The Art of Motion
KCAI’s award-winning animation department provides students with a comprehensive education in the history, art and design of animation. Students receive instruction and exposure to traditional, experimental and digital animation practices. However, one solution is never emphasized over another. Instead, our approach is multitiered and based fundamentally on self-directed creative exploration guided by dedicated experienced mentors. We encourage our students to think and act dynamically and in accordance with their individual creative practices and goals. The culmination of this growth-focused approach results in graduates who display conceptual, technical and aesthetic excellence and who enter the field with the confidence to build successful long-term careers.
Our curriculum is prioritized into a suite of sequential courses that combine concept modeling, production methods and technique into individually-based and collaborative projects. Required courses within the major have planned synergies that develop and build the essential skills and working methods necessary for basic mastery. Additionally, students complement their studio practice through focused electives. Senior animation students are offered a combined six credit hour studio each semester in which to fully produce a fully animated work with sound. The Senior Graduation Animation project prepares them to enter the field with practical experience and a competitive portfolio. Upon graduation, students are fully prepared to enter the animation industry, to create opportunities as independent artists or to further their studies in graduate school.
The animation department features technologically integrated classrooms and studios utilizing Google Fiber. Students work in environments designed to facilitate inspiration and to provide a variety of essential creative tools within reach.
“One of the biggest bonuses to our animation department is the wide range of projects that are possible and encouraged...”Elizabeth Davis
Associate Professor and Chair of Animation
Doug Hudson has been making experimental music and film since the mid-80s, teaching since 2000. Most notably, he designed and founded the award-winning Animation department for the Kansas City Art Institute in 2004. Currently, he teaches full time and is Chair of Animation at KCAI.
His graduates work throughout the industry and have earned many honors and distinctions, including a Student Academy Award in 2010. Additionally, many have gone on to earn graduate degrees from top colleges, including Cal Arts, USC, and UCLA.
Hudson earned a M.F.A. in Experimental Animation from Cal Arts in 2000 (under the mentorship of Jules Engel, Suzan Pitt, William Moritz, Raimund Krumme, and Maureen Selwood) and a B.F.A. in Animation from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 1997 (under the mentorship of Sheila Sofian, David Fain, Lowell Boston, and Peter Rose). At Warner Brothers Online in Los Angeles (2000-2001), he was a member of the first team of animators to bring the iconic Looney Tunes characters to the internet via a series of original Flash-based webtoons as well as animating for the DC Comics series, Gotham Girls and Lobo.
Whether mentoring or making, Hudson is deeply committed to instilling and exalting the independent spirit of experimental creative practice. He is currently in production on a stop-motion film about a lost parade (starring over 1000 vintage and antique toys).
John Baker joined KCAI in 2010 and teaches interactive arts and animation. Previously, he was an animator with MK12, a Kansas City-based motion graphics firm, where he was responsible for generating concepts for clients from storyboards to final animation. He also worked as editor and data manager on national and international film and video productions. Baker was responsible for shooting footage, including short films, and he handled filming and processing green-screen footage, rotoscope work and various visual effects. Before that he was an animator with Video Post Productions in Kansas City, where he worked in 2-D and 3-D animation for national and international clients. He has worked on numerous production projects for many well-known national brands.
Christiane Cegavske is best known for her feature-length animated film, “Blood Tea and Red String,” completed in 2005. She is currently working on her second animated feature film, “Seed in the Sand.” In addition to being an independent filmmaker, painter, poet and doll maker, she has been a lead animator and sculptor working on projects for The Oxygen Network, VH1, and the Disney Channel, among others. She also created animated dream sequences for Asia Argento’s “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things” and a music video for Mark Growden’s song “Coyote.”
Once you declare your major, animation students take the following core courses as they progress from sophomore to senior year. For additional electives and liberal arts courses, download the complete Course Catalog.
- Principles of Animation
- Digital Methods
- History of Animation
- Visual Communication
- Contemporary Animation History
- Explorations in Animation
- Ideas in Motion
- Senior Studio I
- Senior Studio II
- Professional Practice
Professional practice is a compulsory component of the KCAI program in which students benefit enormously from insights provided by world-renowned visiting artists, scholars and professionals.
Current software applications being used include Adobe Creative Suite, Cinema 4D, Dragonframe and Shotgun.
Recommended systems/tools: 15” MacBook Pro with retina display (minimum) or PC w/Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor with Windows 8 or 8.1 and 64-bit support. Recommended add-ons: carrying case, min. 1TB external hard drive, mini display to VGA adapter and damage/theft insurance.
Jobs + Internships
Our graduates have gone on to work in many studios and production houses including: Disney, Warner Brothers, ShadowMachine, Titmouse, Stoopid Buddies, Digital Domain, Bill Plympton Studios, Hallmark, Bazillion and Nickelodeon. Additionally, many have gone on to pursue graduate studies at top colleges like Cal Arts, UCLA, SVA and UMKC.
Professional practice seminars are a compulsory part of the department and all three levels benefit from exposure and interaction with visiting artists and animation professionals who present lectures, demonstrations and engage with students one on one. The department has been honored to host many artists over the years including the following: John Canemaker, Suzan Pitt, Jorge Gutierrez, Sheila Sofian, Joanna Priestley, Phil Mulloy, Jeff Scher, Rob O’Neill, Laura Harrison, Nathan Fariss, Claudia Hart, Chris Sullivan, Corky Quakenbush, Bill Plympton, David Levy, Sarah De Gaudemar, Betsy Nofsinger
Student Academy Award, Multiple Emmys