Tag Archives: How to Train Your Dragon

Siggraph Spotlight: Paolo Deguzmen

Tell us a little bit about the Siggraph panel.

On Tuesday, July 30 from 3:45-5:15 (West Hall B), I am honored to be a panelist presenting the production session:  “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden What?.” We will be discussing the challenges and hurdles we encountered during the production of the final film in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy—one of which includes developing, testing and deploying a whole new workflow in just a few months time. I will be speaking on the task of overhauling our shader and material workflow to improve the trilogy’s visual appeal while maintaining the style and spirit of the previous film. 

Tell us a little bit about your career journey.

As a child I did nothing but doodle and scribble on any piece of blank paper I could get my hands on, and it was that long ago that I decided I had to work in the visual arts. Ironically, I remember saying I never wanted a desk job working in front of computers crunching numbers. Flash forward to my present day desk job working in front of computers crunching pixels for almost 25 years. Obviously, what I do now wasn’t even remotely imaginable when I made that declaration, but here we are. Though it sounds terribly cliche, I still look forward to coming to work daily. If you asked me on my first day in the industry (as a runner at Digital Domain) where I pictured myself to be in 25 years, my answer would be a nearly identical description of what I’m doing now. I feel utterly blessed to be able to say that and to be doing it surrounded by some of the most creative and accomplished artists and technicians in the world. 

What’s your favorite part of your job?

My favorite thing about my job is the people I get to spend each day with. Not a day goes by where I don’t learn something new, creative and inspiring from those around me. They come from all walks of life and from every corner of the world. It never gets tiresome hearing anecdotes from industry vets, learning new techniques, and discovering the fascinating histories of co-workers, old and new.

Where do you get inspiration for your work?

As previously mentioned, I find great inspiration from those I work for and with. I gain so much knowledge from the Production Designers with whom I get to collaborate. I also value the fact that I get to work directly with the creative brain trust on films where my input is considered and welcome. Another source of inspiration is looking at all the creative artists online, especially Instagram, and observing their works in progress and seeing their processes. The potential danger though is you can quickly get sucked into the rabbit hole and hours later after seeing all this mind-blowing work, it often reinforces one’s insecurity with their artistic abilities not to mention the waste of time being a consumer and observer rather than being a practitioner to produce art.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Any creative outlet that allows me to utilize my skills and passion take up my late hours—be it learning plein air techniques and any traditional “analog” media as well as writing and playing music. Recently, I’ve rediscovered and become intrigued by vintage synthesizers and other analog hardware. And, one distant dream of mine is learning the art of woodwork and 3D printing to construct mid-century style cabinets and furniture to house modern technology and equipment.


Paolo deGuzman is a surfacing supervisor at DreamWorks Animation. His credits include How to Train Your Dragon 2 & 3, Rise of the Guardians and Puss in Boots.