*Birth:* he was born in 19**. He is still very alive today;
Kevin Koch currently works as an Animation Supervisor at Moonbot Studios, based in Los Angeles. He is also an instructor and mentor for the online Animation Mentor program.
*Bio Summary: *
Prior to working in the animation industry, Kevin Koch worked in the medical field. He explains that after switching from studying neuroscience to medicine, he worked as a psychiatrist and from that point made the transition to animation in a series of steps. He says, “The biggest step was volunteering to help a comic book artist friend, Steve Rude, work on an animated short film he was doing of his character Nexus. From there I took some evening classes at the Animation Guild (then the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists union) in drawing and animation, and built a portfolio that got me job offers to Disney and Warner Bros. It was a process that took months to fully decide, and even then I continued to practice medicine for about 6 years (on weekends) after I became a professional animation artist.”
His debut in the animation world was in 1998 when he started working in the clean-up department, and then worked as an inbetweener for Mike Nguyen on Warner Bros’s *The Quest for Camelot. *After working on traditional animated films at DreamWorks, he began working on 3D computer animated films, which suited him just as well. While he specializes in character animation, Mr. Koch has also done effects animation. His projects range from feature films, short films and outside projects such as animations for theme parks. From his beginnings as an animator, Mr. Koch quickly grew to a prominent figure in the industry—working on major feature films and serving as president of the Animation Guild for many years. While he is very busy animating for feature films and such, he also makes time to visit family and pursue his love of teaching. Mr. Koch instructs students in the Animation Mentor program, and has spoken at conventions, such as SIGGRAPH, conducted workshops in both the United States and Taiwan, and has taught students during animation events at numerous universities, including USC.
*Early Life/Family: *
Kevin Koch had a different childhood experience than perhaps most children, as his family moved around a lot. In his interview, he explained, “We traveled extensively, because my father was an Army pilot, and I got to have a lot of different experiences from an early age. I think this helped me have a restless, curious attitude towards life, and also to enjoy and embrace change and new challenges.” He enjoys fishing and visiting with his family at their family cabin in Michigan.
Kevin Koch studied engineering physics at Murray State University in Kentucky. Amidst his major coursework, he took a lot of drawing classes. . In 1989 he graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a Ph.D. in neuroscience. From there, he continued his education at Stanford’s medical school. A majority of his animation training came from the night classes he took through the Animation Guild. He is trained in Autodesk Maya and Softimage XSI softwares, as well as Dreamwork’s Emo and Rhythm & Hues’ Voodoo software. He has also used Autodesk Motionbuilder, and can use Windows, MacOSX and Linux computer systems.
*Career Outline: *
Sept. 2012—present: Animation Supervisor at Moonbot Studios.
Jan. 2007—present: Mentor at AnimationMentor.com
Jan. 2012—Jun. 2012: Senior Character Animator at Sony Pictures Imageworks.
Oct. 2011—Nov. 2011: Animator at Moonbot Studios
Jul. 2011—Oct. 2011: Freelance Animator for House of Moves in LA, Psyop in Venice, Italy, and King & Country in Santa Monica, CA.
May 2011—Jul. 2011: Animator at Reel FX
Mar. 2011—May 2011: Animator at King & Country
Feb. 2011—Mar. 2011: Animator at Psyop
Nov. 2010—Feb. 2011: Animator at Rhythm & Hues
Jun. 2010—Oct. 2010: Animator at Blue Sky Studios
Jun. 2009—Mar. 2010: Animation Supervisor at Super 78
Dec. 2008—Jun. 2009: Animation Supervisor at Snoot
May 2008—May 2009: Animation Director/Consultant at Medical Cyberworlds
Aug. 2008—Nov. 2008: Animator at Warner Bros.
Apr. 2008—Apr. 2008: Character Animator at Digit International
Aug. 2006—Apr. 2008: Character Animator at Snoot Entertainment—Menithings Productions
Oct. 1997—Mar. 2006: Character Animator and Assistant Animator at DreamWorks Animation
Jan. 2004—Feb. 2006: Guest Speaker at Studio Arts
Jan. 1997—Oct. 1997: Assistant Animator at Warner Bros. Feature Animation
*Comments On Style: *
Kevin Koch’s animation reel, found on his blog shows a sample of the broad range of character animation he can achieve. While he is excellent at achieving exaggerated, humorous poses in his characters, his specialty seems to be in articulating the small nuances of a character’s movement, whether it is in a slight twitch of a lower eyelid or a curl of the lip. His attention to detail is admirable, and he mentions on his blog the pains taken to move each body part of a character in each moment, whether it be by a fraction of a degree, to create a believable movement. In the character animation he has done for feature films such as * Hop* and *Rio*, the facial expressions of his characters clearly exude their personality. Mr. Koch is a master of not only the extreme but also the subtle movements that really make a character come to life. While he takes his work seriously and professionally, through many of his faster-paced sequences, his sense of humor and passion for animation really shine through.
Mike Nguyen influenced Kevin Koch as his first animation supervisor on *The Quest for Camelot*. Mr. Nguyen’s work includes animation for *The Iron Giant, Osmosis Jones, *and *Beauty and the Beast. *June Nam was another of his animation supervisors on *The Quest for Camelot*, and her work also included *The Iron Giant, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron*, and *Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas*. On his May 28, 2008 entry to the Animation Guild’s TAGblog site, Mr. Koch writes, “Lead animator Mike Nguyen and lead key June Nam were two of the nicest and most generous animators I’ve ever worked with.” He continues about working under June Nam saying, “I confess I was so raw that sometimes unable to grasp her corrections to my work, but she was always happy to accent the positive and encourage me… I cringe at what she had to put up with, but at the time she made me feel like I was a ‘natural.’” In his interview, Mr. Koch also listed Steve Rude, the artist who helped him get started in animation, and Alice Davis, whose artistic talents have influenced Disneyland attractions, as those who have influenced him. Kristof Serrand, Rodolphe Guenolden, and James Baxter also supervised Mr. Koch. On his February 28,, 2008 post on his Syncrholux blog, as he recalls Mr. Baxter’s work on the *Sinbad* film, Mr. Koch writes, “James gives us all something to aspire to. I can’t believe how fired up about animation I feel after revisiting these scenes.”
Kevin Koch is a very dedicated, enthusiastic and hard-working individual, as shown through his work on numerous well-known and loved feature films, and in his election as President of the Animation Guild for such a long period. He has a passion for teaching, and finds many opportunities to do so. On his blog he states, “There’s nothing like teaching eager students to sharpen your skills and your eye.” Upon reading his blog postings, it is clear he has a good sense of humor. When I asked him about this, he explained that while everyone has a good sense of humor, he especially loves pranks, which according to him, “is a bad habit!” He continued, describing himself as “cerebral, thoughtful, and swinging back and forth between being outgoing and wanting privacy.” He enjoys hiking, fishing, traveling, spending time with his family, and sleeping. Science, vintage Mini Coopers, and bonsai trees are among his interests.
In his February 16,, 2008 posting on his blog, Kevin Koch recalls an incident from his days as an assistant animator. While learning about arcs and spacing, Mr. Koch actually made corrections to the spacing on his animator’s work, hoping that he wouldn’t be upset or dissatisfied with the changes. It turns out the animator didn’t even notice, and instead praised Mr. Koch for being such a great assistant.
He writes, “As a rough inbetweener (the bottom of the totem pole in the animation department) I remember completing a scene for one of the lead animators. This animator didn’t think about spacing in a really systematic way. His drawings were fabulous, and his work had great poses and good timing and appealing action. But the spacing, and therefore the movement, often broke down. I couldn’t draw as well as he could, but I was always good at working in the style of the animator, and so my breakdowns and inbetweens looked pretty much just like his keys. But my real trick was that I would often ignore his charts and, based on a solid understanding of spacing, put the drawings where I thought they should go.
The first time I did this was on a complex scene with the character bounding all over the place. When I got the rough keys, it looked beautiful drawing by drawing, but when it was shot on the pencil-test machine it just didn’t look right. I couldn’t *not* fix the spacing errors in this scene. So I did. Then I turned the scene in and gritted by teeth. An hour later the animator came flying into my office, with a big grin on his face. He said the scene looked fantastic, that I was the best assistant he’d ever had, and that it must have been because of the way I drew, because I’d matched his drawings so well. I breathed a sigh of relief and said thank you.”
In my interview of Mr. Koch, he also offered some advice about using personal acting as reference for animation. While it can have it’s benefits, he explained, “Unlike some, I don't consider animators the equivalent of actors in live-action films. We're storytellers, and we work more like writers (who are very calculated and edit their work endlessly) than we work like actors (who need to be spontaneous and real when in the moment). Most animators I know are very self conscious, to the point that it's hard for them to even film usable reference of themselves for their scenes. This is the biggest problem with animators shooting video reference of themselves. It's a 'garbage in, garbage out' situation. And animators who are very good at acting and shooting their own reference have a tendency to act in a similar way for different characters. This is the exact opposite of what animators should try to achieve - specific, authentic, idiosyncratic performances that entertain and serve the needs of that particular animated piece.”
Among his teaching opportunities, Kevin Koch has critiqued the animations of the winners of the 11 Second Club competitions. He also conducted a presentation about Autodesk software at the 2012 FMX event in Germany. He has been a part of panels at conventions such as ComicCon International, CTN Animation Expo and SIGGRAPH. In addition to these presentations, he has written articles for the Animation Guild’s *The Peg-Board *on-line animation journal, and for their TAGblog animation cite. During Mr. Koch’s terms as president of the Union, their name was changed from the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 839 to The Animation Guild, and they built their new headquarters in Burbank.
*- Hotel Transylvania*: feature, Senior Character Animator, Sony Pictures Imageworks, 2012
*- The Numberlys*: short/app/game, Animator, Moonbot Studios, 2011
*- Anthem*: commercial for Norton Symantec, Animator, Psyop, 2011
- *Droid*: cell phone commercial, Animator, King & Country, 2011
- *Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas*: TV short film, Remote Animator, Reel FX for Blue Sky Animation/Fox, 2011
*- Dora’s Enchanted Forest Adventure*: TV special, Animator, King & Country, 2011
- *Happines Factory*: short film for ‘World of Coke’: Animator, Psyop, 2011
- *Hop*: feature, Animator, Rhythm & Hues, 2011
- *Rio*: feature, Animator, Blue Sky Animation, 2011
- *Flight of the Dragon*: theme park attraction, Animation Supervisor, Super 78, 2011
- *Donkey Live!*: theme park attraction, Animation Supervisor, Super 78, 2011
- *Flying Over America*: theme park attraction, Animation Supervisor, Super 78, 2011
- *Go to Sleep*: short film, Animation Supervisor, True3D, 2009
- *Judy M.D.:Super Suregeon*, *Lefty*, *Geogry*, *Sean*, *Lady D*: short films, Animator, Warner Bros, 2008
- *Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control*: short film, Effects Animator, Warner Premiere, 2008
- *Johnny and the Dream Machine*: film, Animation Supervisor, Snoot Entertainment, 2007
- *Battle for Terra*: feature, Animator, Snoot Entertainment—Menithings Productions, 2007
- *Over the Hedge*: feature, Animator, DreamWorks, 2006
- *Madagascar*: feature, Animator, DreamWorks, 2005
- *Far Far Away Idol*: short, Animator, DreamWorks, 2004
- *Shrek 2*: feature, Animator, DreamWorks, 2004
- *Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas*: feature, Animation Assistant, DreamWorks, 2003
- *Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron*: feature, Rough Inbetweener, DreamWorks, 2002
- *The Road to El Dorado*: feature, Animation Assistant for “Chel”, DreamWorks, 2000
- *The Prince of Egypt*: feature, Inbetweener for “Aaron” and “Young Moses,” DreamWorks, 1998
- *The Quest for Camelot*: feature, Inbetweener, Warner Bros Feature Animation, 1998
President of the Animation Guild for 9 consecutive years.
= IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1634481/
*Contributors To This Listing: *
Chelsea Jauregui, Kevin Koch (through my interview with him and via his blog postings),
Animators Hall of Fame