Powerhouse animation team, the Klinglers, heading up several summer classes at PCA&D

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Thursday, May 28th, 2020

With the launch of PCA&D’s three new certificate programs  — Animation, Communication Design, and Game Art — it’s a new opportunity for the College’s BFA students to gain concentrated experience in these growing fields.

And it’s a chance for anyone to hone their skillsets for in-demand segments of these industries.

Faculty members Norma and Johan Klingler, both award-winning animators and artists who have worked for the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon, and Warner Bros., will be teaching several of the summer classes in both Game Art and Animation. Credits earned in the classes can be applied either to PCA&D’s new certificates in these areas, or toward a BFA degree.

“There is a lot of crossover between illustration, graphic design, game art, animation, etc., so these certificates provide artists from other industries the ability to build a more versatile skill set,” says Jon Di Venti, Chair of the Animation & Game Art Department.

“It also provides a foundation for those looking for entry-level positions who do not want, or cannot afford, to complete the entire Animation & Game Art BFA program. All courses in the certificate programs (with the exception of the Intro to Game Art course) come directly from our BFA program.”

And the classes, say both Di Venti and Johan Klingler, are the result of collaboration, experience, and synergy within the entire Animation & Game Art Department. They also target specific, current needs within the job market.

When people hear “animation,” they immediately think feature films — but, says Johan Klingler, there are so many other calls for these skills — and the field is growing. Classes offered in the new certificate programs have been chosen with that priority in mind.

That knowledge is needed for jobs in video games and their apps, motion graphics, and commercials. It can be applied in industrial training, education at every level, courtroom and insurance re-enactments, science study programs, merchandising, and real estate and construction walkthroughs. It’s used in city planning, and government and military programs — “and this just names a few of the areas needing animation as a business,” Johan Klingler says. “These are areas I have many of my students working in now.”


The Klinglers share what their summer classes will look like: 


How will your classes be delivered online?

JOHAN KLINGLER: The way both Norma and I instruct our online classes is the same. We give our lectures and assignments review at the start of class for the first hours and we record this session time. We request students to attend this, of course. Any students who cannot attend, and those who wish to review, can see the recorded session at a later time when the classroom recording gets posted, usually by the next day.

We then continue to be available for the rest of the class workshop time through Google Classroom chat to assist on projects as we would on campus in the classroom during workshop time. The deadline for assignments or work-in-progress is the start of the next class.

“That’s what’s most incredible in this business: bringing things to life. A drawing is one piece of art, but animation is hundreds of them, alive,” Norma Klingler says.

The class on traditional storyboarding that you teach, Norma, Story & Screen I, can be applied toward certificates in either Animation or Game Art: What skills are useful to have before taking this course?

NORMA KLINGLER: Life drawing (gesture drawing), good draftsmanship and line quality, good perspective, and solid form and dimensional drawing are all good places to begin.

Norma, the class description for Traditional Animation refers to a series of projects … can you give an example? Will the students end the course with a specific project they can save and/or build on?

NORMA KLINGLER: If the students focus on good quality, then they will have portfolio-quality 2D animations such as a walk cycle, run cycle, performance dealing with pushing heavy objects, etc. and more.     

Johan, is there something in particular that draws you to computer animation? What is its appeal to you?

JOHAN KLINGLER: Yes, the industry has evolved and I evolve with it, so I continually invent new tools for the industry which happen to be in the frontier of Computer Animation. But my first love will always be 2D animation. Luckily the industry is evolving to bring 2D into the computer 3D world now — a hybrid (of 2D and 3D is)  the new future of computer animation, so I am very happy.

Norma, for you in your own practice, is there a part or a stage of the animation process that you find especially rewarding?

NORMA KLINGLER: Storyboarding, character design, and animating as it brings things to life. For example, Johan did an assignment of a dog jumping on a box at (California Institute of the Arts) as a first-semester student. Then, a couple weeks later, he got hired at Don Bluth Studios. His animation test was doing the dog Charlie for “All Dogs Go to Heaven” jumping on a box. So he brought the dog to life. He worked on nine features for them then and continued college. 

That’s what’s most incredible in this business: bringing things to life. A drawing is one piece of art, but animation is hundreds of them, alive.   

Johan, you’ll be teaching Introduction to Game Art. What specific art techniques that will be explored in this class?

JOHAN KLINGLER: This is an introduction to the philosophy, pipeline, and management of game art class, as well as an introduction to what the specific arts are in the game arts and how they are done. Students will get a taste of this by doing parts of the video game pipeline (according to) industry standards, as in a studio. They will actually create a basic prototype paper board game, balancing out the philosophy of the gameplay to plan out the players’ psychological reactions. This sets up the Computer Gameplay Balance System. They will be shown industry examples for construction. They will use drawing, painting and/or software to produce elements (though they can use royalty-free elements as well, just as studios do). Again, they will be shown studio examples of department skills as well as guides into their own career choices. 

Johan, are there elements of traditional animation that are important to be familiar with before taking a class like Computer Animation I?
JOHAN KLINGLER: This is the beginner class in Computer Animation but not animation as a whole normally … I now teach this class with a full intro and review of the 12 principles of animation. This gives (students)  the proper appeal in their animation creations. So the class can be taken without the 2D class, but … students need the 2D skills to be the proper hybrids of today’s industry requirements. For example, high-end studios require animators to draw in the 3D software with 2D skills using what’s called the “grease pencil” tool in Maya software for the 3D animations. So taking traditional animation is fundamentally valuable in this industry.    

Jon, what role does the PCA&D faculty play in all this?

JON DI VENTI: The (Animation & Game Art) faculty is a team that works together to keep the wheels of this program turning. It’s our hope that our students will see and experience that synergy … that these are not just isolated courses designed in a vacuum, but a system of progressive learning designed by a diverse faculty with unique skill-sets. 

Norma and Johan, are you at liberty to discuss the animation projects you’re currently working on for studios?

NORMA: No we cannot discuss our work in the studios; we are both under very, very specific non-disclosure agreements. The students gain from our experience of employment at studios, which is excellent for students here. We even show them work from prior productions. But it often takes a number of years to get released from a non-disclosure agreement.  
For example, we couldn’t show anything of our work from “Beauty and the Beast” for almost six years after we were done with the film, even though the film was released. But, just in the last term, the students got to see some of our work from over 15 productions of video games and films, which inspired them greatly.