Sony Pictures Digital Productions and Animation Mentor Put New Twist on Old Tradition With State-of-the-Art Online Mentor Program

Professional Mentors and Student Apprentices Share the Benefits of Unique Online Collaboration Among Sony Pictures Artists and Top Student Apprentices from IPAX Member Schools


Sony Pictures Digital Productions professional education program (IPAX), created in 2004 by the award winning visual effects and animation company to help train the next generation of talent at the leading computer graphics and animation schools, recently offered an innovative online mentorship program utilizing Animation Mentor's unique online training technology. The three month long mentorship program paired Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation professionals with student apprentices selected from the 18 current IPAX member schools for individualized online mentoring, training and guidance.

Animation Mentor's innovative mentor/apprentice teaching model and online learning platform enabled the Sony mentors to work with students on skills development and techniques. Tools included live video conference question and answer sessions with mentors, video guest lectures with industry experts, and eCritiques®, where mentors provided video commentary while drawing directly from the students' work to illustrate their concepts.

Sony Pictures Imageworks produces visual effects and animation for live action films, all-CG animated features, hybrids, and 3D stereoscopic. Imageworks is currently working on G-FORCE, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, 2012, CATS AND DOGS 2, and ALICE IN WONDERLAND among others, and most recently completed work on WATCHMEN.

Sony Pictures Animation develops and produces animated feature films. Its next movie, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, will be released in September 2009.

Two artists who participated in the program, Josh Beveridge an animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks and Dan Sheerin sr. technical director at Sony Pictures Imageworks mentored students Raphael Sousa who attends Animation Mentor and Thomas Huang who attends the University of Southern California.

"Mentoring is rewarding and this program gave me the opportunity to give back to the tradition in a new and exciting way," said Josh Beveridge, whose work includes CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (in production), I AM LEGEND (2007), SURF'S UP (2007), OPEN SEASON (2006), and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).

"It was such a phenomenal opportunity to learn from and collaborate with a respected professional - someone working in the field I want to pursue," said Raphael Sousa. "I think that this program in combination with my work at Animation Mentor is giving me the real-world production skills to compete for a studio job in character animation."

"I can remember my early career aspirations and how challenging the work can be when you are just starting out," said Dan Sheerin, whose work in visual effects includes Beowulf (2007), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Batman Begins (2005), and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), among others. "Hands-on guidance and honest direction about what will improve your work can really help."

"This program was an incredible learning experience," said Thomas Huang. "In addition to the expert guidance and important tricks of the trade, I was blown away by how easy it was to share and collaborate online."

For more information about IPAX and member schools, visit

About Sony Pictures Digital Productions (Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation)

Sony Pictures Digital Productions is the digital production center of Sony Pictures Entertainment and comprises Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation. Sony Pictures Imageworks is a leading, state-of-the-art digital animation and visual effects studio creating computer-generated (CG) images for motion pictures through its live action, all CG animation, performance capture and 3D stereoscopic capabilities. Its work has been recognized with two Academy Awards® and numerous honors. Imageworks also houses Imageworks Interactive, a full service creative group that produces websites and supports digital marketing for the studio and outside clients. Sony Pictures Animation develops and produces CG animated feature films from storyboard to screens. Sony Pictures Animation's first two full-length features, OPEN SEASON, released in 2006, and 2007's SURF'S UP, were critically acclaimed and have together accumulated close to $350 million in worldwide box office revenue. SURF'S UP also received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Animated Feature in 2007. Sony Pictures Animation most recently completed OPEN SEASON 2 for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and is currently producing CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS and THE SMURFS. In addition, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA is in pre-production for Columbia Pictures.

About Animation Mentor (

Animation Mentor is a state of the art online education and mentorship program teaching students the skills needed to succeed as a professional animator in the studio environment. Focused 100% on character animation, the 18-month program is designed and taught by some of the industry's top professional animators from top studios. Animation Mentor's online campus environment provides students around the world with a convenient, flexible, and accessible learning environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By graduation, every student will have worked in a production-style environment with mentors who are working studio animators. Students learn how to accept guidance and criticism, to meet deadlines and to budget and schedule their time to succeed in the working world. The program leads students to a diploma in Advanced Studies in Character Animation and is built with a focus on production studio skills, allowing students to get comfortable with the many challenges and opportunities they will experience when working in a studio environment. Upon graduation, Animation Mentor coaches graduates and connects them to job opportunities with major recruiters, video game companies, and film studios. For more information, visit

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SOURCE: Sony Pictures Digital Productions; Animation Mentor

CONTACT: Rachel Falikoff, +1-310-840-8789,,
for Sony Pictures Digital Productions; or Erica Garver, +1-971-570-3291,, or Christy Caplan, +1-503-412-8850,, or, all of Sundrop
Media, for Animation Mentor

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