“Animation is Not the Only Way to Get into the Disney Studios”

Disney’s VFX specialist Josh Staub talks about endless opportunities in animation at the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival  

Sharjah, 11 October 2017

For a great number of young attendees of the ongoing Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival 2017 (SICFF 2017), being able associate with the Disney Studios in a professional capacity is their most preciously held career dream.


An evening with Disney’s visual effects supervisor, Josh Staub, who has worked on films like “Bolt”, “Tangled”, “Paperman”, the mega hit “Frozen”, and several others, led to the correction of popularly held yet misguided notions about the animations industry, and resulted in what can be likened to a strong awakening about the diverse and innumerable opportunities that are offered in this field of work.


Staub gave his audience a detailed presentation on how films are made in Disney. Everything from the beginning of the idea, projecting the idea onto storyboards, then taking the project into layout stage, followed by animation, effects and lighting before turning the film into what we see at the movies.


When asked about how many people touch a Disney film and how much time a movie takes to be turned around, Staub remarked: “We have 900 people in the studio, and it takes a lot of people to work on a film. I usually work on one project every three years, and the process is staggered.”


One of the main objectives of SICFF is to introduce children and young adults interested in the media arts to all the various job opportunities in animation – something that remains a bit of a mystery still due to lack of a connection to some of the bigger studios in America as well as overseas.


“When somebody says animation, people are mostly under the impression that it is just animation, and to be able to work for a studio like Disney you have to be an animator. In reality, animation is just one piece of the puzzle. There are several other pieces that are equally important yet unknown,” he said.


“You might be interested in effects, and that’s a job. You may have a knack for composition or may want to be a layout artist or a tech anime professional,” Staub added emphasising on the various roles that are available in the animated film industry and encouraged young artists to explore into these avenues.


During his presentation, he ran the audience through the different stages of production of a single shot that contributed it to looking incrementally closer to what they are familiar with on screen, and then showed them the final product, creating awareness about the different areas of expertise that future professionals can choose based on their talents and inclinations.

Making an interesting point about how the production process is different when it comes to musicals, he said: “We are guided by the music in these films, and defined a lot of times by what is happening with the music. So, where we cut our shots and their timing are very closely connected to the flow of and variations in the music. The music leads these projects more than the lines, and until it is locked for every scene we cannot start working on the visual aspects.”


Josh’s primary role at the studios is to work with directors and production designers to decide what the movies will look like, and then how to make it look like that. His latest work at Disney, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” comes out this fall. It is going to be in front of “Coco”, an animation by Pixar, which was acquired by Disney some years ago.


His short animation, “Feast”, created under Disney’s Shorts Program has won an academy award.


SICFF is the first-of-its-kind film festival in the country and region. It seeks to make children and young people media literate, nurture their talents and present the in filmmaking for, by and about children and young people, right here in Sharjah.


The fifth edition of SICFF is hosting 50 training workshops covering an array of topics on cinema and the visual arts. Taking place at the Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre throughout the duration of the festival, the sessions will continue once it has concluded, with the programme carrying on in Kalba, Dibba Al Hisn and Khorfakkan from October 15-31 and in Al Thaid, Al Madam, Al Hamyria and Al Bataeh until November 16.


Organised by FUNN – Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children, SICFF 2017 is featuring a cinematic extravaganza of 124 films from 31 countries, along with seminars and appearances by celebrated industry professionals.

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