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Dan Hale
School of Art – Animation

When did you begin teaching at UNCG?

In the fall of 2020

What attracted you to the position? Why this university/program? Describe the moment you knew UNCG/CVPA/School was a great fit for you.

So, I actually decided this was the place for me way back in the summer of 1996, and I applied for early acceptance. A couple of years later, I graduated from UNCG (Media Studies ’01) and went on to pursue my passion for visual storytelling through film, photography and animation. What attracted me to returning in the role of Visiting Assistant Professor of Animation was the amazing opportunity to come home and start to build an Animation Concentration in the School of Art. I mean, I get to discuss, watch and create animation with a passionate, diverse, and talented group of students every day. Who wouldn’t love that?

Favorite course or subject matter to teach and why?

Introduction to 3D Animation and Storyboarding are two of my favorite classes. I love getting students into the mindset of being an animator and focusing on action analysis. To do this we walk around the room in character, and even have a dance party in class. It’s crucial that we have an acute sense of how to translate physical movement into emotion, because 3D animators act as puppeteers and are charged with breathing life into a model. With Storyboarding, we focus on ways to craft a successful visual narrative through the use of foundational elements like composition and shape theory, as well as Aristotle’s means of persuasion and character archetypes. This course really encourages each student to tell their story, and I love seeing the results!

What makes UNCG, CVPA or your School special? Why do you think students should choose us?

The arts community within our school, within our college, our university, and our city is truly amazing. There is always a new exhibit or performance on the horizon, and despite the recent limitations that the pandemic has placed on in-person gatherings, we have found new ways to continue to produce and share the work we are most passionate about. There is no doubt that we all feed off of the creative energy of others, and that energy is boundless here.

Favorite memory at UNCG?

Hands down, my favorite memory has to be making my first film on 16mm, and maybe earning my degree as a close second 😉

Advice for future students who want to be successful?

If you love animation or video games, that’s awesome (I do too!), but if that is truly what you want to spend your career doing then you’ll be faced with a choice. In each moment, you can choose to spend your time and energy watching anime and playing games, or you can spend it refining your skills and learning how to create those things you love. My suggestion is to absolutely do both, but keep the emphasis on the latter.

If you were a student in your program now, what would you do differently from your actual undergraduate experience or what might you pursue that you didn’t?

Looking back, I wish I had taken the opportunity to spend a semester abroad while I was in school. The best stories come out of lived experiences, so get out there and live!

Most proud career moment or experience:

That’s tough to single out, and I don’t know if there is just one that rises above all the rest, but I would say that I love the last day of class when final projects are due each semester. Everyone arrives with that wave of relief, and we get to just sit back and see all of their hard work play out on the screen. It never fails that I’m always proud of their efforts and inspired by the work that is presented.

If you have an intriguing research, collaboration or community-based project you want to share about, please do so in this space.

Currently I’m working on a couple of projects, but the one I’m most excited (and nervous) about is a short animation collaboration with my 9-year-old daughter about our family’s experience with cancer over the last two years. It’s deeply personal and cathartic, but she is relentless in her push for refinement and perfection!

Is there anything else you believe is important and would like to share with prospective students?

The BFA in Animation Concentration within the School of Art is on track for a fall 2022 launch. Students who are accepted into the program will have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of artistic avenues ranging from concept art and character design, to storyboarding and 2D hand-drawn work, to 3D modeling, advanced animation and 3D rendering. Our final capstone will be a year-long collaborative effort across the cohort to traverse the full pipeline from idea inception through the final stages of compositing to create a production quality animated short film. If you have questions, or are interested in learning more, please feel free to email me ([email protected]) and we can schedule a time to chat.

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