Thursday, December 17, 2009


My Roy Story

My Roy Story

My Roy Story
My Roy Story: Somewhere around the year 1997 I had inherited a dog, a lab and shepherd mix. For various reasons I was unable to keep the dog, and took a bold move to send a global email to everyone at Disney Feature Animation where I was working, something like
" Good Dog, Free to Good Home."
The email I received in reply was from Roy Disney's Secretary who told me Roy wondered if I could bring the dog to his home so he could meet the dog. Roy had recently broken his leg and wanted a canine companion... just that tall... to sit next to him so he could pat the dog on  the head.  So I did bring the dog to meet Roy  and his wife in their  home.  They offered us (I brought my young son Max with me)  great warm hospitality.  We had coffee and conversation sitting in their den which opened to a large yard with a pool... and the dog... who had never seen a pool before... was overcome with the lab instinct in him and ... proceeded to jump into the  pool and demonstrate his nature as a true natural swimmer... I was unable to persuade the dog to come out of the pool... eventually the dog tired of swimming...And Roy helped us dry off the dog, with abundant towels and great humor. We all  had a good laugh. Roy made us feel very comfortable and welcome... The dog proved a  little too spirited to be his companion  during the rehabilitation of Roy's broken leg. But I will never forget this time with Roy, a  man who could have paid any price for a pedigree dog , but was interested in an orphaned  animal who needed a home. When people talk about how down to earth Roy Disney is, was... this is the sort of thing that they mean. imho.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Wish for wings

I animated these water effects for "Wish for Wings" For Amblimation. 1991
Skip Jones directed the made for TV special. Peggy Regan was the  producer; based on the book by Berkeley Breathed.
Actually I animated most of the 2d drawn effects in the show.
I shared a room with Allen Foster, who tricked out the "special" effects.
Good times were had by all. Oh to giggle like that again....

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Smoke photo I took for Photo class


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

 Here is a trailer  for short film I  helped do some animation for recently.
I animated  effects (water).. see effects animator credit  ...waaaaay down in the credits...

trailer  now on view on youtube
website for the production

It was a short film by Jennifer  and Bert Klien, I was happy to help with afew scenes of water animation.

See ya, Kathleen Quaife

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Sony Vaio Blue ( water animation_quaife)

Here is some water animation I did for a Sony Vaio commercial a while back for threeleggedlegs



सुम्मेर फूं

summer fun working for on this coke burn/couple spot

Full list of the tight awesome crew of 2d and 3d artists on this job
( including my buddies Phil Pignotti and John Armstrong)
see credits here

Friday, July 04, 2008


O in LenOrd

Thanks to Ed Wexler who wr0te to remind me It's Lenord with an O.
I knew that! What was I thinking mispelling his name! I better get with the program

Friday, June 06, 2008


2d cigar smoke

I animated the cigar smoke here. The cool thing was I got to meet my good buddy Len0rd Robinson while I was animating this smoke, because Len0rd had animated the character. This was like, a million years ago, for the Filmation Feature unit. Bruce Heller did a great job supervising that FX unit, and managed the crew with very clear articulate art direction and his dept delivered everything On time and On budget. We kept the quality high for the effects, despite the limited budget. I think that effects animators usually take their job pretty seriously.



Monday, May 26, 2008


California Raisins Michael Jackson


Chris Casady had to go to Annecy to show his independent film so he left me to animate this pixie dust for this job he subcontracted from Will Vinton. I got to meet Will Vinton, who actually danced out the scene (for me) to show how and where he wanted the Pixie Dust to appear. Now that was a fun day at work. When Casey Hunt did a hoola dance to show me how he wanted some effects to look in an Amp commercial it kind of reminded me of Will Vinton.


Saturday, May 24, 2008


2d water animation

1993 Once upon a forest. Water Animation . I used to have xeroxes of the drawings of the water I animated for this scene. But one time I put the drawings in my portfolio, and when my portfolio was returned ... the drawings were gone.


Thursday, May 22, 2008


2d tradtional effects Quaife demo

videoPart 1 Quaife 2d effects demo reel

videoPart 2 of my demo of traditional effects animation


Thursday, May 15, 2008


2d smoke animation Quaife Chipmunk Adventure

I animated the 2d smoke effects in this clip


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Saturday, May 10, 2008


2d fire animation

videoI animated the fire in this clip and most of the water too. Cornelius Cole did animation of the Chief and the natives.



Flame Cycle 2d Fire

I made this diagram in 2003. This is a torch cycle"on twos"


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


More water animation

Here's some more water animation I did for Pagemaster.
I'll edit a demo together eventually.



2D Water

I animated the water in this sequence for Pagemaser. (click on the "Water Animation" to see a clip on YouTube


Thursday, April 10, 2008


Quaife Surf effects for Pagemaster

Above is a link to a clip on Youtube. I animated the surf on the beach in these scenes in Pagemaster. Maybe you saw Pagemaster?


Sunday, April 06, 2008


Ionic Ripples

I had fun designing and animating effects on Hercules



my friends the legs

I 'm dragging this over here from their blog cause I always laugh when they are around.....
gangstasGlitter Graphics

Friday, April 04, 2008


Vortex animation

This was an early animation of a water vortex that I did for Dragon's Lair, the first laser disc video arcade game

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Heres' the sort of style guides I was making for Eddy Houchins in 2001 or 2002 when he directed the Animated Mummy for Universal. I learned this forumla for fire from Dorse Lanpher in 1982 when I worked for him at Don Bluth Studios. Dorse worked on Sleeping Beauty so you can go back and see the lineage. I had just finished making effects style guides for Disney's Three Musketeers (those shipped to Australia), Nickelodeon's Invader Zim( shipped to Korea) and the Hey Arnold Movie, and few other projects like God the Devil and Bob (Philipines). Except for Osmosis Jones and the pleasure of animating slime and bodily fluids with the likes of Michel Gagne, work between 2000 and 2006 was mostly making style guides to show overseas studios in Korea or Tiawan or the Philippines or even Germany how to do "classy" effects the way I had learned to craft them from working on something like 25 films. It was just about the time I made this Fire torch model sheet that you see here that I finally made the decision that I should go into teaching here in the local market, in Los Angeles, because I realized that I was basically outsourcing all the knowledge that I had worked twenty+ years to acquire. When 2d finally makes its comeback, I wanted to have afew friends in LA. I tell my animation students the first day to get their passports ready because they will probably find work in other countries.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Fire Animation by Kathleen Quaife

I think it's essential to study live action footage if you want to do traditional effects animation.

This book"Fire "(Scientific American Library) by John W. Lyons" was very helpful to me when I prepared my lecture on how to animate fire for the Disney interns back when I was working on Hercules.


Sunday, March 23, 2008


I took this picture of my buddy Billy Rice in 1976. He just framed it with a blast of tie dye fabric and sent it to me in an email.


Flash Dust


Saturday, March 22, 2008


Is it a sin to sample dover art fabric patterns in an illustration? I made this illustration with Photoshop, Flash and the bitmap pattern came from:


Poca Water

People always ask me if I use reference to create effects animation.
I have about five thousand books, collected over years of earnest interest.
I'll post afew referral links to some of the books I cherish. These may inspire you with the images of nature and design principles, such as Theodore Swenk's "Sensitive Chaos" Oh yeah, everybook I own has pictures in it.


you asked for it

Folks keep asking for some samples of work so I'll start blogging some images of effects animation I've created as time permits. Here's a few frames of a splash from Hercules. I don't put iconic swirls in everything, but I did for one year while animating effects for this film.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I used Flash to create this illustration for the George Bernard Shaw quote
"If you can't get rid of the skeletons in your closet you'd best teach them to dance"

I learned flash from the authors of this book. Tim Jones, Dave Wolfe, Al Rossen and Barry Kelley. Dave is the moderator of the Plugins forum over at I highly reccommend this book for traditional artists who are migrating to Flash animation, and also to any one new to Flash for cartoon animation.
In fact, this is the textbook that I use for an advanced animation class that I teach at CSUCI. It used to be just traditional media, but I finally persuaded the school to allow the students to use Flash to create their animation projects, and how lucky we are that this book was published the exact semester that the school okayed the migration to a digital medium for the class.



Effects for Amp commercials

I really had fun animating fire, smoke, dust, debris, water splashes for these
three Amp commercials for Three legged legs. oh yeah, and lightening and earthquakes too.
Here is the link to the commercials on youtube



love working for the legs

I recently had the pleasure to animate effects for two
Sprint nascar Commericials/ There were seven animators cranking on these
so I can't take all the credit

It was fun to see these debut on the Daytona 500


more effects for three legs

Monday, November 12, 2007


amp on Cold hard Flash

Friday, September 07, 2007


judged by the company we keep?

Will we be judged by the company we keep?
Well lord judge me today!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Whose who

Might be news worthy to note that I have been inducted into the
2007 Whose Who of American Teachers.
I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I know you have to be nominated by peers for this, and I didn't pay off anyone.
(I've been teaching Traditional animation and Life Drawing at
Two universities and one community college since 2004)


Amp and threelegs

I can't believe anyone really would read my blog, but here's some real news, I spent part of my summer animating fire, water, exploding smoke clouds, liquids,(see the screengrab of a frame from the spot) all klind of effects for these 3 Amp commercials. I was working with Threeleggedlegs and and it was start to stop all full throttle fun working with these guys. Legs I love Ya. (check out the case study at this this link, lots of Photos and art work from the commercials

and ( I aniamted the water in this Sony Blue spot. It was eight days from start to final comp)

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Saturday, January 20, 2007


THe best link ever 50 greatest cartoons listed on YouTube

The best link ever 50 greatest cartoons listed on YouTube

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Curtis Hodge 2006 My second born Son

Isn't he cute?


This would be Max Hodge, my Eldest son

Playing Football at Claremont McKenna College soothes the beast within him


photo of me at 2005 TAG Chrismas party

I wonder what the party will be like this year?
I can't believe it's been a year since I posted on this blog!

Sunday, December 04, 2005


another figure drawing I did

Saturday, December 03, 2005
my official website online training The best learning site on the web!
(for digital imaging software)

Did I mention I've known Lynda for about twenty years....

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


image upload test.
one of my sketches

Thursday, June 02, 2005

That's something worth checking out.. if you want to hear some conversations of
folks discussing animation.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I worked five months doing rotoscoping for stereoscopic imaging for "In-Three Inc" on April 4th 2005, till the beginning of Sept when I returned to teaching Life Drawing and Traditional Animation classes at CSUCI.
The work at In-three involved using their software to transform 2d films into 3d digital media
theatrical releases. Once these movies are on the market
BAM the theatre owners will have big reasons to adapt to the digital projection systems.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Installations Point Mugu, Port Hueneme
In case you are wondering what I do in my spare time, I just spent the last week installing 200 computer suites at two Naval Bases north of LosAngeles. A gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do!
It was fun work, actually, and the team was terrific. I'd do work like this again in a heart beat.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Here's an update.
I'll be teaching a foundation of animation class at CSU Channel Island ( in Camarillo California)
starting the last week of August.
The class is six hours a week and lasts 15 weeks.
Emphasis is on the traditional conepts of animation.

Art 206 Animation   that's the class I'll be teaching !  

Monday, June 14, 2004


Since its inauguration in 1954 thousands of US high schools and middle schools have presented the John
Philip Sousa Award annually to one individual voted to be their most outstanding band student.

The award this year at Medea Creek Middle school In Oak Park CA went to CURTIS HODGE (my 14 year old tuba playing son) recognizes those musicians displaying superior musicianship, leadership,
dependability, loyalty, cooperation, and other qualities of conduct which school
instrumental music programs strive to impart. The Sousa ward is the top nationwide
prize in the school band field, both in prestige and appearance. It promotes the
band by encouraging musicians to greater achievement and enthusiasm while providing
an inspiring stimulus for potential instrumentalists.

Curtis has played Tuba in band at Meda Creek for three years. In addition he plays
bass and piano for
personal enjoyment. It's great to see him receieve this prestigeous award for doing
something he
gets so much from doing!

Monday, May 24, 2004

( This essay won Max a Scholarship from the Lions Club Ventura County
All Star Football Team 2004)

Dad moved away to Virginia, after he and my mother had divorced,
and weekly phone calls and trips in the summer were the only influence he
still had over my brother and me. I asked my father what would make me a
better football player once, over the phone, and what he has told me I have
tried to apply in many aspects of my life, he told me .Be more focused,
more dedicated, more humble, and above all enjoy the game..I have tried
to make these points my strengths in the four years I've been in High School
and I think my understanding of them has become better with practice. Being
focused meant that I needed to clear my mind when a task was at hand so
that I could execute it. I did that when I took AP English in my junior
year, I thought for sure that the class would kill me but when I just sat
down at the computer and began to type or to sit down in my chair and read
a book I could get it done and ended up getting A's both semesters and
earning a new respect from my English Teacher. Being more dedicated meant a
of things, but when I think about being dedicated I remember what my coach
once told me, 90 percent of success is showing up. Dedication to something
ensures that when you get the opportunity to succeed you will have the
skills and mind set to go about doing it. I was dedicated when I went to the
room everyday during the summer and during the off season of my junior year.
The lifting I did then gave me strength to play my senior year but also
gave me confidence in my abilities and skills to train for my football
career in college. Being humble was one thing that took the hardest to do.
that I couldn't accept that other people were better at things then me,
but that it didn't matter. Being humble to me is a matter of knowing that
somebody's skills exceed my own, or that they are bigger or stronger or
faster, and that having this knowledge only means one thing, that I am
properly informed and aware of the challenge. If one never is truly aware of
actual challenge in front of them and what their own abilities are than
they can never overcome the obstacle. I always thought I knew what the old
man said when he told me to enjoy the game, he mean the hitting people part,
right? I knew that I loved my team mates and that playing against other
teams was fun, so I thought that was enjoyment. But on the last night time
practice of the season I finally realized what he was trying to say. The
cold air chilled my face and hot gusts of air burst out of boy's faces,
the stadium lights blared but the night time stars still shined, and the
community feeling of being on a team wrapped around each person and
accumulated in me with a laugh. Only yesterday, it seemed, that I was a
freshman, only
yesterday, it seemed, that I was the new kid at school in the 5th grade,
only yesterday it seemed that I was held in my father's arms as we toured
the Santa Monica Pier. No wonder my father had told me to enjoy the game,
it goes by so quickly and seems so fleeting after it is done that if you
can truly appreciate the moments you get as they occur then you can live
the happiest life of all. by max hodge

Friday, April 30, 2004

I'm working alot with Afftereffects and Photoshop now

Sunday, March 21, 2004

LA Times Calendar Section-
March 21, 2004

Out of the picture
Toontown darkens for L.A.'s animation artists, as computers and an overseas workforce overtake their future.

By Lynell George, Times Staff Writer

Eddie Goral doesn't look like a man who would have painted himself into a corner.

Even among the requisitely colorful Trader Joe's crew he works with in Pasadena, Goral stands apart: There's the whimsical push broom of mustache that looks as if it were daubed on with a big, saturated brush and the metal professor specs. It's that and the booming question he poses to most anyone passing through his checkout lane: "So, what's your passion?"

He wastes no time telling you his: "Painting." He nods toward a brightly hued mural that seems to float above the top quarter of the store, a points-of-interest sweep of Pasadena — the Arroyo, the Colorado Street Bridge, the Rose Bowl.

"Before this?" he'll explain, if you press him as he runs bottles of "Two-Buck Chuck" through the price scanner. "I was an animator."

Suddenly whimsy drains away. Anger flashes in its place. "Until Disney got rid of all of us." Once upon a time, not so long ago, Goral worked "cleanup" on a variety of big-screen Disney products — from "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Great Mouse Detective" in the '70s to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Mulan" in the '90s. He averaged about $1,200 a week, not high-end animator money, but Goral had no complaints — he was doing what he loved. But then work slowed, eventually dried up, and Goral joined the growing ranks of the newest displaced Los Angeles employee — the out-of-work animator.

For decades, Southern California was the ultimate destination for self-described "animation geeks" — kids who worked from homemade flip books and cel collecting to get there. But shifts in the industry — a growing appetite for computer-generated graphics and the chronic issue of outsourcing — have eliminated 1,000 jobs in the last three years.

It's a frustrating time for animators: Television appears to be a lively circus of work, with new shows, concepts and packages arriving seasonally, but much of the work is being done overseas. According to the Animation Guild, there are about 1,600 union members currently employed. But for the first time in 70 years the Walt Disney Co. doesn't have a traditional animation feature in the pipeline. ("Home on the Range," Disney's last-in-the-can 2-D feature, is due out April 2.) There is only one hand-drawn feature in production — "Curious George" for Universal Pictures. Walt Disney Co. began streamlining its traditional animation units nearly four years ago; since then several hundred jobs have vanished from Southern California and Florida.

Some animators have been out of work for 18 months or more, creating a small army hidden in plain view. Some have taken part-time jobs in art supply shops or bookstores. Others have become gardeners, chefs, teachers and real estate agents. A few are studying to be masseuses or reflexologists. While a number are making strides to transition into 3-D, or computer-generated imaging, others figure it looks like a good time to delve into long-sidelined projects. Then there are those who are simply stuck, lost or in denial. They vent and carp with friends or on the busy website, or sit at home and obsess. As with many laid-off populations, occasional rumors of suicide pepper conversations.

In the last couple of years, it had become catch as catch can, with many bouncing from studio to production company. Goral had worked as a cleanup assistant on "Osmosis Jones" in 2000 and on "Austin Powers in Goldmember" a couple of years later. But when a steady flow of projects failed to sync, Goral had to think creatively.

"My wife got tired of me sitting around complaining and said, 'Look, the people at Trader Joe's seem like nice people. Maybe you'd like to work there,' " he says with a chuckle, the anger cooling some. "And they are. They've been very good to me."

Goral considers himself lucky. Though it has been a lesson in improvisation for him, his wife and their two children, he has a steady schedule, health benefits, a regular paycheck and a roof — a pleasant painting- and toy-strewn apartment in Montrose — over his head. He's also been teaching art and drumming up commissions. "I've begun to shamelessly promote myself," he says of the portfolio he keeps at the ready.

Goral's animation job, the painstaking process of tightening or "cleaning up" a rough drawing, giving it heft, depth and form, no longer exists in the old sense of the task — in many cases the computer takes care of the final polish. But it isn't a simple question of learning the hot tool of his trade — CGI animation. For Goral, who's 57, it's not just about skills but passion, a sense of connecting with the work. Unlike workers in other "factories," animators are artists; to be asked to learn a new medium, for some, is like asking Monet to ditch the pastels.

"I'm an animator," Goral explains, "I like to paint. That's what got me here."

Industry ups and downs

This isn't the first time the world of hand-drawn animation has felt the squeeze. Over the last 30 years, there've been creatively flat periods, as well as volatile strikes in late '70s and early '80s that sought to put the reins on "runaway production" — subcontracting television animation work to foreign posts. Ink and paint people had learned to live lean. But a trio of Disney feature hits — "The Little Mermaid" (1989), "Beauty and the Beast" (1991) and "The Lion King" (1994) — proved that classic, hand-drawn animation could still romance the eye and make a pile of cash. ("The Lion King" pulled in more than $300 million in domestic theatrical release alone.)

Suddenly, it was the era of the celebrity animator, says animation director Tom Sito, former president of the Animation Guild Local 839, the labor union for screen cartoonists. "I opened an issue of In Style or Buzz or something [and there was a story called] 'Animation: A cool profession,' " says Sito, who worked on a string of Second Golden Age hits, including "Lion King," "Mermaid" and "Beast."

"When I got hired, in '75, animation seemed so dead. Each strike was like a Greek tragedy," he recalls. "[Then] you saw animators riding around in Humvees, buying houses in the Glendale hills. They were getting signing bonuses. The '90s were very fat."

But like any bubble, it burst. The success of Disney and Pixar's "Toy Story" changed everything — hand-drawn was out, CG was in. Recent poor showings for hand-drawn projects with high hopes — "Looney Toons: Back in Action" and "Treasure Planet" — haven't helped matters. Although the new technology created new jobs, they were neither numerous enough nor technically suited to the skills of established traditional animators. Ink and paint people are told that they can make the tech transition but most in-town productions want animators with lots of experience, says Bronwen Barry, a clean-up artist and "in-betweener" who has served on the animator's union executive board for more than a decade. "Although it's nice for the résumé," Barry says, "it's not the lifeboat that people thought it would be."

The tech shift only exacerbated an ongoing problem, one facing many industries — outsourcing. At nonunion shops in Australia, Korea, Taiwan and now India, the painstakingly detailed work of cleanup and "in-betweening" — refining the series of sketches that create movement — can be done for less than half the cost.

The studio's mounting expectations haven't helped matters.

"We were in the middle of an enormous boom after 'Lion King,' " Barry says. "And it just got crazy. We were being managed by MBAs. They would change things — gags, the story. And when a film would tank, it was the artists — their high salaries — who were blamed."

But survival has always been about reading between the lines. As Sito explains, "One of my mentors once said, 'Always remember, you're only two flops away from disaster. The first one happens and it's time to reevaluate; the second, steal your pencil sharpener.' "

Kathleen Quaife, a special-effects animator, had worked pretty much nonstop since relocating from Virginia to Los Angeles in 1982. She had her pick of work — Hanna-Barbera, Don Bluth, Warner Bros. and eventually Disney. Even during the industry's slower periods, she worked 80-hour weeks, animating fire, cyclones and her favorite — water. She's mentored and trained a new generation and has the gold-plated "Official Disney Mentor" paperweight to prove it. She moved with ease between television and features. She never thought it would change. Until it did.

Now Quaife, who just a couple of years ago was pulling down six figures, can barely hold back the tears when she realizes that she is looking at a 70% salary dip. She mulls the last few months, picking at a plate of roasted chicken at a favorite Thai restaurant in Sherman Oaks. She has a little time before she has to rush back home to interview a potential boarder. "Every little bit helps," she says.

When the restaurant owner comes by to say hello, she asks about his son. Puffed up, the owner announces: "He's going to Art Center!"

"Not to study animation?" Quaife asks with a start.

No, graphics.

The color returns to her face.

Divorced, she's the mother of two sons. One is on his way to college — thankfully, Quaife says, with some financial aid. The other is in eighth grade. "The orthodontist would like to get paid, I'm sure."

"This year was the wake-up call," Quaife says. She has a plan, today's anyway — she's going to move to India, where the action is. "CG isn't the problem," she says. "There's work. Plenty of work. It's just that it's done in every other country on the planet. I could not in good conscience train people here for work when there is none."

Even the most optimistic worry that the future of paint and ink looks bleak. Animators, whose stock in trade is keeping it light, find themselves short on gags. "We're so used to making people laugh," says storyboard artist and director Tom Mazzocco, "it's very strange to be in this position where you're constantly consoling people."

Weekly commiseration

On any given Friday, from 12:30-ish to 2-ish, a couple of dozen or so animators descend on a dimly lighted coffee shop in Burbank. Their aloha shirts and grab bag of mouthed sound effects — the rimshots, car horns, coiled-spring "boings" — announce them.

One by one, they file in for their break from the drawing board, filling up the big horseshoe booth. Stan Sakai, who writes and draws the Usagi Yojimbo series of comic books, arrives and passes out copies of the Comic-Con International convention pamphlet. Paul Power and Mike Kazaleh fall into a discussion about "Plastic Man" while Chad Frye and landscape painter and storyboard artist Bob Foster listen in.

The lunch, a 20-year-plus word-of-mouth institution, has long been a place to trade ideas, gossip, chart the goings-on at various studios around town. But of late the time has been spent networking, rustling up work or grousing.

These bull sessions can cover a lot of ground in the time it takes to finish up a patty melt and cola. Don Dougherty regularly brings in a newspaper and does a reading of a review, then the group trades opinions across the table. Today, Dougherty arrives with the paper, but they don't get to the reviews. Too much is going on in the business pages — what with Comcast and its bid for Disney and Roy Disney's campaign to oust Michael Eisner, who has been blamed by many for the 2-D world's woes. "Disney lost itself," says Floyd Norman, who joined Disney in 1956 and was among the first to break the company's color line. "They want to be something else. They took the mouse off the logo. Disney doesn't want to be Disney anymore."

"Everyone's been going nuts about things going overseas," says Rusty Mills, "but nobody ever notices when it happened in our industry. We've been dealing with this for years."

The formidable Stan Shaw! (the exclamation point is the way he signs off on everything, even his contracts) pipes in from across the table. "Yeah, they don't like animators over 30. They don't like animators who have ideas."

"Yeah, they send you to the theme park and you get to be a character at the park. An animal," Dougherty tosses in, peering over his specs, his eyes horror-story wide.

"Well," says Shaw!, "I guess that's better than being a topiary."


The wisecracking has gotten most of them through the worst of times. And a good many of them around the table packed the pencil sharpener.

"This is a job people used to have for a lifetime," Norman says. Over the years, he has reinvented himself, from animator to storyboard artist, from features to Saturday morning TV, from ink and paint to 3-D.

But not everyone is that lucky. Norman has bumped into a fair number of ex-co-workers around town — bagging groceries, shaking the trees for work.

"To see your job disappear, everything you worked and trained for? There's nothing that prepares you for that," Norman says. "We've seen a lot of fads and trends. Right now it's CG. But what people forget is that it's all about a good story. Three-D, 2-D, whatever. I see it at Pixar, but not at Disney. Pixar is doing Disney storytelling. And I don't think Disney has learned that yet. I hope that they do. But until then the artists are taking the hit."

Some warn that CG is not exempt from the outsourcing drain. "A lot of live-action-effects work," Sito says, "is going to New Zealand, Shanghai and Taipei." If the CG world doesn't face its future, he says, its inhabitants will be caught like Bambi in the headlights.

'2-D's last stand'

The more banged-around veterans say it used to be a seven-year cycle. When things took a dip, more than likely you could piece things together with freelance, a little moonlighting, ride it out.

Veteran animator Mark Kausler did so for many years, navigating between television, commercials and an array of landmark features including "Yellow Submarine," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Beauty and the Beast." Most recently he worked on "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" and "Osmosis Jones." And though he stays busy — he's working on "Puffy Ami Yumi," a coming series for the Cartoon Network that's being produced out of Japan — the telephone doesn't ring as often as it used to. He's had enough "free time" to put the finishing touches on his labor of love, "It's the Cat," a nostalgic animated short in the classic ink-and-paint style, 15 years in the making. "With every project," he says, "you get this sense, hanging over your head, 'This is 2-D's last stand.' "

After all she'd been through, ex-animator Denise Meehan decided it was time to leave the game.

It's a rainy night outside, so business is slow inside her funky tchotchke shop, Fuzzy Dice, a short stroll from Pasadena City College. "But at least there's business," says Meehan, tucking a strand of wavy dark hair behind her ear as she helps a woman pick out a couple of astrological sign magnets.

Meehan took a job at Disney in the early '90s. She was 23. She left her family, her home, even her fiancé to take a crack at it. "My fiance told me, 'If you don't go, you'll always wonder, what if?' So I came."

Working cleanup and in-between, Meehan enjoyed all the perks. The catered breakfasts, lunches and dinners. There was a cappuccino-coffee cart, fabulous parties, drawing classes at lunch time. But by '95-'96, Meehan took note of the small changes. "The coffee cart guy was the first to go. The fresh popcorn was replaced by packets by the microwave. They hired out the cafeteria and all the food started to smell the same." Then she noticed the bigger things. The bonuses shrank, the five-year contracts disappeared.

By the time Meehan was working on "Home on the Range," the writing was on the wall: "I went home for the evening and came back, and they were rewiring my office for computers."

But the day she knew things weren't going to turn around was when they were assembled in a room in late 2000 and told they would be facing pay cuts and most likely layoffs. It was the day that Meehan was closing escrow on her house. "I just about passed out."

Meehan ultimately took the pay cut, lost her house and then her job. "I wrote a letter to Roy Disney, which got posted all over the studio, saying that it felt like I was losing a family." Toward the end, Meehan had taken computer classes sponsored by her union. "There was a waiting list. And they were very limited to what we were offered." She'd gotten herself up to speed and applied for a job but got passed over.

After accepting a job "for a lot of work and little pay," she quit and started thinking outside the box. Meehan and her old boss Jackie Sanchez sunk their creative impulses into this venture — Fuzzy Dice — because, as the tag line goes, "People like stuff."

It was something to focus on. "It really was a place to put our energies instead of floating around blindly." Open for three months, not only has Fuzzy Dice been a channel for Meehan and Sanchez, it has provided an artistic outlet and a financial base for their former colleagues who design T-shirts, jewelry, funky baby blankets.

Nowadays, Meehan says, she doesn't go to too many animator get-togethers. "The bitterness just eats people up."

She understands it, though: breaking with that identity is tough. "People really get sucked into it, 'Oh, you work for Disney?' You can see it in their eyes. It's hard to give that up."

When forced to, however, she discovered she didn't really miss it. "I don't know if I'd go back into animation. But even if we close down tomorrow, I've already succeeded."

Whether it will come around again feels up in the air. And even if it does, it won't be like the old days. There are worries that too much time might pass. "Animation is like a muscle. You've got to use it," says Sito, who has started an independent production company, "Gang of Seven Animation," to help shepherd new and independent animation projects. "And right now CG is king. 'Finding Nemo' was supremely successful. But I don't think photography got rid of painting or the Moog synthesizer replaced brass or piano. I'm kind of hoping this goes the same way."

But people like Eddie Goral can't sit around waiting. When he's not on the Trader Joe's clock, Goral's out teaching or collecting commissions — from the YMCA or anyone else who is interested. "When people used to ask me what I did, I would whisper — I'm a painter," he says. "I don't do that anymore. Now I announce, 'I'm a painter. Can I show you some of my work?' "

He was all smiles as he sailed through the frozen food aisle on a recent Sunday morning. "I just sold two more paintings on EBay. That means that I'll make this month's rent!"


Of mice, moguls and cartoon stars

A history of animation from Mickey to Nemo.

1928: With fully synchronized sound, "Steamboat Willie," left, drawn and voiced by Walt Disney, debuts in American theaters.

1937: Disney releases "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first feature-length animated movie.

1938: Los Angeles cartoonists form the Screen Cartoonists Guild Local 852.

The Golden Age of Animation

1939-69: In 1939, "Snow White" receives a special Academy Award for "significant screen achievement." The lushly drawn full-length animated feature — from "Pinocchio" to "Jungle Book" — becomes a hallmark of American moviemaking.

1940-42: Disney produces "Pinocchio," "Bambi" and "Fantasia." Disney's top animators, the "Nine Old Men," above — Les Clark, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Woolie Reitherman and Frank Thomas — become a powerhouse that will last through the 1970s.

1941: Veteran animator Art Babbitt and 13 other animators are fired from Disney for demanding a union. Anger over the long-promised profit sharing from "Snow White" makes the workers sympathetic to the call to unite. The strike lasts four months. The National Labor Relations Board helps settle the dispute and makes Disney recognize the Cartoonists Guild, give screen credits and rehire Babbitt.

Mid-1940s: "Termite Terrace," the Warner Bros. cartoon studio, gives birth to a new wave of insane cartoons. Over the next several decades, characters such as Bugs Bunny, left, and Daffy Duck become central to the company's image.

1947: In New Rochelle, N.Y., members of the Guild's East Coast branch strike the studio known for Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle. The strike lasts eight months — the longest cartoonists' strike in history. Eventually Terrytoons founder Paul Terry is forced to sign with the guild.

1951: The cartoonists at Disney, Warner Bros. and Walter Lantz vote to join the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories and Canada). Locals 839 (Los Angeles) and 841 (New York) are chartered in 1952. The guild continues as an independent union, gradually shrinking until it merges with the Teamsters in 1971.

1960: The Flintstones, above, by Hanna-Barbera, becomes the first prime-time animated TV series.

1984: John Lasseter leaves his animation job at Disney to join filmmaker George Lucas' special effects computer group, which later becomes Pixar Animation Studios.

The Second Golden Age of Animation

Late 1980s-2000: With exquisite color, rich soundtracks and celebrity voices, animated films from a variety of studios do surprisingly good business. Disney grows from 125 animation employees in 1985, to 1,500 by 1995. Warner Bros., MGM, Chuck Jones, Universal Studios , HBO and Fox Studios open animation divisions.

1989: "The Little Mermaid" grosses $84 million.

1991: "Beauty and the Beast" grosses nearly $146 million and becomes the only animated feature to be nominated for a best picture Oscar. The film receives six Academy Award nominations and won two (for its title song and original score).

1991: Pixar and Disney team to develop, produce and distribute up to three feature animated films.

1994: "The Lion King," left, is released in the U.S. in June and grosses nearly $768 million worldwide.

1994: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, right, form DreamWorks SKG. Warner Bros., Fox Studios and Turner Entertainment embark on their own animation projects and feature-length production units.

1995: "Toy Story" is the first fully computer-animated feature film and the highest-grossing film of 1995.

1996: Lasseter receives the special achievement award at the Oscars for his "inspired leadership" of the "Toy Story" team.

1997: Pixar and Disney enter into a new agreement to jointly produce five movies.

1999: "Toy Story 2," above, breaks opening weekend box office records in the U.S., U.K. and Japan. It is the first film in history to be entirely created, mastered and exhibited digitally and the first animated sequel to gross more than its original.

2001: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences adds the best feature animation film category. Disney announces plans to significantly scale back its feature animation operation, cutting scores of jobs and slashing salaries by 30% to 50%. The Animation Guild begins offering CGI/3-D training.

Disney Co. shutters its Secret Lab that has provided digital effects for a range of animation and live-action films such as "Dinosaur," below right, and "Pearl Harbor." "Monsters, Inc." becomes the third-highest-grossing animated film ever.

2002: Disney reduces staff at its Burbank facility from 1,300 to about 1,000 by May 2003. "Shrek" wins the first best animated feature Oscar. "Treasure Planet," a hand-drawn Disney release, fails at the box office.

2003: Walt Disney Feature Animation closes its production studio in the Paris suburb of Montreuil-sous-Bois and lays off all 89 workers. Fifty animators in Orlando, Fla., are laid off, and Disney's Tokyo-based animation studios are slated to be closed.

2004: Disney and Pixar split. Walt Disney announces it is shuttering its Orlando-based animation studio, cutting about 258 jobs.

Sources:, MPSC839,Tom Sito, Los Angeles Times, AP. Research assistance: Jacquelyn Cenacveira


Monday, March 01, 2004,0,474041.story?coll=la-headlines-sports-highschool

MaX Hodge (My Son) in the news:

Times Headlines

For Some, Leadership Transcends Football Field



Eric Sondheimer
For those who wonder what all the fuss is about playing high school football, meet Max Hodge, an offensive lineman from Oak Park.

"He came in as a kid, and he's leaving as a man," Coach Dick Billingsley said.

As a freshman, Hodge weighed 165 pounds. Now he's a 240-pound senior.

"He was one of the quietest kids on campus," Billingsley said. "He's turned into a very dynamic person. He's probably been the best leader we've had in 14 years. He's really blossomed, grown and matured."

On Thursday, Hodge will be among 54 football players honored for academic and athletic excellence by the San Fernando Valley chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Dozens of players from Orange County, the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire will receive recognition in the next two weeks at banquets throughout the Southland.

Each recipient has a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and has demonstrated outstanding campus leadership.

Hodge more than fits the bill of a future mover and shaker. He and some friends have spent months preparing to shoot a student film about World War II and Iwo Jima. He co-wrote the script after conducting extensive research.

"We're all interested in becoming writers or actors and all like World War II movies," he said. "It was probably the deadliest invasion America has been in. For a while, it was the most densely populated island in the world."

Hodge and his friends have been gathering resources, identifying locations, developing special effects and coming up with props. This month, they'll begin a four-month shooting schedule.

Hodge, who plans to attend Claremont-Mudd, seems destined to become a writer.

"I take as many English classes as I can," he said. "I love to write. I like to write stories. I like to write poetry. Even essays are fun, if it's the right topic."

Hodge, who also plays the tuba, would need no encouragement to write about what football has meant to him.

"It's given me a lot more order, a lot more discipline, a set of values I truly appreciate," he said. "My experiences with football at Oak Park I'd trade for nothing in the world. They're too valuable to making me the person I am."

Monday, February 16, 2004

Phone is back. Yeah!

Max , my son, is going to be interviewed by the LA Times
because he is being inducted into the National College Football Scholar Hall of Fame. And In the same week, I'm to be interviewed by a different person, also at the LA Times, for article on how "outsourcing" of work is affecting the local animation economy. . .
Good News? Max will definitly qualify for scholarships.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Max Hodge, my son, had a great football season. He's 17 and is a senior at Oak Park High School

Here are some of his awards
All Tri Valley League Lineman of the Year
All Ventura County Defensive Lineman of the Year
All CIF Defensive Lineman Division 4
All Ventura County All Star Team
National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete
Oak Park High School Eagle Award

Monday, January 12, 2004

Test 3

Hi! I'm the second test!

Test test Test test Test test Test test Test test Test test
Test test Test test Test test Test test
Test test Test test

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