They say that hind site is 20-20. But my experience at CalArts keeps changing every time I look back at it. It was the best and the worst experience of my life. Good or bad, CalArts is where I learned to animate. Before that I had never heard of squash and stretch.
It’s safe to say that upon walking in the door at CalArts I immediately hated it. I went to CalArts with visions of an art school where all the students hung out at coffee shops, smoking and discussing philosophy, art and the craft of animation. Instead what I got was a trade school where all anyone wanted to talk about how good Disney was and how to get into Disney. I hated it, but eventually I learned to understand it. I mean if there’s only one school in America that lets you major in animation, then everyone who wants to get into Disney will go there. But I was beside myself with disappointment I wanted my coffee shop art-school experience damn it.
Over the years I gradually learned that I was wrong to feel this way about CalArts. What I leaned from CalArts was that good animators don’t hang out at coffee shops, they hang out at their desks working on their shots. CalArts taught me that the only way to learn how to be a good animator is to animate and to remain critical of your animation.
While at CalArts I focused on traditional hand drawn animation and my drawing skills. I went to every life drawing class they offered and I stayed late into the night getting the most use out of their pencil test machines as I could. I ignored the computer lab, I had turned into a traditional animation snob, and I believed that computers would never be as good as pencil and paper. Drawing was were it was at man.