Zac Cavaliero's short film, The Frank Job, showcasing his cinematographer's skills as a character animator, was Reel 13's voters' choice this week, earning it a slot on national broadcast television on Thirteen-WNET's Saturday evening line up. 

The film's storyline is a new twist on the classic tale of 'Frankenstein,' with the lead character, an inept yet determined mad scientist, artfully crafted by Cavaliero into an animated character with features befitting his eccentric personality. The scientist's erratic, off-kilter personality is personified by exaggerated facial articulation - with Zac’s innovate use of perspective and camera angles bringing dimension and visual interest to the film.  The story unfolds in an elaborately detailed and propped laboratory environment where the protagonist, despite his best efforts, unsuccessfully attempts to bring his creation to life.

Cavaliero developed the concept and put together the original storyboard in animatic form, to create rough timing story beats. He did the character design, animation, modelling, texturing and rigging, and well as the environment modelling and texturing, nCloth Simulations, effects and lighting. After  fine-tuning all of the 3D assets and environments in Maya, he worked on developing dynamic camera angles to improve upon the original animatic and tweaked the articulation and details.

A graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in Computer Animation, and awarded Best of Ringling Honors, Zac Cavaliero created the short film in 2011 as his Senior Year Thesis. 

Manhattan born and raised, he made the move to Los Angeles to pursue his career just weeks after graduating. An urbanite, totally unprepared for the realities of West Coast life - or its mass transit system - Zac's first time behind the wheel of a car was with a driving instructor in West Hollywood. Six lessons later he got his license and the next day he bought a used beater and drove to an interview.

Currently a layout artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, he just finished working on their newest animated feature, "Big Hero 6," slated to be release this November. Cavaliero came to the position at the Oscar award-winning studio after being selected as one of three applicants offered a place in its coveted Apprentice Artist Program in November of 2013.

A multi-disciplined talent with a wide range of skills, he soon discovered his passion for camera layout, shot choreography, and cinematography. His strengths in this area led to a succession of work on big budget feature films: He was recruited to work on 'Fast & Furious 7' (2015, Universal Pictures) in June of 2013 as a Previz shot creator, animator and FX artist, working on location with director James Wan. In  late 2012 and 2013 he was brought onboard at The Third Floor Inc./LA as a Previz artist to work on a number of feature films, including "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," (Twentieth Century Fox,) "Men In Black 3," (Columbia Pictures,) and "Jack And The Giant Slayer," (New Line Cinema.)

"I really enjoy being part of the pre-production phase of a film, choreographing the action of a scene, laying it out and getting in on camera," says Cavaliero. "Helping develop the blueprint for a scene and following the vision through to the live action shoot where it's brought to life, gives me an opportunity to use a mix of my skills, while learning more about the production side of things at the same time."

Cavaliero's talents as Previz shot creator and animator were tapped by the gaming industry for Bungie/Activision's new video game, "Destiny," which recently premiered to rave reviews at this year's annual E3 Conference. He's also did character animation on FX-driven iPhone Apps for feature films, such as Sony Animation's "Arthur Christmas" and a storybook App titled "Mika's Adventure" (Zulka Inc. /LA.)

"The computer animation department at Ringling was an amazing training ground," says Cavaliero "There was a lot of emphasis on creativity and developing my voice as an artist. I not only learned to be proficient on a wide range of equipment, but also how to think out of the box and push the technology as a tool for innovative creative problem solving. It was a grueling curriculum that I didn't fully appreciate until I was in a professional environment, and discovered that I could perform with a level of confidence that freed me to focus on raising the creative bar, rather then getting up to speed."

A true generalists, his in depth knowledge and innovative use of a wide range of equipment, (including Autodesk Maya, Pixar's Renderman, V-Ray and Mental Ray, to name a few,) continues to attract work for a high profile and diverse mix of projects.

Straight out of Ringling, Zac cut his teeth on a number of national commercials and short form content for the award-winning studio Mirada/LA, before broadening his scope and breaking into feature films and other arenas.  His early spot work also included lead character designer and lead modeler/texture and rigger for the "POGO Online Games Ad,' and Previz, animation and modeling for the Playstation Video Game commercial, "F1 All-Stars" - both out of Create Advertising/LA.

Cavaliero continues to seek out a variety of work that expands his scope of experience and gives him an opportunity to pursue his passion for his craft.

"It was exciting just to learn that over 1100 viewer saw my animated senior thesis - and the fact that they voted for The Frank Joband it will air on national broadcast television is amazing," says Cavaliero. "For me it's all about storytelling - learning all I can about every facet of filmmaking, creating visual stories that exceed every client's expectations - and coming up with fresh, innovative creative solution that push the envelope and break some rules."

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Screewnwork Credits The Frank Job
Concept, Directing, Lighting, Storyboading, Character, Environment & Prop Design, Rigging,  Modelling & Texturing, nCloth Simulation, Maya Effects (Laser): Zac Cavaliero
Voiceover: Adam Ratner & Zac Cavaliero
Music: Killertracks
Audio Post: Tim Adams