This article concerns a real world subject. Thus, it should not be considered part of the universe.
1990 – Present
One of the things the directors asked for is that they came across as sort of mad clowns. You know, that kind of evil, but funny, but evil, but funny, but evil thing. —Kupershmidt about the hyenas
Alex Kupershmidt is an animator whose contributions to animation have included several Disney leading or title characters, such as the hyenas from The Lion King.
Kupershmidt began his career in animation by attending the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he graduated with a degree in animation. In 1989, he landed a job with Disney at the opening of the Florida Studios. After its shutdown in 2004, he continued to pursue animation with Disney.
Alongside Dave Burgess, Kupershmidt worked to bring the hyenas to life.
"There was a performance of the actors who recorded the voices that really kinda nails down what a character will do in a scene," says Kupershmidt about animating the hyenas. "Whoopi's character came on as somebody who's particularly scheming all the time. She's the leader of the gang, and it's true about actual hyenas. They're led usually by females, by what is known as an alpha female, so her character was always cool, always scheming, very rarely lost composure, and so on. Cheech's character was kind of the opposite, you know, very volatile, barely ever able to speak in whispers, very 'on' all the time, high pitch. And Ed was sort of a comic relief. I think the directors always thought that Ed was a guy who knew the score but pretended to be an idiot, so, you know, that's kind of how they treated him."
By paying close attention to the sound of the voice actors, Kupershmidt was able to bring the hyenas to life in a way that matched their voices and the implications of their characters.