Digital Animation Faculty Spotlight

Animation Lighting by Geri Smith

Lighting: Geri Smith
Reproduced by permission of DreamWorks Animation

Geri Smith: Lead & Lighting Animator

Geri Smith grew up in the New York metropolitan area. As a child, Geri loved dimensional crafts and at age 13 discovered the potter's wheel. This fueled her interest in art for years to come.

After completing a BA at The College of New Jersey (then Trenton State College), she began setting up a potter's studio in her home. She also began searching for a career and found interest in working on large computer workstations that did color graphics. She decided to tour Europe. This was the start of a travel fever that let to several years in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

When she returned to NY, she began a more serious art study, primarily in figurative drawing and sculpture. She attended the Art Student's League in NYC and spent a lot of time in NY's museums and galleries. She made a living freelancing in computer graphics that served a business community and spent six months in the Netherlands training artists on computer graphic equipment.

With a desire to put her sculpture and computer work together, she completed an MFA in Digital Arts at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She taught web design at City University of New York. She moved to California after being offered a job at Square USA, and worked briefly in Hawaii on the role playing game, Final Fantasy IX. She has been employed variously as a Lead and Lighting Animator at DreamWorks Animation for the past 10 years, working primarily on the Shrek and Madagascar movie series. Most recently she worked on Monsters vs. Aliens. She began dancing as a form of creative expression, which has fueled current interests in movement and visuals in expressive arts.


Racket in the Attic Art by Digital Animator Billy Burger

Art by Animator/Instructor Billy Burger*

Billy Burger: Animator/Instructor

Billy Burger's first animation gig was at Colossal Pictures in their Ink & Paint department. He painted Captain Crunch cels and worked on over 250 commercials in under two years. He was classically trained as a camera operator for both their video systems and real film.

A group of employee's split off from Colossal and headed to W!LDBRAIN Studios. At W!LDBRAIN, Billy was employee number eight! It was there he became a full-time assistant moved to key assistant and finally animator. In between gigs at W!LDBRAIN he landed at James and the Giant Peach. Billy Began working with Character Design on Fern Gully 2. This new-found skill gave him the opportunity to work on almost every original show that the studio developed including his own. He pitched a concept to W!LDBRAIN about a set of twin bats that lived in an abandoned Victorian house. This is when Billy became a director.

Billy found his calling as a teacher during the whole "dot-com thing." He obtained his Master's in education with an interdisciplinary concentration on critique. His thesis pivoted around the research that given the proper methods, procedures and practice, that better talent can be fostered and genuine results can be obtained through objective critique.

Billy lives in San Francisco with his wife and three children. The younger two are fraternal twins. His children were all born in the city and take on the distinction of being third generation San Franciscans.

*"Racket in the Attic" is a cartoon idea Billy Burger created at W!LDBRAIN. He translates his experience as a father of twins into a story about two twin bats living in a Victorian house. The twin bats can communicate with the girl in the house and they run the place - loudly!

For more of Billy's work, please visit starlitattic.