Disney art director to host talk on Davie Campus

Matthias Lechner, Disney art director, will host a talk about “Zootopia” on FAU’s Davie Campus on Feb. 29.

The artist behind the animated film “Zootopia” is speaking on FAUs Davie campus Feb. 29. Photo courtesy of Youtube.

The artist behind the animated film “Zootopia” is speaking on FAU’s Davie campus Feb. 29. Photo courtesy of Youtube.

Brett Barnes, Contributing Writer

Disney Art Director Matthias Lechner, one of the people responsible for the movie “Zootopia,” will speak at Florida Atlantic University on Monday, Feb. 29 at noon.

Zootopia, presented by Walt Disney Feature Animation, is an animated film about a modern civilized world run entirely by animals.  

Lechner started working for Disney in 2012 as a freelance artist, brainstorming an early version of “Zootopia” from his home in Vancouver, Canada. With the help of Disney’s design team, Lechner illustrated a world where humans never existed and sloths work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

According to Francis X. McAfee, communication and multimedia studies professor at FAU and the coordinator of the event, his experience with creating extensive animated environments can give students an idea of how much can be achieved through animation, as well as some insight into the creative process.

“He builds the environment in which the characters live, showing students how much you can do with animation,” said McAfee. “He’s in a niche which really relates to FAU’s film media students.”

Two years after the start of “Zootopia,” Lechner relocated to Los Angeles and officially joined Disney as the art director of environments, supervising the art department and providing the design team with artistic guidance.

At the beginning of his career, the production company, Trickompany Film produktion, offered Lechner a job. He stopped pursuing his degree in classical animation and moved back to Germany to work on the animated film, “Felidae.”

From Germany to Canada, Lechner has worked in studios all over the world, building an extensive portfolio and resume. He has served as art director and/or production designer for a variety of films, including “Escape from Planet Earth” for Rainmaker Entertainment.

“I never really considered the work that goes into animation,” said Angelo Peuguero, an architecture student at FAU. “It seems like an interesting topic, everyone has seen an animated movie.”

The event, which is open to the public and free of charge, will take place on FAU’s Davie campus in room LA 120.

“Zootopia” will be in theaters March 4, 2016. You can watch the trailer for the upcoming animated movie here.

Brett Barnes is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact her regarding this or other stories, she can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.