Laguna art college celebrates 20th anniversary of animation program

Sophia Green 1
Laguna College of Art + Design alumna and freelance animator Sophia Green will provide live animation demonstrations Saturday and Feb. 22 at the LCAD Gallery as part of “Line-Form-Motion-Emotion: The 2D Classical Animation Process,” an exhibit that celebrates the 20th anniversary of the college’s animation program.
(Courtesy of Laguna College of Art + Design)

The Laguna College of Art + Design is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its animation program by holding an exhibit celebrating the history of hand-drawn classical animation.

“Many times in an exhibition, you’ll see art from animation or artwork from artists in animation. But this is an exhibition that celebrates the process of 2-D animation,” said Daniel Boulos, chairman of the animation program at the Laguna Beach school.

“Normally you’ll see two images from a scene, a few scenes that’ll take up the majority of the wall and you can see the rough, the cleanup, the color and the final results,” Boulos said. “There are one-off pieces of artwork that are examples of other parts of the process. Character design and things like that, it’s unique — it’s a rare type of approach to this type of exhibit.”

The exhibition — “Line-Form-Motion-Emotion: The 2D Classical Animation Process” at the LCAD Gallery in downtown Laguna — includes Fred Moore’s rarely seen hand-drawn images of the character Doc from Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”


Visitors also will be able to see a live animation demonstration by LCAD alumna and freelance animator Sophia Green on Saturday and again Feb. 22.

The exhibition continues through Feb. 27.

“We call it ‘Line-Form-Motion-Emotion’ because it goes from linear art to represent form, but once we build these dimensional forms, we need to move them convincingly in space,” Boulos said. “We create motion, and what we do [is] great character performance. Character animation ... it all starts with line.”

“You’re laying out things they generally don’t see. It’s not just one specific, iconic shot,” Boulos said. “This is much more to make people aware of the log of work that goes into creating small moments of time on the screen and also an actual animation experience.”


The college’s animation program was first conceptualized in 1998, according to Jonathan Burke, president of the Laguna College of Art + Design.

Burke said the college had been considering adding a new major to what existed at the time — drawing, painting, graphic design and illustration — and wanted to focus on skills, techniques and concepts to communicate a story. Animation sprung from illustration, Burke said, and the school decided to pursue it.

“There were not many [animation programs],” Burke said. “Really only two in North America — one was at Sheridan College in [Ontario] and CalArts in Valencia. We went to both colleges and really researched, looked at those programs. We contacted animators that we knew and illustrators that went into animation. We created an advisory board, did our research and really considered this as a major.”

The school subsequently created the curriculum, submitted it for accreditation and kicked off the program in 2000 under the direction of Dave Kuhn, a former Disney animator who recently retired as chairman of the program.

Burke said the program first had about 20 students but has grown to a class of 250.

Alumni have gone on to work at Disney, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony, Warner Bros. and more, according to the college.

“From the very beginning, each student who undertakes the LCAD animation degree program is trained in the tradition of hand-drawn animation to bring characters to life through motion and emotion,” Boulos said. “Whether our students are working with paper, pixels or puppets, they become exceptional storytellers who understand the entire process of filmmaking.”

Sophia Green drawings
Drawings by Sophia Green, a Laguna College of Art + Design alumna and freelance animator who will provide live animation demonstrations at the LCAD Gallery in Laguna Beach on Saturday and Feb. 22.
(Courtesy of Laguna College of Art + Design)

Though much of the program’s core tenets still focus heavily on 2-D animation, Boulos and Burke said the program plans to introduce a new element called experimental animation, which will shift away from classical animation in favor of techniques such as puppetry, stop-motion and computer graphics to serve platforms such as television and the internet.

“It’s still the same thing. It’s about bringing characters to life and to have your characters really communicate genuine emotions and to see them thinking and to be compelling and to tell a story that’s inspirational, that’s moving, that connects all of us to the human condition,” Burke said. “And to say something that’s important and meaningful about what it means to be a human being and to create this in your own unique style with great skill and respect for tradition.”


What: “Line-Form-Motion-Emotion: The 2D Classical Animation Process”

Where: LCAD Gallery, 374 Ocean Ave., Laguna Beach

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through Feb. 27. Live animation demonstrations will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Feb. 22.

Cost: Free


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