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From DreamWorks to ‘a New Home’ in DisneyToon Studios

Griselda Sastrawinata, di salah satu area DisneyToon Studios, Glendale, California (foto: Ina Liem)
Griselda Sastrawinata, di salah satu area DisneyToon Studios, Glendale, California (foto: Ina Liem)
(This is the second part of my article on Kompas KLASS on Entertainment Design, July, 10, 2015. The first part can be found here)

Who would have thought that behind blockbuster movies like Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Puss in Boots, The Croods, and the Rise of the Guardians, there is this Indonesian woman named Griselda Sastrawinata.

After finishing her first level at Pelita Harapan senior high school, Jakarta, Griselda moved to and completed his high school at La Sierra Academy, California. She spent the first two years of college at the Riverside Community College in the Accounting major.

Change of Direction

When she was an intern for 3 months as a financial advisor at the American Express, she always spent her break time drawing. Since she was little, Griselda has never stopped drawing. Doraemon, Candy-Candy, and Bobo are characters she likes to paint. This is what pushed her to change direction. Her decision to move to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena has taken her to DisneyToon Studios, where she works now.

Since Griselda changed her major, she had to start fresh at the Art Center. During her 7th semester, she had the opportunity to intern at DreamWorks. When DreamWorks’ representatives came to the Art Center, they were just looking for 2 interns. Griselda felt very fortunate to be accepted, along with another student, Rodney, who is currently working at Marvel.

During this one term of internship, Griselda worked as production assistant. Her job is very simple, just like interns in general, such as observing, recording, and preparing some coffee. However, by being there she could meet and learn from famous figures, such as Tony Siruno (Character Designer of Paramount Pictures), Nicolas Marlet (from Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon), Raymond Zibach (Production Designer of Kung Fu Panda) and Stacey Moreno (from Penguins of Madagascar, The Croods).

Even Armand Baltazar, an Art Center graduate who was involved in many films like Cars 2, Shark Tale, The Road to El Dorado, and Prince of Egypt, volunteered to be her mentor. He spared one hour per week to guide Griselda in developing her portfolio.

Nothing simple

Design is often perceived as an easy subject. “Just about drawing,” say some. In fact, the Department of Design has its own challenges, similar to the Department of Engineering or Science.

While studying at the Art Center, Griselda often had to stay awake for days doing her assignments. It was not just because of the load, working on details is also very time-consuming. Though she had spent 20 hours doing a project, the result was often still considered imperfect and should be revised.

This is what happened during her eight years at DreamWorks before she moved to DisneyToon Studios. Everyone is required to keep on producing new ideas despite the same project for several years.

The diversity of Indonesian heritage such as batik pattern, kebaya, and other traditional clothing helps Griselda to enrich her design ideas. The first film in which Griselda was involved is Shrek. Illustration books, costumes, and font letters of the movie are her production.

There are three stages in designing an animated film, which involve early development, development, and production. After that, when necessary, the films are taken to the post-production stage to prepare promotional materials such as posters, figures, guns, and the attributes of the characters. A graduate of Entertainment Design can work in all of these stages, as Griselda did.

Research and multidisciplinary

Research is an important part in a design process. For example, to create futuristic vehicles, students should examine the profile of ‘A generation’ (a name for those born after 2010). What are their needs at the age of 25, what kind of vehicle they will need, what are their professions, and in what kind of city they will live?

It is clear that orientation to detail, innovative personality, and perfectionist spirit need to be possessed by students at the Art Center and by those who want to be professionals in this industry. For that, teachers should be more than just ones who understand the theory.

All teachers at the Art Center are entertainment industry practitioners. The quality of work submitted by the students needs to match the requirements of the industry. As practitioners, Griselda also taught at the Art Center for four years. The principle is like putting industry insiders into the campus environment.

This modern facility, for sure, will support the process of teaching and learning. In addition to designing, students of the Art Center can produce their own artworks in more than 10 workshop spaces. No whipsaw is required because 3-D printers along with the materials used for making models are provided there. That is why the tuition fee is quite expensive.

However, Art Center also provides non-degree short programs for public where the talents of young people can be accommodated. There is a special program on Saturday for the 9th to 12th grader; also there is a Sunday program for the 4th – 8th grader.

Looking at the demand for perfection and detail orientation in design work for the entertainment industry, it is time for schools in Indonesia to not only focus on those with achievements in the field of science but also prepare students whose right brains are more prominent.

To read the first part of this article, click here.


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About the author

Ina Liem

Ina Liem

Ina Liem sudah belasan tahun berkecimpung di dunia pendidikan, terutama pendidikan di luar negeri. Ia telah memberi konsultasi, seminar, dan presentasi di hadapan puluhan ribu pelajar dan orang tua murid di banyak kota dan di beberapa negara tetangga. Selain menjadi Kontributor rubrik EDUKASI di KOMPAS KLASS, Ina adalah penulis (author), pembicara (public speaker), dan Certified Career Direct Consultant.

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