FEB. 24: Andreas Deja


Please note: We will be in SCI 108 tonight and Tom Sito will be your host.

Andreas’ new book, The Nine Old Men, will be for sale tonight and he will sign copies after the presentation.  If you would like to purchase a copy before this date, please go to Amazon: Purchase The Nine Old Men

This Seminar will be open to all SCA.

Andreas Deja first applied for a job as a Disney animator at the age of 10. Born in Poland and raised in Germany, he remembers writing to the studio immediately after seeing The Jungle Book. “I’d never seen a Disney feature before,” he recalls. “It was one of those key experiences because I just couldn’t believe what I’d seen. All those drawings moving, thinking and acting so real.”

The Studio wrote back to Deja explaining that there were no openings but they were always on the look-out for new talent. This offered him the encouragement he needed and the motivation to work hard towards that goal. At the age of 20, after completing his studies, he applied again and this time he was accepted.

Working with Eric Larson, one of Disney’s legendary “nine old men,” Deja completed several tests and went on to do early character design, costume research and animation for The Black Cauldron. His next assignment was on The Great Mouse Detective, for which he animated the mouse queen and her robotic twin. Deja helped design many of the characters for Oliver & Company and did some animation before spending a year in London as a lead animator on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, under the direction of Richard Williams.

On The Little Mermaid, Deja oversaw the animation of Triton, a powerful figure that required expert skills in draftsmanship and acting ability. For Disney’s Academy Award-winning animated musical Beauty and the Beast, he served as the supervising animator for the first of his many Disney villains, the very pompous and narrow-minded Gaston.

Deja continued to explore his darker side by designing and animating the evil vizier, Jafar for Disney’s animated-musical hit, Aladdin (1992). He went on to supervise the animation of the power-hungry villain, Scar, in The Lion King, which has become not only The Walt Disney Studios’ most successful film, but quickly earned a place as one of the industry’s biggest films of all time.

For his next assignment, Deja relocated to Disney’s Paris animation facility for a stint overseeing the animation of Mickey Mouse in Runaway Brain, the Studio’s first new Mickey short since 1953 and an Oscar nominee in 1996 for Best Animated Short. Following that, he returned to Burbank, where he took on the challenging assignment of bringing life and personality to the title hero in Disney’s 35th full-length animated feature, Hercules. He went on to design and supervise the animation for the charming and unpredictable little Hawaiian girl, Lilo, in Lilo & Stitch, which has been hailed as one of the Studio’s most entertaining and imaginative features.

Deja contributed animation for several characters in Disney’s live-action/animated musical Enchanted, and served as one of the supervising animators on Goofy’s big-screen return in the short film, How to Hook Up Your Home Theatre. He was a supervising animator on Disney’s hand-drawn animated feature, The Princess and the Frog, released in 2009.

Deja supervised the animation of Tigger for a new Winnie the Pooh feature, which was released theatricaly in 2011.

In 2007, he was honored with the Winsor McKay Award from ASIFA (the International Animated Film Association).

At present time Andreas Deja is working on his own independent animated short films. He also contributes regularly animation related material on his blog “Deja View”.


Amazon says about Deja’s new book:

“Learn from the men who changed animation forever. Walt Disney’s team of core animators, who he affectionately call his “Nine Old Men,” were known for creating Disney’s most famous works, as well as refining the 12 basic principles of animation. Follow master animator and Disney legend Andreas Deja as he takes you through the minds and works of these notable animators. An apprentice to the Nine Old Men himself, Deja gives special attention to each animator and provides a thoughtful analysis on their techniques that include figure drawing, acting, story structure, and execution. The in-depth analysis of each animator’s work will allow you to refine your approach to character animation. Rare sequential drawings from the Disney archives also give you unprecedented access and insight into the most creative minds that changed the course of animation.”


22 thoughts on “FEB. 24: Andreas Deja

  1. Shang Song says:

    There are many Chinese animation enthusiasts, has been part of the translation of this book in order to Chinese, especially the “12 basic principles of animation”, and spread on the network, enduring.

    The guests Andreas, and our host Tom, they are a part of Disney animation history. I was very sad, because so many great masters, they have to create the animation works, in skill and in art field made a high achievement, but they can’t be copied, not another golden age of two dimension animation ever . No one can be the second Milt Kahl, every time I watch the key animation frame by frame who made by Milt , the heart is very sadness: they are gone.
    This is sad, but, what can I learn from the Old Nine?

    Always keep curiosity, never complacent , always going to create not just imitate.


  2. Evan Tedlock says:

    It was a pleasure to have Andreas Deja speak to us this week. I was a little disappointed that all he really talked about was the nine old men. Don’t get me wrong, there was some amazing information in his presentation and the legacy that those guys started is pervasive across our field still to this day. I was hoping that we would be able to discuss a little more about what is happening right now in Disney animation. What about the work that Andreas has put in to equal rights at the Disney corporation? What about the landscape of corporate animation houses? It felt mostly like a fan service presentation for disneyphiles.
    This is certainly my own opinion and I’m sure that his presentation was extremely inspiring to others.


  3. Jane G. Kim says:

    Andreas Dejas’ lecture was a lesson for me that helped me thoroughly understand why Disney Animation was so great. The amount of passion and work that the animators put into the movies are what made them so special. Though I understand this event was for him to talk about the 9 Old Men of Disney, but it would have been nice if he had time to talk about how the company is today. Such as, his opinions on how it’s standing and what direction it should go.


  4. YuYu says:

    Andreas Deja introduced the nine important animators from Disney one by one. They are all great animators who made lots of classic animation feature films. The performance and character design are perfect. It’s very cool that we can see their pencil sketch on the big screen. Their personal background stories are very interesting, too. We can actually know a bit about their personality through those stories and the short interviews. It’s too bad that we don’t have more time, or I will love to hear more about himself and his own works.

    I didn’t ask the question about why there almost no women as animators at that time. Of course, there is some great female artist such as Mary Blair worked for Disney, but most of them were men. I guess it’s most about the family education and sociality expectation, not about the talent or intelligence. Even now, I am still told by my own mother to find a rich husband to marry instead of fight for my own career. Of course, I ignore her all the time, but people need to stop telling their daughters that, even they just want to protect them or worry about them to work too hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sagar Ramesh says:

    Having grown up with The Lion King, it was great to meet Andreas Deja (the animator who brought Scar to life) in person and hear about his experiences with the Nine Old Men. He was good-humored, very humble, and a great speaker. It was interesting to hear about the artists who influenced Andreas’ work and style, and his humorous anecdotes and stories made the evening all the more enjoyable. It would have been great to hear about Andreas’ own progression as an artist and see some of his work; I’m sure that he would have been able to tell us a lot about Disney’s evolution since his early days if we had more time. I thought the presentation was well done, and I really enjoyed the history behind the work and personalities of each of the artists he discussed; it was a shame, however, that he was forced to speed through the last few artists due to time constraints. Overall, I thought the evening was very well-organized, and though we didn’t have a chance to ask Andreas questions about his work or personal outlook (as we would with guests we have in seminar), I thought the evening was very informative.


  6. Joe Stucky says:

    This was a great presentation on the Nine Old Men, which thanks to Andres Deja we have more information about these individuals. What a great way to show respect and gratitude for a few key people that have inspired, taught and enriched ones own career. I know that Andres himself has inspired me in his mastery of this animation medium. Great that he continues to create. I look forward to seeing what comes next on his newest project.


  7. David Nessl says:

    I enjoyed Mr. Deja’s presentation and the mastery in the work of those traditional animators. It’s always a treat to see pencil tests in their raw form. Being here at USC and learning the fundamentals of animation, starting with the hand drawn technique has really put into perspective the amount of work involved in this medium. It opens up strange parts of your brain having to dissect movement frame by frame. Seeing what these guys did inspires me…I just wish I lived in the 1970’s, when Disney hadn’t adopted CGI as their primary production pipeline. I laughed when one of the nine old men said that they didn’t enjoy animating. Sometimes I feel the same way and wish I would just stay a boring, classical mural artist, but the times they are a changin in more ways than these nine old men would have imagined. I’m also interested in what Andres Deja will do next and what types of stories he will choose to tell in the future. Again, always very cool to be in seminar.


  8. Megan Simon says:

    I was sad that Andreas Deja had to cut his lecture short. I enjoyed learning about the lives of Disney animators, how they came to make their mark on the studio and a peak into their lives. I found the discussion of Milt Kahl most interesting. Andreas Deja talked about how Milt Kaho would visualize his drawings for up to ten minutes before drawing. He apparently cursed a lot, and seemed very similar to my grandfather who raised me. I tried the visualizing technique and I thought it was fantastic. It has helped me! Though in truth recently I heard a lecture that said fear and anxiety are a good thing for art, because they push you to be better. I think I saw that in Milt Kahl and how hard he was on himself and others. And he loathed his older work. Recently when I made my Reel I was very critical of myself even though I have very little animation experience before coming here. Especially compared to my amazing classmates who many have years of experience! I feel I learned a lot even so. I’ve certainly come a long way in a year! I always cringe when I look back. Maybe I am too critical, but maybe in some way that is ok. It is both encouraging and discouraging to hear about the big nine men. It’s amazing what they accomplished, and hearing how they accomplished it has helped me in my problem solving for production one. It really inspires me to hear how these people enriched Andreas’s life.


  9. Sequoyah Madison says:

    It is clear that Andreas Deja has loads of experience, but I was underwhelmed by his presentation. I had been looking forward to hearing his views and perspectives and how they had changed throughout his time at Disney. Teasers of his new film Mushka also would have been enjoyable or hearing how he designed and animated Disney villains certainly would have been enlightening. Instead his presentation struck me more as a history lesson on the Nine Old Men. I realize he has just written his The Nine Old Men book and he is probably eager to share some of his new found information and sell some copies, but students (at least myself) are so eager for information that they will buy the book regardless, especially if the author is down to earth, honest and willing to share some secrets. I was expecting a little more information about the current Disney culture.


  10. Okike Franklin says:

    Well I think we all share the same point of view regarding Andreas Deja’s presentation. It was disappointing that the presentation seemed to be governed by “selling his books”. I was hoping on buying a copy of The Nine Old Men but it slowly became apparent to me that the presentation wasn’t as important as the book in my opinion.
    I appreciate the behind the scenes of the iconic films, the witty stories being shared and the way Andreas respected those who taught him but I can’t help but feel like we deserved more from that presentation.
    In all, it was nice to see the thought process that goes into each character before it hits the big screen.


  11. Erik Dumas says:

    I found this lecture to be incredibly insightful. If other young animators are anything like me, we tend to put animators like the 9 Old Men on some pretty massive pedestals, almost as if they weren’t really ever actual human beings. It’s really great to hear about them from someone who actually knew and worked with them because it puts everything in perspective. These weren’t people who were born expert animators. They developed their skills through years of dedication and hard work, and they still managed to make a few mistakes from time to time. Who knows, maybe 60 years from now, some young animators are going to be putting some of us on those pedestals.

    One thing I do wish we had the time to talk about in this lecture though was Andreas’ own work. In my opinion, he is just as important a figure in the world of animation, and I would have loved to hear more about his own process as an animator.


  12. Katie Smith says:

    It was fantastic hearing Andreas Deja’s presentation and insider stories. I had received the ‘Nine Old Men’ book for Christmas and was so excited to be able to hear more details from Andreas himself and to have him sign the book! It was a very inspiring evening, and really fun to see the footage and artwork of the great masters of animation. I love the book – it’s a must have for anyone in this field.

    I also agree with the comments above, in that I would have loved to hear more about what Andreas is up to now with Mushka and to see any in progress work that he could have shown, and to hear more about his own experiences and advice. His artwork is so beautiful and he has such knowledge of this field, I completely agree that he’s up there with the animation legends. Hearing more of his own opinions would have made the night even more top notch than it already was. The floor was opened at the end of Q&A and we were able to get a few in there, but we also were running late so I think people felt hesitant to continue asking questions. Alas, I know it was more of a night for his new book, which in and of itself is a very big accomplishment, and it was really exciting to hear his talk and meet him.


  13. Yingzong Xin says:

    Andreas Deja’s presentation was really fantastic and amazing, he really gave us lots of good information of those masters animators in Disney at the old time. It was really touching and inspiring to see the artworks in the “Nine Old Men” , I bought the book and I was so excited to get the signature from Andreas.
    Those nine animators has already been the legends of animation field, it was really good to hear some interesting stories about them. But I was hoping to hear more about the current informations about Disney animation. And we didn’t have enough time to talk with Andreas about some additional questions. If he could talk more about his own works and working experiences , that would be more exciting.


  14. Kun Xia says:

    Andreas Deja’s presentation was very exciting, it was nice to hear the story about the nine old man. He divided the presentation into several pieces, each piece giving the highlights of one man’s body of work. The main characters that each one animated are listed as well as the challenges associated with them. He also talks the difference style between the men.
    All of the content that Andreas brought was great reference, beautiful drawing, each one of them are priceless artwork. It was very inspirating,


  15. Bryan Lee says:

    Growing up watching the Disney classics, it was a wonderful event to hear from the animators who helped create such masterpieces (Andreas Deja and Tom Sito). It was truly a privilege to hear Deja talk about each one of the 9 old men as well, and to be able to have an “insider perspective” of each of these animators and hear personal anecdotes. But hearing and watching Deja summing up their life’s work in Disney was truly inspiring, as well as hearing their individual personalities and how it carried over to the characters they made. Knowing that these great animators paved the way for 2-d animation is a truly gratifying and somewhat sad as this wave of animation has passed. But it also makes me hopeful and excited to see what this next and upcoming generation can do with animation with the new technological advancements and innovated techniques.


  16. Amir Arzanian says:

    Andreas Deja’s presentation was interesting and informative. It was more like a pleasant history lesson. All the respectful and legendary 9 old men were introduced in this presentation. My favorite part was Milt Kahl, beside of the fact that I love his works, his character and attitude was really interesting.
    I think these kinds of presentations are excellent as a part of the History of Animation class for no doubt. What can be better than hear from Disney animators about the history of the studio and inside story? But I think as a seminar it would be more useful to know more about the lecturer and his/her experiences especially a well-known artist like AndreasDeja. I personally preferred to hear about the story of Mr.Deja in Disney. Although this lecture was also insightful.


    • Lisa Mann says:

      I’m actually surprised to hear that he didn’t talk about his own work and his new film Mushka. When I contacted him, I got the impression that he would be covering both, in addition to the Nine Old Men. I’ve hosted him in Seminar on two other occasions over the years, and this is the first time he did not talk about his own experiences animating all those Disney villains. Perhaps we can invite him back before you all graduate and ask him to talk about his own work/experiences.


  17. HyeonJeong Cho says:

    One thing that I want to mention the first is “What on earth is the feeling that you know you master specific skills?” “Can I ever reach that level in my life?” I just overwhelmed the work they’ve done, it was just amazing.

    It was pretty interesting to hear detailed information of Disney’s legendary animators, 9 old men. Seeing the work they’ve done, drawings, pencil tests, and listening the stories of them were very fun.
    However, one thing I’d like to say is, like all other people mentioned already, I wish I could listen more stories of Andreas Deja, his arts or stories inside of Disney; like changes of early age/recent time of Disney, which he’s experienced or something.

    But, overall, I really had fun with this presentation, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, insight!


  18. ZOEY says:

    From the presentation by Andreas Deja, I learned a lot about the nine significant animators who create legendary works and their relentless spirits which will be never wiped out. Something really sad is that the time limitation so that he couldn’t talk and share more details.

    And one impressive thing he motioned in the lecture is that “do not animate drawing but animate feeling” which remind me something Eric Goldberg taught us in the fundamental animation during the last semester about how to make motion naturally, fluently and reasonable. All these things is not only accumulation of experiences but also alloy of constant determination and intelligent observation.


  19. Min Shi says:

    Andreas Deja’s presentation was very insightful, he presented all the respectful and legendary 9 old men. I really appreciate that Andreas mentioned ” don’t animate drawing but feeling”.
    For me, I really would love to see and hear more about Andreas work and procedures. But still, it was really fun to see those raw pencil sketches, concepts, and pencil test shots, listening the story behind the making of those master pieces and the personalities of each of artists he discussed.


  20. Jing Huang says:

    Deja’s presents abundant interesting things in limit time at that night. The animation clips in his presentation reminds me of my childhood which was full of traditional classic Disney animations. I’m lucky that I can live with the golden age Disney’s animations, and now there is more lucky thing that I can meet them and be taught by them. In Deja’s presentation, I learned a lot about the nine well-known animators, and the stories about them are very impressive. And some points about animation like it is about feeling not just drawing I can not agree more. Sometimes we focus on drawing technique more than our feeling and spirit in our own projects, we should jump out and look at it overall then we would find the most important thing is what feeling we put into our projects. Thanks a lot for the impressive presentation!


  21. Ruchia Masuko says:

    It was very exciting and wonderful opportunity to meet Andreas Deja and hear his presentation.
    IfI could go back and meet 8 yer old of my self, and tell all things happening in USC and meeting the greatest animators who are my heros, I think 8 years old of my self won”t even believe me or she faints.

    We have so many different wonderful kinds of art and animations in the world, but chracter animation, especially what Disney has developed is one of the thing I admire most. I am enchanted by the animation of Disney because to me, the characters are alive.
    A dancer Saburo Teshigawara, who is also my professor, told be about the elements of term “alive’ in terms of his philosophy and dance, Such as breathing, gravity, feeling (acting), flowing, repeating of death and life (metabolism, lose balance and reestablishing balance ), balance (instability), etc.
    Disney animation is all make sence to me with term he was explaining to me, it makes sence that we can recognize as characters in Disney animation is alive with the term he was explaining about.

    This was one of the main reason I wanted to learn animation in U.S., and it was a amazing opportunity to meet Andreas Deja. Thank you so much.


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