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Animator From Medical School Who Fulfilled His Dream ‘Before It’s Too Late’
Animator From Medical School Who Fulfilled His Dream ‘Before It’s Too Late’

Jae Hyung Kim (entering class of ’92, Medicine), the Pixar Animator at the center of lifetime Disney & Pixar movies


Recently, many people around the world are impressed by the movie ‘Soul.’ Although people know that it is an animation, they find themselves in a similar position as the main character called ‘Jo’ and support the journey with soul ’22.’ In this regard, it is important for each character to act with a unique characteristic as well as acting like an actual actor in animation. It is the animator who provides soul to those characters. An animator is a person who creates the expressions and movements of each character in animated movies. It was possible to show the groove the protagonist of ‘Soul’ as a jazz musician thanks to the animator who devoted efforts to him.


Among animators who live in this exciting world, we heard a story about a person whose life is as interesting as animation. He is a graduate from the College of Medicine, Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, who started working at Disney and Pixar while doing a residency course. It is a story about an animator called Jae Hyung Kim (entering class of ’92, Medicine), who participated in the character development of many films including not only the recently released ‘Soul,’ but also ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Inside Out,’ ‘Coco,’ ‘Monster University,’ ‘UP,’ and ‘Ratatouille.’



Job That Creates a Story by Making Movements and Expressions 


“For the movie ‘Soul,’ animators studied a lot about jazz and playing various instruments since a jazz pianist is the main character and jazz music plays an important role in the movie. I listed to the thoughts and experiences of a jazz musician called ‘Jon Batiste,’ who wrote and performed jazz music in the movie, and watched his improvisation. It helped me immensely to truly express the performance scenes in the movie.”


The movie ‘Soul’ is an animation about the story of ‘Jo,’ who went to the ‘world before birth’ due to an unexpected accident just before his dreams come true, and ’22,’ a soul who does not wish to go to Earth. There are many reviews saying that it gives comfort and courage, along with favorable comments that it reached the peak of Disney-Pixar works. Jae Hyung co-created the characters including the protagonist in this work.


“I think the charm of an animator is that you can express a certain story through the movements and facial expressions of a character, and share your thoughts with many people through that story,” Jae Hyung says.


He has been developing his career in this field since starting his internship at Pixar Studio (hereinafter, Pixar) in 2006 and officially joined Pixar in 2008 after working at Blizzard Entertainment. However, he had a lot of trouble figuring out what he would enjoy doing for a long period of time.



Until You Find What You Really Want to Reveal in Your Life


“When I look back at my middle and high school days, I don’t think I had any dreams of wanting to become someone or having a specific job when I grew up. When I saw my friend in high school art class, I only thought I paint better, but not that I would attend art school. So, I feel like I entered university in line with my grades, recommendations, and expectations around me.”


Jae Hyung graduated from Yonsei University’s College of Medicine and took the internship and residency courses.


“Since I was a medical student, whenever I had a difficult situation or the results were unsatisfactory during my internship and residency course after graduation, I felt that I was not enjoying my major or work and it wasn’t easy to imagine myself continuing this work for a long time in the future,” Jae Hyung says. “Since I thought that working with this mindset could cause great harm to others, especially patients, I decided to quit before it was too late and started looking for what I wanted and enjoyed.”.


He usually enjoyed movies, music, and video games as hobbies. He also liked to paint and participated in an art club when he was an undergraduate.



To Continue Realizing Mature and Enjoyable Works


“When the movie ‘UP’ was released, I was pleased to see an old couple weeping in the front row of the theater as one of the production crews. After the release of ‘Soul,’ I am having similar feelings as before. As I hear that it has been a lot of comfort to audiences of various generations during these difficult times, I feel proud to work as an animator once again.”


Jae Hyung says that although there are times when the results do not come out the way he wants, which makes him difficult and stressful, he does not regret the decision to become an animator. He says he is learning a lot at Pixar, the world’ best animation studio.


“There are many talented people at Pixar. What impressed me the most personally is that they work harder and more concentrated for longer periods of time. An outstanding person might produce good results even if you work with a certain amount leisure, but in fact, I’ve seen the opposite many times. I think this is possible because the company is gathered by people who are affectionate about what they do.”


Even when these people work together, trust and respect are one of the important things that I learned as the basis for jointly producing good results. It is because countless people have to work together to produce one animation movie.


“During the movie making, people make a series of meetings and a lot of them give their opinions in it. Even if an opinion is not adopted, they create an atmosphere where a person who gives the opinion is not intimidated and grow further by also mentioning the positive aspect of the opinion. Although this process may seem inefficient right now during a busy schedule, I think it can lead to the wider participation of members and bring about good results once accumulated continuously.”


Lastly, Jae Hyung Kim, an animator who recently directed one of the mini short collections called ‘Pixar Popcorn,’ mentioned that he would like to work on a piece that resonates deeply among generations if an opportunity arises. As an animator, he likes characters that shows multiple layers of personality, and the reason he likes the work of director Peter Docter, the director of ‘Soul,’ is because a story contains his thought that ‘a message being embedded in a story can pass through many generations.’


“Although I used to direct a short animation at the company by chance, I am not sure yet if I could create an animation that can deliver some kind of my own message while working here since I am only just an animator. But in the case of some short stories that I am personally making, though they are still in their initial stage, I’m trying to work on a variety of topics ranging from something that contains social message to family love. If there is a chance for me to make a large-scale feature film, I would like to create a piece that is enjoyed by many people, while conveying the same grown-up message that Pixar is making.”

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