WAC 2015 Panels

Aurora Jimenez - Visual Development Artist, Character Designer & Art Director 

Aurora Jimenez is a Visual Development Artist, Character Designer & Art Director.  She currently serves as a visual development artist on Sony Pictures Animation’s Get Smurfy.Her recent feature credits include visual development for Sony Pictures Animation’s blockbuster comedy Hotel Transylvania 2, and Universal Pictures’ The Tale of Despereaux. She was production designer on the animation feature El Guerrero sin nombre produced by Tornasol Films in Spain, and art director on 3D Animation series like Felix & The Flying Machine for Disney Channel. She also collaborates on independent projects such as the 3D animation short film La Noria, currently in development and directed by Carlos Baena. Aurora was also character designer for Games, in projects at Electronic Arts: "The Sims Medieval", "The Sims Medieval, Pirates & Nobles", and "The Sims 4". She graduated with a a Bachelor in Arts at the Fine Arts School, at the Complutense University, in Madrid, and an Art Direction for Film & TV Degree at ECAM / Madrid Film School. She has been working in the Motion Pictures & Film and the Games Industry for 15 years. Originally from Spain, her circus life took her to London, Toronto, San Francisco & Los Angeles, where she lives now.

Lizzie Nichols - Visual Development Artist

Lizzie Nichols currently serves as a visual development artist on Sony Pictures Animation’s fully animated reboot Get Smurfy due in theaters in Spring 2017.Her credits include Sony Pictures Animation’s record-breaking comedy hit Hotel Transylvania 2, Futurama, Full English, and Generator Rex.  She has worked for DreamWorks Television Animation, RGH Entertainment, Rough Draft Studios, and Walt Disney Imagineering. Her freelance clients have included Disney Television, Cartoon Network, and Nathan Love studios. Lizzie is originally from Connecticut and received a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from Wellesley College in Massachusetts in 2003. She graduated from Art Center College of Design in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Entertainment Design.


J.Michael Spooner - Visual Development Artist

J. Michael Spooner has worked as a concept designer in the animation industry for thirty years with such notable companies as Pixar, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, DreamWorks Animation and Big Idea Productions. He is currently serving as a visual development artist on Sony Pictures Animation’s fully animated reboot Get Smurfy, due in theaters in Spring 2017, following his work on the studio’s monster hit Hotel Transylvania 2, currently in theaters. Michael’s impressive array of projects for animation include: The Emperor's New Groove, Lilo and Stitch and Treasure Planet (Walt Disney Feature Animation); Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, Talespin, Goof Troop, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and A Goofy Movie (Walt Disney Television Animation); Shrek (DreamWorks Animation); Quest for Camelot (Warner Bros Feature Animation); Jonah (Big Idea Productions), The Fox And The Hound 2, Velveteen Rabbit, Tinkerbell (Walt Disney Toons); and Monsters University (Pixar Animation). Today Michael works at Sony Pictures Animation as a Visual Development Designer, having worked on or in development on such pictures as Popeye, Kazorn, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Smurfs Movie, The Smurfs Jack and the Beanstalk, and Ghostbusters. Michael’s teaching experience includes: Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, Associates in Arts, Van Nuys, CA, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL and California State University, Northridge. theartofmichaelspooner.blogspot.com

Tee Bosustow

One of the sons of Steve Bosustow, who ran UPA from the mid 1940s to the end of the 1950s, is an award winning filmmaker of documentaries and informational film and videos, including, Remembering Jung, 30 one-hour profiles of Jungian experts.  Bosustow has worked in all areas of filmmaking in, Paris, London, Hong Kong, and Burbank.  Bosustow has mainly worked for clients, but independently he created a series of live action shorts, which won a number of awards, and the documentary, Avati and the Mezzotint, about the premier practitioner of mezzotint engraving, Mario Avati.  Bosustow studied Motion Picture production at UCLA, and later taught Broadcast Journalism Production at USC.  Bosustow is the creator of the UPA documentary, the Boing Heard Round the World, now in production.

G. Allen Black

The Art Director on the UPA documentary feature, The Boing Heard Round the World.  Black’s expertise is primarily as Graphic Designer and Story Artist, specializing in creating intellectual properties for all media, utilizing his experience in marketing and licensing to ensure lasting franchises.  Rather than developing the licensing and marketing programs after the fact, Black creates series bibles, which serve as style guides, the characters are designed with product in mind, providing great content that looks beyond programming to achieve success in all areas of business.  His clients include Marvel, Disney, and Playboy.

Geefwee Boedoe

sometimes credited as Gee Fwee Boedoe, is coming down from his home in Emeryville to be on the UPA panel. He is an animator, designer, and illustrator.  Boedoe first worked as an animator for Disney and Pixar, collaborating on movies like Monsters, Inc., where he created the main title design, Finding Nemo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Beauty and the Beast.  His independent animated short film, Let’s Pollute, was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 for Best Animated Short.  He also wrote and illustrated his first children’s book, Arrowville, in 2004. The book was selected as one of the 10 best illustrated children's books of 2004 by theNew York Times Book Review, and Boedoe also received the 2004 Reuben Award for Book Illustration from the National Cartoonist Society for Arrowville.

Bob Kurtz

is an animation director, producer, designer, and founder of Kurtz & Friends, which specializes in feature film titles and sequences, television series, such as Sesame Street, and numerous award winning television commercials.  Kurtz is the winner of over 250 major awards, including the Peabody, Emmys, Annies, Clios, Tellys, and honored at several international animation festivals.  Some of the Kurtz feature film titles include; The Pink Panther, George of the Jungle, Honey, I Blew up the Kids, Four Rooms, Honeymoon in Las Vegas, Straight Talk, and City Slickers. Kurtz attended the Chouinard Art Institute, and has taught at the character animation program at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts). 

Jon Peters

Jon Peters is founder of Athena Studios, which focuses on stop-motion animation and visual effects. His work as a designer and producer on corporate and commercial productions has won numerous awards for his studio and has been written about in Fortune, Forbes, Adweek, Print and various other publications over the years.Jon started his career as an industrial designer and professional model-maker and went on to start several award-winning companies in design and technology. He first became interested in stop-motion animation when he saw Ray Harryhausen's work on The 7th Voyage of Sinbad as a child. It took 45 years for Jon to fully realize his dream to form a stop-motion studio, but as Jon says "the best things in life are worth waiting for." Mr. Peters is the Producer of the stop-motion animated feature film Auntie Claus (currently in development). He was an elected Board Member of the Northern California Chapter of the Visual Effects Society.Jon lives in Piedmont, CA with his wife and three children. His studio is located in Emeryville, CA in 'Hollywood North,' just down the street from Pixar and Tippett Studios.

Kat Alioshin

Kat Alioshin jumped into animation during her formative years at University of San Diego. In the late 1980’ she was part of a core few who made selections for Spike and Mike’s Festival of animation. While working on the film Pacific Heights in San Francisco, she received a unique opportunity that shaped her career – The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Kat continued working with Henry Selick as Assistant Director on James and the Giant Peach. She and her team also produced Best Buy’s Three Little Pigs, Mike Johnson’s Devil Went Down to Georgia and Nickelodeon’s Life with Loopy.  Kat managed a team for TV episodes called Bump in the Night.  As producer on Monkeybone, Kat managed the VFX portion of the shoot with an A-list crew. Kat moved to England as production manager for Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Award winning armature maker, Merrick Cheney brought her back to the US to produce the armature build of the main characters on Henry Selick’s Coraline.  On her 4th feature with Henry, Kat was Production Manager of puppet fabrication at Cinderbiter in San Francisco.At Athena Studios Kat is line producer on the stop motion feature based on the book Auntie Claus. She is also producer on the stop motion short, Mermaids on Mars, which just completed production at Athena Studios.

Justin Kohn

Justin Kohn was born in 1954 and has been involved with 3-dimensional animated effects work since 1979 when he got his start as a camera person in Florida and started making puppets and armatures. In the 80's and 90's, he ran a small animation armature manufacturing and effects rigging along with his partner Peter J Marinello. Justin’s first stop motion animated feature was the film I Go Pogo. Since that time he has gone on to animate and do visual effects for a great number of feature films including The Nightmare Before Christmas; Robocop 2; James And the Giant Peach; Monkeybone; Antz; The Life Aquatic; Disaster- the Movie; Coraline and numerous other films, television shows, educational films and commercials. At Athena Studios Justin was one of two lead animators on the stop-motion short film Mermaids on Mars where he animated the Martian Glaucus and some of the other characters in the film.

Women In Animation
Sunday 10/25 Harryhausen Theatre

Although over 60% of animation programs are female artist, women are only 20% of the creative workforce in the industry.  As part of WIA's campaign for "50-50 By 2025", we are launching a shorts program to give female creators a chance to get their vision on the screen, be seen by an audience and benefit from their work financially. We will be talking about what we're doing.  Why we're doing it. And how it will work.

Jenna Boyd - Independent Producer

Jenna Boyd is an 18-­‐year veteran of the kids entertainment business with experience spanning multiple genres and platforms.  As an independent producer, Jenna strives to create content that addresses the changing media landscape within a world where content and technology converge and kids are the earliest adopters.  Her focus is to bring character driven, engaging and immersive storytelling for family audiences to all screens large and small. Jenna began her career in kids content as an intern at Nickelodeon and over the course of nearly two decades worked her way up to her most recent role as the studio’s senior vice president of animation development.  Jenna’s tenure at Nick spanned both coasts and multiple content divisions.  Early in her career, she produced a variety of unscripted reality and game shows before moving to Los Angeles in 2004.  There she oversaw the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which went on to win a Peabody Award and become a  cult phenomenon for the network.  Transitioning into live action development, Jenna oversaw a slate of scripted and unscripted programming for Nickelodeon, Teenick and Nick at Nite.  In 2012 she was promoted to SVP of animation development where she launched the global animated shorts program and ushered in an unprecedented wave of creator driven originals including Sanjay and Craig, Breadwinners, Harvey Beaks, Pig Goat Banana Cricket, The Loud House, Pinky Malinky and the first transmedia series for the network, Welcome to the Wayne. 

Brendan Burch - CEO/Co-Founder Six Point Harness

Brendan Burch is the CEO/ Co Founder of the Los Angeles based animation studio, Six Point Harness.  Six Point Harness is the team behind the hit series, Dick Figures, the animation on Fox's Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and is co-owner of the adult animated YT channel, Rug Burn. 

James Lopez

James Lopez is a veteran Disney animator who who has been a professional in the animation industry for 25 years. He specializes in hand-drawn animation but has also made the transition to CG animation. He has also worked for studios such as Warner Bros. and Dreamworks in both television and features an has performed a variety of positions that range from Storyboarding and Layout to Art Direction, Production Design and Character Design. James is an alumni of CalArts where he has taught drawing and animation and has also taught both online at Virtual Animators and in person at the Laguna College of Art and Design to inspire a new generation of artists. Jame’s passion for hand-drawn animation led him to launch a successful crowd-fund campaign to keep the art form in good-practice and, as a result, is now currently producing an animated series called 'Hullabaloo'.

Robert Hughes

started directing for Nickelodeon on Rocko’s Modern life through the show’s entire run. He later went to direct Nickelodean's

The Angry Beavers where he won best director for a daytime series at the original World Animation Calibration in 1998. Then moving to work on the Fox's The Family Guy as a post production director. He worked as an animation consultant to the Berlin Film Group in Germany where he oversaw several projects in the European style of animation. In 2006 Robert directed and produced Disney’s Phineas and Ferb.  After Phineas and Ferb Rob went to Warner Brothers Television to direct a new cartoon called Bunnicula.  Rob is currently at Walt Disney producing and directing Dan Povinmire and Swampy Marsh’s new animated show, Milo Murphy’s Law. 

Cinzia Angelini

Cinzia has worked as an animator and story artist in feature productions for more than twenty years. She began the American chapter of her career at Dreamworks, followed a path that would lead to collaborations with all of the major studios in Hollywood, and is now a story artist at Illumination Entertainment. Her work includes “Prince of Egypt”, “Eldorado”, “Spirit”, “Sinbad”, “Spider-man 2″, “Open Season”, “Meet the Robinsons” and “Bolt”, the “How to train your Dragon” and “Kung Fu Panda” DVD specials, as well the Universal Theme Park ride for Despicable Me, “Minions Mayhem”. Her most recent work includes “Minions”, and several other feature productions coming soon. Cinzia is also directing her own independent short film, “Mila”, a collaboration of 250 artists from 25 countries around the world, due out in 2016.

Zahra Dowlatabadi

Zahra Dowlatabadi is an award winning animation producer currently working at Warner Bros. Animation. Her credits include feature productions such as Warner Bros.' Space Jam, Universal's Land Before Time DTVs and adult content TV series for Comedy Central’s Brickleberry. Dowlatabadi is the co-writer of the seminal book Producing Animation published by Focal Press and translated in Chinese and Korean.

Mermaids on Mars
Sunday 10/25 Harryhausen Theatre

A mother's story comes to life in this stop-motion animated short film about a young boy who travels to Mars to try to save the last of the planet's water and the three mermaids who live there from a lovestruck Martian bent on destruction.

The Boing Heard Round The World
Sun 10/25 Harryhausen Theatre

The documentary is a feature length look at some of the behind-the-scenes stories during the creative output of UPA from the late 40s through the end of the 50s, told by the people who created those groundbreaking animated films.

Hotel Transylvania 2
Sat 10/24 Harryhausen Theatre

Sony Pictures Animation presents the record-breaking monster hit Hotel Transylvania 2 currently in theaters.

Producing Animation
Sunday 10/25 Harryhousen Theatre


René Veilleux 

CEO and Founder of Verité Entertainment where he is spearheading production and development on a variety of projects in film, television, animation and new media. He has worked in all aspects of production for film, television, animation and video games with numerous companies including: DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, Scripps Networks, FremantleMedia, MTV, Mattel/Playground Productions, Nickelodeon, Amazon Studios and PBS.  Rene is a Voice and Casting Director for a number of animation projects including: Justice League Adventures, 

Monsuno, and Monster High among others, as well as numerous video game titles such as: Payday 2, How To Train Your Dragon 2 The Video Game and The Elder Scrolls Online.

Marge Dean - GM Stoopid Buddy Studios

Marge Dean is currently the General Manager for Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, the largest stop motion studio in Southern California.  She supervises the production of “Robot Chicken”(Adult Swim) as well as “Super Mansion”, (Sony’s Crackle).  Dean is also tasked with expanding Stoopid Buddy’s range of work to include 2D and 3D CGI.Known for building studios and animation pipelines, Ms. Dean was responsible for the design or re-design of several studios large and small; including Columbia-TriStar TV; Warner Brothers Animation, Omation (Steve Oedekerk), Technicolor Animation and Wildbrain Entertainment.  Just prior to joining Stoopid Buddy, Dean was the Director of Production at Mattel’s Playground Productions.  Once again, Ms. Dean built a structure for an expanding animation entity but this time in the largest toy company in the world; supervising the production of over 1500 minutes of animation content in all media including CGI, Harmony, Flash, and Stop Motion.

Chris Waters - Co-Founder of Oktobor Animation

Chris Waters is a veteran kids animation producer, and most recently co-founded Oktobor Animation (Los Angeles/New Zealand) where he serves as EVP Business Development.  Most recently, Chris has set up a co-production with Nelvana and Playmates Toys on Mech Mice, an animated series he co-created with Lance Priebe (Club Penguin) and Oktobor creative director Dan Wang set for 2017 release. As an independent producer and seasoned entrepreneur, Chris is constantly seeking new ways to deliver content, and sees huge opportunity in the disruptive digital platforms that are fundamentally changing the way we now create, produce and distribute content to audiences.

Lyndon Ruddy

As a graduate of Sheridan College in Canada, Lyndon has 30 years of experience in the animation industry on an international level. He’s covered pretty much every aspect of the creative production from key Animation, layout supervisor, design and storyboarding at many top studios. He began his career in Toronto at Nelvana Animation working with Lucasfilm on Ewoks and Droids as well as freelancing for various commercial houses such as Lightbox animating on Honey nut Cheerios spots.Soon after that Lyndon excelled into Storyboard/Layout Supervisor/Animation and Design roles on many award winning projects (KimPossible, Tom & Jerry, Backyadigans, Arthur) for Disney, Blue Sky,Warner Bros., Nelvana, Wildbrain to name a few. Focusing exclusively on Storyboarding/Story Lyndon went onto work on many Feature Films including The Wild, Escape from Planet Earth, Gnomeo & Juliet, The Nut Job Henry and Me. He moved to the U.S. full time to work as a Story Artist on The Legend of Tembo at Digital Domain in Florida, then onto Disneytoon Studios in LA where he worked on Story and Story Development for the Tinkerbell and Planes World franchises’ Feature films, pitching story ideas and concepts to the executives, producers and directors. Lyndon is currently a Story Artist/ Development Artist at Paramount Pictures new Feature Animation division in Hollywood California.