Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pres Romanilios 1963-2010

Pres Romanillos lost his battle with leukemia last Saturday. He was 47.

I didn't know Pres all that well but we used to sit in cubicles next to each other during the making of "Aladdin". At that time he was a rough inbetweener for Glen Keane and he enabled Glen to crank out massive amounts of footage of Aladdin. Glen would do the key poses and Pres would fill in the breakdown and "inbetween" drawings to flesh out the acting and motion and Glen could move onto the next scene. I remember Pres telling me that Glen was able to do 50 feet in a week once (an unbelievable amount for Disney - most animators dream of being able to do 5 feet a week consistently) because of Pres's help. Pres was an excellent draftsman and very good at drawing in Glen's style so he was an invaluable help to Glen.

Pres had his own style, of course, and his dream back then was to become an animator in his own right (as was mine). He had gone to the Art Center in Pasadena and, like a lot of CalArts students, I was amazed at how great an education in drawing he had received compared to the one I had gotten. I think that he worried a bit that he had missed out on the animation training that us CalArtians had received and he hoped that it wouldn't hold him back. He needn't have worried, though, shortly after that he became a full-fledged animator and went on to work on many timeless characters and films.

I parted ways with the studio during "Aladdin" and Pres went to work in Florida while I was gone from the studio so I lost touch with him. He was always a very nice person (and well-known as a snappy dresser in those days) and an extraordinary artist. I am sorry to hear of his health troubles and it's sad to think that he is gone now.

During the making of "Aladdin" he had an old animation desk that was covered in years of graphite rubbed into the wood surface. I remember being shocked one day to see that he was using an eraser to "carve out" likenesses of Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie from the black surface of his desk. How he had the time or energy I don't know but that was Pres! He was always enthusiastic and tireless.

That was my strongest memory of Pres and I wanted to write down that story. So when I checked the LA Times obituary to double-check his birth year I was amazed to see that a picture of Pres and that very desk accompanies his obituary! Click here to see the photo. Apparently he later added Pocahontas to the desk as well.


SKS said...

Oh wow, I remember seeing that desk in person when I toured the Florida animation studios a long time ago! I had no idea it belonged to someone as talented as Romanilios. It's a shame to see such a life cut short.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Pres still had that desk when he moved to the Disney Florida studio to work on "Mulan" . He had to leave it behind in Florida because his next gig after "Mulan" was at Dreamworks.

They kept it on display in the tour corridor for several years. I didn't know what happened to it after the Disney FL studio was shut down in 2004 ... I was afraid it had ended up gathering dust in some warehouse or was sold off like a lot of the desks were ... I was glad to read in the L.A. Times obit that Pres's desk now resides at the Disney Animation Research Library.

Sarah said...

Critic Charles Solomon did a remembrance on NPR:

they also have a link to his dog blog:

pbcbstudios said...

imagine it being your first week at the studio and walking in and seeing that as the desk of your animation mentor. I almost threw up I was so scared.

The Romanillos Family said...

Thank you for that beautiful story. His family are always reading the stories and comments left by friends and we are so proud and can't describe in words the loss we feel. To all who loved him we are sending out this message about our family Memorial to our beloved son and brother. It will be held on August 14th in Orlando, Florida at the Holy Family Catholic Church 5125 South Apopka Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32819-3801
at 11:00 A.M. and a Reception will follow at Maggiano's in the Marco Room at 9101 International Drive #2400
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 241-8650
From 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Anyone who would like to come is welcome to come and celebrate his life with his family. We would love to see all of you there.
The Romanillos Family