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).