Animated entertainment has been with us since the early nineties and it has won the hearts of young and old alike. Behind the charming minute to hour-long clips are animators hard at work drawing every detail, creating every motion and making sure everything on paper is what you see before you now. The Philippines has definitely had its share of people in animations, including big productions such as the popular Big Hero 6 and The Fantastic Four. Thomasians, of course, aren’t left out in this and one fine example is Armand Serrano who, amusingly enough, didn’t study Fine Arts in his alma mater, but engineering program.
Serrano has definitely had his share in the big-time animations, having done work in productions like Marvel, Disney and Sony, but it never started out this way for him. Though Serrano had always wanted to pursue UST’s Fine Arts program, he decided to take the advice of his parents and study Civil Engineering instead. At the time, job opportunities related to art were hard to come by and they suggested he take a more technical career path. Around his third year into college, Serrano found himself seriously considering switching to Fine Arts because he felt his heart wasn’t into Civil Engineering. However, his grades were high enough to switch from his present program to the one he wanted. From here, Serrano steeled himself to finish Civil Engineering in six and a half years. To live out his passion for the arts, he became the official artist for the Thomasian Engineer for three years.
Before becoming an animator, Seranno briefly practiced engineering in a construction firm. Around after this time, he learned that Fil Cartoons Inc., a subsidiary studio of Hannah-Barbara Studios in Manila, was looking for artists willing to be trained. Serrano didn’t hesitate to take the test and he eventually got into their training program. Three months later, he was hired to work full time on their Saturday morning cartoons such as Yogi Bear and Fender Bender. Aside from that, he was also involved with cartoons like Captain Planet & the Planeteers, Johnny Quest, Addams Family, Pirates of Dark Water, Tom & Jerry Kids, Young Robin Hood, Greatest Stories from the Bible, Droopy, Police Academy, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, and Dreamstone. Later on in his career, Seranno supervised the layout department of Marvel’s overseas productions like X-Men and Fantastic Four in Philippine Animation Studio.
In the middle of 90’s, Serrano moved to Los Angeles to broaden his knowledge in the field of arts. He completed Layout Visualization and Background Design course at Associates in Art at Sherman Oaks, California. In 1996, he made a major milestone by becoming a Layout Journeyman for Walt Disney Animation Studios in Florida. He became part of the team for the studio’s animated films. This included Disney classics like Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear.
When Disney announced they were closing their doors in Florida in 2004, Seranno moved to the newly formed Sony Pictures Animation crew. In Sony, he completed fifteen projects and these included Surf’s Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Arthur Christmas, and Hotel Translyvania. He collaborated in developing Escape from Planet Earth of Rainmaker Entertainment, a studio based in Vancouver, and the production design of soon-to-be-release Animal Crackers (2016) of Blue Dream Studio in Spain. At present, Serrano is back at Disney Animation Studios as a Visual Development artist who worked recently on Big Hero 6 and currently working on soon-to-be-released film Zootopia (March 2016).
Aside from films and animations, Serrano is also developing game concept designs and storyboards for TV commercials like Blur Studio, Blizzard Entertainment, Fisher Price, Reel FX, Laika House, Big Red Button, Charlex, and 321 Launch.
All the while, Serrano has been driven by his motto in life: “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you, and crown your efforts with success.” (Proverbs 3:4-6). Mr. Serrano has faced several hurdles along his path to attain what he has through God’s given grace and perfect timing. It’s no doubt that, he exudes in his life Thomas Aquinas’ life of virtue. He believes that Thomasians are Thomasians because of a life of virtue we proudly proclaim. As he said himself:
“Thomas Aquinas exemplified a life of virtue – a virtue that stemmed not from his religiosity or sect, but from a true relationship with his Savior. And everything else, his life, philosophies, and accomplishments, exude from that relationship and passion. I believe that a true Thomasian will be emulating that life that they proudly proclaim.