How the Academy of Art University Contributed to Coco

Last year, a movie came out that captured the hearts of people around the world. Combining Hispanic culture, gorgeous animation, and a breathtaking soundtrack, Pixar film Coco dazzled audiences so much that it became the recipient of the most highly coveted award in the film business: an Academy Award. But how did Coco become the best animated picture? Daniel Arriaga, the senior director at Pixar, credits much of his success to his alma matter: the Academy of Art University in San Fransisco.

Arriaga stated in a recent interview that his experience at the University and training in art and animation made Coco into the success it is today. As someone with Hispanic culture and background, Arriaga also wanted to make sure that Coco’s cultural elements were as accurate as possible so he used the movie to address some common misconceptions about Dio de los Muertos. His artistic training from the Academy of Art University came in handy when designing the city of the dead, sugar skull, and gorgeous flowers that decorate most of the movie’s background. Animating the skeleton characters in the movie proved to be a big challenge as well, but Arriaga and his team proved that skeletons don’t have to be scary and even breathed some life and humor into the skeletons residing in the city of the dead.

After Coco was complete, Arriaga returned to his alma mater to meet with current students and share his success in animation. He emphasized to them the importance of creating a portfolio early on and working hard to keep improving. Arriaga inspired the students that he met with and made them realize that they had the opportunity to do great things, too.

The Academy of Art University is known as the largest privately owned art and design school in the United Stated, and has been home to many famous names, including actress Lauren Conrad, actress and singer Raven Symone, photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice, and many more. Established in 1929, this historic school is known for its rigorous training in all forms of art, including film, photography, fashion, and interior design.

Students at the Academy of Art University can earn their associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in a wide variety of topics. Master’s degrees are available in topics such as architecture and fine art.

Another noteworthy fact about the Academy of Art University is that students regularly compete at an extremely high level. You would be likely to see Academy of Art students at New York Fashion Week or receiving All-American honors for their athletic abilities. It’s no surprise that an alum of such a hands-on university was involved in the production of one of the most renowned animated movies of the year.

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