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The Hollywood Animation Academy moves to Centriq; should start the first classes in January


HOllywood Animation Academy is moving from the drawing board to live action in January with its first batch of enrolled students. Founded by vFormer director and animator Gavin Dell, the business school is intended to prepare students for jobs in the film, games and television industry.

Gavin Dell

Gavin Dell, Hollywood Animation Academy

Dell, an Overland Park native, returned to Kansas City from the West Coast after working for 32 years as a director, animator, character development artist and screenwriter.

His credits include work on over two dozen shows and movies, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Family Guy, Disenchantment, Scooby Doo, and The Looney Tunes Show. He understood firsthand the growing demand for animators and entertainers and planned to start an academy in the Midwest.

RELATED: Hollywood Veteran Designs Animation Academy to Make Young Artists More Hireable

He has worked tirelessly over the past year to find a location for the computer lab and academy facilities. An initial search in the Crossroads Arts District was unsuccessful. Next, Dell discovered available space in the Centriq Training building near 92nd Street and State Line Road.

I was referred to the Centriq building by the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC, Dell said. Centriq had taken some of its courses online after the pandemic. We’re a great fit for each other since we both teach a technical business curriculum in growing industries that don’t require a college degree.

The academy occupies 1,000 square feet and plans to add another classroom in the fall of 2023. Building amenities were a draw, Dell said.

They have a beautiful, modern campus with break rooms, kitchens and an outdoor patio that’s ideal for students, he said. Their classrooms are designed for technical training and advanced wiring.

The lab is equipped with gaming computers capable of running 3D software at full throttle, including Autodesk Maya and Unreal Engine, Dell added. Our desks include 22 inch graphics tablets and a 24 inch HD monitor on the side with LED keyboards to make things fun.

Students will take in-person classes during the two-year program. Dell plans to add an online course for Introduction to Animation and Introduction to Storytelling next spring and summer.

Both are incredible courses that give students a great opportunity to learn how animation works and what it would be like to be a Disney Story artist, Dell said. We plan to take students 14 years and older with intermediate drawing ability for these courses. These are both fun and challenging enough to give a real taste of what it would be like to work as a professional animation artist.

Click on here to learn more about Hollywood Animation Academy.

Registration remains open until January 2023 with a maximum of 16 students per class. The next term for new students begins in the fall with 15-week semesters.

Gavin Dell with the students of Olathe Northwest High School

Jason Lethcoe, the academy’s newest full-time instructor, brings 35 years of experience as a veteran animator and director at Disney and Sony. Lethcoe has written and published nearly 20 books.

The Zoom movie starring Tim Allen is based on Lethcoes’ book, Zoom’s Academy’s Amazing Adventures. Guest instructors also represent a host of Talent with animation credits in film, games and TV.

We are delighted to have Jason here. He’s fantastic with students, Dell said. Jason and I worked together on my first job as animators for Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton in the early 90s. We also worked on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney when it was an animated movie. It’s somewhat poetic that we do this school together.

In addition to securing a location over the past year, Dell has visited local schools to give presentations on careers in animation. He also went through a detailed process to adopt rigorous guidelines and obtain state certification for the academy.

The state won’t allow you to accept tuition until you adopt its regulations and budget guidelines, Dell said. We also had to have a lease for a building in order to pass the certification. It takes a lot of work to accomplish all of these things.

The hard work culminated in a student-focused trade school destined to produce the best animation program in the country, he said.

We are always in touch with what is happening in the industry and are adjusting the program to be the best it can be, Dell said. We encourage students who are serious about becoming a professional animation artist to contact us as soon as possible and get on our list.




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