Steven Spielberg Says Animation Reaching 'Turning Point' at Dedication of USC's Katzenberg Center for Animation

DreamWorks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg says investing in the next generation of animators is "imperative."

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were on hand to recognize the work of their pal Jeffrey Katzenberg as the new Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Center for Animation at the USC School of Cinematic Arts was dedicated on Wednesday.

Offering thanks to the Katzenbergs, Spielberg noted that the new facility comes at “almost a turning point in the world of animation.”

“Animation has very much become a part of mainstream moviemaking today,” Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation CEO, told The Hollywood Reporter. “ We need great movie making and we need the next generation. I think it is imperative that we invest in their education, and that we give them the best tools and the best teachers to give them a career path.”

Underscoring the growth in the industry, Katzenberg observed that it takes 400-500 to make a movie such as Kung Fu Panda 2 or the upcoming Puss in Boots. “Right now we have about 2,300 employees at DWA-the vast majority of them are artists.”

“You have always been someone who has given of yourself to everybody,” Lucas said, adding that Katzenberg gives students “someone to aspire to be.” 

Katzenberg thanked Lucas and Spielberg for their mentorshop. “This is really the home that they've built,” he said, noting that for he and his wife “to invest in and to hopefully be a part of next generation artists, filmmakers, storytellers and dreamers is a blessing for us.”

“You are already renowned for your philanthropy,” USC president Max Nikias said as he thanked the Katzenbergs.

Said School of Cinematic Arts dean Elizabeth Daley: “A name like the Katzenberg name is inspiration. It means labeling the school as quality; it means setting a standard for us to aspire to.”

Members of the DWA family that were in attendance included actor Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda 2), producer Bonnie Arnold and directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon).

The Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Center for Animation is located on the second and third floors of the recently completely animation building. The Katzenberg's gift goes toward outfitting the facility with materials and equipment used in the instruction of visual effects, 2D and 3D animation, and stop-motion animation.