In my first roll as animator, I was fortunate enough to work under the brilliant and skeptical eye of “nine old men” legend, Frank Thomas. Frank Thomas was a part of Disney's first core animation team – nine pioneers in the animation world who shaped the medium for years to come. Needless to say, having the opportunity to work under one of the “nine” was a massive honor I still don’t take lightly!
One of my early tasks was to animate a scene from Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, where Tigger is walking through the snow. Sounds simple enough, right? And yet every single time I showed Frank the scene, he we would say, “looks pretty good, but…” I ended up animating that one scene eighteen different times! It was excruciating, but to this day he gave me one of the most important lessons I learned about character design and believability.
I would then go on to work as animator for The Rescuers, Pete’s Dragon, The Fox and the Hound, and The Small One, to name just a few.