Edinboro University graduate Brian Menz, 36, was part of the animation team that won an Oscar recently for Walt Disney’s animated hit movie, “Big Hero 6.”
His career as a computer animator has certainly taken off. He has been a part of nearly 10 films.
“It’s what I wanted to do since I was 8,” Menz said in a recent interview with the Democrat & Chronicle.
As a senior at Bishop Kearney High School, Menz attended an Animatus, a full-service animation studio, workshop.
Menz attended Edinboro University, and returned to Animatus for an internship in his sophomore year. This time, he perfected the animation for the studio mascot, a Viking named “Derf.”
Menz graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. After realizing that his options as a specalized hand-drawing animation artist were limited, he taught himself computer graphics and followed five animator friends to Texas. After much searching, he landed a job working on the kids show “Jimmy Neutron” and the film “Ant Bully.”
After the studio closed down, Menz found a new job at Laika Entertainment in Portland, Oregon. He created three dimensional, interchangeable faces for the stop motion film “Coraline.” After work on the 14-month project, he sent his reel to Disney, where he has worked ever since.
Menz has worked on the films “Bolt,” “Ice Age 3” and “Ice Age 4,” “Rio,” “Wreck It Ralph,” Oscar winner “Frozen,” and “Big Hero 6.” His next work can be seen in “Zootopia,” set for release this month.
Menz and his fellow animators were able to be celebrities as part of this exciting adventure. He got to meet actors John C. Reilly and Kristen Bell and he was “in awe of Idina Menzel, the voice behind Frozen’s Elsa.”
“She said she was really freaking out before meeting us, and here we are a bunch of geeks sitting behind a computer,” said Menz.
While each animator did not get to take home the Oscar, Menz said he “was happy just to hold the gold statue after the February win.” He said he has already received the top prize of a great career. “It’s hard work, but when people enjoy the films we create, that’s the real reward,” he said.