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'Hop' gives leap forward for animator with bay area roots

Valerie Scheiber, 26, makes her debut among a small army of animators making E.B. the bunny appear real. The St. Petersburg Catholic High School graduate is the daughter of former St. Petersburg Times writer Dave Scheiber.

Special to the Times

Valerie Scheiber, 26, makes her debut among a small army of animators making E.B. the bunny appear real. The St. Petersburg Catholic High School graduate is the daughter of former St. Petersburg Times writer Dave Scheiber.

Hop isn't a good movie, but it allows a St. Petersburg native to get a rabbit's foot in the door of Hollywood.

Valerie Scheiber, 26, makes her debut among a small army of animators making E.B. the bunny appear real. The St. Petersburg Catholic High School graduate is the daughter of former St. Petersburg Times writer Dave Scheiber.

In a telephone chat from her home in Los Angeles, Scheiber said she first considered an animation career when she was 17, watching VeggieTales.

"They had a segment showing behind the scenes, people working on the animation," she said. "I thought: 'That would be awesome, to be able to do that all day.' "

Scheiber graduated from the University of Central Florida's digital media and animation program then joined Animation Mentor (www.animationmentor.com), an online program taught by industry insiders. The site posted a job offer for Hop and Scheiber got the gig, working alongside one of her instructors.

It's a small step in the right direction. Scheiber was assigned to animate E.B.'s movements for only a few seconds of the film's running time. But it's a start already leading to another job, animating Mr. Popper's Penguins, starring Jim Carrey and CGI birds. That movie is slated for a June 17 release.

Steve Persall, Times film critic

'Hop' gives leap forward for animator with bay area roots 03/31/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 12:17pm]

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