Many people have tales to tell about their internship experiences of either running errands, cleaning, making coffee and/or warming food for the seniors.
Reginald Amukoshi Emvula’s story is no different. He spent the entirety of his first year as an intern doing these menial jobs, waiting for his break to do what he loves… animation.
“That was until I got comfortable enough to ask the artists for any spare shots that I can work on after hours. Eventually, I became more useful on the computer than in the kitchen,” said Emvula, who worked on ‘Encanto’, a Disney animation film that on Monday won the 2022 Golden Globe award for best animation film.
The 34-year-old Walvis Bay-born Emvula is a character technical director at Walt Disney in the USA.
“I joined Walt Disney Animation in the middle of the pandemic in July 2020. There was an open position online on LinkedIn and I applied; literally that simple, and honestly one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever had. We had a good rapport,” he told VIBEZ! from his base in California.
When ‘Encanto’ was nominated, Emvula posted on Instagram: “Double Sundae. This one goes out to the stress and anxiety of feeling like an imposter. The patience from my friends constantly waiting for me to finish ‘this one last shot’. All the help along the way from my brilliant fellow colleagues. Immensely proud to have been a part of these great films, mostly created while working from home”.
Asked what the award means to him, he said: “As a young Namibian that’s made it to Walt Disney Animation, it very much makes me feel like a torch-bearer. And I feel immensely proud to have lit the way for future generations of Namibians who wish to dedicate themselves to a journey like this”.
Emvula attended St George’s Diocesan School in Windhoek then went to the British School of Paris for high school, and completed First Class honours Bachelor of Science in Animation and Special Effects from the Leeds Metropolitan University. He also completed a Diploma in Film Making from the New York Film Academy.
Before joining Walt Disney, he had five years’ experience as a visual effects artist in advertising in New York and two and a half years as a character technical director at DreamWorks Animation.
Explaining what his current duties entail, he said: “We build the tools that allow us to simulate motion in a character’s hair or fur or cloth for the magical moments in a shot. Shots are delegated to technical directors from our production supervisor/producers. When Aladdin and Jasmine (of the Aladdin animation movie) are flying on the magic carpet and their clothes and hair are flowing beautifully in the wind without it getting into their faces, that’s our department”.
His first real taste of technical animation was for a Mercedes Benz Super Bowl commercial that had a bunch of furry characters. Before that, Emvula said he didn’t know that he could specialise in those skills set.
“I then got another chance to do the same for an Intel commercial, and started to see that this was something I could do consistently for different clients and at different studios.”
After finishing technical animation on ‘Raya’, ‘Baymax’, and ‘Encanto’, he moved on to simulation setup in a new feature called ‘Strange World’.
“I helped build the rigs for a bunch of wobbly, gelatinous creatures that the rest of our department will be using later this year. Most recently though, I switched back to technical animation on ‘Zootopia’ for Disney Plus,” he expanded.
Emvula said he knew he wanted to work in animated film, especially within character motion, but didn’t realise that the role even existed at the time.
“I just knew I enjoyed anime and action movies, so I focused on the general skill sets required in those areas.”
The animator, who is still on cloud nine, is planning a trip home later this year.