Walter Lantz Foundation Gifts $1 Million Dollars To LMU Animation Lab

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by Jerry Beck
April 22, 2013 12:01 AM
8 Comments
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A few years ago, there were only a handful of American universities teaching animation production, aesthetics and history. Today it's hard to find a school without a film studies program and animation art classes. Los Angeles has several long-established animation programs at Cal Arts, UCLA, USC, Woodbury University and more recently Loyola Marymount University in Playa Vista. Today, LMU is about to step into the big time.

Last year, the Walter Lantz Foundation awarded LMU $540,000 which the school used to outfit its animation lab with state-of-the-art digital equipment. This year the Lantz foundation has upped its annual gift to the school to $1 million dollars - making this one of the largest grants the Foundation has ever given a university animation program.

The school plans to use the gift to continue enhancing the lab, which will be officially named the Walter and Grace Lantz Animation Lab. A portion of the grant will also fund a new MFA graduate animation program emphasizing visual effects.

Walter Lantz was, of course, the animation pioneer best known for the creation of such characters as Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy. Here's an excerpt from the school's press release:

"Through The Lantz Foundation's extraordinary generosity, our students are able to remain current with the latest digital technology. We anticipate that the new learning opportunities provided by this gift will speed graduating students entry into the field," said Stephen G. Ujlaki, dean of the School of Film and Television.

"LMU's Animation School is making great strides in animation education, and we hope this gift will allow the program to continue its path of success and growth," said Edward Landry of the Walter Lantz Foundation. "Walter Lantz was a pioneer, and now future generations of animators will know and be inspired by his story."

Recently ranked one of the top animation programs in the country, LMU is one of the only film schools in Los Angeles to provide university-level courses in pre-visualization and virtual cinematography, which is the use of computer-generated worlds and characters to achieve shots andcamera angles that would be impossible with traditional moviemaking tools.

The Walter and Grace Lantz Animation Lab dedication ceremony will be held at the Walter and Grace Lantz Animation Lab on the LMU campus on May 8th, 2013 at 5pm. Below is an image of the LMU animation lounge (this is NOT the Walter and Grace Lantz Animation Lab, but the common space). 

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8 Comments

  • KM | April 30, 2013 4:43 PMReply

    I am an alumni of LMU and completely loved being in the program. The teachers--Jose and Adriana especially--were always there for me, and willing to put in extra time outside of classes to help me out when I needed it. They helped me put together a reel which I later used to apply for my first job out of college--successfully! LMU offers you all the resources you will need to be ready for a professional career in animation after school--and as a student, I was encouraged to take advantage of all of them. My classmates (some of whom are now co workers!) were also instrumental in my learning process. During my time there, LMU fostered a sense of community, and friendly competition, where we all pushed each other to be our best. I think that is unique to LMU. Wishing the LMU animation family all the best and congratulations!

  • Michael Richmond | April 30, 2013 3:25 PMReply

    LMU was the only school I applied to for animation because it was the only school I was interested in attending. They have a moral center that can be seen in the work made by both students and faculty. They host an annual outreach to inner-city schools where high school students create animated shorts with LMU students, and a number of those inner city students go on to receive full scholarships to study animation with Loyola.

    I'm very thankful to have been at the school in the basement years, pulling all nighters, and working side by side with so many talented classmates, and faculty. This program accommodates animation of all mediums and artists of all kinds. The equipment and software was always up to date, and I am a little envious of the new batch as I graduated before the Mocap Room was added ;-). I am continually impressed by the growing number of high level professionals working at Family Guy, Sony, Disney Interactive, Rhythm & Hues, Warner Bros. and Marvel who I am honored I to call fellow alums.

  • Lion | April 30, 2013 2:01 PMReply

    I love Animation at LMU. I was there as a student, five to six years ago, and witnessed the amazing transformation that took place in a short amount of time. If you really know the history of Animation at LMU, it is obviously clear that is very well managed as the program moved from two crappy rooms in a basement to a state-of-the-art amazing facility in the top floor of the School. If it is mismanaged, I would love to be mismanaged that way. Also, the last couple of years they send one animation student to Paris to study at the Gobelins Summer School there. I wonder how many schools do the same? I invite everyone to see and check out how cool it is over there. By the way, the person below wrote that anyone that read a book can teach a history of animation class...if this person wrote that in the Jerry Beck's blog, an animation film historian, well...enough said.
    Congratulations to LMU Animation. Go Lions!

  • Jose Garcia Moreno | April 29, 2013 11:26 PMReply

    José Garcia Moreno studied at the world renowned film school in Prague and worked as an apprentice at the prestigious Barrandov Film Studios where he directed his first professional film under the historical Czech brand Brothers in Trick, founded by Jiri Trnka. He continued his education with a Fulbright Scholarship at the School of Film and TV, UCLA. His work has been exhibited and awarded at the most important film festivals in the world, including Annecy, Anima Mundi, Clermont Ferrand, and Cannes. He received prizes at La Habana, Toronto, San Francisco, Mexico and Japan. He has been nominated to the Ariel by the Mexican Film Academy and received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Grant. He is the Chair of Animation at Loyola Marymount University, who was recently ranked as one of the top animation schools in the country by Animation Career Review. LMU Animation also received this year one million dollars from the Walter Lantz Foundation, the largest grant the Foundation has ever given a university animation program.

  • MT | April 29, 2013 10:28 PMReply

    I am an alumni as well. The Experimental class was great. Your observations are quite visceral and not true at all.

  • MT | April 29, 2013 10:27 PMReply

    I am an alumni as well. Your comment does not deserve a response. Not true at all.

  • KC | April 24, 2013 1:06 PMReply

    As an alum of this program it's great to see my school is supposedly on the way up. Unfortunately this program is horribly mismanaged and it's frustrating to wonder how much of this donation will go to pay the bloated salaries of certain tenured professors who lead this program. Without having any real industry experience they teach only a single once a week class each semester (classes that anyone whose read a book on animation could teach and require little effort from the professor such as "history of animation " and "experimental") and they just rake in the tenured-salary money while being surprisingly inaccessible (and inappropriate) towards students. These guys are a total sham who I know from my own work experience have shunned industry recruiters and the students are leaving school unprepared and unconnected to the industry as a result. I have been told that asides from two projectors there were no improvements to equipment after the last Lantz donation despite promises of things such as new computers. So where did all that extra money go?!?

    However to be fair, there are now some great regular and visiting professors (and one tenured who used to run training at Sony) who can be credited for the improved reputation this school is receiving. I only hope they are one day able to usurp leadership of this program so that it can be freed from it's current shackles and reach it's very promising full potential. The raw talent of students who were in this program while I was there was inspiring.

  • CRIMSON | April 30, 2013 3:21 PM

    "they just rake in the tenured-salary money while being surprisingly inaccessible (and inappropriate) towards students"

    Really? Really?

    When I was a student there all I had to do was walk into their office and talk to them. Email also worked. They weren't inaccessible or inappropriate at all. They're much better than some other professors I've dealt with.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my time at LMU. It's great to see how much it has grown.

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