Tag Archives: Cal Arts

Adam Beckett, the Optical Printer Ghost

So this is the story of Adam Beckett. He was an experimental animator at Cal Arts, and, who did, do you remember I showed, no maybe I didn’t show you, but really important historically, he’s important as an animator, he did a lot of work with the optical printing, and step printing and things like that. And he would spend hours upon hours, and days upon days in the printer room at Cal Arts. On the first floor. Adam Beckett was an extreme person. And somehow he managed to electrocute himself in his bathtub when he was quite young. This was in the late 70s. And so at Cal Arts there were always rumors that Adam Beckett haunted the optical printer room. And many students of mine, at Cal Arts, came to tell me that Adam Beckett was haunting their films. Film reels were flying around the room. And so to this day, there’s still rumors that he haunts the optical printer room, but, the only thing is, the question is whether it’s the optical printer or the printer room, because they’ve changed over the years.

This ghost story is part of the Cal Arts college community. My professor told this story very dramatically, because she was actually trying to scare me and make me believe it. Perhaps this is because she believes the story, but it seemed more to me that she was trying to sell the tale to me because I am one of the uninitiated animators who don’t fit into the Cal Arts clique of the study and profession of animated film. Those who study Cal Arts might believe this story, or they might tell it as an inside joke to scare new students and outsiders, or as a joke or excuse to cover why they didn’t finish their optical printing assignment to their instructor. Whether they believe it or not, the ghost story gives Cal Arts students and staff a sense of community, and their school’s prestigious history in the field of animation.

Walt Disney Frozen and Buried at Cal Arts

Walt Disney is buried under the unfinished, in, well, Walt Disney is buried in the unfinished sublevel. And frozen. Well it’s just gotten around. When I had the CSSSA students, I told them Walt Disney was frozen in the sublevel. And one night we found them downstairs trying all the doors, because when we took the kids and we took them to Disney studios, they asked the animators there, “Is Walt Disney really frozen and buried in the sublevel at Cal Arts?” And they all said, “Yes, of course he is.” And so that’s passed on through generation after generation. He died in 60, 67. Which is when Cal Arts started building, it was built, 69, 70.

CSSSA animators are high school students enrolled in a summer course at Cal Arts in the hopes of being accepted to the world famous animation school when applying for college. Here my professor told her CSSSA students that Walt Disney was buried in campus because they were uninitiated into the Cal Arts Animation family and couldn’t know any better. The animators the students visited at Disney backed up this story because they, too, were initiated members of the animation industry. The students eventually learned that their mentors were pulling their collective leg, and by learning this started the process of becoming indoctrinated as members of the animation culture, and potentially as future Cal Arts students.