Greg Slagel: Director in the Making

The road to a particular degree field comes about in a variety of ways. Some students choose a path based on a talent and others based primarily on a passion. Greg Slagel, a senior in the ATEC degree program, his passion is for animation.

Greg’s focus is on lighting for animated films. He is also getting into project management and directing, even directing an animated video titled, “A Bird in a Cage.” “A Bird in a Cage” is a project that Greg and his team created as an independent project; not part of any class. Greg wanted this project to “demonstrate our talents as artists and get experience in working on animation.”

Greg utilized skills in the creation of “A Bird in a Cage” that he leaned in many different classes offered at UTD. He had taken Storyboarding & Pre-Production, Modeling & Texturing 1, Lighting & Compositing 1 and Rigging 1. However, he continued by saying, “No one class is going to teach you everything you need to know to direct a student short, the only way you learn how to do it is by doing it. It was still extremely important to have taken a variety of introductory courses.”

Greg had a clear vision on what he wanted “A Bird in a Cage” to look like. He put together a team, started work on the story, and created storyboards and concept art. Currently they are in the production phase, where Greg is supervising the team, doing a bit of modeling and texturing when needed. When they reach the lighting phase, Greg will be working on that as well.

Working on “A Bird in a Cage” was not always easy. Because this project was not for a class and a grade, it was more difficult to turn in segments on a certain deadline. Also not having a specified class time meant the team had to find time outside of classes when everyone could meet. Despite the setbacks, Greg continues to work on this project in his spare time. He wants to see his vision become a reality.

Greg found his passion with the help of three events. The first event was the death of his grandmother, which inspired him to help others. The second was at a college airing of Toy Story 3, where he saw fellow college students reminiscing about their past childhood; influenced by the movie. The last event was during a freshman-welcoming event where fireworks were being shot off into the night sky. The nightly lighting effects enlightened him to what he wanted to do for a career: animation lighting.

Greg wanted to “use movies, specifically animated movies, to reach out to people and tell a story that is so powerful that they are taken out of their regular lives, if only for a moment, to learn something deeper about themselves.”

“A Bird in a Cage” is one-step to accomplishing his dream. Greg will continue down the path those three events that brought him to. He hopes his vision for “A Bird in a Cage” may help other students realize their dream and set them upon their path.