Industry Animator visits Animation & VFX Program


Bay Minette, Alabama – On Friday, November 13, Faulkner State’s Animation and Visual Effects students had the opportunity to speak with industry professional, Catherine Hicks, who currently works as an Animator at Pixar Animation Studios.

Hicks, who was born and raised in Mobile, Ala., shined light on the life of an Animator by presenting current projects and answering questions from the students.

Hicks joined Pixar Animation Studios as a Animation intern in 2008.  She was hired as a full-time animator on the Academy Award-winning feature film Toy Story 3 and continues to work on feature-length films for Pixar Animation.  She attended Ringling College of Art and Design and currently lives in San Francisco, Calif.

Among other topics, Hicks encouraged students to “get into character” when working on Computer Graphic Imagery (CGI) and animation projects, as she showed them video takes of her acting as characters in some of the many films she has worked on.  As she bumped around the room, practiced facial responses to situations and studied the body in motion, Hicks showed students how watching recorded video of themselves can enhance their animation techniques. 

“The more honest your performance, the better your work will be,” Hicks said.  “Keep the camera rolling as you loosen up.”

Students were glued to Hicks’ every word as she detailed emotional graphs, workflow to final shots, brainstorming and even blocking techniques.  Her hour-long presentation opened a queue of questions from the students as they sought advice for their own projects. 

Faulkner State’s Animation and Visual Effects students enter into a two-year certificate program.  During their tenure in the program, students will practice many of the techniques Hicks covered.  They take courses that were developed based on industry needs, including CGI Animation, Software Basics, Storytelling and Revisualization and Live Action and Integration. 

The Animation and Visual Effects program was developed as a partnership with NAD Baccalaureate College in Montreal, Canada, one of the world’s leading institutions for Animation instruction.  Plans are currently in place to develop a transfer program for those students wishing to complete a Bachelor’s degree in the field. 

Hicks told students after they complete the program at Faulkner State to investigate internships in the industry.  She also suggested resources to assist students in their transition to the workforce.

Individuals interested in the Animation and Visual Effects program can call 251-580-2255 or 251-580-0455.  Potential students should develop a portfolio to be included with the application to the program.  For details, go to

Back to News Listing