William Shull, a Disney animator, founded the UCLA Animation Workshop in 1948, as a group of animation classes. Upon Shull’s retirement in 1970, Dan McLaughlin became the area head and started the graduate (MFA) program in 1971. Dan was the sole Senate Faculty member for many years, advising students and teaching the core classes, while working with a variety of talented adjuncts to teach specialty classes in the ever-expanding area. Celia Mercer was hired in 1996 as the second Senate Faculty member of the Workshop. Upon Dan McLaughlin’s retirement in 2007, Mercer became Area Head, and Chuck Sheetz was hired as Senate Faculty. Chuck works primarily with the first-year students, while Celia works with the second-year students; both work with thesis students.
The program is supported by two full-time staff members – Doug Ward, is Academic Administrator and also a part-time lecturer; Steve Engles, is our Lab Manager. Doug oversees the operations of the program. This includes researching software & hardware, coordinating the end of year screening (known as Prom), and many objectives in between. Steve keeps the labs and equipment up to date and running smoothly, consults with faculty regarding software & hardware, and more.
The Animation Workshop is rich in history, from the animation desks that our students work on (Disney’s background animation tables from Snow White), to the world-renowned guests who have lectured and taught here. Among them: Tex Avery, John Coates, Corny Cole, Elfriede Fishinger, Faith Hubley, Chuck Jones, Fyodor Khitruk, Ward Kimball, Sue Kroyer, Bob Kurtz, Normand Roger, Bill Scott, Raoul Servais, David Silverman, Jan Svankmajer, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Walter Lantz, Richard Quade, Bill Plympton, Nina Shorina, Paul Driessen, Yuriy Norshteyn, Fred Wolf, Chris Sanders, Cordell Barker, Emily Hubley, Floyd Norman, Bob Kurtz, Charles Solomon, Chris Appelhans, Mike Johnson, Stephanie Maxwell, and Andreas Deja.
The UCLA Animation Workshop is a complete animation facility, which includes a fully operational studio, with traditional animation desks, 16mm film animation cranes, and Video Lunchbox pencil test units. The computer labs contain Macintosh computers, Cintq monitors, and Windows workstations that run a number of 2D animation and interactive programs. Many computers are equipped with Maya, the 3D animation program. In addition, there are non-linear editing, audio and viewing, and digital Ink & Paint facilities. Available for student check out are cameras (digital and 16mm), audio recording equipment, tripods, and light kits; these are used for stop-motion shoots, and for the recording of interviews (with notable members of the animation community – for the class Seminar in the Animated Film).
The Workshop is home to The Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio, made possible by a generous grant from the Walter Lantz Foundation. This state-of-the-art facility is designed for thesis students to do research and production and is comprised of “all-in-one” workstations, containing computers, peripherals and animation desks, a digital pencil test unit and a digital editing station. These workstations include numerous 2D and 3D animation and compositing software packages. They are all networked and online. Dan McLaughlin envisioned this contemporary studio as the ultimate expression of the philosophy of “one person-one film.”