Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Character animator visits North

by A.J. Hakim

October 04, 2012

Grosse Pointe students, they go on to do great things, Robert Thies said. Which is why the Grosse Pointe North High School art teacher and others in the art department place such an emphasis on college and career choices each fall with their annual Art, Colleges and Careers in the Art Department.“Some of our students are headed towards art school, and we’d like to point them to schools that are good, solid schools with a good, solid reputation,” Thies said of the visits, which typically draw representatives from eight art schools who meet and speak with art students.On Friday, Sept. 21, however, in addition to a scheduled meeting with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, students had another visitor — Dave Hardin, North alum and current Senior Character Animator at DreamWorks Animation.“This was kind of serendipity because he’s in town for a wedding,” Thies said. “He’s presented to our students two other times before. Previous years he’s brought his laptop and shown how the programs work that he uses.”Hardin, a former computer graphics student at North who later graduated from the College for Creative Studies, spoke to students for about 45 minutes during fourth hour. He touched on his career path, from a sophomore in Thies’s class to CCS to Sony Pictures to DreamWorks; his job; he showed clips from his demo reel, highlights from the last eight years, and “Anything for a Buck,” his senior thesis animation; and he spoke of 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’s path to character animation started at North when, during his sophomore year he went to see Disney Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life,” one of the first feature-length CGI films, and he “instantly got hooked on animation after that.” “I felt really, really, like this was the new big thing that was coming and I wanted to know more about it,” he said.His focus at North shifted to computer animation and drawing, but it was the four years at CCS that really honed his skills and led him to Sony Pictures directly out of college.“I think it’s really important for people to realize that college is only a short time and once it’s done you’re out in the world and that’s it,” Hardin said. “If you’re not ready for it, it’s gonna beat you down and keep you there. You’ve got to make sure you’re ready to fight back.”The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Sept. 21), College for Creative Studies (Sept. 26) and University of Michigan School of Art and Design (Oct. 3) have already visited for the fall. Kendall College of Art (Oct. 19) and Design and Ringling College of Art and Design (Oct. 26) are scheduled for later in October.