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Mintz Takes Animated Approach to Address the Evils of Alcohol

Published: February 1, 2010

Art’s Aubry Mintz is an animator, formerly at Industrial Light and Magic, who is now an associate professor in the illustration/animation department at CSULB. He also serves as a faculty-in-residence. So, when former director of Housing and Residential Life Stan Olin realized what he had, he commissioned the talented Mintz to produce 30-second animated pieces about the evils of alcohol.

“Stan wanted to do a piece to bring awareness about drinking too much and rather than do a kind of hit-you-on-the-head, pandering-to-the-audience campaign about not drinking on campus, he wanted to do something that was a little different and that people would actually watch so he thought of doing an animated piece and they commissioned me,” Mintz said.

“About a year ago we were really trying to get on top of alcohol use in the residence halls and on the campus as a whole,” said Elson Browne, associate director of Housing and Residential Life, noting part of the reason Mintz was brought in as a faculty-in-residence was because nobody with that area of expertise had ever been hired. “We thought it would be kind of cool for students to have direct access to someone with his talents. And, since Aubry does animation professionally, we thought we could get more mileage out of a 30-second animated film rather than just telling students ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ and use a medium that they would possibly respond to better.”

Animated character “Sloppy J-Lo”

Now in his third year at CSULB, Mintz has been in the industry ever since graduating from Canada’s Sheridan College in 1997 (now called Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning).

Maybe not so coincidentally, Mintz worked with a couple of individuals from Disney to create some of the ideas for the 30-second spots for which he had been commissioned. He then recruited Associate Professor Robin Richesson, head of the Illustration Department at CSULB, to serve as the art director, Associate Professor Andrew Byrom, who was the head of the Graphic Design Department at the time, worked on the live action sequence; and part-time Assistant Professor Soyeon Kim was brought in to create the title sequence.

“We all worked on this together,” said Mintz. “Like I would in a studio, I animated and designed it and storyboarded it and I hired CSULB students to be my animation assistants. A 30-second spot takes about four or five months, so you need a crew and in order to keep the costs down we were able to hire some students, but the quality I thought was good.

Aubry Mintz

“Layout artist Jim Schlenker (‘Curious George’, ‘The Little Mermaid’),” came in, and drew all the backgrounds and then Robin would take the backgrounds and paint them,” said Mintz. “While that’s going on we actually started animating. I would draw all the drawings kind of rough and then I would bring the students in to put a line on it and do what’s called cleanup animation. Then another person would scan it into a computer and do the colors.”

Mintz felt this was a great opportunity for students.

“All the things you talk about in class are put into effect because it’s a real job,” said Mintz. “When you are in a college and still learning, before working as professionals, I tell students to find projects for the experience of working together. So, it’s great to see some of them get together with friends and make a film over the summer. Experience only makes them better, and that is especially true when doing animation. Once they learn to make something move properly, then they should be able to use those principles with any animation, whether it be drawings, with a hunk of clay, with a pile of sand or with a computer. The art and skill is learning to make it move and then the end look just depends on the story you are telling and the process you are using.”

Completed a year ago, the first animated commissioned piece is called “High Diving Drunk” and focuses on a drunk male who thinks he’s cliff jumping when he’s really on a high-rise apartment building in front of a billboard jumping into a tiny pool. The recently completed second 30-second is called “Sloppy J-Lo” and features a female character, who thinks she is J-Lo in a rock concert, but then you learn that she is just making a fool of herself by dancing on a table in a dingy bar.

“The whole idea behind these pieces is it’s kind of like reality vs. what alcohol makes you think,” said Mintz. “At the college age it can be dangerous and they do things they regret and I think we get that point across with these pieces.”

The spots run continuously on the campus’ Channel 3, so students get to view them on an ongoing basis. They can also be seen at the Web site www.slopjoe.com.