University of Miami School of Communication will host Disney Animation Artist Matthias Lechner for a special Q&A and behind the scenes look at the upcoming film, Zootopia, on Monday, February 29, from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

As an art director of environments, Lechner collaborated to define the style of Zootopia’s backgrounds and sets. He worked with other members of Walt Disney Animation Studios to create the imaginative world of Zootopia and to describe how the animals played, worked, moved, and lived together.

“I came full circle—growing up loving The Jungle Book to working on Zootopia. The world is so rich with so many facets – it’s a designers dream! We get to draw everything from rainforest to desert to an icy arctic world: it’s a mix of architectures from all around the world. We’ve brainstormed ideas on how an animal would approach building a house, a car, or a city,” says Lechner.

Since Lechner joined the Disney team in 2012 as a freelance visual development artist, he has been working to put together Zootopia. Premiering in theatres on March 4, the film takes place in the metropolis of Zootopia, which is a “melting-pot where animals from every environment can live together- a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything.”

As long-time fan of Disney animation, Lechner describes his most recent role at Disney as finally “coming home.” Before that, he studied at Senior College Ballyfermot in Dublin, Ireland, and almost completed a diploma of classical animation. However, before his last year, he was hired to work at Trickompany, a film producing company, on the German animated cult classic Felidae. His career includes working at a host of studios around the world, from Germany to Korea to Denmark, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. 

Lechner’s presentation and behind the scenes look at Zootopia will take place at the School of Communication, Shoma Hall, CIB 3053. All faculty, staff, and students from University of Miami are invited.