Talent Spotlight: Evan Csulik

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We’re very excited to introduce you to Evan Csulik who started working with Eric Miller Animation Studios last month as a freelance conceptual illustrator and designer. He will be working with us to create fun, beautiful and imaginative worlds. He will mostly be creating designs for our marketing and social media, but will also help out on other projects including some of our own original ideas.

Evan grew up in Sarasota, Florida where his enthusiasm for visual story-telling, and picture making first began to grow. This love for the arts continue to grow over his lifetime. He is extremely passionate about environment design from observing the natural and man-made world.

While growing up, Evan was in love with watching cartoons from Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. He drew for most of his childhood in sketchbooks and doodled on post-it notes. It wasn’t until late high school he wanted to pursue his passion for art. He was accepted to Ringling College of Art and Design in 2012 and majored in illustration. It wasn’t until halfway through his time there when he realized he wanted to pursue his career in animation.

 Desert Trip - one of the first illustrations Evan created for Eric Miller Animation Studios

Desert Trip - one of the first illustrations Evan created for Eric Miller Animation Studios

 Evan is not all work and no play. In his free time, he enjoys longboarding, hiking, playing video games, and eating ice cream.

We are honored to have Evan onboard with us, and can’t wait to see what amazing worlds he creates in the coming months. Keep a lookout on our website and social media for more of his work.

You can also visit His Portfolio!

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Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

Animation Spotlight: Patty Peraza

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We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Patty Peraza, the first female Effects Animator at Disney Feature Animation Studio. She is known for her work on Fox and the Hound, Tron, Epcot, Mickey's Christmas Carol, Meet the World for Tokyo Disneyland, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasia 2000, and many more. She also did work for Warner Bros. Hyperion, as well as commercials. 

"My dad would rarely go out to the movies, but he always took the family to see the Disney movies. The one that had the biggest impact on me was one we had arrived to a little late so the only seats left were in the very front row. It was Bambi, such a gorgeous film! Sitting there as a young child looking at the beautiful artwork just a few feet in front of me was probably what inspired me the most."

Patty used to draw all the time when she was young, and knew that she wanted to be an artist since elementary school. Though her parents did not want her to move away from Maryland, she always had their full support. She had received a full scholarship from the Disney family for the Disney Animation Program at CalArts in the 1970's. The program was intense, so Patty had to stay very focused to keep her scholarship. Her hard work did not go unnoticed by the head of the program, Jack Hannah.  He even encourage her to take breaks from time to time and suggested she go out with Mike Peraza, one of the teachers assistant in the program, who eventually became her husband!

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Patty was the first female to be hired directly out of the CalArts Disney Animation Program to work at the Walt Disney Studios.  She was also the first female to be hired into the Effects department, and when she was promoted to Effects Animator she was the only female animator in both the effects and character animation departments.  

"Almost every women would go into the Ink & Paint Department. It was just the way it was set up because the studio was founded back in the 1920's, and so that the guys were doing the animation artwork and the women were painting. It really was a mastery to ink those cells and get the lines exactly, I'm amazed at what they could do. I loved the plausible impossible, and you can do anything with animation, so that was more fun for me"
 Patty with husband Mike Peraza - Photo Credit: Greg Preston (Found in the new book  "The Artist Within Book 2" )

Patty with husband Mike Peraza - Photo Credit: Greg Preston (Found in the new book "The Artist Within Book 2")

Patty's husband Mike had also been hired at Walt Disney Studios out of the program at CalArts as an Art Director, he worked on concept art, visual development, and the style of the film. He is best known for the Little Mermaid, but also designed and developed Gummi Bears, DuckTales, Goof Troop, Talespin and Darkwing Duck in addition to being an imagineer for the new Fantasyland Land and Shanghai Resort.

After Patty's daughters, Kim and Kristin, were born it was important for her to spend time at home. Luckily enough freelancing from home was an option with Disney TV and Direct to Video, which gave her the chance to be with her kids and still do what she loved doing. She was at Disney Studios from 1979-1987 and then returned to Disney features when Don Hahn asked her to be the project lead for Beauty and the Beast.

"Right now I'm a master artist for the Arts of the Parks, so I do artwork for the galleries at the parks. When they asked me to do it, I went down and looked at the Disney galleries with all these beautiful paintings, I thought 'how am I going to stand out?'. I thought 'Well, I was an effects animator so I'll incorporate effects'. They wouldn't let me have real fire on my paintings, and I thought nobody is going to buy the splash at Disney Parks, they all want the characters! So I decided for my "effect" it would be the medium itself. They had paper sculptures, but they didn't have anything in cloth, so I decided I would make something out of cloth!" 
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You can find Patty's beautifully designed cloth art pieces at most Disney stores all over the world. Patty and her husband Mike, who also sels prints, will be doing a signing at the opening weekend of the Food and Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure on March 3 & 4, 2018!

Talent Spotlight: David Gouldthorpe

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We'd like to give a warm welcome to David Gouldthorpe as Eric Miller Animation Studio's newest team member! David has joined our social media & marketing team working with Mary Lou, and will be writing some of our weekly blog posts. 

David grew up in the nice quiet town of Mesa in Arizona, where he spent most of his childhood painting and writing "outlandish stories".  This was when his passion for Illustration began.  David is currently attending Cornell University in Ithaca, New York working on his Industrial and Labor Relations degree!  While he is not an art major in school he recently began to freelance as an illustrator.

 
 

"Illustrating can tell a story like no other medium is able to do. I've spent years learning the language, and I'm trying to use it for my own tales now."

 
 
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David's hobbies include: illustrating (of course), writing both fiction and nonfiction stories, and keeping up with his favorite YouTube channels. He also finds a great deal of interest in reviewing films, as well as finding their impact to himself and others. We look forward to reading more of his reviews on Eric Miller Animation studio's Blog (be sure to read the previous ones on Coco and Adventure Time!).

 
 

After David graduates he hopes to move to Los Angeles to do more with his passion for Illustration or a position at a theme park, which he has had experience with in the past. He also looks forward to LA's warm weather! Along with keeping up with his blogs on MillerAnimation.com, be sure to check out his website here!

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Talent Spotlight: Hayden Patterson

We're excited to introduce Hayden Patterson! He recently finished working with us as a freelance 2D Animator on one of our client projects. We had such a great time working with him we wanted to learn more about his journey as an animator. 

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Hayden grew up in the small town of West Bend in Wisconsin. Spending time outside with his siblings and reading Sunday comics were the results of his imagination and his inspiration to be a cartoonist at a very young age. Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, and Sheldon are just a few of the comics he was inspired by, along with Looney Toons, especially "Tom and Jerry" being his visual influence. With the support of his parents and the guidance of his teacher in high school, he was able to go to school for Animation at Maryland College Institute of the Arts!

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Working at several small studios, while he was in college and over the past couple years, gave Hayden the confidence and skills he needed to move forward with his career. Some of these studios include; Moving Colour, Eskimo, and Locus New Media.  Now that he is in California it has opened even more opportunities. After working as a freelance animator at Eric Miller Animation Studios, he went on to working full time at the NFL Network doing animation and other facets of video work.

"I met Eric at The Creators Society Mixer, which helped me acclimate to LA and the professional network here. After the first one, I had to check out Eric’s studio online, and really enjoyed the content he has produced, particularly “Bink”, which is absolutely stunning, and adorable."
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He loves spending his time animating, but tries to spend time outdoors as often as possible. Being in California gave him the opportunity to spend time outdoors a little differently than he did in his childhood days in Wisconsin. He surfs any moment he gets the chance as well as playing basketball and disc golf.

To check out some more of Hayden's work be sure to visit his portfolio.
http://www.haydenpatterson.com/#/reel/

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Talent Spotlight: Rich Draper

We're excited to introduce Rich Draper! He is currently working with us on one of our client's projects with our team of animators. We had the chance to learn more about Rich's journey through the creative industry, and wanted to share what makes him a great animator!

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Rich grew up just outside of Toronto in Burlington, Ontario Canada, and was I nspired by the Warner Bros. Cartoons, old Disney features, and Mad Magazine. He knew being in the creative industry would be perfect for him; from childhood he loved watching movies and was constantly drawing cartoons.

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After studying Classical Animation at Sheridan College in Canada, Rich moved to New York for a couple years. It was not long until he was back to Canada to work on features and commercials, which eventually landed him a job in Los Angeles. After spending 7 years in LA working at Creative Capers, Kurtz & Friends Animation, and Sony, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia. There for 16 years now, he's done everything from directing, animating and character design for studios like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, Adult Swim, and clients such as IBM and UPS.

 
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Though Rich started with "just good old pencil and paper and film cameras", he is glad to be doing digital animation with Eric Miller Animation Studio because he is "always happy to get a chance to work with new studios, to see what they do, get inspired and continue to grow". He's been animating for 30 years now, but he knows how to keep his life balanced! His free time is spent playing hockey, cycling, and traveling.

 

We're really excited to be working with such a talented animator, and if you interested in seeing more of Rich's work then head over to his online portfolio at www.richdraper.com

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Talent Spotlight: Joe Castillon

We're excited to introduce Joe Castillon! He is currently working with us on a client's project with a team of animators. We had the chance to sit down with Joe to learn more about what makes him so awesome.

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Joe grew up in the "Windy City of Chicago, Illinois". He started drawing at a very young age and has always been inspired by the art and technicality of games, tv commercials, and movies, especially "Toy Story". He had laid out his life plan to become an animator very early on and didn't stop until he followed that dream through!

He attended Illinois Institute of Art to pursue a degree in Media Arts & Animation, and shortly thereafter Joe moved to Pasadena, California! Though this may not be his final destination, it gave him the opportunity to work on his first feature length animation at Asylum Entertainment and opened the do to many freelance positions, including Eric Miller Animation Studios!

Sketching at cafe's, attending animation and gaming conventions, such as E3, and the many people he meets at the local food kitchens he volunteers his time in are all inspirations for Joe. He's excited to be able to make it as a creative, doing the voice overs and animations for others to watch, and hopes he can spread the word that you can have a job doing what you love with strong work ethics and a positive mindset! 

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Be sure to take a look at more of his work and watch his animation reel!

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Talent Spotlight: Ruby Wang

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We’re so excited to introduce our newest team member, Ruby Wang. Ruby is a talented illustrator who will be working with Eric Miller Animation Studios to provide illustrations and concept designs.  When not working on specific projects she will be creating some fun illustrations for both our website, and social media.  So keep an eye out for some of her amazing work.  

Growing up on a small island in Taiwan surrounded by a crisp blue ocean and huge mountains filled Ruby Wang’s mind with many stories that she wanted to share with the world. She has been drawing for as long as she can remember, but thought making her art move would make a bigger impact for the stories she had to tell, which is what made her interested in animation.

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“When I was little, my sister and I loved playing a game called “Story Theater.” I would spend a whole week illustrating a story, by the weekend I had a complete story to present to my sister. I loved seeing her face glow; she was so eager to see and hear more about my stories. This inspired me to do what I do today, tell stories through my art.”
— Ruby Wang
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After studying 3D animation in Taiwan, she came to the United States and worked towards her Master’s in Visual Development. She felt fortunate to be accepted into the internship program for Tonko House in the Spring of 2017 and shortly thereafter started as a concept artist at Flight School Studio. After seeing the Bink teaser, Ruby saw great potential in Eric Miller Animation Studio and hoped to contribute to the project. So here she is now, very excited to start as a freelance illustrator, and we are also very excited to get to work with her!

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Talent Spotlight: Mary Lou Miller

We want to welcome Mary Lou to our team! Mary Lou Miller (No relation to Eric!) will be the new Social Media Marketing Coordinator for Eric Miller Animation Studio. She has also been helping us with event planning for The Creators Society Monthly Mixers!

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Mary Lou is a first generation Syrian who was born and raised in Los Angeles. During a visit to San Francisco, she fell in love with the city’s history, eclectic culture and arts.  She graduated from the Academy of Art University with a Masters in Art Education, continuing to teach art to K-12th grade for a number of schools in the Bay Area.

While developing her Art Advocacy project she became inspired by the city’s growing indie game culture! She got into Social Media Coordination for a few small game studios because she believed that game art and development was a bridge to youth and their possible future careers in the art industry.  The idea of sharing the art that was being created in games became just as important to her as sharing the importance of art being taught in schools.

After moving back to LA, she continues to promote and support artists and projects through social media.  She is excited to find inspiring news in animation as she helps Eric Miller Animation Studio share more about the world of animation on the many platforms we have.

 "Bay Area Fog"-Mary Lou

"Bay Area Fog"-Mary Lou

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Animation Spotlight: Ken Bielenberg

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We're excited to introduce you to Ken Bielenberg, a talented animation veteran who's credits include Shrek, ANTZ, Monsters vs Aliens, The Simpsons and many more! Ken has worked in both live action and animation, and has directed, produced, and was a VFX Supervisor on several projects. Not only are we excited to discuss Ken's career on our blog this week, but we are happy to announce he will be taking on an advisor role for Eric Miller Animation Studios. Ken will will be advising Eric on a variety of business and creative areas.

What was your path to get into animation?

I went to college at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for computer science, but what I really loved was film and animation.  So, I used all my electives to take as many film and traditional animation classes as I could.  After 2 college co-ops at IBM, I realized that I didn't want to be a computer programmer, so I decided to combine my interests and pursue computer animation.  This was in the early days of CG -- it was a risky move.  But, my parents were really supportive so I went for it and eventually landed a production assistant position at PDI in 1990.  I was SO excited to be at PDI and practically lived there to soak it all in.

    What do you think the major differences in the animation industry today are from when you first got into the industry?

    Oh boy!  Everything is different.  When I started at PDI, flying logos were still state-of-the-art computer animation!  Five years later, TOY STORY came out, proving it was possible to make a feature length animated film.  That was huge!  Then, the next two features were ANTZ (which I worked on) and A BUG'S LIFE.  At that point in time, the power of the computers and the state of animation technology really did limit the stories that were feasible to produce in CG.  Toys and bugs were what we could handle at the time.  Now, there's really no limit.  

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    Antz

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    What do you feel will be the next big breakthrough in the animation industry?

    Computer Animation is getting closer to being able to create believable, photorealistic humans, but we're not there yet.  The "uncanny valley" is still very much an issue, but it's a holy grail challenge that will get conquered at some point.

    What has been your favorite/most rewarding animation project you worked on thus far?

    There are so many!  But, I'd have to say SHREK 2.  It was a perfect combination of a great team super excited to push the envelope and a great story.

    Are there any little known fun facts about any of the projects you've worked on?

    I worked on the Simpsons segment where Homer goes into the 3rd dimension for the Tree House of Terror VI episode in 1995.  It was the first time Homer would be realized as a 3D CG character.  We were nervous about translating this iconic 2D character into 3D.  I wasn't sure how things like his hair (he has big Ms on the side of his head!) would translate.  Would that look weird?  But, it worked and the Simpsons team was a dream to work with.  So much fun.

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    The Simpsons / Via cinemablend.com

    We're excited to have you as an advisor for Eric Miller Animation Studios, what are you most excited to share your expertise on?

    I'm excited to help in any way I can.  When Eric left Dreamworks to start his own animation studio, I thought "that's incredibly ambitious and a little bit crazy."  And lo and behold, Eric's successfully launched his studio, is producing excellent work and is consistently adding new clients.  I'm especially excited about the next chapter for BINK.  He's such a cute character with a ton of potential.

    What is your dream job, or what do you want to work on next?

    My dream job is really simple.  It sounds corny, but it's all about working with great people.  I love creating an environment where insanely talented people can produce their best work.

     

    Thank you to Ken for sharing his experiences and thoughts with us!

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    Talent Spotlight: Carl Johnson

    We'd like to introduce you to Carl Johnson, a talented Emmy-winning composer of music for film, TV, stage and new media. He's spent much of his impressive career working on animated projects, which we wanted to explore further in this blog post. Enjoy!

    How did you become interested in music/composing music?

    I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old, and from the very beginning I picked out little tunes that I made up for fun. I also played trombone in marching band at school and several times in high school I wrote arrangements for the band to play. I always treated music as a hobby, and never took it that seriously until I was in college. I had been taking some music classes at the University of Kansas just for fun (I was a pre-med major) but soon found I was spending all my time on music-related activities and finally decided to change my major to music half way through school.

    My first interest in film music definitely started when I got the original Star Wars album as a kid. I remember wearing out the “Cantina Band” track because I thought it was so cool. I played it over and over.

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    What was the first project you composed music for?

    I didn’t plan it, but I really started my freelance career in animation. The first project I was hired to compose for was an animated series called Goof Troop by Disney TV Animation. The head composer was Mark Watters and he was looking for people to help him out. I got a nice recommendation from Bruce Broughton, who was an instructor of mine at the USC Film Music program, and Mark brought me on board to be part of his team. I worked for Mark on a few series (Goof Troop, Bonkers, Raw Toonage, Marsupilami) for Disney, then met Richard Stone and Shirley Walker who invited me to help them on their projects at Warner Brothers (Taz-Mania, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Batman: The Animated Series). That whole period in the ‘90s was such a booming time for animation and animation music. We got to work with live players several times a week. The studios were really putting a lot of resources into their shows.

    Was it a hard industry to break into? What were the biggest challenges for you to break into the industry?

    I was lucky, in that I got some really nice recommendations early on. It used to be a tradition in town that the more established composers would really make an effort to help out the newer ones trying to break in. I had some wonderful mentors in Rich Stone, Shirley Walker, Bruce Broughton and Mark Watters.

    But really the industry has evolved to the place where you’re constantly trying to break in. The biggest challenge is trying to make an effort to meet new filmmakers, and constantly re-invent yourself. I find that I spend much more time marketing than I do actual composing!

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    What is your process when creating music for animated projects?

    Animated projects are different from live-action ones in that you often don’t see final picture until the final mix of the film. It’s not uncommon to start composing music to very early drawings that only approximate the timing of the final film. Before animation was done digitally, they always started out with hand-drawn storyboards that were filmed and edited into a rough assembly of the project and synchronized with the recorded dialog. I would often start with these “Leica Reels” or sometimes just a script. And begin coming up with themes from those.

    Once an initial creative meeting is held with the creative team, I go home to my studio and start work, either sitting at a piano or in front of a computer. I’ve had to learn to be very organized about getting the music written and ready in time to deliver it. I usually figure out how many total minutes of music I have to write, divide it by the total days I have available and come up with a minutes-per-day number that is my daily goal when I’m writing. I’ll start working at 4:00 am and finish around 5:00 pm so I can have dinner with my family, where I’ll complain about not meeting my daily quota.

    Congratulations on your Emmy! How has winning an Emmy changed your career?

    Thanks! Actually two Emmys. :-) It’s hard to say what would be different without them, but it’s a nice marketing tool. Sometimes it will get you in a door that would otherwise be closed. The best part is being in the TV academy and getting screener videos for that year’s Emmy Awards. It’s a good way to see the best of what’s going on without having to spend days watching TV to find it!

     Are there any little known fun facts about any of the animation projects you've worked on?

    There are lots of little quirks and challenges with every project. One experience that sticks in my head is writing the music for the end of the Hunchback of Notre Dame II. There’s a scene where Quasimodo is ringing a bell for something like a minute and fifteen seconds while dialog and action happen over it. I had to come up with a piece of music that supported the action, stayed out of the way of the dialog, and matched the exact tempo and pitch of the bell that was ringing away for 76 consecutive tolls during all that time. It was certainly a challenge!

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    What project are you currently working on?

    I’m currently helping put together music for an animation-inspired theme park in the UAE. I’m also actively writing several works for musical theater (www.bagelsthemusical.com, www.marymariemusical.com) and doing short films and projects as I can. This year I helped orchestrate music for the features Finding Dory and the Magnificent Seven as well as wrote the score for an independent feature called “Price for Freedom.” There’s always something interesting going on!

     Conducting the Magnificent Seven. Photo Cred: ScoringSessions.com

    Conducting the Magnificent Seven. Photo Cred: ScoringSessions.com

    What do you still want to achieve, or what do you want to work on next?

    I’d love to keep working in animation, especially recording scores with an orchestra. My favorite experiences in this business have been conducting in a big recording space surrounded by dozens of expert musicians all working to create emotional, dramatic music. As a composer it just doesn’t get any better than that! 

    We'd like to thank Carl for taking the time to let us interview him, and we are so lucky we are able to collaborate with such a talented musician on our projects. Carl did the scores for both Bink, and the MagicMeeMees web series for us, and we look forward to continue working with him in the future!

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