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Join Claire Keane (Disney, Penguin Random House), Brian McDonald (Pixar, Disney, Industrial Light & Magic), Jenn Ely (Laika, Google, Dreamworks) and Chris Oatley (Disney, Founder/ Director of The Oatley Academy Of Visual Storytelling) in the awe-inspiring city of Rome, Italy for a unique conference designed to help you become the great visual storyteller you are meant to be.
Aesop’s Fables, Romeo and Juliet, The Wizard Of Oz, Bambi, E.T., The Legend Of Zelda, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Lord Of The Rings... For thousands of years, great stories have been changing the world. They don’t just teach us how to survive, but why. They unite us in our joy and in our pain. They transmit the power of healing virtues like selflessness, trust, forgiveness and love... The best part of working in animation, games, vfx and publishing is the opportunity to create beautiful, meaningful stories in collaboration with other like-minded, creative people. Obviously, “the industry” can become disconnected from the power of story, but even when it does, great visual storytellers do not. They will always find a way to tell a great story - and for that reason, their work will live on...

So what makes a great visual storyteller? How does a great visual storyteller combine color, composition and character development to create a memorable, emotional experience for the audience? What does it take to develop a stable career as a visual storyteller in today’s increasingly competitive industry? ...and how do you develop your own unique “visual voice”? The Story Design Conference will provide inspiring and actionable insight into these crucial questions. This isn’t simply a “sit quietly and watch famous artists be awesome” kind of thing. It’s a personal, participatory conference with a curriculum designed by four of the entertainment industry’s best teachers. Bring your portfolios and story ideas! There will be frequent opportunities for personal interaction and feedback. Whether you’re a concept artist, character designer, illustrator, story artist, animator, 3D artist, etc., all of the instructors will be available throughout the conference to help accelerate your artistic development. Join us 2016 September 27th - October 2nd in Rome, Italy for The Story Design Conference. Space is extremely limited. Register today and we’ll see you in Rome for the experience of a lifetime!


With former clients including Disney, Activision, EA, EMI, Geffen Records and Hasbro and credits in visual development, character design, concept art, 2d animation, background painting and freelance illustration, Chris' multiple careers and worldwide industry connections have given him uniquely diverse insights into the business of being a professional artist.

Jenn began her career in the entertainment industry at Laika in 2012. From art intern to P.A. and finally to concept development artist, she contributed artwork to the recent feature film animation The Boxtrolls.
Most recently she worked as color stylist on Dreamworks’ Puss In Boots television show for Netflix.  

Claire Keane is an illustrator and visual development artist who contributed to the Disney films Enchanted, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and Frozen. Claire also illustrated the Disney storybook, Rapunzel's Amazing Hair. In 2013 Claire left Disney to focus on writing and illustrating children's books, such as Once Upon a Cloud.

McDonald is the author of Invisible Ink - A Practical Guide To Building Stories That Resonate and The Golden Theme - How To Make Your Writing Appeal To The Highest Common Denominator. In comic books he has written for such titles that include Tarzan, Predator and Lost In Space and the first Hellboy spin-off Abe Sapien - Drums Of The Dead. Brian has taught story classes at Pixar, Disney Feature Animationand Lucasfilm.


  • Developing Your Visual Voice
    Jenn Ely and Chris Oatley


  • How To Become A Great Visual Storyteller
    Brian McDonald


  • Panel Discussion: 

What It Takes To Break Into The Entertainment Industry Today

    Claire Keane, Jenn Ely, Brian McDonald and Chris Oatley

  • Creating Believable Characters
    Claire Keane

  • Sending Your Characters To Hell
    Brian McDonald

  • Meet The Guests/ Personal Portfolio Reviews

  • Demystifying Composition
    Brian McDonald and Chris Oatley

  • Demystifying Color
    Claire Keane and Chris Oatley

  • Color Styling and Production Design
    Jenn Ely

  • How Color Tells A Story (Color Design in The Shawshank Redemption & Ex Machina)
    Chris Oatley

  • Live Pastel Demo
    Claire Keane

  • Live Color Styling Demo
    Jenn Ely

  • Portfolio Reviews
    Claire Keane, Jenn Ely and Chris Oatley

  • The Power Of Story
    Brian McDonald

  • Panel Discussion: Workshop Re-Cap and Farewells
    Claire Keane, Jenn Ely, Brian McDonald and Chris Oatley.



By purchasing your ticket to this event you will be entitled to the "bring a friend..." discount for one of our workshop of your choosing, even if you will be attending it without a friend.





IDEA Academy reserves the right to cancel and/or modify courses/events' dates and time schedules at its own discretion and/or for reasons of force majeure). In such cases, the coordinator will return students' subscriptions completely. The coordinator is responsible for the collection of the amounts for the event and reimbursements management. IDEA Academy and the coordinator are not responsible nor will reimburse any cost concerning travel expenses, lost deposits or any other expenses occurred depending on participation to an event canceled by IDEA Academy for the reasons mentioned above. Participants assume responsibility for any added expenses they incur by subscribing to our events. By enrolling to IDEA Academy's courses, participants give their consent to the cancellation and refund policies mentioned above.

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