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Professor Scott Raymond brings a dinosaur to life for Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Despite how the old saying goes, at Austin Peay State University, those who can really do teach.

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Despite how the old saying goes, at Austin Peay State University, those who can really do teach.

Assistant professor of animation Scott Raymond recently came to APSU following a successful career in computer animation, working for DreamWorks Animation on recent films, including “Kung Fu Panda 3,” “Home,” “Penguins of Madagascar” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.” However, his work in the industry did not stop when he entered the classroom.

In early March, Raymond contributed to a piece that aired promoting Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards show that featured country music star – and show host -- Blake Shelton as he stumbled into, and often ran his way out of, a number of the year’s most popular movies.

Working alongside Los Angeles-based production studio Buster, Raymond got to fulfill a childhood dream, creating an animated T-Rex that the country megastar reacted to, and then comically fled from, during a segment seen by an international audience.

“Everyone has their movie that made them want to get into the industry,” Raymond said. “For my wife, who also works in the industry, it was ‘Toy Story,’ but for a lot of people, it was ‘Star Wars’ that captured their imagination.

“For me, though, it was definitely ‘Jurassic Park,’ so when I was told that (Buster) wanted someone to work on a dinosaur, I was like ‘yes!’”

A native of Nebraska, Raymond left the west coast in 2015 so his wife, a native Tennessean, and their young children could be closer to family. But both he and his wife remained involved in animation and visual effects on a freelance basis, which sometimes means long nights spent hunting for creative opportunities.

“I go through job boards and I check sites like LinkedIn, and I keep this big spreadsheet of companies and job posting sites just so I can keep up on what opportunities are out there,” Raymond said. “I was already familiar with (Buster) because I knew of their work on a poster for ‘Game of Thrones,’ so when I saw they were looking for some animation help, I just sort of reached out to them cold with my demo reel.”

Raymond impressed the LA-based company with both his work and his experience in the industry. Following an interview, Raymond said he was offered the job – as well as a humorous clip of Shelton that would serve as the model with which he would base his dinosaur’s animation.

“It’s kind of funny because I was sent all the documents and I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement which said I wouldn’t talk to anyone about what I was doing,” Raymond said. “But here I was, looking at this funny video of Blake Shelton, running around in front of a green screen like there’s a dinosaur behind him.

“I had to laugh because I had just moved to Nashville, and I’m already working on a video of Blake Shelton and a dinosaur,” Raymond said. “The company I was working with joked ‘hey, if you see Blake on the streets of Nashville, give him a shout for us.’”

Working out of his home office, Raymond animated the dinosaur using Maya, a 3D modeling and animation program. From there, he worked remotely with other artists and animators who added textures and other graphic effects to bring the dinosaur to life.

Raymond said the project took roughly two weeks from start to finish. The final product aired mid-April and was in heavy rotation on Nickelodeon in the month-long buildup to the live Kid’s Choice Awards.

“I had a great time working with Buster, and really excited how it all came together,” Raymond said. “It's a really fun spot, and I had a blast animating it.

“At 2 a.m., when you're getting a little punchy, it's great to look up and remember that you're animating a T-Rex chasing after a country star.”

For more information on APSU’s Department of Art and Design, visit online at http://www.apsu.edu/art. For more information on Raymond, including a blog and examples of previous and current work, visit animationalchemy.blogspot.com.

To watch the full clip, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=926h41nxqFo.