by various artists that we studied in class. We also got a chance to watch the musical “Mary Poppins” on Broadway! From the bird’s eye views of the panoramic New York City skyline that we got from the top of both the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center, to the Statue of Liberty, as well as the solemn site of the 9/11 memorial grounds, we immersed ourselves into the culture of the Big Apple, even catching a glimpse of the Puerto Rican Day Parade as they marched down Fifth Avenue!
Of course, the highlights of our trip were the visits to not one, but two animation studios! Sony Pictures Animation (located in Los Angeles), known for its works like “Open Season”, “Surf’s Up” and “The Smurfs”, opened its doors to us and let us walk through its animation facility, allowing to see how ideas were developed and evolved into full-blown animated movies. Artists scrutinising graphics on computer screens was a common sight throughout the building, and the air was permeated with a sense of focus. We were confronted by the same sight, miles away in New York, when we visited Blue Sky Studios too. Blue Sky Studios, best known for its “Ice Age” movie series, had a homely atmosphere even while maintaining its professionalism. Each animator had their own way of decorating their cubicle space- one of the most notable designs followed a ship theme, where the occupant designed and built everything himself!
This trip was an eye-opener as we got to see industry professionals at work, allowing us to expand on our interest in animation and giving us the chance to immerse ourselves in a foreign culture at the same time. It is undeniably a once-in-a-lifetime experience and definitely one that we enjoyed!