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Jun 03 2011

Cartooning Around with Bill Plympton


Old Westbury, NY (June 3, 2011) ─ Animator Bill Plympton urged budding animators to draw daily and make their works short, inexpensive, and funny if they want to succeed as independent filmmakers.
“I think laughter is one of the most powerful emotions on earth,” said Plympton, who gave a master class at NYIT de Seversky Mansion as part of Long Island’s inaugural Gold Coast International Film Festival.   “I think there should be a Nobel Humor Prize.”
Later, Plympton recognized NYIT’s pioneering role in computer-generated 3D animation.  NYIT's Computer Graphics Lab was the site of a dedicated team of animators in the 1970s who shaped computer animation with new techniques, programs and technologies.  Many later went on to careers with Pixar, Dreamworks, and other industry giants.
“You started a whole revolution in filmmaking here,” he said.
Plympton showed several of his animated short films, including the Oscar-nominated “Guard Dog” depicting an overly paranoid canine who tries to protect his human from imagined deadly forces, including a flower, a bird, and a cricket encountered during a walk in park. Plympton’s dog went on to star in several animated shorts.
“I was shocked the way people loved that dog,” Plympton said. “He’s such a tragic figure.”
In between shorts, Plympton brought his characters to life, sketching quickly and fluidly with a black marker on a large white sketch pad.  He also offered a sneak preview of his newest character, Ella, the elite, sophisticated woman who falls in love at the most unlikely of places: a carnival. 
Plympton, a lifelong Disney fan, told the group that he always wanted to be a Disney animator. At age 14, he sent a packet of his drawings to Disney, which praised his work but told him to come back when he was older. In 1987, Disney offered him a job but he turned down the opportunity because he wanted his characters and ideas to remain independent of the studio giant.
As creator of nine animated feature films and 40 short films, Plympton said he has been happy with his independent career. But he praised Disney and Pixar for their roles in leading the resurgence of animation.
“It’s the second Golden Age of animation,” he said.
For students who want to pursue animation careers, Plympton advised them to be aggressive, study other peoples’ artwork, and draw each day to improve their skills. He also suggested they submit films to festivals and carry a notebook to jot down ideas and sketches.
Plympton is the subject of a soon-to-be-screened documentary, “Adventures in Plymptoons!” by Northport resident Alexia Anastasio.
Film festival’s founder and executive director Regina Gil said she hoped the event could be expanded as a showcase for new filmmakers, including those studying at NYIT and its global campuses.
About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in more than 90 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has more than 15,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
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