Omar Elhindi has always envisioned a career in animation. The third year Bachelor of Animation student at Sheridan grew up watching animated films and spent countless hours sketching and animating during high school. Inspired by Disney’s legacy and the work of one of its legendary animators, Eric Goldberg, he filled out an online application to intern at the world-renowned studio.
When Elhindi got the call in May that he had been accepted as one of only two computer animation interns at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California, he was in shock. That would only be the first of many surprises that he now reflects on as an experience that was “surreal.” On the first day of his two-month internship he was taken on a studio tour, barely keeping up with the group as he passed by Goldberg’s sketches hanging on the walls, including one of Elhindi’s most beloved animated characters, the Genie from Aladdin. After the tour he was introduced to his three mentors: Jeff Engel, Brian Menz, and the legendary Goldberg. Elhindi quickly realized that he’d be working alongside the very animator he had idolized for years.
“I could walk anywhere in the studio and chat with animators and receive guidance” – Omar Elhindi
At first slightly intimidated by the experience, Elhindi soon learned that everyone he encountered at Disney was friendly and respectful towards interns. “I could walk anywhere in the studio and chat with animators and receive guidance,” he said. “I had one-on-one meetings with some of my animation heroes.” Outside of his role as an intern, he was privy to some of the feature film work in progress. He was invited to sit in on daily meetings to listen to directors reviewing shots and providing feedback to animators.
“I learned a lot about the importance of being able to take feedback during my time at Disney,” Elhindi explained. “Before I would seek out and take advice on my own terms but when working for a studio it’s important to be receptive.” He was assigned to work with existing Disney characters from Frozen to test animations that would be critiqued by his mentors. He worked on three projects during his internship practicing skills like posing, pantomime, and dialogue. These projects will become part of his portfolio.
Outside of the studio Elhindi had the opportunity to attend a Disney Animation Picnic, an intern field trip to the zoo to sketch animals with a Disney artist, and a day to relax at Disneyland. He made use of Disney’s Animation Research Library where original paintings and illustrations from classics like Sleeping Beauty are stored. He also listened to hours of lectures by animators available to him on Disney’s servers. One lecture on storyboarding stood out to him and he intends to bring its lessons on collaboration into his third-year group film project at Sheridan.
“I always compare my work to the stuff on the big screen. Some people say that’s silly, but I do that because that’s where I want to be” – Omar Elhindi
Heading back to the classroom is something Elhindi sees as a necessary step in his growth and development as an animator. “The more experience I get, the more I realize how little I know,” he said. “I want more time to get better.” Having been privileged to work alongside some of the best animators in the business, he now has a better understanding of what it takes to make it big. “I always compare my work to the stuff on the big screen,” he said. “Some people say that’s silly, but I do that because that’s where I want to be.”
Pictured at top of page: Omar Elhindi outside of Disney Animation Studios.
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.