Eight New Animators Join Animation Mentor's Gifted Team of Professional Mentors

Category: Student/School News
Emeryville, Calif. – AnimationMentor.com (Animation Mentor), a leading online character animation school created by animators for animators, today announces eight new professional animators. Their roster of mentors now totals an average of 90 professional animators.


What makes Animation Mentor truly unique is that students are able to make incredible, lifelong friends while they learn tap into their inner geek. Face to face with their mentors, each person learns the craft of animation from the masterminds behind the movies and games that they love. The 18-month online program is focused 100% on character animation and is designed and taught by some of the industry's top professional animators from top studios. T he mentors, who teach small groups of 10-14 students, are employed at leading studios. The cutting-edge technology Animation Mentor leverages enables mentors to view and critique student work within an online campus forum, and host question and answer sessions that are archived for future reference. In addition to being able to learn directly from top professional animators, students can download lectures on demand by key industry experts on all aspects of production, and socialize in an online campus environment in the same way they would on Facebook.

"We reinvented the way people can get an animation education and created a model for passing on information from the top talent back to the people who are on their way to becoming the next super star ," said Bobby Beck, chief executive officer and cofounder of Animation Mentor. "I am incredibly proud of the talent that these individuals bring to our team. The professional expertise and insights of our mentors is what makes our program so valuable and offers students the real-world skills they need to start their career in animation."

About the New Animation Mentors
David Weatherly, DreamWorks Animation SKG David Weatherly has worked in animation for eight years, including five years in character technical direction and VFX for three years. He has been an animator at DreamWorks Animation SKG for four years where he is currently working on Kung Fu Panda 2. Other DreamWorks Animation films include Flushed Away, Bee Movie, and Monsters Vs. Aliens. Prior to DreamWorks Animation SKG, Weatherly worked at Disney and Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) where he worked on films such as Star Wars II Attack of the Clones, Men in Black II, and Harry Potter 2.

Erik Morgansen, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) Erik Morgansen has worked in animation for 13 years. He is currently an animator at ILM where he has worked on feature films such as Avatar, Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Star Trek. Prior to ILM, Morgansen animated at Disney where he worked on films such as Meet the Robinsons.

Kevin Freeman, Epic Pursuits, Inc. Kevin Freeman is a senior level character TD and Animator with over 10 years experience. He has worked on numerous feature films including Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Surf's Up, I am Legend, Open Season, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Spider-man 2, Spider-man and more.

Matt Garward, LucasArts Matt Garward has worked in animation for over four years and is also a graduate of Animation Mentor. He is currently a senior animator at LucasArts and has worked on feature films such as The Spiderwick Chronicles (ILM) and The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (ILM). Today he is currently working on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2.

Ralph Zondag, White Dragon Entertainment Ralph Zondag is a veteran film director, animator and storyboard artist. He is well known working with animation. He has most notably worked on such films as We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Dinosaur. He owns his own studio, White Dragon Entertainment, and also works as a storyboard artist, animator, and director for companies like Walt Disney Animation Studios, Dreamworks, and Universal. His lengthy career has enabled him to contribute to a wide range of projects in different roles over the years. Zondag started his career at Nelvana Limited as animator on projects like Strawberry Shortcake Meets the Berrykins and The Care Bears Movie. He later joined Sullivan Bluth Studios and worked on projects like An American Tail, The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go To Heaven and Rock-A-Doodle. He also directed television commercials while working at Sullivan-Bluth. In 1993 he directed an animated adaptation of We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story alongside his brother for Executive Producer Steven Spielberg. Zondag joined Walt Disney Feature Animation during the early 90s as a storyboard artist on Pocahontas. In 2000 he and Eric Leighton directed Dinosaur as a part of the Disney Computer Graphics Unit for The Secret Lab. He then worked on projects like Home on the Range, Balto 3: Wings of Change, Valiant and Curious George. Zondag worked as storyboard artist on Ultimate Avengers 2, Flushed Away, The Golden Compass, Kung Fu Panda and King of the Elves. He recently worked on 3-D animated features like Meet the Robinsons and Bolt, he also made concept art and storyboards during the pre-production of Tangled. He also worked on TV shows as Character Posing/Layout Artist Ewoks and Droids for Lucasfilm and as storyboard artist on The Land Before Time: The Series. He is currently directing and in pre-production on his upcoming CG animated feature, The Monkey King.

Rich Fournier, Blue Sky Studios Rich Fournier attended Animation Mentor and has worked in animation for over five years. He began his career in animation with Turbine, Inc., an online social gaming developer, where he animated for titles such as Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (2007) and Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach (2006) . Today he is a character animator at Blue Sky Studios where he is working on a new feature film titled Rio, due for release in 2011. Prior to Rio, he was a character animator on Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009). Ron Pucherelli, PDI Dreamworks Ron Pucherelli is a native New Yorker who started his career working as a graphic designer in television then soon realized he wanted to study animation full-time and enrolled in the Ringling School of Art and Design where he graduated in 2004. In 2005 he began his animation career in video games and worked at studios such as Electronic Arts (EA) and Sega. Titles include James Bond: From Russia with Love (EA), The Sims: Pets (EA), The Simpsons (EA), and Iron Man (Sega). During that timeframe he went on to further his animation skills and enrolled in Animation Mentor where he was able to complete his coursework while working full-time. In March 2008 he went onto become a full-time character animator at PDI DreamWorks. There, his feature film and TV projects have included Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa, Merry Madagascar (TV), and How to Train Your Dragon. Today he is currently working on MegaMind.

Serguei Kouchnerov, independent freelancer Serguei Kouchnerov began his career in Kiev as an animator, story artist and animation director, where he worked with Kievnauchfilm. In 1992, he won the international competition organized by the Walt Disney animation studio and was hired as a character animator and design artist. While with Walt Disney Animation, he animated for several feature films, including The Lion King and Fantasia 2000. From there he joined Dreamworks Animation SKG as a supervising animator and storyboard artist, contributing to a string of major feature films, including The Prince of Egypt (supervising animator) , The Road to El Dorado (supervising animator) , Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (storyboard artist, supervising animator) , Shrek 2 , Madagascar , Bee Movie and Madagascar 2. He also served as a story artist for Chicken Run , a collaborative project between DreamWorks and Nick Park's Aardman studios. Kouchnerov has also directed several short films including The Hybrid Union, The Log , The Hopeless Wombat, and Nine and Half Minutes.

Mentors teaching at Animation Mentor work a wide variety of top studios: Pixar Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), PDI/Dreamorks, Blue Sky Studios, Dreamworks Feature Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, LucasArts, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Rhythm and Hues Studios, Tippett Studios, Digital Domain, and Reel FX Creative Studios and more.Pixar Animation Studios, PDI/Dreamworks, Blue Sky Studios, Dreamworks Feature Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, LucasArts, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Rhythm and Hues Studios, Tippett Studios, Digital Domain, and Reel FX Creative Studios, and more.


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