Simon Otto (born 12 June 1973) is a Swiss film director and animator. He is best known for working as the Head of Character Animation of the Oscar-nominated How to Train Your Dragon film trilogy for DreamWorks Animation.

Simon Otto
SimonOtto.jpg
Simon Otto at the 'How to Train Your Dragon 3' Switzerland Premiere in 2019.
Born (1973-06-12) 12 June 1973 (age 49)
NationalitySwiss
Alma materGobelins, l'École de l'image
Occupation(s)director, animator, storyboard artist.
Years active1997–present
EmployerDreamWorks Animation (1997–2019)
Known forHead of character animation on How to Train Your Dragon
HonoursVES Awards for 'Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature'
Websitehttp://www.simonotto.com

Life and careerEdit

Otto was born in Switzerland and grew up in Gommiswald, in the canton of St. Gallen.

After completing a banking apprenticeship,[1] he started his career in the arts by carving commercial snow sculptures[2] in nearby resort towns and drawing news cartoons for his hometown newspaper, "Die Suedostschweiz".[3]

He studied art formally at the F&F Schule fuer Experimentelle Gestaltung in Zurich.[4] In 1995, Otto left Switzerland to study animation at the Gobelins Animation School[5][6] in Paris, France where he also received additional animation training through an internship with Walt Disney Feature Animation Paris.

His professional animation career started in 1997, when he was hired by DreamWorks Animation in Los Angeles to work as a traditional character animator on their first 2D animated feature The Prince of Egypt. He then spent 21 years as part of the character animation team working on both 2D and CG projects for the studio. Otto is particularly known for his work as the Head of Character Animation for the How to Train Your Dragon movie franchise and has been instrumental in developing the look of the characters, their personalities[7][8] and the overall style of animation for the films, and was rewarded for his achievements with the VES Awards for 'Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Featuree' in 2011 by the Visual Effect Society.[9][10][11] Simon Otto designed a number of characters in the film including Toothless and Lightfury and did storyboarding work on the second and third films.[12] He was a key contributor to the development of Premo,[13][14][15] the animation software developed at DreamWorks Animation that won an Academy Award for Technical Achievement.[16]

Involved as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,[17] Simon participates in numerous of events, talks and interviews highlighting the work of the animator in the feature film industry.[18] In 2016, Otto founded LuMAA[19] (Lucerne Master Academy of Animation) with the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne, Switzerland where animation industry veterans teach a 6-week summer course[20] for up and coming talents.

In the fall of 2019, after 21 years working for DreamWorks Animation, Simon left the company. He now works as an independent director on various film and television projects.[21] His first released project after leaving the studio is the episode ‘The Tall Grass’ he directed for the Netflix TV series, Love, Death & Robots Season 2.

On 14 June 2021 it was announced that he will directing That Christmas, based on the book of the same name by Richard Curtis, produced from Locksmith Animation and Netflix.[22]

FilmographyEdit

DirectorEdit

Year Title Format Status
2016 Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia - To Catch a Changeling (Episode) TV Series Broadcast
2016 Dragons: Race to the Edge - A Grim Retreat (Episode) TV Series Broadcast
2016 Dragons: Race to the Edge - Crash Course (Episode) TV Series Broadcast
2021 Love, Death & Robots - The Tall Grass (Episode) TV Series Broadcast
TBA That Christmas Movie Directorial debut

AnimatorEdit

Year Title Role
1998 The Prince of Egypt Animator
2000 The Road to El Dorado Animator
2002 Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Animator
2003 Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Animator
2004 Shark Tale Animator
2006 Over the Hedge Additional character designer
2006 Flushed Away Supervising animator
2007 Enchanted Additional animator
2007 Bee Movie Additional animator
2008 Kung Fu Panda Additional animator
2010 How to Train Your Dragon Head of character animation
2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2 Head of character animation & Story Artist
2015 Home Additional supervising animator
2018 Bird Karma Animator
2019 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Head of character animation & Story Artist

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Maurer, Interview von Christian (15 July 2014). "Trickfilm-Star Simon Otto: Dieser Schweizer zähmt die Kino-Drachen". Blick. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  2. ^ "HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: Simon Otto – Head of character animation – Dreamworks". The Art of VFX (in French). 25 May 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  3. ^ mobiles, Maven Sarl, solutions Web et. ""Dragons 2": interview vidéo de Simon Otto". CLAP.CH. Retrieved 20 April 2020. (FR) Il se lance ensuite dans l'élaboration de nouvelles bandes dessinées pour un journal local, Die Südostschweiz. / (EN) He start then creating new cartoons for a local newspaper "Die Südostschweiz."{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Schweizer in der Traumfabrik - Computer-Animationen | Migros-Magazin". Migros Medien (in German). 24 July 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  5. ^ "HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: Simon Otto – Head of character animation – Dreamworks". The Art of VFX (in French). 25 May 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Gobelins, l'École de l'image", Wikipedia, 20 April 2020, retrieved 20 April 2020
  7. ^ "How To Design an Infinite Number of Dragons in DreamWorks Animation's 'The Hidden World'". Animation World Network. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  8. ^ "INTERVIEW: Dean DeBlois And Simon Otto Talk About The Animation Evolution In 'How to Train Your Dragon' Trilogy". Cartoon Brew. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  9. ^ Finke, Nikki (2 February 2011). "Visual Effects Awards: 'Inception' Wins 4, 'How To Train Your Dragon' 3". Deadline. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  10. ^ swissinfo.ch, S. W. I.; Corporation, a branch of the Swiss Broadcasting. "'Dragon tamer' animator shows Swiss kids how it's done". SWI swissinfo.ch. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature", Wikipedia, 17 April 2020, retrieved 20 April 2020
  12. ^ "INTERVIEW: Dean DeBlois And Simon Otto Talk About The Animation Evolution In 'How to Train Your Dragon' Trilogy". Cartoon Brew. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  13. ^ Bishop, Bryan (12 June 2014). "The amazing animation software behind 'How To Train Your Dragon 2'". The Verge. Retrieved 24 June 2020. DreamWorks CTO Lincoln Wallen went to the company's artists, asking them to daydream what kind of tools they would like to use in a perfect world. "I recall it very well," Simon Otto, head of character animation for Dragon 2, tells me in a suite at the studio's Glendale headquarters.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "'How To Train Your Dragon 2' Made Using DWA's New Animation Software". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  15. ^ Daniel, Mary-Alice (2013). "A Southern Way of Talking About Love". New England Review. 33 (4): 178–179. doi:10.1353/ner.2013.0018. ISSN 2161-9131. S2CID 176978060.
  16. ^ DOVE, STEVE (10 January 2018). "OSCARS 2018: 10 SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENTS TO BE HONORED WITH ACADEMY AWARDS". oscar.go.com. Retrieved 24 June 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "THE ACADEMY PRESENTS THE 2017 CAREERS IN FILM SUMMIT IN LOS ANGELES". Oscars.org | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  18. ^ Frei, Vincent. "Creative Spark: Simon Otto". Swiss Made VFX. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Simon Otto - LuMAA". lumaa.ch. Retrieved 21 April 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ "Schweizer in der Traumfabrik - Computer-Animationen | Migros-Magazin". Migros Medien (in German). 24 July 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  21. ^ ""Meinen Drachen werde ich vermissen"". www.suedostschweiz.ch (in German). Retrieved 20 April 2020. Nach 21 Jahren verlassen Sie die Dreamworks-Studios. Was haben Sie als Nächstes geplant? Otto: Ich bin jetzt «vogelfrei» (schmunzelt). Ich weiss, was ich möchte, aber noch nicht wo: Mein nächstes Ziel ist es, in der Regie von Animationsfilmen Fuss zu fassen. Wohin es mich genau verschlägt, ist aber noch offen.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Motayor, Rafael (14 June 2021). "Simon Otto to Helm Animated 'That Christmas' Adaptation, Based on Books by 'Love Actually' Writer". Collider. Retrieved 14 June 2021.

External linksEdit