From Dis­ney to e-learn­ing


When Luke O’Don­nell’s mother saw Walt Dis­ney ad­ver­tis­ing in the lo­cal Syd­ney pa­per to train an­i­ma­tors, he was one of 6000 to re­spond.

Thanks to his artis­tic eye and steady hand, he was one of 15 cho­sen to join the lo­cal stu­dio in the early 1990s.

As a then in­be­tweener, he was re­spon­si­ble for fill­ing in the draw­ings be­tween key poses to com­plete the il­lu­sion of jump­ing, run­ning and other ac­tions.

He also cleaned up draw­ings as part of the an­i­ma­tion process to en­sure the fi­nal pic­ture had a fin­ished look, and worked on cartoons Win­nie the Pooh, Dark­wing Duck, and Gooftroop.

Af­ter be­com­ing a fully fledged an­i­ma­tor, O’Don­nell dab­bled with 3-D pro­gram­ming and soon wrote an an­i­ma­tion pro­gramme, pos­si­ble thanks to the per­sonal com­puter rev­o­lu­tion that en­abled im­age ren­der­ing a less in­ten­sive process.

Known as a ‘‘Pixel Gypsy’’ he went on to work with Mr Big Stu­dios help­ing with their an­i­mated se­ries Ren and Stimpy, and sev­eral ground­break­ing 3-D movies with Bril­liant Dig­i­tal En­ter­tain­ment.

It was dur­ing th­ese years he also worked for MAD Mag­a­zine and was part of a 12-per­son team that worked on the Aus­tralian Film In­sti­tute award-win­ning an­i­ma­tion com­pletely GOR­GEOUS.

Years later, he and his wife Michelle have found them­selves liv­ing in the Welling­ton sub­urb of Tawa.

He couldn’t think of a bet­ter place to live and now uses all his ex­pe­ri­ence as a learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment con­sul­tant with the New Zealand Govern­ment.

‘‘With my back­ground in lec- tur­ing, de­sign, pro­gram­ming and an­i­ma­tion it be­came a per­fect fit,’’ O’Don­nell said.

‘‘I de­velop in­ter­est­ing and easy-to-digest e-Learn­ing mo­d­ules that com­ple­ment and en­hance the face-to-face train­ing that we do.

‘‘It’s hugely re­ward­ing be­cause I turn dif­fi­cult sub­ject mat­ter into fun, easy-to-nav­i­gate learn­ing ob­jects us­ing illustration, games, mo­tion graph­ics and video to aug­ment the dull and the mun­dane.’’

With more so­phis­ti­cated pro­grammes avail­able, an­i­ma­tion has come on in leaps and bounds.

‘‘Tech­nol­ogy is steam­ing ahead. Vir­tual and aug­mented re­al­ity are no longer a nerdy joy, any­body can get in­volved.’’

New Zealand Govern­ment e-Learn­ing con­sul­tant Luke O’Don­nell, was a for­mer Dis­ney an­i­ma­tor who has re­tained his sense of flair. Luke O'Don­nell

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