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It’s an animated world for Ripon High grad

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It’s an animated world for Ripon High grad

A relaxed moment for Ryan Sivley during his years at Ripon High School.

Courtesy of Ryan Sivley/


POSTED February 3, 2009 4:34 a.m.
Ryan Sivley , 28, has made a place for himself in the Hollywood world of animation – something of a recession-proof industry.  People like to go to the movies even in bad economic times.
Got to chat with his parents – Gary and Margaret – on Monday and they couldn’t be more proud of their son – and their daughter Megan as well.  She is teaching history at Pittman High School in Turlock while Ryan is employed by Lumina Productions in Venice.
Mom took time from her lunch hour at Weston Elementary School to chat with me about Ryan and I talked to dad later on the telephone for a few minutes.
Their son lives in Santa Monica – loves the ocean – and he is close enough to work to ride his bike most days.  He pedals to the coast where he can enjoy the ocean during his off time.
After graduating from Ripon High, Megan went to MJC for two years and then blazed the way for Ryan at Chico State being the older of the two kids to choose that campus. Dad had his major in architecture and mom is an elementary school teacher at Weston.  
They both shared some vivid memories of their innovative and athletic son growing up in Ripon with an early love for art.  In fact it was art that he chose as his major at Chico State, later going on to graduate from a San Francisco art school – The California Art Institute – where he received his degree in animation.
Ryan’s talent can be seen in a movie currently in the theaters, “War Between the Lycans and the Vampires.”  It is the third in a series on the “underworld” films where humans become Lycans – a race of werewolves – and others become vampires.
The Sivley family went to the theater in Riverbank last week to see their son’s work first-hand on the screen.  Ryan had come home for the memorial service for an aunt who had passed away.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks” was the first big animated film that Gary Sivley remembers his son contributing to the animation production.
The “City of Ember” was another of his film efforts where for generations  the city’s people flourished in glittering lights.  It is a fiction-fantasy film about a fully contained city built underground to house a human community for 200 years as a disaster shelter.   The film was released this past October.
He is currently working non-stop on the current project involving the movie “X-Men Origins” due to be released on May 1.  Ryan’s mom said when her son is on a project deadline he works days and nights until it is completed.  When it is done, there is nothing for a while, she said. She added that she enjoys when he can get to come home for the holidays.
Ryan was involved in soccer all four years at Ripon High – reaching all league status – adding to his involvement in both tennis and basketball.  He played recreation ball in Ripon as well.  In the Boy Scouts he did his share of backpacking and hiking, earning the coveted Eagle Scout rank in his troop.
Two friends – Ben Reynolds and Daniel Elliott – received their Eagle recognition at the same time.
For his Eagle project he painted a 25-foot-wide map of the United States on the playground at Weston Elementary School including the states of Hawaii and Alaska.  Ryan’s 1999 yearbook named him as the most artistic in his class.
Grandmother Marge Sivley, living in Auburn, is an artist in her own right creating oils and watercolors and has been a supporter of Ryan’s art work in his youth as have been his parents.  His grandmother is a tennis instructor and played a part in Ryan’s love for the sport.  Dad Gary said when he and his wife saw how serious their son was about art and animation: “We were backing him the best we could.”
The elder Sivley said he has drawers at home filled with his son’s art work, some of which he drew while in Scouts.  One that stands out is an Indian head with feathers. He said he liked to draw a lot in high school and was always sketching free hand.
“He did some comic book stuff on the life of Jesus in my garage,” Sivley said.
When living in a one-room flat in San Francisco while attending the art institute, he would put some of his Chico State art works on the wall of a nearby coffee shop offering them for sale.  The money he netted from the three or four paintings he sold went toward his education in animation.
One special art work with a “broken heart” theme sees an arrow penetrating a harpist – a strong and heavy message about a lost love.   He gave it to his sister Megan and it hangs in her History classroom in Turlock for the benefit of her students.
Ryan hopes to eventually move on to New Zealand and join the Weta Group that was originally formed to make the movie “Lord of the Rings.”
Weta is a comprehensive film and television-effects facility that houses a large and varied skill-base of creative technicians.
It is a five-time Academy Award-winning company that offers services to all aspects of the creative industry that includes design, special make-up effects, and prosthetics, creatures, armor, weapons, miniatures, prop building, large-scale sculptures, display work and costuming.
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