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La Film School Instructor Bill Recinos Propels Animation Tradition Forward

Tags: Storyboard Pro Animation Education Harmony Storytelling

Please tell us about your background as an animator and storyboard artist.

Before joining The Los Angeles Film School, I worked at other institutions such as the The Art Institute of California, Los Angeles and the California State University, Northridge.

Prior to being an animation instructor I worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation for eleven years on their Golden Age animated films: The Little Mermaid, Mickey Mouse in The Prince & The Pauper, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, Fantasia 2000, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and Atlantis, The Lost Empire.

In 2000, after Disney, I worked as an animator and storyboard artist on several 3D projects for The Discovery Channel.

I founded Shadowmotion Productions in 2002 and took on the roles of Producer and Creative Director. There I helped create animatics and FX simulations for the Marvel film X-Men, and opening titles for the film Chasing Papi (20th Century Fox), and I also produced commercial videos and films.

My screen credits can be found on the IMDB page:


You spent part of your career here in Montreal didn't you?

Yes, I worked in Montreal on my very first animated feature film "Heavy Metal" (Columbia Pictures) in 1980 and I still have friends who live in Montreal.

Later, after Disney, I again worked in Montreal as an animator and storyboard artist on several 3D projects for The Discovery Channel: "When Dinosaurs Roamed America", "Living with Monsters", "Mega Mammals" and others. I was working at Meteor Studios, a subsidiary of The Discovery Channel that specialized in educational films that mixed 3D animation with live action film. I helped to mentor 3D artists in the principles of traditional animation and taught them to draw the human figure in motion. While there I also storyboarded sequences for live action educational films and created many visuals for projects in development.


What you teach at the LA Film School?


LA Film School

In my role as an instructor at the Los Angeles Film School I teach the fundamentals of animation from a traditional approach. Toon Boom Harmony allows me to teach these principles using practical exercises that make a real impact in the learning process.


What motivates and excites students to learn animation these days?

Students grow up exposed to Pixar and Disney movies and because of this they get inspired at an early age. Most of them liked to draw as children and wanted to pursue a career in the arts. When they learn that animation is a viable career option and much in demand they are motivated to learn animation.

LA Film School


Please share the experience of a particular student at the LA Film School.

Caio Slikta is an international student who as a little boy dreamed of one day becoming an animator in his native Brazil. Caio loves to draw and he practices every day. His drawing influence comes from watching Nickelodeon cartoons and you can tell of this influence from the way he draws and designs his original characters.

Caio is still going to school; but along his learning path he had a few internships where he had the opportunity to animate and to do storyboards for productions at small animation studios in Hollywood.

Caio developed the confidence and ability to work alongside professionals from learning Toon Boom Harmony and Storyboard Pro at the Los Angeles Film School. He learned to use the software with practical class assignments that allowed him to understand how the software is used professionally in a production pipeline.


When did you first encounter Toon Boom Harmony?

I knew Toon Boom Harmony was being used in animated TV shows but I had never done so myself. When the Los Angeles Film School decided to purchase it for our animation program I was very excited. I got a boot-camp course in how to use it and was very surprised on how quickly I was able to learn it. I recall I was doing live demonstrations for students by the following day. Ever since then, I was converted and now I preach the good word and teach the principles of animation using Toon Boom software.


How has Harmony affected your approach to animation?

Because of the intuitive interface of the software I found it easy to assimilate and conform to the process of traditional animation (paper and pencil). The advantage of Harmony is that you can have the instant gratification of quick playback and see the results of your animation in a matter of minutes and continue with the review process as you work. I think Harmony has helped me become an animator with a better sense of timing.


What is your vision for your educational project, Virtual Animators?

In 2012 I founded Virtual Animators, an online Professional training service, where I currently hold the titles of CEO and Director.

Virtual Animators offers professional training in each phase of the animation process.

Our instructors are accomplished industry experienced artists who are currently working at large established studios such as DreamWorks, Disney, Pixar, Blue Sky and Sony Pictures. We focus on teaching all the different stages of the animation process:

  • Concept Development

  • Character Design

  • Environment Design

  • Storyboarding

  • Texture, Lighting and Rendering

  • Character Animation

Online animation training is a reality in our world today. There are no geographical barriers or obstacles for those who really wish to learn. The best thing about it is that the instructors we hire at Virtual Animators are established artists currently working for big studios in Hollywood.

The chance for students around the world to meet these celebrated artists in person are remote; but Virtual Animators is bridging that gap, making great artists available online as instructors to interested parties around the world.


In your experience, what is the biggest success factor for someone trying to become an animator?

In my experience, the biggest success factor for anyone who wants to become an animator is to be hired and be part of a feature film that is a box office hit. But the even better part is having the opportunity to animate the lead characters, those with the best personality and resonance on the screen.

Storyboard Pro