Show 20 Shawn Kelly

Shawn inspired me to do things I never would have, my life would be so much less had I not listen. It’s truly an honour to have such a wonderful person on the show.

Shawn Kelly set his sights on working at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) at age five when he saw the movie Star Wars in the cinema with is father. After a seemly random thread of events he started studying under the tutelage of animators Bill Hennes and John Root, he studied drawing and computer software throughout high school, attended community college, and Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

A summer internship at ILM introduced Shawn to another influential mentor, animation director Wayne Gilbert. It was through Wayne that Shawn realized that he wasn’t learning what he needed at school. Shawn left the academy in 1996 for a job as a character animator at former video game and educational company Presage Software, and continued his studies with Gilbert twice a week. They became very close friends and remain so, today.

It took about two years but Shawn fulfilled his lifelong dream and landed a job at ILM in 1998 and since that time, he has worked on numerous films including War of the Worlds, for which he animated tripods and probes; Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, where he helped develop and animate the vulture droids and animated Yoda in a pivotal swordfight; and Rango, where he was the Lead Animator for both the Mayor of Dirt and the Spirit of the West. He also worked as Lead Animator on all three Transformers movies. Kelly’s credits feature 23 films including Hulk, the Star Wars prequels, AI: Artificial Intelligence, and The Avengers.

Not to forget, he’s also co founder of Animation Mentor, the first on line animation school.

So as you can see we had lots to talk about and Shawn was incredibly generous with his time. I’m so grateful to have him on the show.


  1. Warren Seeley June 22, 2015 2:26 am  Reply

    Wow this was an amazing podcast Sandra. What you guys said about being a dream hunter was great and motivating. It’s very helpful hearing your stories of how you met Doug Sweetland or Shawn meeting Wayne Gilbert. Just how you guys were very proactive in reaching out to people that in some way helped you or opened the doors to other opportunities.
    Thank you to Shawn and you Sandra, for another great podcast!
    Oh and this is really late in saying this but it was really nice meeting you at CTN, lol! Hope to see ya there again. And congrats on working at Sony!

    Warren :)

  2. Francisco Cortés June 25, 2015 12:38 am  Reply

    Thanks for sharing these Podcasts, I always end up all pumped up after listening to them. Great work!!

  3. India Swift June 25, 2015 5:02 am  Reply

    Loved this episode, thank you both so much for taking the time to share this with us. As usual, I learned loads!
    Really appreciated some of the points – as Warren said, being a dream chaser/hunter rather than a follower was brilliant. It definitely made an impact!

    Thanks guys!

  4. Ali February 9, 2016 2:49 pm  Reply

    Hey Sandra,

    What is the name of the intro song?

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