Animation Chair Andrew Lyndon Curates "Pencil to Pixel" at Oakland International Airport

Pencil to Pixel installation at the Oakland Airport (photo provided by the Oakland Museum of California)View slideshow 

Andrew Lyndon is CCA's chair of Animation, a digital imaging and video instructor at Pixar Animation Studios, and now also a guest curator for the Oakland Museum of California, having organized the exhibition Pencil to Pixel at Oakland International Airport in winter 2010–11. This carefully conceived and beautifully presented show explored the world of contemporary animation via the artwork of four Bay Area studios: DreamWorks, Industrial Light and Magic, Pixar Animation Studios, and Tippett Studio. It showcased in particular the evolution of the Pixar character Lotso from Toy Story 3, and it also featured six zoetropes with original artworks by Pixar animators.

The exhibition was part of an ongoing partnership, launched in 1998, between the airport and the Oakland Museum. The exhibitions are multidisciplinary and community-focused, with the goal of educating travelers about the natural, artistic, and social forces that affect California and its people. The displays are viewed by the more than 9.5 million passengers who visit the airport each year.

"By the time a digitally animated film such as Pixar's Toy Story 3 gets to movie theaters," says Lyndon, "hundreds of artists and filmmakers have contributed years of time and creative talent to what we see on screen. What looks seamless to the audience is the result of a very complex workflow structure. Unlike live-action films with real sets and actors, the animated environment and characters don't exist outside of the imagination of the director. There are no actors or props to photograph, and no sun to light the set.

"This exhibit revealed the many steps needed to transform an idea into the final product that is projected onto theater screens. I hope viewers came away with a deeper appreciation for the beautiful evolution that takes place: from words and ideas to drawings, then on to computer models, and finally into a world full of sounds, textures, music, and light."

All who visited the Pixar show at the Oakland Museum were entranced with zoetrope, a very old technology (dating back to China in 180 AD) that remains fascinating today, even in our high-tech visual culture. "The zoetrope takes advantage of the phenomenon called persistence of vision," Lyndon explains. "Our mind continues to see an image briefly, even after it is replaced with a new image. The sequential slits of the zoetrope operate under the same principle that makes the sequential images on the filmstrip of a movie look seamless. The artists represented in this exhibition usually work with cutting-edge computer technology, but to create the works in this part of the show they returned to the earliest form of hand-drawn cinema, of animation. These sequences showed that animation is not a series of drawings of motion, but rather motion drawn."