Monday, December 28, 2009

Evan Cooper's turn

Hello everyone, I hope you had a great Christmas and are enjoying the Season.

Evan Cooper is a newcomer to the Academy in 2009, and has made his mark in a number of ways, including his enthusiasm for our program and what the Academy stands for. Evan has made a great deal of progress and is developing a style of his own. Among his most recent works, this very well done drawing as he migrates to Visual Development from Character Design II. Clicking on the image will give you a better view.

Evan is progressing nicely and making his distinctive mark at the Academy as many have done before him. Now it's his turn to contribute to our legacy.

Great job Evan, looking forward to more.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Glen Moyes hits his stride

In only his second semester with us, Glen Moyes really nailed a solid performance with a fundamental exercise we require of our students in Charcter Design II. A five pose rotation on a generic female figure, drawn from imagination with nominal reference.

Another excellent example of why The Animation Academy enjoys the outstanding reputation that it has. It's all about our students. They create the legacy. Great job Glen!

Regarding last post

Hello folks.

Based upon input we've received from students, instructors and friends, we're going to stick to our tradition of numbering semesters. This upcoming one starting on January 5, 2010 will be our 65th semester, but it will also be the first semester of our thirteenth year. So we'll keep it 13.1 in the manner in which we have been doing for 12 full years.

Thanks for your comments everyone, they've been helpful.

Charles Zembillas

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New semester system

Hello to our many friends, colleagues and associates of the Academy. I want to bring you up to date on the new semester system we're going to try out in 2010 when the next semester is scheduled to begin on January 5, 2010.

Since we began in 1998, we've been numbering our semesters according to the year of our operation and the semester that was being conducted in that year. For example, 2009 and has been our 12th year, and the semester we're currently in is the 6th semester of the year. Thus, the semester is numbered 12.6. Althought it's numbered this way, it's also out 64th semester. The one starting in January will be our 65th consecutive one.

So instead of numbering them by the year, I thought we'd try something different and number them in chronological order. So in Jnauary, instead of semester 13.1, we'll be naming it Semester 65.

Also, in addition to the new numbering system, we're also going to change our enrollment policies. Up until now, we take in new students every other month when the new semesters begin. In 2010, we'll be accepting new students at the beginning of each month, overlapping the semesters. So in February, when Semester 65a begins, we'll take on new students and arrange for their particular semester to wrap up at the end of March. We're going to try this out and see how it works. You won't have to wait two months to get into our program if you miss the start of a semester, we'll be able to get you in sooner and get you up and running in advance.

So when you see the new semester numbers appear on our site, as they appear now, you'll know what's up.

Thanks everyone, and hope to see you soon at The Animation Academy in Burbank, the only place of its kind on earth.

Keep Creating!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Strong Artists

That's what we're known for throughout the industry and the world. The Animation Academy has an extraordinary legacy in developing fundamental skills that are necessary for achieving a successful career in animation no matter what your medium. Whether it's 2D or 3D, what you learn with us will enhance your talent and inevitabley improve your art. If you work in animation, if you work in a related creative field, if you're attending another school or just getting started, you'll benefit greatly from the strength of our program and the emphasis we place on developing a solid fundamental foundation, especially in the many areas of pre-production design and intellectual property development.

We're planning some changes in 2010 that will help move things along better for current and prospective students, including monthly enrollment as opposed to bi-monthly, and we plan on taking our program online and welcoming the many artists all over the world who would like to participate in the Academy's educational experience but who aren't able to make it to Burbank.

So stay in touch, I'll be updating you with news as things develop.

Keep creating! It's the key to your success.

Charles Zembillas
President and Founder
The Animation Academy
Burbank, California

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chance Raspberry's YouTube Channel

On September 9, 2009, Chance Raspberry announced the premiere of his latest endeavor, his own channel on YouTube which currently features a promotional video with much of his personal and professional work.

Chance has been a major part of the Academy for nearly 10 years, taking classes with us at first, then enrolling in the animation program at California State University in Northridge while continuing his education with us. He received his Bachelors Degree from Cal State, and moved up to an instructor position at our school helping out with the Teen Program. Chance got his break when he was picked up as a staff artist on The Simpsons TV series and has become a fixture on the production crew for several years now.

To visit his YouTube Channel, follow this link:

For updates on videos and other news and projects that are happening with Chance, visit his blog at this link:

Chance ranks among the most successful students we've ever had at The Animation Academy, and it's very exciting and satisfying to see him expanding his Internet exposure. His outstanding talent is matched by the excellence of his character. Congrats to you Chance, and good luck. Keep Creating!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Amy Paulson's Disneyland

She started with us three years ago and since then, Amy Paulson has become a fixture at the Academy. Lucky for us, as we couldn't have dreamed of having a more charming and talented lady as part of our team. Amy is in charge of the students enrolled in our Team Program and functions as an instructor with us in that capacity.

On her own time she creates beautiful works of art, many of them with Disney as the subject. In this scene she's recently finished, Amy's created an undersea Disneyland in which all of the Disney characters she's featured are designed as if they were in the animated movie "The Little Mermaid". Amy drew the characters from memory and illustrated the composition in Photoshop. Click on the picture for a better view.

You're welcome to visit Amy's blog by following the link:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dustin Perkins goes BG

Finally getting a chance to feature some recent student work, and I'm happy to showcase Dustin Perkins.

Dustin's been with us for a good while and has proven to be as talented as he is dedicated. He's gone through our comprehensive program as primarily a character oriented artist, and has just finished a semester in Background Design and Perspective. Here's a couple of samples of his artwork from the class.

The first is a study in 2 point perspective of a basement, including his concept thumbnail sketches.

This is a study of a bedroom in 3 point perspective with the subject beneath the sheets.

Clicking on the images will give you a better view.

Fell free to visit Dustin's blog to experience more of his exceptional art and unique creative vision.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Academy Update

Howdy folks, checking in with recent news and updates. But first, allow me to share with you a demonstration I did a few years ago which I recently discovered. It's the eagle head above. It was done in Photoshop after scanning in a rough sketch. The lesson was in the effectiveness of graphic simplicity. In this case, black and white, plus three other colors contained within shapes. Look at what can be done with a simple approach. Shapes of color in the tradition of the animation cell, harnessing the beauty of that approach. I forgot about this work at the time, otherwise I would've included the image in my book 'Controlling Illusion'. As such, I'll settle for sharing with you now.

In news, congratulations to James Lavelle Brown, who has recently been named the Director of the Educational Program! James is an outstanding artist specializing in character design. He's been with the school for over 10 years, almost since the very beginning in 1998. He and his wife are organizing, managing and building our curriculum now, freeing me in class so I can work the floor and spend more time with individual students and groups of students. James has been at it for about a month and so far he's doing a terrific job. The Academy has gotten even better since he's taken over this aspect of operations.

Regarding the many requests we receive from prospective students outside the US, if you're an international student looking to come to the Academy, a tourist visa is all you need. You'll get plenty out of 3 months with us. You'll have to make arrangements for your stay in the LA/Burbank area, but if you can swing the expense of your lodging, living, and transportation, you'll get more than your money's worth from the modest fee associated with the art education in the subjects we offer.

Good things continue to happen with the Academy and with our students and friends. Thanks to the many wonderful people we have associated with our program and The Animation Academy experience.

Keep Creating! It's the key to your artistic future!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Alexis Arciniaga keeps creating

We frequently hear from students who've taken classes with us in the past. They let us know how they're doing and how much their experience at the Academy has meant to them. Such is the case with Alexis Arciniaga.

Alexis dropped us a line recounting how much she learned in the short time she was with us when she was enrolled in the Teen Program, and she included a few samples of recent work. Here's an example of the powerful art she's creating. Clicking on the image will give you a better view.

Alexis is destined for great things with her art. She creates with confidence and makes a statement. Her work is dynamic and rooted on a fundamental foundation, which gives her a strong footing to do anything she wants to creatively.

Thanks for getting in touch Alexis! You're doing exciting things. We're happy to have been a positive part of your educational experience.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Academy update

Hello everyone! Hope this finds you well. Things have been very busy and as such, this long overdo entry to the Academy's blog.

Our new semester will begin tomorrow, July 7, 2009. Our 62nd consecutive semester since we we started in January, 1998. Semester 12.4 will have very healthy enrollment and will distinguish itself by the number of students in attendance from other colleges, universities and art schools in the area. We'll have students from California State University Northridge, Cal Arts, Art Center College of Design, College of the Canyons, and USC to name a few.

With virtually no advertising other than our simple website, this blog and word of mouth, The Animation Academy's reputation precedes itself as our years of service in art education to the community as well as the success of our students has paid off many times over for us as students continue to turn to the Academy for specialized training in the fundamentals of art through an animation oriented venue.

On the last Tuesday of each month we open our doors and welcome guests through an outstanding industry forum we host, Recently, we invited Don Hahn, one of the Disney Studios most experienced and prominent producers as a special guest in honor of the publication of his latest book, a two volume 800 page compilation of the animation notes of the late Walt Stanchfield. Entitled "Drawn To Life", Mr. Hahn gave a video presentation of some of what went into this book. The presentation was very well attended and was a terrific and informative evening of education. This link will take you to the forums for pictures and an account of what we all enjoyed on May 26, 2009:;f=1;t=013758#000000

I'll make it a point of getting back on a regular schedule with the Academy's blog as we have alot of new artwork to share. In the meantime, thanks for checking in and as always, Keep Creating!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Carl Aspuria's beginnings

Hello everyone. I've fallen behind a bit in updating the Academy's blog. All the positive things going on are keeping us very busy, and now I've got a chance to catch up.

Let's start by featuring some communication from Carl Aspuria. Carl's been a stand out student and a fixture at the school in the recent past and although he's taking a break for the time being, he's reflected in his blog about how his experiences at The Animation Academy has affected his art. Follow the link below and read his comments about his humble beginnings with us:

Follow the rest of Carl's blog to see where he's currently at artistically:

Thanks Carl, for the good word and for continuing the Academy's legacy through your outstanding creative efforts!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Congratulations, Emily Brundige!

Yet another Academy student breaking into CalArts! This time it's for a Masters Degree in Experimental Animation!

Happy to share the news that Emily Brundige, a student with us last year, has been accepted at CalArts for that purpose, and is on her way to great things.

You can follow Emily's blog through this link:

Very excited for you, Emily! Everyone at the Academy wishes you well. Confident you'll do an outstanding job. Good luck!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The new AnimationNation

Hi everyone! It's been very busy so far in 2009 as many things are happening with the Academy and the people, groups and organizations associated with us.

On January 31, the Academy helped organize the 10th Anime Extravaganza at the Burbank Public Library. We're invited by the Library to do this on a yearly basis and this year as the ones that have gone before, was another great success. There were eleven professional artists, writers and personalities heading up the event with 142 kids and young people from the Burbank Library's Anime Club in attendance. Everyone had a lot of fun interacting with some of the greatest talent in animation.

Here's Chance Raspberry from The Simpsons drawing characters from the show for visitors.

As many of you from the school may already know, the Academy has sponsored a very important website for the past 10 years. AnimationNation was launched 10 years ago on February 25, 1999 as an effort to initiate some much needed industry reform at the time, and has been very influential in the industry on many levels since then. The site has been primarily an online forum for animation professionals, students and serious fans. This past Friday on February 20, it was relaunched with a brand new format that will position the site for New Media and the future of Internet technology.

At the heart of the site is a video player that will give us an opportunity to build a vast archive of animation. We'll also be able to showcase artists and students in a high profile manner.

You can see the new site by following this link:

We're very excited about this new development and will be discussing it further on Tuesday evening, February 24 at a special session of The Animation Academy. We're hosting the very first AnimationNation Night and inviting industry professionals as well as students from the animation program at California State University in Northridge, and of course our students.

The event is free, doors open at 7 pm. We'll be discussing how to develop AnimationNation Night into a monthly marketing and networking evening for artists. For more info, please follow this link to the topic on the AnimationNation forums:;f=1;t=013440

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Larissa Marantz and Inauguration Week

She was one of the original founding students of The Animation Academy in 1998 and went on to become a professional Character Designer in animation and a children's book illustrator. Now the art of Larissa Marantz has been selected to be part of a 200 work exhibit in Washington DC in honor of Inauguration Week. Larissa is very talented and extremely intelligent, raising a family and touching everyone she meets with her smile, positivity and upbeat personality. She teaches now herself at the Laguna College of Art and Design.

Congratulations to you Larissa! We're very excited, happy and proud!

To read all about this accomplishment of hers and to learn more about her career, follow the link below to the online article from the Orange County Register:

Be sure to click on the picture of Larissa to see a slideshow of photos, including the painting of hers that was accepted into the exhibit. For a shorcut to the slideshow:

Monday, January 19, 2009

We're 11 Years Old Today !

It's the anniversary of The Animation Academy!

Here's the story of how we got started...

I was a part time instructor and head of the Animation Department at a school in Sherman Oaks, California known as Associates In Art, which is no longer in business today. A series of circumstances lead me away from Associates and I found myself helping someone else set up a new school at their request. This didn't work out, and by December, 1997, while hanging at the Coral Cafe in Burbank and talking with my friend John, the owner of the restaurant, he asked how things were progressing with this venture.

I said they weren't. Then he suggested that I start my own school in the back room of his restaurant. It could seat 20 people, I could book it in advance on one evening per week, and if this new endeavor didn't work, I owed him nothing.

We tried to think of a name for the school. After some frustration coming up with an idea, I made up my mind to give it the simplest name I could think of, The Animation Academy.

I had a mailing list (snail mail) of about 35 names of former students and friends that I used for sending Christmas cards. On my little 486 computer I came up with an unpretencious announcement of a new school starting up in Burbank. On the front page I posed the challenge, "Are you ready to kick some ass?" I spent approximately $15 on stamps and envelopes, mailed the announcement to 35 people, and waited to see what would happen.

John and I thought we would get between 5 and 10 responses. He suggested that if I got as few as 5, to go ahead with it anyway. By the day of the first class, I had sold all 20 seats.

With an investment of $15, I had raised over $5000 and we were on our way. I had an independent economy established in animation, and students had an alternative school they could come to that was affordable, oriented on fundamentals, and wouldn't saddle them with a debt that would take the rest of their lives to pay off.

Eleven years later, I look back at the trail of students we've had since that time and am amazed and thrilled at the success of a great many of them. More than I can keep track of. The Animation Academy in Burbank has changed the lives of many people and has helped change the industry.

Thank you to our students, staff, friends and colleagues on this special day.

Keep Creating, and keep banging the drum!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Special visitors

We had three very special guests at the latest session of the Academy this past January 13, all of which are accomplished alumni of our school.

Tyree Dillihay is to the left, John Nevarez in the center, Snakebite is on the right.

John Nevarez is a great Visual Development and Storyboard artist. He's just coming off of the upcoming Astroboy feature and is on to even greater things. He was our scheduled guest, and his presence brought out an outpouring of other alumni, three of which are featured in the photo above.

Here's a link to his popular blog:

Tyree Dillihay is best known for being the director of the controversial "Read A Book" animated video on BET from a couple years ago. Here he is nationally televised on CNN as part of a panel discussing the video:

You can access Tyree's blog here:

Snakebite is one of the world's outstanding Photoshop artists. Feel free to view his work here:

This was a great evening. Everyone enjoyed John's presentation along with the other artists in attendance. Thank you John, and good luck to you with your new endeavors. Thanks also to Tyree and Snakebite. Best wishes to all and we hope to see you again very soon.

Next up will be Philip Dimitriadis on January 27.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 at the Academy

A belated Happy New Year to our students, friends and associates!

2009 has gotten off to a great start at the Academy. We conducted our second session of the new semester last night. We have a large group of new students, along with a healthy representation of returning students. At last night's class, the great John Nevarez was our guest speaker. We also had a few other special guests showing up. I'll have photos from class posted soon.

John has just completed Visual Development on the upcoming animated feature film "Astroboy". Here's a link to John's blog:

A reminder to our students and instructors, we will have class on January 27. We will not have class on February 10.

Also for 2009 starting February 24, the last Tuesday evening of every month will be AnimationNation Night. We'll be hosting artists in the industry and students from other schools as our guests. More info forthcoming as it develops.

Thanks to everyone involved with The Animation Academy for continuing to build its legacy and for contributing to its greatness. Wishing you peace, prosperity and health in 2009 and beyond.