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School of Animation & Visual Effects
Executive Director of the School of Animation and Visual Effects
For the past ten years Chris Armstrong has worked at ILM as a senior and lead animator on over a dozen feature films including The Mask, Lost World, Mars Attacks, Flubber and Men in Black II, as well as animation supervisor on Galaxy Quest and Star Wars Episode II.
Beginning his career as an inbetweener on Saturday morning cartoons, he has worked on both 3D and traditional feature films and commercials, and has been involved in most aspects of production from storyboarding to final edit.
On his own time, Chris works on personal short films.
Director of MFA Traditional Animation
Sherrie H. Sinclair joins the Academy after almost nine years as a clean-up animator with Walt Disney Feature Animation in Orlando, FL. Ms. Sinclair began her education and career with a BA in the History and Criticism of Art from Florida State University which led her to assume the Assistant Directorship of the Meridian Museum of Art in Meridian, MS. Continuing her educational pursuits with a second degree in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in 1991, she worked briefly at Storyboard Express in San Francisco before being accepted for an internship and subsequent position with Disney Feature Animation in Florida.
Ms. Sinclair's film credits include The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tarzan, and Lilo and Stitch. She was also involved with a Goofy short for Disney TV entitled How to Haunt a House and contributed to the Aladdin and Pocahontas CD-ROM games. Ms. Sinclair sees her position at the Academy as a wonderful opportunity to share her knowledge and love of art and traditional animation with today's aspiring animators.
Director of BFA Traditional Animation
Beth Sousa has been teaching at the Academy of Art University since 2003. She started her career as a professional artist in 1978. Beth double majored in Painting and Metalsmithing at the University of Houston where she also studied animation. In 1986 she joined the IEEE's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Animation (SIGGraph). Beth continued her art studies as a student of Communication Design at Texas Tech University, after which she briefly pursued a graphic design career. In 1988, while a Junior Designer with American Film Technology, she moved to their Film R&D department, where her career in animation began in earnest. Her work has been seen nationally in television commercials, children's programs, and in games. She has created work for ABC, Fox, NBC, Paramount, Virgin, Maxis and Disney.
Beth is the Animation Department's Director of Undergraduate 2D Animation. She specializes in teaching Stop-Motion and Experimental Animation. In addition to teaching Full Time at the Academy of Art University, she also works on her own art and animation projects in her San Francisco studio.
Director of Graduate Animation & Visual Effects
Tom Bertino is a well-recognized animator with more than twenty-five years of experience. Most recently, he has been with Industrial Light + Magic, where he has worked for nearly twenty years. He is credited with animation direction on Son of the Mask, Men in Black II, The Time Machine, Star Wars: Episode I, The Mask, Casper and many more. He also served as Co-Director on Frankenstein. He has given numerous presentations, lectures, and panels at Siggraph, LEAF, the Mill Valley Film Festival, AMPAS, VES, and many more.
Associate Director of Traditional Animation
Diana Coco-Russell has spent most of her artistic career in animation, with her longest run at Walt Disney Feature Animation as a clean-up animator. Beginning with Beauty and the Beast in 1992 and ending with Home on the Range in 2003 her credits appear on most films from that decade. While enjoying every moment of her time at Disney working with some of the best artists in the industry, her favorite films remain Lion King, Tarzan and Mulan. Diana was known for specializing in animals and villains, and feels the fun is compounded by the number of acting rich scenes these kinds of characters are given.
Diana, a dedicated life-long learner, focuses her ‘art coaching’ skills here at the Academy on costumed gesture drawing for animation and storyboard in addition to introducing students to the skills and craft of classical hand drawn animation.
Online Director of Animation
David Nethery has been teaching at Academy of Art University since July 2007. Prior to teaching for the Academy, David enjoyed 25 years of experience in the field of classical animation, specializing in theatrical feature film projects as an animation artist for various studios, including a long stint at Walt Disney Feature Animation. His work has been featured in animated films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear among others.
David has said that as a teacher he still considers himself a lifelong student of animation and is constantly interested in learning new techniques about the art and craft of drawn animation. In recent years he has focused on adapting his classical pencil-on-paper animation training to digital paperless animation using a graphics tablet and is enthusiastic about inspiring his students with innovative applications of classical hand-drawn animation principles to modern production pipelines.
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