This year marks 100 years since the founding of what is now Walt Disney Animation Studios. Since its beginning, the studio has been a hive of creativity and innovation. From the first sync sound cartoon to the multiplane camera, Fantasound, xerography, CAPS, and of course the transition from hand-drawn to computer-generated imagery, WDAS has been a union of technology and art. A thirty-year veteran of the studio, Marlon West will discuss his own journey from using HB pencils to Houdini; and the studio’s technical advances to bring many unforgettable animated features to life.

Since 1923, Walt Disney Animation Studios technologists and artists have worked in unison to advance the art and science of animation. Inspired by its rich legacy, the studio continues to look ahead to discover new tools and techniques that will shape the future of animated storytelling. This presentation will discuss how artistic appetite and aesthetics have driven innovation. Marlon started at the studio on Lion King and has been a head of effects animation on Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Frozen, Moana, Frozen 2, and Encanto. The presentation will be followed by a conversation and audience Q&A with Marlon regarding his career and the creation of effects at Walt Disney Animation Studios.


Marlon West is an award-winning animator, Head of Effects and VFX Supervisor at Walt Disney Animation Studios. He has worked on hand drawn and computer generated projects. His credits include The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Tarzan, Fantasia 2000, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Princess and the Frog, Winnie the Pooh, Frozen, Moana, Frozen 2, and Encanto.

After graduating from Columbia College in 1985, he started his career producing educational films for Encyclopedia Britannica. Marlon joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1993 as an effects animator on The Lion King, later serving as the Head Of Effects Animation on The Princess and the Frog, Winnie The Pooh, Moana, and Frozen 2.

In 2010 Marlon and several fellow African-American animators were honored by The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC). He was given Animation Magazine’s Game Changer Award in 2019. In 2022 Marlon was elected to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors for the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch.

He is currently serving as VFX Supervisor of Iwájú for Disney+.