UCLA Extension

Instructor Interview – David Dodds

Say hello to Entertainment Studies instructor David Dodds! David will be teaching the 11-week course Adobe Character Animator: How to Make Your Characters Walk and Talk this spring. He is a Los Angeles-based motion graphics designer whose experience spans a decade in motion graphics, special effects, broadcast design, character animation, and infographics. He has worked for studios such as Stardust, Mirada, Logan, and NFL Networks and is the author of Hands-On Motion Graphics with Adobe After Effects CC: Develop Your Skills as a Visual Effects and Motion Graphics Artist.

We checked in with David and asked him 5 questions to get to know more about him and his course.

What about teaching for this class for Entertainment Studies are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited to help students start animating and creating memorable characters. I’ve wanted to teach this class for years because I’m so passionate about this subject, I feel I was born to teach it. I love teaching how to animate characters in a super fun way. I’ll walk students through every step of my process. Anyone can take this class and easily follow along with my instructions even if they’ve never animated before. I’m available for questions from my students any time. I love helping students reach their full creative potential.

What do you hope students get out of your course?
I hope students get confident telling stories with animation. Doing character animation is such a valuable skill today. It’s useful in corporate videos, explainer videos, educational content, and social media content. These are tools professional animators use on TV shows such as The Simpsons, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Tooning Out the News.

According to my students, my classes help boost their careers. I hope students learn powerful skill sets that makes them more competitive in the job market.

What is one thing you want students to know before they begin your class?
Students should come to this course with a strong commitment to learn. They should have a positive attitude and do whatever it takes to get assignments done. That’s the most important thing. This class is for everyone, no experience is required.

What are you watching or listening to these days that you are enjoying?
I’ve been watching a ton of music videos recently. I just wrapped an animated music video for an incredible new artist named Ariel Josée. Because of that project, I’ve been listening to lots of pop and R&B music from Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Selena Gomez, Megan Thee Stallion, and watching animated music videos by Billie Eilish and The Weeknd.  I’m inspired by the creative risks those artists take with their music videos. I love some of the interactive experiences The Weeknd and Travis Scott are creating with their music videos. Music is a huge influence for me as an animator. I’m also heavily influenced by puppetry, fine art, and early classic Disney animation.

Check out my new animated music video below:

What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone aspiring to break into your field?

  1. Be passionate about what you do. It’s so important to stay driven in this field. It fuels you and gives you that extra edge. This helps you work those extra hours, to complete projects on time, when less driven people give up. Be passionate about sharing your work with the world. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. If you aren’t excited about your work, how can you expect anyone else to be? 
  2. Stay curious. If you see something you like, find out how it was created. Keep learning and always seek to improve your craft. 
  3. Have a good attitude. Be easy to work with and kind to others. People like to work with cool people. Being good at what you do is important, however being the kind of person people want to work with will open doors for you.