Floyd Norman 9/21/16

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Floyd Norman is an animator, writer, and comic book artist. He is known for his work as an animator on the Walt Disney animated features Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone, and The Jungle Book, along with various animated short projects at Disney in the late ’50s and early ’60s. In 1956, he was the first African American animator at the Disney studios. At age 80, he still works as a storyboard artist, and is a freelance consultant for the Walt Disney Company. Over the course of his career, Norman has worked for a number of animation companies, among them Walt Disney Animation Studios, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Ruby-Spears, Film Roman and Pixar.

Documentary on Floyd Norman now in theaters!

Trailer and information on Floyd Norman documentary

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0635488/

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floyd_Norman

Disney Wiki: http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Floyd_Norman

Blog: http://floydnormancom.squarespace.com/

History Makers Profile: http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/floyd-norman-41

Books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-has-strip=1&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3A%22Floyd%20Norman%22

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32 thoughts on “Floyd Norman 9/21/16

  1. Floyd Norman’s career thus far has taken him to large studio, small and even starting his own animation business. A true inspiration for animators, Floyd is really passionate about his work and the jobs he landed proved that. It was really interesting to see Floyd’s point of view on the change animation took transitioning from hand drawn animation all the way to CGI. As an MFA 1st year it’s really clear that hand drawn animation is crucial for any job to fully understand the tradition of moving drawings. As a 3D animator I didn’t realize the hand drawn animation art is slowly disappearing and made me appreciate the medium more. I really like how Floyd took on challenges like being part of Toy Story 2 even though he is not a CGI animator. Overall, Floyd is an incredible role model whose career journey is motivating and I want to follow a similar path.

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  2. Floyd Norman’s experiences in the animation industry, from Disney to Pixar to Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, demonstrated just how varied work in the animation field can be. His visit to the USC animation department was an enlightening experience that really emphasized the changes across time working in the animation business. I enjoyed hearing that there seems to be an embrace of technology in the big studios like Disney. Sometimes I hear some people who talk about the “good ol’ days” when animation was, tech-wise, less efficient but seen as more artistic. But Mr. Norman assured that technology helped to make progress in the field, whether it was in 2D or 3D animation styles.
    Indeed, Mr. Norman’s comment to watch the audience as Walt Disney once advised him also reminded me the power to impact audiences with storytelling. Being able to get audiences to visibly react to your animated story can demonstrate not only what works and what not works, but signal how many people’s lives you have touched. I am thankful for Floyd Norman’s time, as his visit recanting his previous animation experiences was inspiring in moving forward into the world of animation.

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  3. Still can’t believe that I can seat this close to a person that made so many wonderful film and even work with Walt Disney himself. Floyd Norman’s achievement can use a lot of time to tell but today we only have a short night. Even though, I was also so impressed for a lot of things. A man in his age can stand on the stage and being so energetic, funny and enthusiastic. When it comes to story telling, he says that we should observe life and get to know about people and stories. The valuable experience with opening one’s own studio and how to deal with business, earning money. According to his presentation, as long as you are talented and hard working, letting others know about you and your works, the jobs will come to you. And the most interesting thing that I get from the speech is that keeping working and keeping loving. Seeing a film be done is so good that not everyone can enjoy. So be proud, and work hard! Thank you, Floyd. That’s a lot that I can learn and take time to digest it.

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  4. So great to really experience someone’s whole professional career as an animator at mainly major studios, it really puts the professional life into perspective for me as I come from a more artistic/experimental background. I feel like there are a lot of opinions and separation between the animation industry side and the independent animator route, but really I think it to be not so different. I am mostly inspired by how Floyd said he bounced around between different departments and just never get tired of it, and it does open up a lot more possibilities than I would have thought before. To get into the industry you sort of need to have a specialty as they look for “storyboard artist” or “character rigger”, but one should not only limit to that. I like how Floyd describe in Disney they host events in which everyone pitch a story, as everyone’s idea would have gotten considered (although the issues does rise now, that people tend to only recommend people they know personally, or go to school with), the situation could get better, but at least there is to be opportunities for everyone once in a while. I think the best situation is to think that, to work in the industry does not mean you are just an “inbetweener” or rather, like a machine, the fact is you are still an artist aim to create even if you have a position in one of the big studios. I still think I learnt a lot more from internships & studios than just doing my own project at school, and the creative process is really not that different. And I do hope that one day the audiences would actually demand for variety and more artistic aspects from commercial animated films.

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  5. Pixar has always been the most powerful influencer in my fascination with storytelling through animation. Being in the presence of the legendary Floyd Norman, soaking in his wisdom and Disney magic, was surreal. I love the advice he gave about becoming a better story artist: “go live life” – travel, fill your head with experiences, get to know people, observe, and listen. For me, visual art is my ticket to exploring and experiencing – it was refreshing to hear an animator give advice about the importance of getting outside the studio. In addition, I can relate to his feelings about not regarding himself as a black artist but rather an artist (period) ; I’m a woman, but I don’t think of myself as a “woman artist”, just artist. I was touched by Floyd’s humble answer to my question about how he became such an indispensable worker (attributing it mostly to luck when we all know full well there was much talent involved), and I really took to heart the statement he offered about making your work known – that’s something I need to be more intentional about. Lastly, hearing about the level of dedication to greatness the Pixar animators had who sacrificed their health (to the point of almost dying) and marriages for the sake of making Toy Story 2 was kind of a wow moment to me. It makes me question how far I would go to create a masterpiece I really believed in the way the Pixar team did in theirs.

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  6. Floyd Norman has the marvelous experiences in the animation industry. He worked in almost all the classic animation features in Disney and Pixar! I can’t believe he had the chance to worked with Walt Disney and Steve Jobs, either. However, Floyd Norman is so humble about his experiences and works. He said he was just lucky several times. But for me, of course it was not only about luck. He is talented for sure, yet the key of his success is that he always knows what’s he loves the most. He is not only the animator. He wants to be a great story teller as well.

    His suggestion about telling the good story is to “grow up” and experience things first. It sounds very realistic but makes great sense. If you don’t travel, meet people, live your life first, then you are very hard to find stories to tell. The other suggestion which is very useful for me is that don’t be too ambitious. Be a subtle filmmaker first. I am always too greedy that want to do everything by myself, yet it is actually impossible. Almost all the great films are made by lots of people together. It’s glad to have him with us tonight and take those suggestions directly from him!

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  7. First off, I just want to say that I’d be content if I was even half as happy, fit, humble, and full of life as Floyd Norman when I’m his age. Maybe his secret is that he’s spent a lifetime making people laugh. They say laughter is the best medicine, right? That, or he’s managed to find the fountain of youth and kept it to himself.

    It was absolutely fantastic to hear him talk. I’ve never met a person who had accomplished so much, yet remained so incredibly humble. I don’t care what he says, the man is talented, not just lucky. I also really appreciated how much love he has for the art of animation, and not just the kind he grew up with. He loves all of it. That seems to be a rare thing for someone his age. A lot of old school animators don’t appreciate CG.

    I hope I get to speak with him again!

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  8. “The best way to tell stories is to get to know life.”, one of my most touching quote from Floyd Norman. Hearing stories from the story artists can always make me smile. Floyd’s session really touched me greatly since I am interested in being a good story teller. His stories are amazing. It feels good to know that he had spent his life doing what he love, working on stories that touched so many generations of audience from all around the world, the stories that I grew up with and have been my inspirations. I feel honored to hear the stories about Walt Disney from the man who actually had been working with him. I can feel his happiness from all the stories he told. He has great attitude and sense of humor. As I always keep in mind, everybody could use some good laughs. Floyd has really been giving them out a lot, including to Walt Disney himself. I love how he did all those playful comic strips about Walt.

    His journey on becoming a successful story artist is wonderful. I can see that he never stop learning and he is not afraid to try new things, even the one that he is not specialized in, such as CG. However, as he said “Learning never stop because life never stop touching you.”, most of us are still at the beginning of our journeys. We have a long way to go. There is no reason to stop exploring and being close minded.

    I would like to thank you Floyd Norman for sharing his wonderful stories and great life lesson.

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  9. What a memorable night and an incredible guest Floyd Norman was. It was great to hear that he started at Disney and worked on anything and at any studio he could as long as he was telling a story. What a blessing it was for him to work in almost every department of animation. It must take a very talented person to do what Floyd has done, and continues to do, and he is so humble about it. I think one of the things that stuck with me was his advice about learning to tell a good story. Experience life. Once you experience life, you will have amazing stories to tell. That is why we learn the greatest things from our elders. And the second thing that stuck with me was his comment about race and Disney; that there were no barriers. If you wanted a job, all you needed to do was show up, show your work, and hopefully get a job. I will always remember that. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, including yourself. It is difficult to put into words how I felt and what I took from listening to Floyd. I know it is overused, but he is truly inspirational. And I hope I look, feel and move as good as Floyd does when and if I get to his age!

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  10. It’s incredible how Floyd has so much experience in the animation industry yet also so humble. He was able to be part of many major studios and work closely with powerful minds such as Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. He had a career in animating, story, writing, and even in layout. He calls his success luck but I think big part of Floyds diverse career is being able to adapt. When the industry was leaning towards digital he went to work for Pixar in Toy Story 2. He embraces technology rather than fighting it. Even though he lost a lot of money when he had his own studio, he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I found it interesting how Floyds strongly believes that Walt Disney would have appreciated and push for digital animation; it was just that he lived during an analogue era. I think it was a great tip how he advised us to watch the audience during a film to understand what people react too.

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  11. Having Floyd visit us was a special event. He is a living legend. The way he carries himself and talks about his work and the industry is very refreshing and honest. Though the discussion was long and covered a wide range of topics, there were just two that truly resonated with me.

    Firstly, the questions about equal representation and opportunity at Disney throughout its history. This is probably a question that Floyd gets asked a lot about his experiences and he seemed hesitant to get into it, so I’m glad he was willing to talk about it even if it took a little nudge from his wife. Now is definitely the time to be hearing the voices from every background in big budget productions. Dinsey has an opportunity to be a leading force in the diversification of western entertainment. Hopefully, Floyd is right and things are moving in the right direction. Disney has certainly changed its structure before with the roles of women and minorities in animation but there is still a disparity and underrepresentation. Maybe the reason why so much of the animation, film, and television industries continue to promote recycled stories, structures, and characters is because they have been blind to this immense talent pool sitting right under their noses. I wish we could have spent more time speaking with Floyd about this.

    Second, I found it profoundly inspirational to hear Floyd speak about writing and storytelling. I’ve certainly been where he was early in his career, sitting down to write a story and finding that I have nothing to say. You can’t write anything until you live some life, and go through some experiences. The same applies to making art, it’s extremely difficult to make something without personal experience and real stories to tell. I will be taking Floyd’s advice by living life and seeking out experiences.

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  12. Listening to Floyd Norman talking, the first thing one realizes is how much admiration he felt towards Walt Disney and towards his profession in general. I found incredibly moving his love for his career, thing that he didn’t explicitly said, but that was implicit, without doubt, in every one of his anecdotes, that many times, where shared in the format of a conversation with Tom Sito.

    Also, I found interesting that, as the rest of the world sees in Floyd Norman an icon and a breakthrough character in the story of Hollywood animation, he sees that milestone as a small event that had not great consequences. I’d dare to suggest, just as I did when Yvette did her presentation, that what they see as normal is mostly due their particular experience of the world more than a generalized experienced.

    Finally, being able to see Floyd Norman in person, listening to him talk, and tell so humbly and patiently all his anecdotes and experiences was an one lifetime experience. Thank you!

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  13. It is always inspiring to hear from someone who sincerely enjoys their work. Thus it was great to listen to Floyd Norman share about his long and varied career in animation as animator, storyboard artist, and writer. However, while it was fun to learn about Walt’s fake warning cough and the familial atmosphere during the Disney Studio’s early years, what I found most amazing was Floyd’s humility. Given that Floyd is an individual who had personally worked with Walt Disney and been a contributor to classic films like “The Jungle Book” and “Toy Story 2”, I was amazed by his humble acknowledgement of luck in his life, from when he was plucked out of Art Center by Disney even before graduating to surviving numerous layoffs during his time at the studio. I’m so grateful that we were able to meet Floyd Norman and I hope that if/when we are able to reach his level of expertise, we can emulate him in both his passion for animation and his gracious modesty about all of life’s blessings.

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  14. I guarantee everyone will learn something from Floyd Norman. He’s one of those people you envy for their complete gratitude and genuine content for all life has to offer. And perhaps that’s the secret to success; Floyd names luck a main contributor for his long and full career, but karmically it also makes sense that this man with such positive energy and willingness to share with others has received those gifts evident through his opportunities and his extraordinary talent. His immense achievements have no effect on the way he treats others, the traditional capitalist mindset that pull so many others into delusions of grandeur are completely absent and in their place Floyd has appreciation and love for everyone around him. “To tell better stories learn from life, and absorb from film.” Floyd urges. He also encourages students to learn how to be business savvy.

    Floyd helped me understand, as I never have before, how business reliant large animation studios are. He explained complications studios would have going back to hand drawn, and why that might discourage them from funding a hand drawn feature. He emphasized how studios look for the entertainment value when seeking which films to fund and further mentioned business by touching upon some specifics Roy had in mind when shaping Disney’s brand. Though Floyd Norman has more experience in the industry than anyone I’ve ever met, he explains things in a way where nothing is black and white. There’s always a motivation that leads to a person’s decision, which humanizes the people he speaks of even when he isn’t benefited by their decision making. I count myself lucky to be among the people who have met Floyd Norman.

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  15. One of the best presentation we ever had in our seminars. I watched a documentary about him about one month ago in Laemel theatre and his life story was full of inspiration. I really admire him for loving his work. Back to seminar night I think the most valuable advice he gave me was observing the world is the key for a story artist to be good at is work. The other thing that was interesting for me was he never regrets for the years he was away from Disney and he was proud of even tiny things that he did. His personality was the most attractive part for me, I met him outside SCI building in the afternoon before the seminar started and he was modest and very kind to me. He also answered my question after his speech with patience and kindly.

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  16. It’s always very inspiring to have artists like Floyd Norman speak. Floyd Norman’s work and story art have had a big impact on my life from ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ to ‘Toy Story.’ I also greatly admire artists that stir the pot, and push through what everyone else comes to acknowledge as the accepted norm. His work is strong and his passion for story has taken him to amazing places in life. It’s evident that through his experiences as an artist in Hollywood he dealt with a lot of BS, both as an African American and also from a studio system that was and is still very strict. I really hope to be working as an artist when I’m Floyd’s age and I salute him for being such a huge inspiration to myself and artists worldwide.

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  17. Floyd Norman is perhaps the best speaker we’ve had yet in seminar. His energy was truly captivating. I always love when Tom and a speaker talk about Disney and share their nostalgia with us. For Norman it was truly infectious, I felt nostalgic for things I never experienced. It was truly heart warming and very inspiring.

    I appreciated how honest Floyd was about the industry. He recognized the gender gap, but insisted there was room for hope. As the first African American animator he is regarded as someone who carved a path for others behind him, but for Floyd this was simply the career he wanted and he was focused on enjoying his experiences. I think Floyd is so positive it is perhaps hard for him to acknowledge some of the negative things. He truly loves the animation industry and that love was infectious to everyone in the room. Even so, I felt it was nice to hear him humanize people like Roy and Kahl. His wife was insistent he recognize the issues with the Industry, but Floyd seemed so happy and hopeful that I felt he wanted us to dream as big as he did when he was in school. He made it very clear how business oriented the big studios are, and how important it is to understand that side of things rather than see that as a bad thing.

    I think Floyd is truly amazing, and I think he definitely had a hand in how Toy Story 2 was such a good movie instead of a terrible sequel. I think it would be wonderful to see him direct a movie or a short.

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  18. Floyd Norman is a legendary animator and cartoonist. His first big job was on Sleeping Beauty, and he’s gone on to work on any number of Disney movies. He’s also a pioneer as one of the first prominent African-American animators. It was a such pleasant that we got to listen to the legend share his experience. It was fascinating listening to the experience that he talk about working with Walt Disney himself.
    He told us the story about how it was like working for Disney as an animator. As he introduces us to some of his coworkers and their jobs, talks about animation production, management, and reminisce about the good time working with Walt Disney. There are lots of interesting stories, thanks to Floyd Norman for sharing his experience as an animator and his wonderful stories.

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  19. It is so exiting to meet the legend from the Disney! According to his introduce and his sharing of his experience, I get many inspiration. Floyd Norman spend many years for severing as a story writing , which I think is the most important and interesting part of pre-production, as the story is the start of every thing and also I think the story decides how far the film can get. About how to improve the story telling skill, Floyd says that we should know better about the life, cause the experience is the resource for you to generating a story. Now I am try to write a story but I just have no idea about it, now I perhaps can say that It just according to my less of experience and I need to accumulate more. Further more, I think I know better about Disney or Animation industry by introduce from Floyd. Floyd tells us a experience that one of his film is shut and not made to real film. Because the Disney is family- friendly industry, and the film generated by this company will always want to show its this feature. So it means that if we would like to have a experience in Disney, that kind of story is what we should to do. Many thanks or Floyd to share his precious experience in the industry! Wonderful!

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  20. When Floyd Norman walked to the front of the room to present to us, I was in utter shock. For one, he did not look old enough to have started his career in 1956, and two, his memory recall for names and stories was sharper than many 60-year-olds I know. I wish I had asked him a question related to that because, while I recognize that he is extraordinarily talented and smart, I also suspect that he has taken good care of himself through the years. Animation and writing certainly exercise important parts of the brain and I wonder if engaging in these activities lends itself to the preservation of the mind. He also spoke a bit about studios where animators burned out so I’m curious as to how working hard, long hours affects people over the longterm of their career (I suspect that for many it plays out the live-fast die-young sort of way). It seems like there’s a lot of pressure in the industry to work till you burn out. God willing, I’d like to have an creative career that extends into my old age so these subjects of mind/self preservation are really interesting to me. When my grandmother turned 80 years old she developed Alzheimers so I think this is of additional reason why I was so struck by Floyd Norman’s age.

    ANYWAY– I wrote so much down during his Q&A and feel as though I could talk endlessly on the stuff I’ve been unpacking since his visit. What struck me the most was what he said about cutting corners for stories and using sound when possible. The podcast craze has definitely gotten me so I got really excited by the idea of thinking more about employing sounds for my stories. I also imagine that employing sound with limited visuals could lend itself to VR given how its visual immersion exhausts audiences so quickly.

    Lastly, I was really happy his wife was there too. It was really valuable to hear another perspective on inequality in the workplace.

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  21. This is the most excited seminar I have ever joined. It is so great to hear that he made so many wonderful animation films. Floyd Norman started at Disney and made many beautiful characters. I love Toy Story from my childhood and bought many toys and postcard about this film. He shared many funny stories in Disney and make us laugh. However, the most impressive things is that the story he shared. He told us the best way to create a good story is “go to live” that go to travel everywhere and feel about our life. I think this is a useful method for us to study animation. And the “In between” is also a big Problem for me. He’s words gave me encouragement and guidance. All in all, he is a very successful people. Thanks for share.

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  22. It was memorable and inspiring seminar night with Floyed Norman. With his humble smile and personalities, he showed us amazing works he did and all those pieces are classics. From his experiences, he said that the best way to be a real story teller is putting down root in your lives. I cannot agree anymore! He pinpointed the precise idea about the close connection between lives and inspiration. When you went through all layers of life with sincere heart you will be able to transit the most subtle nuanced light of information to audience. And it’s the most expressive and efficient way to lead viewers.

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  23. Who could expect that I can meet a person who actually worked and shared passion of making animation with the Walt. So, when I heard “he is a living legend” , i thought what makes him legendary and I could find the answer why he is called by people. His work inspired many young animators and also now. We grew up with animations written, animated by him. I remember I even cried when I watched toy story. We all know it is not easy to touch people’s mind and bring the emotions up. But, his stories have that power and it keeps telling me I should make works which makes people be true in showing emotions.
    Moreover, the seminar was great because I could see the strong relationship with professor Tom sito and Floyd Norman. when they talked about the life in Disney and working with Walt, I felt they have their own world that we never can experience. What would it be if I was walking with them at the time?
    Ne one knows, but I would be happy that I was a part of the beginning of animation industry.

    It was such a great and inspiring time.
    I hope we can see his work more from now on.
    Thank you Floyd Norman

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  24. “Give me questions, I have answers.”

    Listening Floyd Norman’s career path was.. amazingly interesting, fun, and inspiring. From 1950 till now, the works he went through must have influenced all of us in this animation department. We grew up watching the films he worked, dreamed with it.
    Though he kept saying he had good lucks of the question asking what is his secret of being in the industry such a long time, I imagined that he is not only amazing artist, also has been enjoying what he’s done.

    The advice he gave that learning about people’s life, being absorb really came to me. At the end, it’s all about ‘ife’ and ‘our stories’. As a storyteller, I’d love to make a story that can be empathised with others.

    Thank you Floyd for coming and sharing your story, and thank you to his wife that sharing her opinions regarding issues in this industry. It was very worthy to hear different voices.

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  25. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear Floyd Norman’s speech. He is a legendary animator in Disney, and I could tell how people in Disney admire and love him very much.
    The features films of Disney he worked on are what I saw when I was little, and I am surprised he also worked on TV shows I loved. The Sword in the Stone is one of my favorite film from Disney.
    His works are so beautiful, and I admire his passion towards animations.

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  26. Floyd’s presentation was really inspiring. Just by listening to him, you can tell that he’s had so much experience and stories to tell from working all these years. Flexibility seems to be a very important factor for his success. Whenever a job needed someone, Floyd has the ability to take on the job, even if at first he doesn’t have any experience. Another important thing to remember is networking and socializing. Floyd made a point that the people around us will be the people we work with in the future. A lot of times, he would just hang around other people while they chatted and eventually they would all know each other.

    I am excited to see how the more traditional animators like Floyd has adapted to the rapid changes in technology and Disney’s move away from 2D animation.

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  27. He is a real veteran, a living history textbook of Disney. To my surprise, he participated in almost all of the Disney project, from “Jungle Book” (when Disney was still alive), to the recent Pixar CG 3D feature film, these are the classic works of animation history can be loaded. Floyd Norman showed us his love for the industry, a serious attitude to work, which makes me admire.

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  28. “Learn what touches you.”
    It was really a great night with Floyd Norman’s amazing speech. Life story he shared with us was really inspiring. Although he kept telling that what he earned today is all about luck. I still can tell that it is his talent and persistence that make him who he is today. He said that just let people know who you are and what you can do. I’ll keep in mind. Thank you Floyd for coming and sharing his story with us.

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  29. Mister Floyd Norman, What a great visit. Mr. Norman handled this talk like it was just a conversation amongst friends. Even though everyone hung on his every word, he shared information and asked questions in such a comfortable and humble way. I remember a short presentation on the subject of his previous work, that might have drowned on endlessly had it been presented by someone else. No Floyd spent most of the time answering questions with stories and words of wisdom. Truly inspirational.

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  30. It is so nice to meet the legend from the Disney! According to his amazing speech and his sharing of his experience, I get many inspiration. Even though he kept telling that what he earned today is all because of good luck, but I still believes that he is a real talent man, full of passion and skilled.
    thank you Floyd for sharing!

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  31. What an inspiring presentation from Floyd Norman. I was blown away by his breadth of work and talent! He’s very humble, you don’t get to a position like Floyd’s in this business by just sheer luck. I’m so glad he came in and spoke to us, and took the time to answer all of our questions. I especially liked his advice of going out and living life to help better yourself as an artist and storyteller. That you can’t tell stories without actually being a part of this world. In this field I think it can be easy to forget that, as it can be a solitary profession at times and it can be hard to not get holed up behind your computer or drawing tablet.

    As with anyone who is Norman’s age (which, by the way, he does not look or act at all), he has been through some ups and downs. When he reflected upon them though, he seemed to only look back with positivity and how they helped him grow and get to where he is now. I also was really glad that his wife, Adrienne, was in attendance as well! I would have loved to hear more from her too.

    I hope this will not be the last time I get to hear Floyd and Adrienne speak.

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  32. It was so nice to had Floyd Norman. The presentation was really inspiring! He is a real living legend! I really learned a lot from his experiences and persistence! And of course , his passion! I think his advice of going out to experience our life will help a lot as a storyteller . Thank you for sharing so much interesting and valuable advices and experiences with us !

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