Shawn Kelly

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Shawn Kelly
OccupationCo-founder of

Shawn Kelly is an animator of movies and was a co-founder of the company Animation Mentor, an online animation school with student/mentor relationships at its core.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Sonoma County, Calif., and raised in Petaluma, Kelly set his sights on working at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) at age five when the movie Star Wars hit the big screen. 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 Kelly to another influential mentor, animation director Wayne Gilbert. It was through Gilbert that Kelly realized that he wasn’t learning what he needed at school. Kelly left the academy in 1996 for a job as a character animator at former video game and educational company Presage Software, but continued his studies with Gilbert twice a week.

In 1998, Kelly fulfilled his lifelong dream and landed a job at ILM. 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 sword fight; and Rango, where he was the Lead Animator for both the Mayor of Dirt and the Spirit of the West. Kelly also worked as Lead Animator on all five Transformers movies. Kelly’s credits feature 29 films including Hulk, the Star Wars prequels, AI: Artificial Intelligence, and The Avengers.

Because Kelly realized his dream to animate films with the help of three mentors who took a personal interest in his career, he became convinced that animation lovers everywhere should have the same opportunity, and he co-founded Animation Mentor, an online animation school with student/mentor relationships at its core. Kelly works with Bobby Beck, Animation Mentor’s CEO and President, and cofounder Carlos Baena to help define and shape the school’s overall direction. Kelly balances his Animation Mentor role with his work as a senior animator at Industrial Light & Magic.

Kelly lives in California with his wife Jen, and writes short films.




  1. ^ Cohen, David S. (2008-02-10). "'Transformers,' ILM light up VES". Variety.

Further Reading and Listening[edit]

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