Spring 2022

Wonder Makes Us Create

Woodlin Latocki had only just begun to dip her toes into the world of animation when she was approached to animate part of the University of Arizona Wonder campaign.

Latocki, a School of Art MFA student, considers herself a “pen to paper” kind of artist, but she began dabbling with animation for fun when she was an undergraduate.

“I had always been a fan of animation,” Latocki says. “In the beginning, I went in with my dinky little tablet and digitally colored, added lighting and just enjoyed playing around.”

“Playing” is how Latocki fell into the professional world of animation. It was a happy accident.

“I enrolled in an animation class just kind of for fun and to experiment with it,” she says. Then Latocki’s instructor asked her if she would be interested in doing a high-profile animation project for the university’s Wonder campaign.

“I said ‘yes!’”

The UArizona Wonder campaign explores what drives ambition and curiosity within us. Through storytelling, it shares what wonder means to our community. In the Wonder video Latocki worked on, viewers learn the story of School of Dance alumnus Taylor Bradley ’15

Animating Bradley proved to be a challenge for Latocki, whose artistic endeavors typically lie in the realm of place and environment. 

“It is a stark contrast from what I do in my own work,” Latocki says. “My work is usually void of figures.” In working on the Bradley animation, she says, she had to focus on the motion and figure of the dancer, his intricate and advanced movements. 

It was anything but simple.

“It was certainly a process of learning by doing,” Latocki says. She was introduced to new techniques and technology, including rotoscoping, an animation process that involves drawing frames over video footage to create realistic action. She worked tirelessly on rotoscoping Bradley’s dance video to bring her animation to life.

She also learned to perfect her drawing technique on an iPad. “It’s all about the pressure and the angle of your pencil,” Latocki says. “It took a little bit of getting used to, but it is pretty true to your typical pen-on-paper process.”

While it may seem like a completely different branch of artistry, animation is rooted in the same kind of art that drawing is. Latocki says it takes drawing to another level with the language of motion.

And Latocki says that anyone can get involved in animation. All it takes is the initial jump. 

“Jump in. Open up Photoshop, open your frame timeline and just start playing around with it,” she says. “Don’t get stuck in the mindset that there is a perfect way to go about animation, because it is just one of those mediums where every artist has their own techniques. It’s fun to find your own.”

Latocki hopes Bradley’s story challenges viewers to define wonder for themselves.

“The way that Taylor describes wonder is something that I also latched on to,” she says. “The concept of trusting the unknown in your creative journey, your professional journey and your journey as a person.”