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Innovation Lab brings Animation Expert to Campus

SPC Programs & Events


Addy award winning 2D animation studio Echo Bridge Pictures will hold a guest lecture on hand drawn animation in the Digitorium on January 21st at 6:30 PM on Seminole campus, along with an art contest that grants access to an exclusive animation workshop to be held on campus.

Students will have the opportunity to learn from veteran animator Esteban Valdez, the creative force behind Echo Bridge Pictures. The workshop will be held on January 29th in PB 603 from 2 PM until 4 PM on Seminole campus. The best way to get access to the workshop is through a character design contest; the artists that draw the five best characters will get reserved seats. The deadline for submissions is January 19th via the contest entry form here. Last term this reporter had the opportunity to interview Valdez.

Valdez did not start out as an animator; his artistic journey began drawing comic books and cartoons when he was young. Akira, and Ghost in the Shell were early inspirations for this young artist. While at the Art Institute of Boston, an instructor persuaded Valdez to switch to the animation program and sat him down at a digital animation station immediately. After working on a variety of projects, he felt stifled. “Life drawings saved me and broke me out of my rut,” said Valdez. He went on to do animation for Gameloft and had his directorial debut on a project for Nickelodeon before opening Echo Bridge Pictures in downtown St. Petersburg.


Dan Shimkus and Tessa Henley at Working Wednesday on Seminole campus.

The company was founded upon Valdez’s love of 2D hand drawn animation as a serious storytelling medium. “2D animation is like writing a letter; there’s a personal connection with writing something out, and hand drawn animation is all about making a connection. That’s where 2D has an advantage over computer animation; there’s a little bit of the artist in every frame,” he said. Even though there is more animation today than ever, people are not doing the same quality of work that was done in the 50s and 60s; only Disney and a few independent studios are moving the form forward.

America and Canada have shoehorned animation into being a children’s medium because merchandising can help pay for the cost of production and return a profit, according to Valdez. He believes that animation can be used as a serious storytelling medium and points to Japanese, French, and British productions as places where animation is being used to tell mature stories. Valdez believes the time is right for this kind of storytelling, and Echo Bridge Pictures is ready to lead the way. See their show reel here.

Valdez provided advice for students interested in a career in animation. “Many animators don’t know how to draw, and that’s a shame. I’d rather someone have a great grasp of the basics of art and drawing. It is all about draftsmanship. Strong observational abilities are also important,” he said. Good communications skills are also important; particularly the ability to write effectively according to Valdez.

The clock is ticking on the deadline for the art contest, so be sure to submit your entry by January 19th. Good luck to all of SPC’s talented artists! Check out the lecture on January 21st at 6:30 PM in the Digitorium on Seminole campus. There will be a livestream as well as coverage on our live Twitter account for those who can not make it.

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