Jeff DeGrandis

"It's Cartoon Sunday!" -- Storyboarding with Jeff DeGrandis


“It’s Cartoon Sunday!” said Animation Director and Producer, Jeff DeGrandis. On February 23, the Center hosted a storyboarding class; everyone picked up their Blackwing pencils, their storyboard sheets, and unleashed their inner cartoonist.The class was taught by Jeff, a long time friend of Chuck Jones. Back in the 1980s, from his little dorm room at CalArts in Valencia, Jeff gave Chuck a call. The next day, he received a call back, and to his excitement, Chuck invited him over and said, “We’re going to draw!” From then on, Chuck became Jeff’s mentor, and now, he is a current board member for the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.

The class Jeff taught this past Sunday was an introductory storyboarding class, and we were joined by people of all ages and skills.  He began the class by explaining, “Storyboarding is one of those aspects of filmmaking that takes your film from the deep, dank, and dark recesses of your imagination and brings it to life.” More literally, storyboarding is the creation of a visual script; one that allows you to go on an adventure with the characters of the film.

Jeff prepared an original screenplay “Spaced out Mutts,” which featured two dogs and the dilemmas that came with their dreams to become astronauts. The story gave the students an easy place to start; however, Jeff left the ending unfinished so everyone could invent their own.

Each student did it different, and that was his goal – to make each student’s unique story come to life. He said the greatest thing about storyboarding is that, “you’re the cameraman, actor, set designer, and planner.”

This Is No "Jump Cut"; Jeff DeGrandis Tells All!


Jeff DeGrandis of DreamWorks Animation (formerly producer and director of "Dora the Explorer" at Nickelodeon) spent Sunday, February 23, with 18 eager-to-absorb-his-knowledge students of the animated film. From 12 years of age up to some in their 30s, Jeff laid it all out for them. Here's some of what he had to say:


"Once the script is written for a film or animation, the next step is to make a storyboard. The storyboard is a series of drawn panels, which visually tells the story of the animation as clear as it possibly can, sort of like a comic book. Though not entirely mandatory, storyboarding is one of those aspects of filmmaking that takes your film from the deep, dank, and dark recesses of your imagination and brings it to life.


"The storyboard becomes a visual script, letting you see action of the characters, dialogue, acting, transitions, background layout / locations and camera planning. In my opinion, storyboarding is one of the most exciting parts of producing an animated picture. You’re the cameraman, actor, set designer and planner. As a storyboard artist, you are the first person to visually layout the picture."


At the end of the 5 hour session (they did break for lunch in case you were thinking otherwise), everyone left with a new found sense of accomplishment and all were eager to take their new perspective on the importance of storyboarding and apply it to their own projects. Thank you Jeff for your amazing talent!


Photos by Stephen Russo.

Storyboarding with Jeff DeGrandis


Join us for a storyboarding workshop with Animation Director and Produces, Jeff DeGrandis. 


Novices to drawing are welcome and more so, encouraged to enroll. Learn what storyboarding is, when to use it, and how. You'll learn how to storyboard your own masterpiece with the guidance from Jeff. 


Who is Jeff?


"I've always liked cartoons, animation, hot rods, and drag racing. Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was my first great inspiration to draw," says DeGrandis, producer and animator of "Dora the Explorer", "Go Diego, Go!" and other animated series for Nickelodeon. Roth and drag-racing were not the only inspirations for this artist; he adds that Charles Schultz, M.C. Escher, and Tex Avery all have contributed to his style and artistic sensibilities. 


However, it is to Chuck Jones that he owes his greatest allegiance as a source of inspiration. Jones mentored DeGrandis while he was a student at CalArts in Valencia (formerly Chouinard Art Institute of which Jones was an alumni) and it was Jones who gave him his first job in animation. 


In a career spanning several decades, he has worked for Chuck Jones Productions, Spumco, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios, Universal Studios, DreamWorks, and FOX Kids Network. 


Married with three "cartoon" kids, DeGrandis hales from New Jersey. In his free time he enjoys watching 50s and 60s television shows and especially early MGM and Warner Bros. cartoons.


Ages: 8th grade and older 

Fee: $40 per person, with lunch and materials provided 


Register today, click here.

Chuck Jones Centennial Celebration of Animation at the Newport Beach Film Festival 2012


The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, a Newport Beach Film Festival Event Sponsor, will be hosting a morning of Chuck Jones animated cartoons at Triangle Square, Costa Mesa (at the intersection of Newport Blvd., 19th St., and the terminus of the 55 freeway) on Saturday, April 28th at 11 AM. Among the many favorite short cartoons to be shown will be one of his masterpieces, "One Froggy Evening."Following the showing at 1:30 PM will be a panel discussion and seminar on animation with celebrated voice actress, June Foray (Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, and Witch Hazel); Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Jones Clough; "Dora the Explorer" producer and director, Jeff DeGrandis; animation director, character designer ("Hop"), and writer, Chris Bailey and photographer Marian Jones, Chuck Jones's widow. The discussion will be moderated by Craig Kausen, chairman of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.

A ticket for both events is $5.00 for adults. For more information and to purchase tickets, please contact the Newport Beach Film Festival by clicking on their name in this sentence.