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An Evening of Animation Insight

by Art U News

School of Animation & Visual Effects (ANM) instructor and Pixar animator Guilherme Jacinto came to speak to a full theater of Academy of Art University students this past May at 79 New Montgomery.

Jacinto decided on his career path when he was just 10 years old after he saw the first “Toy Story” film in his native Brazil. Shortly after, he began teaching himself to animate using Maya, an industry standard 3-D graphics program.

 “I always really loved drawing. When I saw ‘Toy Story,’ I thought that looks really fun and interesting and wanted to see if there’s a job to do that. I started messing with animation at home when computers started becoming more available with Maya,” Jacinto said. “There weren’t many animation schools in Brazil at the time. I started looking online and found the Academy of Art.”

The evening’s lecture was broken up into two parts: First, discussion on the acting choices that go into building a shot and, second, a demonstration on animation technique. In the first section, he outlined the process by which he decides in which direction to take his shot.

“I basically get in an acting room and get into the character and record myself over and over and over again, until I’m acting out what the subtext is,” Jacinto said. “It’s a lot of acting, recording yourself and watching yourself and figuring out what you’re doing. Everybody should do it. Most animators should do it, not even just for acting but also for physicality.”


Subtext was a word that was thrown around quite a lot throughout the presentation. It means the actual communication in a scene. These include not just the dialogue, but also the thoughts and emotions of the characters and events leading up to the scene. Romualdo Silva, an animation student and Tea Time Animation member, offered his take on the importance of acting in animation.

“Acting is one of the hardest parts of animation. We are animators, but we need to be actors. We need to think about how the character will act in front of the camera. The acting part needs to be figured out through thinking about who the character is,” Silva said. “What type of character are they? How do they think? For me, it helped a lot. I’m starting to work with the dialogue shots. I’m thinking about more than the dialogue, like what the dialogue means to the scene and story.”

The second section of the lecture Jacinto spent performing an animation demonstration for a mockup scene of him and his friend having a disagreement about the next activity on their agenda for a fictional vacation. He began by showing a reference reel of himself in an acting room and proceeded to animate a basic model to portray those acting choices and physicality.

The process was painstaking and highly technical, but valuable to the students. Jacinto said that often students are critiqued on their work and sent back with instructions to complete a project, without the technical knowhow to perform the required tasks. This portion of the lecture and his shot production class were designed to do just that.

Jacinto co-instructs the feature animation training program shot production course each semester during the regular academic year. Each class features a lecture and a demonstration, but the emphasis is on the actual technique that goes into building shots and composing a scene. He will be on break for the summer, but students will be able to enroll in the course for the upcoming fall semester.

Jacinto has worked tirelessly to prepare himself for the animation industry since before joining the Academy. When asked for advice on making it in the animation world he said, “Hunger for learning acting, learning appeal, learning animation. I didn’t feel good enough to get a job just by doing the bare minimum homework that was assigned to me. I was always doing extra work. I was constantly drawing out on Union Square, going to workshops and drawing, animating at home. Everybody has bad drawings, you just have to get them out of you quickly so you can learn from it.”


Featured photo: Pixar animator Guilherme Jacinto. Photo courtesy of the School of Animation & Visual Effects.

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