Jaime Castañeda joins SCAD animation faculty
“It was 1981, and I was a young kid sitting in a movie theatre in Bogota, Colombia watching Clash of the Titans,” says professor of animation Jaime Castañeda. “That experience made me realize I wanted to tell stories that move people. I knew right then I was going to be an artist.”
After Castañeda came to the U.S. to study as an engineer in the 1990s, he found himself increasingly drawn to rapidly evolving field of computer animation. “Technology, art, and mathematics were mixing together to make something brand new,” Castañeda says. Combining his engineering skillset and his desire to create, he decided to become a 3D character animator.
Leap forward to January 2021, when Castañeda joined the esteemed SCAD animation faculty, bringing with him over 20 years of industry expertise. His film credits include Alien Resurrection (20th Century Fox, 1997), Fight Club (20th Century Fox, 1999), and Madagascar (DreamWorks, 2005), diverse projects that resonated for certain viewers the way Clash of the Titans once did for Jaime.
“Jaime is a fantastic animator and educator,” says SCAD chair of animation Chris Gallagher. “Jaime joining our faculty means we’ve gained a rock star animator whose work speaks for itself. In terms of providing students with hands-on experience in how animation is getting done right now in the industry, Jaime is the very best.”
The SCAD animation department has been named a top program in the U.S. by Animation Career Review and is known for preparing students for high-level careers. Through the use of high-performance digital workstations and state-of-the-art motion capture systems, SCAD offers animation students the same resources they’ll use professionally. Recent SCAD graduates now work at Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Pixar, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Castañeda emphasizes the importance of the artist in the animation process. “Computer animation is an amazing medium, but you cannot rely on the software to share your message,” he says. “The story and the message are what matter most, that’s what moves people. That is at the core of what I teach my students.”
Early in his career, Castañeda declined an offer from DreamWorks to become a lighter in the pursuit of more robust storytelling opportunities. He credits that decision with his success today and his ability to adapt to new teams and projects. “When you work with different companies you become a better animator,” he says. “You avoid specialization and you embrace new challenges. You also get to make connections that will benefit you down the road.”
This year, he will be teaching Core Principals of 3D Character Animation (ANIM 253), 3D Character Animation: Performance Through Dialogue (ANIM 383), and 3D Naturalistic Character Animation (ANIM 724).
In addition to the technical aspects of teaching, Castañeda is looking forward to once again connecting with his students. “I love teaching at SCAD,” he says. “I encourage my students to learn every aspect of their craft, and not be afraid to take on new challenges. I love the reward of seeing them succeed.”
Written by Robert Almand.