Teresa (Nord) Storhoff has been a huge fan of animation since the age of 7, when Pixar released Toy Story. She works for Blue Sky Studios as a senior technical animator and general fixer for all things broken, having continued learning modeling, rigging, and python scripting to dive deeper into the technical aspects of feature film animation.
Her film credits include Spies in Disguise, Ferdinand, The Peanut Movie, and many others.
We were delighted to get a chance to chat with Teresa (who’s also an alum!) about her Animation Mentor experience, her best industry advice, and the animation that inspires her.
Animation Mentor Experience
Animation Mentor: What’s your most memorable experience from Animation Mentor?
Teresa Storhoff: My most memorable experience from Animation Mentor was the very first time I visited the AM offices, April 2007. My mom, dad, sister, and I took a trip to California to visit possible colleges for me to learn animation. I was dead set on going to a 4-year school with a campus until we stopped by AM.
Carlos happened to be onsite and we showed up with my fine art portfolio in hand. My dad proceeded to grill Carlos on why he should send his daughter to his school and Carlos not only remained cool but provided the best of the best answers with unbridled enthusiasm! It was no contest between Animation Mentor and the other schools.
The rest is history, but this is one of the most memorable (and the first) experiences I have of AM. There have been many other memories from meeting my best friends, graduation, bbqs, Siggraph/CTN conferences, getting my first and second jobs, and meeting my husband who already knew who I was because of AM (to name a few more).
AM: What did you learn from Animation Mentor that helped you get to where you are now?
TS: Everything. Seriously, I learned EVERYTHING to get my successful start in this industry thanks to AM. My first week of Animation Mentor was the first time I ever opened Maya. I started at absolute level zero. I went through the entire course and had the unbelievable luck in timing to land a job on a feature the weekend of graduation.
I learned EVERYTHING to get my successful start in this industry thanks to AM. My first week of Animation Mentor was the first time I ever opened Maya. I started at absolute level zero. I went through the entire course and had the unbelievable luck in timing to land a job on a feature the weekend of graduation.
I went from not knowing how to animate to 18 months later animating at Blue Sky Studios on Ice Age 3. AM also played an important part in launching the career of my husband, Wes Storhoff, as well. Though we didn’t meet directly through the school we later met working together in the industry thanks to AM. Can’t get better than that!
Animation Industry Advice
AM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to current students?
TS: My best advice is “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” This industry is competitive and challenging. There will be some amount of luck in timing and hiring, but you have to be ready for it. You have to really want it to be successful in this. That is not to scare anyone off who really wants it, because a good animator is always in need…but if this is what you truly want to do and you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, you have to commit to it and put in the time and effort.
Early on I always looked to this Harry Potter quote, “Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now, students. If they can do it, why not us?”
And I love this quote “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better best.” Want me to keep going with the cheesy sayings? Because I totally can!!!
AM: Have you seen a piece of animation recently that inspired you? What was it?
TS: The Oscar nominated short film, Sister. I love the animation and a story that inspires me to relate, feel, and think.
AM: What do you love about animation?
TS: I love figuring out how things work and solving complex problems. It’s exciting to be a part of something bigger than myself. I love to create and contribute what I can. In animation I get to do it all and mix technical with artistry.
I love figuring out how things work and solving complex problems. It’s exciting to be a part of something bigger than myself. I love to create and contribute what I can. In animation I get to do it all and mix technical with artistry.