Legendary animator Eric Goldberg, best known for films such as Aladdin and Pocahontas, will join the John C. Hench Animation Division of Animation and Digital Arts of the School of Cinematic Arts this fall.
The appointment was announced June 16 by the SCA.
Goldberg has had a long career in animation, working at both Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company on numerous projects including Pocahontas, Hercules and Looney Tunes: Back in Action.
Tom Sito, chair of the John C. Hench division, worked closely with Goldberg on many projects and expressed his excitement over having Goldberg join the SCA faculty.
“He is one of the greatest animators in the world today. A constant professional,” Sito said. “[He was] a protégé for numerous legendary animators like Chuck Jones.”
When Goldberg was 4 years old, he began drawing pictures of cartoons such as Wile E. Coyote, and it wasn’t long until he started making flipbooks. By 13, he was making his own home-made animated films.
Goldberg was heavily influenced and inspired by Disney films growing up, with special appreciation for Dumbo and Fantasia. He admired the experimental animation of both films as well as the unlikely protagonist of Dumbo. His love of experimentation would reflect in his later work when he got the chance to direct two sequences in Fantasia 2000: “Carnival of the Animals” and “Rhapsody in Blue.”
As a student at the Pratt Institute, Goldberg met and began working with Richard Williams, art director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, who he said taught him “the craft of animation” and would give him his first chance to work on a production in the form of the animated feature, Raggedy Ann & Andy.
More than a decade later, Goldberg started at Disney. Within two years, he was given the opportunity to design one of the most memorable characters in Disney history – the Genie from Aladdin. Goldberg co-directed Pocahontas shortly after, in 1995.
Sito, who worked as the head of the storyboard department for Pocahontas, noticed particular traits about Goldberg that made him stand out among other animators.
“What I’ve always found amazing with Eric is that he would watch a film moving at normal speed and tell you who animated what scene,” Sito said. “Not only for the stuff that we worked on, but even classic cartoons like Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny from the 1940s. It’s scary.”
Teaching will not be a new endeavor for Goldberg either.
“Eric was working at other organizations off and on but not frequently because he is still full time at Disney,” Sito said. “But I know for the quality of education he brings, he deserves a world class environment like SCA where [students] can fully appreciate what he has to teach.”
Students are also excited for the chance to be under Goldberg’s tutelage.
“I’m thrilled that Eric Goldberg is coming to USC,” Samantha Vilfort, a junior majoring in animation, said. “He’s an insanely gifted animator, an absolute legend in the industry, and I can’t wait to see how he’s going to inspire the SCA ‘animajors.’”
Troy Peterson, a class of 2017 critical studies student with a passion for animation history, also expressed excitement over his arrival.
“I wish I could take one of his classes because he always talked about animation history with so much respect and knowledge,” Peterson said. “I grew up watching him talk about animation history and clearly he has the passion for it. [SCA animation students] are really going to learn a lot from him.”
For the fall semester, Goldberg will teach CTAN 577a, a graduate-level animation fundamentals course at SCA. In addition, he plans to continue working at Disney.