Ada Lovelace Day!

Not that long ago if I’d wanted to be an animator, I would have received the following kick to the head:

“Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as this work is done entirely by young men.”

All applications by women to Disney back in the Good Old Days were forwarded to the ink and paint department.

I might be one of the last people in animation to start out literally inking and painting other people’s drawings on cels. I was lucky enough though to do so on a National Film Board short directed by the wonderful Susan Crandall, who along with animation lead Beth Portman first taught me how to animate, first explained to me that there was an actual job ‘animator’, and, girl though I was, encouraged me to believe I could be an animator myself.

Nowadays you don’t get kicked in the head by an actual ‘no girls’ sign (though you do get poked in the ribs rather more often than I would like), but it can still feel kind of lonely and exposed as a woman in this business, especially without that comfortable wind at your back of countless Role Models, as the awkward phrase goes, that guys so often seem to take for granted. That is why my drinking buddy Suw Charmann came up with Ada Lovelace Day!

I’m not going to risk creating a whole freakin’ pocket universe like I did last year, because I don’t have time to do it safely and under controlled conditions, so we’re going to take it niiiiice and slow this year with what it’s actually supposed to be about, raising a pint to an inspiring woman.

Happily there is now no shortage of awesome women in animation, so that hard part was deciding who to blog about. Maybe go for the up-and-coming bright young things, represented by Allison Rutland, who kicked ass on Reepicheep in Prince Caspian before heading off to Pixar? Or superstar draftsmanship from Joanna Quinn? A historical figure, like Lotte Reineger, who made the first animated feature film?

In the end I thought I should feature someone techy.. someone who started out studying computer programming maybe? Someone with a foot in animation and a foot in rigging? Someone geektastically cool? Someone who will give me an excuse to put up a truly awesome video? I present my Ada Lovelace Day heroine this year, Virgine d’Annoville, lead animator on Yoda, people. YODA. Check it out:

She animates stuff like that for kicks. We crossed paths when we were both at Sony Imageworks a few years ago, she was cruising on Superman I believe. Lately she’s been up at ILM working on stuff so cool she can’t even talk about it, at least not without killing you immediately afterwards, and heading up development of rigging interfaces.

THE FORCE IS STRONG IN THIS ONE! Sorry. Had to say it. I’ll stop now. Geek out, ladies, it’s Ada Lovelace Day!

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  • Nice video. Good choice for ALDay. I was going to do something about all the ordinary women who have had to be somewhat techno-geeky since home products were usually used by women first – vacuum cleaners, stoves, washing machines and dryers, coffee makers, televisions, radios, sewing machines, electric lights, gas lamps, kerosene lamps (I have a lot of respect for people who can get them to give off light without charring up the inside of the globe since I’ve never been successful there), microwaves, you name it, if it’s tech and it’s in the home, women had to deal with it, often without the benefits of the same level of education as the men.

    Anyway, I was going to do that but I got sidetracked on a story I’m doing for my Creative Writing class.

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