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Ice Age’ animator breezes into town

The Wexner Center freezes over today with a screening of the computer animated film “Ice Age.” Ohio State alumnus John Donkin, the film’s associate producer, will visit OSU to show the film at the Wexner Center Film and Video Theatre.

Donkin, who has a bachelor’s degree in cinematography and a master’s degree in computer animation from OSU, will give a brief introduction of the film before showing it in its entirety. Following the screening, he will answer questions from audience members.

Elaine Smith, a spokeswoman from the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design, said the center is excited to have Donkin back to speak about his career. This is not the first time Donkin has returned to OSU to share his experiences.

“We periodically bring alumni back to talk about what they have done in the film industry,” Smith said. “He has been back two or three other times and he gives the students perspective on the industry.”

Smith also said Donkin will be showing behind-the-scenes footage from the production of “Ice Age” after the film.

Donkin began his career in computer animation in 1983 when he joined a computer graphics group at OSU. In 1987, he returned to OSU as a researcher for the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design after spending some time working as senior animator for the Columbus-based company Cranston/Csuri Productions. At Cranston/Csuri Productions Donkin worked with clients such as ABC News, HBO and ESPN.

In 1991, Donkin worked for Lamb & Company in Minneapolis as the director of animation and manager before joining Blue Sky Studios in 1998, where he still works. One of his first projects at Blue Sky was overseeing the technical direction of the company’s Academy Award winning short animation “Bunny.” Helping the company with its first full-length feature film, Donkin began as the managing technical director before overseeing the film’s production crew of 160 as the associate producer.

“I began as the technical director, and developed a pipeline for the film’s development,” Donkin said. “My job was to find the process to make a feature film.”

“Ice Age” was released in theaters in March. The story takes place 20,000 years ago when glaciers encompassed the Earth. Sid (voiced by John Leguizamo), an unintelligent sloth, and his friends – a woolly mammoth named Manny (Ray Romano) and a sabretooth tiger named Diego (Denis Leary) – encounter many dangerous obstacles on their journey to return a baby human back to his father.

“It was fun and difficult to produce this movie,” Donkin said. “It was our first movie so we encountered a lot of challenges, but it was also exhilarating to overcome those challenges. Hopefully ‘Ice Age’ is the first of many movies.”

The screening of “Ice Age” begins at 2:30 p.m. today in the Wexner Center Film and Video Theatre, and is open to the public. For more information, contact the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design at 292-1053.

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