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CG RIFF Podcast

We are so excited to have launched an animation podcast, sitting down with conversations with some of the biggest names in the industry to bring inspirational content to the greater animation community. Listen as these titans of our craft share their hearts and journeys.


Episode #1 - Frank Abney III

For our inaugural episode of the CG RIFF Podcast, I sat down with veteran animator and Director Frank Abney III (Coco, Incredibles 2, Canvas, Soul, Boss Baby) to discuss his career, current projects and more. Hear the details about his upcoming short film project Black Man, Black Man, and learn effective ways to seek out mentors along your journey, both in and outside of your field. Celebrate Black History Month with us as we discuss representation in media and the legacy or African-Americas in the animation industry.


Episode #2 - Zach Parrish

For our second episode, I had the pleasure of sitting down with former classmate and Director/Animation Director, Zach Parrish (Wreck it Ralph, Big Hero 6, The Sea Beast) to discuss his journey into animation, his meteoric rise to leadership, directing his dream project, dealing with imposter syndrome and more. From student, to animator, to supervisor to directing 2 shorts at Disney, and most recently serving as Animation Director for Netflix on The Sea Beast, Zach's story is sure to motivate and inspire. Learn the key to his speed and hear about his process and workflow approaching shots.


Episode #3 - Benjamin Willis

For our third episode of the CG RIFF Animation Podcast, I had a blast sitting down with former SCAD classmate and DreamWorks Head of Animation, Benjamin Willis (Trolls, The Bad Guys, Kung Fu Panda) to discuss his path to DreamWorks, his longevity at one company, taking on leadership roles, sharing shots and more. From student, to animator, to supervisor on up to his current role as Head of Animation on Trolls 3, Ben's story is both exciting and inspiring. Hear about the moment he fell in love with animation, his workflow, his approach to assigning shots, his tips on "making yourself lucky" and more.


Episode #4 - David Han

For our fourth episode of the CG RIFF Animation Podcast, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Annie Award winning animator, David Han (Spiderman: into the Spider-verse, Across the Spider-verse, Angry Birds) to hear all about his journey from School of Visual Arts student, to freelance animator in NYC, to feature film animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blizzard, Riot Games and more. David's story is both insightful and inspiring. Hear about his process for tackling complex physical shots, his advice on when to share personal projects, and what it was like to be awarded animation's highest honor.


Episode #5 - Amy Smeed

For our fifth episode of the CG RIFF Animation Podcast, I sit down with 25-year Disney Animation veteran, Amy Smeed. Beginning with Dinosaur, Amy has had a hand in nearly every WDAS film, serving as Co-Head of Animation on Moana, Raya and the Last Dragon and most recently Strange World. It was absolutely delightful getting to chat all things animation with her. Amy has a wealth of knowledge, and drops loads of inspiring wisdom from her many years at WDAS about getting your foot in the door, taking risks, what it takes to transition to leadership, how she goes about crafting a character performance, and what it was like joining the feature industry just as things were transitioning to primarily 3D animated features. We even geeked out over Broadway musicals for a bit.


Episode #6 - Ted Ty

For our sixth episode of the CG RIFF Animation Podcast, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with none other than, Ted Ty. Ted has over 30 years of experience in the animation industry, from his first gig on a little known indie flick called The Lion King to many years contributing to traditionally animated Disney hits like Lilo and Stitch. Ted spent well over a decade at DreamWorks Animation, and served for many years as an educator at Cal Arts and iAnimate. More recently, Ted was the Animation Director on Ballerina and Co-Director and Head of Animation on Fireheart at L'Atelier in Montreal. Ted currently serves as the Global Head of Character Animation for DNEG and was the Animation Director on Netflix's Nimona out June 30th. Hear Ted's insights on teaching, finding mentors, transitioning to leadership, how to assemble a diverse team, and so much more. I know you're going to enjoy this conversation as much as I did!


Episode #7 - Everett Downing Jr.

For our seventh episode of the CG RIFF Animation Podcast, I was thrilled to sit down with multi-hyphenate Animator, Story Artist, Director and Showrunner, Everett Downing, Jr. Everett started his career in animation and story at Big Idea and over the course of the next 25 years or so, he would go on to serve in a variety of roles at just about every major US studio including Blue Sky, Pixar, DreamWorks, Sony and Netflix, picking up an Oscar and an Emmy along the way. His most recent efforts as showrunner on Netflix's My Dad the Bounty Hunter have garnered much acclaim, and they recently announced that it has been picked up for a second season. Hear from Everett's wealth of knowledge acquired from skating seamlessly back and forth multiple times from storyboard artist to feature film animator. Hear about his experience bringing his own projects like The Book of Mojo to life, and the joys of leading a team where everyone is firing on all cylinders. Hear what it was like winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Short for Hair Love and an Emmy for We the People, as well as his advice on getting your own projects made. This interview was a blast! 


Episode #8 - Brenda Chapman

For our eighth episode of the CG RIFF Animation Podcast, I got a chance to sit down for a delightful conversation with industry legend, Brenda Chapman. Brenda's incredible career spans nearly 4 decades, contributing in a major way to groundbreaking mega hits like Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King before transitioning into Director's chair, helming films like The Prince of Egypt at DreamWorks and Pixar's Brave, for which she became the first female to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. More recently, Brenda has spread her wings, developing a host of projects and even taking on live action projects, a novel and a stage play. You're sure to be inspired by this episode and her amazing journey thus far and her advice on overcoming adversities, bringing out the best in your team, the importance of support, and being at the right place at the right time. 


Episode #9 - Jacob Gardner

For episode nine of the CG RIFF Animation Podcast, I had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Jacob Gardner, Head of Animation at Agora Studio. Jacob spent nearly a decade at DreamWorks Animation working on films such as Monster Vs. Aliens, Puss in Boots, Megamind, Rise of the Guardians, Home, Trolls and more, before charting his own path and helping to define the future of what remote animation work can look like as a partner at Agora. As Head of Animation, he has overseen work on projects like Alberto Mielgo's Jibaro and The Witness from the Love Death and Robots Anthology, The Meeps, Wish Dragon and many many more. Hear from Jacob's wealth of knowledge as an animator and educator, and learn what it takes to lead a team, overcome imposter syndrome and how to find the right balance between work and family life, and how Agora Community is changing the face of animation education by leveling the playing field. 


Episode #10 - James Baxter

You are all in for a treat. To wrap up our first season of the podcast, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with a living legend to record episode #10. None other than James Baxter himself joins us, and gives a glimpse into his process, his challenges, insights and pearls of wisdom garnered from over 35 years in the industry. Having supervised on such iconic characters as Belle, Quasimodo, Rafiki, Sinbad, Spirit and many others, James is an undisputed master of the craft and an all around lovely human being. I know you'll enjoy hearing from him as much as I did.

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