Yer "Za" Vue

Media Arts & Animation

Media Arts & Animation Instructor
The Art Institute of Portland

Media Arts & Animation Faculty Member Yer "Za" Vue

There are no shortcuts. If you want something to move from point A to point B, it's up to you. Yer "Za" Vue , Media Arts & Animation Instructor
, The Art Institute of Portland
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

It was when my third grade English as a Second Language teacher was drawing ballerinas. I was mesmerized by the beauty and grace behind her work.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

After interning at Hallmark Cards and Disney Feature Animation, I moved to Orlando to work on traditional animated films and shorts for Disney, including The Little Match Girl, Brother Bear, Lilo & Stitch, John Henry, Tarzan, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Circle of Life. Much of what I teach reflects the training I received—both as an intern and as a professional. A big part of my job at Disney was taking on new trainees and prepping them for production. I'm used to running a crew of twelve or more artists, so teaching comes naturally.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I teach traditional animation only. There are no shortcuts. If you want something to move from point A to point B, it's up to you. The quality of the animation depends on your experience and your vision. A good example: the flight-animated test my advanced students perform. Each chooses a type of bird and then redesigns it so that it's easily replicated. This exercise challenges their understanding of wind resistance, how to deal with timing based on the weight of the bird, counter-action, follow-through, and more. In animation, a perfect drawing doesn't necessarily equate to a perfect animation.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

It's very important. In a course like Pre-Production Team, students work together to create an animated short on deadline. Matching the right students from the right programs to meet the demands of the production is crucial to the film’s success.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

I tell them to take themselves seriously. Skills can be learned, but not having the right mindset will hold you back years.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I emigrated to the U.S. from Laos when I was very young. I love what I do, and I couldn't imagine doing anything else. The feeling I get from sharing my good fortune every time I step in front of a class is hard to put into words. I hope that, someday, one of my students will pass this knowledge on to the next generation of artists.