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Majors & Degrees

Lights, camera, animation

November 13, 2023

An internship during graduate school helped DSU alumna Breanne Butters build her career at DreamWorks Animation.

Butters graduated from DSU in 2016 with a degree in Digital Art & Design with a specialization in animation.

She was drawn to animation as a career path after realizing it was a culmination of a lot of her interests, including drawing, storytelling, acting, and filmmaking.

“I looked at a lot of schools, but I really liked how DSU’s animation program incorporated a lot of fine art classes as well as digital art and animation classes,” she said.

While at Dakota State, Butters found support from her professors. Ryan English, an assistant professor at DSU at the time, helped Butters find her path in animation, encouraging her to attend The Ohio State University for graduate school.

“He wrote a great recommendation for me that helped me get in, and that’s where I got my internships with DreamWorks,” she said.

“I was able to do two full-time summer internships at DreamWorks Animation TV as a production intern.”

While an intern, she worked on All Hail King Julien, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and SheRa and the Princesses of Power.

Through those internships, Butters formed connections that led to a job offer as a production assistant (PA) with DreamWorks once she completed graduate school.

She worked for a year as a PA before being promoted to production coordinator on a different show. A year later, she was offered her current role as a storyboard revisionist on Gabby’s Dollhouse.

Storyboarding is a rough version of the movie or show, Butters explained. “After the script is written, the storyboard artists visualize the script with quick black and white images. They figure out where the camera is, where the characters are, and what the characters are doing and how they do it.”

On Gabby’s Dollhouse, storyboard artists have three weeks to work through their section. Other creatives and executives then provide notes, and the storyboard artists have another three weeks to address notes and detail added.

Then the director and storyboard revisionists work through notes to finalize the episode before it is shipped overseas as an animatic (preliminary version) to be animated, Butters said.

“An average day for me as a revisionist would be to log on in the morning, check my calendar, work on revisions, and then once or twice a week, I’ll attend a meeting where I’ll get additional work,” she said. “When I work at revisions, I look at the notes that the production team created for me and go to the corresponding point in the storyboard pro file so I can address the note.”

Examples of some of this work include changing the direction the character is looking, plus up the acting, or changing where everyone is standing, Butters shared.

She especially enjoys collaborating and working with fellow artists. “There is so much creativity between all the artists, and it’s amazing to see how everyone brings their own flair and experiences in and makes it better and better and better.”

Butters continues to develop her skills through analyzing animation, taking classes, and receiving feedback from senior artists. She hopes to become a storyboard artist and work on a feature film in the future.

For those interested in animation, Butters recommends finding out which aspect of animation they are interested in, like visual development, storyboarding, or animation. They can also take classes online or in person with individuals who work in the industry.

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