Whether it’s a creepy monster in a horror movie, slithering a tentacle out from under a bed, or an otherwordly creature the size of a skyscraper, if it’s made you jump, Craig Caton-Largent may have had a hand in bringing it to life. Craig, the Chair of 3D Animation & VFX at NYFA Los Angeles, has been at NYFA for nine years and started his career by doing makeup effects and animatronic puppets on movies such as Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Tremors, and Ghostbusters.
NYFA Chair of 3D Animation & VFX (Los Angeles), Craig Caton-Largent
In the digital age, Craig has worked as a character technical director for Disney Feature Animation and a layout artist at DreamWorks Animation. He supervised the creation of a network of Silicon Graphics workstations that would later become a core piece of the Digital Domain when Stan Winston partnered with James Cameron and Scott Ross. He is also credited as one of the eight co-founders of Digital Domain.
We spoke to Craig about his favorite films and projects, his experience at NYFA, and advice for aspiring 3D Animators.
NYFA: How did you first get interested in 3D Animation & Visual Effects?
I watched the original Planet of the Apes when I was a child and knew then that I wanted to create fantastical creatures and characters to help people tell their stories.
NYFA: What have been your favorite projects/productions to work on to date?
Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, Tremors, & Ghostbusters. Everyone working on Ghostbusters knew that it was special, and we all put our hearts into making a great movie that was fun to watch. Jurassic Park was great in the fact that Steven Spielberg had such a wonderful vision and told us to make the best dinosaurs we could create.
NYFA: Tell us about your time at NYFA.
I have been at NYFA for about nine years. It has been wonderful tailoring the 3D Animation and Visual Effects program to create a course that uses current technology being used in the industry today.
NYFA: What are your favorite courses to teach?
Previsualization and Performance Capture. I love the creativeness of Previz and Performance Capture because its “hands-on” approach.
NYFA: How would your students describe your teaching style/methods?
Entertaining and useful. Walt Disney once said, “I would rather entertain people and hope they learn something than trying to educate people and have them learn nothing at all,” and I embrace that.
NYFA: What’s your favorite part of the Animation & Visual Effects community in Los Angeles?
The camaraderie of the people who work in the industry.
NYFA: Who do you believe have been some of the most significant individuals in animation and visual effects?
Robert Lagato, Stan Winston, Douglas Trumbell.
NYFA: What are some of your favorite animated films/television shows?
Alien, Planet 51, The Expanse.
NYFA: What advice would you give a prospective student looking to get started in 3D Animation & Visual Effects?
Become familiar with the software used by the industry and watch breakdown reels on Youtube to gain a better understanding.
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