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Cameron Hood finds adventure on the 'Seven Seas'
(Posted Date: Thursday, July 3, 2003)

By Ken Shular

Cameron Hood takes a time out from animation at DreamWorks in Los Angeles. The Leasider was one of the animators on the feature film 'Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas' now in theatres.

If life imitated art, then Cameron Hood would be finding adventure on the seven seas, galloping across the old west or finding gold in El Dorado.

The native Leasider, who now calls Los Angeles home, is a star on the rise as an animator at DreamWorks Pictures. Hood has been at DreamWorks since he graduated from Sheridan (world renowned for its animation program) in 1997, save for a brief stop at Sony Pictures Imageworks (the company responsible for the special effects in such pictures as Spider-man and Stuart Little 2, which Hood worked on).

When he graduated Hood had his choice of picking between 14 studios, before settling on DreamWorks. Since then, the 27-year-old has never looked back, and now, just looks ahead.

"It’s a place where I feel like I belong, which makes day-to-day work a lot easier to do, because should there be a problem, there’s not a lot of red tape to cut through, you can just go talk to whoever you need to," says Hood. "And on the other hand, when things are really, really good too, you can just call someone up, who’s maybe super high up on the chain and you can just say ‘hey that was a fantastic presentation, thanks for that.’ "

DreamWorks is an industry production leader of live-action motion pictures, animated feature films, network, syndicated and cable television programming, home video and DVD entertainment and consumer products. To its credit, is Shrek, which has the distinction of being the first-ever Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature.

And now in theatres, DreamWorks has the animated feature Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, on which Hood worked.

"It was funnier than I thought," says the critic in him of the finished product. "You know it was something like (Raiders of the Lost Ark). There is lots of action and adventure, but with some genuinely charming moments."

Sinbad, features the voices of Academy Award nominee Brad Pitt (Sinbad), Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones, and three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer, among others. It’s a story of a notorious rogue who is framed for stealing the Book of Peace and has one last chance to save it or his best friend Proteus (Joseph Fiennes) will die.

Three years in the making Sinbad is an animation marvel. Over the last decade or so innovations in animation have come so rapidly that the original vision for the movie had to be expanded.

"Sinbad was more than three years in the making, and when you’re planning something that far ahead of its release, you have to take a leap of faith that, with moviemaking advances, we would be able to do what we had only imagined," said Tim Johnson, the movie’s director. "We didn’t know how we were going to do it, but we knew we had the time and some incredibly talented people to figure out how to pull it off."

Hood is among the new generation of animators taking Hollywood by storm, though he still flirts back and forth with "traditional" or two-dimensional art. While Sinbad is a study in the new technology of three-dimensional animation, it does combine elements of traditional art.

"You know there some late nights and you do have to come in on some weekends, but you know what? It’s great, especially when you can sit back and see the finished product. That’s when you know the experience has been rewarding."

That traditional style was also clearly exhibited in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), which was done with computers making it DreamWorks’ "most technologically complex film of any kind to date." Hood also did extensive work on the project, which is still among his favourites.

"It does. It does have a distinctive look, but then again so does 3D animation," says Hood

When Hood joined DreamWorks he had the honour of working on the company’s first animated feature project Prince of Egypt (1998) dividing his time between the various animation teams. He then went on to working on the character Tulio (voiced by Kevin Kline) in The Road to El Dorado (2000).

In between, he teaches night school courses to two-dimensional animators, adapting them to the world of three-dimensional creation.

"There are challenges and there are rewards in both forms," says Hood. "In a way they’re both about movement, but in 3D you have to be more aware of texture and light and shadows, because it is a three dimensional environment. I look at 3D as about being puppetry more than strictly animation."

Hood is now working with DreamWork’s mammoth animation team on Sharkslayer, a gangster comedy set under the sea featuring the "vocal talents" of Will Smith, Robert DeNiro, Renee Zellwegger, Martin Scorsese and more in this impressive cast. The film is set to be released Nov. 5, 2004.

"I’m just working with the sharks right now, we haven’t gotten into the characters, you know their facial expressions and such, just yet, but that’ll be fun," says Hood.

Whenever he can Hood tries to make his way back to Leaside. He loves Canadian summers and is hoping to be back in town to soak up some of this one.

"I love it there. When I’m home I try to get down to Bayview to McSorley’s or Originals for a beer," he says.

"Tell everyone in Leaside, ‘hi,’ for me.’

Here’s Looking at You is a Town Crier feature spotlighting interesting people in the community. If you know of someone who might make for an interesting profile contact us at News; or call 416-488-4779, ext. 337.

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