Meeting with the rock star director, production designer, and art director of DreamWorks’ Trolls World Tour was music to our tribe’s ears!

On the evening of December 9, Exceptional Minds staff, faculty, students, and graduates huddled around their respective monitors to tune into the live WebEx call with Trolls World Tour Director Walt Dohrn, Production Designer Kendal Cronkhite, and Art Director (and character designer extraordinaire) Tim Lamb.

The event was the result of weeks of planning by DreamWorks Front End Production Coordinator Janie Kahan, who called one afternoon to introduce herself and to see if we’d be interested in meeting members of the Trolls crew. At the time, I recall thinking, “The rock stars just called the fans, and they want to do a live show for us!”

During the WebEx, the three “rock stars” spoke of their experiences working on Trolls and engaged with our artists about everything from the diversity and relatability of the characters to animation effects, including smear frames, the incredible variety of fabrics and textures, the bubbles and lasers and all that glitters!

Later, Janie told me that the DreamWorks team was especially impressed by our students’ questions and level of engagement. “We were so thrilled to meet with Exceptional Minds. Their dynamic questions and sincere engagement were incredible,” she said.

Janie co-leads the MyAbilities group at DreamWorks along with Animation Coordinator Tiana Knights. MyAbilities works to foster relationships and opportunities for the neurodiverse and differently-abled creative community. Janie is a long-time disabilities advocate who has a cousin on the spectrum. “I saw how my cousin connected with animated characters and wanted to open a space for others on the spectrum to engage with the creative leadership of Trolls World Tour.

We’re so glad they did!

Our relationship with DreamWorks goes back almost ten years and is a wonderful source of inspiration and opportunity for our artists. Thanks, Janie and the other rock stars at DreamWorks for all your time and dedication to our students.

Exceptional Minds is a professional training academy and working studio preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in digital arts and animation. 
We are a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles. 
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