These past 2 days I went down south with my teammates/friends to claim our grand prize, a tour at Disney studios! Which meant we all at to get up ridiculously early in the morning to get there for our appointment at 4:30. Driving down, there was snow in the mountains but we didn’t get to touch any. :C
We got to Burbank a little early so we lay around our hotel room for a bit then went over to the studio. The area is very interesting, it’s like all these studios surrounded by suburbs and small shops and restaurants. The was even an equestrian park right next to it. We met up with the other winning team who were upperclassmen and waited around the front of the building. Once it was around 4:30 we all went inside to the lobby where there was a lot of Wreck-It Ralph decorations. Our tour guide, Dawn, is also the director of the talent department and recruiter for the company. And she is the sweetest lady ever. Throughout the tour she said she was sorry that we drove up ‘just for this’ but we reassured her that this tour was more than we expected for entering a contest just for the hell of it.
First stop was to visit the interns who all worked in one large room. Their projects were to take selected Disney stories and develop their own version of it. For example for visual development, they got to choose out of Peter Pan, Wreck-It Ralph, The Jungle Book, and Princess and the Frog and then develop a new world for these characters. One intern had a Peter Pan inspired by Asian mythology for example. From what the interns said, they are kept for 6 months and then undergo a review that will determine if they can stay another 6. What’s nice is that they have all the resources in the building and tons of artists to ask.
Next we visited SJSU alumni, Scott Watanabe and Kendelle Hoyer, who both now work at Disney and are also the cutest married couple ever. They showed off some of their work they did for Wreck-It Ralph, Paperman, and Tangled, as well as some personal work. Some of their advice was to include in your portfolio what you would love to do in your job, as well as other things you enjoy doing as well to keep your options open. And ideas are very important, even more important than whether you are a good draftsman.
The rest of the trip, we wandered the 2nd floor of the building which housed ‘pods’ where movies were being developed. The studio is decorated from top to bottom with paraphernalia related to the movies. The Wreck-It Ralph side had all the video game cabinets from the film, a bunch of concept art on the wall, statues of the characters, etc. We actually ran into the director, Rich Moore, and everyone was so starstruck. We also passed by John Lasseter’s office which was filled with clay sculptures. The other side of the building was dedicated to their upcoming film, Frozen. That section was decorated with ice crystals, blue walls, and a lot of sparkly stuff to give the wintery feel. A note, there are a ton of attractive people who work here. The bottom floor had the marketing, licencing and product design offices, as well as a classroom for life drawing which shows even professionals touch up on their drawings skills too. Before we got to leave, Dawn gave everyone some more presents… very unexpected presents. We all took one huge group photo and everyone left the studio with big smiles and arms full of stuff. We went to dinner in downtown Burbank at Flavor of India… good Indian food mmm. Cartoon Network studios was about a block away from our restaurant so we went over to peek at it. Then we sat around at a Coffee Bean and chatted into the night.
The next day we had some free time so we went to Santa Monica to look around the pier. It was very hot… compared to the 50’s at home, it was the upper 70’s. There was a lot of muscley eye candy. I also saw a seagull get tangled in a fishing line, requiring the guy to pull it up to untangle it. We walked a few blocks to have onigiri and froyo at SunnyBlue… and that was tasty though my feet were dying from walking in my dressy boots. We hit the road around 5pm and stopped by Sonic’s on the way home. We didn’t get home until about midnight.
So that’s that, I took in a lot in these 2 days and I definitely want to try for an internship there someday.