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Finding the Truth in Animation

by Art U News

By Madison Silva 

The Tea Time Animation Club, run by Academy of Art University School of Animation & Visual Effects (ANM) students, recently hosted Pixar animator Michal Makarewicz and actor and AnimC Director of Operations Johnny Arkoosh at their Feb. 28 meeting, where they spoke at length about their personal industry journeys, providing tips and advice to the student animators.

“Events like this are such a great way to get extra resources [outside] of your regular classes,” said Tea Time member Susan Chen.

As part of their presentation, Makarewicz and Arkoosh performed skits for the students, depicting the differences in acting performances, and showed clips from their favorite films to show additional examples, which also included a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Pixar’s “Coco.”

The students in attendance listened intently as Makarewicz and Arkoosh provided examples of how acting connects back to animation. The guest speakers went through various film samples, from “E.T.” to “Showgirls,” pointing out the difference in acting styles and what a true response looks like. With each movie sample, they paused to show students the exact moment the actor was reacting versus acting. The guest speakers explained that the key to good acting is listening to your fellow actor and not focusing on what you will say next, but to instead focus on what is being said to you and reacting to that truthfully. 

(Far right) Pixar animator Michal Makarewicz presents during a recent Tea Time Animation meeting. Photo by Bob Toy.

Makarewicz and Arkoosh covered topics from across the board, from acting techniques to what will help inform students’ work as they strive to be one of the best in their field. “If you consider yourself an artist—go out there and experience other art forms,” said Arkoosh. “Dabble, play, and find other ways to communicate passion.”

Makarewicz spoke about his successes and challenges while working at Pixar, and the steps he took to find himself in that position. Some of his biggest challenges, he confessed to the students, were the times he couldn’t find the truth in his own work. Both he and Arkoosh agreed that their best work was made when they were present with their characters. 

“Know what your characters want and give them that,” said Makarewicz. 

Arkoosh elaborated on the importance of the truth-finding the truth in both your animation and yourself. “The audience will know when you’re not telling the truth,” he explained. 

They encouraged the students to ask themselves when animating: “Would I believe that?” 

At the close of their presentation, Makarewicz and Arkoosh advised students to keep attending events, asking questions, to practice their art without limitation, and to stay in the truth of the moment. 

“Art is about communication,” said Arkoosh. “You have to know your intention as an artist to be good.” 

To learn more about Tea Time Animation, please visit www.teatimeanimation.com.

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