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Beline Obeid

November 14, 2013
The following is the fourth installation in a series of articles about Grosse Pointe North High School’s second class of Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. Each week leading up to the ceremony Friday, Nov. 22, the Grosse Pointe News will feature a biography of the six recipients. This week’s alum is Dave Hardin, class of 2000.

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For Dave Hardin, it started sophomore year at Grosse Pointe North High School. As a student in Robert Thies’ art class, Hardin went to see A Bug’s Life, one of the first feature-length CGI films, and from then on, he was instantly hooked on animation.

“I felt really, really, like (computer animation) was the new big thing that was coming, and I wanted to know more about it,” said Hardin, who eventually turned his desire to know about computer animation into a professional career in it.

Hardin, who graduated with a BFA in animation and digital media from the College for Creative Studies in 2004, has spent the last eight years in California, working for five years as a senior character animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks and the past three years in the same position at Dreamworks Animation.

Some of the most well known films he worked on include: I Am Legend, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Turbo and Rise of the Guardians.

In 2007, he also earned an Annie Award nomination for outstanding achievement, character animation in a feature production, the highest honor given in animation, for his work in Surf’s Up.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s really, really, every second of it pays off,” Hardin said of animation, which he added takes up to three weeks of 12-hour days to complete five seconds of film. On average, he said, animation films take about four years from concept to end.

“It takes a long time, but film is kind of there forever, so that’s kind of one of those things that really motivates me, is that it’s there forever for generations to enjoy,” Hardin said. “They hold up through the test of time if they’re done well.”

Hardin’s commitment to and passion for Grosse Pointe North has also held through the test of time — at least, the past 12 years since his graduation. On several occasions, Hardin has taken a break from work and traveled back to Michigan to visit North and meet with students.

“Dave has donated many hours visiting North and encourages our students to excel in the arts,” said Thies, who nominated Hardin for the Distinguished Alumni Award honor.

During his most recent visit to North Sept. 2012, Hardin spent about 45 minutes discussing his career path, his job as senior character animator and, of most significance to him, the importance of college.

“You kind of get out of college what you put into it,” Hardin said to students. “And that’s what a lot of people at my college didn’t really know. When you go over to school, and you’re paying your own tuition, the college doesn’t really care as much as they do in high school … I’m paying all this money, I might as well get the best education, bug my teachers like crazy … My work ethic was that much higher, and I really was able to excel when I was over at Sony.”

Hardin also teaches students through iAni

mate.net, an online animation school.

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