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A Former Student Pays Tribute To The Veteran Disney Effects Animator


Just a few weeks in the past I used to be devastated to get up to the information of Troy Gustafson’s passing. You by no means anticipate finding out one in all your closest mates handed away by way of a textual content message, till it occurs.

Troy is gone. The animation business has misplaced a legend. And I, and numerous others who have been fortunate sufficient to know him, have misplaced a buddy.

Troy Gustafson was not simply the animator who impressed me to turn into an animator, nor simply my professor and later mentor. Troy was one in all my closest mates, and for that blessing I really feel endlessly fortunate.

To Troy, all that ever mattered was understanding the folks in his life have been completely satisfied. He by no means requested for presents, by no means anticipated all your time, and by no means wished anybody to really feel as in the event that they wanted to earn his love.

The one instances I ever noticed him really upset with a pupil have been the very uncommon events when he discovered that one was a bully or inappropriate in the direction of girls college students. He had no tolerance for bigotry, harassment, or cruelty. He at all times confused that we have been a crew, and we have been there to assist one another thrive, not tear one another down. For those who have been one in all his college students, he really beloved you, and I can inform you this for a reality, as a result of he advised me.

I need to share my very own constructive reminiscences of him. I urge anybody studying this to hunt out all of the tales which have been written about him, as a result of, like one in all his well-known second results assignments, I’m however one rock in a really massive pond. Troy brazenly treasured each single day understanding all of us, and in my very own grief, I’ve realized simply how a lot all of us treasured him as properly.

One snow day as a junior in highschool, after I was occupied with changing into a pediatrician or a psychiatrist, I watched two Disney motion pictures Troy had labored on: Brother Bear and Mulan. For the primary time I used to be noticing all these massive, unimaginable second results animation pictures, and it hit me at that second: folks do that for a job. It is a job I can do. I didn’t know the animator behind the scenes, however he modified my life that day. I began taking artwork lessons at 16, far later than a lot of my friends, and I labored exhausting to construct a portfolio.

I used to be accepted into the entire faculties and animation packages I utilized to. With out understanding who Troy even was but, I selected to attend SCAD. At first of sophomore 12 months I began taking his class in ideas of animation, but it surely was not till I stepped into his classroom that I noticed simply who he was.

In our very top quality, he made it clear that he was going to kick all of our butts, and that the business we have been heading towards was extraordinarily high-standard and aggressive, however that he would do all he may to assist us reach it. I rushed again to my dorm after class to inform my mother and father how completely terrified but excited I used to be, and the way a lot of a cowboy he was, hailing from the Midwest together with his hat and boots.

Troy Gustafson
At SCAD’s animation discipline day (left to proper): John Webber, Cor Younger, Samantha Duckworth, Troy Gustafson.

After our third project, my most treasured reminiscence in life occurred. After critique, whereas I used to be ready for the bus and Troy was on one in all his signature smoke breaks, he whistled for me to come back over. He advised me I used to be one of the skilled college students he had ever had and that I reminded him of his youthful self. He requested if I might be thinking about him changing into my mentor. He wished to coach me like he had been educated at Disney.

I accepted with out hesitation. I had by no means been so completely satisfied in my life, and it’s the second I preserve with me for after I must cheer myself up, or at any time when I doubt myself. He had advised me that it was me who impressed him now. They are saying by no means meet your heroes, however I’m so glad I met mine.

As a professor Troy held us all to such a excessive normal, and but he at all times gave each pupil the choice of a redo. He wished to foster an atmosphere the place we have been challenged to do our greatest, however may additionally be taught and develop with out concern of failure. He additionally pushed these redos as a result of he was at all times involved with folks’s scholarships and their skill to remain at school.

However he was additionally involved with our psychological and bodily well being. He defined on the very first day of sophistication that if we ever had one thing happening in life, if we advised him as quickly as attainable, he would do what he may to make changes for us within the fairest means attainable, privately. Out of concern of getting an absence on our document, many people would drag ourselves to class even when we have been so sick we may hardly transfer. Troy would at all times instantly inform us to go house and get some relaxation, and that there can be no absence marked off.

Troy Gustafson drawing
Drawing by Troy Gustafson made as birthday present for Duckworth.

Troy was so perceptive. In my sophomore 12 months, he may see I used to be depressed, so he advised me to take a stroll with him, despite the fact that he normally rushed house within the afternoons to get again together with his household and horses. He advised me how at Disney, a lot of his coworkers had despair, anxiousness, or another psychological sickness, or have been going by means of actually exhausting instances. He wished me to know that I used to be not alone.

I’ve so many nice reminiscences with him. One time I greeted him and fellow SCAD professor John Webber, and Troy held up his hand for a excessive 5. I, being over a foot shorter than him, didn’t discover the gesture, so he instantly flipped me off with a mock-furious face, till we have been all laughing.

We had so many inside jokes. Some college students and I got here up with a joke undertaking we have been going to collaborate on someday referred to as “Water Fireplace Smoke Horse,” the joke being that Troy would both be very impressed with us or, extra possible, would cringe at our overzealousness. I later discovered Troy was planning on making Water Fireplace Smoke Horse an project for a category.

One other time, my roommate Cor Younger and I have been each joking round about how, since second animation frames have been measured in fields, we must always arrange an animation division discipline day. Since we at all times labored in 10 Discipline, we may name it the 10-Discipline Video games, and we may make it Staff Webber vs. Staff Troy, since they have been the 2 second animation professors on the time; college students would cut up performatively into mock groups.

The occasion instantly went viral, and folks started donating cash for us to purchase inflatable sumo fits for Troy and Webber to wrestle in because the grand finale. The precise video games have been an incredible success. So many college students got here out for the a number of discipline day occasions, and Troy will stay perpetually within the many movies and memes of him wrestling John in these sumo fits, or preventing him in a duel with foam costume swords.

Troy Gustafson
At SCAD’s animation discipline day (left to proper): Samantha Duckworth, Troy Gustafson, John Webber, Cor Younger.

Troy wrote an extended publish thanking us for giving him one of many happiest days of his life. It has moved me to see pictures and movies from these video games used within the majority of memorial posts about him from college students I attended faculty with.

One last goofy reminiscence I’ve of Troy is of a day in results class, the place he was doing one in all his demos. His lessons have been at all times in conventional, hand-drawn, paper-and-pencil animation, so all of us stood behind him as he animated. I used to be standing proper behind him with a latte that morning, exhausted from little sleep, and sooner or later I dropped my espresso throughout his animation paper. I used to be mortified, and awaited the well-deserved anger and lecture.

It by no means got here. As a substitute Troy stopped, rotated to take a look at me, blinked just a few instances as if to say, “That basically simply occurred, huh?”, after which turned again to his demo. He by no means introduced it up once more. He was a giant believer in extending grace in the direction of trustworthy errors. If something, he may usually discover the humor in it.

I discovered lots from him about tips on how to be a greater individual, and tips on how to be sturdy and love life it doesn’t matter what it throws at us. In our final conversations, he made positive to let me know that he was nonetheless so immensely happy with me and the way he beloved me like a father. I’m so grateful for that, but so devastated that I can’t thank him and listen to his voice only one extra time, or get yet one more hug from him. Sending one last goodbye textual content to him was one of many hardest issues I’ve ever needed to do.

In a current dialog with him, I joked that I wanted to get an actual cowboy hat and boots now that I lived in Texas, despite the fact that I might be a poser from Connecticut. He advised me that start doesn’t make the cowboy: the cowboy makes themself. I mentioned that perhaps someday I might take up the mantle and turn into the intimidating professor who deep down was a giant softball. He advised me that he would really like that lots.

I’ve formally put it on my to-do listing.

I’m now the lead results animator on a significant undertaking for a significant studio and shopper, and I might by no means have gotten right here with out his instructing and assist.

Fly excessive Troy Gustafson, Disney results supervisor, cowboy, professor, and buddy. You have been among the finest folks God, the universe, destiny, or likelihood may have given to this earth. You touched so many lives, and all of us miss you a lot. You made my life much more magical and you’ll at all times maintain one of the particular locations in my coronary heart. I’ll work my hardest to do even a fraction of the monumental work you probably did for different folks and for the humanities.

See you, area cowboy. I look ahead to exhibiting you all of the artwork I’ll make someday, and studying the library’s price of notes you’ll have ready for me.



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