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>Chris Runco and Will Martinez Recap

>Our speakers last night were Chris Runco and Will Martinez, both of Walt Disney Imagineering. They began with a slideshow presentation that gave an overview of Walt Disney Imagineering, from past to present. Chris said that the heart of Imagineering is storytelling; every part of the park should support the story its telling. The steps in park planning and production are: Blue Sky, Concept Development, Show Design, Pre-Visualization, Ride Production, Rockwork Engineering, Show Installation, Test and Adjust, and Show Quality Standards. There are over 147 different skill-sets housed at Disney Imagineering, including illustrators, sculptors, sound designers, and landscape architects. The future of Disney Parks seems to be in immersive storytelling, in which the audience interacts with the ride and the characters.

Chris Runco and Will Martinez from Walt Disney Imagineering.

Will said that some important skills include a strong grasp of fundamentals: good drawing skills are key. He started as an intern, and was hired on long-term after 6 months. Now he works on concept designs, prop design, hero shots, and finished paintings. He mentioned that the production timeline is tight, so he has to concept quickly with thumbnails. Being able to read and translate plan views into real space is also a plus, as is the ability to use Maya. He also said that he had to get used to making changes and accept projects getting shelved or cancelled after he’d invested a lot of effort in them.

Chris said that the skill set for Imagineering translates well to trade show and concert design, themed hotels, projects for Universal and WB parks, movie design work, and also computer and video game design. Chris emphasized the importance of building strong fundamental skills, then moving on to develop 3D skills. In terms of the idea person vs. pencil skills person debate, Chris said that the idea people have less competition. The combination of the two is strongest, and versatility is key. He also said that strong placemaking abilities–the ability to design a single place that tells a story, with every object in that place supporting the story–would be great to show in a portfolio.

In terms of park design, Chris said that they achieve such a detailed world by working from big to small. They begin with the big details, and look at the goals for the project–what should it do, what is the heart of the project? Then they move on to story and research. Chris said that when you really understand the world you’re creating, it becomes easier to see things that don’t fit, like a font that wouldn’t have been used at that time. He also said that it’s important to have zero contradictions in an immersive experience. Anything that pulls the audience out of the experience has to be corrected.

For their parting advice, Will told us to have confidence in ourselves as artists, know that if we get the job, we’re good enough to be there, and don’t be afraid to ask for what we are worth. Chris said to find something we love and go do it; that paths open up when you follow your bliss. More pragmatically, think about what you love to do, and then think about industries where that service is needed. He also said to never stop learning and growing. A big thanks to Chris and Will for an informative and inspiring evening!

In our weekly drawing contest, we had two winners this week for the prompt word, Playing the Melody. First prize went to Paul Cohen, and second prize went to Ian Abando. Great work, guys!

Chris Runco and Will Martinez reviewing the drawing entries.

Congrats to Paul Cohen and Ian Abando for
being our drawing winners for “Playing the Melody”.

Paul Cohen

Ian Abando

Joshua Lee

Jocelyn Liang

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