The Traditional Animation Show has posted a nice video interview with former Disney Director Aaron Blaise. He studied to become an illustrator at Ringling College of Art in Florida in the late 1980's, and got recruited by Disney while still in school as part of an experimental program to train illustrators as animators on the job. At first he thought he would work as a background painter, but after creating a simple flour sack animation he fell in love with the medium, and his career went from there.
He received his animation training under Glen Keane, working on films like "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin" and "Pocahontas". In 2003 he co-directed the feature "Brother Bear", and spent time in an Alaskan national park studying Grizzly bears with the storyboard artist on the film. This real-life animal reference is typical for Disney, and was done both on "Bambi" and "The Lion King", where zoo animals were brought to the studio for the animators to observe.
Ten years ago Blaise moved away from the big studio life, and decided to use his 25 years of industry experience to teach animal drawing, painting, storyboarding and animation online. With rising college tuition fees for art schools, he wanted to create a resource that would be affordable for everyone.
When asked what's special about traditional animation, he says it's the handmade feel. While there's a lot of CG he loves, there's something special about taking a stack of paper and a pencil, and creating something that makes people laugh and cry.
The interview finishes off with an animation lesson on creating a flying eagle, looking at the mechanics of bird flight and the underlying structure with comparative anatomy between humans and birds.
"One of the things we want to do in animation is to create the illusion of life, and one way to create that illusion for the viewer is to make sure that you have good physics in your animation. Always observe and look at the world around you. Be interested in how things work", says Blaise.