SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - "Zootopia", "Big Hero 6", "Frozen" .. what do all these animated movies have in common?
They're all Academy Award winners for "Best Animated Feature" and they all feature work from students and alumni of Ringling College of Art & Design.
Paul Downs is a 2001 graduate that has worked for Blue Sky Pictures ("Ice Age", "Rio") and one of this year's Oscar nominees, "Ferdinand". "It was huge. After all of the films that I worked on, it was the first one that was actually nominated. It was a good feeling", says Downs. He's also returned to teach at Ringling, passing on his knowledge and experience to students like Aviv Mano, from Israel, and Victoria Lopez from Argentina. Mano interned with Pixar last summer and had the chance to be a part of work on Disney's "Coco" - this year's Oscar winner for "Best Animated Feature".
One thing Downs believes in - and stresses to his students - is that good animators do more than simply create characters - they have to use their animation skills to create characters with heart - ones that the audience will connect to. "You can make things or learn to make things move in a convincing way, but if there's no heart behind it, there's no hook for the audience, " said Mano.
Click here for more on Ringling College and their long history of working on Oscar nominated animated films.