Apr 102012
Authors: Kate Winkle

Before graduating from CSU in 2007, Duncan Ramsay was just another student working as a Resident Assistant and dabbling in film and photography. Now he works for Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. and is the art production coordinator for the upcoming film “Monsters University.” Ramsay will be at CSU this Thursday for the fourth biennial ISTeC FutureVisions Symposium and will speak about “The Pixar Way and the Future of Animation (or as much as I can say without getting fired)” during a session from 10:10 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom.

Collegian: Why did you get involved in animation? What first got you interested?

Ramsay: Since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in animation. I would spend my time drawing the classic Disney characters, thinking one day I’d like to be a professional artist. In addition to sketches and doodles, I’d make short films with neighborhood friends. Live action, crude special effects, even stop-motion claymation. The magic of filmmaking has always interested me.

C: You have a resumé that includes work with Disney, National Geographic, Proctor & Gamble and now Pixar. How did you get these connections?

R: The network of family, friends, coworkers, professors and neighbors is a wide one. They know people, and those people know people. I reached out to this network for all of these experiences. Companies like Disney and National Geographic had always impressed and intrigued me.

C: What in your life and career has most prepared you for your current position as a Pixar art production coordinator? Why?

R: Working as a character attendant at Walt Disney World was great experience for a role in production. You have to be clear with your communication, positive and efficient or you can quickly find yourself in over your head. Disney customer service is recognized as some of the best. Strangely, I found it extremely applicable to production.

C: How did your experiences at CSU prepare you for work in such varied fields?

R: I’d have to say the experience that prepared me most for production coordinator at Pixar was being a Resident Assistant at CSU for three years. Being enthusiastic (even during stressful moments), efficient, resourceful and quick on your feet are all qualities of a good RA, and a good production person for that matter.

C: What advice do you have for CSU students and people interested in animation and the animation industry?

R: Students interested in animation should become lovers of film. You should watch and know the classics (I’m still trying to do that). Even though Pixar is an animation studio, my co-workers are constantly studying film in all of its forms. In many ways, production is a lot like customer service. As odd as it sounds, experience at a restaurant or at an amusement park, for example, can be one of the best qualifications for production work.

C: What is the future of animation? How and why has it changed and where is the focus now?

R: As is true in the last 20 years, computer animation will continue to progress visually with breakthroughs technology. Hair, cloth, fur and water simulation is only getting better. Pixar’s summer 2012 film ‘Brave’ is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Distribution of films and projection of films will all most likely change, but Pixar always tries to focus on story. A great story is timeless.

Collegian reporter Kate Winkle can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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