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Shawn Kelly

Animation Mentor Co-Founder
Senior Animator at Industrial Light & Magic

Shawn Kelly realized his dream to animate films with the help of three mentors who took a personal interest in his career. Convinced that animation lovers everywhere should have the same opportunity, he cofounded Animation Mentor, an online animation school with student/mentor relationships at its core.

Shawn works with Bobby Beck, Animation Mentor's CEO and President, and cofounder Carlos Baena to help define and shape the school's overall direction. Shawn balances his Animation Mentor role with his work as a senior animator at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in San Rafael, Calif.

Born in Santa Rosa, Calif., and raised in Petaluma, Shawn set his sights on working at ILM at age five when the movie Star Wars hit the big screen. Under the tutelage of two family friends, Bill Hennes and John Root, he studied drawing and computer software throughout high school, attended community college, and Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

A summer internship at ILM introduced Shawn to another influential mentor, animation director Wayne Gilbert. It was through Gilbert that Shawn realized that he wasn't learning what he needed at school. Shawn left the academy in 1996 for a job as character animator at former video game and educational company Presage Software, but continued his studies with Gilbert twice a week.

In 1998, Shawn fulfilled his aspirations and landed a job at ILM. Since that time, he has worked on numerous films including Day After Tomorrow, where he was on the team that animated the wolves; War of the Worlds, for which he animated tripods and probes; and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, where he helped develop and animate the vulture droids and animated Yoda in a pivotal swordfight. Shawn worked as a lead animator on Transformers, and his additional credits include The Incredible Hulk, Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones, and AI: Artificial Intelligence. He just completed work on Indiana Jones 4.

Shawn received the 2007 award for the 'Best Single Visual Effect of the Year' by the Visual Effects Society (VES), an organization dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences and the application of visual effects. Shawn's winning effect was for the desert highway sequence of Transformers, in which Bonecrusher skates through traffic, destroys a bus, and fights Optimus Prime.

Shawn has developed curriculum and taught at the Academy of Art University and was on the team that earned the 2000 CLIO award for Best Computer Animation for a Pepsi/Star Wars "Alien" campaign. Shawn currently lives in San Anselmo, Calif., where he reads a lot – especially comics – and writes short films.


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