Best in the West: Character designer displays work, discusses movie

Luke Schneider

Writer, designer and visual artist Mark “Crash” McCreery spoke to students about the creative process behind “Rango,” an animated Western comedy film that first premiered in 2011, Feb. 25. To complement his visit, McCreery also displayed designs of his work in a solo exhibition at the Feldman-Horn Art Gallery before the screening.

The showcase, which will remain in the gallery until March 17, features his character designs for his past projects, which include the “Jurassic Park” series, “Edward Scissorhands” and “Terminator 2.”

McCreery discussed his creative processes and answered questions about “Rango’s” innovative animation and visuals, for which he received an Animation Award for best character design.

“We saw animated films,” McCreery said. “We were looking at them [like], ‘We’re just not really into that kind of look.'”

Instead, the animation team decided to aim for a more rustic look and included lighting and framing like those seen in classic Western films, according to McCreery.

McCreery walked attendees through the processes of creating a computer-animated film, and discussed his experiences working with Industrial Light and Magic, the visual effects company that pioneered many of the animation styles for “Rango.” He also displayed storyboards, drawings and early computer-generated video from the early stages of the project and explained the development of the film.

Following the screening of the movie, audience members asked McCreery questions, and he discussed his filmmaking experience. 

The next Cinema Sunday, which will take place March 11, will host a screening and discussion of the television show “Masters of Sex.” Showrunner Michelle Ashford and executive producer Sarah Timberman will join host Performing Arts Teacher Walch as guests.