What is your name and your current occupation?
Larry D. Whitaker (director and animation director)
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
(Painting houses and graphic design for small business).
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
(Tigger Movie, Space Jam, Mighty Joe Young, and Tiny Toons)
How did you become interested in animation?
( I was always drawing since I can remember and was very involved with both art, writing and drama as a student before college. I went to school in Oklahoma, and had art class as part of the curriculum from K-12th grade. While in jr. high and high school, I was heavily involved in acting and art, receiving a scholarship in both for my first year in college.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
(I’m originally from Oklahoma City, OK. I knew I wanted to be involved with film from about 12 years of age. During high school I began to research colleges with film animation programs. During my senior year, I found out about Cal-Arts’ animation program, but had just missed the application deadline. I immediately began working on a portfolio for submission for the following school year and attended my first year of college at Oklahoma University, for which I had received an art scholarship. I was accepted into the Cal-Arts animation program and studied there for two years under a Disney grant. During my second year our department had a portfolio review by studios in the animation industry. I was contacted by both Warner Bros. and Disney Feature Animation and went to work for both companies that summer.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Generally I review storyboards and animation, going over direction and notes with my crew. I work with the storyboard artists and editors planning shots and how to best tell story visually, and work with the animation staff as they pose out the acting for their shots.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love several parts of production, although I specialize in animation and design. Acting has always been a passion of mine, and I enjoy getting the performance up on the screen, whether it be via my animation crew, or individual shots I have animated.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Usually the schedule. It is a business, but there are times that I wish I had that bit of extra time on a project before it has to move into editorial and post.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The schedule. There are times when you have to burn the candle at both ends in order to complete a project within the deadline.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I use my computer and often Skype to work with my crew when I’m not on location, or when working with other freelance artists. Common programs such as Maya, and Photoshop are used nearly everyday.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve had the honor of meeting and spending time with Ward Kimball and Ray Patterson in particular. Ray became a good friend for the last several years of his life. Ray is best known as an animator in the 1940’s and 1950’s on the Tom and Jerry shorts, but he was also at Disney working on projects such as Fantasia, Dumbo, as well as some short films. I’ve met several other animators from the golden age, all of whom are now gone. Two of the greatest influences in my career are Dale Baer and Dan Haskett, both of whom have worked at all of the major studios. The have both been incredibly essential in my mentoring as a professional.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Weathering the dry spell in the business! Fortunately, they’ve never lasted too long.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’ve recently sold a feature films script as well as a short project.
From time to time I get behind the mic as a voice actor.