Kent State alum talks about life working for Pixar

Kara Taylor

Students were given the chance to learn about working for Pixar Canada from a Kent State graduate Friday as part of Kent State’s Little Sibs Weekend.

Michael Cacciamani, who graduated from the Kent State Computer Design, Animation, and Game Design program, became a Lighting Technical Artist for Pixar Canada in 2010. He assisted in the animation design of short film spin-offs of Pixar films like “Toy Story” and “Cars.”

Cacciamani assisted in developing short films such as “Air Mater,” “Small Fry,” “Time Traveler Mater” and “Partysaurus Rex.” The most profitable short film he was a part of was “Partysaurus Rex” and it was released with the movie “Finding Nemo 3D.”

“Pixar Canada is not like Pixar America in terms of looks,” Cacciamani said. “Pixar America is large with grand statues and about 1,200 workers.”

Cacciamani said Pixar Canada has about 80 employees and the building is also significantly smaller, but also described it as a fun place to work.

“Employees are given a stipend to decorate their cubicles,” Cacciamani said. “It’s a very relaxed place to work. We have wine tastings, company trips and play games.”

Cacciamani said the longest short film he worked on took nine months to create. Full-length animated films can take years to produce. The design process is so extensive that one scene can take a month to develop.

Students seemed very interested and amused by the short films he played during his presentation. The room was filled with laughter as Mater, from “Cars”, cracked his famous jokes.

“I was glad to see what type of design programs he used, I am actually interested in doing some of the things he does,” said Terran Washington, senior visual communications design major.

As a part of character development, voice animation is recorded at the beginning of the process; nothing can be done without it.

“The character development clips he showed influenced me and justified what I want to do,” said Benjamin Durflinger, senior visual communication design major.

Cacciamani offered advice to design students who were interested in going into his field of work.

“The teachers here at Kent State pushed me into the entertainment direction, even when I didn’t think it was possible,” Cacciamani said. “Don’t let things hold you back, study as much as you can about the field. If you want to work for Disney or Pixar, just do it.”

Contact Kara Taylor at [email protected].