Aaron Adams pursued a degree in animation as part of SVAD’s first animation class in 1998. He describes himself as an “obsessed” art student, but perhaps a more accurate word would be driven. He did whatever he could to work on projects in and outside lab hours, continually trying to raise is personal standards on each project. There were times when he bit off more than he could chew—he often did not know how difficult a given project might be at the outset, but he was determined to become more knowledgeable with each film.
Aaron had dreams of working for big studios such as Disney, but was unsure how to make those dreams a reality. He wrestled with the concept of becoming a professional, but found peace in trying to do the best work He could do and trusting God with his future.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in 2002, Aaron did what may be concerning to most: He went to graduate school, began teaching five classes as a full time professor at SVAD, got married and bought a house in the same year. For the next eight years, he taught at SVAD before accepting a position in the technical animation department at Disney. The technical animation department was fairly new at the time and was just getting its feet off the ground for the production of Disney’s animated feature film, Tangled. Aaron describes his first couple weeks as demanding. Because he knew little about the simulation process, his work progressed slowly and he feared he might lose his job. But he was able to adjust to his new role soon enough and he partially attributes that ability to his responsibilities at SVAD. He continued at Disney to become a Simulation Supervisor in 2012 and a Technical Animation Supervisor in 2013.
Aaron worked on several films during his time at Disney, but his favorite was Tangled. He remembers his teams’ strong culture and commitment to high standards across the board. A commitment he had already developed as a student and faculty member at SVAD. Because there was little technical documentation and sometimes the necessary technologies did not yet exist, everyone was trying to push the envelope and work more efficiently than ever before; it was a renaissance of discovery and experimentation within the department. The team was supportive and eager to share solutions and techniques that arose, making it the perfect environment for Aaron to find his footing.
Aaron would likely still be working at Disney today, but he left to pursue an exciting opportunity developing a faith-based animated feature film entitled, Heaven: The First War. The project is being helmed under the newly formed Martoos Studios in Georgia and will be staffed by professionals from across the industry including the other members of the SVAD faculty; Hendel Butoy, Zach Gray and Jesse Rademacher.
As with any startup, there have been many speed-bumps including the struggle to find the right source of funding. It may seem daunting to step out on a limb, leaving a high-profile job to join a startup, but for Aaron, it is just another step in his walk of faith. He doesn’t know whether the project will be successful, but he is trusting that the same God who has guided him to this point will continue to do so in the future.
But even that faith was to be tested. He worked for several months for Martoos, but he knew he needed to find a way to make money until Martoos could find proper funding. He needed to find a job. Fortunately, a position opened up in the Animation and Journalism departments at southern and Aaron took the job. Currently, Aaron is working with the junior collaborative class on their animation short film as well as teaching computer graphics to art and journalism majors. His goal for the classes he teaches, especially with the collaborative studio class, is to help students reach the point where he does not have to lecture so that true collaboration can begin.
Aaron says that he makes no personal distinction between work and his faith, but finds that to be genuine, they must be on in the same—an “integrated life.” He hopes that everything he does will be a witness to others and a testament to God’s grace and guidance in his life.