Animation student lands Lion King dream job


It’s the circle of life.

The generation that grew up with The Lion King movie will get to experience the television reboot as adults.

Morin works away the in animation wing.

Morin works away the in animation wing. (Photo by Courtney Blok/ The Sheridan Sun

Although the TV show is meant for kids, it’s more than likely that adults will be interested in the show, if only just to see what everyone in the Pride Lands is up to.

Samuel Morin, a third-year Animation student at Sheridan, was lucky enough to work

on it.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle with The Lion King. I grew up being absolutely obsessed with The Lion King and so the fact that they would kind of reboot it and that I get the opportunity to work on the first episode (and other episodes after that) it’s just crazy,” said Morin.

“I’m not a big believer in fate, but of all the Disney movies that I loved growing up, this is the one I was most obsessed with and that I am now getting to work on it”

The show Lion Guard is based on the 1994 The Lion King. It will premiere first as an hour-long episode called “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar”, and will continue as a regular series later in the year on the Disney channel. The first episode will be released in November and the rest of the series is expected in early 2016.

In the show we get to meet Nala’s and Simba’s second-born son Kion and his friends, who create a group to protect the Pride Lands. There are also returning characters.

“I think Bunga, the honey badger and one of Kion’s friends was my favourite character to work on. He has a lot of personality and so he was kind of fun because you could make him extroverted and more extreme posing,” said Morin.

Morin stands in the Sheridan hallway next to the Lion King poster.

Morin stands in the Sheridan hallway next to the Lion King poster. (Photo by Courtney Blok / The Sheridan Sun

“He’s also two-legged so that makes him to be able to do different things with his arms which you don’t always get with four-legged animals. You can see the character in the demo that Disney released.”

Morin first came across Mercury Filmworks when a Disney animator came to visit Sheridan last year to talk about his work on Big Hero 6.

“That’s when I heard about it and decided I really wanted to go there. Obviously the people who are working there are going places. I kind of had them in my mind the entire year,” said Morin.

At the end of the year, Morin admits that he still didn’t feel ready for a studio job. So he continued to apply for regular student jobs in retail and tourism. When they didn’t work out he set a goal with himself; to get his demo reel done and work on his applications for studios.

“After running through a lot of different things, whether they were too far or the jobs didn’t work out, I found myself having to apply to different studios,” said Morin. “I didn’t expect to get hired. Obviously I’m a student with no experience. My top choice was always Mercury and they got back to me – one of the only studios that got back to me. That was sort of mind blowing.”

He could barely hold in his excitement on the way home.

“When I found out I got hired I was so excited I felt like puking,” said Morin. “I was just on a bus with a huge smile on my face and like hyperventilating. I think people were kind of looking at me funny.”

He was assigned as a 2D animator and his task was to take already set-up scenes, animate them, bring the characters to life and pass them on for someone to render.

“As a second-year student, they could have just made me bring coffee to everyone, but no they actually let me be hands-on with animating characters.”

Bringing back characters however isn’t as easy as one may think. There’s a lot of pressure to get the characters just right, from him and others wanting to watch it.

“I felt like I had to do them justice,” said Morin. “Make sure that the children that are going to going to watch it are going to feel the magic that we did growing up.”




Stefanie McFarlene, 23, a Disney fan who grew up with The Lion King, has conflicting feelings about the show.

“The classics are often overdone with crappy sequels, however, The Lion King sequels weren’t bad, so the TV show could really go one way or another,” said McFarlene. “I think college students will enjoy reminiscing about our childhoods and seeing the difference from then and now. I will definitely check it out because I am interested in seeing the difference”

“Looking at current previews I’m curious to see what it’ll be about. I still have a lot of questions about the characters and their relations,” said Mathias Ball, a first-year in Art Fundamentals.

As an artist it is a big idea to wrap your head around.

“I feel like I would struggle with working on it due to the original Lion King series I grew up with and that could cause some stubbornness and affect the quality of work,” said Ball.

Other than the pressure of bringing back some of people’s favourite characters Morin also faced difficulties with the technology.

“At first I didn’t feel prepared to use their program the way they wanted me to. Honestly they were super understanding about it and knew that I was a student,” said Morin. “Eventually you get use to the program and understand how it works and you can solve your own problems instead of always asking around.”

The reboot is based off a feature film, but mixing the features qualities with regular animation cartoon qualities, gives this particular show a twist.

“I think the animation is just unlike anything we’ve seen on television so far. Because it looks a lot like the feature,” said Morin. “The animation in that TV show is just so far ahead for television. It was kind of diving right into one of the hardest shows,”

Morin admits it was a steep learning curve, but he enjoyed every minute of it.

“If I were to give some advice from my little experience I would say to go for things and to not underestimate the possibilities,” said Morin. “I wouldn’t have gotten this experience if I didn’t do those.”