ANY KID WHO LOVES THE SIGHT OF OPTIMUS PRIME changing from towering robot to speeding semi can thank a Ringling College of Art and Design graduate (and frequent SRQ magazine illustrator) in part for putting the famed transformer into motion. Woody Woodman, a 1997 Illustration major with 20 years of animation industry experience, serves as the chief storyboard artist for the new Boulder Media series, Transformers: Cyberverse. It’s the most recent adventure in moving pictures for Woodman, who likes to call himself an “animation cowboy.” From his days at Disney’s now-shuttered Orlando animation studios on such classics as Mulan and Lilo and Stitch to his time directing the Insectables series or developing the Disney Junior show Oddbods, he helped bring to life the ideas and stories behind many a rendered character. And while the plotlines of these shows and films get determined in writers’ rooms, it’s the work of Woodman and peers that truly establishes the aesthetics defining a cartoon world. “A lot of time I’m still working on paper in the thumbnail process,” he says. “I’ll do some doodles and send it to the director, who will see where I’m placing the camera and setting up the basic geography.” Woodman will stay involved with the storyboarding even to the point where animatics get made before animators use his work as a template for the final product delivered to audiences. This work isn’t what he necessarily planned when he enrolled at Ringling College. Back then, the institution did not yet have a world-renowned computer animation program, but it had already landed on Disney recruiters’ radar. When pen and ink still ruled Toonville, Woodman became involved with animation after getting an internship at Disney based on the strength of his caricatures. Of course, fans of his political drawings in the pages of SRQ need not fear the lure of Cybertron. Woodman still likes to keep regular illustration gigs if only because the public gets to see his actual work, whereas storyboards rarely win attention outside animation houses. “It’s always nice to see something in print,” he says.

Photos courtesy of Woody Woodman.