Many children like to watch animated movies, but few will ever get to see where they are made. However, on Saturday, invited the young animators of the future to its digital productions campus in Culver City.
More than 50 students were on hand to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sony Pictures Media Arts Program and Sony Pictures Animation, as well as the 20th anniversary of Sony Pictures Imageworks.
All the students invited to the celebrations are part of a that provides free technical and artistic animation instruction to underserved communities in Los Angeles.
The children were able to attend the event as part of a private-public partnership between Sony Pictures Entertainment, the California Institute of the Arts and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, which operates five centers throughout Los Angeles. Nearby middle and high school students can sign up for free classes in technical and artistic instruction, and the classes are taught by CalArts faculty and students through the CalArts Community Arts Partnership.
"We are proud to be bringing kids of all social sectors into the leading industry of Los Angeles," said Olga Garay-English, executive director of the department of cultural affairs for the City of Los Angeles said during Saturday's opening remarks.
Students had the opportunity to meet Sony employees, including a storyboard artist, editor and an animator, who each gave a presentation describing their job. Students also watched clips from the upcoming movie Hotel Transylvania, which tells the story of how life at a hotel for monsters run by Dracula (Adam Sandler) is interrupted by a visit from a human (Andy Samberg). The clips demonstrated how the film progresses from storyboarding to its final animated product.
In between the tours and animation viewings, students gathered on the grassy knoll and lounged in the sun with sketchbooks in hand. They also posed for photos with cardboard cutouts of the Smurfs from the 2011 movie The Smurfs, and played dead by laying in front of the rows of fake tombstones inspired by Hotel Transylvania.
One of the student instructors at the event was 21 year-old Ben Carow, a former student of the SPMAP program. He told Patch he wants to give back to a program he said changed his life by helping him overcome depression.
"Now I see kids who are going through the same thing I once was, and I'm happy to help them," Carow said.
Ben Hunter, 15, is one of Carow's students in Eagle Rock. He entered the program when he was 11 and said it inspired him to apply to CalArts for college and pursue a career in animation.
"Without the program I'm not sure if I would have ever known that I wanted to do animation," Hunter said. "I would have still been painting and drawing, but I wouldn't have figured out what I really wanted to do."