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Alumni Journey: From Animation Mentor to Blue Sky Studios

by | Jan 8, 2015

Congratulations to recent alumnus Brock Boyts! Brock just accepted a position with Blue Sky studios working on the upcoming Peanuts film. Today Brock shared a little bit of his animation journey with the Animation Mentor blog. We hope you are as inspired by his story as we are!

– The Animation Mentor Crew

ANIMATION MENTOR: Tell us a little bit about your background before you started at Animation Mentor. Did you have any previous art or animation experience?

BROCK BOYTS: Before attending Animation Mentor I was working as a full-time motion graphics animator for the TV show America’s Most Wanted. I did not have any prior character animation training before attending Animation Mentor. I have always loved character animation and every time I saw it done well I wanted to learn how to do that. Each year I would attend SIGGRAPH and I would walk past the Animation Mentor booth and watch the student showcase. It always blew me away. Learning how to character animate became one of my biggest goals for my career. After working 7 years at America’s Most Wanted my wife and I moved to Los Angeles so I could pursue freelance. However, after getting a few freelance character jobs I quickly realized my character work did not look like the work I admired. Something was missing and I needed proper training.

While I had no character animation training I believe every experience I went through prior greatly influenced my drive while attending Animation Mentor. I had hit so many dead ends trying to learn character animation that when I had my first class at Animation Mentor I was immediately overwhelmed (in a good way) at the endless resources and the supportive learning environment. It was kind of like that moment in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory when the doors open and the kids walk into this bright world made of candy for the first time. I believe I absorbed as much as I could from my Animation Mentor experience because I truly appreciated all that was offered.

Brock Boyts animation shot while attending Animation Mentor

ANIMATION MENTOR: What was the single most important thing you learned at Animation Mentor?

BROCK BOYTS: You know, I thought character animation would be the single most important thing that I would learn at Animation Mentor but it isn’t. While I am 110% satisfied with my education I mostly learned how much I have to learn. Animation Mentor equipped me with more than enough to take the first step into the industry but what I really appreciate from my time at Animation Mentor was learning how to be giving and supportive to your peers.

Character animation and storytelling are important to me but people and relationships are far more precious in my life. I was overjoyed to learn at Animation Mentor how important it is to work collaboratively and have a good attitude in this industry. I learned this from Bobby Beck, the Animation Mentor staff, my classmates, and my mentors. I would not have learned as much about character animation without their help and support.

I discovered what excites me most about becoming a character animator and that is I will make a lot of life long friends and build strong creative relationships. I feel I have discovered a bright and fulfilling future.

ANIMATION MENTOR: You just landed an awesome gig at Blue Sky – Congrats! What do you think it was about your demo reel or interview that got you the job?

BROCK BOYTS: Thank you and a HUGE thanks to Animation Mentor. Honestly, I am still shocked I am actually getting the opportunity to work with such an amazingly talented group. It all feels like a dream.

I had a lot of fun with my demo reel so I hope it gave at least a couple smiles to anyone at Blue Sky who saw it. I am not 100% sure if it was more my demo reel or my interview that helped me get the job. I actually think it had more to do with trying to stay memorable. I wanted to make sure every shot on my reel was a fresh idea so it stuck in peoples minds. As for my interview they were very kind and encouraging. They remembered me from previous times that I applied. I did my best to stay on Blue Sky’s radar by sending new work as I progress and visiting their booth at conventions. I had Nick Bruno as my class 4 mentor and I treated his class as if it were a job interview. He is the one that gave my class the advice to stay memorable. Thank you Nick!

Honestly, this whole thing feels like an out of body experience because if it were not for all of the support of Animation Mentor, my classmates and my mentors this would have never happened. While I had goals it was the support of others that help me get this job. I plan on continuing to do my best to make each of them proud.


Animation Mentor wishes Brock all the best as he transitions to his new role at Blue Sky Studios. If you are interested in learning more about how things work at Animation Mentor, let us know. We’ll send you information right away and you’ll also get two eBooks written by Animation Mentor cofounder and ILM animator Shawn Kelly.

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