Ranked 17th in the nation by Animation Career Review in 2016, Edinboro University’s animation department has been known to give way to successful alumni who currently work in the film and animation industry. Animation Professor Brad Pattullo, along with his recent spot on “Sesame Street,” is a prime example, and he gives credit to the currently staffed professionals at Edinboro.
“The instructors here all have industry experience, so we know what is expected,” he said. “We keep current on industry productions and trends. We also have a strong art department to back us up.”
A tenured professor, Pattullo says his career in higher education came thanks to “a lull in animation production in the early 2000s.”
“Mostly, I just fell into it,” he said. “I stayed in teaching because I didn’t like moving around so much, could stay in one place. Plus, I have time to work on my own art.”
Pattulo credits colleague Jeremy Galante — assistant professor at Edinboro — for helping him add his “Sesame Street” short to his growing list of achievements.
“Jeremy has done a lot of work for them; they asked him if he knew anyone to recommend and he gave them my name,” said Pattullo. “They sent me a pitch document and I sent them several ideas. They picked the idea they liked.”
Pattullo is a self-proclaimed “puppet master,” working previously on claymation for MTV’s “Celebrity Deathmatch” and recently creating the claymation video that aired on “Sesame Street,” called “G is for Games.”
The video — “G is for Games” — premiered Jan. 30 on PBS and featured music from local singer/songwriter Lori Burke, with voiceovers from Burke’s son, Donny. With a 12-week turnaround, it was a quicker production time than Pattullo is used to, proving to be a challenge.
“The main differences (between ‘Celebrity Deathmatch’ and ‘G is for Games’) are the content and the pacing. For a younger audience you typically have fewer shots that are held longer; also the characters aren’t moving as often,” said Pattullo. “For an action-oriented project like ‘Deathmatch,’ you have quicker cuts. But the process of animating a performance in stop motion is essentially the same no matter who your audience is.”
Patullo has another production ongoing for “Sesame Street,” which is set to air on May 27. He is also currently working on a separate animated short.
Some of Pattullo’s favorite work came while he was part of Will Vinton Studios in Portland, Oregon.
“Those were the best years of my life,” he said. “The projects I worked on there (‘The PJs’ and ‘Gary and Mike’) were okay; it was more about the creative energy of everyone at the studio, [as] everyone was great and I learned so much.”
It was in Portland where Pattullo found personal success in film. “I loved living in Portland,” he said. “‘24 Frames (2007)’ was my most successful film in terms of festivals, but all of my films had something that made each one individually special to me.”
For students looking to follow in the steps of Pattullo, Galante and countless other Edinboro alumni, Patullo has two suggestions: “Draw every day and watch a lot of movies,” he said. “The best way to learn about film is to be a fan of film.”
Though he finds solace in the security of teaching, Pattullo admittedly misses working in production, mostly, he says, because of the creative energy in the studio. “Working in academia is a lot of paperwork, and often isn’t very creative, but the work is steady and I could settle down and have a family,” he said.
In regard to future projects, Pattullo is mainly focused on his aforementioned short, and doesn’t have any immediate plans for another big project. “I typically don’t have a huge back-log of ideas,” he said.
Kimberly Firestine is the arts editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.